Jeremiah 4

1 If you return, O Israel, says the Lord, if you return to me, if you remove your abominations from my presence, and do not waver,
2 and if you swear, "As the Lord lives!" in truth, in justice, and in uprightness, then nations shall be blessed by him, and by him they shall boast.
3 For thus says the Lord to the people of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns.
4 Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, remove the foreskin of your hearts, O people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or else my wrath will go forth like fire, and burn with no one to quench it, because of the evil of your doings.
5 Declare in Judah, and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say: Blow the trumpet through the land; shout aloud and say, "Gather together, and let us go into the fortified cities!"
6 Raise a standard toward Zion, flee for safety, do not delay, for I am bringing evil from the north, and a great destruction.
7 A lion has gone up from its thicket, a destroyer of nations has set out; he has gone out from his place to make your land a waste; your cities will be ruins without inhabitant.
8 Because of this put on sackcloth, lament and wail: "The fierce anger of the Lord has not turned away from us."
9 On that day, says the Lord, courage shall fail the king and the officials; the priests shall be appalled and the prophets astounded.
10 Then I said, "Ah, Lord God, how utterly you have deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, "It shall be well with you,' even while the sword is at the throat!"
11 At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem: A hot wind comes from me out of the bare heights in the desert toward my poor people, not to winnow or cleanse—
12 a wind too strong for that. Now it is I who speak in judgment against them.
13 Look! He comes up like clouds, his chariots like the whirlwind; his horses are swifter than eagles— woe to us, for we are ruined!
14 O Jerusalem, wash your heart clean of wickedness so that you may be saved. How long shall your evil schemes lodge within you?
15 For a voice declares from Dan and proclaims disaster from Mount Ephraim.
16 Tell the nations, "Here they are!" Proclaim against Jerusalem, "Besiegers come from a distant land; they shout against the cities of Judah.
17 They have closed in around her like watchers of a field, because she has rebelled against me, says the Lord.
18 Your ways and your doings have brought this upon you. This is your doom; how bitter it is! It has reached your very heart."
19 My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain! Oh, the walls of my heart! My heart is beating wildly; I cannot keep silent; for I hear the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.
20 Disaster overtakes disaster, the whole land is laid waste. Suddenly my tents are destroyed, my curtains in a moment.
21 How long must I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet?
22 "For my people are foolish, they do not know me; they are stupid children, they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil, but do not know how to do good."
23 I looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light.
24 I looked on the mountains, and lo, they were quaking, and all the hills moved to and fro.
25 I looked, and lo, there was no one at all, and all the birds of the air had fled.
26 I looked, and lo, the fruitful land was a desert, and all its cities were laid in ruins before the Lord, before his fierce anger.
27 For thus says the Lord: The whole land shall be a desolation; yet I will not make a full end.
28 Because of this the earth shall mourn, and the heavens above grow black; for I have spoken, I have purposed; I have not relented nor will I turn back.
29 At the noise of horseman and archer every town takes to flight; they enter thickets; they climb among rocks; all the towns are forsaken, and no one lives in them.
30 And you, O desolate one, what do you mean that you dress in crimson, that you deck yourself with ornaments of gold, that you enlarge your eyes with paint? In vain you beautify yourself. Your lovers despise you; they seek your life.
31 For I heard a cry as of a woman in labor, anguish as of one bringing forth her first child, the cry of daughter Zion gasping for breath, stretching out her hands, "Woe is me! I am fainting before killers!"

Jeremiah 4 Commentary

Chapter 4

Exhortations and promises. (1-2) Judah exhorted to repentance. (3-4) Judgements denounced. (5-18) The approaching ruin of Judah. (19-31)

Verses 1-2 The first two verses should be read with the last chapter. Sin must be put away out of the heart, else it is not put away out of God's sight, for the heart is open before him.

Verses 3-4 An unhumbled heart is like ground untilled. It is ground which may be improved; it is our ground let out to us; but it is fallow; it is over-grown with thorns and weeds, the natural product of the corrupt heart. Let us entreat the Lord to create in us a clean heart, and to renew a right spirit within us; for except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Verses 5-18 The fierce conqueror of the neighbouring nations was to make Judah desolate. The prophet was afflicted to see the people lulled into security by false prophets. The approach of the enemy is described. Some attention was paid in Jerusalem to outward reformation; but it was necessary that their hearts should be washed, in the exercise of true repentance and faith, from the love and pollution of sin. When lesser calamities do not rouse sinners and reform nations, sentence will be given against them. The Lord's voice declares that misery is approaching, especially against wicked professors of the gospel; when it overtakes them, it will be plainly seen that the fruit of wickedness is bitter, and the end is fatal.

Verses 19-31 The prophet had no pleasure in delivering messages of wrath. He is shown in a vision the whole land in confusion. Compared with what it was, every thing is out of order; but the ruin of the Jewish nation would not be final. Every end of our comforts is not a full end. Though the Lord may correct his people very severely, yet he will not cast them off. Ornaments and false colouring would be of no avail. No outward privileges or profession, no contrivances would prevent destruction. How wretched the state of those who are like foolish children in the concerns of their souls! Whatever we are ignorant of, may the Lord make of good understanding in the ways of godliness. As sin will find out the sinner, so sorrow will, sooner or later, find out the secure.

Footnotes 4

  • [a]. Or [shall bless themselves]
  • [b]. Or [shout, take your weapons]: Heb [shout, fill] (your hand)
  • [c]. Or [the trails]
  • [d]. Another reading is [for you, O my soul,]

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO JEREMIAH 4

This chapter begins with several exhortations to repentance; first to Israel, or the ten tribes, to return to the Lord with their whole hearts, and put away their abominations, and serve him in sincerity and uprightness of soul; with promises of rest and safety to themselves; and that it would have a happy influence on the Gentiles, and issue in their conversion; who would hereupon bless themselves in the Lord, and glory in him, Jer 4:1,2, and next to the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem, to show a concern for renewing and sanctifying grace, signified by various metaphors, lest they should be consumed with the fire of divine wrath, Jer 4:3,4 and then the destruction of that land and city is foretold and described, partly by what was introductory to it, and the proclamation of it, signified by blowing the trumpet, and setting up the standard, Jer 4:5,6,15,19,20, by an account of the destroyers, their cruelty, swiftness, and diligence, Jer 4:7,13,16,17, and of the destruction itself, compared to a violent wind, Jer 4:11,12, by the effect it should have upon the inhabitants of all sorts, high and low, Jer 4:8,9, and had upon the prophet himself, Jer 4:10,19,21, and by the cause and ground of it, the sins of the people, which they are called upon to repent of, Jer 4:14,17,18,22 and by a vision the prophet had of the dreadful desolation of the land, Jer 4:23-29 and by the vain and false hopes the people would have of their recovery, and the great anxiety and distress they would be in, Jer 4:30,31.

Jeremiah 4 Commentaries