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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Jeremiah 17

Verses 1-27

Jeremiah 17:9

PÈre Pacheu quotes the saying of the Comte de Maistre: 'Whatever the conscience of a criminal may be, I know only the heart of an honest man, and it is a wretched and a fearful thing!'

A Bad Heart

Jeremiah 17:9-10

I wish, firstly, to prove to you the truth of the words 'the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked'; secondly, to remind you that God knows what is within you 'I the Lord search the heart'; and, thirdly, the only remedy that can do you any good, if you would be saved.

I. As to the natural deceit and wickedness of every man, woman, and child that is born into the world, first and foremost what says the Scripture? You can hardly turn to a single part of Bible history in which this doctrine does not come uppermost. Look at the men before the flood! who would have thought, with Paradise as a witness before their eyes (for until the flood Paradise was on earth), who would have thought they could have turned their backs on God, and given themselves up to all manner of lusts and sin? And yet they did so, in spite of every warning, and God was obliged to drown the whole world, excepting eight persons. Look at the history of Israel, the chosen family itself. The Lord gave them judges and kings, and priests and prophets and ministers, and preachings and warnings; and yet their history, with a few exceptions, is a history of unbelief and backsliding and transgression and crime, down to the very day when they crucified the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

You can hardly turn to a single family, even of the best of God's servants, in which the natural corruption of our hearts does not appear more or less in some one of the branches. You can hardly turn to a single character, among the holy men described in the Bible, who did not, to his own horror and dismay, fall at one time or another. Job thought he knew his heart, but affliction came and he found he did not. David thought he knew his heart, but he learned by bitter experience how woefully he was mistaken. Peter thought he knew his heart, and in a short time he was repenting in tears.

II. We read, 'I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings'. There are two things written here: one is that, although you do not know your own hearts, the Lord God Almighty does, and keeps a close watch over them; the other is that He will one day call you to account, and judge you accordingly. And do you not observe here what the mind of the Spirit points to? Some men might say, God will not be extreme to mark what is amiss, I shall have peace though I walk in the imagination of mine heart; but the prophet sweeps away these refuges of lies by warning us of searching and of judgment immediately after he has declared to us the deceitfulness of man's heart.

III. 'Who can be saved?' All, I answer, who give up their iniquities, and grieve over them, and put their whole trust in Jesus Christ.

J. C. Ryle, The Christian Race, p. 1.

Reference. XVII. 9, 10. C. Holland, Gleanings from a Ministry of Fifty Years, p. 55.

Jesus Christ Our Sanctuary (Kedesh)

Jeremiah 17:12

The name Kedesh means set apart, a sanctuary, a holy city.

I. The first thought connected with sanctuary is that it is a sacred or consecrated place. But the word sanctuary has a wider meaning. It is a sacred asylum or refuge, a place of protection.

II. Jesus Christ is the true Sanctuary. He fulfils all that the city of refuge suggested.. He is our Kedesh, our place of refuge, our sanctuary, our sacred place.

The altar was the meeting place between God and the transgressor, where the innocent victim was offered in the place of the guilty sinner. So Christ is the true altar, the meeting place between God and man, the one and only Priest, the one and only Sacrifice, the one and only Atonement for sin. To grasp the altar horns was to lay hold of God's strength and to rest under the shadow of His protecting love. So Christ is at once our shelter and our strength. He surrounds the believer as with a temple wall, keeps him in safety from all enemies and in peace amidst all alarms.

The temple was God's sanctuary of old. It represented God dwelling in the midst of Israel, and Israel drawing near to God in the appointed way. Christ is the true sanctuary. His Manhood, 'The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,' is the 'tabernacle of meeting' between man and God.

Kedesh, the city of the holy place of the sanctuary, points to Jesus the holy one of God, who is our one and only Refuge, the strong tower of the Lord in which we are safe for time and for eternity.

W. J. Armitage, The Cities of Refuge, p. 25.

References. XVII. 12. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Isaiah and Jeremiah, p. 311. XVII. 12-14. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxx. No. 1786. XVII. 13. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Isaiah and Jeremiah, p. 319- XVII. 14. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxviii. No. 1658.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Jeremiah 17". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/jeremiah-17.html. 1910.