In Jeremiah 17:5-8 we have a sharp contrast between the one who trusts in man and the one who trusts in the Lord. They read, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the LORD. For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, A land of salt without inhabitant. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit’” (NASB).

How utterly foolish it is to “trust in man!” Over and over again God warns us against relying on man, for even the “best of men” do not deserve our trust. Psalm 39:5 declares, “Verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity.” Yet when Jeremiah penned these words Judah was doing that very thing. Judah’s confidence in man was seen by their forming alliances with Assyria and Egypt to protect them from the Babylonians. In Psalm 118:9 the Psalmist David had written long ago, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man,” yet Judah rebelled against this divine instruction and made the deliberate choice to trust in an “arm of flesh” instead of in “almighty God.” The judgment pronounced against Judah in verse 4 was the result of that foolish choice. It says, “And you will, even of yourself, let go of your inheritance that I gave you; And I will make you serve your enemies in the land which you do not know.”

The contrast between a “bush in the desert” and a “tree planted by the water” couldn’t be greater. The “bush” referred to is a “juniper,” which means “naked.” It is a sickly-looking plant with a poor root system, resulting in a fruitless existence. And even when the hope of prosperity comes, which no doubt speaks of rain, it falls on what is already a dead or withered bush. So it is with “the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength”; he has no real source of help and instead of prospering he will come to ruin. He is indeed “cursed” and he has only himself to blame for choosing “man” over “God.”

With joy we now turn to “the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD.” This man will flourish and prosper, for he is like a beautiful tree firmly planted, “that extends its roots by a stream.” With a strong root system this tree will blossom, even on bad days “when the heat comes” or a “drought.” The apostle Paul prayed in Ephesians 3:17, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love.” In Colossians 2:6-7 he exhorted believers with these words, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him: rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith.” If we choose to “trust in the Lord” by allowing Christ to “dwell in our hearts” and by walking “in Him,” we will have a rich root system that will cause us to prosper and bear precious fruit for God! With that thought in mind we will close by quoting Psalm 1:1-3, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in His law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”  (182.1)  (DO)