We are studying Jeremiah 38:14-23 for Sunday, May 16. This is the final, secret conversation between the prophet Jeremiah and king Zedekiah of Judah, before Zedekiah’s and Jerusalem’s fate is completely sealed. [My notes on the text are here.] After we make sure we can describe the setting, the characters, and the narrative background of the text – that is, how Zedekiah and Jeremiah have gotten to this point in the story – here are a few questions we might want to consider or discuss in class:
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Why do we think Zedekiah consults the prophet Jeremiah at this time? What seem to be the king’s concerns in the conversation? How can we tell that from the text?

How would we describe Zedekiah’s situation? What seem to be his alternatives in this situation?

What would we ourselves advise Zedekiah to do in this situation? Why? Would we expect Zedekiah to take our advice? Why, or why not?

If we were Zedekiah’s people – that is, the people of Jerusalem – what do we think we would want Zedekiah to do? Does this tell us anything about the relationship of people to their leaders? To prophets? What does it tell us?
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What is Jeremiah’s response to the king’s request to “not hide anything from me”? What seem to be Jeremiah’s concerns in the conversation? How can we tell that from the text?

How would we describe Jeremiah’s situation in this story? What seem to be his alternatives in this situation?

What would we advise Jeremiah to do in this situation? Why? Would we expect Jeremiah to take our advice? Why, or why not?
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Can we think of any contemporary situations that would be similar (in any way) to that of Zedekiah’s in this story? What situation? How is that similar? How different? What light does the story of Zedekiah and Jeremiah shed on that situation, do we think?

Can we think of any contemporary situations that would be similar (in any way) to that of Jeremiah’s in this story? What situation? How is that similar? How different? What light does this story shed on that situation, do we think?
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Would we say this is a cautionary tale? What is the caution? Why do we say that?

Would we say this is an inspirational story? What are the grounds for inspiration? Why do we say that?

How else could we describe this story? What are the lessons to be learned from it, do we think? Why do we say that?
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What do we think it means to be courageous? Who seems more courageous in this situation, Zedekiah or Jeremiah? Why do we say this? What insight do we gain into the nature of courage from this story?
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What do we think it means to “have good judgment”? Would we say Zedekiah has “good judgment”? What about Jeremiah? Why do we say this? What insight do we gain into the nature of good judgment from this story?
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Image: “Christ and the Samaritan woman at the Well,” [crop] John Linnell, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons