By Dakota Moore
Thus says the Lord:
“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
Let not the mighty man glory in his might,
Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;
But let him who glories glory in this,
That he understands and knows Me,
That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these I delight,” says the Lord.Jeremiah 9:23-24
In chapter 9, the Prophet, Jeremiah, mourns for his people and their impending judgment. Still, he is disgusted by their blatant sin. We hear from God, who calls for Judah to grieve as He will judge them for their deception and lies.
a. Like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies: Jeremiah vividly described how given to deception the leaders and people of Judah were. They lied with forethought, with skill, with power, with intent. Their bent tongues sent forth arrows of lies.
i. It is significant to remember that this comes at the conclusion of a section where Jeremiah desperately lamented the fall and exile of Judah (Jeremiah 8:18-9:6). In the depth of his grief, he still could not forget they deserved this calamity. Their rejection of God and devotion to the lie made all that came upon them deserved.
b. For they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know Me: This explains why Judah’s leaders and people could lie so easily. They were mired in evil and far from real relationship with God. They did not know Him in a true, relational, honoring way.
i. They do not know Me: “The verb yada, ‘know,’ denotes much more than intellectual knowledge but rather that deep intimate knowledge that follows the personal commitment of one life to another.” (Thompson)
ii. For every brother will utterly supplant: “Judah’s treachery and unfaithfulness towards God made Jeremiah realize that everyone was a Jacob or supplanter…a pun on the name of Jacob.” (Harrison)
iii. They weary themselves to commit iniquity: “O, what a drudgery is sin! And how much labour must a man take in order to get to hell!” (Clarke)
c. Everyone will deceive his neighbor, and will not speak the truth: Jeremiah observed how deep and how wide the sin of lying and deception was among the leaders and people of Judah. It was a culture given over to deception, far from truth in either daily matters or in broader concepts.
i. Jeremiah’s dark description of Judah also describes today’s culture. We live in an age when the very idea of absolute or objective truth is commonly rejected. When truth is not valued, societies crumble.
ii. Many intractable problems in today’s world are actually problems of truth. In the Arab-Israeli conflict, horrific lies about the Jews are officially promoted and widely believed in the Arab world. If the Arab world only heard and believed the truth about Israel and the Jews, their supposed reasons for hatred would largely vanish.
d. Through deceit they refuse to know Me, says the LORD: This is the greatest cost of embracing and promoting deception. Since God is a God of truth, those who love the lie have a fundamental distance from Him.Enduring Word
God promises that we will share in His glory in heaven as children of God (Rom. 8:16-17). Thus, recognition in and of itself is not wrong. It is when we, in our sinful tendencies, glory in something disproportionately that it becomes an act of pride by which we place ourselves or something we possess above God.
In the morning, I realized I had been putting the attainment of good grades and money for school above spending time daily with God in prayer and His Word. I was too selfish to obey Him concerning my degree choice and certain relationships because my heart was not in a place of humble submission toward Him. I had begun to glory in my strength and prioritized my desires above God. It prevented me from having the deep relationship with God I truly desired. That is what the Israelites had done as well. They began to glory in their strength as a country and their alliances over the protection God offered. They gloried in the work of their own hands by creating idols to worship rather than giving glory to God for his goodness (Jer. 8).
To better understand and apply this verse to my life that morning, I broke down the scripture into three sections and asked myself a question for each.
- What does it mean to understand and know God? How is glorifying in knowing God different than in riches, for example?
When trying to understand knowing God, I find it helpful to ask what it means to know someone. Knowing someone means knowing the desires, tendencies, standards, goals, voice, and ways of acting that make them who they uniquely are. Knowing and understanding God is then the ability to recognize God, His nature, and characteristics. To learn these things about God, we must know His Word. Within the pages of the Bible, God shows us exactly what His standard is, his desires for us, his ultimate goals, and how he acts. John 14:21 says, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” This verse teaches us to recognize Him in how He speaks to us personally and acts toward us and our lives. God gives us not only an instruction manual to know Him and understand His heart but to reveal Himself personally and uniquely as we grow in a relationship with Him.
What distinguishes glorying in God from other things is that by knowing God, we can safely take pleasure and pride in Him, and He will never lead us to sin. Suppose we treasure, seek and desire to know God. In that case, we become humble and blessed, as God rewards those who seek Him first (Matt. 6:33). To glory in our abilities or possessions is pride. It is a rebellious declaration: “My safety, my trust, and my god is this thing I glory in, and you Lord are secondary.” Such a heart posture results in sorrow as pride prevents God’s presence and divine direction in our lives, inviting punishment (Prov 16:5,18).
- Why did God list lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness specifically? Is there significance in the order these attributes are listed?
After instructing us to understand and know God better, Jeremiah graciously provides us with three of God’s characteristics: lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness which are closely linked. These traits are listed together because one cannot exist without the other, and thus, God must do all three to do one. If He is the God of love, He must be righteous; if He is loving and righteous, then he must make judgments. God is first and foremost a God of love.
“We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 14:6).
I believe lovingkindness is first because His Love defines all other aspects of God’s character. God’s righteousness, and so His righteous standard for us, comes from the love that defines His character. His righteousness becomes the basis on which God makes judgments.
What are the definitions of judgment and righteousness? Righteous actions, and thus a state of righteousness, is a manifestation of love. When we choose righteousness, we act in imitation of God’s perfect love. Judgment is a determination of the presence of righteousness or the lack of it in a person or act. Proclaiming judgment is the right of God to exercise over mankind. God alone judges people on their actions and heart posture (Rom. 2:1-2). Man can only judge people’s actions (Rom. 12:2). Then, righteousness and judgment are adjacent and complementary to love.
- If these are the things God delights in, how does this inform me to know Him better?
The last part of the verse says God delights in lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness. That means he is pleased when he sees his children doing these things. As mentioned in John 14:21, God reveals himself to those who love Him, which he says are those who obey Him. When we love God and others, we can better understand and adhere to God’s righteous heart and make the right judgments concerning our decisions. As you grow in these things, you will better know God, and so your ability and desire to glory in knowing Him will increase.
In August, I’d like you to consider what you glory in. What specific things do you need to start doing or cease doing so that you may glory in God more? I challenge you to know God more by daily committing time with him by reading the Bible, meditating on it, and praying.
Scriptures quoted from the New King James Version. Photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA on Pexels.com