7 O Lord, you have deceived me,
and I was deceived;
you are stronger than I,
and you have prevailed.
I have become a laughingstock all the day;
everyone mocks me.
8 For whenever I speak, I cry out,
I shout, “Violence and destruction!”
For the word of the Lord has become for me
a reproach and derision all day long.
9 If I say, “I will not mention him,
or speak any more in his name,”
there is in my heart as it were a burning fire
shut up in my bones,
and I am weary with holding it in,
and I cannot.
10 For I hear many whispering.
Terror is on every side!
“Denounce him! Let us denounce him!”
say all my close friends,
watching for my fall.
“Perhaps he will be deceived;
then we can overcome him
and take our revenge on him.”
11 But the Lord is with me as a dread warrior;
therefore my persecutors will stumble;
they will not overcome me.
They will be greatly shamed,
for they will not succeed.
Their eternal dishonor
will never be forgotten.
12 O Lord of hosts, who tests the righteous,
who sees the heart and the mind,
let me see your vengeance upon them,
for to you have I committed my cause.
13 Sing to the Lord;
praise the Lord!
For he has delivered the life of the needy
from the hand of evildoers.
One day, many years ago, the High Priest of the temple in Jerusalem had the prophet Jeremiah seized, beaten (probably by the temple guards), and put in the stocks where he was publicly ridiculed. The next day, when Jeremiah was released, he unloaded on the High Priest in a torrent of prophetic vitriol. Jeremiah declared that the priest would see all his friends die and watch the Babylonians take all his wealth. The priest and his whole family would either die or go into exile and die in some foreign land. Jeremiah properly felt that the person who had exercised authority as High Priest had abused that. It outraged him and he gave voice to that outrage. If your Bible is handy, read the first six verses of this chapter. One gets the sense that Jeremiah would have been out there with protestors decrying the death of the most recent man or woman who died at the hands of the police who were supposed to serve and protect.
We are given to read, hear, and inwardly digest the words which Jeremiah prays to God right after this incident, and these words are desperately needed in these times. Notice that he takes his complaint to God. He feels that God has deceived him, disappointed him, and brought him to a place where he has suffered both physically and emotionally. These past few years have been tough on people. They might be feeling a little disappointed in God. The Bible lets them give voice to that. I think we err when we tell people they should always be happy with God. Jeremiah clearly was not. Jeremiah lays at God’s feet that he felt trapped. As you read a little further, you might almost say he is paranoid. When everyone really is out to get you, however, paranoia is just a good idea. Everyone really was out to get Jeremiah.
Jeremiah ends with hope and that seems in short supply in the world in which we live. God is his defender. Justice will be served. It is important to notice that Jeremiah does take justice into his own hands. God will humble and bring low the oppressor. This is hard and takes much faith to pray with Jeremiah, but it is a prayer to which we too are called. He commits his cause to God and immediately praises God for deliverance. Has it happened yet? In part and with Jeremiah we look forward to God’s deliverance yet to come. Rejoice with bruised, beaten, humiliated Jeremiah today.