Jeremiah 9:1. Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, then, I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!
Matthew Henry well observes that, in the Hebrew, the same word signifies “eye” and “fountain”, as if God had as much given us eyes to weep with as to see with, as if there were as much cause to sorrow over sin as to look out upon the beauties of the world. Magnificent in its poetry, and most touching in its pathos, is this verse, which ought never to have been cut off from the previous chapter: “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!”
Jeremiah 9:1. Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!
Jeremiah foresaw that the Chaldeans would come up, and so many would be slain that the nation would be almost destroyed.
Jeremiah 9:2. Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them! for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men.
He mourned because of the doom that awaited them; but he equally mourned because of the sin that would bring that doom upon them. He wished that he could get away into one of those refuges, which were provided in lonely places, where travellers might lodge for a night.
Jeremiah 9:3. And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies:
They made use of the tongue, as if it were a bow, to shoot out falsehood. It is a very graphic description of the men of Jeremiah’s day. He dips his pen in his heart’s blood as he writes about them.
Jeremiah 9:3. But they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth;
Oh, no! No one stood up for the truth in those days; no man was willing to suffer for it, to argue for it, or even to own it.
Jeremiah 9:3. For they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the LORD.
They grew worse and worse. It is the way of wicked men to ripen into greater sin. They proceeded from evil to evil; and Jeremiah had Jehovah’s testimony for it that, though they knew a great many things, they did not know the LORD: “They know not me, saith the LORD.”
Jeremiah 9:4. Take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not in any brother: for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbour will walk with slanders.
It was an evil time indeed when, even in the domestic circle, there could be no brotherly confidence. “Every brother will utterly supplant.” Jacob’s name, you remember, was supplanter; and all these men were Jacobs, each one ready to supplant his brother, to throw him on one side that he might occupy his place. As to neighbourly conduct, there was none; the neighbours were all gossips and slanderers of one another.
Jeremiah 9:5. And they will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity.
What a sad state they were in! Their tongues spoke lies without any teaching; but they schooled them till they were masters of the art of lying. They were D.D.s, doctors of dissembling; they understood the art thoroughly. They had taught their tongue to speak lies, and they had committed so much evil that they even tired themselves in the doing of it.
Jeremiah 9:6. Thine habitation is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know me, saith the LORD.
Putting forth all their critical ingenuity to get rid of God, his Word, inspiration, and the divine sacrifice, doing all they could that they might not know God.
Jeremiah 9:7-8. Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, I will melt them, and try them; for how shall I do for the daughter of my people? Their tongue is as an arrow shot out; it speaketh deceit: one speaketh peaceably to his neighbour with his mouth, but in heart he layeth his wait.
Do you wonder that Jeremiah wept? With so true a spirit, so tender and sympathetic, he could not bear it when man had become man’s worst enemy, and no man could be relied upon, for all practised and spoke deceit.
Jeremiah 9:9. Shall I not visit them for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?
Divine justice sets the fire of indignation burning. Nothing excites God’s wrath more than continued falsehood and deceit, unkindness, unbrotherly conduct, and unholiness of life. Put all these evils together, and you have more than enough God-provoking sins calling for an avenging visitation.
Jeremiah 9:10. For the mountains will I take up a weeping and wailing, and for the habitations of the wilderness a lamentation, because they are burned up, so that none can pass through them; neither can men hear the voice of the cattle; both the fowl of the heavens and the beast are fled; they are gone.
The prophet pictures what the Chaldeans would do. They would not only destroy the cities, but they would even rob the hills of their cattle, and sweep the fields till there would be nothing left that men could gather.
Jeremiah 9:11. And I will make Jerusalem heaps, and a den of dragons; and I will make the cities of Judah desolate, without an inhabitant.
Jeremiah had to live to see all this. The thought of it pulled up the sluices of his tears, and made him wish that all the clouds and seas and rains would come, and dwell in his eyes, for his grief had need of all the watery things that nature could produce. George Herbert sings, and I quote his lines to illustrate the depth of Jeremiah’s griefs
“Let every vein Suck up a river to supply mine eyes,
My weary, weeping eyes, too dry for me,
Unless they get new conduits, new supplies,
To bear them out, and with my state agree.”
Jeremiah 9:12. Who is the wise man, that may understand this? and who is he to whom the mouth of the LORD hath spoken, that he may declare it, for what the land perisheth and is burned up like a wilderness, that none passeth through?
The land would never have been desolate if it had not been for the wickedness of the people. Sin-sin it is that does the mischief. There are some who cavil at the punishment that God puts upon sin; they would do better if they found fault with the sin which brings its own punishment with it. There is nothing arbitrary in God’s justice; he allows sin itself to ripen, and when it is finished, it bringeth forth death eternal.
Jeremiah 9:13-14. And the LORD saith, Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked therein; but have walked after the imagination of their own heart, and after Baalim,
After many Baals, is the meaning; many are the gods that men make for themselves when they turn away from Jehovah.
Jeremiah 9:14-15. Which their fathers taught them: therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink.
You cannot sin without suffering. If you will not drink of the waters of obedience, but will drink of the waters of rebellion, they shall be bitter.
Jeremiah 9:16. I will scatter them also among the heathen, whom neither they nor their fathers have known: and I will send a sword after them, till I have consumed them.
A patriot for man, a prophet for God, do you marvel that he wept?
Jeremiah 9:17. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Consider ye, and call for the mourning women, that they may come; and send for cunning women, that they may come:
These were the hired mourners, the women who were paid to go to funerals, and simulate grief. “Send for your weepers now;” said the LORD of hosts, “for if you ever needed mourners, you need them now.”
Jeremiah 9:18-19. And let them make haste, and take up a wailing for us, that our eyes may run down with tears, and our eyelids gush out with waters. For a voice of wailing is heard out of Zion,
These were no mock mourners; but real weepers, who had cause to mourn.
Jeremiah 9:19. How are we spoiled! we are greatly confounded,
Why did they not say, “How have we sinned”? No; men will think of the punishment they suffer; but they will overlook the sin they commit.
Jeremiah 9:19. Because we have forsaken the land, because our dwellings have cast us out.
Why did not they say, “Because we have forsaken the LORD, because we have cast off the worship of Jehovah”? You cannot bring men to that point. They quarrel with the rod rather than with the hand that holds it. They mourn over the result of sin; but to the sin itself they still cling.
Jeremiah 9:20-21. Yet hear the word of the LORD, O ye women, and let your ear receive the word of his mouth, and teach your daughters wailing, and every one her neighbour lamentation. For death is come up into our windows,
It did not wait to come in by the door. In time of war or pestilence, death comes how it will through every casement, closed or open.
Jeremiah 9:21. And is entered into our palaces, to cut off the children from without, and the young men from the streets.
Generally, in war, they spare the children; and they carry the young men away as captives. The Chaldeans were cruel; they killed the little ones, and they slew the young men.
Jeremiah 9:22. Speak, Thus saith the LORD, Even the carcases of men shall fall as dung upon the open field, and as the handful after the harvestman, and none shall gather them.
So dreadful was the devastation that was wrought by these Chaldeans on account of the people’s sin, that dead bodies lay like heaps of dung that the husband man strews upon the field.
Jeremiah 9:23-24. Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorious glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.
This was the God who turned again to his rebellious people, and who would have been glad if they had but known him. He would have made them richer than the rich, and wiser than the wise, and mightier than the mighty; but they would not have the things in which Jehovah delighted.
Jeremiah 9:25. Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised;
If they sin like others, they shall die like others, circumcised or uncircumcised, baptized or unbaptised.
Jeremiah 9:26. Egypt, and Judah, and Edom,
You see that Judah is sandwiched in between Egypt and Edom. Those who were the people of God are put in the same category with the accursed nation, because they had forsaken him, and mixed up with them.
Jeremiah 9:26. And the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.
If the heart be not right with God, vain are all external rites.