Old Cast Clouts
Jeremiah 38:11, 12
So Ebedmelech took the men with him, and went into the house of the king under the treasury…

This incident is very vividly described; and "the touch of human kindliness in the good man's direction to Jeremiah to put under his armpits the soft rags thrown down to him, to prevent the chafing of the cords which drew him up, is inimitably natural." The sharp cords would otherwise have cut him so severely as to render his elevation exceedingly painful, if not practically impossible. To how many conflicting thoughts and feelings do these rags, brought from the king's house under the treasury, not give rise? What vicissitudes must they have passed through! Now, after they have been cast aside as useless, a new, unthought of use is suddenly discovered for them. Rags it may be of royal garments used in stately pageants; was not even this a kingly service to which they were put?

I. OF HOW EXQUISITE A SYMPATHY WERE THEY THE EXPRESSION! The whole situation of the prophet had been thoroughly entered into and grasped by his friend. He is not satisfied with merely drawing him up; he will do this in the gentlest and most considerate way. It is thinking of these little things that shows the depth of our sympathy for others. They are specially remembered and sought out, and are brought forward with as much care as the thirty men.

1. Our good deeds should not be half conceived or badly executed. "What is worth doing is worth doing well."

2. Where there is a real desire to be kind and helpful, the means will be discovered. We scarcely know whether to admire the most the kindliness or the ingenuity of Ebed-Melech.

3. A true sentiment will dispose of false scruples. Rags! Well, they were best fitted of anything at hand to effect the purpose in view. There was no time to settle the question of the niceties. Much loving and useful work is never done because of such scruples. The servants of God cannot often work in kid gloves.

4. The dignity of a thing consists in the use to which it is put. These rags served the best of purposes, and are worthy of all honour, There is nothing God has made but has some gracious use it we but seek for it.

II. THROUGH WHAT HUMILIATIONS ARE GOD'S SERVANTS DELIVERED! As if the mire and helplessness were not enough! To an unspiritual perception it would appear almost an uncalled for indignity to inflict the rags upon the prophet of God. But they were necessary. And so is it with all the God sent humiliations of life. They are intended to subdue pride, exercise faith, and reveal the hidden grace and power of God.

III. THERE ARE DIVINE USES FOR MEAN THINGS AND THINGS CAST ASIDE. God, who made all things, can see a thousand adaptations and utilities for that which man supposes has been used up. Are there not weapons in the King's armoury that have been allowed to rust when they might have done good service? talents that have been hid in a napkin when they should have been at usury? There need be no idle members in the King's household. He takes out of his treasury things new and old, and calls upon the blind, the halt, the maimed, the aged, the poor, the ignorant, to do him honour and service. "But I have no talents in that direction," etc. Yet God can use you if you will ask him. He will regenerate you by using you; purify you of all the moral dross and filth that adhere to you; and develop higher faculties and a diviner serviceableness, if you will but let him. There were kingly robes in Judah that day that had not a tithe of the honour of these "old rotten rags;" and there are great, wise, and noble who will have to give place in the day of judgment to the weak things, and things which have been despised (1 Corinthians 1:26-31). - M.

Parallel Verses
KJV: So Ebedmelech took the men with him, and went into the house of the king under the treasury, and took thence old cast clouts and old rotten rags, and let them down by cords into the dungeon to Jeremiah.

WEB: So Ebedmelech took the men with him, and went into the house of the king under the treasury, and took there rags and worn-out garments, and let them down by cords into the dungeon to Jeremiah.

The Tenderness of Ebed-Melech
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