18 Say to the king and to the queen mother,
“Come down from your thrones,
for your glorious crowns
will fall from your heads.”
19 The cities in the Negev will be shut up,
and there will be no one to open them.
All Judah will be carried into exile,
carried completely away.
(Jeremiah 13:18-19 NIV)
In the previous passage, Jeremiah begged the people of Judah to repent of their pride before the rest of the Lord’s disciplinary judgments fell on them.
In today’s passage, the Lord tells Jeremiah to call out the pride of the king and the queen mother. While the king and queen mother are not specifically named, most scholars believe this is referring to King Jehoiachin and his mother, Nehushta. Jehoiachin became king after the death of his father, Jehoiakim. Jehoiachin was eighteen when he became king, but his reign only lasted three months when the Babylonians replaced him with one of their own. Jehoiachin and the queen mother were exiled to Babylon, held as a prisoner for 35 years, and then released. They were never allowed to return to Judah. You can read their story in 2 Kings 24:8-17.
To grasp the significance of this passage, we need to put ourselves in King Jehoiachin’s shoes. Psalm 137 gives a clear picture of the heartbreak of being an exiled king, stripped of his glory and forced to live as a prisoner in another man’s kingdom.
Verse 19 shows the extent to which the people would be exiled. The reference to the Negev meant all the towns of southern Judah. The phrase “carried completely away” refers to both those who were forced to leave their home and country and were sent to Babylon, as well as the poorest of the poor who were allowed to stay but were ruled by a local Babylonian overlord.
Commentator Derek Kidner sums up the application of these two verses:
“In short, no one is so high, nothing so venerable, nowhere so safe, as to be exempt when God sends in His agents of upheaval and destruction. To say, ‘It couldn’t happen here’ is (as we are all finding out) not even plausible.”
(Kinder, Derek. “Jeremiah” Commentary. InterVarsity Press, 1987. Page 65.)
May we live out our lives in humble obedience to the Lord, not letting our selfish pride come before our worship of Him, who created us and gives us life and breath each and every moment of every day.
May our hearts be moved by God’s heart. May we hear His voice and unconditionally love our neighbor as we love ourselves.