Jer. 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!
Jer. 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.
This chapter begins with Jeremiah expressing deep grief and sorrow for the
wickedness and evil that permeates the culture of his people. He’s wishing he
had somewhere far away to which he could go and separate himself from that
culture. Jeremiah loved his people and was sick of seeing how they had given
themselves over to evil in rejection of the God of Israel. I believe his reference to
adultery was two-fold—both physical and spiritual.
Jer. 9:3 And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not
valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they
know not me, saith the LORD.
The LORD adds to Jeremiah’s accusation. He emphasizes that honesty is almost
nonexistent; lying predominates the culture. No one stands up for the truth. The
people in general participate in one evil deed after another. Why? Because they
have no true relationship with YHWH.
It is only through a relationship with YHWH and knowledge of His word that
one can hope to overcome evil. When one rejects God, he/she has rejected the
only source of power available that can help one overcome the attack of the
enemy and the lure of sin. Access to the knowledge of God that is foundational
to a relationship with God that can transform one’s life is dependent upon the
attitude of one’s heart. God makes reference to this truth through Jeremiah later
in this book.
Jeremiah 24:7 “And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and
they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their
Moses had warned the people that it was the condition of their heart that would
determine their susceptibility to the deceit of the enemy and the lure of serving
Deuteronomy 11:16 “Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye
turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them….”
Scripture is clear in teaching that it is our heart that directs our actions and that
the condition of our heart is our responsibility. The Chronicler cites King
Rehoboam as an example of this truth.
2 Chronicles 12:13–14 “So king Rehoboam strengthened himself in Jerusalem, and
reigned: for Rehoboam was one and forty years old when he began to reign, and he
reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD had chosen out of all the
tribes of Israel, to put his name there. And his mother’s name was Naamah an
Ammonitess. And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the
Jesus affirmed this truth in His teaching. A hard or calloused heart prevents one
from having spiritual understanding. It is from within, out of the heart, that the
actions of men are determined.
Matthew 13:15 “For this people’s heart is waxed gross [calloused], and their ears
are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with
their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should
be converted, and I should heal them.” [brackets mine]
Mark 7:21–23 “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts,
adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit,
lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come
from within, and defile the man.”
Jer. 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
Jer. 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
Jer. 9:6 Thine habitation is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to
know me, saith the LORD.
God’s commentary on the prevailing culture of His people continues. Through
the prophet He warns them that their neighbors are not to be trusted. The motto
of the day is “every man for himself.” People are determined to get what they
want by whatever means. No one can be trusted to tell the truth. The people are
directing all their energy in sinful pursuits. The dominating characteristic of the
people is deceit. It was interesting to look at the meaning of this word in the
Hebrew—“…in the sense of deceiving; fraud…feigned, guile…treachery.”
Deceive = 1. To lead into error; to cause to believe what is false, or disbelieve
what is true; to impose upon; to mislead; to cheat; to disappoint; to delude; to
Fraud = 1. Deception deliberately practiced with a view to gaining an unlawful
or unfair advantage; artifice by which the right or interest of another is injured….
Feign = 1. To give a mental existence to, as to something not real or actual; to
Guile = To disguise or conceal; to deceive or delude.
Treachery = Violation of allegiance or of faith and confidence….
It is interesting to note that each of these words is directly connected to a
person’s choice with intent to take advantage of someone else. Part of this
choice includes rejecting the LORD; this choice is evident from their actions.
The application to the continued spiritual decline in America today as evidenced
by its culture is obvious.
Jer. 9:7 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?
Jer. 9:8 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.
Jer. 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?
In these verses the LORD concludes that He has no other choice but to refine
(melt) His people through judgment. The nation as a whole has become utterly
corrupt and wicked. My paraphrase of verse 9: “Do they not deserve judgment
for their sin? Does not My righteousness call for vengeance on such
Jer. 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.
Jer. 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.
These two verses again make me think that Jeremiah is expressing his grief and
the Lord is responding with the surety of the coming judgment. It could be that
both verses are an expression of God’s heart since He had singled out Jerusalem
and the land of Israel as His as a gift to His people. It does not please Him to
have to exercise judgment upon His people that will result in the destruction of
the land as well.
Jeremiah 2:7 “And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the
goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an
The prophets Ezekiel and Joel declared this same truth.
Ezekiel 36:5 “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Surely in the fire of my jealousy have I
spoken against the residue of the heathen, and against all Idumea, which have appointed
my land into their possession with the joy of all their heart, with despiteful minds, to
cast it out for a prey.”
Joel 3:2 “I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of
Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel,
whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.”
Jer. 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
The NIV gives a clearer translation of this verse: “What man is wise enough to
understand this? Who has been instructed by the LORD and can explain it? Why has the
land been ruined and laid waste like a desert that no one can cross?”
