Your Choice, A Shrub or a Tree

There is a passage in Jeremiah that I’ve been thinking about for quite some time. In chapter 17, verses 5-8, the prophet draws a contrast between those who trust the man (humanitarian principles) and those who trust the LORD.  He uses some great word pictures to describe both.

Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, And shall not see when good comes, But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited.”

The person who doesn’t place their trust in God and relies on either his/her own strength or ingenuity is one who “departs from the LORD.”  They are compared to a “shrub in the desert.”

I don’t know about you, but the idea of being compared to a shrub isn’t very appealing to shrubme.  This “shrub” (in some versions it’s called a “bush in the wilderness”) is a small tumbleweed-like growth.  Sometimes it is translated as a “broom tree.”  Not an especially pleasing picture.

The people of Jeremiah’s day were looking for ways to protect themselves.  Babylon and Egypt were competing on the world stage for dominance and Judah was caught in the middle of their ongoing fights.

Further, Judah had walked away from following God, their leaders were not interested in submitting to the LORD and giving up their pagan ways etc.  But they also knew the nation was not going to survive without some military alliance. Rather than repenting of their sin and throwing themselves on the LORD and trusting Him for their protection, they were relying on a pagan nation to protect them for another pagan nation.

Jeremiah compares that thinking to a “shrub in the desert.”

The contrast is remarkable:

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

TreeJeremiah tells the people and their leaders that those who trust in God, whose “hope is in the LORD,” are better able to withstand the “heat” when it comes.  He doesn’t say they won’t endure some heat, but he says they can endure it and won’t cease from being productive.


I have been thinking about what it means to trust God, to put my hope in Him.  I’ve been wondering what this passage means and how to fully throw myself on Him and trust Him.

There are times I am pretty good at trusting God.  Then there are other times I find myself trusting in something else.  Trusting in God sometimes isn’t always so easy is it?

As Christians, we live in this world but we serve another one.  We function within the confines of our physical surroundings but we strive to serve a higher calling which motivates and guides our activities in this world.  Sometimes the two don’t mix well.  Who and/what are we going to trust when the “heat” or troubles come?  When things aren’t working out well for us or when we are facing adversity alone or when we see evil all round us, who do we rely on?

I know this is somewhat generic and trusting God may seem like an abstract concept.  But I am realizing trusting God is a daily commitment, not just a one time thing.  It effects my decisions and maybe more importantly, my attitude.

Hearing Him, following Him and trusting Him is a bigger issue than what we usually think – at least that has been my experience.

Meanwhile, don’t be a shrub.  Be a big ‘ol tree!  Productive, alive and able to endure some heat.

Blessings My Friend!


About The Short Bald Guy

Most of my adult life, I've been in Christian media with 2 years on a church staff and 9 months driving a semi-truck. I don't claim to have any unique wisdom, but I do have a great love for studying the Bible and sharing things God is teaching me from His Word.
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