What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me. (Psalm 56:3-4).
Our lesson this week is filled with the principles of faithful living. If your thoughts for this year are centered around being happier, being a better person, or developing a more intimate relationship with God, then you are in luck! Taken from Proverbs, this particular section is credited to Solomon as he writes to his son. Today we are going to put the Faith we talked about last week into action. True faith builds trust, and trust will promote obedience and submission. Want a blessing from God? Wish you had a little less anxiety and stress? Let it go, and learn to trust. You will never be sorry if you put your faith and trust in the one true God!
My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.
To borrow from a sermon at our recent revival, everything starts with priorities and good decisions. Solomon advises that we are all required to make choices with respect to our walk with God. God is a gentleman and will never force us to receive salvation. There is no neutral ground here. You will either accept God as Lord and Saviour or, by ignoring him, deny God and accept the consequences. As we studied last week, faith is that rock-solid assurance in the Creator God, His Word, and His plan of redemption for fallen humanity. Again, it is not blind faith, and it does not defy reason. Faith goes beyond reason as the substance and evidence of the things we are unable to see. Scripture says that to have Faith, you have to hear the Word. Are you willing to hear the Word of God?
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:13-17).
Solomon begins by reminding us that the first step is to receive the word and to keep, or cherish, and protect it. In making that decision, we acknowledge His law, and our priority then becomes to keep it first in our priorities. Solomon adds that in doing this, we are set up for the benefits of long life and peace.
Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
Solomon reminds us that mercy and truth are additional priorities in our lives that must be visible and ingrained in our thoughts and actions. What is mercy? It is compassion and forgiveness given by the individual with the authority or power to punish another for their actions. In other words, don’t focus on giving someone what they deserve. Make an investment for yourself by showing mercy and upholding truth. You will receive the same from the Lord and oftentimes from men. Notice the balance of mercy and truth. Truth without mercy is oppression; mercy without truth is injustice. Jesus reminded the Pharisees that He required mercy and not sacrifice. (Matthew 9:13). Jesus also taught His disciples that He was the way, the truth, and the light. Truth is more than important; it begins and ends with Christ Himself. It is frequently referenced in the Old and New Testaments. We are to “provide all things honestly to all men.” We are not to” bear false witness”, or in anyway reflect Satan, who is a liar and the father of liars. Mercy and truth are priorities requiring good decisions and faithfulness in times that they are difficult to live up to. Consider God’s mercy toward us (not giving us what we deserve) and the cross, the only just sacrifice accepted by the truth of our sin. Solomon adds that by exercising the principles of mercy and truth, we reap the benefits of favor with God and Man.
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. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
This is one of the most quoted verses in scripture but its application takes deliberate thought and action. Have you noticed that first, we must know God and keep His commandments? We do that by believing His Word and entering into a relationship with God. Then, because we have recognized our place in the order of God, we understand the necessity of extending mercy and truth to those around us. Why? Because that is what God does for us. No one wants what they deserve. Jesus extends mercy because He faced justice in our place. Now, just as we have applied the first two, we are told to deny our own understanding and not to be wise in our own sight. Here is where the rubber meets the road. Can we set aside what we think, what we feel, and what we prefer to trust God who is wiser, sees a bigger picture, and understands everything going on? He has a plan and is able to take care of us- especially if/when what is happening is not going the way we think that it should. He is asking for the ultimate denial of self, to trust. To trust Him with ALL our hearts and not to depend on what we understand. He promises to direct our paths, guide our steps, and increase our strength and health. We are to reverence and submit ourselves to God and to the Word He gives. He knows us better than we know ourselves:
The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity. (Psalm 94:11).
The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want. (Proverbs 21:5).
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9).
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. (Matthew 15-19).
Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. (1 Corinthians 3:18-20).
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12).
Thank you for studying with us! God bless!