Lest We Forget
The Book of Proverbs speaks several times of the danger of forgetting God and His Commandments. We are firmly convinced that herein is a danger that we all need to consider with care. We will consider several warnings about forgetting, that are to be found in Deuteronomy and in the Psalms.
1. Forget not His Covenant (Deuteronomy 4:23-31). God never forgets His pledges to His people. It is interesting to study His Covenant to Abraham concerning his seed. Abraham may often have despaired, and thought himself forgotten, but in the end all was fulfilled.
Deuteronomy 4:31 emphasizes that God will not forget His Covenant which He sware unto their fathers, that He would bring them back. For this cause we are today seeing God turning once more toward His people.
2. Forget not His Commandments (Deuteronomy 8:11-19). How true to life is the Word of God. He says, "Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses," etc., etc., then thy heart be lifted up and thou forget the Lord thy God.
In the times of need we draw nigh to God; then, in the times of our bounty, we often become self-centered, and glory in the works of our own hands, saying, "My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth."
3. Forget not wherein we sinned (Deuteronomy 9:7-12). After we have sinned, repented, and been forgiven, we sometimes fail to remember the stumblingblock where we left the Lord. God would remind us of our sins lest we forget, and fall again at the same place.
Sin number one was bad enough; but to sin again in the same way demonstrates a rebellious and forgetful spirit.
4. Forget not His works (Psalms 78:7-11). How wonderful are the works of God, which He has wrought in our behalf! He had done much for Israel. And He commanded Israel that they should tell His wondrous doings unto their children, that they should not forget the Lord and His wonderful works.
Israel, however, soon failed to remember God's deliverances and His wondrous blessings, which He had wrought for them. They kept not His Covenant, they refused to walk in His Law, and they "forgat His works, and His wonders that He had shewed them." They even tempted the Lord their God in their hearts; they were lead away by their lusts; they turned back, and limited the Holy One of Israel; yea; they tempted God and dealt unfaithfully.
5. Forget not His benefits (Psalms 103:1-19). Instead of forgetting, we are called upon to bless the Lord. Here is the way our Psalm reads: "Bless the Lord, O ray soul, and forget not all His benefits." Then the Psalmist goes on to enumerate his benefits.
1. "Who forgiveth all thine iniquities."
2. "Who healeth all thy diseases."
3. "Who redeemeth thy life from destruction."
4. "Who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies."
5. "Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things."
6. Who reneweth thy youth as the eagle's.
7. Who executeth righteousness, and judgment for the oppressed.
6. Forget not Jerusalem (Psalms 137:1-19). There are some who will immediately object that we have no call to remember Jerusalem. Well, the Psalmist did not so feel about it. He said, "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth."
We are just as sure that God has not forgotten Jerusalem. He has kept her in His heart during all of the days of her wanderings, and He will yet remember her with mercies.
Let us, then, also pray for Jerusalem, for, "They shall prosper that love thee."
I. THE BLESSING OF KEEPING HIS LAW (Proverbs 3:1-2)
1. The admonition, "Forget not My Law." The word "Law" may, by some, be ruled out of this dispensation of grace. And so far as salvation by the works of the Law is concerned, it has no place, and never did have a place in the economy of God. We are saved by grace, through faith, and not of works.
We suggest, however, that the word "Law" in our text has a very wide significance. It means the words of God covering the will of God, given for our good. His "Law" includes not only rules of conduct, but also rules covering every phase of life.
2. The Call: Let thine heart keep My Commandments. God asks for more than a mere legal keeping of His Law. He wants a heartfelt and heart-appreciative keeping. It is not enough to do His will; but, in all we do, to do heartily; to do it with joy and gladness. The reason for this part of God's Word is made known in the next statement, Deuteronomy 4:2 :
3. The promise: "For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee." Now we learn how beneficent are the laws and Commandments of our God. God does not command in order to display His authority. He does not demand as a demigod would demand, only for his own good. He makes His laws and gives His commands for the good of His people.
Think of the blessings which obedience brings:
(1) There is length of days and long life. This is one of the blessings of obedience. It is not merely that the keeping of God's laws will cause God to work a miracle in granting long life to the obedient as a reward; but also that obedience to His laws has a natural assurance of long life. We, personally, have no doubt that it is physically beneficial to obey God, and that God, in making laws, accordingly had our length of days in mind.
