Jeremiah 9:2, 3
Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people…
I. IT IS THE NATURAL RECOIL OF A PURE HEART FROM WICKEDNESS. When the knowledge and love of God are in the heart, sin appears more loathsome. The love of goodness will show itself in a hatred of evil, and a desire to be separated from its workers. In some this love of God and goodness overpowers even the natural attachments and ties of life. And it may be carried to such an excess as to become a spiritual disease, in its way as sinful as the causes that give rise to it. Monasticism has its root in a good and proper feeling carried to excess, and without the restraining and modifying considerations that ought to accompany it. In the instance before us (and like instances) -
II. IT SPRINGS FROM NO SELFISH MOTIVE. Jeremiah did not seek for the "luxury" of grief; sufficient the wanderer's tent, or the comfortless caravanserai of the desert. Nor has he any desire to attitudinize. It is a loneliness that shall not be conspicuous; a losing of himself amongst strangers who care not for him and notice him not. Nor did he seek to evade the duties of life. If he separated himself, it was not to escape from the impending dangers he had announced; nor to intermit his spiritual activities. "He wished there to weep for them" (Zinzendorf); to study the problem in fresh and more hopeful aspects; to recover his mental and spiritual calm; to recruit his spiritual energies for a new and more successful effort. So in our own day, the underlying motive must ever determine the lawfulness, the character, and the continuance of our spiritual retirements.
III. GOD DID NOT REBUKE IT, BUT HE DID NOT SEE FIT TO GRATIFY IT. Here the longing, if it ever grew into a prayer, was not answered, at least at once, or in the way conceived of. Whilst the day of grace lasted, and God's people were open to repent and to be influenced by his words, he is detained amongst them. When all possibilities were exhausted, then the dungeon of the king's prison or the shame of the Egyptian exile might serve the purpose. But even then the essential craving was satisfied. There is a longing that is its own answer. To some it is given to experience solitude and spiritual detachment in the midst of the busy throng of transgressors for whom they yet ceaselessly work. This centrifugal tendency may be productive of greater concentration, real compassion, and capacity for usefulness, when it is controlled and overcome by a sense of overmastering responsibility, and a "heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel, that they may be saved." - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them! for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men.