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Bible Commentaries

The Church Pulpit Commentary

Jeremiah 13

Verse 5


‘Be not proud.’

Jeremiah 13:5

The heart is not pure that is not cleansed from pride.

I. How lightly we treat this sin of pride!—What is pride? It is the sin that leads me to look contemptuously, or, if you like, compassionately, upon those whom I imagine to be more feebly gifted than myself, forgetting how much higher than I they may be standing in the sight of God because of greater faithfulness. Pride, with its twin-sister vanity, is the sin that makes me so morbidly sensitive to human opinion; that keeps my ears so painfully open to every word of praise or blame. A pure heart is the home of the lovely grace that ‘vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly.’ How unseemly is pride of purse! How unseemly is pride of social rank! How unseemly when we cannot bear to hear others praised more warmly than ourselves! How unseemly is gratified pride, with its ostentatious boastfulness! And how unseemly is mortified pride, finding its solace in slander and detraction and spiteful censoriousness! ‘Love behaveth not itself unseemly,’ but is willing to take the lowliest seat, is ready to serve the humblest of God’s children, and has ever a generous word for those who have been swifter in the race or stronger in the strife.

II. But a pure heart is also humble before God.—What is this painful search in our own hearts and lives for somewhat to commend us to God, or to entitle us to pray? What is the discouragement because of unworthiness but pride? Humility thankfully receives all grace as a free, unmerited gift.


‘As wine takes away the reason, so sin and the natural penalty it brings to heart and mind reduces the proud and rebellious sinners to collision with each other, as when a potter’s vessels are dashed one against another. Pride, panic, and mutual hostility are closely associated; but in the meanwhile the sad condition of the impenitent awakens the sincerest distress and pity in the hearts of God’s children, who realise how much they are losing in this life and the next.’

Verse 11


‘That they might be … but they would not.’

Jeremiah 13:11

I. This parable of the girdle may really have been transacted.—By some such striking symbol, enacted before the people, their attention must have been powerfully arrested. Or, it may be that this is only a vivid style of presentation. Whichever it is, the chief idea is the intimacy of relationship between the chosen people and their God. Oh that He would cause us to cleave unto Him! At the same time, the degradation of the best is to the worst, and nothing more strikingly sets forth the condition to which those may sink who have abused the highest possibilities than the condition of this marred and profitless girdle. Capernaum would not be as she is to-day unless she had been lifted to heaven in privilege. O my soul, beware! Since thou art capable of God’s best and highest, thou art also liable to the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

II. The people answered the prophet very rudely and roughly.—They mocked at his words. But Jeremiah wept bitterly over their obduracy and pride. He saw the inevitable doom to which the young king, Jehoiachim, the queen-mother, and the whole land were drifting. These are the tears that we may all covet. We have shed tears of proud mortification, of vexation, of hot temper, of disappointment and chagrin, but God give us to shed tears for the sins, and woes, and doom of a lost world.

III. Jerusalem is apostrophised, and asked where the beautiful flock of sister and daughter towns was which had gathered under her lead.—Ah, they were destroyed, and their people were in captivity. Their destruction had come from those who had been allies and friends; and their sin was so deeply seated and inveterate, that such a fate was inevitable—there was no hope of reformation. What a terrible thing sin is! Of how many of our sorrows and disasters it is the cause. Cleanse Thou me, O God, from secret faults!


‘It is hardly likely that a literal journey of two hundred miles, there and back, was undertaken by the prophet, though, of course, it may have been. Probably this prophecy of the approaching captivity of the people was given in this way to make it more graphic and impressive. The corrupted garment was an emblem of the sad effect that association would have on too many of the chosen people, which would cause them to be marred and spoiled.’

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Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Jeremiah 13". The Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.