As you read chapter thirty-eight, you will ask if yourself if you haven’t read this account before – in chapter thirty-seven perhaps. There are a lot of similarities.
But there are differences too, which lead us to believe they are accounts of different events and showcase two things: the trials of Jeremiah, and the insecurity of Zedekiah. The king and his noblemen are determined not to listen to the word of the Lord. They despise Jeremiah. But the King believes Jeremiah speaks the truth, and so, under cover, has him brought to the king’s private entrance to the temple (called “the third entrance”) for an interview.
Zedekiah can read the writing on the wall, but he is afraid of the shame he will endure when the Babylonians overcome the city. They will accuse him of being indecisive, paralyzed with fear (“your feet are sunk in the mud”).
Jeremiah knows something about being in the mud, and he urges the king to be obedient to the Lord. Rescue will come.
It certainly had for Jeremiah.
I’ve wondered about that cistern Jeremiah was stuck in. I’ve wondered how deep it was (the mud that is). It would be one thing to stand (or sit) on slimy mud. It would be another entirely to be up to your knees or waste in it. How could you sit? If that deep, how long could you stand? You certainly couldn’t lie down. It had to be deep enough to apply considerable pressure on Jeremiah to lift him from the muck – using over thirty men no less.
And I’ve wondered if Jeremiah wondered: “Where is God?”
Faithfulness will not exempt one from paralyzing situations, from being at times stuck in the muck that is often life. What it does guarantee is that deliverance will come. Without faithfulness, hope is lost. That’s what Jeremiah is saying to Zedekiah.