Jeremiah 3

1 “If a man divorces his wife and she leaves him and marries another man, should he return to her again? Would not the land be completely defiled? But you have lived as a prostitute with many lovers— would you now return to me?” declares the LORD.
2 “Look up to the barren heights and see. Is there any place where you have not been ravished? By the roadside you sat waiting for lovers, sat like a nomad in the desert. You have defiled the land with your prostitution and wickedness.
3 Therefore the showers have been withheld, and no spring rains have fallen. Yet you have the brazen look of a prostitute; you refuse to blush with shame.
4 Have you not just called to me: ‘My Father, my friend from my youth,
5 will you always be angry? Will your wrath continue forever?’ This is how you talk, but you do all the evil you can.”

Unfaithful Israel

6 During the reign of King Josiah, the LORD said to me, “Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there.
7 I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me but she did not, and her unfaithful sister Judah saw it.
8 I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery.
9 Because Israel’s immorality mattered so little to her, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stone and wood.
10 In spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretense,” declares the LORD.
11 The LORD said to me, “Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah.
12 Go, proclaim this message toward the north: “ ‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will frown on you no longer, for I am faithful,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will not be angry forever.
13 Only acknowledge your guilt— you have rebelled against the LORD your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,’ ” declares the LORD.
14 “Return, faithless people,” declares the LORD, “for I am your husband. I will choose you—one from a town and two from a clan—and bring you to Zion.
15 Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.
16 In those days, when your numbers have increased greatly in the land,” declares the LORD, “people will no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the LORD.’ It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made.
17 At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the LORD. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts.
18 In those days the people of Judah will join the people of Israel, and together they will come from a northern land to the land I gave your ancestors as an inheritance.
19 “I myself said, “ ‘How gladly would I treat you like my children and give you a pleasant land, the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.’ I thought you would call me ‘Father’ and not turn away from following me.
20 But like a woman unfaithful to her husband, so you, Israel, have been unfaithful to me,” declares the LORD.
21 A cry is heard on the barren heights, the weeping and pleading of the people of Israel, because they have perverted their ways and have forgotten the LORD their God.
22 “Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding.” “Yes, we will come to you, for you are the LORD our God.
23 Surely the idolatrous commotion on the hills and mountains is a deception; surely in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel.
24 From our youth shameful gods have consumed the fruits of our ancestors’ labor— their flocks and herds, their sons and daughters.
25 Let us lie down in our shame, and let our disgrace cover us. We have sinned against the LORD our God, both we and our ancestors; from our youth till this day we have not obeyed the LORD our God.”

Jeremiah 3 Commentary

Chapter 3

Exhortations to repentance. (1-5) Judah more guilty than Israel. (6-11) But pardon is promised. (12-20) The children of Israel express their sorrow and repentance. (21-25)

Verses 1-5 In repentance, it is good to think upon the sins of which we have been guilty, and the places and companies where they have been committed. How gently the Lord had corrected them! In receiving penitents, he is God, and not man. Whatever thou hast said or done hitherto, wilt thou not from this time apply to me? Will not this grace of God overcome thee? Now pardon is proclaimed, wilt thou not take the benefit? They will hope to find in him the tender compassions of a Father towards a returning prodigal. They will come to him as the Guide of their youth: youth needs a guide. Repenting sinners may encourage themselves that God will not keep his anger to the end. All God's mercies, in every age, suggest encouragement; and what can be so desirable for the young, as to have the Lord for their Father, and the Guide of their youth? Let parents daily direct their children earnestly to seek this blessing.

Verses 6-11 If we mark the crimes of those who break off from a religious profession, and the consequences, we see abundant reason to shun evil ways. It is dreadful to be proved more criminal than those who have actually perished in their sins; yet it will be small comfort in everlasting punishment, for them to know that others were viler than they.

Verses 12-20 See God's readiness to pardon sin, and the blessings reserved for gospel times. These words were proclaimed toward the north; to Israel, the ten tribes, captive in Assyria. They are directed how to return. If we confess our sins, the Lord is faithful and just to forgive them. These promises are fully to come to pass in the bringing back the Jews in after-ages. God will graciously receive those that return to him; and by his grace, he takes them out from among the rest. The ark of the covenant was not found after the captivity. The whole of that dispensation was to be done away, which took place after the multitude of believers had been greatly increased by the conversion of the Gentiles, and of the Israelites scattered among them. A happy state of the church is foretold. He can teach all to call him Father; but without thorough change of heart and life, no man can be a child of God, and we have no security for not departing from Him.