(2) There is peace. Disobedience to God's laws brings misery and unhappiness. Obedience brings length of days and peace, withal.
Let us, therefore, follow the things that make for peace.
II. A DELIGHTFUL ORNAMENT FOR THE NECK (Proverbs 3:3-4)
1. The twin sisters, mercy and truth. These two graces will form a chain of greatest price, and will prove an ornament in which God will, Himself, rejoice.
Mercy is that grace in life that shows kindness even to the undeserving. If we see mercy forsaking us, and leaving us filled with harshness and bitterness, let us beware.
Truth is the opposite of error. Christ said "I am the Truth." Some men live in so much of error that they cry, like Pilate, "What is truth?" If we follow after the spirit of antichrist, we will find that truth will forsake us, and God will give us over to the believing of a lie.
2. Mercy and truth should adorn our necks and warm our hearts. We should bind them to us, and write them on the tables of our hearts. If we find ourselves afraid of truth, and shunning mercy, we are to be pitied, indeed.
In this word the Proverbs are in line with many Scriptures. Read Second and Third John, and you will discover how vital truth is to the saint. John writes, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." In First John we are taught, in chapter 4, how to discern between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Then in chapter 3, we read: "Hereby we know that we are of the truth."
It is the same with mercy. If we have the spirit of God we will have the spirit of mercy. Mercy is also set forth in John's Epistle when he speaks of our shutting up our bowels of compassion.
James tells us that the wisdom from above is full of mercy. He also tells us, "For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment."
3. Truth and mercy will cause us to find favor in both the sight of God and of men. Even men of the world, and, above all, men of God, will praise those who walk after truth and follow after mercy. God will grant favor to such, for He is Mercy and He is Truth, Following error and showing judgment may give us a sway among devil-deluded men, but not so with true men and with God, where favor is most worth while.
III. A CALL TO PERFECT TRUST (Proverbs 3:5)
1. A call to heartfelt trust. Here, hidden away in the Book of Proverbs, we have found a very vital statement of evangelical faith. Faith is trust. Faith is more than trust, it is heartfelt trust.
The Holy Spirit emphasized this when He said to the eunuch, "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." The Holy Spirit said a similar thing when he wrote by Paul, "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness." The only difference is that in Proverbs the word "trust" is used, while in the New Testament the word is "believe."
In Bible terminology, faith, trust, and believe, all are the expressions of a heart affiance, and confidence that brings salvation.
2. A call to trust in the Lord. Proverbs does not merely say, "Trust with all thy heart," but it says, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart." It is not a trust in man, nor a trust in the statement of creed; it is trust in the Lord. The Lord is worthy of trust because He is ever true; and He is Truth. He is worthy of trust because He is faithful to all of His promises. He never fails His own. He is worthy of trust because He is, Himself, our Sacrifice for sin, our Saviour.
3. A call to trust, as against leaning to our own understanding. Be we as wise as Solomon, or be we as well versed in knowledge as he, we dare not set our own understanding up against anything that God has spoken.
Take the story of creation as it is written, and believe God against the words of any man. If you ask what is the province of our mind, we reply it is for this, that it may be renewed by the Holy Ghost.
Trust in the Lord and lean upon Him, and not upon our own understanding.
IV. THE KEY TO DIVINE GUIDANCE (Proverbs 3:6)
1.Deuteronomy 4:6; Deuteronomy 4:6 is a postscript to Deuteronomy 4:5.Deuteronomy 4:5; Deuteronomy 4:5 said, "Lean not unto thine own understanding"; Deuteronomy 4:6 says, "In all thy ways acknowledge Him." Surely if we are leaning upon our own wisdom, or upon our own understanding, we will not acknowledge Him.
Here is the source of many life failures. We begin early to assert our own "think-sos," and "feel-sos," against our parents'; and, later on, we take up the same attitude against our God.
How often do some little two-year-olds, resent the will of their parents! Some will even slap their mother, or make a drive at their father.
This is sadly true in adults, many of them; they will not hear the voice of God, and, if they hear, they will not heed. They deliberately refuse God's will and way, and turn to their own.
