“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.”
When you read this mediation, you will have entered into a new span of time. It will be the year of our Lord, 1971!
What this new year holds in it for each of us, only the Lord knows. He knows the end from the beginning! He planned and carefully laid out the scheme for all the ages. Surely also all the future is determined by His wise and unchangeable counsel to its minutest details. He himself hath declared: “I am god, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” But we know not the times, not the things He has planned for our lives in the year that is before us! In some respects, our entrance into this New Year is like stepping into a great unknown!
The days in which we live already bring to men’s hearts trepidation and perplexity; and the unescapable question concerning the unknown future can only add to the confusion and unrest!
We need counsel!
We need good counsel!
Good counsel for the future!
It is granted today, even in the world, whether men accept it or reject it, seek it or ignore it, that it is wise to have good counsel. The high school student is told at the beginning of the semester who his counselor is. The one who is troubled in soul is advised to see a psychiatrist for counseling. In homes where there is marital difficulty, advice is given to seek a counselor. The President will call in his advisors to counsel with them as to the future progress of the war and its possible cessation; the economic problems, such as inflation and the rising costs of living, etc. The business man and the farmer, the professional and the layman, all need advice; and if they are wise, they will seek it where it is best obtained.
The child of God also needs counsel!
Also as he enters into the unknown of 1967!
That good advice is given us in the words of our text!
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!
Trust in Jehovah!
That is, let all your confidence go in the direction of Him Who is your covenant God! To trust is to place confidence in someone or something, to set your hope on that object. Much the same idea is expressed in the middle part of the text, namely, to lean on, which means to repose confidence in or upon a substantial object. So that one who trusts looks away from himself and finds another or something else as an object upon which he relies.
Trusting is a principle element of faith! Faith is not only a certain, an assured knowledge, but also a hearty confidence. These two elements, though they may be distinguished, are always inseparably connected. You do not put your confidence in one whom you do not know. Therefore, shall we place our confidence upon one, we must first know him as a worthy object of trust.
Trusting is an activity of the heart!
The heart is the center of our spiritual, moral life! Out of the heart are all the issues of life: all our thinking, willing, and desiring. These all find their fountain and source in the center of our spiritual being, the heart. As man thinketh in his heart, so is he. All my outward actions, all the deeds of my body, find their motivation, their propelling force in the heart. Not only do I know the object of my trust with the spiritual, experiential knowledge of the heart, but also the confidence and implicit trust which I place in that object has its source and fountain-head in that heart.
Trust with all thine heart!
O, it is possible that one does not place all his trust in its object. Sometimes we are double-hearted, and when this is so, our confidence is pulled apart in the direction of two or more objects of trust. And this situation can only bring with it mistrust and fear. Then confidence, complete confidence, is destroyed! Shall we obtain complete confidence, therefore, it must come from a heart that is single. The child of God is exhorted here to trust with his whole heart, not half-heartedly!
And let not that object of trust be our own understanding! Foolish that would be, indeed, when we need counsel, to then lean on, confide in, our own understanding! One who does this, clearly indicates that he is independent, not in need of help and advice. One who leans on his own understanding believes that he has great intelligence; he knows it all, and he needs not to be instructed! Moreover, leaning on our own understanding, that intelligent faculty of our mind, whereby we skillfully weigh and analyze things, has become darkness. The carnal mind which is enmity against God, no longer discerns correctly from an ethical point of view. Even the understanding of the regenerate man is not to be perfectly trusted. Indeed, it understands much. In principle it sees correctly, and as it is sanctified by the Spirit it is also to be trusted. But do not lean on it too confidently. For in the child of God the darkness of the old man of sin still is present. To will may be present, but how to perform that which he wills he does not often realize.
The only worthy object of trust is Jehovah thy God!
Jehovah is the faithful One!
Faithful is He in respect to Himself; and faithful is He in respect to His own covenant people! What He promises He fulfills! His promises are YEA and AMEN in Christ Jesus!
Trust in Him Only!
In all your ways acknowledge Him!
In all your ways, is a figurative expression. One’s way is his mode of life, the way he lives, and especially his lot, what he experiences in life. That the term appears in the plural evidently refers to the fact that life is made up of various departments. We have a way with our families. We have a way with our church. We have a way with our daily occupation. We have a way that relates to the world in which we live. We have a way with respect to the state, to the government, to the war, to the economic and social problems of our times.
Your ways, refers not to the ways of the ungodly, but the ways of the child of God; the child of God who has learned by grace to live antithetically, or shall we say, thetically in the midst of the world. He strives to live according to all the precepts of Jehovah his God. He lives out of the principle of regeneration, out of a heart that cannot sin because it is born of God. He lives from the principle that he loves God. He seeks the city which has foundations. He loves righteousness, and strives to walk in sanctification. He seeks peace and pursues it. And because he so lives, he meets opposition. The antithesis surrounds him in all his ways. Even the flesh in which he dwells takes side with the enemies that oppose him.
Such are the ways of the child of God in the world, also in the world of 1967!
Therefore shall he walk safely, it is necessary that in all his ways he knows Jehovah!
That means, in all his ways he must discover Jehovah his God! Not merely does it mean that he sees Jehovah in all his ways. That, too, of course! But the meaning is deeper than that! It means that everywhere he goes, in whatever he does, and in all the experiences of life, Jehovah is his constant companion! When we acknowledge Him in all our ways, then we live in the spiritual consciousness that He holds us by the hand, and surrounds us with His love and tender care!
And this is the comforting promise Jehovah gives: I will direct your paths!
That means that He will make our paths straight!
Jehovah’s paths are always straight, i.e., upright, good, never crooked and perverse. When He makes our paths straight, they coincide with His. Knowing Him in all our ways makes all our ways His ways!
Such is the promise that is given to those trusting in Jehovah!
The wicked and rebellious, the unbelieving and disobedient, always walk in crooked ways, that can only end in confusion, disappointment, and ultimately desolation.
The believer, on the other hand, who knows Jehovah his God, and then puts all his confidence in Him, and therefore discovers Jehovah in all his ways, and experiences His constant fellowship, finds his paths made straight!
Those trusting in Him shall not be ashamed!
The very trusting is His work in us to straighten us out within, the fruit of which will be seen also in the life we live, and on the paths we walk!
Therefore, beloved, commit thy ways unto Jehovah; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass!
And be sure not to lean on your own understanding!