This is what the Lord says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord . That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord , whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” Like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay are those who gain riches by unjust means. When their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them, and in the end they will prove to be fools. A glorious throne, exalted from the beginning, is the place of our sanctuary. Lord , you are the hope of Israel; all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord , the spring of living water. – Jeremiah 17:5-13
Well this is my favorite passage in Jeremiah so far. It has amazingly rich water imagery and it paints a very vivid picture of what a faithful follower looks like. God is comparing and contrasting those who trust in “the flesh”, with hearts that turn away from God, and those who trust in God and whose hearts are in a constant state of seeking after God.
The person who trusts in the flesh is like a “a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.” God is describing a poisonous place where it is difficult to grow and thrive. This place is anyplace that is apart from God. The opposite of this is a lush place where God is and where we can choose to plant ourselves near the water.
Those who choose to plant themselves by the One River that can provide Living Water will send out roots to access the water. The ones who send out roots to access this constant water supply will find their “leaves green”. They will be empowered to do what they have been called to do. They will be able to thrive where God has planted them and bear good fruit rather than bad fruit.
The care and feeding of our souls by God is a great mystery, indeed “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” The answer to the rhetorical questions who can understand our hearts (souls) is, of course, God. God is the God who sees us, he knows us from the inside out. Better than we know ourselves. God searches our hearts and minds and rewards us for what we do with the resources God provides.
God then turns to those who obtain worldly riches at the expense of their souls and says “Like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay are those who gain riches by unjust means. When their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them, and in the end they will prove to be fools.” So even those who seem to “have it all together” will in the end find that they are falling apart.
“Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord , the spring of living water.” All will be as dust unless we intentionally place ourselves by the Spring of Living Water that is God. We are to take up this water into our very being and make it part of our DNA so that as we go about our lives in this land of Oblivion we feel as though we are in a foreign land. Our native country is with God and that will only come after we have crossed over for the last time into the undiscovered country.
Prayer: God help us to plant ourselves so that our roots can drink deeply of the Living Water you provide and be effective in the purpose You have for us.