I received the following question:

In Jeremiah 37:3, 17-21, and 38:10, why all of a sudden does Zedekiah seek Jeremiah and ask him to go to the Lord?

You have to realize who Zedekiah was. The major carrying away to Babylon had already taken place by this time. In that carrying away, Babylon took all the intelligent, qualified, educated people, leaving only the uneducated and ignorant behind. We might say they left only the D and F students, to put it in today’s equivalent. The same was true of the man they left in charge. Zedekiah was a weak and indecisive man, and probably the least qualified of his brothers to be the king of Judah. His advisors, too, were far from the best Judah had had to offer, and they urged him on to join the confederacy of nations and to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar, in spite of the fact that this broke the oath Zedekiah had made in the name of the LORD. Their advice proved faulty when Nebuchadnezzar and all his armies came against the city of Jerusalem, and all the allies Judah had counted on abandoned them, waiting gleefully for their destruction so they could share in the spoils.

The only ally that tried to help them was Egypt. They came against Babylon during the siege, and forced them to lift it for a time. However, Egypt proved ineffective at stopping Nebuchadnezzar, and the Babylonian armies soon returned to crush the city.

Zedekiah’s coming to Jeremiah probably was instigated by his uncertainty regarding what to do in the light of the invading Babylonian army. He sought counsel from the LORD, though he lacked the courage, decisiveness, moral fortitude, and faith to carry it out. When the LORD told him that the only hope of escape was for him to surrender to Babylon immediately, since the LORD would not deliver Israel from their enemies this time, Zedekiah believed Jeremiah enough to protect him and hide his advice from Jeremiah’s enemies, but not enough to actually do what Jeremiah told him to do. He was a weak man, and ended up waffling back and forth indecisively until it was too late.

As far as him seeking the LORD when he had failed to do so previously, this is often the case with men. They ignore the LORD, break His commandments, and cut Him out of their lives, but then when they find themselves in trouble they come to Him hoping for help. Zedekiah probably came because he knew he was in trouble, and that no human being could help him. Yet ultimately he did not have the courage to do what the LORD told him to do, and so his seeking the LORD did not result in any kind of deliverance for him. He failed to show any kind of faith, and so he suffered the terrible disaster that the king of Babylon had in mind for him.