Yesterday’s post was about Jeremiah’s comparison of false religion to a broken cistern, with God alternatively being “the fountain of living waters.” Jeremiah lived when most of God’s people – including most of the priests and prophets – had turned from Him to follow other gods. As Jeremiah remained faithful, correctly predicting that Jerusalem would fall to Babylon, he was persecuted, including this instance in Jeremiah 38:6, where King Zedekiah’s officials “took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king’s son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. And there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.”
Since God is “the fountain of living waters,” the only path to eternal blessing, it’s incredibly ironic that Jeremiah, one of the few remaining faithful prophets and therefore a rare source of God’s “living waters,” should be cast into a cistern with no water. Perhaps it was broken. King Zedekiah thought he could silence the “living waters” Jeremiah represented by casting them into a cistern, trading truth for falsehood.
Later, Jeremiah seems to recall the cistern experience in Lamentations 3:52-57, where he said:
“I have been hunted like a bird
by those who were my enemies without cause;
they flung me alive into the pit
and cast stones on me;
water closed over my head;
I said, ‘I am lost.’
‘I called on your name, O LORD,
from the depths of the pit;
you heard my plea, ‘Do not close
your ear to my cry for help!’
You came near when I called on you;
you said, ‘Do not fear!’”
Returning to the book of Jeremiah, we read that Ebed-melech, an Ethiopian eunuch, heard of Jeremiah’s situation and pleaded his case: “My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they did to Jeremiah the prophet by casting him into the cistern, and he will die there of hunger, for there is no bread left in the city.” This unlikely source – a foreigner – was Jeremiah’s deliverance from God to rescue Jeremiah from the well. Ebed-melech gathered 30 men, “Then they drew Jeremiah up with ropes and lifted him out of the cistern. And Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard.”
Jeremiah was not the only Old Testament figure to suffer for his faithfulness. Many years earlier, King David also referred to “sinking in the mire” in the Messianic Psalm 69, verses 14-15:
from sinking in the mire;
let me be delivered from my enemies
and from the deep waters.
Let not the flood sweep over me,
or the deep swallow me up,
or the pit close its mouth over me.”
David knew this feeling of sinking came not because of his sin, but when he was faithfully serving his Lord. David’s “sinking in the mire” happened under these circumstances from verse 9 of the same Psalm:
“For zeal for your house has consumed me,
and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.”
In Jeremiah’s case, as well as David’s and that of Jesus, whom Psalm 69 foreshadowed, we know that cannot judge our faithfulness based on whether it improves our circumstances. When we do, we might stop being faithful because it seems we are “sinking in the mire.” Being reproached by the world and feeling down aren’t the circumstances we prefer, but “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Through these and all other circumstances, God develops in us deeper trust in Him.
Therefore, with David may we pray:
“But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD.
At an acceptable time, O God,
in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.” – Psalm 69:13
And in His time, He will deliver us, perhaps in ways we don’t expect.
In 1995, Christian rock group Jars of Clay released their self-titled album, and the track “Flood” has similar themes to this post. The song was also a mainstream hit, charting as high as No. 12 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart, amazing for a song that is essentially a prayer like David’s in Psalm 69.
You can check out the song’s lyrics here: https://genius.com/Jars-of-clay-flood-lyrics
Or, if you have 3 ½ minutes, watch the music video here:
 Jeremiah 3:13
 Jeremiah 38:9
 John 2:17, 15:25, Acts 1:20, Romans 11:9-10, 15:3
 Matthew 5:10