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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 17

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verses 1-27

Jeremiah 17:1 The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars;

Jeremiah 17:1 “The sin of Judah” Scripture Reference - Note John 16:9, “Of sin, because they believe not on me;”

Jeremiah 17:1 “is written with a pen of iron” - Scripture Reference Note Job 19:23-24, “Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!”

Jeremiah 17:1 “it is graven upon the table of their hearts” Word Study on “the table” Strong says the Hebrew word “table” ( לוּחַ ) or ( לֻחַ ) (H3871) means, “a tablet of stone, wood or metal.” In Jeremiah 17:1 it used figuratively of a hardened heart.

Comments - Proverbs 3:3 tells us not to forsake the truth. In the same manner, they has also clung to sin:

Proverbs 3:3, “Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:”

Scripture References - Note similar verses:

Jeremiah 31:33, “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

Ezekiel 11:19, “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:”

Ezekiel 36:26-27, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”

God has given Christians a heart of flesh:

2 Corinthians 3:3, “Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.”

Jeremiah 17:1 “and upon the horns of your altars” Comments Blood was placed upon the horns of altar of burnt incense and burnt sacrifice in order to sanctify the altar (Exodus 29:36-37). This, in turn, would sanctify the offering so that God might accept it.

Exodus 29:36-37, “And thou shalt offer every day a bullock for a sin offering for atonement: and thou shalt cleanse the altar, when thou hast made an atonement for it, and thou shalt anoint it, to sanctify it . Seven days thou shalt make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; and it shall be an altar most holy: whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy.”

Strong says the Hebrew word “atonement” ( כָּפַר ) (H3722) literally means, “to cover,” and figuratively, it means, “to appease, cleanse, disannul, pardon, purge.”

Leviticus 8:15, “And he slew it; and Moses took the blood, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about with his finger, and purified the altar , and poured the blood at the bottom of the altar, and sanctified it, to make reconciliation upon it.”

Matthew 23:19, “Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift ?”

Jeremiah 17:1 Comments - Iron pens of biblical times were used to write on stone. The idea is the awareness that God has of their sin. It is not forgotten, but it is remembered.

Jeremiah 17:1 Illustration - Years ago on television, a strong muscular hand was shown slamming down a metal stamp and strike the top of this stamp with a heavy harmer and leave a deep impression (IV) in the metal. The world thinks if they ignore sin, maybe it will go away or fade into not being there. Sin has to be dealt with. It does not go away.

Jeremiah 17:2 Whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills.

Jeremiah 17:2 Comments The children of Israel had not forsaken their idolatry. Under spreading trees and upon tops of hills they would build altars and sacrifice to idolatrous gods.

Jeremiah 17:3 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.

Jeremiah 17:3 Comments God is speaking to Judah, who had known God and was the remnant left of the twelve tribes of Israel. The others of the nation of Israel had been destroyed and taken into captivity by Assyria.

Jeremiah 17:4 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.

Jeremiah 17:4 Comments God has promised them the land if they would abide faithful. Due to sin, He is giving it to the enemies (Jeremiah 15:13).

Jeremiah 15:13, “Thy substance and thy treasures will I give to the spoil without price, and that for all thy sins, even in all thy borders.”

Jeremiah 17:5 Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.

Jeremiah 17:5 Comments - The arm is a symbol of a source of strength. A person cannot put his trust in the medical doctor's report, or the state of the economy, or the prime interest rate, or his salary, and then trust God at the same time. That man is cursed. You become carnal-minded. That is why it is death (Romans 8:6), because it is a lack of trust in God.

Romans 8:6, “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

Jeremiah 17:5 Illustration - I once had a gas credit card and put it in my wallet, just in case I needed it. I later asked God to provide my gas money. Money did not come because my trust was in the gas card, not God. It could not be in both. So I threw the card away.

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

Jeremiah 17:6 “For he shall be like the heath in the desert” Comments Easton says the heath is a species of juniper that grows in this arid region. No water means no prosperity. For example, Edom was a more barren land and less fertile than Israel.

Jeremiah 17:6 “and shall not see when good cometh” - Comments Just as in Jeremiah 17:8, when the blessed man does not see when heat comes, the backslider will not see when good comes. He will, instead, be cursed when everyone else around him is prospering. He will never see or partaken of the good. Nor will he understand why things are thus. When good does come, the wicked will not recognize it as a blessing from God, and will therefore miss this blessing.

