Jeremiah 9:23-24 – On Boasting
SummaryThis is a call for a confession of faith that focuses on God--a God of steadfast love, justice, and righteousness--and not on one's self or one's own virtues and possessions.
AnalysisThe focus of the text is on divine action. God's activity takes place "in the earth," and not in arbitrariness and vindictiveness, but in love, justice, and righteousness. This is the case even though the divine acts of judgment may appear to be contrary to such characteristics. Even in the midst of judgment, God is just, God's love remains steadfast, and God remains faithful to commitments with Israel (the basic sense of "righteousness"). Notably, God takes pleasure (!) in acting in these ways for these are ways in which God's will is being done, even in the worst of situations.
The people are to boast in their knowledge and understanding of this kind of God; boasting is, in effect, a kind of confession of faith. The great judgments through which the people pass (and have passed) are not to be ascribed fundamentally to human wisdom, strength, or wealth, however much human beings have been the agents of God's action. Importantly, the text does not call for a divestment of these "gifts" or a negative assessment of them, but rather a proper assessment of their place