Jeremiah 17

1 “Judah’s sin is engraved with an iron tool, inscribed with a flint point, on the tablets of their hearts and on the horns of their altars.
2 Even their children remember their altars and Asherah poles beside the spreading trees and on the high hills.
3 My mountain in the land and your[a] wealth and all your treasures I will give away as plunder, together with your high places, because of sin throughout your country.
4 Through your own fault you will lose the inheritance I gave you. I will enslave you to your enemies in a land you do not know, for you have kindled my anger, and it will burn forever.”
5 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.
6 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.
7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.
8 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.”
9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
10 “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”
11 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.
12 A glorious throne, exalted from the beginning, is the place of our sanctuary.
13 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.
14 Heal me, LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.
15 They keep saying to me, “Where is the word of the LORD? Let it now be fulfilled!”
16 I have not run away from being your shepherd; you know I have not desired the day of despair. What passes my lips is open before you.
17 Do not be a terror to me; you are my refuge in the day of disaster.
18 Let my persecutors be put to shame, but keep me from shame; let them be terrified, but keep me from terror. Bring on them the day of disaster; destroy them with double destruction.

Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy

19 This is what the LORD said to me: “Go and stand at the Gate of the People,[b] through which the kings of Judah go in and out; stand also at all the other gates of Jerusalem.
20 Say to them, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, you kings of Judah and all people of Judah and everyone living in Jerusalem who come through these gates.
21 This is what the LORD says: Be careful not to carry a load on the Sabbath day or bring it through the gates of Jerusalem.
22 Do not bring a load out of your houses or do any work on the Sabbath, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your ancestors.
23 Yet they did not listen or pay attention; they were stiff-necked and would not listen or respond to discipline.
24 But if you are careful to obey me, declares the LORD, and bring no load through the gates of this city on the Sabbath, but keep the Sabbath day holy by not doing any work on it,
25 then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this city with their officials. They and their officials will come riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by the men of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, and this city will be inhabited forever.
26 People will come from the towns of Judah and the villages around Jerusalem, from the territory of Benjamin and the western foothills, from the hill country and the Negev, bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and incense, and bringing thank offerings to the house of the LORD.
27 But if you do not obey me to keep the Sabbath day holy by not carrying any load as you come through the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle an unquenchable fire in the gates of Jerusalem that will consume her fortresses.’ ”

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Jeremiah 17 Commentary

Chapter 17

The fatal consequences of the idolatry of the Jews. (1-4) The happiness of the man that trusts in God; the end of the opposite character. (5-11) The malice of the prophet's enemies. (12-18) The observance of the sabbath. (19-27)

Verses 1-4 The sins which men commit make little impression on their minds, yet every sin is marked in the book of God; they are all so graven upon the table of the heart, that they will all be remembered by the conscience. That which is graven in the heart will become plain in the life; men's actions show the desires and purposes of their hearts. What need we have to humble ourselves before God, who are so vile in his sight! How should we depend on his mercy and grace, begging of God to search and prove us; not to suffer us to be deceived by our own hearts, but to create in us a clean and holy nature by his Spirit!

Verses 5-11 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.

Verses 12-18 The prophet acknowledges the favour of God in setting up religion. There is fulness of comfort in God, overflowing, ever-flowing fulness, like a fountain. It is always fresh and clear, like spring-water, while the pleasures of sin are puddle-waters. He prays to God for healing, saving mercy. He appeals to God concerning his faithful discharge of the office to which he was called. He humbly begs that God would own and protect him in the work to which he had plainly called him. Whatever wounds or diseases we find to be in our hearts and consciences, let us apply to the Lord to heal us, to save us, that our souls may praise his name. His hands can bind up the troubled conscience, and heal the broken heart; he can cure the worst diseases of our nature.

Verses 19-27 The prophet was to lay before the rulers and the people of Judah, the command to keep holy the sabbath day. Let them strictly observe the fourth command. If they obeyed this word, their prosperity should be restored. It is a day of rest, and must not be made a day of labour, unless in cases of necessity. Take heed, watch against the profanation of the sabbath. Let not the soul be burdened with the cares of this world on sabbath days. The streams of religion run deep or shallow, according as the banks of the sabbath are kept up or neglected. The degree of strictness with which this ordinance is observed, or the neglect shown towards it, is a good test to find the state of spiritual religion in any land. Let all; by their own example, by attention to their families, strive to check this evil, that national prosperity may be preserved, and, above all, that souls may be saved.

