Proverbs 3:5
Proverbs 3:5, 6, 7 (first part)
If we would realize God's thought concerning us, we shall -

I. CHERISH A DEEP DISTRUST OF OURSELVES. We are not to "lean unto our own understanding," or to "be wise in our own eyes" (vers. 5, 7).

1. We shall certainly have a sense of our own insufficiency if we weigh our own human weakness; if we consider how little we know of

(1) human nature generally; and of

(2) our own hearts in particular; of

(3) the real character and disposition of those connected with us; of

(4) the whole circle of law by which we are surrounded on every side; of

(5) the events which are in the (even) near future; of

(6) the ultimate effect of our decisions on our circumstances and our character.

2. So also if we consider the disastrous results that have followed presumption in this matter. How often have we seen men, confident of their own capacity, staking everything on their own judgment, and miserably disappointed with the issue! Men of this spirit, who carry self-reliance (which is a virtue) to an exaggerated and false assurance of their own sagacity, not only dig a deep grave for their own happiness, but usually involve others also in their ruin. Neither in

(1) the affairs of this life, nor

(2) in the larger issues of the spiritual realm, should we lean all the weight of our own and of others' prosperity on our own poor finite understanding.

II. LOOK DEVOUTLY UPWARD. We are to maintain:

1. A whole-hearted trust in God (ver. 5). A profound assurance that

(1) he is regarding us;

(2) he is divinely interested in our welfare;

(3) he will see that we have all we need, and go in the way in which it is best for us to walk.

2. A continual acknowledgment (ver. 6). We are to acknowledge God

(1) by referring everything to him in our own heart;

(2) by consulting and applying his will as revealed in his Word;

(3) by praying for and expecting his Divine direction; so shall we acknowledge him "in all our ways."

This trust and acknowledgment are inclusive and not exclusive of our own individual endeavour. We are to think well, to consult wisely, to act diligently, and then to trust wholly. Whoso does the last without the first is guiltily and daringly presumptuous; whoso does the first without the last is guiltily irreverent and unbelieving.

III. RECKON CONFIDENTLY ON DIVINE DIRECTION. "He shall direct thy paths" (ver. 6). As a very little child, left alone in the streets of a great city, can but wander aimlessly about, and will surely fail of reaching home, so we, lost in the maze of this seething, struggling, incomprehensible world - world of circumstance and world of thought - can but make vain guesses as to our true course, and are certain to wander far from the home of God. What the shrewdest and cleverest of men most urgently and sorely need is the guiding hand of a heavenly Father, who, through all the labyrinths of life, past all the by paths of error and evil, will conduct us to truth, righteousness, wisdom, heaven. If we trust him wholly, and acknowledge him freely and fully, we may confidently expect that he will

(1) lead our feet along the path of outward life;

(2) guide our minds into the sanctuary of heavenly truth;

(3) help our souls up the ennobling heights of holiness;

(4) direct our steps to the gates of the city of God; and

(5) finally welcome us within its "golden streets." - C.







Trust in the Lord... lean not to thine own understanding.
The question is, not whether we shall use reason, but what are its limits? Shall we accept only what we can understand and explain, and refuse all which does not quadrate with our reason? Is Faith, with her delicate ear, her quick sensibility, and wondrous prescience, to have no place? In the power of modern reason can we know every inch of our way?

1. How is it in the business world? The activities of men are put forth in faith and trust. Commerce would fold her wings but for this principle of faith.

2. How is it in still more practical life?

3. History and mental science teach us the folly of leaning to our own understanding.

4. In Biblical and scientific theology may be found further illustration of the text. When the believer is in Christ, faith points the way to higher circles of truth. Much that is beyond reason does not contradict reason.

(Stephen R. Dennen, D.D.)

Homiletic Monthly.
I. THE INSUFFICIENCY OF THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING.

1. Its inherent weakness.

2. The brevity of its experience, making it impossible to form right conclusions upon those concerns which extend into eternity backward and forward.

