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Balm of Gilead

Dr. Ray Pritchard
Dr. Ray Pritchard

Balm of Gilead (www.raretreestrust.org)

“Is there no balm in Gilead?” (Jeremiah 8:22).

In three different places the Old Testament mentions the “balm” or healing ointment that comes from Gilead, the mountainous region east of the Jordan River. When Joseph’s brothers conspired against him in Genesis 37, they sold him to a caravan of Ishmaelites from the region of Gilead carrying a load of gum, balm, and myrrh (v. 25). Jeremiah 46:11 mentions the healing balm of Gilead. Jeremiah 8:22 poses a question to the sinning people of Judah:

Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?

A well-known African-American spiritual applies the words of the text this way:

There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin sick soul.

Jesus is truly the “balm of Gilead” for all the hurting people of the world. When J. C. Philpot preached on Jeremiah 8:22 in 1852, he pointed out that God’s grace is always greater than our sin:

There is more in the balm to heal than there is in guilt to wound; for there is more in grace to save than there is in sin to destroy. 

If we know Jesus, we’re going to heaven because his grace is far greater than our sin. His blood is the balm that heals the deepest wounds of sin. When we have fallen hard, he lifts us up and restores our soul.

Is there no Balm in Gilead? Yes, there is. Jesus is the name that makes the wounded whole.

Blessed Lord, you specialize in healing the broken places of life. Speak your healing word today and we will be made whole. Amen. 

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Originally published March 16, 2011.

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