The Spirit in Isaiah 53:1-12 put it this way: "We have turned every one to his own way." John, in the Spirit, put it thus: "Sin is the transgression of the Law." To transgress is to go across. It is, simply stated, no more than plain contrariness. It is taking our own way as against God's.
2. Our verse gives the positive path to Divine guidance. Here it is: "Acknowledge Him." How can God direct the path of anyone who refuses to acknowledge Him?
If God tells one who is not ready to acknowledge the Lord, to do this or that, He is merely wasting His energy. God cannot guide the unyielded spirit.
Here is the way it is written in Romans 12:1-21 : "Present your bodies a living sacrifice * * be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind"; then what? "That ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
So it is also in Proverbs:
"Trust in the Lord"; "Lean not unto thine own understanding"; "In all thy ways acknowledge Him"; then what? "And He shall direct thy paths."
V. A WARNING AGAINST SELF-WISDOM (Proverbs 3:7)
1. "Be not wise in thine own eyes." Here is an admonition that is certainly worth while. Self-conceit is a most dreadful disease. It goes far toward making one obnoxious in the eyes of others. God has said, "Not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think."
Pride of self-wisdom is just as evil as any other pride. It is the high look, and the thing which exalts itself, that God will bring low. "The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down." "The day of the Lord of Hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one. that is lifted up."
2. "Depart from evil." This second admonition is also greatly needed. Many youths take pleasure in playing with sin. They like to play with a serpent, or a viper. Some go so far as to say that every young person must have his or her fling. They imagine that youth is the time for folly, and for the sowing of wild oats. If that be true, then full growth is the place for the harvesting of every evil deed. It is written: "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." If we sow to the wind, we shall reap the whirlwind; thus we reap even more than we sow.
Let no one imagine that there is some fairy with a magical wand to change the evil fruitage of youth. God has made unerring laws to cover the wages of social, and of other sins. Evil will pass down, in its physical effects, unto the third and the fourth generation.
3. "Depart from evil. It shall be health * *, marrow to thy bones." This is true to experience. He who shuns every evil way, and every evil fleshly desire, will find that it will mean much toward physical health and strength. Evil saps every physical power that tends to stalwart manhood or womanhood.
If you want health in old age, have sobriety in your youth. If you sow to the flesh, you will pay for every seed which you sow, in physical and mental and spiritual suffering.
VI. THE LAWS OF GIVING AND RECEIVING (Proverbs 3:9-10)
1. Giving unto the Lord of the first fruits. Our verse reads: "Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase."
Surely we have found one way at least in which we may give honor to the Lord. We may honor Him in our giving. We may particularly honor Him in giving Him of our first fruits. To him who would give God the sick, or the lame, or the thing which is polluted, God says, "A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a Father, where is Mine honour? and if I be a Master, where is My fear?" So real giving does give honor to the Lord.
Real giving also means first-fruit giving. In this grace, as in every other phase of Christian living, Christ must be first. It is not for us to first retain for ourselves certain blessings, and then to give to God what is left over. Before we use anything for self, we must take out the first fruits for God.
If we follow the injunction of Elijah, when he said to the woman, "Make me thereof a little cake first," we shall do well. If we do as the Corinthians did, and first give ourselves to the Lord, we will have no trouble in the proper and Scriptural method of "giving our substance."
2. Receiving from the Lord His bounties. Our verse, Proverbs 3:10, says, "So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine." The Spirit of God does not make this promise of assured bounties with the thought of inveigling saints into the giving of their first fruits unto God. He says this as an encouragement to obedience, to be sure; but He is emphasizing that God will not allow any of His servants to outgive Him.
"A man there was (though some may count him mad),
The more he cast away, the more he had."
Of course he did have more, because he was only "casting it away" so far as human eyes go. In the sight of God he was laying up treasures in Heaven, and at the same time gaining increased earthly harvests down here. For my part I will continue giving to the Lord, knowing that He will receive it with joy; even as I receive with joy all that He so bountifully gives me.
VII. THE BLESSINGS OF CHASTISEMENT (Proverbs 3:11-12)
1. The Lord chasteneth us as sons. There is a great deal of difference between the chastening of a slave and of a son. We are sons. We are not only sons, but we are sons well beloved in the sight of the Lord. The Master may chasten His slave for the master's good, more than for the slave's good. The whip is used in order to create a fear in the heart of the slave, that will force him to faithful service. The son is chastened for his own good.