Jer. 9:13 And the LORD saith, Because they have forsaken my law which I set
before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked therein;
Jer. 9:14 But have walked after the imagination of their own heart, and after
Baalim, which their fathers taught them:
The LORD now answers the why:
• The people had forsaken His law. In other words, they had refused to
accept God’s law as their own.
• The people had chosen to disobey Him. Since they chose to reject God’s
law, they naturally proceeded to act in disobedience to His declared will
• The people had chosen to follow their own hearts and false gods. Those to
whom Jeremiah was ministering were just following in the steps of their
fathers before them.
There is a natural progression in view. Man responds to the revelation of God in
his life. If that choice is to reject God, his actions will evidence that decision.
Those who choose to reject God inevitably end up following false gods that
appeal to the lusts of their heart.
Another key truth in view—How parents choose to respond to God is usually
pivotal in determining how their children respond to God.
Jer. 9:15 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
Jer. 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
Based on their rejection of Him and His laws, YHWH has determined that His
people require judgment. Note that He identifies Himself as “the God of Israel”;
they may have rejected Him, but He has not rejected them. He made a covenant
with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that is unconditional. Though He may have to
subject His people to great judgment as part of the process of refinement, He will
one day restore them in relationship and establish them in blessing before the
Zechariah 8:13 “And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O
house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not,
but let your hands be strong.”
It was interesting to look up the meaning of wormwood in Webster. It made
reference to a tonic that was used to get rid of worms and secondarily as
anything bitter or grievous. “Water of gall” seemed to be referencing poisonous
urine. Seems to be very descriptive of judgment intended to eliminate disease
and destroy those who have rejected Him and brought this judgment upon His
people and His land. This seems to imply that those who are spiritually healthy
and in right relationship to the LORD will be spared.
Part of this judgment will be to scatter His people among the heathen, the Gentile
nations. This part of the judgment will also serve to weed out those who have
rejected their covenant with the God of Israel. He specifically states that He will
send a sword after them to consume them. No one can deny that history gives
ample evidence that the “heathen” nations have relished their role as His
instruments of judgment.
Jer. 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
Jer. 9:18 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.
Jer. 9:19 For a voice of wailing is heard out of Zion, How are we spoiled! we are
greatly confounded, because we have forsaken the land, because our dwellings
have cast us out.
Jer. 9:20 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
Jer. 9:21 For death is come up into our windows, and is entered into our
palaces, to cut off the children from without, and the young men from the
This group of verses is meant to affirm the surety of coming judgment. YHWH
tells them to go ahead and hire professional mourners. Implied is that so many
will die that more women will be needed than are available, so it will be
necessary to teach the young women how to effectively express the sorrow of the
people. Verses 19 and 21 seem to be the message of the mourners.
Jer. 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.
This verse declares that the judgment of the LORD will result in so many deaths
so quickly that proper burial will not be an option.
Jer. 9:23 ¶ 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
Jer. 9:24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and
knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment,
and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.
These are verses of very important truth that was totally disregarded by the
people of Israel at that time as well as by the majority of people today. The most treasured possession available to man today is a relationship with and knowledge of the LORD that is evidenced in his life!
What are the things that occupy the desires of most men and women in the
world? Wisdom, power and wealth. It is thought that if you possess enough
wisdom, it will enable you to attain power and/or wealth. Or if you have
enough power, you can make use of the wisdom of others in achieving more
power and wealth. Or if you have wealth, it provides the power needed to
influence the wise towards your own purposes. It’s all about self. What they
don’t focus on is the fact that worldly wisdom, power and wealth are just
temporary possessions associated with this life.
True wisdom, power and wealth are the possession of every person that places
faith in the LORD and strives to get to know Him through His word and honor
them with their lives. The wisdom, power and wealth associated with that
choice are eternal.
The LORD is very clear in declaring that He exercises and delights in
lovingkindness, judgment and righteousness. Implied is that He expects the
same from His people. Lovingkindness speaks to showing mercy to others and
doing good deeds in honor of God. Judgment speaks to governing according to
God’s law. Righteousness makes reference to possessing morals and virtues as
defined by God’s revelation to man in scripture.
This truth is summarized well by the prophet Micah.
Micah 6:8 “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require
of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
The Hebrew for understanding makes reference to one who is intelligent, prudent,
and skillful and lives accordingly. The Hebrew for knoweth makes reference to
one who has made careful observation and been diligent in his search for
Jer. 9:25 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will punish all them
which are circumcised with the uncircumcised;
Jer. 9:26 Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, 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
I really liked the wording of the NLT for these verses: “A time is coming,” says the
LORD, “when I will punish all those who are circumcised in body but not in spirit—the
Egyptians, Edomites, Ammonites, Moabites, the people who live in distant places, and
yes, even the people of Judah. Like all these pagan nations, the people of Israel also have
We normally think of circumcision as a physical action. The LORD is more
concerned with spiritual circumcision—a personal decision to cut away the
fleshly desires associated with this world because we have chosen to embrace the
spiritual desires associated with a relationship with Him.