The Old Testament Lesson for this Sunday is written in the book of the prophet Jeremiah. The text is Jeremiah 15:15-21 and is a continuation of one of Jeremiah’s famous “confessions” and ends with the response of the LORD. I think calling these rants of Jeremiah’s confessions misses the mark. These are classic examples of Hebrew Lament and would be better described as the “complaints” of Jeremiah. Jeremiah is saying, “I have been faithful in my duties on Your behalf LORD. I have preached Your Word, I have called upon Your Name and I have avoided the company of evildoers… but it is lonely work because I am despised… and LORD, You know this, so remember me, visit me, take revenge on my behalf because that is Your covenantal promise.” Or, more concisely, “LORD I am doing my job, why are You NOT doing Yours?”
How can Jeremiah speak like this to the LORD? One would think he would be fearful of the lightning strike! Well, Jeremiah can interact with the LORD this way BECAUSE he is in the covenantal relationship. His identity as a faithful believer—a member of the bride of the LORD—allows for this kind of engagement. This is the nature of many of the lament passages of the Old and New Testaments. A frequent issue for Western Christianity is the reality that the Lamenter can be, and is often, “wrong” in what they complain about. But lament always leaves the decisions and responses in the hand of the LORD. So, in this text, the LORD’s reply to Jeremiah, beginning in verse 19, begins with the call for Jeremiah to repent! The whole process is very cathartic for the child of God.
Jeremiah can interact with the LORD this way BECAUSE he is in the covenantal relationship.
The pericope begins with some very important Hebrew verbs. The LORD “knows” is a relationship term demanding action, as well as the “remember” me. Both are very covenantal in focus. Jeremiah is using these terms to remind the LORD of His responsibilities in the relationship, implying the LORD should get to work and do what He has promised.
Also, important to note is verse 16 and the, “Eating of the Word of God.” This is a motif in the major prophets involving the preparation of the prophet’s mouth for the preaching of the Word of the LORD. While Isaiah does not eat the Word, his lips are touched by holy fire to purify him to speak Holy Words (chapter 6). The first chapter of Jeremiah (verse 9) speaks of the LORD touching his mouth and putting His Words in his mouth. Then, with Ezekiel 2:8-3:3, the LORD has Ezekiel eat the scroll. Every one of these examples takes place in the call of the prophet! Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest takes on more meaning!!
15:15 יָדַעְתָּ (ya-Da-ta) root: ידע (yaw-dah) Qal: “to know”
זָכְרֵנִי (za-che-Re-ni) root: זכר (zaw-kar) Qal, imperative: “to remember” “remember me”
וּפָקְדֵנִי (u-fa-ke-De-ni) root: פקד (paw-kad) Qal, imperative: “to visit” “visit me”
וְהִנָּקֶם > (ve-hin-Na-kem) root: נקם (naw-kam) Niphal, imperative: “to take vengeance; to take revenge”
מֵרֹדְפַי (me-Ro-de-Fai) from: רדף (raw-daf) “persecutor” “against my persecutors”
חֶרְפָּה, (cher-Pah) “reproach; taunt; revile; disgrace; shame”
15:16 נִמְצְאוּ (nim-tze-U) root: מצא (maw-tsaw) Niphal: “to find”
וָאֹכְלֵם (va-O-che-Lem) root: אכל (aw-kal) Qal, with suffix: “to eat” “I ate them”
לְשָׂשׂוֹן. (le-sa-Son) “joy; jubilation”
וּלְשִׂמְחַת (u-le-sim-Chat) “joy; delight”
15:17 בְסוֹד. (ve-sod) “company; circle”
מְשַׂחֲקִים (me-sa-cha-Kim) root: שׂחק (saw-khak) Piel, particple: “to play; to joke” Used as a noun, “revelers”
וָאֶעְלֹז (va-e-Loz) root: עלז (aw-laz) Qal: “to exalt; to triumph; to rejoice”
בָּדָד (ba-Dad) “solitude; isolation”
זַעַם: (Za-am) “indignation”
15:18 כְאֵבִי. (che-e-Vi) “pain”
נֶצַח (Ne-tzach) “unceasing; everlasting; endless duration”
וּמַכָּתִי (u-mak-ka-Ti) from: מכּה; (mak-kaw) “wound”
אֲנוּשָׁה] (a-nu-Shah) “incurable”
מֵאֲנָה (me-a-Nah) root: מאן (maw-ane) Piel: “to refuse; to refuse to do something”
הֵרָפֵאe (he-ra-Fe) root: רפא (raw-faw) Niphal, imperative: “to be healed; to become whole”
אַכְזָב (ach-Zav) “deceitful; deceptive”
נֶאֱמָנוּ< (ne-e-Ma-nu) root: אמן (aw-man) Niphal: “to be faithful; to be proven firm”
15:19 אִם-תָּשׁוּב (im ta-Shuv) “if you return”
וַאֲשִׁיבְךָ: (va-a-shi-ve-Cha) “I will cause you to be restored; I will restore you”
יָקָר (ya-Kar) “noble; precious”
מִזּוֹלֵל (miz-zo-Lel) root: llz (zaw-lal) Qal: “to be worthless; to be foolish”
15:20 וּנְתַתִּיךָ (u-ne-tat-Ti-cha) root: נתן (naw-than) Niphal, with suffix: “to be given; to be made” “I will make you”
בְּצוּרָה. (be-tzu-Rah) “inaccessible; unassailable; fortified”
וְנִלְחֲמוּ (ve-nil-cha-Mu) root: לחם (law-kham) Niphal: “to fight; to do battle”
לְהוֹשִׁיעֲךָ וּלְהַצִּילֶךָ. (le-ho-shi-a-Cha u-le-hatz-tzi-Le-cha) “to save you and to deliver you”
15:21 וּפְדִתִיךָ (u-fe-di-Ti-cha) root: פדה (paw-daw) Qal: “to cut off; to fortify; to deliver”
עָרִצִים (a-ri-Tzim) “adversary; ruthless; tyrant”
Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Jeremiah 15:15-21.
Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Jeremiah 15:15-21.