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18th June

Jeremiah 10-13; Psalm 14

Bible in a Year
6 minutes
In this article
18th June

Jeremiah 10-13; Psalm 14

Bible in a Year
6 minutes


So far in Jeremiah we’ve started the book, looking at Jeremiah’s calling and accusation against Judah. The book of Jeremiah is a collection of messages and poems by the prophet Jeremiah, who was a prophet to Judah immediately before their exile. We read as God called Jeremiah to be his mouth pieces to Judah to weed out corruption and idolatry in Judah. The people would not listen to him, but his teachings would serve as a foundation for the people after they’d been exiled.

Jeremiah then started off focus on the people’s relationship with God. God had been the one who led them out of Egypt, but they quickly forgot that. The Israelites instead chose to worship other gods, essentially committing adultery against God. God pointed out that Deuteronomy made it clear if a man divorces his wife and she goes off with another man, she can’t then return to her first husband. In the same way, God couldn’t accept Israel back as his wife after all that she’s done.

Jeremiah then reflected on Israel after the split into two kingdoms; Israel in the north and Judah in the south. He used the metaphor of them being sisters who were both married to God. Israel continued to have affairs and chase after other gods, so God sent her away. But Judah didn’t learn from her sister’s mistakes. Instead, she started doing the same. So God gave her a warning. If she repented and turned back to him, he would restore her. If not, he would bring her to shame.

We read as Jeremiah tried to lead the people to repentance, but they would not listen. He grieved the destruction he knew was coming to Judah, likening it to decreation. Returning the land to it state before God created it. God even sent out Jeremiah to find anyone righteous that would make Judah worth saving, much like Abraham with God in Genesis 18. But Jeremiah found no one.

Again, Jeremiah warned the people that a foreign nation would come from the north, but they did not listen. They continued in their wickedness, so God calls for Judah's enemies to come and cut her down. Again, Jeremiah calls the people to repent, but God tells Jeremiah not to pray for them. Their opportunity to change has gone. The era of wise men is gone. It's time for the women who mourn to lead.

Jeremiah 10-13

God points out the foolishness of idols. The people would often chop down wood, carve it into little statues, cover these wooden statues with silver and gold and then worship them. But these idols aren't impressive or powerful. They are nothing more than glorified scarecrows. Jeremiah responds to God, recognising this truth. He notes how these idols are made from metal mined out by human hands and then put together by skilled craftsmen. But at the end of the day, they're still just creations of humans.

How can these compare to the one true God that is king over all the earth? He made the earth and controls the weather. Any human that would choose a manmade statue over the God of the universe is stupid. So God tells the people to gather up their bundles. In other words, pack your stuff, because I'm kicking you out of this land. Jeremiah grieves for what will happen to his land, and accuses the leaders of being like shepherds who don't look after their sheep, so that the sheep all wonder away and end up lost.

God reminds Jeremiah of the covenant (legal contract) he made with his people all the way back in Egypt. He points out that the people have broken that covenant and so he will punish them according to the covenant they agreed to. God tells Jeremiah not to pray for the people, because this is exactly what they signed up for. They knew from the beginning there were consequences if they chose to disobey God and live wickedly.

Jeremiah pipes up and mentions how when God first revealed himself to him, and gave him words to speak, there were those that didn't like what he was saying and tried to kill him. Jeremiah declares that God knows the hearts and minds of everyone, and that he judges righteously, so he's leaving it up to God to decide who was right and act accordingly. God responds that he will punish those who tried to silence and kill Jeremiah for their wickedness.

Jeremiah then makes a complaint to God. Like Job, he doesn't understand why it seems like wicked people prosper and do well. He knows that God sees that his heart is pure, and so asks God to defeat those that are coming against him. He then questions God about how much longer the people of the land will suffer because of wickedness.

God responds, warning Jeremiah that things will get a lot worse than this. What he's facing now is nothing compared to what he will face. God then speaks prophetically over the land. He has forsaken his house, his temple. When he talks about his heritage, he is referring to the people of Judah. These people of argued against God. They devour everything they see. They have destroyed God's vineyard, his land, and soon it will be like a desolate wasteland.

God promises to pluck them from the land. But after he has done that, he will have compassion on them and restore them. And then, if there is anyone, from any tribe or nation, that chooses to follow God, he will make them part of his people. But any person or nation that refuses to follow him, he will pluck them up and destroy them.

The people of Judah then get five warnings from God. The first is a very visual warning. God tells Jeremiah to get a loincloth (ancient underwear) and put it on. He is then to take it off and hide it away. Later, when he comes back to it, it is filthy and unusable. Judah are like that loincloth. They once were intimate with God. As close to him as they could be. But then they wondered off and did their own thing, and now they are filthy, morally corrupt, and good for nothing.

The second warning uses the images of wine jars. Just like wine jars are filled with wine, God will fill his people with metaphorical wine, so they might behave as though they are drunk and destroy one another in their drunkenness. The third warning is against pride. God's people should trust in him, not themselves, otherwise he will turn the light off and leave them stumbling in the dark.

The fourth warning is against those who lead. They too should humble themselves because if not, they, and their people, will be taken into exile. The fifth warning is the longest, and can be summarised as this; if you don't change your ways, an army will come from the north and destroy you. They might want to ask, "how did this happen?" but God wants to make it clear to them that it is all because of their wickedness.

Psalm 14

This psalm is attributed to king David and is often considered a lament psalm, but it’s not that clear. We’ve established before that the common beats of a lament psalm are; turning to God, bringing the complaint, making a request of God, and then declaring trust in God. 

But this psalm has less of the feel of someone bringing their complaints to God and asking him to intervene, and more of the feel of someone who is teaching on the nature of a fallen earth. There are fools who are corrupt, and those with understanding who seek after God. 

We similar language in the book of Proverbs, and so it may be that this psalm is a wisdom psalm. These psalms seek to educate and teach the reader. The psalm has a duplicate later on (Psalm 53) which is almost identical with some slight variations.

The psalm can be broadly broken into two parts; wisdom’s lament and looking forward to deliverance. But the first part can be broken down even further.

Psalm 14:1 - The foolish

Psalm 14:2-3 - Are there any who are wise? (Spoiler, no)

Psalm 14:4 - Why do the wicked attack my people?

Psalm 14:5-6 - God is refuge to the poor

Psalm 14:7 - The future hope of Zion

The psalm opens on a problem that foolish, corrupt people exist. And there seem to be a lot of them. These foolish people do not believe in God, and they do wicked things.

In response, God searches the earth for those who aren’t foolish. Those who have understanding and who seek God. But all have them have allowed themselves to become foolish.This is hyperbole (over-exaggeration) as we’ll see there are still those who are innocent and righteous.

Turning back to the foolish, the psalmist notes how they oppress and consume ‘my people’. Who is the person talking? As the psalm is attributed to King David, this could be from the point of the king. But it is perhaps more likely that the psalmist is talking from the point of lady wisdom.

Lady wisdom is a character that appears in a lot of wisdom literature, who is the embodiment of wisdom. Her people are those who seek after and live by wisdom.

Lady wisdom condemns the wicked. They will be terrorised because God is the God of the righteous. As much as they might try to shame the poor, God will protect them.

And so lady wisdom looks forward to the day where there will be no more wicked. Where God restores the good fortunes to his people. This will be a day of celebration.

Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.

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