Verses 21-25 Sin is turning aside to crooked ways. And forgetting the Lord our God is at the bottom of all sin. By sin we bring ourselves into trouble. The promise to those that return is, God will heal their backslidings, by his pardoning mercy, his quieting peace, and his renewing grace. They come devoting themselves to God. They come disclaiming all expectations of relief and succour from any but the Lord. Therefore they come depending upon him only. He is the Lord, and he only can save. It points out the great salvation from sin Jesus Christ wrought out for us. They come justifying God in their troubles, and judging themselves for their sins. True penitents learn to call sin shame, even the sin they have been most pleased with. True penitents learn to call sin death and ruin, and to charge upon it all they suffer. While men harden themselves in sin, contempt and misery are their portion: for he that covereth his sins shall not prosper, but he that confesseth and forsaketh them, shall find mercy.

Cross References 75

  • 1. Deuteronomy 24:1-4
  • 2. S Genesis 3:17
  • 3. S 2 Kings 16:7; S Isaiah 1:21; Jeremiah 2:20,25; Jeremiah 4:30; Lamentations 1:2; Ezekiel 16:26,29; Hosea 2:5,12; Hosea 3:1
  • 4. Hosea 2:7
  • 5. ver 21
  • 6. Genesis 38:14; Ezekiel 16:25
  • 7. ver 9; Jeremiah 2:7
  • 8. S Numbers 15:39; S Isaiah 1:21
  • 9. Leviticus 26:19; Jeremiah 5:25; Amos 4:7
  • 10. S Deuteronomy 11:14; Jeremiah 14:4; Joel 1:10
  • 11. Ezekiel 3:7; Ezekiel 16:30
  • 12. Jeremiah 6:15; Jeremiah 8:12; Zephaniah 2:1; Zephaniah 3:5
  • 13. ver 19; S Deuteronomy 32:6; S Psalms 89:26; Isaiah 63:16; Isaiah 64:8; Jeremiah 31:9
  • 14. S Jeremiah 2:2
  • 15. S Psalms 103:9; S Isaiah 54:9; Isaiah 57:16
  • 16. S 1 Chronicles 3:14
  • 17. ver 12,22; S Isaiah 24:16; Jeremiah 31:22; Jeremiah 49:4
  • 18. S Deuteronomy 12:2; Jeremiah 17:2; Ezekiel 20:28; Hosea 4:13
  • 19. S Leviticus 17:7; Jeremiah 2:20
  • 20. Ezekiel 16:46; Ezekiel 23:2,11
  • 21. Amos 4:8
  • 22. Jeremiah 11:10
  • 23. S Deuteronomy 4:27; S Deuteronomy 24:1
  • 24. Ezekiel 16:47; Ezekiel 23:11
  • 25. ver 2
  • 26. S Leviticus 17:7; S Isaiah 1:21
  • 27. S Isaiah 57:6
  • 28. Jeremiah 2:27
  • 29. Isaiah 31:6; Amos 4:9; Haggai 2:17
  • 30. Jeremiah 12:2; Ezekiel 33:31
  • 31. S 2 Kings 17:19
  • 32. Ezekiel 16:52; Ezekiel 23:11
  • 33. ver 7
  • 34. S Jeremiah 2:19
  • 35. 2 Kings 17:3-6
  • 36. ver 14; S Deuteronomy 4:30; Jeremiah 31:21,22; Ezekiel 14:6; Ezekiel 33:11; Hosea 14:1
  • 37. S ver 6
  • 38. S 1 Kings 3:26; S Psalms 6:2
  • 39. S Psalms 103:9; S Isaiah 54:9; Psalms 86:15
  • 40. Deuteronomy 30:1-3; Jeremiah 14:20; 1 John 1:9
  • 41. S Jeremiah 2:25
  • 42. S Deuteronomy 12:2
  • 43. ver 25; Jeremiah 22:21
  • 44. S ver 12; S Job 22:23; Jeremiah 4:1; Hosea 2:19
  • 45. S Isaiah 54:5
  • 46. S Isaiah 31:4; Acts 20:28
  • 47. Acts 13:22
  • 48. S Numbers 3:31; S 1 Chronicles 15:25
  • 49. S Isaiah 65:17
  • 50. S Psalms 47:8; Jeremiah 17:12; Jeremiah 33:16; Ezekiel 1:26; Ezekiel 43:7; Ezekiel 48:35
  • 51. S Isaiah 2:3; Micah 4:1
  • 52. S Psalms 22:23; Jeremiah 13:11; Jeremiah 33:9; Isaiah 60:9
  • 53. Psalms 81:12; Jeremiah 7:24; Jeremiah 9:14; Jeremiah 11:8; Jeremiah 13:10; Jeremiah 16:12; Jeremiah 18:12
  • 54. Jeremiah 30:3; Ezekiel 37:19; Hosea 1:11
  • 55. S Isaiah 11:13; Jeremiah 50:4
  • 56. Jeremiah 16:15; Jeremiah 31:8
  • 57. Deuteronomy 31:7; S Isaiah 14:1; Ezekiel 11:17; Ezekiel 37:22; Amos 9:15
  • 58. S Deuteronomy 8:7
  • 59. Psalms 106:24; Ezekiel 20:6
  • 60. S ver 4; S Exodus 4:22; S 2 Samuel 7:14; Isaiah 63:16
  • 61. S Isaiah 24:16
  • 62. ver 2
  • 63. Jeremiah 31:18
  • 64. S Isaiah 57:11
  • 65. S ver 12; S Job 22:23; Hosea 14:4
  • 66. S Isaiah 30:26; Isaiah 57:18; Jeremiah 33:6; Hosea 6:1
  • 67. S Jeremiah 2:19
  • 68. S Jeremiah 2:20
  • 69. Psalms 3:8; Jeremiah 17:14
  • 70. Jeremiah 11:13; Hosea 9:10
  • 71. S Ezra 9:6; Jeremiah 31:19; Daniel 9:7
  • 72. S Judges 10:10; S 1 Kings 8:47
  • 73. Jeremiah 14:20
  • 74. S Psalms 25:7; S Jeremiah 22:21
  • 75. S ver 13; Ezekiel 2:3

