“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 17:7-8
The context of this passage concerns the idolatry in Judah. God’s people were bent to pursue idolatry, it was a sin “engraved on the tablet of their hearts” (17:1) and one that is engraved on all natural hearts. In verses 5-6, we see that anyone who trusts in “not-God”….those whose hearts turn away from YHWH….are cursed, that is, they are doomed to destruction and are seeking life from what cannot give life (much like the broken cisterns in Jeremiah 2:13).
However, in contrast to the one who turns from the Lord is the one who trusts in Him…that man will be like a tree planted by streams of water. Well, water gives life to trees through the roots, right? So it seems that God Himself gives life to His people through the “roots” of their faith. That’s the picture the Lord is giving us in these verses.
And we now know that to truly trust in YHWH necessitates trusting in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. That is where we supremely see and know the Lord, and the accomplishment of the cross is what enables us to be able to trust in God and find help from Him rather than simply be condemned by Him.
I wanted to draw this picture so that, upon first glance, you might just think, “oh, a picture of a tree by a river,” but then upon closer examination you would see that its really an image of a man drinking from / trusting in the person and work of Christ.
I use the imagery of drinking to represent faith in the Lord for a few reasons. First, that is what’s implied here in Jeremiah 17. Second, Because in Jeremiah 2:13, God condemns His people for trying to quench the thirst of their soul with idols rather than with Himself, the fountain of living waters. And lastly, because John’s gospel presents faith in Christ as an intimate receiving of all that He is, and receiving from Him the true living water of the Christ-revealing Spirit……
Also, notice that I made Christ’s wounds the “water” from which the man is drinking. There are many reasons for this…..the connection between Christ’s crucifixion and the opening of a fountain of living water for His people are numerous. But perhaps most simply, I chose to make His wounds the water because it is primarily in Christ CRUCIFIED and RISEN that we believe and so are saved…..to make YHWH our trust means to trust in the crucified and risen God….the wounds are central both to our salvation and to the revelation of who YHWH is, and because of that I made them central to this image.