Jeremiah 15 contains an emotional dialogue between Jeremiah and God over the inescapability of Judah’s judgment. Jeremiah struggles with his calling in light of the opposition and suffering he faces. God strongly rebukes him for his complaints but also reassures him of continued protection.
This chapter can be outlined as follows:
- God declares coming judgment is unavoidable (15:1-4)
- Jeremiah laments his suffering in ministry (15:5-9)
- God strongly rebukes Jeremiah (15:10-14)
- Jeremiah asks for mercy and deliverance (15:15-18)
- God promises protection for Jeremiah (15:19-21)
A key theme is God’s severity in rebuking His own faithful servants when they lose perspective by complaining in the midst of difficulties. Yet He is also faithful to reassure them of His presence and protection if they respond rightly.
Key Takeaways from Jeremiah 15
- Intercession cannot avert Judah’s coming judgment (vs. 1-4)
- God’s servants still struggle emotionally with their calling (vs. 5-9)
- God strongly corrects His servants’ misguided complaints (vs. 10-14)
- God’s presence strengthens us amidst suffering for His name (vs. 15-18)
- God protects and delivers those who speak His word faithfully (vs. 19-21)
This chapter by chapter commentary will illustrate these themes through Jeremiah’s vivid example and apply lessons for servants of God today who struggle with feelings of discouragement or inadequacy in their calling.
Detailed Commentary on Jeremiah 15
God Declares Coming Judgment is Unavoidable (15:1-4)
Jeremiah 15 begins with God telling Jeremiah that not even the intercession of eminent prophets like Moses and Samuel could avert the coming judgment:
Then the Lord said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before Me, My mind would not be favorable toward this people. Cast them out of My sight, and let them go forth. 2 And it shall be, if they say to you, ‘Where should we go?’ then you shall tell them, ‘Thus says 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.”’
3 “And I will appoint over them four forms of destruction,” says the Lord: “the sword to slay, the dogs to drag, the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy. 4 I will hand them over to trouble, to all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem.” (15:1-4 NKJV)
God decrees four severe forms of judgment – sword, dogs, birds, wild beasts – as punishment on the people of Jerusalem for their sin during the reign of the wicked king Manasseh. Their judgment and exile is now unavoidable, even if eminent intercessors pleaded for them.
Jeremiah Laments His Suffering in Ministry (15:5-9)
In verses 5-9, Jeremiah cries out in emotional pain over the loneliness and opposition he faces as God’s prophet to pronounce coming judgment:
“For who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem?
Or who will bemoan you?
Or who will turn aside to ask how you are doing?
You have forsaken Me,” says the Lord,
“You have gone backward.
Therefore I will stretch out My hand against you and destroy you;
I am weary of relenting!
And I will winnow them with a winnowing fan in the gates of the land;
I will bereave them of children;
I will destroy My people,
Since they do not return from their ways.” (15:5-7)
Jeremiah is overwhelmed considering the horrors coming upon his people in judgment for their sins. He feels utterly alone as a prophet, with no comforters or supporters. In verse 10, Jeremiah laments the opposition and insults he faces on all sides for simply proclaiming God’s word:
Woe is me, my mother, that you have borne me,
A man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth!
I have neither lent for interest,
Nor have men lent to me for interest.
Every one of them curses me. (15:10 NKJV)
God Strongly Rebukes Jeremiah (15:10-14)
However, in verses 10-14 God sternly corrects Jeremiah for his self-pity and complaining:
The Lord said:
“Surely I will deliver you for a good purpose;
Surely I will cause the enemy to intercede with you in the time of adversity and in the time of affliction.
For can anyone break iron,
The northern iron and the bronze?
Your wealth and your treasures
I will give as plunder without price,
Because of all your sins,
Throughout your territories.
And I will make you cross over with your enemies
Into a land which you do not know;
For a fire is kindled in My anger,
Which shall burn upon you.” (15:11-14 NKJV)
God sharply rebukes Jeremiah for losing perspective in the midst of his calling to deliver an unpopular message before the exile. He reminds Jeremiah that He has allowed these difficulties for His sovereign purposes. Jeremiah must endure this refining fire patiently until the coming day of restoration.
Jeremiah Asks for Mercy and Deliverance (15:15-18)
In response to this harsh rebuke, Jeremiah humbly asks God for mercy, deliverance, and restoration:
O Lord, You know;
Remember me and visit me,
And take vengeance for me on my persecutors.
In Your enduring patience, do not take me away.
Know that for Your sake I have suffered rebuke. (15:15 NKJV)
He acknowledges that he suffers reproach for the sake of God’s name and ministry. Jeremiah also asks for God’s vengeance on his enemies who have persecuted him:
Your words were found, and I ate them,
And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart;
For I am called by Your name,
O Lord God of hosts.
I did not sit in the assembly of the mockers,
Nor did I rejoice;
I sat alone because of Your hand,
For You have filled me with indignation. (15:16-17 NKJV)
Though God’s words initially brought joy, now Jeremiah feels only loneliness and indignation because of their unpopularity and the rejection he faces. Yet he remains faithful to his calling.
God Promises Protection for Jeremiah (15:19-21)
In the final verses, God responds to Jeremiah’s pleas by promising protection, deliverance, and restoration:
Therefore thus says the Lord:
“If you return,
Then I will bring you back;
You shall stand before Me;
If you take out the precious from the vile,
You shall be as My mouth.
Let them return to you,
But you must not return to them.
20 And I will make you to this people a fortified bronze wall;
And they will fight against you,
But they shall not prevail against you;
For I am with you to save you
And deliver you,” says the Lord.
21 “I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked,
And I will redeem you from the grip of the terrible.” (15:19-21 NKJV)
God calls Jeremiah to separate himself from the wicked people and continue faithfully speaking God’s words. He promises to make Jeremiah an unbreakable “bronze wall” who will withstand opposition. God will be with him to protect, deliver, and redeem him from all enemies.
This reassurance powerfully comforts Jeremiah and strengthens him to continue in his difficult calling of pronouncing judgment on Judah.
Jeremiah 15 illustrates how even faithful servants of God like Jeremiah can become discouraged and complain in the face of opposition. Yet God strongly corrects such misguided lamentation aimed at self-pity rather than exalting God’s glory.
The key lesson is that believers must maintain an eternal perspective when facing trials in ministry. Difficulties refine and strengthen us to depend on God alone. By clinging to God’s promises, we can withstand every attack until He brings final vindication and reward. Jeremiah’s example challenges all Christians to persevere in ministry by relying on the Spirit’s power and God’s presence rather than our own strength.