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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Jeremiah 17

 

 

Verse 1

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;

Ver. 1. The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron.] The four first verses of this chapter are left out by the Septuagint. Jerome saith they omitted them in gratiam et honorem papuli sui, in favour, and for the honour of their countrymen the Jews; but that was no just reason. "For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven," [Psalms 119:89] though there were not a Bible left on earth. These sinners against their own souls had their idolatry so deeply engraven on their hearts, that they could not get out the stamp, and the guilt thereof stuck so fast to their consciences, that they could hardly get off either the sting or the stain thereof.

It is graven upon the tables of their hearts.] Their sin lay there, where the law should have lain. [Jeremiah 31:33] Like as Queen Mary, when she died, told those about her that the loss of Calais lay at her heart, a place far fitter for Jesus Christ.

And upon the horns of your altars,] Whereon the blood of your sacrifices are sprinkled, and so your sin proclaimed.


Verse 2

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

Ver. 2. While their children remember their altars.] Or, As they remember their children, so they remember their altars and their groves, scil., with greatest love and delight. The Greeks call children φιλτατα, the comedian Charissima; so were their idols to these Jews.


Verse 3

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.

Ver. 3. O my mountain in the field.] Or, O my mountain and field, i.e., O ye mountaineers and fieldlings. Montani fere asperi sunt et inculti: molliores corpore atque moribus pratenses; they should all be spoiled one with another, for the sin of their high places.


Verse 4

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.

Ver. 4. And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue.] Or intermit, scil., the tillage of thy land. See Exodus 23:11, Leviticus 26:33-34. It shall keep her Sabbaths.


Verse 5

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.

Ver. 5. Cursed be the man that trusteth in man.] Disserit hic de summo bono, et de summo malo, saith one. Here the prophet discourseth of the chief good and of the chief evil. This latter he pronounceth to be to depart from God, and to depend upon the creature for help; for such a man, seem he never so manly a man (haggheber), is accursed of God, whom he robbeth of his chief jewel, that which giveth him the sovereignty, and setteth, as it were, the crown upon his head. See 9:15, Psalms 78:22; Psalms 52:7.

And maketh flesh his arm,] i.e., His strength; for in brachio est robur. Now three ways, saith a reverend man, (a) we make flesh our arm - (1.) By sitting down in a faithless, sullen discontent and despair when we can see no second causes; (2.) By rising up in a corky, frothy confidence when we see sufficient human help; (3.) When we ascribe the glory of our good to it, "sacrificing to our own net." [Habakkuk 1:16] This is to pull the curse upon our heads with twisted wrath and indignation.

Whose heart departeth from God.] He trusteth not God at all who trusteth him not over all.


Verse 6

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.

Ver. 6. For he shall be like the heath.] Wild myrice, that neither beareth fruit nor seed, and is good for little but to burn or make besoms. See Hebrews 6:8. Bastard tamarisk some call it; others, juniper.

But shall inhabit the parched places of the wilderness.] Such shall have no content or satisfaction. Compare Matthew 12:43. The unclean spirit cast out "walks in dry places," &c.; not but that dry and wet is all one with him, but it importeth his extreme restlessness.


Verse 7

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

Ver. 7. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord.] See on Jeremiah 17:5, Psalms 25:12; Psalms 32:10; Psalms 34:8; Psalms 84:12; Psalms 125:1; Psalms 146:5, where David. having entered a caveat against creature confidence, persuadeth people, by trusting in God alone, to provide for their own safety and happiness. See Nahum 1:7. Such shall have marvellous lovingkindness from God, [Psalms 17:7] above all that can be uttered (Psalms 31:19; see Proverbs 28:25).


Verse 8

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.

Ver. 8. For he shall be as a tree planted.] It is plain that he here alludeth to Psalms 1:3; see the notes there. The laurel, saith Pliny, is never thunderstruck. Sure it is that he who trusteth in God taketh no hurt; his heart is fixed and unmovable [Psalms 112:7-8] to endure things almost incredible. [Psalms 27:3 Isaiah 14:32 cf. Isaiah 26:4-5] True trust will certainly triumph at length, as that which leaneth on the Lord and the power of his might, the surest support.

By the river.] The Hebrew here is jubal; and the jubilee, saith one, had its name from this word, which signifieth a stream or watercourse, as carrying us to Christ, who is the truth of this type. [Luke 18:19]

But his leaf shall be green.] Neither falling nor fading.