In the Book of Hebrews where the Holy Spirit quotes the words of Proverbs, He enlarges upon them, with this statement: "He (chasteneth us) for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness."
It is true that no chastening for the present time seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: "Nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."
2. The Lord chasteneth whom He loveth. We must not think for one moment that, when we are corrected by the Divine hand, we are cast off as despised and rejected. Not at all. God's corrections are a sign of His love. Not only that, but He corrects us because He delighteth in us.
Some parents may imagine that they should never correct their children or chasten them. Such a conception is altogether contrary to a properly directed love. If we want our children to grow up in sin and willfulness, we need but to leave them to their own way. God chastens us because He wants to bring us back into the place of righteousness and true holiness.
Let us, therefore, not despise His chastenings, neither let us weary of His corrections. If we receive not the chastening of the Lord, we know that we are not sons, but bastards. True sonship means a faithful and a wise child-training, and true fatherhood will be sure to exert this corrective training.
The following words from Miss Havergal are right in line with the spirit of thankfulness that should grip us all for God's goodness! to us.
All God's goodness to us is humbling. The more He does for us, the more ready we are to say, "I am not worthy of the least of all Thy mercies, and of all the truth, which Thou hast showed unto Thy servant." The weight of a great answer to prayer seems almost too much for us. The grace of it is "too wonderful" for us. It throws up in such startling relief the disproportion between our little, poor, feeble cry, and the great shining response of God's heart and hand that we can only say: "Who am I. O Lord God, that thou hast brought me hitherto? Is this the manner of man, O Lord God?" But it is more humbling still, when we stand face to face with great things which the Lord has done for us and given us, which we never asked at all, never even thought of asking royal bounty, with which not even a prayer had to do. It is so humbling to get a view of these, that Satan tries to set up a false humility to hinder us from Standing still and considering how great things the Lord has done for us; thus he also contrives to defraud our generous God of the glory due unto His Name. For, of course, we do not praise for what we will not recognize. Let us try to baffle this device today, and give thanks for the overwhelming mercies for which we never asked. Frances R. Havergal.
Seeking after Wisdom
1. The wise man versus the foolish man. Many a man who thinks himself to be wise is a fool. Why? Because he is building his hopes upon the sand. Perhaps it was his wisdom that made him self-confident. He did not care to listen to God, for he was worldly wise. He thought himself proficient in all things. He needed no Rock, Christ Jesus, so he thought, because he was able to build up his own method of salvation.
Alas to such an one, when he awakes to find out that all his human wisdom was but the shifting, sinking sand. The wisdom of God, that demands the Rock Christ Jesus, he esteemed not. Therefore when the floods came and the winds blew, down he went. Let us learn this lesson: the philosophizing of worldly wisdom is not a safe foundation for eternity building.
2. The words of the foolish. What are they? I have "much goods laid up for many years." He says to his soul, "Soul * * take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry." Alas, for God says "Thou fool." This fool was worldly wise. How else could he have accumulated so much goods? He not only accumulated, but he laid his goods by in well-built barns, for safe keeping. He again showed himself humanly wise.
No doubt the people all thought him a man of wisdom; God said he was a fool. He had, indeed, secured himself against a present-hour famine; but he had laid up nothing against the day of death; he had nothing laid by where moth and rust do not corrupt, and where thieves break not through nor steal,
3. The atheism of the fool. Our Scripture says, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." Perhaps this fool was a wise man, as men count wisdom. He was wise in things "under the sun" but knew nothing of the things Divine. He, no doubt, boasted his learning, his wisdom, his lore. In his wisdom, however, he knew not God.
His wisdom proved him a fool, inasmuch as he vainly and foolishly thought, in wisdom, that he could live as he listed, and be corrupt; he thought he could do abominable works. God looked down and saw that neither did he understand nor did he seek after, God. Therefore God said, "The fool hath said"; and God also said, "Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge?"
4. When the wise are fools. We are in India as we write. No one dares to tell us that the people of India who worship idols, and who seem to know so little of God, are all ignorant. Not so. Among them are the ignorant, but among them are also many of India's greatest men men of culture and of learning. They are university men, men who are wise, as the world counts wisdom. Some of these men in India can rank among the earth's great men. Yet, are they wise as God reckons wisdom?
