Why is my pain perpetual
and my wound incurable,
refusing to be healed?
Will you indeed be to me like a deceitful brook,
like waters that fail? Bible

“like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail?” This is a reference to a physical attribute of Israel that was well known, and thus it is similar to a custom or idiom because you have to know the land of Israel to understand it.

The majority of the streams in Israel only flow during the rainy season. Thus, at some point during the dry season they stop flowing, but the exact time that happens depends on the amount of rain that fell that year, how long the rainy season lasted, etc. That meant that if a person needed water, if the dry season had started they could never really be sure if the stream would still be flowing or if it had already dried up. The ironic thing about those streams was that often during the rainy season there was water in lots of places so the streams were not quite as necessary, but then late in the dry season when they were really needed, they did not have any water.

Jeremiah is asking God if He is like that; like a stream that only provides water during the “good” times and then stops providing when conditions get tough. It can seem like in the good times, when we do not need God’s comfort, it is there in abundance, but then in the tough times God’s comfort is not there. Thankfully, we can rely on God all the time. In Jeremiah 15:21, God assures Jeremiah that He will deliver him, and we can rely on God’s deliverance too. But, as we learn from Proverbs, that does not mean that He will support our foolishness. We have to walk righteously and with wisdom.

Commentary for: Jeremiah 15:18