Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
Then said the LORD unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth.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.
And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the LORD; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.
And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith the LORD: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and destroy.
And I will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem.
For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest?
Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting.
And I will fan them with a fan in the gates of the land; I will bereave them of children, I will destroy my people, since they return not from their ways.
Their widows are increased to me above the sand of the seas: I have brought upon them against the mother of the young men a spoiler at noonday: I have caused him to fall upon it suddenly, and terrors upon the city.
She that hath borne seven languisheth: she hath given up the ghost; her sun is gone down while it was yet day: she hath been ashamed and confounded: and the residue of them will I deliver to the sword before their enemies, saith the LORD.
Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury; yet every one of them doth curse me.
The LORD said, Verily it shall be well with thy remnant; verily I will cause the enemy to entreat thee well in the time of evil and in the time of affliction.
Shall iron break the northern iron and the steel?
Thy substance and thy treasures will I give to the spoil without price, and that for all thy sins, even in all thy borders.
And I will make thee to pass with thine enemies into a land which thou knowest not: for a fire is kindled in mine anger, which shall burn upon you.
O LORD, thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in thy longsuffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke.
Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.
I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation.
Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed? wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail?
Therefore thus saith the LORD, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them.
And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the LORD.
And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.