"Everyone deceives his neighbor And does not speak the truth, They have taught their tongue to speak lies; They weary themselves committing iniquity.Jeremiah 9:5(NASB)
Jeremiah's public ministry of calling the nation of Israel to repent of their sin and turn from their hypocritical religiosity, was treated with indifference and contempt by his fellow-countrymen, causing this man of God deep distress. The unresponsive attitude of the people and their indifference to sin gave rise to his great lamentation, recorded in Jeremiah, chapter 9.
Jeremiah faithfully issued many general prophecies of judgement concerning Judah and some very specific consequences of their continued rebellion, but his call to turn from sin and return to the Lord went unheeded and was treated with scoffing contempt by the majority of his countrymen.
It is the first verse in chapter 9 that caused Jeremiah to become labelled 'the weeping prophet', for he described how he longed that his head were "many waters," and his eyes were a "fountain of tears." He wept for the slain daughters of his people and mourned over their sinfulness.
Since his call as a young man, he had faithfully catalogued the sins of the people and warned of their inevitable judgement, if they did not turn from their wicked ways. But his cautions were ignored, their idolatry increased, and Jeremiah's lament seems to identify one of the lowest moments in his ministry and expose his own vexation with this stiff-necked, iron-willed nation.
His 'unprofitable' ministry caused this man of God to long for an opportunity to move far away from his people, to some little wayfarer's lodging in the desert or some other distant place. His thoughts were similar to the psalmist who longed for the wings of a dove so that he could fly far away from those that troubled him and caused him distress.
It is in verse 5, that Jeremiah describes the evils of their deception in the most poetic language. He writes of the depths to which God's chosen nation of Israel had fallen: "Everyone deceives his neighbour and does not speak the truth. They have taught their tongue to speak lies. They weary themselves committing iniquity."
This accusation is quite shocking. The people whom God had chosen as His special nation, and with whom He had made a covenant, had wandered so far from His laws, commands, precepts, and statutes, that no one could be trusted. No one could trust their family, their friends, or neighbours to speak the truth. They had become so twisted and depraved in their minds that they became wearied by their evil schemes and wicked plans, and deception and lies were the accepted standard of behaviour.
"Oh, that my head were waters and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!" was Jeremiah's pitiful lament. "'Oh that I had in the desert a wayfarers' lodging place; that I might leave my people and go from them! For all of them are adulterers. They are all an assembly of treacherous men. They bend their tongue like their bow. Lies and not truth prevail in the land. They proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know Me,' declares the LORD."
His sad lament continues: "'Let everyone be on guard against his neighbour, and let no one trust his brother; because every brother deals craftily, and every neighbour goes about as a slanderer. Everyone deceives his neighbour and does not speak the truth. They have taught their tongue to speak lies. They weary themselves committing iniquity. Your dwelling is in the midst of deceit. Through deceit they refuse to know Me,' declares the LORD."
Heavenly Father, the lament of Jeremiah makes me realise that there is none that is good, not even one. But thank You that in Your grace, You sent Jesus to be the propitiation for my sin and not only for my sin, but for the sin of the whole world. May the truth that whosoever believes on Him would not perish but have everlasting life, ring out from my lips. I pray that I may reflect Your goodness in the land of the living and be a living sacrifice of prayer and praise for Your greater glory. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.