Jeremiah calls himself God’s dupe. He’s been flogged and placed in stocks at the Upper Gate of Benjamin, in the house of the Lord. (Jeremiah 20:1-2) Jeremiah moans that God “outwits [him] and prevails.” He groans that he “is made a laughing-stock all the day long, everyone mocks [him].” (Jeremiah 20:7) As a prophet of the Lord, he proclaims “violence and destruction,” and as a result “[he] is reproached and mocked all the time for uttering the Word of the Lord.” (Jeremiah 20:8)
Jeremiah decides enough is enough. He sets out to “call [God] to mind no more, nor speak in His Name again.” (Jeremiah 20:9)
What happens? “[God’s] Word is imprisoned in [Jeremiah’s] body, like a fire blazing in [his] heart, and [he] is weary with holding it under, and [he] can endure it no more.” Not only that, Jeremiah senses that his friends are watching “for a false step” so they may take revenge. (Jeremiah 20:10) Boldly Jeremiah asserts “the Lord is on my side, strong and ruthless, therefore my persecutors shall stumble and fall powerless.” (Jeremiah 20:11) He rattles his own soul, urging himself to “sing to the Lord, praise the Lord.” (Jeremiah 20:13)
In a marked mood swing, Jeremiah suddenly stops praising his Lord, and curses the day he is born. “Be it ever unblessed,” he cries out, “the day when my mother bore me!” (Jeremiah 20:14) He marvels that “death did not claim [him] before birth, and [his] mother did not become [his] grave.” (Jeremiah 20:17) He struggles to comprehend “why [he] came forth from the womb to know only sorrow and toil, to end [his] days in shame.” (Jeremiah 20:18)
Jeremiah laments, “I am weary with holding [the Word of the Lord] under, and can endure it no more.” (Jeremiah 20:9) The imprisoned Word of God burns like fire within, and must escape. Jeremiah curses the day of his birth, but he continues speaking until the day of his death.