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Bible Commentaries

The Church Pulpit Commentary

Jeremiah 18

Verse 6

THE POTTER AND THE CLAY

‘As the clay is in the potter’s hand.’

Jeremiah 18:6

I. Disheartened with his fruitless attempts to bring his people to repentance, Jeremiah was bidden to watch the potter at his work in the valley of Hinnom.—A piece of clay placed on the wheel yielded to his touch, and reached very nearly its completion, when, through some fault in the clay, its entire structure suddenly collapsed. The wheel and the ground beneath were littered by broken pieces. Not despairing, however, the potter took the broken remnants, and made them again! It is thus that God deals with men. They may have grieved His Holy Spirit and spoiled His ideal, but so long as they will be plastic to His hand He will re-make them.

II. God wants to make the very best He can of each of his children.—He puts us on His wheel, and subjects us to the discipline which He deems most likely to secure our greatest blessedness and usefulness. But, alas! how often He finds a marred vessel left on His hands when He desired and sought perfect beauty and strength! This is through no failure on His part, but because some bubble of vanity or grit of self-will has hindered Him.

When, however, this is the case He does not cast us utterly away, but puts us afresh upon the wheel, and ‘makes us again.’ If He cannot do what He desired at the first, He will still make the best of us, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. Let God take a life which has proved a failure; He can make of what remains of it more than men could make with all earthly advantages on their side, and with nothing to hinder its regular development.

III. When Jeremiah approached the men of Judah with a fresh message they said, ‘There is no hope.’—We must take care not to drive people to renounce hope. But what a terrible mistake it is to leave the flowing water from the rock smitten on Calvary, refreshing as ice-cold water in a sultry land.

IV. The people turned against their best friend; because he warned them, they hated him; when he spoke good for them, they returned evil.—He had not fully learned that law which our Master Christ laid down, that we were to forgive until seventy times seven. His expression savours of a vindictiveness which grates upon the ears attuned to the voice and spirit of Jesus; but we must never forget that he stood as the representative of God, amidst a godless nation, and was eager that God should vindicate Himself in His judgments upon His persecutors.

Illustration

‘If there is any force or worth in the analogy at all, it must mean that there is a form according to which God is seeking to mould men and nations. It must imply that He is patiently, continually, working for the accomplishment of this purpose. Here, then, was the mystery of a people’s repentance. If they acknowledged the Will which was working upon them, if at any time they yielded to it and desired to be formed by it, this was that conversion and inward change which He was seeking to produce.’

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Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Jeremiah 18". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/jeremiah-18.html. 1876.