Chapter Summary


In this chapter the sins of the people of Israel and Judah are exposed; particularly their idolatry, signified by playing the harlot; which is aggravated by the number of lovers or idols they had worshipped; by the many places where they had committed it; by their impudence in doing it; and by the bad consequence of it, showers of rain being withheld from them on that account, Jer 3:1-3 and the grace of God towards them is abundantly declared by frequent calls unto them to repent and turn to him, and this after putting them away, which is not usual, Jer 3:1,8, the Lord expostulates with them, and puts words into their mouths, what they should say to him, even after they had spoken and done as evil things as they could, Jer 3:4,5 the sin of Judah is particularly aggravated, by having seen what Israel, or the ten tribes, had done; their impenitence, notwithstanding the divine call; their going into captivity for their sin; and yet all this had no effect on Judah, to restrain them from the like sins, and to engage them to repentance; so that, of the two, the men of Judah were most to blame, Jer 3:6-11, wherefore the prophet is bid to go towards the north, where Babylon lay, and Israel were carried captive, and call upon them to return to the Lord, and proclaim his grace and mercy to them, only insisting upon an acknowledgment of their sins, their idolatry and disobedience, Jer 3:12,13 and next the call to them to return is repeated; to which they are encouraged by observing the relations, they stood in to him, which continued, by promising to bring a remnant of them to Zion, and give them pastors approved of by him, and profitable to them, Jer 3:14,15 which respect Gospel times, and the latter day, when the ceremonial law would be abrogated, Jer 3:16, the Gentiles called, Jer 3:17 and an entire agreement between Judah and Israel, Jer 3:18 and yet the Lord expresses a concern how he should reckon them as his children, and treat them as such, who had behaved so ill towards him; but his grace gets over the difficulties; finds out a way, by putting it into their mouths to call him their Father, and not turn away from him, Jer 3:19 and this, notwithstanding their great treachery to him, perversion of their ways, and forgetfulness of the Lord, Jer 3:20,21, and they are again exhorted to repent and turn, with a promise of healing their backslidings, which has such an effect upon them, as to engage them to come to him, Jer 3:22 acknowledging their salvation is only in him, and not in their idols; and that sin was the cause of all their calamities; and that shame and confusion of face belonged unto them on that account, Jer 3:23-25.

Jeremiah 3 Commentaries

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