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Jeremiah 17:10

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

I the Lord search the heart - The Lord is called by his apostles, Acts 1:24, Καρδιογνωστης, the Knower of the heart. To him alone can this epithet be applied; and it is from him alone that we can derive that instruction by which we can in any measure know ourselves.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible
Verses 5-18

In the rest of the prophecy Jeremiah dwells upon the moral faults which had led to Judah‘s ruin.

Jeremiah 17:6

Like the heath - Or, “like a destitute man” Psalm 102:17. The verbs “he shall see” (or fear) and “shall inhabit” plainly show that a man is here meant and not a plant.

Jeremiah 17:8

The river - Or, “water-course” Isaiah 30:25, made for purposes of irrigation.

Shall not see - Or, “shall not fear Jeremiah 17:6.” God‘s people feel trouble as much as other people, but they do not fear it because they know

(1) that it is for their good, and

(2) that God will give them strength to bear it.

Jeremiah 17:9

The train of thought is apparently this: If the man is so blessed Jeremiah 17:7-8 who trusts in Yahweh, what is the reason why men so generally “make flesh their arm”? And the answer is: Because man‘s heart is incapable of seeing things in a straightforward manner, but is full of shrewd guile, and ever seeking to overreach others.

Desperately wicked - Rather, mortally sick.

Jeremiah 17:10

The answer to the question, “who can know it?” To himself a man‘s heart is an inscrutable mystery: God alone can fathom it.

Ways - Rather, way, his course of life. The “and” must be omitted, for the last clause explains what is meant “by man‘s way,” when he comes before God for judgment. It is “the fruit,” the final result “of his doings, i. e., his real character as formed by the acts and habits of his life.

Jeremiah 17:11

Rather, “As the partridge hath gathered eggs which it laid not, so … ” The general sense is: the covetous man is as sure to reap finally disappointment only as is the partridge which piles up eggs not of her own laying, and is unable to hatch them.

A fool - A Nabal. See 1 Samuel 25:25.

Jeremiah 17:12, Jeremiah 17:13

Or, “Thou throne … thou place … thou hope … Yahweh! All that forsake Thee etc.” The prophet concludes his prediction with the expression of his own trust in Yahweh, and confidence that the divine justice will finally be vindicated by the punishment of the wicked. The “throne of glory” is equivalent to Him who is enthroned in glory.

Jeremiah 17:13

Shall be written in the earth - i. e., their names shall quickly disappear, unlike those graven in the rock forever Job 19:24. A board covered with sand is used in the East to this day in schools for giving lessons in writing: but writing inscribed on such materials is intended to be immediately obliterated. Equally fleeting is the existence of those who forsake God. “All men are written somewhere, the saints in heaven, but sinners upon earth” (Origen).

Jeremiah 17:15

This taunt shows that this prophecy was written before any very signal fulfillment of Jeremiah‘s words had taken place, and prior therefore to the capture of Jerusalem at the close of Jehoiakim‘s life. “Now” means “I pray,” and is ironical.

Jeremiah 17:16

I have not hastened from - i. e., I have not sought to escape from.

A pastor to follow thee - Rather, “a shepherd after Thee.” “Shepherd” means “ruler, magistrate” (Jeremiah 2:8 note), and belongs to the prophet not as a teacher, but as one invested with authority by God to guide and direct the political course of the nation. So Yahweh guides His people Psalm 23:1-2, and the prophet does so “after Him,” following obediently His instructions.

The woeful day - literally, “the day of mortal sickness:” the day on which Jerusalem was to be destroyed, and the temple burned.

Right - Omit the word. What Jeremiah asserts is that he spake as in God‘s presence. They were no words of his own, but had the authority of Him before whom he stood. Compare Jeremiah 15:19.

Jeremiah 17:17

A terror - Rather, “a cause of dismay,” or consternation Jeremiah 1:17. By not fulfilling Jeremiah‘s prediction God Himself seemed to put him to shame.

Jeremiah 17:18

Confounded - Put to shame.

Destroy them … - Rather, break them with a double breaking: a twofold punishment, the first their general share in the miseries attendant upon their country‘s fall; the second, a special punishment for their sin in persecuting and mocking God‘s prophet.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
He who puts confidence in man, shall be like the heath in a desert, a naked tree, a sorry shrub, the product of barren ground, useless and worthless. Those who trust to their own righteousness and strength, and think they can do without Christ, make flesh their arm, and their souls cannot prosper in graces or comforts. Those who make God their Hope, shall flourish like a tree always green, whose leaf does not wither. They shall be fixed in peace and satisfaction of mind; they shall not be anxious in a year of drought. Those who make God their Hope, have enough in him to make up the want of all creature-comforts. They shall not cease from yielding fruit in holiness and good works. The heart, the conscience of man, in his corrupt and fallen state, is deceitful above all things. It calls evil good, and good evil; and cries peace to those to whom it does not belong. Herein the heart is desperately wicked; it is deadly, it is desperate. The case is bad indeed, if the conscience, which should set right the errors of other faculties, is a leader in the delusion. We cannot know our own hearts, nor what they will do in an hour of temptation. Who can understand his errors? Much less can we know the hearts of others, or depend upon them. He that believes God's testimony in this matter, and learns to watch his own heart, will find this is a correct, though a sad picture, and learns many lessons to direct his conduct. But much in our own hearts and in the hearts of others, will remain unknown. Yet whatever wickedness there is in the heart, God sees it. Men may be imposed upon, but God cannot be deceived. He that gets riches, and not by right, though he may make them his hope, never shall have joy of them. This shows what vexation it is to a worldly man at death, that he must leave his riches behind; but though the wealth will not follow to another world, guilt will, and everlasting torment. The rich man takes pains to get an estate, and sits brooding upon it, but never has any satisfaction in it; by sinful courses it comes to nothing. Let us be wise in time; what we get, let us get it honestly; and what we have, use it charitably, that we may be wise for eternity.
Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7 (EGW), 986

