Our Jeremiah reading today contains a verse about the natural deceitfulness of the human heart that is often quoted. It is good to look at the context which leads the prophet to make this statement: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” [ch.17 v.9]
When we start reading from v.5 we see how the Divine perception and attitude unfolds. In begins with, “Thus says the LORD.” First the LORD says, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert … he shall dwell in parched places.”
Everyone today dwells in in a “desert” and “parched places” in a mental sense. How few seek for nutrients for their minds that will give them a clear and refreshing perception of the relationship the Creator invites them to have with Him. This is parallel to the minds of the people to whom Jeremiah is conveying the perception the LORD now has about them, for the LORD sees that their “heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick …” [v.9]
The next verse states, “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” So God tests our hearts, he searches to see whether we have absorbed the nutrients he has provided – or whether the heart remains sick.
How wonderful, and at peace, is the mind that has done this – and this is meaningfully brought out in v.7 & 8, “Blessed is the man (or woman) whose trust is in the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
There are increasing signs that greater “heat” will soon occur in our world, may the word of God fully take root in our minds so that we will “not fear when the heat comes.”