In Jeremiah chapter 9, God is lamenting the fact the His people have gone so far from Him that they no longer recognize or speak truth. Because they do not know Him, their actions are unlike the God of all truth.
The Lord has called judgement on the children of Israel. He will destroy the land and it will be their turn to weep and wail and mourn.
This verse is the culmination of this thought:
"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."
God is telling the people: wisdom will not save you, wealth cannot save you, strength and might and power cannot save you. So don't boast about these things.
If you want to boast about something, boast about the fact that you know who God is. Boast that you understand His character.
If anyone were unsure about who God is, He tells us: "I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgement and righteousness in all the earth."
What do people boast about?
They boast about how smart they are, how intelligent they are and how many degrees they have or the grades they get/got in school.
They boast about how much money they have in the bank, or how many cars they have or how many houses and the cost of them. They boast about how much they paid for a particular outfit. Or a piece of furniture. Or a pet.
They boast about their physical strength. Or the body guards that they can hire, or the guns that they own.
When was the last time you heard someone say, "Oh you know I'm in a saving relationship with Jesus? Yes, Jesus loves me and He died to save the world"?
There are those people who claim that the Bible is outdated. If you know anyone like that, have them read Jeremiah chapter 9. God was talking to His people then and He's talking to His people now. And if the world continues for another ten generations I'm sure the words would apply to all of them.
Isn't it interesting that when God describes Himself the first word He uses is lovingkindness?
If we were to just take the word apart we'd get loving and kindness. Two things that God always displays towards His people.
The word used here for lovingkindness comes from the Hebrew word 'checed' which could also be defined as favor, mercy or pity.
God has pity on us, He remembers that we are but dust. He shows mercy towards us, that's why He does not destroy us as we deserve. I continue to be amazed of the care that God takes of His people and the things He's created.
For a more detailed explanation of checed, you can read this page at Bible-researcher.com.
The word judgement is the Hebrew word mishpat which may also be translated as sentence, justice, penalty or discretion.
All of these words point to a legal decision. That means there was a contract that was legally binding, a crime was committed (or something was done to break the agreement) and a sentence was passed.
Okay, let's break it down. After the fall, God called the children of Israel to be His chosen people. This call goes all the way back to the promises made to Abraham - God would make him a great nation. One that was set apart to be an example to the rest of the world.
This covenant was renewed at Mount Horeb when the Ten Commandments were given to the children of Israel. They would worship the Lord only (Deuteronomy 6:13) and He would bless them and make them greater than their neighbors (Exodus 23:25).
They were unfaithful.
They served other gods.
They burned their children as sacrifices to idols.
Despite repeated warnings, the children of Israel pursued other gods forsaking the All-Powerful, All-Knowing God of their ancestors. Because of this, God passed judgement. The penalty had to be paid because there was no repentance.
God is the ultimate Judge. His judgement is perfect.
What does the word righteousness mean in this verse?
The Hebrew word is tsedaqah (pronounced tsed-aw-kaw). it may be translated as righteousness, blameless conduct and is used to express right attitudes and right actions. Is there any more appropriate way to describe God?
The Almighty God is a God of perfect intentions, perfect plans and a right heart. Any judgement that is passed on His people come from a place of loving action and intent.
The word translated as exercise comes from the root word 'asah' which could also be rendered as make or do, accomplish, labor or maintain.
It was often used to convey the main idea of performing an activity with a distinct purpose, moral obligation or goal in view. Isn't that fascinating?
When God says: "I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgement and righteousness in all the earth", He's choosing to do it.
He chooses to be merciful. He chooses to use His discretion to judge us. He chooses to display right attitudes towards us (even when our actions don't warrant it).
What an awesome God that we serve!
Join in the discussion: what makes this verse stand out for you? How could you explain this text to give it more life and meaning?