Jeremiah 18

Listen to Jeremiah 18
1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
2 Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.
3 Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.[a]
4 And the vessel that he made of clay[b] was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
5 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.
7 At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it;
8 If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.
9 And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it;
10 If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.
11 Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.
12 And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.
13 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Ask ye now among the heathen, who hath heard such things: the virgin of Israel hath done a very horrible thing.
14 Will a man leave the snow[c] of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field? or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken?
15 Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths*, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up;
16 To make their land desolate, and a perpetual hissing*; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished, and wag his head.
17 I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will shew them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity.
18 Then said they, Come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.
19 Give heed to me, O LORD, and hearken to the voice of them that contend with me.
20 Shall evil be recompensed for good? for they have digged a pit for my soul. Remember that I stood before thee to speak good for them, and to turn away thy wrath from them.
21 Therefore deliver up their children to the famine, and pour out their blood by the force of the sword; and let their wives be bereaved of their children, and be widows; and let their men be put to death; let their young men be slain by the sword in battle.
22 Let a cry be heard from their houses, when thou shalt bring a troop suddenly upon them: for they have digged a pit* to take me, and hid snares for my feet.
23 Yet, LORD, thou knowest all their counsel against me to slay[d] me: forgive not their iniquity, neither blot out their sin from thy sight, but let them be overthrown before thee; deal thus with them in the time of thine 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.

Footnotes 4

  • [a]. wheels: or, frames, or, seats
  • [b]. of clay...: or, was marred, as clay in the hand of the potter
  • [c]. the snow...: or, my fields for a rock, or for the snow of Lebanon? shall the running waters be forsaken for the strange cold waters?
  • [d]. to slay...: Heb. for death

Chapter Summary

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 Commentaries