Jeremiah 15:15-18 ESV
O Lord, you know;
remember me and visit me,
and take vengeance for me on my persecutors.
In your forbearance take me not away;
know that for your sake I bear reproach.
Your words were found, and I ate them,
and your words became to me a joy
and the delight of my heart,
for I am called by your name,
O Lord, God of hosts.
I did not sit in the company of revelers,
nor did I rejoice;
I sat alone, because your hand was upon me,
for you had filled me with indignation.
Why is my pain unceasing,
my wound incurable,
refusing to be healed?
Will you be to me like a deceitful brook,
like waters that fail?
I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about prophets, prophecy. And what is the one line almost anyone can quote? “no prophet is accepted in his hometown” (Luke 4:24 NIV). Here is Jeremiah, lamenting to God about his troubles (and by the way, the book of Lamentations is also Jeremiah’s). He is alone. His friends are practically nonexistent. His people ignore his words, or retaliate. Yet in the middle of his words, we find our word, joy. God’s Words bring joy to Jeremiah. He describes eating them, and while I can’t say I have literally eaten the Word, I have devoured it at times when I most needed it. Ezekiel experienced a literal, sensory version of this: “I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth” (3:3b). Jesus himself, when tempted in the wilderness and fasting for 40 days (!!), rejected bread in favor of the Word of God.
I have a tendency to fall into the clutches of depression. The image of a deceitful brook is apt here, because there is a drought in that dark, emotional void. Jeremiah’s loneliness led him into the pit of despair often, yet God did not abandon him (verses 20 & 21):
I will make you to this people
a fortified wall of bronze;
they will fight against you,
but they shall not prevail over you,
for I am with you
to save you and deliver you,
declares the Lord.
I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked,
and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.
Jeremiah isn’t promised a respite from the lonely walk, but God intervening in his life is a reminder that we never truly walk alone. And here God promises that despite the threats, Jeremiah is protected. He is safe. He will not be destroyed by those who hate him.
There is encouragement for me, too. When I am frightened to speak up, God’s hand is with me. And His Word always brings me joy.