The Old Testament reading for Friday, April 20 is:

Jeremiah 9:4–26 (Listen)

  Let everyone beware of his neighbor,
    and put no trust in any brother,
  for every brother is a deceiver,
    and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer.
  Everyone deceives his neighbor,
    and no one speaks the truth;
  they have taught their tongue to speak lies;
    they weary themselves committing iniquity.
  Heaping oppression upon oppression, and deceit upon deceit,
    they refuse to know me, declares the LORD.
  Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts:
  “Behold, I will refine them and test them,
    for what else can I do, because of my people?
  Their tongue is a deadly arrow;
    it speaks deceitfully;
  with his mouth each speaks peace to his neighbor,
    but in his heart he plans an ambush for him.
  Shall I not punish them for these things? declares the LORD,
    and shall I not avenge myself
    on a nation such as this?
10   “I will take up weeping and wailing for the mountains,
    and a lamentation for the pastures of the wilderness,
  because they are laid waste so that no one passes through,
    and the lowing of cattle is not heard;
  both the birds of the air and the beasts
    have fled and are gone.
11   I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins,
    a lair of jackals,
  and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation,
    without inhabitant.”

12 Who is the man so wise that he can understand this? To whom has the mouth of the LORD spoken, that he may declare it? Why is the land ruined and laid waste like a wilderness, so that no one passes through? 13 And the LORD says: “Because they have forsaken my law that I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice or walked in accord with it, 14 but have stubbornly followed their own hearts and have gone after the Baals, as their fathers taught them. 15 Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will feed this people with bitter food, and give them poisonous water to drink. 16 I will scatter them among the nations whom neither they nor their fathers have known, and I will send the sword after them, until I have consumed them.”

17   Thus says the LORD of hosts:
  “Consider, and call for the mourning women to come;
    send for the skillful women to come;
18   let them make haste and raise a wailing over us,
    that our eyes may run down with tears
    and our eyelids flow with water.
19   For a sound of wailing is heard from Zion:
    ‘How we are ruined!
    We are utterly shamed,
  because we have left the land,
    because they have cast down our dwellings.’”
20   Hear, O women, the word of the LORD,
    and let your ear receive the word of his mouth;
  teach to your daughters a lament,
    and each to her neighbor a dirge.
21   For death has come up into our windows;
    it has entered our palaces,
  cutting off the children from the streets
    and the young men from the squares.
22   Speak: “Thus declares the LORD,
  ‘The dead bodies of men shall fall
    like dung upon the open field,
  like sheaves after the reaper,
    and none shall gather them.’”

23 Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”

25 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will punish all those who are circumcised merely in the flesh—26 Egypt, Judah, Edom, the sons of Ammon, Moab, and all who dwell in the desert who cut the corners of their hair, for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in heart.”

(ESV)


English Standard Version: Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.

Old Testament Pastoral Commentary for Jeremiah 9:4-26
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie
God warns Israel that their treachery has become so horrendous that no one should trust his neighbor. They have all become like their deceiving forefather Jacob who tricked his brother Esau out of his birthright and blessing. Their worst deceit lay in convincing themselves that they didn't need God. God promises, therefore, to refine and punish His people whose tongues have become deadly arrows—speaking peace, and then planning an ambush. God's judgment prompts mourning from Jeremiah once again, because he understands that God's intent is to make Jerusalem a desolation. Jeremiah longs for the people to be wise enough to understand why this is happening. He wants them to make the connection between their own sinful disobedience and the suffering that they are about to undergo. God will give them the wages of sin, which is death, feeding them "bitter food" and "poisonous water." He will scatter them among the nations so that they are no longer set apart for Him as His chosen nation. In those days it was not unusual to hire professional mourners to express grief at a funeral. Now God tells Israel to hire professionals to mourn for them. He urges them to teach their children how to mourn, since death is on the way. God warns that their bodies will litter the fields, like grain that has been cut but never gathered. This solemn warning concludes with a brief note of hope for those who will trust in the LORD, rather than in their own wisdom, strength or riches. For the LORD "practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord." However, God warns that He will punish all who are circumcised only in the flesh but in the heart are unrepentant, even if they are of the house of Israel.