APPRECIATE the ASSISTANCE of our ‘GOOD SAMARITAN’: “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.” (Jer. 38:11-13)
The prophet Jeremiah had many enemies in the court of King Zedekiah who wanted him dead because he had openly declared that the city of Jerusalem will fall in the hands of the Babylonian army (v. 3). These officials demanded the death of the prophet, and spoke thus to the king: "Please, let this man be put to death, for thus he weakens the hands of the men of war who remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man does not seek the welfare of this people, but their harm" (v. 4). The weak vacillating King Zedekiah allowed these wicked officials to cast Jeremiah in a miry dungeon where there was no water, and Jeremiah “sank in the mire” (v. 6).
It was at that time that Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian eunuch, one of the officials of the king’s court, heard what had happened to the prophet Jeremiah (v. 7). He was a Cushite from the area of Upper Egypt, and his name means ‘servant of the king’. He immediately went to the king and reported that the other officials had ‘acted wickedly’ by throwing Jeremiah into the dungeon. He also made the king aware that the prophet would die of hunger soon since there was a scarcity of bread in the city (vv. 8-9).
It appears that King Zedekiah had either not known the officials’ specific plan to kill Jeremiah or had not believed they would carry it out. But now, knowing Jeremiah’s life was in danger, the king ordered Ebed-Melech to take thirty soldiers and rescue Jeremiah from the dungeon. Ebed-Melech took special care to obtain rags for Jeremiah to cushion his armpits, preventing the ropes from cutting his skin, which provides us with a touching glimpse of his kindness. How ironic is that the Jewish prophet of God had to be rescued by a foreigner who cared more for him than did the king and princes of God’s own people! God later rewarded this foreigner with safety and deliverance from the Babylonian army because of his assistance in the rescue effort of the prophet Jeremiah, and because he had put his trust in Jehovah God (see 39:15–18).
This rescue effort by a foreigner reminds us of a parable spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ concerning a Good Samaritan who also rescued a wounded Jew lying by the roadside bruised badly by a savage attack of robbers (see Luke 10:30-37). Both the Jewish priest and Levite passed by the same road, but did not help the dying man in any manner. It was a foreigner – a half-breed Jewish ‘Samaritan’ - who had compassion on the wounded man and stooped down to help him back to life and safety.
On a spiritual application, both the above stories speak about our lives today. We were once "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1), mortally wounded by our enemy Satan who came into our lives to "steal, and to kill, and to destroy" us (John 10:10). However, our ‘Good Samaritan’ Jesus Christ displayed His compassion and love towards us by rescuing us from the clutches of sin and death, and granting us abundant life. Can we truly appreciate the assistance of our ‘Good Samaritan’ today?