Disciple Bible Study: Week 3, Reading 4

Is there a balm in Gilead?

I’m participating in Disciple Bible Study, a 34 week intensive. Every day, we have different readings (except on the seventh day…resting!). I have decided to document my initial noticings from a close reading of the scripture. Well, an attempt at a close reading.

Week 3, Reading 4: Jeremiah 8:18-9:11

This is different.  This lamentation from Jeremiah made my heart sink this morning.  Verse 8:22 says "Is there no balm in Gilead?"  This recalled to mind the slave spiritual "There is a Balm in Gilead."  Coupling the slave practices of early America with the lamentation of Jeremiah for his people brought tears to my eyes.  The people of Jeremiah were devastated by Babylon, deportations, and the destruction of Jerusalem.  Seeking the answer to the eternal question, "Where is G*d in my suffering?"  I can only imagine that the early American slaves were trying to find the same answer.  Below you will find Mahalia Jackson's rendering of "There is a Balm in Gilead."  More tears.

Noticings from the readings:

  • 8:22 - Looking for G*d the physician
  • 9:1 - "The slain of my poor people."  So sad.  Mass destruction of humanity.  When will we learn?
  • 9:4-5 - A neglect of neighbor love is turning person against person.  Interestingly, some of the folks were "pro" Babylon and some were "anti" Babylon.  This would cause a treacherous political environment.  Poor Jeremiah!  Just a baby and look what he has to deal with!
  • 9:6 - "Oppression upon Oppression."  So, so sad.  Where are our oppressed now?  It is still the widow, the orphan, and the alien.  Oppressing others leads to treachery and lies and deceit and no trust in the people.  Could be today.
  • 9:7 - G*d saying, "I will now refine and test them for what else can I do?"  Maybe, that is all we can see in suffering.  In ultimate suffering.  That it must be a test because if it isn't a test, it is just pure insanity.  So, so sad.

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