Conduct Befitting the Bride of a King—The church is the bride, the Lamb's wife. She should keep herself pure, sanctified, holy. Never should she indulge in any foolishness; for she is the bride of a King. Yet she does not realize her exalted position. If she understood this, she would be all-glorious within (Letter 177, 1901). 7BC 986.1

(Chs. 3:4; 7:14; 16:15.) Clean Garments—The church is the bride of Christ, and her members are to yoke up with their Leader. God warns us not to defile our garments (Letter 123a, 1898). 7BC 986.2

11-16. See EGW on ch. 16:13-16. 7BC 986.3

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 1 (EGW), 1110

29-33 (2 Corinthians 3:13-15). Moses Saw the Day of Christ—In the mount, when the law was given to Moses, the Coming One was shown to him also. He saw Christ's work, and His mission to earth, when the Son of God should take upon Himself humanity, and become a teacher and a guide to the world, and at last give Himself a ransom for their sins. When the perfect Offering should be made for the sins of men, the sacrificial offerings typifying the work of the Messiah were to cease. With the advent of Christ, the veil of uncertainty was to be lifted, and a flood of light shed upon the darkened understanding of His people. 1BC 1110.1

As Moses saw the day of Christ, and the new and living way of salvation that was to be opened through His blood, he was captivated and entranced. The praise of God was in his heart, and the divine glory that attended the giving of the law was so strikingly revealed in his countenance when he came down from the mount to walk with Israel, that the brightness was painful. Because of their transgressions, the people were unable to look upon his face, and he wore a veil that he might not terrify them.... 1BC 1110.2

Had the Israelites discerned the gospel light that was opened to Moses, had they been able by faith to look steadfastly to the end of that which was abolished, they could have endured the light which was reflected from the countenance of Moses. “But their minds were blinded; for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament; which veil is done away in Christ.” The Jews as a people did not discern that the Messiah whom they rejected, was the Angel who guided their fathers in their travels in the wilderness. To this day the veil is upon their hearts, and its darkness hides from them the good news of salvation through the merits of a crucified Redeemer (The Signs of the Times, August 25, 1887). 1BC 1110.3

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Ellen G. White
In Heavenly Places, 266.6

The true Christian keeps his eyes fixed on Him who searches the heart and tries the reins, who requires truth in the inward parts. His constant prayer is, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23, 24). HP 266.6

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, 191

How few earnest prayers have been sent up to God in faith for those who worked in the office who were not fully in the truth! Who has felt the worth of the soul for whom Christ died? Who have been laborers in the vineyard of the Lord? I saw that angels were grieved with the trifling frivolities of the professed followers of Christ who were handling sacred things in the office. Some have no more sense of the sacredness of the work than if they were engaged in common labor. God now calls for the fruitless cumberers of the ground to consecrate themselves to Him and center their affections and hopes in Him. 3T 191.1

The Lord would have all connected with the office become caretakers and burden bearers. If they are pleasure seekers, if they do not practice self-denial, they are not fit for a place in the office. The workers at the office should feel when they enter it that it is a sacred place, a place where the work of God is being done in the publication of a truth which will decide the destiny of souls. This is not felt or realized as it should be. There is conversation in the typesetting department which diverts the mind from the work. The office is no place for visiting, for a courting spirit, or for amusement or selfishness. All should feel that they are doing work for God. He who sifts all motives and reads all hearts is proving, and trying, and sifting His people, especially those who have light and knowledge, and who are engaged in His sacred work. God is a searcher of hearts and a trier of the reins, and will accept nothing less than entire devotion to the work and consecration to Himself. All in the office should take up their daily duties as if in the presence of God. They should not be satisfied with doing just enough to pass along, and receive their wages; but all should work in any place where they can help the most. In Brother White's absence there are some faithful ones; there are others who are eyeservants. If all in the office who profess to be followers of Christ had been faithful in the performance of duty in the office, there would have been a great change for the better. Young men and young women have been too much engrossed in each other's society, talking, jesting, and joking, and angels of God have been driven from the office. 3T 191.2

Marcus Lichtenstein was a God-fearing youth; but he saw so little true religious principle in those in the church and those working in the office that he was perplexed, distressed, disgusted. He stumbled over the lack of conscientiousness in keeping the Sabbath manifested by some who yet professed to be commandment keepers. Marcus had an exalted regard for the work in the office; but the vanity, the trifling, and the lack of principle stumbled him. God had raised him up and in His providence connected him with His work in the office. But there is so little known of the mind and will of God by some who work in the office that they looked upon this great work of the conversion of Marcus from Judaism as of no great importance. His worth was not appreciated. He was frequently pained with the deportment of F and of others in the office; and when he attempted to reprove them, his words were received with contempt that he should venture to instruct them. His defective language was an occasion of jest and amusement with some. 3T 192.1

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