Here is their description: "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." Then we read that they "changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator." Thus God has given them up to a reprobate mind, because they did not like to retain God in their knowledge. All we have said of certain men in India, we may say of certain men in America.
5. Worldly wisdom is foolishness with God. Listen to the Scripture, "God made foolish the wisdom of this world." "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise." "The world by wisdom knew not God." "The foolishness of God is wiser than men." "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise." "Your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men."
Such words as the above should cause the worldly-wise man to ponder. These words breathe the deepest conviction of truth.
I. WHERE WISDOM MAY BE FOUND (Proverbs 3:13)
1. "Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding." The expression, "that getteth understanding" is easy for the world to grasp. It would say that understanding may be found in our colleges and universities. How, then, we ask, can trustworthy understanding come from a place which has a false wisdom?
If wisdom's findings are false, then wisdom's teachings will be just as false. Understanding may be a "getting," but it must be gotten where true wisdom is to be found.
Now we ask, where can wisdom be found? We thought, perhaps, that it was to be acquired by years of deepest study and search in the human storehouses of ancient and modern lore.
Mark, then, these words: "For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding" (Proverbs 2:6). "He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous." It is only when we are in touch with God, and walk in His ways, that wisdom will enter into our heart.
2. A firm conviction with us. We may be called fanatical, and foolish; we are willing to bear that shame; yet we still think that true wisdom may be found only in the mines of God's revealed truth, as set forth in His Holy Book.
Was David right when he said, "I have more understanding than all my teachers: for Thy testimonies are my meditation"? And when he said: "The entrance of Thy Words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple"?
Was David correct when he said, "Thou through Thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies"; and when he said, "Make me to understand the way of Thy Precepts; so shall I talk of Thy wondrous works"?
When God's Word enters into the heart it giveth light. It is a storehouse where wisdom may be found, It is a wealth of wisdom which gives understanding.
We grant that institutions of learning, as a rule, give the Bible no place, or but a little place, in their curriculums; yet the Bible holds more inerrant truth than all other books besides.
II. THE SUPREME VALUE OF WISDOM (Proverbs 3:14-18)
1. "Better than * * silver * * than fine gold * * than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire." Here are statements which should be pondered. If we are going to traffic, we had better traffic with wisdom, than with silver or gold. Suppose we do merchandise, seeking for silver and gold; we are merchandising in the things which fade away. Silver and gold may be used, in wisdom, for the good of mankind and for God, and with this as an aim it surpasses, by far, the mere thought of laying up treasures on earth; however, if we will merchandise in wisdom, we will be able to do a far greater good for our fellow man, and will, withal, be laying up a better heritage against the world to come.
2. To find wisdom is better than rubies, because wisdom is worth more, in the Divine market, than rubies and all else we can ever desire. We know that the street of the New Jerusalem will be paved with pure gold; that does not by any means suggest that pure gold shall hold the place of honor in 'Heaven. The streets of gold are but to tread upon; while wisdom will be crowned with eternal honors.
Remember we are not speaking of the wisdom that stands for human scholarship and skill; we speak of the wisdom that cometh down from above. Nothing can be compared to that.
3. Wisdom is the source of other beneficences.
(1) Length of days is in her right hand. To know God and to walk in wisdom, assures long life and a life full of deepest joy.
(2) Riches and honor are in her left hand. Because we are wise, does not, necessarily, cut us off from either riches or honor. Solomon asked for wisdom, and God gave him both honor and riches.
(3) Wisdom is a tree of life to those who lay hold upon her. We have been shut out, in this life, from the Tree of Life in the garden of Eden; here, however, is a tree of life bearing precious fruit, open to all. Happy is every one who has wisdom.
III. WHERE DIVINE WISDOM WAS OPERATIVE (Proverbs 3:19-20)
1. "The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth." Here is a statement that all must grant as true. The three false friends of Job could not confound him. He spoke of God better than his false comforters. However, Job had as a chief asset the boast of his knowledge, as well as the boast of his worthiness. Then, when God came on the scene and spoke to Job, He asked questions that caused Job to see his own nothingness.
