“So Ebed-Melech took the men with him and went into the house of the king under the treasury, and took from there old clothes and old rags, and let them down by ropes into the dungeon to Jeremiah. Then Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, ‘Please put these old clothes and rags under your armpits, under the ropes.’ And Jeremiah did so. So they pulled Jeremiah up with ropes and lifted him out of the dungeon. And Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison” (Jeremiah 38:11-13)
The actor Tommy Lee Jones said, “Kindness and politeness are not overrated at all. They’re underused”. Many of us would say we show acts of kindness towards others. However, how apt are we to show kindness to others when we ourselves are going through a great trial of affliction?
As the opening verses above show, the prophet Jeremiah experienced an act of great kindness from an Ethiopian man named Ebed-Melech (Jeremiah 38:11-13). During the last days of the nation of Judah as the Babylonian army was about to capture the capital city of Jerusalem, Jeremiah was falsely accused of trying to defect to the Babylonians (Jeremiah 37:11-13). As a result he was arrested and imprisoned (Jeremiah 37:14-16, 21). Later, Jeremiah is put into a dungeon where there is no water. He begins to sink in the mire of this dungeon and his death is imminent (Jeremiah 38:6).
At this time, not only was Jeremiah’s life in grave danger, but everyone in Jerusalem had their lives threatened. The Babylonian army was literally right outside the door of the city. Jeremiah had prophesied that they were going to not only burn the city with fire, but also destroy the inhabitants as well (Jeremiah 37:6-10; 38:1-3). Yet, in spite of this looming threat, the Ethiopian Ebed-Melech goes to King Zedekiah and requests that the king allow him to rescue Jeremiah from this terrible dungeon (Jeremiah 38:7-10). The king grants his request of kindness and Ebed-Melech rescues Jeremiah from the dungeon. Jeremiah is then allowed to remain in the court of the prison (Jeremiah 38:11-13).
What strikes me about this event is Ebed-Melech was not so wrapped up in his own adversity (i.e. the looming destruction of Jerusalem) that he failed to see the need to show kindness to others who were also facing their own great trials as Jeremiah did. God would reward Ebed-Melech for his act of kindness. While Jeremiah is still in the court of the prison, God’s Word comes to him, “Go and speak to Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Behold, I will bring My words upon this city for adversity and not for good, and they shall be performed in that day before you. But I will deliver you in that day,” says the Lord, “and you shall not be given into the hand of the men of whom you are afraid. For I will surely deliver you, and you shall not fall by the sword; but your life shall be as a prize to you, because you have put your trust in Me,” says the Lord’ " (Jeremiah 39:15-18). In the midst of the great storm of affliction that was happening to Jerusalem, God noticed, appreciated, and would reward Ebed-Melech’s kindness to God’s servant Jeremiah.
All of us face our own trials. As of the moment of this writing, some of us are facing greater trials than others. However, let us strive to follow the example of Ebed-Melech and of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who in spite of the affliction which they faced, still showed kindness to others (cf. John 13:1-17; 34-35). Today, I will strive to show others the kindness of God through me!
“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me'” (Matthew 25:34-36).