Out of The Pit

Mar 13, 2003 12:30 PM EST

Jeremiah 38:1-13 (NRSV)

Now Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jucal son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur son of Malchiah heard the words that Jeremiah was saying to all the people, Thus says the LORD, Those who stay in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but those who go out to the Chaldeans shall live; they shall have their lives as a prize of war, and live. Thus says the LORD, This city shall surely be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon and be taken. Then the officials said to the king, "This man ought to be put to death, because he is discouraging the soldiers who are left in this city, and all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man is not seeking the welfare of this people, but their harm." King Zedekiah said, "Here he is; he is in your hands; for the king is powerless against you." So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king's son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. Now there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.

Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, a eunuch in the king's house, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern. The king happened to be sitting at the Benjamin Gate, So Ebed-melech left the king's house and spoke to the king, "My lord king, these men have acted wickedly in all they did to the prophet Jeremiah by throwing him into the cistern to die there of hunger, for there is no bread left in the city." Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, "Take three men with you from here, and pull the prophet Jeremiah up from the cistern before he dies." So Ebed-melech took the men with him and went to the house of the king, to a wardrobe of the storehouse, and took from there old rags and worn-out clothes, which he let down to Jeremiah in the cistern by ropes. Then Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, "Just put the rags and clothes between your armpits and the ropes." Jeremiah did so. Then they drew Jeremiah up by the ropes and pulled him out of the cistern. And Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard.

Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The LORD's unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.

- Lamentations 3:21-23 (TEV)

JEREMIAH knew what it felt like to flounder in a pit with no way out. The Lord told Jeremiah to warn the people of Jerusalem, but Jeremiah's enemies tried to silence him by dropping Jeremiah by rope into a waterless cistern. They left Jeremiah there to die. He sank to the muddy bottom. The king's servant Ebedmelech heard about Jeremiah's plight and told King Zedekiah, "He is likely to die from hunger." The king ordered his servant to take three men and pull Jeremiah out. Ebedmelech and the men dropped ropes to Jeremiah and pulled him out of the cistern.

Many times in my life I've felt like Jeremiah, unable to see any way out of my troubles. I've felt as if I were trapped inside a deep, muddy pit whose slippery walls I could not climb. God offered me hope in my darkest times, assuring me of love that never fails and mercies that are new every morning. I clung to that hope, knowing that God had a way out for me. He did!

Prayer: Dear God, help us to remember, even in our darkest moments, that you will never fail us. You are always faithful. Your mercies are new every morning. Amen.


God is greater than the circumstances that imprison us.


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By Irene Anway, Florida