Verse of the Day Devotion: Jeremiah 17:10
“I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.” – Jeremiah 17:10
The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah spoke much in their prophetic writings regarding the sins of Israel and Judah. Isaiah began his role as prophet a couple years after the death of King Uzziah, around 740 BC. Jeremiah began as a prophet in Judah around 627 BC in the 13th year of the reign of King Josiah. Isaiah wrote in chapter six of his writings about the future of Israel where they would be taken captive by both Babylon and Assyria, and ultimately Rome. Jeremiah speaks out against the sins of Judah, and in chapter 17 where he addresses their idolatry. “As they remember their children, So they remember their altars and their Asherim By green trees on the high hills.” Jeremiah 17:2. This speaks of the children remembering the worship of idols and continuing the practice, showing that this sin has been passed down and is firmly engraved on Judah’s heart and altars.
Then in verses 7 and 8, he writes of the blessing extended to them that trust in the lord. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8. Blessings follow those who trust in God, and not the world or their false gods.
Therefore, because of this truth, Jeremiah asks the Lord the following. “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9. First, the heart here refers to the mind, the ultimate source of his thoughts and actions. He is essentially asking God, if trusting in you results in blessings, and Judah is not trusting you but is following idols, how can this be? Who can understand this? This is a good question posited by Jeremiah. If blessing come only from trusting God, how can you not trust God and expect to be blessed? How can we allow our heart to lead us astray? We cannot understand it, but there is one who can. And God gives him that answer.
“I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17:10. He says He searches the heart of man; He tests their minds. The idea here is that only He can do this. We cannot. This is shown by Jeremiah’s question. He cannot understand why Judah would follow their own ways, that being the ways of idolatry, and expect to be blessed. It appears that the people did not believe God had made any promises to them or would keep the promises. Or nothing was said to them about their going after idols, for Jeremiah says “Look, they keep saying to me, “Where is the word of the LORD? Let it come now!” Jeremiah 17:15. They would not believe what the Lord had said, no doubt due to the span of time that passed from the prophetic statement to the present.
Today, we see the same thing. Peter said very similarly the following. “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.” 2 Peter 3:4-6. Just as the people in Judah did not trust God’s word regarding the blessings of God, figuring they had other options to attain blessings from other so-called gods, we are seeing a world which sees the attainment of power and wealth more desirable than understanding and following God’s Word. Man’s heart is becoming more deceitful as the days go by, being more interested in personal gain than obedience to God. Let us not become complacent, but always seek after God and His word to and for us. We must always humble ourselves, knowing that God’s way is the only way, regardless of what our heart and desires speak to us.
Like Jeremiah says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9. We must never let our thoughts and desires take precedence over God and His will and ways, not trusting ourselves and what we believe is right. Israel chose to follow their heart and it cost them greatly. God knows our heart and how it can draw us away. We must put our complete trust in Him, and when we do all will go well. Remember what Paul said. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2. It truly is the only way.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.