Ebed-Melech; Or, Unlooked for Sympathy and Help
Jeremiah 38:7-13
Now when Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs which was in the king's house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon…

I. ITS CIRCUMSTANCES. These were such as to impress the mind of the prophet. He was deliberately consigned by the princes of the people to the dungeon, and the king consented, so that there would appear to be no appeal. His heart must have failed him as he felt himself sinking in the mire. In a prison like that he was in imminent danger of being forgotten and starved. Apparently it was intended as an effectual means of "putting out of the way." And all this was due to what? Doing his duty. The very persons whom he sought to benefit either turned against or ignored him. The whole situation was desperate. It appeared as if no human help could save. It is just at such times that faith receives its confirming, ultimate lessons.


1. In itself. It Was:

(1) Thoughtful. It has been suggested that, as the dungeon was in the palace, "he came to the knowledge of it by hearing Jeremiah's moans." This may or may not have been; but when he knew of the situation of the prophet he was concerned and full of sympathy. It is this spirit which true religion, and especially the gospel of Christ, ever fosters, and the world has need of it.

(2) Prompt. In a question like that of a few hours at the utmost, no delay had to be made if the prisoner was to be saved. As the king was "then sitting in the gate of Benjamin," he went out immediately and sought an audience. And he urged expedition. One of the finest recommendations of help is that it is given when it is needed. The case is taken up as if it were his own. How many philanthropies miss fire because they are kept too long without being carried into effect? Bis dat qui cito dat.

(3) Courageous. He went straight to the king, by whose order he must have known the thing had been done, and spoke with quick, nervous fearlessness and condemnation. There was not only feeling here, but principle. He was evidently careless as to the consequences to himself.

(4) Practical. Ebed-Melech meant that the thing should be done, and so he took the requisite steps to carry it out. Everything is thought Of and applied to the purpose. Even in the "old cast clouts" there is evidence of forethought and careful, if novel, application of means to ends.

2. In its origin. Ebed-Melech was:

(1) An alien.Not a Jew, and one from his office disqualified from participating in the benefits of the covenant. It is the more remarkable that none of Jeremiah's countrymen interposed.

(2) A servant of a vicious king. The establishments of such princes are usually stamped with the same character, and their members are but the creatures of their masters. There is something doubly unlooked for, therefore, in such an advocate and friend. It is like a salutation from one of "Caesar's household."

(3) It is also probable that he was one called out by the occasion. No mention of him is made either before or after.


1. True religion does not depend upon conventional forms. Not that these are therefore without value, but they are not of the essence of religion. It is Divine faith, with its outflowing charities and works, that alone can save man and glorify God. Rahab the harlot and Naaman the Syrian are but instances of many for really outside of the kingdom of God, but really within it. Let each ask, "Am I, who have received so much privilege, really a child of grace?"

2. The kingdom of God is always stronger than it seems. As to Elijah the assurance," Yet I have left me seven, thousand, in Israel," so to Jeremiah is this experience. We are never justified in despairing of human nature if God be in his world.

3. Implicit trust in God as the only Saviour. The raising up of such a deliverer was so unique and unexpected as to call attention to it as a work of God, It was supernatural and special, and spoke of gracious intervention. He would not abandon his servant, nor will he any who put their trust in him. - M.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Now when Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs which was in the king's house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; the king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin;

WEB: Now when Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, a eunuch, who was in the king's house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon (the king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin),

Ebed-Melech, the Model of Kindness
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