The Symbol of the Linen Sash
(Jeremiah 13:1) Thus the LORD said to me: "Go and get yourself a linen sash, and put it around your waist, but do not put it in water."
Jeremiah was to wear a linen girdle about his waist for all to see and it was worn for a name and a praise and a glory to God.
He must not put it in water, thereby keeping it fresh and strong, as washing fine linen was as hard on it as wearing it. Very fine linen will wear long without washing.
(v.4) Take the girdle that thou hast got, which is upon thy loins, and arise, go to Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole of the rock.
After he had worn this linen girdle for some time, he must go, and hide it in a hole of a rock by the river's edge. When the river rose the sash would get wet and when the river ebbed it would become dry again. The constant change from wet to dry and back again would cause the linen to rot that much sooner than if always wet or always dry.
(v.6-7) And after many days the LORD said to me, "Arise, go to the Euphra'tes, and take from there the waistcloth which I commanded you to hide there."
Then I went to the Euphra'tes, and dug, and I took the waistcloth from the place where I had hidden it. And behold, the waistcloth was spoiled; it was good for nothing.
This is the second trip to the Euphrates, by Jeremiah, only to find the linen sash spoiled, tattered, gone all to rags, good fo nothing.
(v. 9–11) Thus saith the LORD, After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem.
This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing.
For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the LORD; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear.
They were a people near to God (Ps. 148:14); they were his own, a peculiar people to him, a kingdom of priests that had access to him above other nations.
He caused them to cleave to him by the law he gave them, the prophets he sent among them, and the great signs he did for them. His only requirement was their adherence to his Word. Thus they were made to cleave to Him so closely, that it would seem impossible for them to be parted from Him.
When God chose Israel to be His chosen people, it was that they might be to him for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory.
They had a duty to honor Him, by observing His commandments and in this way showed Him glory by their obiedence. It pleased God to be their God.
(1 Chr. 17:24.) so that it will be established and that your name will be great forever. Then men will say, `The LORD Almighty, the God over Israel, is Israel´s God!´ And the house of your servant David will be established before you.
In their arrogance and stubborness they refused to hear the Word of God and sought after other Gods. Lifeless Gods of wood and stone. They loosed themselves from Him who had chosen them to be His people.
They threw away His confidence and stole the honor that belong to Him. So spoiled and corrupted had they become that they were Good For Nothing. They could no more be to God for a name, and a praise, and for glory, for they would not hear when He spoke. They turned their backs on their duty and privilege to serve the one true living God.
They refused to hear the words of God, by which they might have been kept still clinging closely to him, as the linen sash clings to the body of a man They walked in the imagination of their heart, denying themselves nothing that they lusted for. They would not cleave to God, but walked after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them; so that they were quite spoiled for the service of their own God, and were as this girdle, this rotten girdle, a disgrace and not an ornament. A thousand pities it was that such a girdle should be so spoiled, that such a people should so wretchedly degenerate.
God would by his judgments separate them from him, send them into captivity, deface all their beauty and ruin their excellency, so that they should be like a fine girdle gone to rags, a worthless, useless, despicable people. God will after this manner mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem. He would strip them of all that which was the matter of their pride, of which they boasted and in which they trusted; it should not only be sullied and stained, but quite destroyed, like this linen girdle.
Observe, He speaks of the pride of Judah (the country people were proud of their holy land, their good land), but of the great pride of Jerusalem; there the temple was, and the royal palace, and therefore those citizens were more proud than the inhabitants of other cities. God takes notice of the degrees of men's pride, the pride of some and the great pride of others; and he will mar it, he will stain it. Pride will have a fall, for God resists the proud. He will either mar the pride that is in us (that is, mortify it by his grace, make us ashamed of it, and, like Hezekiah, humble us for the pride of our hearts, the great pride, and cure us of it, great as it is; and this marring of the pride will be making of the soul; happy for us if the humbling providences our hearts be humbled) or else he will mar the thing we are proud of. Materal Goods, Money, Education, Fame, if we are proud of these, it is just with God to blast them; even the temple, when it became Jerusalem's pride, was marred and laid in ashes.
It is the honour of God to look upon every one that is proud and abase him.