And shall not be careful in the year of drought.] A metaphor, setting forth the full assurance of faith that is in some good men, such as was that holy martyr, (a) who said, I will henceforth be careless, according to my name.

Si fractus illabatur orbis,

Impavidum ferient ruinae. ”

Neither shall cease from yielding fruit.] As they say the lemon tree doth not, but ever and anon sendeth forth new lemons as soon as the former are fallen down with ripeness. {b}


Verse 9

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

Ver. 9. The heart of man is deceitful above all things.] The pravity and perversity of man’s heart, full of harlotry and creature confidence, deceiving and being deceived, is here plainly and plentifully described; and oh that it were duly and deeply considered. "Deceitful" it is here said to be "above all things," no creature like it. Varium est, versutum, et versipelle; tortuosum est, anfractuosum et fallax, ideoque inscrutabile; It is full of turnings and windings, nooks and corners, wiles and sleights. It deceived David, as wise as he was, and tripped up his heels, as the word here used importeth; [Psalms 39:1-3] so it did Peter. [John 13:37-38] Fitly doth the prophet here call our hearts "deceitful," in that word in the original, from whence Jacob had his name, because our fleshly hearts do the same things to the spirit in doing of good, which Jacob did to his brother - supplant it and catch it by the heel while it is running the Christian race. As Jehu offered sacrifice to Baal, killing his priests at the same time - and this he did in subtlety to circumvent them [2 Kings 10:19] - and as Hushai went to Absalom’s company to overthrow him, (a) so deal our deceitful hearts with us, &c. Neither is it deceitful only, but deep (so the Septuagint (b) here render it); those that are still digging in this dunghill do find it to be a very bottomless pit. Yea, it is

Desperately wicked.] Desperately bent upon deadly mischief. So that he gave no evil counsel who said to his friend, Ita cave tibi, ut caveas teipsum; so see to thyself that thou beware of thine own heart. Another prayed not amiss, Lord, keep me from that naughty man - myself. Take heed of the devil and the world, said a certain martyr in a letter to his wife, but especially of thine own heart.

Non longe scilicet hostes

Quaerendi nobis, circumstant undique muros. ”

We have a Trojan horse full of armed enemies in the citadel of our hearts. We have Jebusites enough within us to undo us, quos nec fugere possumus nec fugare. who we are not able to put to flight or rout. It was no ill character, therefore, of a good man that is given by Epictetus, a heathen, that he carefully watcheth himself as his own deadly enemy. (c)

Who can know it?] None but a man’s self; [1 Corinthians 2:11] nor not even a man’s self, for nothing is more common than self deceit. [Galatians 6:3 James 1:21] How much was Bellarmine, that great scholar, mistaken, and how ill-read in his own heart, when, the priest coming to absolve him on his deathbed, he could not remember any particular sin to confess till he went back in his thoughts as far as his youth! Had he but thrust his hand into his own bosom, with Moses, he had brought it out leprous, white as snow. Had he looked well into his own heart, he would have found it to be a raging sea of sin, [Isaiah 57:20] where is that leviathan, the devil, besides creeping things, crawling lusts, innumerable. This made blessed Bradford never look on any man’s lewd life but he would straight cry out, Lord, have mercy upon me! for in this my vile heart remaineth that sin which, without God’s special grace, I should have committed as well as he.


Verse 10

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.

Ver. 10. I the Lord search the heart.] Be it never so full of shifts and fetches, I cannot be deceived in it. The watchmaker must needs know every turning and winding in the watch. God is the heart maker and the heart mender; neither is there any creature, no, not any creature of the heart, that is not manifest in his sight, but all things are naked and opened before his eyes. [Hebrews 4:13] "Naked" for the outside, and opened for the inside - dissected, quartered, and, as it were, "cleft through the back-bone," as the apostle’s word (a) there signifieth; so opened as the entrails of a man that is anatomised, or of a beast that is cut up and quartered. The heart and reins are taken to be the seat of the thoughts and affections, yea, of the strongest affection, namely, that which is for generation. These are a man’s inwardest and most remote parts, so that it is hard for food or physic to come at them. Covered they are also with fat and flesh, &c., and yet they are not hid from God’s eye, which is indeed a fiery eye, [Revelation 1:14] and therefore needeth no outward light. Man’s eye is like a candle, which is first lighted, and then extinct; the angels’ eyes are like the stars, which shine indeed, and in the dark, too, but with a borrowed light, neither know they the thoughts of men’s hearts further than they are discovered. But God’s eye is like the sun, yea, far brighter and more piercing than that eye of the world; neither needeth he a window in man’s breast, as Momus wished, to look in at, for every man, before God, is all window, totus totus transparens et pellucidus. This Thales and other philosophers saw and confessed.


