Jeremiah 17

DateVersionReading Plan
@July 9, 2023ESV (2016)ESV Prophets Plan 2023


  • The sin of Judah
  • Jeremiah prays for deliverance
  • Keep the Sabbath holy


The chapter opens with a declaration that the sin of Judah was written on their hearts with a “pen of iron”. Her idolatry was deeply engraved with permanent ink. As a result, all her treasures would become spoil for foreign invaders (Jer. 17:3) and her heritage would be “loosened” (or “relinquished”, “discontinued”) (Jer. 17:4).

Jer. 17:5-8 are a contrast between the cursed man who trusts in man and the blessed man who trusts in the LORD. An analogy of planting is used here, where the fool is a shrub who dwells “in the parched places of the wilderness” (Jer. 17:6) and the blessed man is a “tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream” (Jer. 17:8). Trusting God is likened to being continually connected to the Source of life-giving water.

Jer. 17:9-10 are well-known verses, speaking of the heart of man being “deceitful above all things, and desperately sick”. The “mind” and “heart” are hidden elements of a human personality, but God sees them perfectly.

In Jer. 17:11, the fool that obtains wealth through unscrupulous means is compared to a “partridge that gathers a brood that she did not hatch”. He may find it effective for a time, but in the end it will not go well.

In Jer. 17:12-13, Jeremiah speaks of God’s glorious throne “set on high from the beginning”. He rejoices that Judah’s place of security is the temple of God. But, all who forsake the LORD will face the terrifying consequences.

Jer. 17:14-18 is a prayer by Jeremiah to God for healing and protection. He makes a case for his faithfulness as God’s under-shepherd and asks that God place the shame and dismay onto his persecutors. There is a strong “let them…let me not” theme in this section.

The remaining verses of the chapter (Jer. 17:19-27) are instruction for all who enter the gates of Jerusalem to keep the Sabbath day holy. If they abide, the LORD will rise up good kings to sit on the throne of David (Jer. 17:25). Things will go well for them, leading to Jerusalem being the hub of blessing where other lands bring offerings and sacrifices (Jer. 17:26). However, if they do not keep the Sabbath day holy, the LORD will “kindle a fire in its gates” that will not be quenched and the palaces of Jerusalem will be devoured (Jer. 17:27).


There is a major theme of blessedness vs. foolishness that plays out in this chapter. God can see directly into the heart and knows of all the wickedness it contains. The notion of radical corruption stands in stark contradiction to the modern cultural narrative. By the world’s standards, our best outcome will be found in seeking inwardly to unleash our true self. However, the deeper you go the more muck you find and, sadly, we are seeing more of the effects of this with each passing day.

Still, I am thankful that God has so chosen to obscure our darkened hearts from one another. I can’t imagine the type of world this would be if all our sinful thoughts were exposed. As Christians who know the truth of our depraved disposition, we are commissioned to help and guide others to understand that true goodness is not found within. It is in Christ alone, the singular Source of goodness and righteousness, that we will find the fullness we seek.

Scripture Journal Notes

Commentaries & Resources