The Inquest on the Slain of Judah and Jerusalem
Jeremiah 9:12-15
Who is the wise man, that may understand this? and who is he to whom the mouth of the LORD has spoken, that he may declare it…


1. For his righteousness is impugned. Men had not failed, could not fail, to notice the terrible judgments which God had sent upon Judah and Jerusalem, and, as is implied by his own declaration of their causes (Ver. 12), they had either not seen or had denied the righteousness of what had been done. This questioning of the Divine righteousness and equity is a procedure all too common still.

2. And thus the Divine hold on the loyalty of men's hearts is threatened. For unless men regard God as righteous, just, and good, no power in the universe can make them yield him the homage of their hearts. How much of the alienation of heart in the present day may be attributed to the representations of God which a false theology has set forth! Men will not, for they cannot, love such a being as too many preachers represent God to be. They may be threatened with everlasting perdition, but it will make no difference. For God himself has given us a nature which renders impossible our yielding our hearts' homage to any one-be he whom he may - that our hearts do not regard as worthy of that homage.

3. But God's supreme solicitude is for this homage of our hearts. Hence what threatens it must be intolerable to him. Therefore he seeks for vindication before the hearts of men, and demands this inquiry.

II. AN UNIMPEACHABLE JURY IS IMPANELLED. It is not just any one who can be trusted to make this inquiry. The frivolous, the unthoughtful, would fail to grasp the problem involved, and the ungodly who suffered these judgments would be sure to assign them to any and every cause rather than the true one. Therefore those who are summoned to this inquest are

(1) the wise - those who will intelligently consider all the facts of the case; and

(2) those "to whom the Lord hath spoken" - those, that is, who have been divinely enlightened, who are in sympathy with truth and righteousness. God summons such, and fearlessly demands, now as of old, the most thorough investigation into the righteousness of all his ways.

III. THEY ARE BIDDEN WELL AND TRULY TRY THE CASE BEFORE THEM. He would have them so consider it that they may "understand" it in all its bearings, reasons, and ends. He tells them what he has done and what he yet will do, and what are his reasons for his conduct. He does not conceal that his judgments are tremendous, notorious, certain to excite inquiry, to be challenged, and by many to be condemned. But he appeals to the "wise," and to those "to whom the Lord hath spoken," to consider and understand what he has done. God calls not for mere credulity from any of us; he asks for no mere blind faith; but it is to a "reasonable service" he summons us, and this reasonableness he would have us consider and "understand." "I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say:" such is his appeal.

IV. AND WHEN THEY HAVE "UNDERSTOOD" THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD THEY ARE TO "DECLARE" IT. There is no greater service that can be rendered than "to vindicate the ways of God to man;" to "commend the truth to every man's conscience in the sight of God." The believer is established, the waverer brought to decision, the sinner - like as Felix, when Paul "reasoned of righteousness and judgment " - is made to tremble, the scorner and the atheist are silenced.


1. It will strike terror to the hearts of the enemies of God; for it will rob them of the comfort they had in regarding God's judgments as unjust. Even this "drop of cold water" they may not have.

2. It will give great peace of mind to all beholders of God's strong rule; for it will show that his rule is not strong and supreme alone, but absolutely righteous.

3. It will make God's people "sing unto the Lord a new song," because "he cometh to judge the earth" (Psalm 96.). It will assure them of the triumph of righteousness, and the utter impotency and impermanency of wrong. But let each one ask himself, "How will that verdict affect me" - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Who is the wise man, that may understand this? and who is he to whom the mouth of the LORD hath spoken, that he may declare it, for what the land perisheth and is burned up like a wilderness, that none passeth through?

WEB: Who is the wise man, that may understand this? and [who is] he to whom the mouth of Yahweh has spoken, that he may declare it? why is the land perished and burned up like a wilderness, so that none passes through?

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