Audio Worship "Let Him Who Boasts..." Jeremiah 9.23-24

Princeton Presbyterian Church Sermon # 1603

September 3, 2023

Jeremiah 9.23-24         Click here for audio worship.

Dr. Ed Pettus


"Let Him Who Boasts..."



23Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”


  • Let Not…


We live in a world that is in the complete opposite mindset from the world of Scripture. The longer we live, the more we are seeing what the Bible has “seen” since the fall of man, that sin has so infected the world and so deeply deprived the hearts of men and women, that God had to do something to save us. First, God gave us commandments to follow so that we might live in faith, following the path God laid out for humanity. But that became problematic for us, so God sent a Savior in His only Son Jesus Christ. It is not quite that simple and I’m not suggesting that God’s giving of the law failed by any means, but that we have failed, and therefore Jesus came to redeem and to set us right with God and set us on the path of keeping the law by the grace and mercy of the Holy Spirit.

One of the worst things we see in the world today are those who not only seek to live in sin, but boast about it as a people proud to flaunt God’s commands and stand opposed to everything the Bible promotes. Then, on the other hand are those who do live by God’s command, or at least seek to, and yet they boast about their righteousness or holiness or humility and thus boast for all the wrong reasons. What we learn from the Bible is that there is a way of boasting that is bad and another that is good. The bad way is to boast about one’s self, whether boasting about good things or bad. So Jeremiah tells us “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches” Three times on three items we are told let not, let not, let not the wise, the mighty or the rich boast. Three times not boasting in his wisdom, in his might, and in his riches. It is great to be wise and strong and to have wealth, but to boast about those things is sinful and it is sinful because it seeks to glorify the self rather than the One who gives wisdom and might and riches. There is nothing wrong with wisdom and might and riches. But, the wrong is in thinking and boasting that we have gained these things on our own, by our own strength and abilities.

We cannot boast in ourselves without taking away that which belongs to God. All the credit for our boastfulness is due to God alone. He makes all things possible in and through us and He alone should receive the boasting, the praise, the thanks.



  • But Let Him Who Boasts…


The good way to boast is to boast about the Source. Jeremiah presents the contrast to boasting in the self with the pivot, “but let him who boasts boast in this...” There is a time and place for boasting. Proper and appropriate boasting is not about our wisdom, our might, or our riches, but in the Lord. “but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

What we see is that boasting in and of itself is not the problem, but it is the subject about which we boast, in this case boasting about self (not so good) or about God (very good). The highest example of proper boasting is Psalm 44.8, “In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever.” Now think about this for a moment, boasting in the Lord is basically offering praise and thanks for what God has done in our lives. Boasting about self is basically omitting God from “our” accomplishments, “our” in quotes because God alone makes it possible to have anything to boast about in ourselves. A classic example of this is found in Deuteronomy 8 when Israel forgot God and boasted of their own power to free themselves and gain wealth and homes and flocks by their own power and might. We boast in God by acknowledging that we can do nothing apart from God’s gifts of life and grace and empowerment and all things worthy of boasting. So the biblical writers understood that boasting that is of the highest regard, is to boast in the Lord for all that He has done for us.



  • Let the One Who Boasts, Boast in the Lord


The apostle Paul in the New Testament quotes from Jeremiah 9.23-24 when talking about what God has done in choosing His people...


1 Corinthians 1.26-31

26For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”


Consider the calling God has given to all of us. At first this sounds kind of a put down by Paul since he says that not many of them (or us by extension) were wise or powerful or of the right kind of birth. Except, except that Paul is not saying these folks in Corinth were not wise, only that they were not wise by worldly standards, not powerful by worldly standards, not of noble birth by worldly standards. Worldly standards do not mean anything in the kingdom of God. Worldly standards are no standards at all, especially today as we see the complete loss of standards in the ways of the world. The pivot is in verse 27 when Paul writes, “but God chose what is foolish in the world…” That is that the world considers any who trust in God to be fools, and weak, lowly and despised. That is how the world sees the disciples of Jesus Christ. But God has chosen us to show that what the world believes to be something is actually nothing. What the world values as true is actually false. What the world worships as idols are worthless things. What God has done is to choose that which the world thinks is nothing to show that all that the world thinks is nothing!

What Paul is saying is that we are only wise and powerful and now of noble rebirth because of Jesus Christ. Jesus is our wisdom from God, righteousness from God, sanctification from God, and redemption from God. He is all things to us and for us and from God! Therefore, God’s word in Jeremiah was true then, in Jeremiah’s day. It was true then, in Paul’s day. And it is true today, in our day. Jeremiah’s and Paul’s conclusion, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” I cannot not stand before you each Sunday and lead worship and preach a message without God. I cannot do anything apart from God in Christ Jesus. None of us can! If we are to boast about anything, boast in the Lord who has given us life and gifts and skills and wisdom and righteousness and all that the Bible reveals.


Boast in understanding and knowing God. Knowing God’s steadfast love, justice, and righteousness! This is what delights the Lord. In the Hebrew language, the language of the Old Testament, the word for boast is from the root word halal. From halal we get the word hallelujah. Hallelujah means to praise God. Halal = to praise, and jah = God. It is to praise the Lord, to boast of the Lord. Our praise is a form of boasting. Our proclamation of Jesus is a boast. Our worship is a boast, because all of these things are giving praise and acknowledgment to the God who has saved, redeemed, blesses, loved, and chosen us.


I suspect that we very seldom boast or brag about ourselves. We certainly boast about accomplishments of children and grandchildren and even that which is worthy of boasting in other people. But we have to be careful with that as well, that we do not boast in a way that takes away what Christ has done for and in others, that is, that we do not want to put their accomplishments above Christ.


21So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's (1 Corinthians 3.21-23).


While we boast about others, but we cannot boast in ways that are arrogant, or seeks to put another down, or fails to also boast of God. We may fall short of boasting in the Lord. How do we boast in the Lord? What does that mean? There is no secret to it for we boast in the Lord every time we worship the Lord. We boast in our praise and thanks to God. We boast in our prayers because it is God to whom we pray. We boast with every word read in the Bible, with each study and meditation on the Word. But the greatest boast in the Lord is boasting to other people about what God has done in Jesus Christ. We boast in the Lord when we are telling another that Christ has forgiven and will forgive sins. We boast in revealing the Jesus is the Lord of all and Savior of all who confess His name. We boast when we share a Bible story that helps others to see. We boast when we open up the Scriptures to address needs and desires and hopes and dreams. We boast in all that we do in Christ that brings glory to Him.


But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Galatians 6.14).


For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2.8-9).


My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad (Psalm 34.2).


We boast in the Lord by understanding and knowing the Lord – Jeremiah 9.23-24.

We boast in the Lord by sharing the gospel message that we are in Christ Jesus – 1 Cor 1. 26-31.

We boast in the Lord by telling about the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ – Gal 6.14.

We boast in the Lord deeply in the soul so that others may hear of it and be glad – Psalm 34.2.


I really like the end of Jeremiah 9.24 in that the Lord delights in our boasting of understanding the things of God. Now, we might say we have a limited understanding, or we are weak in our knowledge of God, but we can boast only in what we know, not in what we do not know. So rejoice and boast even if we feel that it is the lowest of what is known and rejoice also all the way to the heights of what can be known. Boasting about one’s self is a prideful act. Boasting about one’s sin is a heinous act. Boasting in the Lord is an act that delights the Lord. Let us strive to boast in the cross of Jesus Christ, to boast in the resurrection of Jesus, to boast in all that bring delight to the Lord. Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord. Amen.