The Lodging-Place in the Wilderness
Jeremiah 9:2
Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people…

I. WHAT IT IS THE PROPHET WISHES FOR. The occurrence of the word "wilderness" may easily mislead us into thinking that the prophet's wish was for solitude, and thus we may be disposed to reproach him, as if, Timon-like, he wanted to get away from his fellow-men altogether. But it is not on the word "wilderness" that we must fix our attention to discover the prophet's feeling. The reference to a travelers lodging-place is the main thing to be considered. It is not between some hermit's humble, solitary shelter and the well-built house, which is but one out of many making up the stately city, that the contrast is made, but rather between the inn of the traveler and the abode of the man who, day after day, has to mingle busily in the society of which he forms a part. If you are staying at an inn for the night, it matters very little, so far as acquaintance is concerned, who your fellow-guests may be. You scarcely meet them; you are in their company for a few hours, and on the morrow each takes his several way. Jeremiah prefers to live in an inn, whore he would see a succession of strange faces, to living even amongst his own people. Then that the inn should be in a wilderness was a sort of necessity, to round his wish off and make it perfectly express the state of his mind. Travelers had often wide stretches of wilderness-land to cross, where, just because it was wilderness, some sort of shelter needed to be provided for the night. But it might not be an inn in anything like our understanding of the word - perhaps nothing more than a rough enclosure, where only that was provided which the bare necessities of the moment demanded.

II. WHY THE PROPHET WISHES FOR THIS. The settled society in which the prophet has been living has become rotten in all its important relations. Jeremiah has a people whom he must describe as "my people." He is connected with them by a tie of nature which no repugnance of his can destroy. But, though they are his people, that cannot make him to overlook, excuse, or tolerate their iniquities. Nay, the very fact that they are his people helps to make the iniquity more burdensome to him; for with one's own people one has so much to do. A righteous son of Sodom, if such a character were imaginable, sickened with all the abominations around him, might well have left his kinsfolk, if they would not listen to his warning or profit by his refusal to join in their wrong-doing. And Jeremiah may be looked on here pretty much as if he had been a dweller in Sodom, for Jerusalem was spiritually Sodom. Adultery, knavery, habitual lying and wrong-doing, - these were sad elements to be charged as going to the substance of the social life of the people. And the prophet wished to be free from all entanglement with such. Of course we are not to take his wish literally. It is but an emphatic way of indicating how separated he was in the spirit of his mind from such considerations as ruled in only too many hearts of Israel. Though among his people, he was not of them. United according to the flesh, there was a great gulf between them according to the spirit. His people though they were, he yet was compelled to look upon them as travelers whom he casually met just for a little time. And so must God's people ever learn to look upon many of those whom they are continually meeting on earth. For enduring society there must be something more than natural ties, frequent intercourse, or community of intellectual tastes and pursuits. It is a small thing to be brought together in the concerns of time if we are not also brought together in the concerns of eternity. Sad it is to think that there may be a closer bend between those who have never met on earth than between those who, on earth, have lived for years together I Those who are travelling to the same place may never meet by the way, but when they do meet it is not in the traveler's mere lodging-place, but where there are many mansions, and whence they "go out no more for ever." A mansion is itself a place that abides, and those who dwell in it are meant to abide also. - Y.

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: 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 are all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men.

Sighings After the Wilderness
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