Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashur, and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah, heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken unto all the people, saying,CHAPTER 38
1. Jeremiah in the dungeon and his rescue (Jeremiah 38:1-13)
2. Jeremiah with Zedekiah: His last appeal (Jeremiah 38:14-28)
Jeremiah 38:1-13. Jeremiah is next accused of high treason. The charge is based on his message, given to him by the Lord: “He that goeth forth to the Chaldeans shall live.” Like the conscientious objectors during the past war, they accused him of being unpatriotic. “This man seeketh not the welfare of this people, but the hurt.” They demand his life. In the sixth verse we see him in a deep dungeon, into which he was put by means of ropes. And Jeremiah sank into the vile mire. This reminds us of Him, our blessed Lord, who was also accused by false witnesses, and who went Himself into the horrible pit and the miry clay, into the deepest suffering and the jaws of death, to take us out of the dungeon, where sin has put us. The wicked princes evidently meant to leave Jeremiah in that dungeon to suffer a horrible death.
But the servant of the Lord was not in the hands of the princes, but in the hands of his Master. God chooses for the deliverer a slave, an Ethiopian, Ebed-melech (servant of the king). The heart of this Ethiopian eunuch was touched with pity. He goes to the king, who seems to have been ignorant about what had been done to Jeremiah and tells him that Jeremiah is likely to starve to death in the filthy hole where they had put him. The king commands the eunuch to act at once with thirty men to deliver Jeremiah. With what tenderness, to spare the man of God all needless pain, Ebed-melech carried out the king’s wish (Jeremiah 38:12)!
Jeremiah 38:14-28. This is a great dramatic scene. Zedekiah sends once more for Jeremiah. We suppose the filth of the dungeon was still clinging to the prophet’s garments. The king wants to know something. “Hide nothing from me,” he demands. He may rest assured that the prophet of holy courage hides nothing. But Jeremiah asks two questions: “Wilt thou not surely put me to death? And if I give thee counsel, wilt thou not hearken unto me?” The first question the king answers: “I will not put thee to death.” The second question he leaves unanswered. His heart was hardened like Pharaoh’s heart.
He gives him once more the message of Jehovah: Go forth to the king of Babylon, acknowledge his authority, believe in My Word and thou shalt live and thine house; then Jerusalem will not be burned. But if not, then you cannot escape and the doom of the city is sealed. The king shrinks from such a surrender. Terrors of an imaginary kind seize hold on him. He fears the Babylonian king will deliver him into the hands of the Jews who had deserted already, and that they would mock him and ill-treat him. Jeremiah pleads once more. It is his final appeal: “Obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the LORD.” But the king refuses. The final request he made of Jeremiah but reveals his miserable character. The last interview has ended. Jeremiah remains in the prison and was there when Jerusalem was taken.