Jeremiah 20

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Read Jeremiah 20

Jeremiah and Pashhur

20 When the priest Pashhur son of Immer, the official in charge of the temple of the Lord, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things, he had Jeremiah the prophet beaten and put in the stocks at the Upper Gate of Benjamin at the Lord’s temple. The next day, when Pashhur released him from the stocks, Jeremiah said to him, “The Lord’s name for you is not Pashhur, but Terror on Every Side. For this is what the Lord says: ‘I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends; with your own eyes you will see them fall by the sword of their enemies. I will give all Judah into the hands of the king of Babylon, who will carry them away to Babylon or put them to the sword. I will deliver all the wealth of this city into the hands of their enemies—all its products, all its valuables and all the treasures of the kings of Judah. They will take it away as plunder and carry it off to Babylon.And you, Pashhur, and all who live in your house will go into exile to Babylon. There you will die and be buried, you and all your friends to whom you have prophesied lies.’”

Jeremiah’s Complaint

You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived;
    you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long;
    everyone mocks me.
Whenever I speak, I cry out
    proclaiming violence and destruction.
So the word of the Lord has brought me
    insult and reproach all day long.
But if I say, “I will not mention his word
    or speak anymore in his name,”
his word is in my heart like a fire,
    a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
    indeed, I cannot.
10 I hear many whispering,
    “Terror on every side!
    Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!”
All my friends
    are waiting for me to slip, saying,
“Perhaps he will be deceived;
    then we will prevail over him
    and take our revenge on him.”

11 But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior;
    so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.
They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced;
    their dishonor will never be forgotten.
12 Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous
    and probe the heart and mind,
let me see your vengeance on them,
    for to you I have committed my cause.

13 Sing to the Lord!
    Give praise to the Lord!
He rescues the life of the needy
    from the hands of the wicked.

14 Cursed be the day I was born!
    May the day my mother bore me not be blessed!
15 Cursed be the man who brought my father the news,
    who made him very glad, saying,
    “A child is born to you—a son!”
16 May that man be like the towns
    the Lord overthrew without pity.
May he hear wailing in the morning,
    a battle cry at noon.
17 For he did not kill me in the womb,
    with my mother as my grave,
    her womb enlarged forever.
18 Why did I ever come out of the womb
    to see trouble and sorrow
    and to end my days in shame?

Go Deeper

This chapter shows the persecution of Jeremiah followed by a painfully honest prayer to God. His calling is difficult, and it brings him to what some would call a dark night of the soul. Jeremiah 20 gives important perspective on the realities and difficulties of following the Lord. We will have hard days and hard questions at times, and God preserved this text to show us even prophets like Jeremiah struggled.

In the first section of this chapter, we see Jeremiah beaten and put in stocks for what he was prophesying by a priest named Pashhur, later named “Terror on Every Side”. The stocks were a form of torture that were used for false prophets. Unfortunately, it’s being carried out by a leading priest or overseer of the temple. They were completely missing that God had sent Jeremiah to call out their sin and rebellion and to warn against impending judgment. This is also the first recorded violent act against the prophet. He was put on public display in order to bring about disgrace, much like Jesus. Both Jeremiah and Jesus are often identified with the suffering servant from Isaiah 53.

Beginning in verse 7, the chapter shifts to another example of Jeremiah letting us see his inner turmoil. This is one of the characteristics that makes this prophet and book unique. It is a lament similar to David’s in Psalm 6. He has been released from prison but is still struggling with the events that took place. He feels betrayed by the Lord for the consequences of his preaching. His own friends were turning against him (v. 10), as Jesus also experienced (Mark 14:56-59). When Jeremiah tries to stop preaching, he can’t because the Lord’s word burned within him. He goes on to praise and then despair again. He’s wrestling and crying out to God.

What can we learn from the prophet in this chapter? The call of a believer can be difficult, involve suffering, ridicule, being disgraced or misunderstood. We live in a broken world. Jeremiah cries out to God with honesty and questions that don’t have answers. However, he still goes on and doesn’t quit. He’s faithful to continue. Sometimes we too will wrestle. Hebrews 4:14-16 reminds us that our high priest is Jesus, to hold firmly to the faith we profess, knowing He empathizes with our weakness, and to approach His throne of grace so He can help us in our time of need. Don’t give up.


  1. What did this chapter teach you about the character of God?
  2. Why do you think he preserved Jeremiah’s words for us to read?
  3. Do you ever want to give up? Pray to God for help and courage to walk forward.

Pray This


Psalm 46:1 tells us that you are “our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Help us to turn to you in trouble. To know that we all will have days where we feel like Jeremiah did. Thank you for this text and his example to faithfully keep going. Give us the courage to do that same.

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4 thoughts on “Jeremiah 20”

  1. Jeremiah is a case in point of what it can look like to wrestle with God. It’s like the ocean tides washing to shore, one moment calm, the next one roaring and crashing down. He felt confident to bring his hurt, anger and disillusionment to God because he knew God as a righteous, mighty warrior “who examines the deepest thoughts of hearts and minds” (v12). A phrase at the end of this verse is where I want to camp today, “for to you I have committed my cause.” Through the highs and lows, the ebb and flows of life, what’s most important is that we keep our eyes on the prize, the upward call of Christ Jesus. The Man of Sorrows is deeply acquainted with our grief and never for a moment are we left alone in our brokenness. We can declare with Jeremiah, “Now I will sing out my thanks to the Lord! Praise the Lord! For though I was poor and needy, he delivered me from my oppressors” (v13).

  2. So are we overwhelmed by God today? Are we in the fear, AWE of God, that makes us be afraid to not be with Him or in His presence constantly? Or are we just ready to give up when trouble rolls in? Jeremiah says (vs 7)You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Could I withstand this? One year ago me, NO not at all. This day, I believe, yes. Vs 9 states “His word is in my heart like a fire,” which I cannot contain it. Though we feel humiliations or just trials we deem unfair and want to give up, may the fire of God burn inside You which you cannot contain. Psalm 62:8 Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. May we be in fear, reverence, awe and overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit to rise up and proclaim Jesus as Lord to all.

    God thank You for not quitting on me. Thank You that I do not quit on You. God thank You for being my refuge. I am so blessed, grateful and thankful for You in my life. I am thankful for every breath I take! Thank You God for that breath life to speak of the goodness of You. God give me Your love goggles to see others today through Your lens. Thank You for Your words that will build up, edify and exhort with grace coming out of my mouth. God thank You for JOY unspeakable effervescing from all that I do and say in these minutes of this day in Jesus name amen

  3. 13 “Sing to the Lord!
    Give praise to the Lord!
    He rescues the life of the needy
    from the hands of the wicked.”

    Interesting to see this encouraging verse dropped in the middle of these very dark prophecies and lamentations!

  4. Diane Frances Rogers

    Do you ever get so upset when you try to speak truth to someone about yourself admitting your part in a situation and it falls on deaf ears? I have. In despair, there is hope. His name is Jesus! I put my trust in Him!

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