3. Its limit in space. The universe extends beyond reach of finite imagination.

4. It has no certain communion with the spirit world; hence eternal things are not to be trusted to our understanding.

II. THE SUFFICIENCY OF GOD.

1. He knows all things thoroughly as Creator and Preserver.

2. He has power over all things.

3. His love for us is unlimited.Conclusion:

1. Oppose scepticism as one of the follies of a weak understanding.

2. Surrender wholly to God's guidance.

(Homiletic Monthly.)

I. WHAT IS IT TO TRUST IN THE LORD?

1. To be persuaded that He is able to counsel thee what to do.

2. That He is willing and able to give wholesome advice to those who need it.

3. To look unto God for counsel.

4. Confidently to expect seasonable directions from Him.

II. WHY IS IT A DUTY TO TRUST IN THE LORD?

1. Everyone is bound to order his affairs the best he can.

2. It is a right acknowledgment of God.

3. It is following the inclination of a generous heart.Lessons:

1. They act sinfully and foolishly who do not wholly trust in the Lord for direction in their affairs.

2. Do what God's holy ones of old used to do — make Him thy oracle, counsel, guide.

(George Barker.)

God in everything requires the heart, the undivided heart. In the text is one great secret of the Divine life, the principle on which it rests, the food by which it is fed. It is to be taken from all worldly dependencies and securities, and resting in the consciousness of being one with God, in holy fellowship, in perpetual nourishment and support. Men commonly fail in the practical outworking of their trust, in their daily employment, and experience and walk. Earthly instruments are too much sought and relied upon independently of God.

I. THE AFFECTIONS MAY BE, AND OFTEN ARE, VIOLENTLY EXCITED AND WORKED UPON, AND YET NOT BROUGHT TO A HOLY SUBJECTION UNTO GOD. There may be, with much religious warmth and sentiment, no small remnant of the evil temper and ungoverned will; even in humility itself an arrogant and self-righteous display, as if the sinner were more humble than his neighbour, as if he had a merit in God's sight on account of his numerous and extravagant lamentations. Great numbers are held in a chain of error under the notion of a spiritual superiority; they are really full of a miserable conceit.

II. MANY BELIEVE ALL THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE, AND CLAIM FOR THEMSELVES A PECULIAR SOUNDNESS AND PURITY OF FAITH, IN WHOM THAT FAITH IS BUT A SPECULATIVE MATTER, AND NOT AN OPERATIVE PRINCIPLE. Men deceive themselves with notions of faith, and take up with that which is not real, which has no life in it. That which is trusted to as principle is so received as to be no principle at all; is a mere assent of the understanding, and not a conviction working in the heart. Nothing can be right and true, no tenet, no belief, which does not incorporate us with God, and bring us into subjection to Him.

III. THE ORDINANCES AND MEANS OF GRACE MAY BE UTTERLY INEFFECTUAL. Prayer is unavailing if unaccompanied with any trust, any abiding trust, in God. All our means and talents are given for active, diligent employment. Faith is to be continually remaining as a vital energy in the breast, as the monitor and guide, as the comfort and support, of all true believers, whatever they do, wherever they go. It produces not only a leaning upon Divine grace on particular occasions of meditation or devotion, but an unfailing regard to God's providential wisdom and goodness and government in daily life. God is in everything, above all, through all, in all. To those who wholly trust in God, not leaning to their own understanding, but ready in all things to obey His will and Word, the Lord will be a perpetual guide. There is a mystic intercourse, an invisible superintendence, a secret agency, a leading hand, always near and always employed for the safety and well-being of those who commit themselves implicitly and faithfully to the Lord's holy keeping.

(J. Slade, M. A.)

Hope is ever accompanied with trust, reliance, and confidence on something, and it is either well or ill grounded. What is there besides God on which we are apt to repose our trust? Fortune or chance; the favour of the world; friends; riches and power; men's own abilities, caution, forecast, prudence, and diligence. There is nothing in which we can reasonably trust, except the Divine Providence.