Cross References 57

  • 1. Job 19:24
  • 2. S Deuteronomy 6:6; Proverbs 3:3; S 2 Corinthians 3:3
  • 3. S Exodus 27:2
  • 4. S 2 Chronicles 24:18
  • 5. S Jeremiah 2:20
  • 6. S 2 Kings 24:13
  • 7. Jeremiah 26:18; Micah 3:12
  • 8. Jeremiah 15:13
  • 9. Lamentations 5:2
  • 10. Deuteronomy 28:48; S Jeremiah 12:7
  • 11. Jeremiah 16:13; Jeremiah 22:28
  • 12. S Jeremiah 7:20; Jeremiah 15:14
  • 13. S Psalms 108:12; S Isaiah 2:22; Isaiah 30:1-3
  • 14. 2 Corinthians 1:9
  • 15. Job 30:3
  • 16. Deuteronomy 29:23; S Job 39:6; Psalms 107:34; Jeremiah 48:9
  • 17. S Psalms 146:5
  • 18. S Psalms 26:1; Psalms 34:8; Psalms 40:4; Proverbs 16:20; Jeremiah 39:18
  • 19. S Job 14:9
  • 20. Jeremiah 14:1-6
  • 21. Psalms 1:3; Psalms 92:12-14; Ezekiel 19:10; Ezekiel 47:12
  • 22. S Ecclesiastes 9:3; Matthew 13:15; Mark 7:21-22
  • 23. 1 Samuel 16:7; S Joshua 22:22; S 2 Chronicles 6:30; S Revelation 2:23
  • 24. Psalms 17:3; Psalms 139:23; Jeremiah 11:20; Jeremiah 20:12; Ezekiel 11:5; Ezekiel 38:10; Romans 8:27
  • 25. S Leviticus 26:28; Psalms 62:12; Jeremiah 32:19; S Matthew 16:27
  • 26. Jeremiah 12:13; Jeremiah 14:16; Jeremiah 21:14; Jeremiah 32:19; Romans 2:6
  • 27. Luke 12:20
  • 28. S Jeremiah 3:17
  • 29. Psalms 71:5; Jeremiah 14:8
  • 30. Isaiah 1:28; S Jeremiah 2:17
  • 31. S Psalms 69:28; Psalms 87:6; Ezekiel 13:9; Daniel 12:1
  • 32. S Isaiah 12:3; John 4:10
  • 33. S Isaiah 30:26; Jeremiah 15:18
  • 34. S Psalms 119:94
  • 35. S Exodus 15:2; S Psalms 109:1
  • 36. S Isaiah 5:19; 2 Peter 3:4
  • 37. Psalms 139:4
  • 38. Psalms 88:15-16
  • 39. S Psalms 46:1; Jeremiah 16:19; Nahum 1:7
  • 40. S Psalms 18:18
  • 41. Psalms 35:1-8; S Isaiah 40:2; S Jeremiah 12:3
  • 42. Jeremiah 7:2; Jeremiah 26:2
  • 43. Jeremiah 19:3
  • 44. Jeremiah 22:2
  • 45. Numbers 15:32-36; S Deuteronomy 5:14; Nehemiah 13:15-21; John 5:10
  • 46. S Genesis 2:3; S Exodus 20:8; Exodus 31:13; Isaiah 56:2-6; Ezekiel 20:12
  • 47. Jeremiah 7:26
  • 48. Jeremiah 19:15
  • 49. S 2 Chronicles 28:22; S Jeremiah 7:28; Zechariah 7:11
  • 50. ver 22
  • 51. S 2 Samuel 7:13; Isaiah 9:7; Jeremiah 22:2,4; Luke 1:32
  • 52. Jeremiah 30:10; Jeremiah 33:16; Ezekiel 28:26
  • 53. Jeremiah 32:44; Jeremiah 33:13; Zechariah 7:7
  • 54. S 1 Kings 9:6; Jeremiah 22:5
  • 55. S Nehemiah 10:31
  • 56. S Jeremiah 7:20
  • 57. S 2 Kings 25:9; Hosea 8:14; Amos 2:5

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. That is, wooden symbols of the goddess Asherah
  • [b]. Or "hills" / 3"and the mountains of the land." / "Your"
  • [c]. Or "Army"

Chapter Summary


This chapter is a further prophecy of the destruction of the Jews, with the causes of it, their sins, as their idolatry, which was notorious; of which their own consciences, their altars, and their children, were witnesses, Jer 17:1,2 for which they are threatened with the spoil of their substance and treasure, and discontinuance in their land, Jer 17:3,4 as also their confidence in an arm of flesh, which brought the curse of God upon them, when such are blessed that trust in him; and the difference between those that trust in men and those that trust in the Lord is illustrated by very apt similes, Jer 17:5-8, the source of which vain confidence is the wicked heart of man, known to none but God, Jer 17:9,10 and the vanity of it is exposed by a partridge sitting on eggs without hatching them, Jer 17:11, and their departure from God, by trusting in the creature, and in outward things, is aggravated by their temple being the throne and seat of the divine Majesty; by what God is to his people that trust in him; and by the shame and ruin that follow an apostasy from him, Jer 17:12,13, wherefore the prophet, sensible of his own backslidings, prays to be healed and saved by the Lord, who should have all the praise and glory, Jer 17:14 and then relates the scoffs of the people at the word of God by him, another cause of their ruin; declares his own innocence and integrity; prays for protection and security from fear in a time of trouble; and for confusion, terror, and destruction to his persecutors, Jer 17:15-18, then follows an order to him from the Lord, to go and stand in the gate of the city, and exhort all ranks of men to the observation of the sabbath, with directions how to keep it, which had not been observed by their fathers, and which was another cause of their ruin, Jer 17:19-23, and the chapter is closed with promises of blessings in city, court, and country, in church and state, should they religiously observe the sabbath day; but if they profaned it, the city of Jerusalem, and its palaces, should be burnt with fire, Jer 17:24-27.

Jeremiah 17 Commentaries

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