Jeremiah 38

Talks for Growing Christians

The Faithfulness of Ebed-Melech

Jeremiah 38

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Lesson Number 36

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. The Lord has His Ebed-Melechs strategically placed.
  2. Believers do not have to tell everything to everyone.

Practical Application

  1. Don’t forget the rags!


  1. In chapter 37, we have the account of Jeremiah being released from the dungeon into the court of the prison by King Zedekiah. Here in chapter 38, he is cast into the dungeon of Malchiah, the king’s son. Why was Jeremiah cast into a dungeon this second time?
  2. Who was Ebed-Melech? How would you describe his character?
  3. How would you describe the character of King Zedekiah as he made his decisions here in chapters 37 and 38?
  4. Jeremiah did prophesy to King Zedekiah that there was a way to escape the coming Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem and the capture of its people. What was this “way of escape”?
  5. King Zedekiah ordered Jeremiah not to tell Zedekiah’s officials everything that they had talked about. Did Jeremiah obey Zedekiah’s order?


  1. Jeremiah was cast in to the dungeon of Malchiah because he continued to faithfully declare God’s words. The princes (v 4), did not like the word of prophecy and accused Jeremiah of not being concerned about the people’s welfare.
  2. Ebed-Melech was a foreigner from Ethiopia, a servant in the king’s house. His actions before the king and on behalf of Jeremiah would indicate that he was a man of courage, compassion, integrity, and an effective leader.
  3. As King Zedekiah wavered back and forth between listening to what God was saying to him through Jeremiah and then disregarding it, and wavering back and forth between the advice of his evil princes and righteous men like Ebed-Melech, it is clear that Zedekiah was a man lacking courage, conviction and faith. His actions as recorded in verse 5 have remarkable similarity to those of Pontus Pilate as he dealt with Jesus. (See Matthew 27:24.)
  4. Jeremiah clearly declared the words of the Lord: If King Zedekiah would surrender to the Chaldeans (Babylonians), “then your soul shall live [and] this city shall not be burned with fire, and you and your house shall live.”
  5. Jeremiah did obey the king’s order. He did tell the officials about his conversation with the king regarding his safety and welfare, but did not disclose the conversation regarding God’s prophecy of escape or judgment.


  1. When Jeremiah was questioned by the princes of King Zedekiah, he did not disclose all that he and the king had discussed. Consider Jeremiah’s actions. Did he lie? Did he have an obligation to tell the princes everything? Was he wrong in concealing some information? Do the actions of Jeremiah provide believers today some principles to follow in situations like this?


  1. When Ebed-Melech received permission to take Jeremiah from the dungeon, he could have just used a rope to pull Jeremiah out. But he intentionally took old clothes and rags for Jeremiah to put under his arms. When you are called upon to help someone in need, is compassion not only part of your motive, but also instrumental in your provision of comfort and encouragement?

Key Verses

  • “Then Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, ‘Please put these old clothes and rags under your arms, under the ropes.’ And Jeremiah did so.” Jeremiah 38:12

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