Jeremiah 18

At the Potter’s House

1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
2 “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.”
3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel.
4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
5 Then the word of the LORD came to me.
6 He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.
7 If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed,
8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.
9 And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted,
10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.
11 “Now therefore say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘This is what the LORD says: Look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions.’
12 But they will reply, ‘It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; we will all follow the stubbornness of our evil hearts.’ ”
13 Therefore this is what the LORD says: “Inquire among the nations: Who has ever heard anything like this? A most horrible thing has been done by Virgin Israel.
14 Does the snow of Lebanon ever vanish from its rocky slopes? Do its cool waters from distant sources ever stop flowing?[a]
15 Yet my people have forgotten me; they burn incense to worthless idols, which made them stumble in their ways, in the ancient paths. They made them walk in byways, on roads not built up.
16 Their land will be an object of horror and of lasting scorn; all who pass by will be appalled and will shake their heads.
17 Like a wind from the east, I will scatter them before their enemies; I will show them my back and not my face in the day of their disaster.”
18 They said, “Come, let’s make plans against Jeremiah; for the teaching of the law by the priest will not cease, nor will counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophets. So come, let’s attack him with our tongues and pay no attention to anything he says.”
19 Listen to me, LORD; hear what my accusers are saying!
20 Should good be repaid with evil? Yet they have dug a pit for me. Remember that I stood before you and spoke in their behalf to turn your wrath away from them.
21 So give their children over to famine; hand them over to the power of the sword. Let their wives be made childless and widows; let their men be put to death, their young men slain by the sword in battle.
22 Let a cry be heard from their houses when you suddenly bring invaders against them, for they have dug a pit to capture me and have hidden snares for my feet.
23 But you, LORD, know all their plots to kill me. Do not forgive their crimes or blot out their sins from your sight. Let them be overthrown before you; deal with them in the time of your anger.

Jeremiah 18 Commentary

Chapter 18

God's power over his creatures is represented by the potter. (1-10) The Jews exhorted to repentance, and judgments foretold. (11-17) The prophet appeals to God. (18-23)

Verses 1-10 While Jeremiah looks upon the potter's work, God darts into his mind two great truths. God has authority, and power, to form and fashion kingdoms and nations as he pleases. He may dispose of us as he thinks fit; and it would be as absurd for us to dispute this, as for the clay to quarrel with the potter. But he always goes by fixed rules of justice and goodness. When God is coming against us in judgments, we may be sure it is for our sins; but sincere conversion from the evil of sin will prevent the evil of punishment, as to persons, and to families, and nations.

Verses 11-17 Sinners call it liberty to live at large; whereas for a man to be a slave to his lusts, is the very worst slavery. They forsook God for idols. When men are parched with heat, and meet with cooling, refreshing streams, they use them. In these things men will not leave a certainty for an uncertainty; but Israel left the ancient paths appointed by the Divine law. They walked not in the highway, in which they might travel safely, but in a way in which they must stumble: such was the way of idolatry, and such is the way of iniquity. This made their land desolate, and themselves miserable. Calamities may be borne, if God smile upon us when under them; but if he is displeased, and refuses his help, we are undone. Multitudes forget the Lord and his Christ, and wander from the ancient paths, to walk in ways of their own devising. But what will they do in the day of judgment!

Verses 18-23 When the prophet called to repentance, instead of obeying the call, the people devised devices against him. Thus do sinners deal with the great Intercessor, crucifying him afresh, and speaking against him on earth, while his blood is speaking for them in heaven. But the prophet had done his duty to them; and the same will be our rejoicing in a day of evil.

