The Alarm of War
Jeremiah 4:19-26
My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart makes a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because you have heard…


1. We ought to have our ears open to the voice of God in the dispensations of His providence (Micah 6:9).

2. When we hear the sound of the trumpet, and the alarm of war, we ought to consider the causes of these alarms. The prophets often denounce war as a judgment of God against His people, or against the Gentiles. In publishing such threatenings they, for the most part, speak of the sins that have provoked God to afflict His creatures with this calamity; and when they do not specify the grounds of the Lord's controversy, as in chap. Jeremiah 49, they leave no room to doubt that God is justly displeased. God has just reason, for our sins at present, not only to threaten, but to punish us with His vengeance. We ought to wonder at His forbearance, that He has not long since caused the sword to reach unto the whole of the nation, to avenge the quarrel of His covenant.

3. The probable or possible consequences of these alarms of war ought to come under our view when we hear the sound of the trumpet and the alarm of war. When we make that preparation which religion enjoins against possible evils, if these evils should not overtake us, we are no losers, but gainers. The fear of evil has often been. productive of much good. "Happy is the man who feareth always," and especially in times when there is peculiar cause of fear; "but he who hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief."


1. Those external scenes of distress which are the consequences of war must give pain to a heart that is not contracted and hardened by a reigning selfishness of spirit.

2. Souls precipitated into an eternal world must awaken awful sensations in those who believe that, when the dust returns to the earth as it was, the spirit returns to God who gave it.

3. The influence that wars may have upon the interests of religion is a source of anxious concern to the lovers of God (Lamentations 1:9; Lamentations 2:6, 7, 9). Amidst the ravages of war, even in our own times, we have too often heard of the alienation or destruction of houses ordinarily employed in the services of religion. Should God, in His wrath, refuse us His help against those who threaten the subversion of our liberties, who can foresee what dismal consequences in the state of religion would ensue?

4. God's indignation, apparent in the alarms of war, ought to impress every mind with deep concern.


1. Let us consider our ways, and inquire how far we are chargeable with those provocations of the Divine majesty which expose us to danger from our enemies. When God threatens judgments, He observes our behaviour. He returns and repents when men are ready to acknowledge their offences, and to forsake them; but woe to those who are at ease in their sins, and never inquire what are the causes of the Lord's contendings with them.

2. We ought to humble ourselves before God, on account of our iniquities. Observe in what manner Ezra and Daniel bewailed and confessed their own iniquities, and the iniquities of their people (Ezra 9; Daniel 9:1). What would we think of a child that did not mourn when his father was justly displeased with him? We would think that he was cursed with a disposition that totally disqualified him for enjoying the sweetest pleasures that man can taste. By this similitude the Scripture teaches us how unnatural a thing insensibility to the chastisements of the Divine hand ought to be reputed (Numbers 12:14).

3. Supplications for pardoning and reforming grace ought to accompany our humiliation. We are greatly encouraged to pray by the many examples of successful petitioners for public mercies in Scripture. The ways of God are everlasting. He delights in mercy. He puts words into our mouth for imploring His mercy. He hath left us many promises of merciful returns to our prayers, that we may be encouraged to come boldly to His throne of grace for mercy to ourselves, to our friends and brethren, to the Church, to our king and country.

4. We are warned by the sound of the trumpet and the alarms of war to make God our refuge, and the Most High our habitation. To trust to ourselves is the fruit of atheism. If there is a God, He rules in the army of heaven and amongst the inhabitants of the earth; and He does according to His pleasure. He sits upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers. He bringeth the princes of the earth to nought; He maketh its judges as vanity. "But the name of the Lord is a strong tower of defence," some may say, "only for the righteous (Proverbs 18:10). And we are conscious of so many evils, that we have no reason to hope for protection from the Holy One, who takes no pleasure in wickedness, and will not suffer evil to dwell with Him." It is true, the Lord our God is holy; but it is true likewise, that He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin. "Him that cometh unto Me," says Jesus, "I will in no wise cast out." You have perhaps heard some ridiculous stories of men that, by some magical secret, were rendered invulnerable in battle. You would not be afraid to encounter the most formidable armies if you were masters of such a secret; but, if thou canst believe, "all things are possible to him that believeth." "He that liveth, and believeth in Me, shall never die." Who is he that can kill those who cannot die? The words, you will say, must be figuratively understood; for who is the man that liveth, and shall not see death? But, however they are to be understood, they are true and faithful sayings of the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, of Him that liveth, and was dead, and is alive for evermore, and holds the keys of the spiritual world, and of death. You are called to mourning in days of danger, but not to that kind of mourning which swallows up the soul. You are called to mourn, that you may rejoice; to be afflicted for your sins, that you may flee from wrath to Christ, and find in Him safety, security, and joy.

5. The sound of the trumpet and the alarm of war is a loud call to us to cease to do evil, and to learn to do well. Our faith in God is a delusion if we hold fast our iniquities. Our faith in Christ, if it is genuine, will purify our hearts and lives. We are exposed to danger, not only from our own personal sins, but from the sins of our fellow subjects; and therefore we ought not only to forsake sin, but to use all our influence to turn other sinners from the error of their ways. It is a righteous thing with God, that those who do not duly oppose the prevalence of sin should share in the miseries which it brings. We ought not only to renounce all iniquity, but to live in the habitual practice of every duty which God requires.

(G. Lawson.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.

WEB: My anguish, my anguish! I am pained at my very heart; my heart is disquieted in me; I can't hold my peace; because you have heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.

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