Verse 11

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.

Ver. 11. As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not.] Because either she is taken in an evil net, or the eggs are marred by the male, or otherwise, before they can be hatched.

So he that getteth riches, and not by right.] That crieth

Rem, rem, quocunque mode rem,

Unde habeat nemo quaerit, sed oportet habere. ”

Right or wrong, many are resolved to be rich, but are usually crossed or else cursed with a blessing for treasures of wickedness profit not, but righteousness delivereth from death. {Proverbs 10:2} God sometimes giveth wealth to the wicked, as men put money into an earthen bottle, which, that they may get out again, they break the bottle in pieces.

Shall leave them in the midst of his days.] Either they shall leave him, or he them, to his unmedicinable grief and heart break. A poor fool God will be sure to make of him. He that trusteth in his riches, as every mammonist doth, shall fall; [Proverbs 11:28] for although he bless himself, as well underlaid - and what should all such a one saith the world - yet the Lord abhorreth him, [Psalms 10:3] so that he many times cometh in the midst of his days to an untimely end, as did Judas, Ahab, Achan, Balaam, Ananias and Sapphira, &c. And thus many a rich wretch spinneth a fair thread to strangle himself, both temporally and eternally; he by his covetousness not only killeth others, [Proverbs 1:19] but himself too.


Verse 12

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

Ver. 12. A glorious high throne from the beginning.] Therefore it is best to "trust in God at all times, ye people, and to pour out your hearts before him," since "God is a refuge for us." [Psalms 62:8] All that do otherwise shall be ashamed, [Jeremiah 17:13] and worthily; because, having so glorious a God resident among them, they so basely forsake him to serve and seek to idols.


Verse 13

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.

Ver. 13. Shall be written in the earth,] i.e., Aeterna motre damnabuntur; they shall be hurled into hell, as not having their names written in heaven, [Luke 10:20] where all that are "written among the living in Jerusalem" [Isaiah 4:3] are enrolled. [Hebrews 12:23] Non pro gloriosis sed pro probrosis habiti. See Psalms 17:14. Prudentius rightly saith, that their names that are written in red letters of blood in the Church’s calendar, are written in golden letters in Christ’s register in the book of life; as on the contrary, these idolaters, whose sin was with an iron pen engraven on the tables of their hearts, {as Jeremiah 17:1} are justly "written in the earth" - i.e., cast to hell.


Verse 14

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

Ver. 14. Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed.] Viz., of that cordolium heartfelt grief that my malicious countrymen cause me. The prophet was even sick at heart of their unworthy usages, and prays help and healing, ne totus et ipse labescat inter auditores deploratissimos, lest he should perish by them, and with them.


Verse 15

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

Ver. 15. Behold, they say unto me.] Heb., They are saying unto me; it is their daily dicterium, or jeer.

Where is the word of the Lord?] Whereby thou so oft threatenest us with desolation. (a) Thus profane persons flear, when they should fear. See 2 Peter 3:4, Isaiah 5:19, Amos 5:18.


Verse 16

Jeremiah 17:16 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.

Ver. 16. I have not hastened from being a pastor before thee.] I have neither rashly taken up the work of the ministry, quo secundus abs te assam pastor, wherein I have been thine under shepherd, but was rightly called by thee thereunto, and have obeyed thy call; neither have I been over hasty to rid my hands of this so troublesome and thankless an employment. Latimer, in one of his sermons, speaking of a minister who gave this answer why he ceased preaching, Because he saw he did no good, but got the hatred of many: This, saith he, was a naughty, a very naughty answer.

Neither have I desired the woeful day.] The doleful or deadly day, sc., of their desolation, or my denunciation of it. God’s ministers take no delight to fling daggers at the faces of graceless persons, whatever they may think, or to terrify them causelessly; but, as "knowing the terror of the Lord," they seek to frighten them by the menaces of God’s mouth from such sinful practices as will be their ruin, and hence they are hated,

An expectes ut Quintilianus ametur? ” - Juven.

Thou knowest it.] See Jeremiah 12:1; Jeremiah 15:15, 2 Corinthians 1:12.


Verse 17

Jeremiah 17:17 Be not a terror unto me: thou [art] my hope in the day of evil.

