Jeremiah 37

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Read Jeremiah 37

Jeremiah in Prison

37 Zedekiah son of Josiah was made king of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; he reigned in place of Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim.Neither he nor his attendants nor the people of the land paid any attentionto 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 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 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11 After the Babylonian army had withdrawn from Jerusalem because of Pharaoh’s army, 12 Jeremiah started to leave the city to go to the territory of Benjamin to get his share of the property among the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 beatenand 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.

Go Deeper

Jeremiah 37 begins with Zedekiah enthroned as Nebuchadnezzar’s puppet king. Zedekiah asks by messenger for Jeremiah to pray for Judah, an interesting move from a king who does not keep the commandments and ways of the Lord.  

In Judah, the fear of war intensifies. Zedekiah has, in his desperation, arranged for the king of Egypt to send his army to their aid, betraying Nebuchadnezzar. Babylon’s army, the Chaldeans, have discovered this and now retreat from Judah to fight this new threat. The temporary reprieve seems like deliverance. Zedekiah believes his political moves have saved his nation.  

Meanwhile, God tells Jeremiah that this retreat is temporary. The king of Egypt will retreat, and Babylon will return to crush Judah. Taking advantage of temporary safe passage, Jeremiah sets out to acquire the field he had purchased at God’s command in chapter 32 as an assurance of future hope. On his way to acquire his field, Jeremiah is captured and assumed to be a deserter. For this crime, he is imprisoned.  

Days later, Zedekiah brings Jeremiah out of prison, to his house, and questions him secretly. This powerful figure questioning the man of God in secret is a shadow of Nicodemus, the powerful and influential rabbi, questioning Jesus by night, fearing what people thought. Zedekiah asks Jeremiah if there is any word from God. Coming right after he thinks he’s solved everything, this seems like a prideful ask. Has God changed his mind now that Zedekiah has taken matters into his own hands? No, Israel will still fall. The Lord is steadfast. 

Jeremiah has a follow-up question. Why is he suffering for the truth while false prophets go free? Jeremiah stumbles on this question often—he asks a similar one in chapter 12. Why do the righteous suffer? His frustration with God is relatable, but Jesus has an answer in John 16:33. There is suffering, even for the faithful, while sin is still in the world, but for the glory of God, which will be revealed and understood when He returns.  

Jeremiah pleads with Zedekiah to have mercy on him, and Zedekiah obliges with a measure of grace. He allows Jeremiah to be imprisoned in the court of the guard rather than at the mercy of who he’d been imprisoned by prior to this. What’s more, Jeremiah receives daily bread until the city starves during the siege. 


  1. Jeremiah is on his way to acquire property the Lord asked him to purchase, yet he is captured and imprisoned instead to deliver the Lord’s word to the king. What does this tell you about God’s timing?  
  2. Jeremiah is preoccupied with his own suffering while false prophets suffer. How do you feel about your own suffering?  
  3. Read 1 Peter 4:12-19. How would you counsel Jeremiah in his frustration about his suffering? 

By the Way

Jeremiah also wrote Lamentations, an account of his personal grief and weeping during the fall of Judah. Lamentations 3:25-29 speak to the goodness of waiting on the Lord in siege and suffering:  

“25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke
    while he is young. 

28 Let him sit alone in silence,
    for the Lord has laid it on him.
29 Let him bury his face in the dust—
    there may yet be hope.”

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4 thoughts on “Jeremiah 37”

  1. I revisited Jeremiah’s call and 40 year ministry of serving as a prophet to God’s people. He faithfully delivered God’s message and confronted people in sin, but nobody listened. He was poor, imprisoned, rejected, seemingly a failure. Known as the weeping prophet he mourned the fate of his people. His obedience and faithfulness in spite of opposition and personal cost was radical. He stayed the course obedient to his call. I’m challenged to count the cost of following Christ, to keep my eye on the prize honoring my Lord and Savior through trials of traversing through this broken world, remembering his body was broken to redeem me. May we abide with him letting his word transform us by renewing our minds that our hearts and steps may follow.

  2. Jeremiah was steadfast. He remained faithful to God during all these years of trials and tribulations. Would I? When I am on the mountaintop, yes, woohoo without a doubt!!! BUT life. Adversities, sins struggles, death, injustices, sorrow, and trials that I do not like, come my way. Do I waver or keep my eyes focused on the throne? Thankfully every day is new to be able to come into God’s presence and sit, to refresh, to lean in, to be loved on, and to learn more about His ever faithful, steadfast, abounding LOVE for me. I believe Jeremiah felt all these emotions to the degree that he lamented but yet he still remained steadfast.
    I have been a “Christ follower” for 1 year X 45ish. I can say that I am now a 4 year old follower of Christ that is endevoring to grow and mature in His instructions, discipleship, while striving to be more humble, gentle, and patient. I have to renew my mind hourly, daily, minutely, and sometimes in seconds. BUT GOD!! Jesus said “come follow me”. Mat 16:24-26Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
    To be a fan or to be the church?

    God thank You for learning. Thank You for Your patience with me. Thank You that You never gave or will give up on me!!! WOOHOO!!! God continue to open the eyes of my understanding about You, how to be the best me I can to give You glory. God thank You for ears to hear, love goggles to see, and Your words to speak to those I encounter today in these minutes of this day in Jesus name amen

  3. 10 “Even if you were to defeat the entire Babylonian army that is attacking you and only wounded men were left in their tents, they would come out and burn this city down.”

    Such a difficult prophecy Jeremiah kept repeating. No wonder he encountered such resistance!

  4. Diane Frances Rogers

    My perspective in this lesson is about persevering in serving the Lord by refusing to compromise Godly convictions no matter what the cost. It takes courage to tell people the truth. Sometimes in our culture we are afraid of hurting people’s feelings, so we let them go on in their lives without challenging them and their sin. I am grateful for HC and the leadership as they speak truth into our lives. I pray for confident strength and vision to live out the purpose God has called me for. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

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