“Thus says the LORD:’Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD.’” (17.5)
So many thoughts: Those who say “I believe in the goodness of people to do XYZ”; those who look for political power to change the world; myself in anxiety over various concerns in my life. It is so hard not to turn in on ourselves for strength, yet God is so clear that we must avoid it. Curious to think what this means for those that believe they choose God and that their actions guarantee their salvation?
“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.” (17.8 )
Clearly my blessings are not on account of anything earthly. For even if the whole world is against me I shall not be withered. If I trust in the Lord then I may continue to do great things in his name, regardless of the world around me.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick.” (17.9a)
This is always the first thing we deny. When our trust turns to human strength our first flaw lies in the fact that we consider man to be capable of anything. But he’s not. He’s sick and desperately in need of a physician.
“Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise.” (17.14)
What is healing or salvation that is ineffectual? But God is always effectual. He heals, he saves, he changes. Permanently. Our inheritance is protected forever by his strength (1 Peter 1.5). “And I shall never, be the same again!”
“If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it.” (18.7-10)
God is sovereign over the rise and fall of nations. However he makes it clear that it is the nations responsibility to be sanctified and observe his commands. If we continue to deny him how can we keep expecting protection and blessing?
“But they say, ‘That is in vain! We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’” (18.12)
This is so true of all of us. When I sin against the clear direction of the Spirit to do otherwise then I am tacitly assenting to this declaration. I act as if I think God’s punishment is an idle threat, that he will simply forgive me afterwards (or that it is okay since it’s already forgiven). Yet God desires obedience and I know his threat of judgment is real. I need his power to avoid responding in this way.
“I will show them my back, not my face, in the day of their calamity.” (18.17b)
Again, a statement we must long not to hear. We always assume that “God is on our side,” but we never stop to think that he may turn his face away from us!