This verse reminds me of the lyrics from Linda Ronstadt’s song, “A Long, Long, Time.” It’s from the perspective of a lover who’s been jilted. She writes, “Love will abide, take things in stride, Sounds like good advice but there’s no one at my side. And time washes clean love’s 12 abide in lovewounds unseen. That’s what someone told me but I don’t know what it means. Cause I’ve done everything I know to try and make you mine. And I think I’m gonna love you for a long, long time. Caught in my fears, blinking back the tears, I can’t say you hurt me when you never let me near.” But here’s the line that struck me most, “And I never drew one response from you. All the while you fell all over girls you never knew…” If you ever heard that song, you know that you can almost see Linda crying through the verses. Jeremiah indicts Israel with a similar sin. He calls for them to repent in Jeremiah 3:13, “Only acknowledge your guilt, that you rebelled against the LORD your God and scattered your favors among foreigners under every green tree, and that you have not obeyed my voice, declares the LORD.” God’s love abides!

Craigie describes the situation well. He says, “Beyond all the requirements of the covenant regulations, God continued to love those who had long since ceased to love him and earnestly desired their return to him. If it is correct that the words were initially declared in the context of a northern ministry of the prophet, they held the potential of enormous comfort to those who heard them. For the inhabitants of the Northern Kingdom had long since lost their independence; for approximately a century, they and their predecessors had had time to reflect on the dreadful end to which the apostasy of a previous age had led. And yet now, in the midst of a time of hopelessness, the divine word comes again; still it addresses sin, but it offers also the gracious invitation to repentance, beyond which lay the possibility of a new relationship.”[1]

Huey acknowledges, “The first indispensable requirement for repentance and reconciliation with God is the admission of sin.”[2] Jeremiah is often referred to as the weeping prophet. One commentator says, “I can just see Jeremiah now, in full command of his powers, his eyes running with tears so characteristic of him, repeating the invitation to that broken and lonely country of Israel. ‘For I am merciful,’ says the Lord; ‘I will not remain angry forever’. The divorce laws said that there was no second chance. Yet God’s love transcends our frailties and offers us a new marriage with Him.” Then in verse 13 come “…words that would have changed her life. ‘Only acknowledge your iniquity’. …As it is true for a nation, so it is also true for an individual. How have we responded?”[3]

[1] Peter C. Craigie, Jeremiah 1–25, vol. 26, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas, TX: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 57.

[2] F. B. Huey, Jeremiah, Lamentations, vol. 16, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 75.

[3] John Guest and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Jeremiah, Lamentations, vol. 19, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1988), 45.