Johanan desires Jeremiah to ask counsel of God. (1-6) They are assured of safety in Judea, but of destruction in Egypt. (7-22)
Verses 1-6 To serve a turn, Jeremiah is sought out, and the captains ask for his assistance. In every difficult, doubtful case, we must look to God for direction; and we may still, in faith, pray to be guided by a spirit of wisdom in our hearts, and the leadings of Providence. We do not truly desire to know the mind of God, if we do not fully resolve to comply with it when we know it. Many promise to do what the Lord requires, while they hope to have their pride flattered, and their favourite lusts spared. Yet something betrays the state of their hearts.
Verses 7-22 If we would know the mind of the Lord in doubtful cases, we must wait as well as pray. God is ever ready to return in mercy to those he has afflicted; and he never rejects any who rely on his promises. He has declared enough to silence even the causeless fears of his people, which discourge them in the way of duty. Whatever loss or suffering we may fear from obedience, is provided against in God's word; and he will protect and deliver all who trust in him and serve him. It is folly to quit our place, especially to quit a holy land, because we meet with trouble in it. And the evils we think to escape by sin, we certainly bring upon ourselves. We may apply this to the common troubles of life; and those who think to avoid them by changing their place, will find that the grievances common to men will meet them wherever they go. Sinners who dissemble with God in solemn professions especially should be rebuked with sharpness; for their actions speak more plainly than words. We know not what is good for ourselves; and what we are most fond of, and have our hearts most set upon, often proves hurtful, and sometimes fatal.
This chapter contains a request of the Jews to Jeremiah, to pray to the Lord for them to direct them, and the Lord's answer to it. The request is made by the captains and all the people, Jer 42:1-3; which Jeremiah undertook to present to the Lord, Jer 42:4; they promising to go according to the direction that should be given, Jer 42:5,6. After ten days an answer is returned, and the prophet calls the captains and people together to hear it, Jer 42:7,8; the purport of which was, that if they continued in the land of Judah, it would be well with them, and they would be safe, Jer 42:9-12; but if they went into Egypt, they should die by the sword, famine, and pestilence, and be a curse and reproach, and never see their own land more, Jer 42:13-18; they are charged with dissimulation and disobedience, Jer 42:19-21; and the chapter is concluded with an assurance of their perishing by the above judgments in the place they were desirous of dwelling in, Jer 42:22.