Among other things God said to Job, "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding." Then God entered into things which staggered Job, although he was the greatest man of the East. We would like the men of earthly wisdom to study Job 38:1-41 and Job 39:1-30, and answer the various questions which God propounded to Job. It may be that they also will learn something of their own ignorance.
The earth and the Heavens do declare not only the glory of God, but also His great wisdom.
2. "By His knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew." God steps down from the creation of a world, to the drops of dew that alight upon the earth. Come, now, explain a dewdrop. We may tell much about it, but we cannot take one, in the clouds of Heaven, and carry it from the sea to distant lands.
We wrote a little poem some time ago, which describes the worldly wise professor as he is questioned by a little girl.
I boasted my knowledge, my learning, my lore;
Acknowledged no Saviour, no God did adore;
Then, one day, a lassie all artlessly said,
"Pray, what is a lily?" I dropped down my head:
"A lily? I cannot describe it," said I,
"I neither can tell you its how or its why;
I know that a lily is wondrously sweet,
I know it is clothed with a beauty, replete;
Yet, I cannot tell you how it came to be,
And I could not fashion one, dear, do you see?"
The little girl solemnly lifted her eyes,
And looked in my face with an artless surprise;
"God did it, professor, so now can't you see,
'Twas God made the lily, and God that made me?"
Yes, God, in wisdom, wrought out His handiwork, and let us believe and trust in Him.
IV. WHAT WE SHOULD DO WITH WISDOM, AND WHAT IT WILL DO FOR US (Proverbs 3:21-24)
1. Wisdom should be kept as a most valuable portion. After telling of the wisdom of God as seen in His creation, the admonition comes; "My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion." May we never join that worldly popular group of the so-called college-bred, who throw the wisdom of God to the winds; who humanize God, dragging Him down to the depths of some tribal God of the Jews; or some imagery of the mind; and then straightway deify and immortalize their own brains.
2. Wisdom will be life to the soul. Divine wisdom will vitalize our soulish; that is, our mental man. One who told me she was willing to relinquish her own better sense, and mental unbeliefs, and take God's Word as true, although to her it had ever been a bundle of myths, came to me afterward and said, "When I threw away my own mind, to take God's mind, it is wonderful what He did." This is what she said, "Somehow or other all the seemingly meaningless Bible truth, which had seemed to me so unbelievable, began to glow and glisten with a beauty of fact that now appeared reasonable and easy for my mind to accept." She had taken God's wisdom, relinquished her own, only to have it returned to her, full of certainties and truth.
3. Wisdom makes life's walk a way of safety. How wonderful. The youth who takes Divine wisdom will find that he is prepared to escape the tempter's snare and to journey on his way without stumbling.
4. Wisdom takes away fear. " When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid; yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet."
It seems to me that wisdom is a begetter of faith. As we learn to know God, and to behold His stately steppings, we learn that the God who created us caves for us.
There is another Scripture that says that love casteth out fear. We find here that the wisdom that cometh down from above, does the same thing. We can sleep the sleep of peace. As we rest, we can say, "Thou God seest me." We will feel that we are safely sheltered under the shadow of His wings.
V. THE ALL-PROTECTING GOD (Proverbs 3:25-26)
1. "Be not afraid of sudden fear." It does not matter from whence the danger may suddenly appear, there is One who watches over us, who will deliver us.
To be sure, such a promise is not given to a disobedient soul. It is only when one makes God His satisfying Portion, and when he looks to Him in trusting confidence that the Lord will shelter him from evil.
Even when plagues fall upon those around us, He can keep them from touching those who trust Him. If we say of the Lord, "He is my * * Fortress: my God; in Him will I trust," then we may rest on the promise, "Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence."
It is when He is our Protection that we need not be afraid "for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness."
Even though a thousand fall at our side, and ten thousand at our right hand, we need not fear.
What does it matter,
Though dark the day may be?
What does it matter,
Thought nought of light I see?
There's One above me,
Who lives to love me;
There's nought can matter when
Christ Jesus cares for me,
2. "The Lord shall be thy Confidence." He is worthy of trust. Let Him, therefore, be our everlasting Confidence. Let others doubt: we will still believe; let others look to men and human stays: we will stay our hearts upon Him.
Remember that the house that was builded upon the rock fell not when the storm came, the rain fell, and the floods rose. Let us, then, like wise men, build upon the Solid Rock.
