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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 the 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.” (Jer 17:7-10)
It was at best a precarious situation, and getting steadily worse. Judah was a nation crumbling from within; increasingly a moral and spiritual vacuum. It was under attack from enemies bent on stripping it of anything worthwhile.
From the time God called him as a young man, Jeremiah had acted as a kind of heart monitor. As God continued to reach out to His people, Jeremiah proclaimed His messages, His warnings that their hearts were in desperate need of attention. While there may have been some individuals who heard and heeded, the great majority ignored Jeremiah and carried on looking to their leaders and themselves to run their lives.
Now, once again, God is making it clear that those who trust in human strength and turn their backs on Him are effectively planting themselves in a wasteland. In these conditions, growth is severely stunted, and the person will never flourish. Their spirit will be parched and shrivel up, and they will water the desert only with the salt of their tears.
But the one who trusts in God and puts their confidence in Him will drink from an abundance of spiritual nourishment, sending out deep roots to secure their growth and make them steadfast. They won’t be frightened by the heat of adversity because their faith is healthy enough to withstand it. They have spiritual reserves for dry periods, and always bear fruit for God’s kingdom.
Left to ourselves, our hearts will always lead us astray, sooner or later. On our own, we can’t avoid being caught up in its snares. Because the human heart is so deceitful and easily led astray, the only remedy is to turn to God and ask Him to be our heart monitor. We need to have Him with us waking or sleeping, and measure the health of our hearts against the standard of His Word. Only He can tell us where we have missed beats or have developed erratic rhythms, where we’re accumulating debris, getting too restricted, turning to stone. Only God searches our hearts, knows our minds, and can lead, guide and enlighten us when we depend on Him.
The fear of the Lord, says the psalmist, is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. (Ps 111:10) A precept is a rule of action or of behavior. There is something in the human heart that wants to rebel against rules, that likes to think we’re getting away with something. The less we respect the source of the rule, or understand its purpose, the more likely we are to flout it — especially if we don’t believe we’ll be held accountable.
Here we see that fear of God — holding Him in the ultimate awe and respect — is the prerequisite to wisdom and understanding. Understanding who God is, that His rules are given for our benefit, is the first step to wisdom. We stop wanting to flout the rules and start wanting to follow them. Our spirits get stronger and stronger as we put our hearts in His hands.
Then, as we learn in Ps. 112, even in our darkest moments, we’ll see the dawning of the light of Christ. When we’re in right relationship with Him, we’ll be steadfast in the midst of an earthquake. We’ll be able to accept what happens because we know our final destiny. Whatever takes place along the way, we will have the victory of eternal life with Jesus. His hands are the ultimate safe place to entrust our hearts.