At this juncture, God has not made an irrevocable decision concerning the evil He will soon create for His people (Isaiah 45:7); He has not condemned Zedekiah to death, the house of Pharez to extinction, or Jerusalem to flame. Zedekiah, by making the right decisions, can salvage the situation in part. Given the historical moment—the burden on the king—his answer to Jeremiah appears almost surreal: "I am afraid of the Jews who have defected to the Chaldeans, lest they deliver me into their hand, and they abuse me" (verse 19).
History would have been different if only he had obeyed God. To Zedekiah, a prophet of God is nothing more than a crystal ball with legs, valuable as a source of knowledge of things future. Jeremiah shares the fate of Cassandra, a woman of Greek myth who, though blessed with great prophetic power, is cursed to be always disbelieved.
Zedekiah's "I am afraid" reveals a pathetic character indeed. He fails to understand his obligation to heed the pronouncements of the prophet God has so graciously provided. He lacks the resolve to obey God, his fear for his safety overruling his sense of responsibility to his subjects and to his capital.
Servant of God, Act One: Going Around, Coming Around