Have you ever heard the prophet Jeremiah called “the weeping prophet?” This has been a common name for him through the ages. He was named that because his ministry was filled with much heartache and he was called to be a spiritual leader at the time Israel was taken into captivity by their enemies. He saw their way of life destroyed and their homes taken away. It was a very heartbreaking time.
And there is something else that made the life of Jeremiah sad and lonely. As far as we know, he had not a single friend. Though he faithfully obeyed God’s call and was doing His will, we never read that he had any company in his misery or a companion to come along side—except once.
There was one man sent to the suffering prophet when he was at his lowest, one man whose kindness is a bright ray of sunshine in the cloud-filled story of Jeremiah’s life: Ebed-Melech. Ebed-Melech is a hard name for us to spell and even harder to pronounce, but it was a beautiful name to a man in sorrow. Ebed-Melech is a name worth remembering, and he is an example for young people today.
After years of faithful service, Jeremiah ended up in prison by the hand of a king who hated him. And it was no ordinary imprisonment, but the very worst imaginable. This dungeon was so deep and so dark that it did not have an ordinary floor or door. In Jeremiah 38:6 we read, “And they let down Jeremiah with cords.” It goes on to say, “And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire, so Jeremiah sunk in the mire” (Jeremiah 38:6). The man of God had nowhere to take care of the needs of his body. He was rendered utterly helpless—left in filth, dampness, and terrible stench. If someone had not taken notice and delivered him quickly, his doom would have been sealed.
Someone did notice and took pity on the suffering prophet. Not only did Ebed-Melech, who was a servant in the king’s palace, notice, but he wasted no time in speaking up. He used his influence to make a plea for Jeremiah directly to the king: “My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon; and he is like to die for hunger in the place where he is” (Jeremiah 38:9).
Ebed-Melech’s skillful dealing with the king got him the permission, supplies, and manpower needed to rescue God’s servant from the pit. He not only oversaw the rescue, but participated in it himself. And he made sure that Jeremiah was transferred to “the court of the prison” where he could be better looked after.
How like the Lord Jesus Ebed-Melech was in his rescue of the perishing prophet! Is this not a reminder of our dear Saviour seeing us in the helpless state of sin, pleading for us to His heavenly Father, and coming to live and die for our salvation? Is there someone to whom you can show kindness today—someone with whom you can share the gospel of salvation through Christ? Take note of the suffering of those who are perishing in your world and do the work of an Ebed-Melech. Pray for them and by God’s grace do whatever you can to show them the way of deliverance from sin.