When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight. Jeremiah 15:16
Early in his fifty-year ministry in Cambridge, England, Charles Simeon (1759–1836) met a neighboring pastor, Henry Venn, and his daughters. After the visit, the daughters remarked how harsh and self-assertive the young man seemed. In response, Venn asked his daughters to pick a peach from the trees. When they wondered why their father would want the unripe fruit, he responded, “Well, my dears, it is green now, and we must wait; but a little more sun, and a few more showers, and the peach will be ripe and sweet. So it is with Mr. Simeon.”
Over the years Simeon did soften through God’s transforming grace. One reason was his commitment to read the Bible and pray every day. A friend who stayed with him for a few months witnessed this practice and remarked, “Here was the secret of his great grace and spiritual strength.”
Simeon in his daily time with God followed the practice of the prophet Jeremiah, who faithfully listened for God’s words. Jeremiah depended on them so much that he said, “When your words came, I ate them.” He mulled and chewed over God’s words, which were his “joy” and “heart’s delight” (Jeremiah 15:16).
If we too resemble a sour green fruit, we can trust that God will help to soften us through His Spirit as we get to know Him through reading and obeying the Scriptures.
How has reading the Bible changed you? Why might you sometimes not read it?
God, the Scriptures feed me and protect me from sin. Help me to read them every day.
In Jeremiah 15:15–18, several metaphors vividly capture Jeremiah’s experience of his calling as a prophet. In verse 16, he uses the metaphor of eating to capture the idea of fully embracing and internalizing God’s words. Some scholars suggest that to “bear [God’s] name” in this context may allude to the shared name that results from marriage. In addition, the words joy and delight elsewhere in Jeremiah are always connected with wedding festivities (7:34; 16:9; 25:10; 33:11).
In Jeremiah 15:18, the prophet uses the metaphor of streambeds or wadis to capture his bewilderment at the stark contrast between his initial intimacy with God and his current anguish. Such streambeds in the summertime were often dried up and therefore unreliable sources of water. In this way, Jeremiah vividly captures a feeling of deep betrayal at experiencing God in this way, rather than as the everlasting “spring of living water” He’d described Himself as (2:13).
To learn more about how the geography of the Holy Land enhances our understanding of the Bible, visit ChristianUniversity.org/NT110.