7 But Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, an important court official, heard that Jeremiah was in the cistern. At that time the king was holding court at the Benjamin Gate, 8 so Ebed-melech rushed from the palace to speak with him. 9 “My lord the king,” he said, “these men have done a very evil thing in putting Jeremiah the prophet into the cistern. He will soon die of hunger, for almost all the bread in the city is gone.”
10 So the king told Ebed-melech, “Take thirty of my men with you, and pull Jeremiah out of the cistern before he dies.”
11 So Ebed-melech took the men with him and went to a room in the palace beneath the treasury, where he found some old rags and discarded clothing. He carried these to the cistern and lowered them to Jeremiah on a rope. 12 Ebed-melech called down to Jeremiah, “Put these rags under your armpits to protect you from the ropes.” Then when Jeremiah was ready,13 they pulled him out. So Jeremiah was returned to the courtyard of the guard—the palace prison—where he remained.
Jeremiah 38:7-13, NLT
You can see a lot of truth here. Ebed-melech chooses to stand rather than capitulate to the nastiness around him. He is not cowed by the sinful conspiracies that are operating at the highest level.
Ebed-melech sticks his neck out— he rescues the prophet Jeremiah, and pleases God. As just a minor character he still plays a major role. He is set apart by this commitment to what is right and true. If he lived in the 20th century, I think he would have been one who would have rescued Jews from the Nazi regime. He was fearless.
But he is much more. He is not just dedicated to the truth, but he is also kind. We see it in the way he saved Jeremiah. He finds old clothing and rags from a closet in the Treasury. With these he pads the rope, so Jeremiah won’t unduly suffer as he is pulled up out of the mire.
“Mercy and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed.”
Psalm 85:10, NKJV
Ebed-melech reveals his heart by showing this kindness. One could suggest that these rags were not really necessary. The rope we need, of course.
Ebed could have just used the rope, and he would’ve been right. But he uses the rags, and he becomes kind.
This blend of truth and kindness is rare. But I have known people that were both. They are definitely “true blue” and they are absorbed by living out the truth, and doing the right thing. But they are much more than this. Their righteous lives are filled with kindness and gentleness. This is a spiritually potent mix.
Oh dear one, we need both in the Church. It is from these kinds of people that will cause us to stick together. I say, if we are going to err, I would hope we would stay kind.
“I prefer you to make mistakes in kindness than work miracles in unkindness.”
May I become at all times, both now and forever
A protector for those without protection
A guide for those who have lost their way
A ship for those with oceans to cross
A bridge for those with rivers to cross
A sanctuary for those in danger
A lamp for those without light
A place of refuge for those who lack shelter
And a servant to all in need.