For I have heard the defaming of many,
“Terror on every side!
Denounce, and we will denounce him!”
say all my familiar friends,
those who watch for my fall.
“Perhaps he will be persuaded,
and we will prevail against him,
and we will take our revenge on him.”
But Yahweh is with me as an awesome mighty one.
Therefore my persecutors will stumble,
and they won’t prevail.
They will be utterly disappointed,
because they have not dealt wisely,
even with an everlasting dishonor which will never be forgotten.
But Yahweh of Armies, who tests the righteous,
who sees the heart and the mind,
let me see your vengeance on them,
for I have revealed my cause to you.
Sing to Yahweh!
for he has delivered the soul of the needy from the hand of evildoers.
Jeremiah’s friends turned on him when God required that he speak to them about the coming terror. I think we can understand this. Jeremiah was thrown in jail by the authorities. A person isn’t popular after they have been thrown in jail. In our culture we say that they “have a record.” People tend to trust the authorities and doubt the one who was convicted. Obviously, Jeremiah knew that God was asking him to be shamed for the sake of the truth.
This may not seem like a big deal to us today. We may think that things are different for us, but that is so very far from the truth that it should cause us to be afraid. Jeremiah’s friends treatment caused God to condemn them to “everlasting dishonor which will never be forgotten.” That’s how serious it can be to trust the views of the authorities rather than God’s word. God is able to look beyond the command of the authorities. He sees “the heart and the mind” of every one of us individually. Today, there are many leaders who are attempting to control people by denying them the right to guide their behavior by their own conscience. If we give in to them, we are putting them in the place of God and that is idolatry. They seek our worship and it is our responsibility to be like Jeremiah and deny them of it.
Jeremiah could see that God was going to bring him justice by delivering him from his old friends, but that doesn’t mean that Jeremiah was immune from his emotions as we read next.