Then all the captains of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah…
I. THE RIGHT AND DUTY OF IT.
1. Because of his claim to respect and obedience. It was a traditional custom in Israel. Jehovah was their national God. He had delivered them, created them into a nation, and laid them under eternal obligations.
(1) There is a general obligation upon all so to do. Even those who do not recognize any special relation existing between God and themselves have reason for drawing nigh to him. There are moments when the things of life assert their sacredness and awful mystery, when God besets them behind and before. His providence is a continual appeal. And the sense of sin, of helplessness, and of indefinite hope leads them to his footstool.
(2) It is specially incumbent upon those who are related to him through grace. Judah represented ancient Israel, and, although now but a remnant, was still privileged with the presence of a true prophet of God. Christians should be eager and ready to call upon him, as they have the promises reaffirmed in Christ, and the witness of his Spirit in their hearts that they shall not ask in vain. Their whole position is due to his grace, and it is but right that this should be acknowledged.
2. Because of helplessness and danger. The petitioners were "left but a few of many." They knew that it was through their own folly for the most part that they had been brought to such a pass. We know that in the great crises of life we are unable to guide ourselves. The future is dark and full of trouble.
3. Because of God's wisdom, power, and love. He knows all things, and is able to deliver from all evil; and he has assured us of his willingness to guide and protect. The larger, grander policy of life is only possible with his inspiration.
II. THE SPIRIT IN WHICH IT SHOULD BE ENTERED UPON.
1. Humility. In external attitude and language they left little to criticize (ver. 2). Consciousness of our own need and weakness.
2. Confidence. We must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of all them that diligently seek him. Their requesting Jeremiah to pray to the Lord his God, and their expression of willingness to do as he should advise, showed a measure of faith.
3. Obedience. This they professed (ver. 6).
4. Sincerity. (Ver. 6.)
III. THE DANGERS TO WHICH IT IS EXPOSED. Notwithstanding all their profession, we can detect:
1. Signs of systematic neglect of God and religious ordinances. The expression "came near" suggests a previous habitual distance from Jehovah. They appear more anxious to conciliate the prophet than him whom he served. There is no confession of sin. Probably Jeremiah had been all but ignored up to that time. What a strange phrase, "the Lord thy God"! The prophet seeks gently to lead them to a better standing - "the Lord your God;" which they seem to adopt. "To whom we send thee" still betrays the absence of filial love and intimacy. Their subsequent behaviour showed that:
2. They were unreal and hypocritical in their whole attitude. They had made up their mind as to what was best for them to do, as the resort to the "habitation of Chimham" already proved. With one foot in Canaan, as it were, and another out of it, they pretended to inquire of God. This is a very common practice, but it is one which not only robs prayer of its meaning and efficacy, but also brings upon the head of those who are guilty of it a grievous curse, as in this instance. A portion of their prayer was answered, but in a way they little expected: "The Lord be a true and faithful witness between us." - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then all the captains of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least even unto the greatest, came near,