The nature of the heart according to Jeremiah and Sirach


I recently read an article talking about a Biblical view on the nature of the heart. It used the verse Jeremiah 17:9 as the main crux of it’s argument that the heart is untrustworthy. The verse says “The heart is more devious than any other thing, and is depraved; who can pierce its secrets?” But just today I stumbled upon Sirach 37:13-14 “13 Finally, stick to the advice your own heart gives you, no one can be truer to you than that; 14 since a person’s soul often gives a clearer warning than seven watchmen perched on a watchtower.” Can anyone give any help reconciling these verses that appear to contradict each other radically?


Sursum corda?

That's an.. interesting translation. Take a look at the Douay Rheims.

'With an irreligious man treat not of holiness, and with the unjust of justice, and with a woman of the thing whereof she is jealous: with a fearful man of war, with a merchant of traffic, with a buyer of selling, with an envious man of giving thanks, with the impious of piety, with the unhonest of honesty, with the field laborer of all work, with him that worketh by the year of the ending of the year, with a slothful servant of much working: attend not to these in all counsel.

But be continual with a holy man, whomsoever thou shalt know to observe the fear of God, whose soul is according to thine own soul: and who when thou shalt stumble in the dark, will be sorry for thee. And establish with thy self an heart of good counsel: for there is none other thing more worth to thee then it. The soul of a holy man uttereth sometime true things, more then seven watchmen that sit in a high place to watch.'

Ecclesiasticus 37:12-18 [see further previous verses]

'Until you have eradicated evil, do not obey your heart; for it will seek more of what it already contains within itself.'

St. Mark the Ascetic

'Many souls lament that in their meditations and communions, and in their other most devout exercises, they do not find God. To such St. Teresa said, "Detach thy heart from all creatures, and thou shalt find God."'

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori


I definitely looked at the DR (it's usually my preferred version, besides the Navarre Bible), however, it seems to be the only version that translates the verses this way. What I quoted above is from the New Jerusalem Bible, and here is the USCCB's version:

Looking up other versions will show a similar translation. I know that Jerome has a really different translation of Tobit, and I thought perhaps it might be a similar thing with Sirach. Thus, my question still stands.


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