Jeremiah 2:13 says, “For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
Broken cisterns do not have to be things like the praise of man, sexual lust, hunger for power, greed for money, or other vices. Broken cisterns can be good things. In fact, most often, broken cisterns are good things.
Here’s the biblical logic. In 2 Corinthians 4:7, Paul says, “But we have this treasure [of Christ in the gospel] in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” Paul calls people jars of clay. In other words, we are fragile beings that crack and leak spiritual water. We were not meant to be self-sustaining. We need divine grace. We are finite. In other words, people are broken cisterns.
And in Proverbs 18:22, Solomon writes, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing.” So this woman (a broken cistern!) is a good thing for her husband. And we know that people aren’t the only broken cisterns in the world. Working, knowledge, scheduling, planning, exercising, eating, sleep, recreation, travel, education, technology, making money, and so many others are very good things. Nevertheless, these are broken cisterns as well because they are all finite, incomplete, and earthly things.
When these good things, whether a wife or eating or planning a schedule, become ultimate things, we have started to put all our hope and faith in them and not God. In other words, good things become god things. But God is the only ultimate thing. Everything that he gives is a good thing. O, how I long to regard him as ultimate and leave everything else in its rightful, lowly, good place.