1. That our reliance may be rational, we should know what it is that God hath promised, and what we may expect from Him. No absolute and unconditioned promises of material blessings are made to us. We are promised contentment and peace of mind. He who is contented cannot be unhappy.

2. Reliance must be accompanied with obedience, with a serious and settled purpose, and with honest endeavours to do the things which are pleasing to God.

3. Reliance on God is founded on —

(1)His goodness;

(2)the relation between Him and us;

(3)His promises.

4. Reliance is a duty which is not to be exercised, and cannot be exercised, by the wicked. They who will not serve God commonly put no confidence in Him. They fear Him perhaps, but they love Him not. Obedience to God is naturally accompanied with reliance on God.

5. Reliance on God should be accompanied with supplications to Him to bless us.

6. Reliance should be united with diligence and prudence in our worldly affairs.

7. Reliance excludes immoderate cares, and vain desires, and fretful discontent, and dissatisfaction; for he who firmly believes that all is ordered for the best, and shall conduce to his happiness, cannot live in slavish subjection to these turbulent passions. Reliance will not make a man insensible to trouble, but it will have a considerable effect towards regulating his affections and composing his heart, and producing an acquiescence to the will of God.

8. Reliance is a noble virtue, and a disposition of mind most agreeable to God. God hath made singular promises in favour of it. Reliance is thus acceptable because it implies love for God, and desire to please Him; and because it is the greatest honour we can pay to Him.

(J. Jortin, D. D.)

I. THE GOOD TO BE SECURED.

1. Supreme trust. This means, undoubtingly; undividedly; lovingly.

2. Supreme trust in the supremely good. "In the Lord." The All-wise; the All-loving; the All-holy; the All-mighty.

II. THE EVIL TO BE AVOIDED. "Lean not to thine own understanding."

1. This is a prevalent evil. Men do it in all departments — business, politics, literature, and religion.

2. This is a patent evil. It is clear to all. Reason shows it. History shows it. Individual experience shows it.

(D. Thomas, D.D.)

Trusting in the Lord does not mean that we may not use our own understanding, forming our plans with discretion, and with all possible foresight and precaution, and in pursuing our ends employing all suitable and legitimate means. There is a legitimate using of the understanding that is not chargeable with "leaning to it." While we use it we are to depend on God for success, trust in the promises of His Word, and in the care and overruling direction of His providence. As dependence upon God for strength to resist temptation does not preclude our applying all the energy of our minds, so dependence upon Him for direction in our ways does not set aside the employment of our own prudence and sagacity. God is the Supreme Director of all events, whose concurrent will is essential to the success of every measure; without it all the thoughts of men are vain, turning out subversive of their own designs and subservient to God's.

(R. Wardlaw, D. D.)

A thing may be useful which we must not lean upon, lest it should break and let us fall; a reed from an osier-bed is very useful to make baskets, but you should not lean upon it. So our understandings are very useful, but the best of them are not sufficiently strong to lean upon.

(Chicago Sunday School Teacher.)

As we emerge from childhood, we learn to suspect the wisdom of our wishes. From some eminence in our pilgrimage we look back on the path, and see plainly how much of our trouble was caused by resolutely following our own will. We see how we sometimes turned aside from the true way because it seemed rough and circuitous; and how, in other places, attracted by the flowers or the scenery, we neglected the map and the sign-posts, and wandered among bogs and thickets, where we floundered in mire, or were torn with thorns; and to precipices, where we stumbled and were bruised, and might have perished. Thus, by bitter experience, we have learned that our will is not always the wisest. What we have prescribed to ourselves as medicine has proved to be poison; the cup we have clutched as sweeter than honey has become more bitter than gall. We resolved to take the helm into our own hands, and have struck on hidden rocks. We have gone where the moss was brightest, and the quagmire has nearly choked us. We have glided where the ice seemed smoothest, and it has given way in the moment of our greatest exhilaration.

(Newman Hall.)

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