Jeremiah 13:16, 17
Give glory to the LORD your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble on the dark mountains, and…
Give glory to the Lord, etc.
I. THE SCENE PORTRAYED. It is that of unhappy travelers overtaken by night, when crossing some of the perilous mountain tracks of Palestine. A traveler overtaken as these seem to have been by a night storm, is in imminent danger of falling over precipices and perishing miserably. Even by day the way is perilous: the paths are easily lost, or are strewn with rocks, or they lead along steep and slippery slopes, or by overhanging cliffs, where a single foot slip may plunge the heedless passenger headlong to a frightful death in the far depths below. But how much more dangerous such journey must be when night overtakes the travelers, is evident. The fading light has gone, but the journey has still to be pursued. And now comes that stumbling upon the dark mountains, which is so terrible and inevitable. There is the anxious looking for the fitful light of moon or stars, and occasionally hope arises that the clouds will break and some glimmer appear. But this hope has been speedily quenched by the clouds gathering over again, and with the added darkness of the rain-storm, so that the darkness is "gross," like unto that of the shadow of death. Every step, therefore, is fraught with frightful peril, and not a few thus benighted amid such mountain passes perish miserably ere the morning dawn. Such is the scene portrayed.
II. THAT WHICH IT REPRESENTS.
1. The temporal calamities which God sends - as to the Jews - in punishment for their sins. All earthly distress has the sad tendency to unhinge the mind, to fill with foreboding fear, and greatly to perplex and overwhelm; but when to the natural effects of such earthly distress there is added the consciousness of guilt and of having deserved what God has sent, then the dismay, distress, and despair which are suggested by the prophetic picture are miserably increase.
2. The hardened sinner's despair of God's mercy. The vision of judgment and wrath has come upon him, but the remembrance of his sins crushes hope of mercy (cf. Judas "going out and hanging himself").
3. The entanglements of sin. It is a great mistake to imagine that those who are enslaved by any sin are happy in it. Not a few of them endure a very hell in their frantic but futile endeavors to break the chain which long indulgence has forged and fastened around them. The bitter repentance, the unavailing remorse, every gleam of hope of deliverance so soon quenched, the recklessness of despair, the groaning as of the prisoner appointed to death, - all these are realities known to the slaves of sin, and should make every soul shudder lest the like should come upon him.
4. The procrastinator's death-bed. He who has been convinced over and over again that he ought to seek the Lord, but has ever put it off, - his feet are likely to "stumble upon the dark mountains "when the night of the shadow of death draws upon him.
III. HOW SUCH MISERY MAY BE AVOIDED. It was very near: the prophet's words imply that the' oft-threatened doom was at their very doors. And so the like doom may be near to many now. But yet it may be avoided. Giving heed to God's Word (Ver. 15). We have much hope when we see an earnest heeding of that Word, a really serious attention paid to it. But that by itself is not enough. There must be the actual "giving glory to God;" by confession of sin, acknowledging the wrong done; by casting the soul on God for forgiveness in lowly trust; by forsaking the evil that has roused the just anger of God. "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man," etc.
IV. THE GREAT REASON FOR FEAR THAT THIS MISERY WILL NOT BE AVOIDED AFTER ALL. It was and it ever is the accursed pride (Vers. 15, 17) that will not allow of such giving heed to the Divine Word and such giving glory to him. All the instincts of the unrenewed heart are up in arms against such self-abasement. Any sacrifice will be brought rather than that of the broken and contrite heart.
V. THE UTTERLY HOPELESS CONDITION OF THOSE THUS LOST. (Ver. 17.) See the prophet's piteous tears. He can do nothing - every resource has been tried and failed, and he can but "weep sore in secret places" for the "pride" that has ruined those he would fain have saved. Oh then, sinful heart, down, down before thy God, and "give glory to him," as he would have thee do, as it is so fight and reasonable and good for thee to do, as the ministers of God entreat thee to do. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Give glory to the LORD your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness.
WEB: Give glory to Yahweh your God, before he causes darkness, and before your feet stumble on the dark mountains, and, while you look for light, he turns it into the shadow of death, and makes it gross darkness.