Often in a hurricane, those who have endured the gusting winds and fierce rains will enjoy a respite from the storm when the eye of the hurricane arrives. More wind and rain may be coming, but for now there is a change of pace. The same is true in our reading today where we move from harsh rebuke and warning to a new tone: a description of blessing in relationship with God.
Perhaps in response to Jeremiah’s earlier complaints about the difficult and unrewarding task of preaching God’s word to a stubborn audience (see Jeremiah 15), God here offered Jeremiah new insight. Echoing Psalm 1, Scripture contrasts the one who trusts only in human strength to one who trusts in the Lord. Both are like plants. One is likened to a “bush in the wastelands” (v. 6) that knows no abundance. The other is like a tree planted by waters, verdant and growing even during drought. Both may experience difficulty, but only the one who trusts in God will thrive.
Verses 9 and 10 continue the theme of God’s blessing by using a proverb expressing the idea that the human heart is “deceitful” (literally sick or weak) and hard to understand. Nevertheless, God searches and knows the human heart and mind, and He rewards accordingly. Linked to the previous verses, Scripture assures us that God sees and knows the one who turns to Him in confidence, and there is blessing and reward in such trust.
The speaker of the text now shifts, offering Jeremiah’s climactic confession that the Lord is the “hope of Israel” (v. 13) for those who trust in Him. Despite the opposition Jeremiah faced as God’s preacher, he now confidently affirmed that true healing and salvation will only be found in God, “for you are the one I praise” (v. 14).
Apply the Word
Like many who are called to preach God’s Word, Jeremiah faced the challenge of opposition and needed the reminder of God’s blessing. This Sunday, pray for all those who preach God’s Word, especially those in your church, that they would be faithful to the truth of Scripture, and also find comfort and solace in the blessing of relationship with God.