The Scriptorium

Jeremiah's Lament

Faith in the face of persecution. Jeremiah 20.7-18

The Potter and the Vessel: Jeremiah 18-21 (5)

Pray Psalm 7.1-5.
O LORD my God, in You I put my trust;
Save me from all those who persecute me;
And deliver me,
Lest they tear me like a lion,
Rending me in pieces, while there is none to deliver.
O LORD my God, if I have done this:
If there is iniquity in my hands,
If I have repaid evil to him who was at peace with me,
Or have plundered my enemy without cause,
Let the enemy pursue me and overtake me;
Yes, let him trample my life to the earth,
And lay my honor in the dust.

Sing Psalm 7.1-5.
(Finlandia: Be Still My Soul)
O Lord, my God, in You do I take refuge;
save me from those who my poor soul would tear!
Deliver me from my foes’ angry deluge,
lest I be swept beyond all hope and care.
Let not injustice, let not evil stain me,
lest to the dust my glory trampled be.

Read and meditate on Jeremiah 20.7-18.

1. How did Jeremiah respond to his being mocked and persecuted?

2. How did he express his confidence in the Lord?

Like us, Jeremiah was only human. He didn’t like not being liked (vv. 7, 10). Indeed, he wished he’d never been born to take up this calling (vv. 14-18). His life in the ministry of the Word had become “labor and sorrow”; he was continually “consumed with shame” (v. 18). At one point, so tormented was he, that Jeremiah resolved just to keep quiet about the Word of God (v. 9). The people were throwing his words back in his face, mocking his warning to Pashhur and threatening to report every word he preached to those who were looking to prevail against him and to have revenge on him for his preaching (v. 10).

But Jeremiah could not remain silent about the Word. The Word of God was alive in his heart, “like a burning fire, shut up in my bones”. Try though he may to refrain from preaching, he could not hold it back (v. 9). For he knew that God had called him, and God was with him “as a mighty, awesome One”. He knew that God’s Word would not fail, and those who were opposing and harassing him would receive the judgment due them for opposing the Word of the Lord (v. 11).

Jeremiah bared his heart to the Lord (v. 12), and despite his pain, he praised God and rested in His delivering grace (v. 13). He rejoiced in the Lord and His salvation; but he nearly despaired in his daily ministry. As a true servant of God, Jeremiah could know both, and take both of these experiences to the Lord in prayer.
Being God’s witness is not always a pleasant experience. There will be many who don’t want to hear the Good News, and some of them will do their best to annoy, intimidate, harass, and silence us. That won’t be pleasant, but we shouldn’t try to avoid it. In the midst of every difficulty, we know God has lodged His Word in our hearts, and we can go to Him with praise and thanksgiving, trusting in Him to fulfill all His Word and keep all His promises.

1. It’s not wrong for us to become upset or troubled. How should we respond at such times?

2. Jeremiah could not hold back from speaking the Word of God. How can we get to the place where we feel this way as well?

3. What does God see when He tests your heart and mind?

Whenever, then, we are reduced into straits, and seem to be, as it were, rejected by God himself, let us still wait patiently until he may be pleased to free us from the hand of the wicked; without misery and distress preceding, we should never sufficiently acknowledge the power of God in preserving us. Thus Jeremiah confesses that he was for a time miserable and oppressed, but that he was at length delivered, even when the ungodly and wicked thought themselves victorious. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Jeremiah 20.13

Give me grace and strength, O Lord, that today I may be faithful as Your witness as I…

Pray Psalm 7.6-17.

Seek the strength and Presence of the Lord to go with you this day, and to sustain you through any trials or temptations.

Sing Psalm 7.6-17.
Psalm 7.6-17 (Finlandia: Be Still My Soul)
Arise, O Lord, rise up in wrath to save me!
Let rage and judgment fall upon my foes!
From all around to You let thanks and praise be.
Rise up on high; the wicked curse with woes.
O Judge of all, observe my just demeanor
And vindicate me by Your grace, O Lord.

Bring to an end the evil of the wicked,
but let Your righteous ones established be.
You are my shield, my soul will not be stricken;
You save the upright; You will rescue me!
You are a righteous Judge in every way;
a God of indignation every day.

Let all repent or know Your piercing sword!
Your bow is bent and ready for the fight!
Take deadly weapons in Your hand, O Lord,
and fiery arrows, aimed against the night.
The wicked fall and stumble in their mischief,
but to my soul Your grace will bring relief.

All praise and thanks to You, O righteous Savior!
My hope, my trust, my confidence are You!
Embrace me with Your kindness and Your favor,
and to Your glory make me ever true.
We sing Your praise and glorify Your Name,
Who brings our foes to judgment and to shame.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore