Jeremiah 21 Commentary


A message for Zedekiah (21:1-10)

This message was given late in the reign of Judah’s last king, Zedekiah. Jerusalem was under its last great siege, which resulted in its fall and destruction in 587 BC. The king sent to Jeremiah and asked that he would pray to God to save Jerusalem from the Babylonians (21:1-2). Jeremiah replies that God will not save Jerusalem but will fight for the Babylonians (Chaldeans) against Jerusalem. Many of the people within the city will die, and those who survive will be taken captive to Babylon (3-7). Since this is God’s judgment, the people of Jerusalem have no chance of success against the invaders. Jeremiah tells them they would do better to surrender and so save their lives (8-10).

A king’s responsibility (21:11-22:9)

As he has no doubt done many times, Jeremiah tells the leaders of Judah that they must correct the widespread social injustice that has corrupted their nation. If they do not, God will destroy the nation in judgment (11-12). They are deceiving themselves if they think that God will not allow anyone to attack Jerusalem. They are going to be disappointed if they think that the city’s fortified position guarantees its safety (13-14).

The king has a duty to provide justice for all, no matter what their status in life. By ruling uprightly the king will ensure the continuance of the Davidic dynasty, but by ungodliness he is only helping to bring that dynasty to an end (22:1-5). As a mighty forest is cut down and burnt, so Judah will be destroyed if it forsakes God. When the king and his people abandon the covenant and worship other gods, they have no further assurance of God’s saving power (6-9).

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