This suffering person proclaims that Yahweh has made him grind his teeth on gravel, which is not a pretty thought. Yahweh made him cower or be afraid with ashes on him, as if in mourning. His soul had no peace. He had forgotten what happiness was. All the glory that he had hoped for from Yahweh was gone. He was almost in despair. These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Vav in this acrostic poem.
Yahweh, via Jeremiah, said that Israel or Jacob did not have to fear or be dismayed. Yahweh was going to save them and their offspring from their captivity, even though he was far away. They would return and have peace and quiet. No one would make them afraid, because Yahweh was with them. He was going to bring an end to all the nations where the Israelites had been scattered. These countries would come to an end, but the Israelites would not come to an end. The Israelites were going to be chastised, but in a just measure, since they would not escape unpunished.
Apparently this oracle was when an attack of the Assyrians was imminent, as Yahweh issued his oracle via Isaiah. He told the people of Zion not to be afraid of the Assyrians. Even if they beat them with a rod or staff like the Egyptians had done to their ancestors, they should not be afraid.
“When the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah, Isaiah said to them. ‘Say to your master. Thus says Yahweh. Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have reviled me. I myself will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land. I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.’”
Here we have the first intervention of the great prophet Isaiah, whose influence, due to his writings of the book of Isaiah will have a great impact on future Israelite life. The response of Isaiah is quite remarkable. Because the servants of the king of Assyria had reviled Yahweh, he was going to retaliate against him. Yahweh said that he would spread a rumor that would make the army return to its own land where the king would be killed at home in Assyria. The fact is that King Sennacherib of Assyria did return home without capturing Jerusalem. He was then killed by his sons. It is what it is.
“King Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done. He told her how Elijah had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying. ‘So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.’ Then Elijah was afraid. He got up and fled for his life. He came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah. He left his servant there.”
King Ahab went and told his wife Jezebel what Elijah had done, especially the fact that he had killed all her prophets of Baal. She immediately said that she planned to put Elijah to death by the same time tomorrow because of what he had done to her Baal prophets. Elijah was afraid so that he fled for his life by going south to Judah. There he left his servant at Beer-sheba, which was about 130 miles south of Samaria. All of a sudden, Elijah is not so brave.