Jeremiah 38 & Psalm 11-12

Jeremiah 38

    Now Shephatiah the son of Mattan, Gedaliah the son of Pashhur, Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur the son of Malchiah heard the words that Jeremiah was saying to all the people, “Thus says the LORD: He who stays in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, but he who goes out to the Chaldeans shall live. He shall have his life as a prize of war, and live. Thus says the LORD: This city shall surely be given into the hand of the army of the king of Babylon and be taken.” Then the officials said to the king, “Let this man be put to death, for he is weakening the hands of the soldiers who are left in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man is not seeking the welfare of this people, but their harm.” King Zedekiah said, “Behold, he is in your hands, for the king can do nothing against you.” So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king's son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. And there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.

    When Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, a eunuch who was in the king's house, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern—the king was sitting in the Benjamin Gate—Ebed-melech went from the king's house and said to the king, “My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they did to Jeremiah the prophet by casting him into the cistern, and he will die there of hunger, for there is no bread left in the city.” Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, “Take thirty men with you from here, and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies.” So Ebed-melech took the men with him and went to the house of the king, to a wardrobe in the storehouse, and took from there old rags and worn-out clothes, which he let down to Jeremiah in the cistern by ropes. Then Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, “Put the rags and clothes between your armpits and the ropes.” Jeremiah did so. Then they drew Jeremiah up with ropes and lifted him out of the cistern. And Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard.

    King Zedekiah sent for Jeremiah the prophet and received him at the third entrance of the temple of the LORD. The king said to Jeremiah, “I will ask you a question; hide nothing from me.” Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “If I tell you, will you not surely put me to death? And if I give you counsel, you will not listen to me.” Then King Zedekiah swore secretly to Jeremiah, “As the LORD lives, who made our souls, I will not put you to death or deliver you into the hand of these men who seek your life.”

    Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “Thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: If you will surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then your life shall be spared, and this city shall not be burned with fire, and you and your house shall live. But if you do not surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then this city shall be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and you shall not escape from their hand.” King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “I am afraid of the Judeans who have deserted to the Chaldeans, lest I be handed over to them and they deal cruelly with me.” Jeremiah said, “You shall not be given to them. Obey now the voice of the LORD in what I say to you, and it shall be well with you, and your life shall be spared. But if you refuse to surrender, this is the vision which the LORD has shown to me: Behold, all the women left in the house of the king of Judah were being led out to the officials of the king of Babylon and were saying,

    “‘Your trusted friends have deceived you
        and prevailed against you;
    now that your feet are sunk in the mud,
        they turn away from you.’
    
    
        All your wives and your sons shall be led out to the Chaldeans, and you yourself shall not escape from their hand, but shall be seized by the king of Babylon, and this city shall be burned with fire.”

    Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “Let no one know of these words, and you shall not die. If the officials hear that I have spoken with you and come to you and say to you, ‘Tell us what you said to the king and what the king said to you; hide nothing from us and we will not put you to death,’ then you shall say to them, ‘I made a humble plea to the king that he would not send me back to the house of Jonathan to die there.’” Then all the officials came to Jeremiah and asked him, and he answered them as the king had instructed him. So they stopped speaking with him, for the conversation had not been overheard. And Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard until the day that Jerusalem was taken.

(Jeremiah 38 ESV)

Psalm 11

To the choirmaster. Of David.

    In the LORD I take refuge;
    how can you say to my soul,
        “Flee like a bird to your mountain,
    for behold, the wicked bend the bow;
        they have fitted their arrow to the string
        to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;
    if the foundations are destroyed,
        what can the righteous do?”
    
    
    The LORD is in his holy temple;
        the LORD's throne is in heaven;
        his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
    The LORD tests the righteous,
        but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
    Let him rain coals on the wicked;
        fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
    For the LORD is righteous;
    he loves righteous deeds;
        the upright shall behold his face.

(Psalm 11 ESV)


Psalm 12

To the choirmaster: according to The Sheminith. A Psalm of David.

    Save, O LORD, for the godly one is gone;
        for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.
    Everyone utters lies to his neighbor;
        with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.
    
    
    May the LORD cut off all flattering lips,
        the tongue that makes great boasts,
    those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail,
        our lips are with us; who is master over us?”
    
    
    “Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan,
        I will now arise,” says the LORD;
        “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”
    The words of the LORD are pure words,
        like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
        purified seven times.
    
    
    You, O LORD, will keep them;
        you will guard us from this generation forever.
    On every side the wicked prowl,
        as vileness is exalted among the children of man.

(Psalm 12 ESV)

The Impulse to Flee

When the wickedness of this world seems to be winning, the natural impulse in most of us is to run away and hide. We often want to avoid any assaults that may come our way on account of our living an upright and uncompromising life of faithfulness to God. So when our faith is tested or opposed by others we are tempted to flee to the mountains like a bird.

But David declares, "Why would I run like this when I know better? Why would I run when I know to take refuge in the Lord?"

David gives us insight for those times we experience the impulse to flee from conflict. He reminds himself that the Lord is still seated upon His heavenly throne in complete control over all conflicts that we may face. He reminds himself that conflicts can also be opportunities to prove that our loyalty and trust in our God is genuine. And he reminds himself that the Lord loves those who love Him and who desire to behold His face. 

When we fix our eyes upon our Lord and gaze in love at His goodness, we resist the impulse to flee and stand firm in our faith instead.