Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:Self-reliant Or God-reliant?
No one who reads the book of Proverbs can fail to see that its maxims are of the utmost value. We should truly be the poorer without its pithy, practical sayings, which bear upon almost every phase of life.
How much we need to remember the verses that I read as our text.
I. It is Often Considered a Fine Thing to be Self-Reliant.—Many men boast that they rely only on themselves. A man will point with pride to his prosperous business and say, 'I worked all that up by myself from nothing'. Self-reliance is very good up to a certain point. It is all right if it does not make us forget God, from Whom all good things come, and in Whom we live and move and have our being. The man who trusts in God does not become slack and careless. He knows that if he is trusting in God for help in his daily work he must put forth his best energies in order to be worthy of God's help. When we trust in God we are, as it were, admitting Him into partnership with ourselves. It therefore becomes necessary to try to live up to our high position. I want you to think of this as a message from God to you in the height of your prosperity, it may be, when all is going well with you. After all there is not much to be said for the man who only pretends to trust in God when he is in adversity, and as it were so far in a corner that he cannot help himself. It may be that he learns his lesson at such a time, and by finding what God can do for him then, learns to trust Him at all times. The trust that honours God, and which He desires, is that which is accorded to Him at all times, in the time of prosperity quite as much as in the time of adversity, for though we may not feel the need of His help then so much as we do in the time of adversity, it is quite true that our times of prosperity are just the times when we are tempted to forget God, and think we can do without Him.
We need to bear in mind the next verse.
II. Those who have not Really Tried it, sometimes Think that to have God always in our Minds must make them Dull and Weary.—They think that it is all very well for Sundays or for times of prayer, but to acknowledge God at all times, to be thinking constantly of Him, to be continually consulting Him, this they imagine would rob life of its freedom and its brightness. What a mistake they make! It is only when we take God into our lives that we are able to enjoy life to its fullest extent. For when we do that, we look at the world in a new light. Everything is transformed because it becomes to us part of God's world. The beauties of nature are a thousand times more lovely when we see God's handiwork in them, and there is a new attraction in our fellow-men, when we realize that they are children of the same heavenly Father as ourselves.
III. You need not Hold Back because you are afraid, if you try to act up to the exhortation of our text, and acknowledge God in everything, that you will be deprived of happiness and your life made gloomy. No, your joys will be multiplied a thousandfold, and you will have God's help in your work in times of difficulty and perplexity as well. And how much of our life is of this latter nature. We can see so little of what is before us that we often know not what to do. We are uncertain what course to take or what plans to make. But if it is our habit to acknowledge God in everything, to seek His guidance and to trust in Him, we have the assurance of His Word that 'we shall not be disappointed'.
References.—III. 6.—J. R. Crookes, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxxiii. 1908, p. 170. III. 7, 8.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 89. III. 9.—Ibid. p. 91. III. 9, 10.—J. Silvester, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxix. 1906, p. 245. III. 11, 12.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 93. III. 11-24.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Esther, Job, Proverbs, etc., p. 88. III. 13-15.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 99. III. 13, 19.—G. A. Chadwick, The Intellect and the Heart, p. 154. III. 14.—C. Perren, Revival Sermons in Outline, p. 252. III. 16, 17.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 102. III. 19, 20.—Ibid. p. 105. III. 26.—Ibid. p. 107. III. 27, 28.—Ibid. p. 111. III. 28.—S. A. Tipple, The Admiring Guest, p. 122. III. 33.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 116.
For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.
Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:
So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:
For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.
Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.
For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.
She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.
Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.
The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.
By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.
My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion:
So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck.
Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble.
When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.
Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh.
For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.
Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.
Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.
Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee.
Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm.
Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.
For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous.
The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just.
Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.
The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.