The glory of the Jews should be marred. (1-11) All ranks should suffer misery, An earnest exhortation to repentance. (12-17) An awful message to Jerusalem and its king. (18-27)
Verses 1-11 It was usual with the prophets to teach by signs. And we have the explanation, ver. ( 9-11 ) . The people of Israel had been to God as this girdle. He caused them to cleave to him by the law he gave them, the prophets he sent among them, and the favours he showed them. They had by their idolatries and sins buried themselves in foreign earth, mingled among the nations, and were so corrupted that they were good for nothing. If we are proud of learning, power, and outward privileges, it is just with God to wither them. The minds of men should be awakened to a sense of their guilt and danger; yet nothing will be effectual without the influences of the Spirit.
Verses 12-17 As the bottle was fitted to hold the wine, so the sins of the people made them vessels of wrath, fitted for the judgments of God; with which they should be filled till they caused each other's destruction. The prophet exhorts them to give glory to God, by confessing their sins, humbling themselves in repentance, and returning to his service. Otherwise they would be carried into other countries in all the darkness of idolatry and wickedness. All misery, witnessed or foreseen, will affect a feeling mind, but the pious heart must mourn most over the afflictions of the Lord's flock.
Verses 18-27 Here is a message sent to king Jehoiakim, and his queen. Their sorrows would be great indeed. Do they ask, Wherefore come these things upon us? Let them know, it is for their obstinacy in sin. We cannot alter the natural colour of the skin; and so is it morally impossible to reclaim and reform these people. Sin is the blackness of the soul; it is the discolouring of it; we were shapen in it, so that we cannot get clear of it by any power of our own. But Almighty grace is able to change the Ethiopian's skin. Neither natural depravity, nor strong habits of sin, form an obstacle to the working of God, the new-creating Spirit. The Lord asks of Jerusalem, whether she is determined not be made clean. If any poor slave of sin feels that he could as soon change his nature as master his headstrong lusts, let him not despair; for things impossible to men are possible with God. Let us then seek help from Him who is mighty to save.
In this chapter, under the similes of a girdle and bottles of wine, the destruction of the Jews is set forth. Some exhortations are given them to repent and humble themselves, even men of all ranks and degrees among them; and their sins, the source of their calamities, are pointed out to them. An order is given to the prophet to get him a linen girdle, with instructions what to do with it, and which he observed, Jer 13:1,2, a fresh order to take it and hide it in the hole of a rock by the river Euphrates, which he accordingly did, Jer 13:3-5 and he is bid a third time to go and take it from thence, which he did; when he found it spoiled, and good for nothing, Jer 13:6,7, then follows the application of this simile, or the signification of this sign; that in like manner the pride of Judah and Jerusalem should be marred, and for their wickedness and idolatry should become good for nothing, like that girdle; whereas they ought to have cleaved to the Lord, as a girdle does to a man's loins, and to have been an honourable people to him, Jer 13:8-11. By the simile of bottles filled with wine is signified that all the inhabitants of the land, king, priests, prophets, and common people, should be like drunken men, that should dash one against another, and destroy each other, which the mercy of God would not prevent, Jer 13:12-14, some exhortations are made to the people in general, to be humble, and confess their sins, and give glory to God, before it was too late; which are enforced by the prophet's affectionate concern for them, Jer 13:15-17 and to the king and queen in particular, since their crown and kingdom were about to be taken from them; the cities, in the southern parts, going to be shut up, and not opened; and even the whole land of Judea, and all its inhabitants, in a little time would be carried captive, Jer 13:18,19, and, to certify them of the truth of these things, they are bid to look to the north, from whence the enemy was coming to carry them captive, even the beautiful flock committed to their care, Jer 13:20, and to consider what they could say for themselves, when their punishment should come upon them suddenly, as the sorrows of a woman in travail, Jer 13:21 and should they ask the reason of this, it was owing to the multitude of their iniquities, and to their habit and custom of sinning, which made their case desperate, Jer 13:22,23, wherefore a resolution is taken to disperse them among the nations, and that this should be their lot and portion, because of their many abominations, and yet not without some concern that they might be purged from their iniquities, Jer 13:24-27.