Jeremiah 18:4-6

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.

Jeremiah 18:4 in Other Translations

KJV
4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
ESV
4 And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.
NLT
4 But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.
MSG
4 Whenever the pot the potter was working on turned out badly, as sometimes happens when you are working with clay, the potter would simply start over and use the same clay to make another pot.
CSB
4 But the jar that he was making from the clay became flawed in the potter's hand, so he made it into another jar, as it seemed right for him to do.

Jeremiah 18:4-6 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO JEREMIAH 18

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 18:4-6 In-Context

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.

Cross References 2

  • 1. S Isaiah 29:16; Isaiah 45:9; Romans 9:20-21
  • 2. S Genesis 2:7
Scripture quoted by permission.  Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.