Jeremiah 17:7 is actually part of a larger snippet of Bible poetry that starts at verse 5 and ends at verse 8. Take a look:
Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in manand makes flesh his strength,whose heart turns away from the Lord.He is like a shrub in the desert,and shall not see any good come.He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,in an uninhabited salt land.“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,whose trust is the Lord.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.”
Jeremiah 17:5–8 (ESV)This is what is known as poetic "parallelism". The first stanza and the second stanza contrast with each other: the former is about someone who is "cursed" and the latter is about someone who is "blessed". The reason you want to be able to recognize this is because sometimes one half of the parallel passage will contain useful information the other half does not.
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the Lord.
|“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, |
whose trust is the Lord.
We know a number of things about the "cursed man" from this:
- He trusts in "man" (mankind) - so his focus is what human beings are able to accomplish.
- He relies on his own "flesh" - his own ability - to get things done.
- His heart turns away from the Lord.
- He trusts in the Lord (he acts in a way that reveals that he trusts the Lord).
- He puts his trust in the Lord (his trust has a home with the Lord - it stays there).
- does not put his trust in what mankind can accomplish, but what God can accomplish.
- does not rely on his own ability to get things done, but knows that God can do things he cannot.
- His heart turns toward the Lord.
|The Cursed Man||The Blessed Man|
|Like a shrub in the desert||Like a tree by water|
|Shall see no good come||Shall see good come|
|Shall fear when tough times occur||Shall not fear when tough times occur ("heat comes")|
|Is afraid he may run out of what he needs||Is always confident that he is well supplied (not fearful in "the year of drought")|
|Can only do so much before he comes to the end of his own strength||Is always able to do good ("Does not cease to bear fruit")|
|Lives in a parched, uninhabited "salt land" (nothing can grow in salted soil)||Lives in a place of bountiful supply surrounded by friends|
For the record, I'm no Bible scholar - I only know what I've picked up over the years from hearing and reading things written by people with a lot more Bible education than I. But I think it's good to be able to "read between the lines" and discover those extra tidbits that God has left for us to pick up on!