O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps.
I. NATURAL ACTION. Man's action in life complex, involving two distinct parts, of which he has only one in himself — the power of natural action.
1. Its ease. Just the simple putting forth of the power of life; going on, without thinking if right or wrong. Danger of forgetting a deficiency in this part progression: mistake a part for the whole. We think we can act aright, simply because we have the power of action at all. It is as if the ship could reach the port just because she has undoubted capacities for sailing, though no helmsman or compass.
2. This mere power of natural action has a tendency to mislead. It makes a man unreflective. Proneness to slight the invisible, because it does not intrude itself upon us, although the things of this life have inseparable association with those hidden from sight in another world. Thus man's "walk" may do much as regards this life, but alas! how little effect for the world beyond. Leads to a waste of strength; for toil where nothing can be taken, and inaction where much might be won.
II. NEEDFUL DIRECTION.
1. Take care to go out of ourselves for direction. Shall not remedy the matter by taking more thought. When we have done much in that way, it will only be "man that walketh," directing his own steps; doing it more carefully, but still doing it himself. Thus going out of self may be humiliating.
2. The advantages of this going out of self. There will flow in upon us wisdom from above.
3. But we must yield ourselves to God to be ordered. Content to be led by ways we know not.
4. Ways are not really open, because apparently so. Nor because we can do this thing or that, is it therefore right. Because of this error, we have often gone into spheres where God is not, and where we should not have been.
5. Success before the world is not, therefore, a proof of our being right, nor of success in our relationship towards God. Failure here leaves our work but as "wood, hay, stubble." Danger of being too eager for success.
6. Learn not to put implicit confidence in energy or action. It is likely to mislead; may make the "man" prominent in us, and not God.
(P. B. Power, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.