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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 17

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-27

Chapter 17 The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond ( Jeremiah 17:1 ):

Interesting that they were using diamonds for pens in those days, isn't it? Diamonds set in iron.

it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars; Whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills. O my mountain in the field, I will give thy substance and all thy treasures to the spoil, and thy high places for sin, throughout all thy borders. And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue from thine heritage that I gave thee; and I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not: for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever. Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm, and whose heart departs from the LORD ( Jeremiah 17:1-5 ).

And so God pronounces the curse upon those that would trust in an alliance in Egypt to deliver them from this Babylonian invasion. "Cursed be the man who puts his trust in man, and makes the flesh his arm, who has departed from the Lord." That is, from trusting in the Lord.

For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good comes; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited ( Jeremiah 17:6 ).

In contrast to the, "Cursed be the man."

Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is ( Jeremiah 17:7 ).

Or is the Lord.

For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreads out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat comes, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not worry in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit ( Jeremiah 17:8 ).

So the cursing upon those that would trust in man, in the arm of flesh and not the Lord, but the blessing upon those that would trust in the Lord. Those who trust in man and the arm of flesh will be dried, withered, dead, uninhabited. Those that trust in the Lord will be like a tree planted by the waters that doesn't even know when summer comes because of the freshness that it draws out from that water.

Now verse Jeremiah 17:9 :

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? ( Jeremiah 17:9 )

God's talking about your heart and my heart. Socrates cried, "Man, know thyself." But who really does know himself? The scripture says, "Thou, O Lord, searches the heart and the reins." God knows my heart better than I know it. God knows what deception is there. And it is easy for us to become deceived. It's easy for us to follow a vain philosophy. It's easy for us to take that adage, "The end justifies the means." And so our means become perverse, crooked.

Paul the apostle talks about those who say, "Well, our lies bring glory to God so God shouldn't judge us for lying." Or those who would say, "Well, if I sin I'm only proving that God is telling the truth when He said all have sinned. So how can God judge me for proving Him to be speaking the truth? I'm only helping prove the truth of God's Word so God really can't judge me because I'm only proving what He said is true." And Paul speaks out against the perversity of such kind of logic and how God will judge all.

Now there are those who in the name of the Lord are doing crooked and perverse things. And if you talk to them about it, challenge them, they would be shocked. They would be disturbed. "My, brother! You know, you're judging me." The Bible says judge righteous judgment. I think that we've been put off a long time because we are afraid of people saying, "Well, you're judging, you know." The Bible says, "By their fruits ye shall know them" ( Matthew 7:16 ). And it is wrong to use deceit and lies and gimmicks to try to extract funds from the people of God in order to support your program. I don't care how righteous or good your program may be.

My wife told me not to get into this tonight. It's right here in the scripture. It just came along. I just... I cannot understand men advertising their fasting and prayer when Jesus said, "When you fast, anoint your face. Wash yourself that you might look cheerful and all. That you don't appear unto men to fast. And your Father which sees in secret, He'll reward you. And when you pray, don't go out on the street corner, but go into your closet and shut the door." And when some guy sends letters out all over the country saying, "I'm going to spend some time fasting and praying, send me your requests with your fifty dollar check because I want to pray for you, too," something's wrong. Desperately wrong.

"The heart is deceitful, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?" But God declares, "I the Lord search the heart. I try the reins." That is, the motivations. "Even to give every man according to his ways." Now Jesus tells us that we are to be careful that we don't do our righteousness before men to be seen of men because we have our reward. Now Jesus plainly warns us about that. There is a way that I can do my righteousness so that people see me and they say, "Oh my, isn't he spiritual?" And we've got to watch out for this, because it is such a deceiving, terrible thing. My old pride and my old flesh wants people to think that I am a spiritual man of God. I like people when I walk by to whisper, "Oh, isn't he spiritual? Oh." My flesh just really enjoys that. And so it's easy for me to get little spiritual affectations that my mind isn't really necessarily upon God. As I stand there, you lift your head upward and close your eyes because that looks more spiritual. I wonder if people are seeing me now. Surely they'll know I'm very spiritual. I hope they're watching. And then if you go up on your tiptoes it even looks a little more, you know, spiritual. But my mind, what am I thinking? Am I thinking, "I hope they're watching. I hope they see. I hope they notice. I hope they realize how spiritual I am." God said, "Look, I'm searching the heart. I'm trying the motives."