Cross References 51

  • 1. S Isaiah 29:16; Isaiah 45:9; Romans 9:20-21
  • 2. S Genesis 2:7
  • 3. Jeremiah 1:10
  • 4. S Exodus 32:14; Psalms 25:11; Jeremiah 26:13; Jeremiah 36:3; John 3:8-10
  • 5. Jeremiah 31:28; Jeremiah 42:10; Daniel 9:14; Ezekiel 18:21; Hosea 11:8-9; Joel 2:13; John 4:2
  • 6. Jeremiah 1:10; Jeremiah 31:28
  • 7. Ezekiel 33:18
  • 8. 1 Samuel 2:29-30; 1 Samuel 13:13
  • 9. S Jeremiah 1:10
  • 10. S 2 Kings 22:16; S Jeremiah 4:6
  • 11. ver 18
  • 12. S Deuteronomy 4:30; S 2 Kings 17:13; Isaiah 1:16-19
  • 13. S Jeremiah 7:3
  • 14. S Job 16:17
  • 15. S Isaiah 57:10; Jeremiah 2:25
  • 16. S Jeremiah 3:17
  • 17. S Isaiah 66:8; Jeremiah 2:10
  • 18. S Jeremiah 5:30
  • 19. S 2 Kings 19:21
  • 20. S Isaiah 17:10
  • 21. S Isaiah 1:13; Jeremiah 44:15,19
  • 22. Jeremiah 10:15; Jeremiah 51:18; Hosea 11:2
  • 23. Ezekiel 44:12; Malachi 2:8
  • 24. Jeremiah 6:16
  • 25. S Isaiah 57:14; Isaiah 62:10
  • 26. S Deuteronomy 28:37; Jeremiah 25:9; Ezekiel 33:28-29
  • 27. Jeremiah 19:8; Jeremiah 42:18
  • 28. S Leviticus 26:32
  • 29. S 2 Kings 19:21; S Job 16:4; Psalms 22:7; Lamentations 1:12
  • 30. S Job 7:10; Jeremiah 13:24
  • 31. S 2 Chronicles 29:6; S Jeremiah 2:27
  • 32. ver 11; Jeremiah 11:19
  • 33. Jeremiah 2:8; Haggai 2:11; Malachi 2:7
  • 34. S Job 5:13; Ezekiel 7:26
  • 35. Jeremiah 5:13
  • 36. Psalms 52:2; Psalms 64:2-8; S Jeremiah 9:3
  • 37. Psalms 71:13
  • 38. S Genesis 44:4
  • 39. Psalms 35:7; Psalms 57:6; S Psalms 119:85
  • 40. Jeremiah 15:1
  • 41. S Genesis 20:7; S Deuteronomy 9:19; Psalms 106:23; Jeremiah 14:7-9
  • 42. Jeremiah 11:22; Jeremiah 14:16
  • 43. S Psalms 63:10
  • 44. S 1 Samuel 15:33; Psalms 109:9; S Isaiah 47:9; Lamentations 5:3
  • 45. S Isaiah 9:17
  • 46. S Jeremiah 6:26
  • 47. S Psalms 119:85
  • 48. Psalms 35:15; Psalms 140:5; Jeremiah 5:26; Jeremiah 20:10
  • 49. S Jeremiah 11:21; Jeremiah 37:15
  • 50. S Nehemiah 4:5; Psalms 109:14
  • 51. Psalms 59:5; S Jeremiah 10:24

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. The meaning of the Hebrew for this sentence is uncertain.

Chapter Summary


This chapter expresses the sovereign power of God ever his creatures, and his usual methods of dealing with them; it threatens destruction to the Jews for their idolatry; and is closed with the prophet's complaint of his persecutors, and with imprecations upon them. The sovereign power of God is expressed under the simile of a potter working in his shop, and making and marring vessels at pleasure, Jer 18:1-4; the application of which to God, and the house of Israel, is in Jer 18:5,6; and is illustrated by his usual dealings with kingdoms and nations; for though he is a sovereign Being, yet he acts both in a kind and equitable way; and as the potter changes his work, so he changes the dispensations of his providence, of which two instances are given; the one is, that having threatened ruin to a nation, upon their repentance and good behaviour he revokes the threatening, Jer 18:7,8; and the other is, that having made a declaration of good to a people, upon their sin and disobedience he recalls it, and punishes them for their wickedness, Jer 18:9,10; then follows a prophecy of the destruction of the Jews in particular, in which they are exhorted to repentance to prevent it; their obstinacy is observed; their folly in departing from God, and worshipping idols, is exposed; and they are threatened with utter ruin, Jer 18:11-17; the conspiracy and evil designs of the Jews against the prophet, their malice and ingratitude, are complained of by him, Jer 18:18-20; his imprecations upon them, and prayers for their destruction, are delivered out in Jer 18:21-23.

Jeremiah 18 Commentaries

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