ISSL Reflections May 16, 2021 Jeremiah 38:14-23 Post 2

Today I’ve included a link to Jeremiah 38 and 39, which reaches beyond our focus passage but gives an overview of the entire episode

My attention over the last couple of days keeps being drawn back to King Zedekiah.

Let’s review a few things about the King –

His officials call for the death of Jeremiah and the King hands him over saying, “Here he is, he is in your hands.” (Jeremiah 38:4-5)

And it is added, maybe from the King’s own words, “… the king is powerless against you.” (Jeremiah 39:5)

Then the officials do not kill Jeremiah but drop him in a dry well. We are given no explanation for this but it seems the King had no hand in it. (Jeremiah 38:6)

Next Ebed-melech speaks to the King telling him of Jeremiah’s condition, “My lord king, these men have acted wickedly in all they did to the prophet Jeremiah by throwing him into the cistern to die there of hunger, for there is no bread left in the city.” (Jeremiah 38:9)

The King’s response is to get Jeremiah out of the well, “Take three men with you from here, and pull the prophet Jeremiah up from the cistern before he dies.” (Jeremiah 39:10)

Next we see the King asking advice from Jeremiah and asking him to be completely forthcoming and honest, “I have something to ask you; do not hide anything from me.” (Jeremiah 38:14)

Jeremiah doesn’t trust the King, “If I tell you, you will put me to death, will you not? And if I give you advice, you will not listen to me.” (Jeremiah 39:15)

The King swears to Jeremiah he will not hurt him, “As the Lord lives, who gave us our lives, I will not put you to death or hand you over to these men who seek your life.” (Jeremiah 38:16)

Jeremiah advises the King to surrender, “Thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel, If you will only surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then your life shall be spared, and this city shall not be burned with fire, and you and your house shall live. But if you do not surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then this city shall be handed over to the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and you yourself shall not escape from their hand.” (Jeremiah 38:17-18)

The King tells Jeremiah he fears the Judeans who have deserted him, “I am afraid of the Judeans who have deserted to the Chaldeans, for I might be handed over to them and they would abuse me.” (Jeremiah 38:19)

Jeremiah seems to attempt to assure the King of what would be a good outcome for him and also tells him of what awaits if he does not heed the vision Jeremiah has shared, “a vision of all the women remaining in the house of the king of Judah being led out to the officials of the king of Babylon and saying, Your trusted friends have seduced you and have overcome you; Now that your feet are stuck in the mud, they desert you. All your wives and your children shall be led out to the Chaldeans, and you yourself shall not escape from their hand, but shall be seized by the king of Babylon; and this city shall be burned with fire.” (Jeremiah 38:22-23)

The King’s response to Jeremiah is to tell him to keep all this conversation secret, “Do not let anyone else know of this conversation, or you will die.” (Jeremiah 38:24)

Chapter 39 gives a description of the fall of Jerusalem and the defeat of the King.

What choices did the King have and what choices did he make?

How does the King impress you?

What would you say lies at the core of his personality?

What would you say is the chief motivation of the King?

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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