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The Eating of God's Words
The former verse contains a suggestion which bears upon the interpretation of this text. That suggestion is this, that the position which the prophet finds himself in is due to the words of God which he had found and had eaten.
I. The first word he found was, the word of Divine ordination: 'Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, before thy birth I knew thee; and at thy birth I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations'. He discovered that it was by no mere chance that he had entered into this life. On the contrary that he was sent into the world for a very definite purpose. He found he was where God intended him to be and he was fulfilling the mission for which God had given him life.
In the day of this discovery Jeremiah was delivered from the blight of a self-conscious insufficiency. 'I cannot speak, for I am a child.' That was a genuine word. While, however, he was under its spell he was utterly useless. He had no confidence in himself or in his powers. He was in consequence prostrated at the shrine of his own weakness and self-conscious insufficiency. Though a man may prostrate himself in true penitence for sin, even at the foot of the Cross, God can do nothing with him until he stands erect again, conscious no longer of his own weakness, but of a power which has become his by eating the words of the Lord.
II. The word of a Divine ministry a ministry which was to be first of all destructive, and then constructive. In that Divine ministry unto the nations he discovered: (1) The word of God's integrity. (2) The word of God's pleading. What is the story of this book? Is it not the story of a prolonged pleading, throughout the centuries, of God the Father with His rebellious sons? This is surely the word of the Cross. (3) The word of God's judgments. This was perhaps the most difficult word which the prophet had to receive. It was certainly the most unpopular word. To its reception may be traced much of the trials, difficulties, and sorrows which had surrounded the life and ministry of this man of God. Yet he did not hesitate to receive it. He received it as complimentary to the word of pleading which had gone before it. He saw most clearly that consequent upon Israel's refusal to receive the pleadings of God came the judgments of God.
III. Notice what the eating of these words meant to the prophet himself. (1) The reception of those words for the nourishment of his own spiritual life. (2) The willing acceptance of the principles and practices involved in them. God's ordination would become the prophet's ordination. (3) By the eating of these words of God, which he had found, the prophet would become in heart and mind entirely God's. It is the mingling of the waters which make the ocean. It is the blending of the valleys and mountains and plains which make the landscape. It is the coming of God into man, and the losing of man in his God, which make the patriarch and the prophet, the Psalmist and the seer, the saint and the martyr, the disciple and the apostle, the preacher and the evangelist.
J. Gay, Common Truths from Queer Texts, p. 59.
References. XV. 16. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvii. No. 980; vol. xviii. No. 1079. XVII. 1 . Ibid. vol. xiv. No. 812. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Isaiah and Jeremiah, p. 294. XVII. 5. R. E. Hutton, The Crown of Christ, vol. i. p. 217. XVII. 5-8; XVIII. 7-10. Selected Sermons of Schleiermacher, p. 67. XVII. 6. C. Perren, Revival Sermons in Outline, p. 341. XVII. 6, 8. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Isaiah and Jeremiah, p. 302.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Jeremiah 15". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://studylight.org/
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