“THANK YOU.” Who does not enjoy hearing words of gratitude for a job well done or a gift given from the heart? We all want to feel that our efforts are appreciated, especially by those we love. Of course, we love our God, Jehovah, above all. Does he value our efforts to serve him? Let us examine his dealings with Ebed-melech, a man who risked his life to save one of God’s prophets.—Read Jeremiah 38:7-13 and 39:16-18.
Who was Ebed-melech? Evidently he was an officer in the court of King Zedekiah of Judah. * Ebed-melech was a contemporary of Jeremiah, whom God sent to warn unfaithful Judah of its coming destruction. Though surrounded by godless princes, Ebed-melech was God-fearing and had great respect for Jeremiah. Ebed-melech’s godly qualities were put to the test when evil princes falsely accused Jeremiah of sedition and threw him into a miry cistern, leaving him to die. (Jeremiah 38:4-6) What would Ebed-melech do?
Ebed-melech acted bravely and decisively, pushing aside any fear of reprisal from the princes. He publicly approached Zedekiah and protested the unjust treatment of Jeremiah. Perhaps pointing at the perpetrators, he told the king: “These men have done bad . . . to Jeremiah.” (Jeremiah 38:9) Ebed-melech prevailed and, at Zedekiah’s direction, took 30 men to go and rescue Jeremiah.
Ebed-melech now showed another desirable trait: kindness. He took “worn-out rags and worn-out pieces of cloth and let them down to Jeremiah . . . by means of the ropes.” Why the rags and cloth? So that Jeremiah could cushion his armpits, easing any chafing as he was being pulled up from the muddy deep.—Jeremiah 38:11-13.
Jehovah saw what Ebed-melech did. Did He appreciate it? Through Jeremiah, God told Ebed-melech that Judah’s destruction was imminent. Then God gave Ebed-melech what one scholar calls “a quintuple guarantee of salvation.” Jehovah said: “I will deliver you . . . You will not be given into the hand of the men . . . I shall without fail furnish you an escape . . . By the sword you will not fall . . . You will certainly come to have your soul as a spoil.” Why did Jehovah promise to keep Ebed-melech safe? Jehovah told him: “Because you have trusted in me.” (Jeremiah 39:16-18) Jehovah knew that Ebed-melech had acted not only because of his concern for Jeremiah but also because of his trust and faith in God.
The lesson is clear: Jehovah appreciates what we do in serving him. The Bible assures us that he remembers even the smallest act of worship motivated by a heart full of faith. (Mark 12:41-44) Are you moved to draw closer to this appreciative God? If so, you can be sure that he will live up to what his own Word calls him: “The rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.”—Hebrews 11:6.
Suggested Bible reading for May:
^ par. 2 Ebed-melech is called “a eunuch.” (Jeremiah 38:7) Although this term literally referred to a male who had been castrated, it was also used in a broader sense to refer to any official assigned duties in the court of the king.