Ver. 17. Be not a terror unto me.] Let me have fair weather overhead, how foul soever it be under foot. If we have peace with God, though trouble in the world, we can take no hurt. If vapours be not got into the bowels of the earth, and stir not there, storms and tempests abroad cannot cause an earthquake; so if there be peace within, &c. But like as all the letters in the alphabet, without a vowel, will not make one word; nor all the stars in the firmament, without a sun, will make a day, so neither can all this world’s good make one happy, without God and his favour.


Verse 18

Jeremiah 17:18 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.

Ver. 18. Let them be confounded.] A heavy imprecation. Let persecutors take heed how they move ministers to make intercession to God against them, as Elias did against Israel; [Romans 11:2] as Jeremiah here and elsewhere doth against the Jews; as the Christian churches did against Julian the apostate. God will set to his fiat.

Let them be dismayed, but let not me be dismayed.] Paveant illi et non paveam ego, so the Vulgate Latin hath it. But what a stupid Latin dolt was that Popish priest who alleged to his parishioners this text, to prove, that not he, but they, were to pave the church way! So another of them, finding it written in the end of Paul’s epistles, Missa est, &c., bragged he had found the mass in his Bible. So another, reading John 1:44, Invenimus Messiam, we have found the Messiah, made the same conclusion.


Verse 19

Jeremiah 17:19 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;

Ver. 19. Go and stand in the gate of the children.] The sheep gate, say some, whereof see Nehemiah 3:1; Nehemiah 3:32; Nehemiah 12:39; or, as others, the water gate, whereof Nehemiah 3:26. A place it was of great resort and concourse, and therefore fittest for this new sermon to be made in first, though afterwards also he was to preach it in all the gates of Jerusalem, forasmuch as it was about a matter of greatest importance, even the serious sanctification of the Sabbath day. Diem septimum opifex mundi natalem sibi sacravit, et observari praecepit. That fourth commandment, saith Philo, is a famous precept, and profitable to excite to all kind of virtue and piety.


Verse 20

Jeremiah 17:20 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:

Ver. 20. Ye kings of Judah.] Magistrates, being lord keepers of both the tables of the law, should carefully see to it that both be duly observed. Our King Edgar made laws for the sanctification of the Lord’s day, Sabbath, as have also our present governors, to their lasting renown. The first blow given to the German churches was on the Lord’s day, which they carelessly observed; for on that day was Prague lost; as was likewise Constantinople on Whitsunday, as they called it. (a)


Verse 21

Jeremiah 17:21 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;

Ver. 21. Take heed to yourselves.] Break not the Sabbath, that ye fall not under the fierce wrath of God, who paid him home with stones who but only gathered sticks on that day. Cavete, Beware, it concerns you much.

And bear no burden.] See Nehemiah 13:15-16; Nehemiah 13:19. {See Trapp on "Nehemiah 13:15"} {See Trapp on "Nehemiah 13:16"} {See Trapp on "Nehemiah 13:19"}


Verse 22

Jeremiah 17:22 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 commanded your fathers.

Ver. 22. Neither carry forth a burden.] Let not the Sabbath of the Lord, that sanctified day of his rest, be so shamefully troubled and disquieted. Make not God’s holy day a voider, as some do, to the week aforegoing.


Verse 23

Jeremiah 17:23 But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction.

Ver. 23. But they obeyed not.] See Jeremiah 7:24; Jeremiah 7:26.


Verse 24

Jeremiah 17:24 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;

Ver. 24. But hallow the Sabbath day,] sc., By spending the holy time holily, else God may sue us on an action of waste. Idleness is a sin any day, but specially on the Sabbath day; spiritual idleness then, is as bad as corporal labour.


Verse 25

Jeremiah 17:25 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.

Ver. 25. Then shall there enter.] Then shall all go well with you, publicly and privately; ye shall have a confluence of all manner of comforts and contentments.


Verse 26

Jeremiah 17:26 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.

Ver. 26. And they shall come.] All the solemnity of the temple shall continue, with the exaltation of all the neighbourhood. When the high priests would so work that day like to beg the body, seal the sepulchre, and set the watch on the Sabbath - called, by an irony, the day that followed the day of the preparation [Matthew 27:62] - they forfeited all.


Verse 27

Jeremiah 17:27 But if ye 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.

Ver. 27. Then will I kindle a fire.] That furious element, whereby God hath so oft punished this sin, as is to be seen in the Practice of Piety, Denison’s Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, Mr Clark’s Examples, &c.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 17:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/jeremiah-17.html. 1865-1868.

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Monday, September 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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