Now the Bible tells us that one day all of our works are going to be judged by fire. And much of what we have done is going to go poof! It's going to go up in smoke. "Wait a minute, Lord, did I not prophesy in Thy name? Didn't I work miracles in Your name? Didn't I heal the sick in Your name? Lord!"

I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins ( Jeremiah 17:10 ),

All of your works are wood, hay and stubble. They were done to be seen of men. They were done for your own glory and to spread abroad your own name. You named your chapels and your universities and all after your own name. Sad. Sad. What a day of awakening it's going to be.

"The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked." Now David realizing this, realizing that he didn't even know his own heart because of the deceitfulness of the heart, said, "Thou O Lord hast searched me and You know me. You know my thoughts in their origin. Such knowledge," he said, "is too great for me. I cannot attain it" ( Psalms 139:1 , Psalms 139:6 ). I cannot really attain the true knowledge of myself. But then he said, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts. And see if there be some way of wickedness in me, and lead me in Your way eternal" ( Psalms 139:23-24 ).

Now the man who understands and knows that his heart is deceitful and desperately wicked is the man who will join David's prayer and say, "O God, You search my heart. You know. You try me. And God, if there's something there that is wrong, is displeasing to You, reveal it to me, Lord." I don't want to be deceived. I don't want to be deceiving myself. I don't want to stand before God and suddenly find all that I've done wiped out in a puff of smoke as the fire consumes all of that work of wood, hay and stubble. Jesus said, "You've not chosen Me, but I've chosen you, and ordained you, that you should be My disciples, that you should bring forth fruit and that your fruit should remain" ( John 15:16 ). That's what I want, remaining fruit. So God help us. He's searching our hearts. He tries the rein. And He's going

to give to every man according to his ways ( Jeremiah 17:10 )

What's in my heart? Why did I do it? That's what's going to be judged. God is going to give to him

according to the fruit of his doings. As the partridge sits on eggs, and doesn't hatch them; so is he that gets riches, and not by right ( Jeremiah 17:10-11 ),

But by wrong means. He is accumulating wealth.

he shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end he shall be a fool. A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary ( Jeremiah 17:11-12 ).

That place of our sanctuary is God's glorious high throne.

O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters ( Jeremiah 17:13 ).

Takes us back to the first cry of God against Israel in that they have committed two evils: "They have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters, and hewed out for themselves cisterns that can hold no water" ( Jeremiah 2:13 ).

Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise. Behold, they say unto me, Where is the word of the LORD? let it come now. As for me, I have not hastened from being a pastor to follow thee: neither have I desired the woeful day; thou knowest: that which came out of my lips was right before thee ( Jeremiah 17:14-16 ).

He's not rejoicing in the things that he is saying.

Be not a terror unto me: thou art my hope in the day of evil. Let them be confounded that persecute me, but let not me be confounded: let them be dismayed, but let not me be dismayed: bring upon them the day of evil, and destroy them with double destruction ( Jeremiah 17:17-18 ).

Now the Lord spoke to him concerning the gates where the king went in and went out, and He said, "Now go down to the gate and when the king comes in give him this message."

Thus said the LORD unto me; Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, whereby the kings of Judah come in, and by the which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem; And say unto them, Hear ye the word of the LORD, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that enter in by these gates: Thus saith the LORD; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the sabbath day, as I have commanded your fathers. But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear ( Jeremiah 17:19-23 ),

Now that is, their fathers obeyed not. "I told your fathers not to do this," God is saying, "but they didn't obey Me. Neither did they incline their ear."

but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction. And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the LORD, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but hallow the sabbath day, to do no work therein; Then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain for ever ( Jeremiah 17:23-25 ).

God is still holding out the opportunity of salvation and hope to them. Even at this late stage of their backsliding. Even when the judgment is hanging over their head. Even when Babylon is marching to destroy this place. God is still holding out to them a hope. "Just turn to Me, just obey Me, and the gates here, the kings and the princes will be passing through forever. You'll never be destroyed or put out of the land." God's mercies just are so extensive. They're right up until the moment a person dies. God extends His mercy. Oh, how merciful is our God!

And they shall come from the cities of Judah, and from the places about Jerusalem, and from the land of Benjamin, and from the plain, and from the mountains, and from the south, bringing burnt offerings, and sacrifices, and meat offerings, and incense, and bringing sacrifices of praise, unto the house of the LORD ( Jeremiah 17:26 ).

It can happen. It can happen to you. Just turn back to Me. Just obey My commandments.

But if you will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched ( Jeremiah 17:27 ). "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Jeremiah 17". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/jeremiah-17.html. 2014.
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