The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, when king Zedekiah sent to him Pashur the son of Melchiah…
I. A KING'S ACKNOWLEDGMENT THAT HUMAN RESOURCES ARE UNAVAILING. The hour and the danger so long and often predicted, referred to all the more earnestly as the hour draws nigh, has come at last. No time is here taken up in narrating the attempts Zedekiah may have made himself to repel the invader. The Scriptures were not meant to give us details of sieges. The likelihood is, however, that it was long before Zedekiah reached anything like an extremity that he made this appeal to the prophet. When all unusual danger comes close at hand it is easy to exaggerate. The man who has been indifferent, imprudent, heedless of all hints that have been given him to make provision for the future, is the very man who, when peril comes, rushes into panic and becomes unable to use the resources he has.
II. A KING'S PRESUMPTUOUS ATTEMPT TO AVAIL HIMSELF OF DIVINE RESOURCES. Nothing is more beautiful than to see one who has found out the vanity of human help turning to God. Only he must come in a right spirit, having made a clear discovery of why it is that man could not help him. Anything of this sort was utterly lacking in Zedekiah's approach. There is no sign of repentance, no word of confession, no resolution of amendment. The only thing in the shape of acknowledgment is that Jehovah is the God who does wondrous works. This is an acknowledgment which we find often in the Old Testament, but it is acceptable to God only when accompanied with a sense of why it is that God does his wondrous works. The more we consider Zedekiah's request, the more will the blindness and audacity of it appear. Here is the king in Jerusalem, bound, if any man ever was, to know the significance of the history of Israel as a whole; and yet he can only see certain great manifestations of power which encourage him to hope that a similar manifestation may now come for his own deliverance. There is no real coming to God, unless we come for things that are according to his will. His power cannot wait upon our selfish needs. There is no telling what might have happened, even at this more than eleventh hour, if Zedekiah had only come with something of true penitence. God knew beforehand that this could not be expected; and thus there is no clearer evidence of the righteousness of Jerusalem's doom and of Israel's expatriation than is furnished from Zedekiah's own lips. He shows that he has lost all sense of the meaning and the necessity of God's great covenant with his people. If only they had been obedient they would never have lacked the benefit of many wondrous works.
III. THE PLAIN AND NECESSARY ANSWER OF JEHOVAH. We see through all that God here says a purpose to make plain that he is now full of activity against his apostate people. The object was not to be attained simply by leaving them, in their natural resources, to the natural resources of the Chaldeans. The contest is not of man against man, but of the man who has forsaken God against the man whom God has taken to be the instrument of his righteous indignation. God must specially intervene and make his presence manifest, to show that all this visitation of suffering is from him. If God has, for a time, to forsake his people, he must needs oppose them. If God be not for us, be is against us; and so here the defenders of Jerusalem are represented as having difficulties to deal with such as have arisen through God's own operation. Their weapons of war do not produce the usual effect. God turns them back upon those who wield them. This may be more than a mere general figure of speech. It is quite possible that either the arm wielding the heavy, sharp sword becomes as the arm of the little child, or else, that remaining strong, the weapon becomes but as the child's toy. Thus the Chaldeans themselves would learn that some mysterious power was at work, and that the glory of the victory was not theirs. Furthermore, God was to fight against these apostates with a weapon of his own. He can make the wicked and the ambitious his sword, but pestilence is of his own sending. Not all the might of the Chaldeans could bring a pestilence, nor take it away once it had come. Thus we see how all this dread combination of events was intended to impress on all, alike amongst besiegers and besieged, who had minds to understand that God himself was terribly at work. He was indeed dealing with the people according to his wondrous works; works necessitated in order to prevent his holy and reasonable wrath from being nothing more than empty wind. - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, when king Zedekiah sent unto him Pashur the son of Melchiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, saying,