He will keep our foot from being taken. Praise His Name!
VI. DOING GOOD TO OTHERS (Proverbs 3:27-29)
1. We should help, in every possible way, our neighbors. It is not right to say, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Certainly we owe it to every man to fulfill all that is due to him. Much of the unrest of the age in which we live, is because men shut their eyes to the need of those who have not.
We should by no means even suggest that the drifting crowd, who are unwilling to toil, should harvest from the toils of others. We speak of the one who is in honest need, and who has a right to appeal to others. We speak of the widow, and the orphan, the sick, and the afflicted. Our verse says, "Them to whom it is due."
Above all we, as Christians, should care for our brothers and sisters in Christ, who need our aid. If we see our brother have need, and we shut up our bowels of compassion against him, how dwelleth the love of God in us?
2. We should not say, "Go, and come again," providing we have the needed supply at hand. Deferred help, though good, is often the cause of much sorrow. Perhaps, in the realm of beneficences, "Do it now" would prove a good motto.
When God lays upon us any call, we must remember that "The King's commandments require haste." To delay may be to lose our opportunity altogether.
3. We should not devise evil against our neighbor. May we suggest that we should not even wish him evil. There are too many ill-advised words spoken against those whom we should help. Even if our enemies hunger we should feed them; if they thirst, we should give them to drink.
The Lord will attend to the wicked. Why should we avenge ourselves of them? Why should we judge? God has said, "Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." Let us leave it with God.
(1) "The froward is abomination to the Lord; but His secret is with the righteous."
(2) "The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked; But He blesseth the habitation of the just."
(3) Surely He scorneth the scorners: But He giveth grace unto the lowly.
Let us then leave all judgment unto the Son, where God hath put it, and seek to do good unto all men.
VII. A GLORIOUS INHERITANCE (Proverbs 3:35)
We now come to the last verse of our study, and once more we are writing the words of the wise.
1. "The wise shall inherit glory."
(1) There is a present-day inheritance of glory for the wise. Greater is a wise man than he who taketh a city. It was the fame of Solomon and his wisdom that brought the Queen of Sheba from afar.
We read: "Wisdom is better than strength." Again we read: "Wisdom is better than weapons of war."
In Ecclesiastes it is written: "Wisdom is good with an inheritance."
(2) There is a future inheritance of glory. God has said, "They that be wise shall shine as the * * stars."
Here is something that may be ours in the days beyond. If we have cherished and walked in the ways of wisdom, even the wisdom that cometh from above, the wisdom which God giveth; and if we have forsaken every evil way, then our rewards will be great in heaven.
2. Fools shall inherit shame. There is a great deal of judging which is premature. We see the man who rejects God's wisdom, and follows in the way of fools, such as we have heard described in this study; they seem, for a while, to prosper in this world, yet shame awaits them.
Let us not think for one moment that the man who has refused to know God, to seek His will, and to walk in His ways, shall eternally prosper. In the Book of Deuteronomy there is a verse which says: "O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end"! The difficulty with fools is that they live only for the present moment. They are like the swine which will follow the corn even though it leads them to the slaughter-house.
There is another verse that says: "How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors."
Dr. J. R. Miller has told us how God increases us in wisdom and in strength from day to day.
Christ gives into no man's hand at the beginning of his life a finely trained, fully developed mind. The great poets and writers of the world began with only one pound. There was capacity for growth, but that was all. Christ gives to no one at the start a noble, full-statured, rich, transfigured Christian character, with spiritual graces all blossoming out The most saintly Christians began with very little saintliness, very little spiritual power. The most useful men in the church began with a very small and imperfect sort of usefulness. Those whose influence for good now touches thousands of lives, and extends over whole communities, or fills an entire country, had nothing to begin with but one little pound of capacity which the Master intrusted to them. This is the principle on which all our Lord's gifts are distributed. He puts into our hands a little at first; and as we use what we have, and gain experience, and show ability, and prove faithful to our trust, He adds more and more, giving us all we can use well, and as fast as we can use it.
"By thy own soul's law learn to live;
And, if men thwart thee, take no heed;
And, if men hate thee, have no care;
Sing thou thy song, and do thy deed;
Hope thou thy hope, and pray thy prayer,
And claim no crown they will not give."
J. R. Miller.