Opening Prayer

Father God, help me to live mindful of your presence, worshipping you in spirit and truth every moment of this day.


Jeremiah in Prison

37 Zedekiah son of Josiah was made king of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; he reigned in place of Jehoiachin[a] son of Jehoiakim. Neither he nor his attendants nor the people of the land paid any attention to the words the Lord had spoken through Jeremiah the prophet.

King Zedekiah, however, sent Jehukal son of Shelemiah with the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah to Jeremiah the prophet with this message: “Please pray to the Lord our God for us.”

Now Jeremiah was free to come and go among the people, for he had not yet been put in prison. Pharaoh’s army had marched out of Egypt, and when the Babylonians[b] who were besieging Jerusalem heard the report about them, they withdrew from Jerusalem.

Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of me, ‘Pharaoh’s army, which has marched out to support you, will go back to its own land, to Egypt. Then the Babylonians will return and attack this city; they will capture it and burn it down.’

“This is what the Lord says: Do not deceive yourselves, thinking, ‘The Babylonians will surely leave us.’ They will not! 10 Even if you were to defeat the entire Babylonian[c] army that is attacking you and only wounded men were left in their tents, they would come out and burn this city down.”

11 After the Babylonian army had withdrawn from Jerusalem because of Pharaoh’s army, 12 Jeremiah started to leave the city to go to the territory of Benjamin to get his share of the property among the people there. 13 But when he reached the Benjamin Gate, the captain of the guard, whose name was Irijah son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah, arrested him and said, “You are deserting to the Babylonians!”

14 “That’s not true!” Jeremiah said. “I am not deserting to the Babylonians.” But Irijah would not listen to him; instead, he arrested Jeremiah and brought him to the officials. 15 They were angry with Jeremiah and had him beaten and imprisoned in the house of Jonathan the secretary, which they had made into a prison.

16 Jeremiah was put into a vaulted cell in a dungeon, where he remained a long time. 17 Then King Zedekiah sent for him and had him brought to the palace, where he asked him privately, “Is there any word from the Lord?”

“Yes,” Jeremiah replied, “you will be delivered into the hands of the king of Babylon.”

18 Then Jeremiah said to King Zedekiah, “What crime have I committed against you or your attendants or this people, that you have put me in prison? 19 Where are your prophets who prophesied to you, ‘The king of Babylon will not attack you or this land’? 20 But now, my lord the king, please listen. Let me bring my petition before you: Do not send me back to the house of Jonathan the secretary, or I will die there.”

21 King Zedekiah then gave orders for Jeremiah to be placed in the courtyard of the guard and given a loaf of bread from the street of the bakers each day until all the bread in the city was gone. So Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guard.


  1. Jeremiah 37:1 Hebrew Koniah, a variant of Jehoiachin
  2. Jeremiah 37:5 Or Chaldeans; also in verses 8, 9, 13 and 14
  3. Jeremiah 37:10 Or Chaldean; also in verse 11

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


May we learn to accept God’s Word, even if it seems inconvenient at times.

Think Further

‘When elephants fight, the grass gets hurt.’ This evocative African proverb captures the fate of the little nation states, in the ancient Near East, nestling along the fertile crescent, from the Euphrates-Tigris river systems, down the Jordan valley to the Nile delta. Power struggles tended to involve the superpowers, Assyria, Babylonia, and Persia to the north and Egypt to the south. The period between 598 and 587 BC, during the ineffectual reign of Zedekiah, demonstrates this predicament. The king was allied to Egypt and desperately hoped that his strategy would bring him peace and security, but to no avail. The official propaganda in Jerusalem supported this ideology, but Jeremiah had a very different opinion, based on God’s word.

Jeremiah’s prophetic stance and his opposition to official policy did not endear him to the rulers. Under false premises (v 13) they arrested him, beat him up, and threw him into a horrid jail, where he was sure to die (vs 16,20). He was later moved, at the intervention of the king, to a more agreeable environment (v 21). The king, desperate to have Jeremiah and the words of God on his side, supporting the official ideology, sought audience with the prophet twice (vs 3,17). Jeremiah, however, was uncompromising: the word of God contradicted the status quo and predicted defeat and surrender to the Babylonians.

Zedekiah and Judah’s problem, a problem with which we are all too often familiar, was their lack of attention to the word of God (v 2). The king sought urgently to change the will and word of God to fit in with his desires – but we must always remember that God is not always on our side.


God is on his own side. We, however, may choose to join him on his side. That requires paying close attention to his Word.

Closing prayer

I praise you, Father; only you can understand and meet all of my needs—you know them even before I can bring them before you. I rest in you.

Last Updated on December 5, 2023 by kingstar

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