Jeremiah 17:6 “but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness” - Comments Note in Jeremiah 14:1-6 that the Lord sends the drought upon the land of Judah.

Jeremiah 17:6 “in a salt land and not inhabited” Comments A salt land is totally uninhabitable, without vegetation or wildlife. These places are totally unable to sustain any visual signs of life, and particularly an ecosystem. There may be some traces of microbe that have adapted to these extreme conditions, but it is a land of salty ponds and salt flats. There are a number of places on earth that fit this description; the Dead Sea located along the Israeli-Jordan border cannot support any life forms; the Great Salt Lake and the salt flats in Utah are similar locations.

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

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

Jeremiah 17:8 “and shall not be careful in the year of drought” Word Study on “careful” Strong says the Hebrew word “careful” ( דָּאַג ) (H1672) means, “be anxious, afraid.”

Comments - In Jeremiah 14 a drought came upon the land. Jeremiah 17:8 is a good example of God’s provision. When troubles come, we will stand in courage (Philippians 4:6-8).

Philippians 4:6-8, “ Be careful for nothing ; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Jeremiah 17:7-8 Comments The Blessings of Trusting in the Lord - The blessed man of Jeremiah 17:7-8 must be the spiritually-minded person (Romans 8:6).

Romans 8:6, “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

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

Jeremiah 17:9 Word Study - Strong says the Hebrew word “deceitful” ( עָקׂב ) (H6121) means, “deceitful, crooked, polluted.” Holladay says it means, “tough, crafty.”

Comment Having lived in Africa for over a decade as a missionary, I never cease to be amazed at how many ways a man’s heart can device deceit. I sometimes think that I have seen every trick in Africa, but I am still sometimes outsmarted by the deceitful heart. Thus, the depths of deception cannot be fully discovered by one man in one lifetime, since the heart is capable of devising new deceptions every day.

However, at salvation the heart is recreated and becomes a new creation; so it is no longer desperately wicked (2 Corinthians 5:17, Colossians 3:10).

2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

Colossians 3:10, “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:”

Jeremiah 17:10 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.

Jeremiah 17:10 “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins” - Word Study on “search” Strong says the Hebrew word “search” ( חָקַר ) (H2713) means, “to penetrate, to examine intimately, find out.”

Word Study on “try” - Strong says the Hebrew word “try” ( בָּחַן ) (H974) means, “to test, investigate, examine, prove.”

Word Study on “reins” - Strong says the Hebrew word “reins” ( כִּלְיָה ) (H3629) literally means, “the kidney,” and figuratively, “the mind (as the interior self).”

Comments - The words “search” and “try” are used as synonyms in Psalms 139:23.

Psalms 139:23, “ Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:”

Jeremiah 17:10 “even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” - Word Study on “ways” Strong says the Hebrew word “ways” ( דֶּרֶךְ ) (H1870) means, “a course of life, journey, path.”

Jeremiah 17:10 Comments - Jeremiah 17:10 answers the question asked in Jeremiah 17:9 of who can know the heart of man. God can know the heart.

Jeremiah 17:10 Scripture References - Note similar verses:

Psalms 62:12, “Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work.”

Jeremiah 32:19, “Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings:”

Jeremiah 17:11 As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.

Jeremiah 17:11 Comments - Or, “a partridge hatches eggs which she laid not, so is he who makes a fortune, but unjustly” ( NASB, RSV, NIV).

Jeremiah 17:11 Illustration - The parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:15-21 stored up earthly treasures, but did not lay up treasures in heaven.

Jeremiah 17:12 A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary.

Jeremiah 17:13 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 “the fountain of living water” Comments - Note in chapter 14 that a drought comes.

Jeremiah 17:14 Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.

Jeremiah 17:14 Comments - Jeremiah trusts the Lord and not flesh (Jeremiah 17:5; Jeremiah 17:7).

Jeremiah 17:15 Behold, they say unto me, Where is the word of the LORD? let it come now.

Jeremiah 17:15 Comments - The word of the Lord is what God promised to do for His people in blessing them.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Jeremiah 17". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/jeremiah-17.html. 2013.
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