Divine Guidance
Isaiah 42:16
And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known…

1. In Scripture the word "blind" is used respecting the prejudiced and the proud. Their minds are perverted. The Pharisees could see no beauty in Christ, no excellence in His teaching, no evidence of Divine mission in His works. They were "blind leaders of the blind." It is employed also to denote the characteristic dulness and stupidity of the Israelites, as a people, perpetually lapsing into idolatry, breaking off from God, unable to see the blessedness of the path of truth and righteousness.

2. But there is still another meaning that is important. The word may mean simple ignorance. It may describe one who cannot see the right path because there is a mist upon it, and he is perplexed on account of this. There may be tenderness in the word rather than anger; gentle purposes of love implied rather than condemnation or rebuke. This helps us to understand the passage. The way of providence and grace in the darkness and perplexity of life may be thus graphically and forcibly expressed.

I. We have the frequent MYSTERY of God in providence and grace. We know not, and cannot trace, the way of God. The material, the vegetable, the animal, worlds are full of what is inscrutable. Thus it is with the course of individual life. We pursue our path, not knowing what may arise. We go forth like Abraham, "not knowing whither we go." Yet there is an eye that sees all, a mind that directs an, a hand that overrules all. We believe that every man lives in the Divine thought. Each has his separate course, duties, and responsibilities, from which he can no more escape than his shadow. Every one, like John, is called to fulfil this course. And God knows all. But to us, life has to discover itself as we go on, and often passages in it, and the end, look strange as compared with the beginning. We purpose one thing but God means another, e.g. Joseph, Elisha, Amos, Win. Carey, etc. So also as to grace. The leadings of God to fulfil His purposes are leadings of the blind. The methods He takes to enlighten the mind have infinite variety. While unconsciously men pursue a path they think their own, lo! it leads them within the circle of Divine influences which they never anticipated. Who would have thought that the vehement persecutor who stood by while the stones crashed down on Stephen, before he entered Damascus on his further errand of malice, would be met and subdued by all-conquering mercy? Who could have predicted that Lydia, of Thyatira, in pursuit of her business at Philippi, would find her heart opened to receive the truth, and be led to rejoice in far greater riches than the most prosperous trade could bring? What a surprise to Philemon that his runaway slave, who had played the thief, should be blessed under the apostle's ministry at Rome! Little did Francis Xavier think, when he entered the college of St. Barbs a gay and haughty youth, that one whom he scorned and despised would be the means of his conversion, and that the text, "What shall it profit a man?" so frequently repeated, would be the arrow of the Almighty to his soul. Little did West, the sceptical lawyer, think, when he sat down to tear in pieces, as he purposed, the arguments that prove the resurrection of Christ, that he would end in owning their unanswerableness, and his own spirit should bow before God. As little did another conceive that in attempting to hold up in caricature and contempt the apostle Paul, the spiritual power and greatness he beheld should lead him to become a disciple too. Passing words, casual association, incidental events, have had wonderful spiritual results. Men have regretted circumstances that have yet been made instrumental to their conversion. A young man has wept to lose a situation, but unwittingly has been led to another, where Divine grace has made him a "new creature." God works invisibly; His instrumentalities and agencies we often fall to recognise; but they are mighty to fulfil the counsels of His will, and thus "He brings the blind by a way they know not."

II. The KINDNESS as well as mystery of the Divine method is taught us in this passage. Probably, at some time, occasion has prompted you to guide for a few steps a blind man. He has wished to cross the road, and there is peril; or, groping his way along, there is some object which, unless he avoids it, will cause injury. The human tenderness that is in you has led you to be kind and true. But if such a spirit animates an imperfect man, shall we not take the Scripture assurance that the spirit of kindness characterises the infinite God, whose name is announced as Love T

1. The Divine guidance is kind because it is wise. Our God is of infinite counsel He knows our nature, tendencies, capacities, impulses, the action and influence of everything upon us. There are mountain passes, we are told, before traversing which the guides blindfold the travellers. They could not endure to see the awful precipices on either side. So it may be in some of the paths of life there are perils, and God guidance is an enigma, because He is dealing with us thus.

2. God's guidance is kind because it is patient. He bears with our disobedience and ingratitude, puts up with our manifold affronts and defiance, suffers long with our infirmities, and still exerts new influences that His gentleness may prevail.

3. God's guidance is kind because it is supporting. You have sometimes in country walks approached a hill It has seemed to rise with special steepness, but you have advanced, and strength has been equal, refreshing air and pleasant scenery have cheered. You have threaded your way through some intricate route towards a house or village, and thought you would never find it; but a token here and a footstep there have encouraged, and your journey's end has been gained. So up life's hills of difficulty and along its tortuous paths, a Divine hand leads and a Divine voice cheers.

III. The FAITHFULNESS Of the Divine guidance. "Not forsake." You have sometimes seen, perhaps, standing on the pavement or in a passage some little crying child. A careless mother has left it for a while, little thinking of distress or danger. Every sentiment of pity within you is moved, as in its sobs it cannot tell either its name or home. You may be reassured- The mother will return soon. But if it were indeed abandoned to cold and misery, in the driving storm and falling snow, no heart so hard but must be deeply compassionate. But this would be surpassed by the thought of a Christian, forsaken, if we could so conceive. A child of God deserted, with promises broken, blessings withdrawn, hopes disappointed, cast off in caprice and weariness — the woe of such an one would rise to the very height of distress. But this can never be. He has pledged His word, and with Moses we should exclaim, "What would become of Thy great name?" The universe in ruins would be an appalling wreck. But this could be nothing compared with the wreck of the Divine character. Dr. Whewell has said, "The whole earth from pole to pole, from centre to circumference, is employed in keeping a snowdrop in the position best suited for the promotion of its vegetable health." Doth God provide for the flower; and shall He not guard His people?

(G. Macmichael, B. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.

WEB: I will bring the blind by a way that they don't know. I will lead them in paths that they don't know. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight. I will do these things, and I will not forsake them.

Darkness, Light; and Crooked Things Straight
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