Several of us here tonight have poor eyesight – some would even say “bad eyesight.” So even though I will be using myself as an example, you know that I could be using some of you. My eyesight is bad. My lens prescription is up there in the hundreds – 750 and 850 whatever that means. Also, I have had some retinal problems and the vitreous fluid inside my eyes are filled with floaters which I have to either try to look around or try to ignore. Then too, there is at least one early-stage cataract which tends to blur or fog everything.
The first thing I have to do every morning is reach for my glasses. If they somehow got bumped or moved during the night, I have problems, because I can’t see well-enough to find my glasses. A few years ago, I was working in some bushes at dad’s house and a branch knocked off my glasses. I had to almost crawl back to the house, and call for Judy to come find my spectacles. Without my glasses I can see shapes if they are large enough, and I can see colors. But without my glasses, objects must be closer than 4 inches before they become clear. Please understand that I am not complaining; I’m stating facts, which I would like to use as an illustration.
In the two verses before us, Solomon exhorts us to two things: Trust in the Lord and in all our ways to acknowledge Him. He also qualifies or limits that trust, and he explains one of the great blessings of acknowledging Him.
Let’s start with the second exhortation – “in all thy ways acknowledge the Lord.“
What does “acknowledge” mean to you? There are places I go nearly every day and usually every week. There are people in those places, whom I have seen dozens and sometimes hundreds of times. We’ve never had the opportunity to say more than a few words to each other. We’ve never exchanged names or where we worship the Lord. But we often smile or nod to each other. What we do is “acknowledge” each other.
That is not what Solomon is exhorting us to do with the Lord. God does not want us to tip our hats to Him, or smile across the room at Him. This Hebrew word is used 947 times in the Bible, but it is translated “acknowledge” only 6. Almost 800 times it is rendered in some form of the word “to know.” This verse could be translated – “In all thy ways know, or see, the Lord, and he shall direct thy paths.”
When my alarm goes off, I try to carefully throw off the sheet, so as not to disturb Judy. Then I reach towqrd the spot where I left my glasses the night before. I can’t see them, but I know they should be there. And then I put them on as I get out of bed. And from then on throughout the day, I look at everything in my life, through the lenses of my glasses.
I believe this is what Solomon is urging us to do. Look at your breakfast through the lenses of the Lord God who gave you food to eat, remembering too that He gave you teeth to chew that breakfast, and a tongue and throat to enable you to swallow. When you look at your phone, look at it through the Lord your God. Driving down the road, and when you pick up your latest book, or when you confront that problem, look at these things through your Saviour. Deliberately acknowledge Him in your observation of these things – your joys, your problems, your opportunities, your challenges.
Solomon’s first exhortation is – “trust in the Lord with all thine heart.”
I don’t know if I could expound this any better than John Gill did in his commentary on this verse. Paraphrasing, he said, trust in God, not in any creature, no matter how good, how holy or how high. And don’t trust in any creature enjoyments such as riches, strength or wisdom. Don’t trust in any outward privilege, arising from natural descent and education. Don’t trust in your own heart, which is deceitful; nor in any of your works of righteousness. Not in your profession of religion, or the duties of it, ever so well you have performed them. Not in frames, nor in graces or the exercise of them. No, not in faith or trust itself. Put your trust in the Lord, the object and source of all grace, and in Him only. Trust in Jehovah the Father, as the God of nature and providence, for all temporal blessings; and as the God of all grace, for all spiritual blessings, and all the needful supplies of grace; and for eternal happiness, which he has provided, promised, and freely gives. Trust in Him at all times; in times of affliction, temptation, and darkness. There is a great reason for this trust because all power and strength are in Him to help. His love, grace, and mercy, move Him to it, and are always the same. The consideration of what He has done for others that have trusted in Him, and for ourselves in times past, should induce and encourage to it. As also, the happiness of those that trust in him, who enjoy peace and safety. And don’t forget His displeasure at those that show any diffidence of Him, or who distrust Him. Trust in Jehovah the Son. Trust in His Person for acceptance; in His righteousness for justification; in His blood for pardon; in His fulness for supply; in His power for protection and preservation; and in Him alone for salvation and eternal life. Trust in Jehovah the Spirit, to carry on and finish the work of grace upon the heart; of which a saint may be confident that where it is begun it will be completed.
I still have at least two old pairs of glasses; both prescriptions which may be at least 10 years old. I have kept one them, because they are prescription sun glasses; they are in the car and I pull them out once in a while. But they are much like the substitutes which Gill reminds us not to trust, wear and acknowledge. These sun glasses are at least 3 or 4 prescriptions out of date – perhaps more than that. They are helpful when the sun is really bright, but I admit that they don’t help me to read road signs. Once when I wanted my new lenses to be put into my old frames, I wore my sunglasses for about a week while the new ones were being prepared. Not only was the prescription wrong, but they were sun glasses, and they didn’t work well inside this auditorium. You might say that for that week I was “leaning unto my own understanding.” I trusted myself to secondary glasses, and I suffered for it. Why was I wearing those sunglasses 16 hours a day for a week? I was trying to save $100 on unnecessary new frames. Was it a smart thing to do? Well, I saved $100, but my eyes became so tired after a few hours struggling with the outdated prescription that my sight was even worse. I was looking at my life through dark lenses, a bad prescription and exhausted eyes. Leaning on my own understanding and wisdom wasn’t wise at all, despite the $100.
Solomon reminds us that trust is a matter of the heart, NOT of the head and our understanding. But perhaps we all need to admit that trust is not necessarily an easy thing. This is why exhortations like this are necessary, and why they are so common in the Word of God. We are more prone to lean toward our heads than to our hearts – at least in this sort of thing. We were taught from birth to trust our own decisions; trust our eyes; trust our government. But Solomon says, “Put your confidence in Jehovah.” Put ALL your trust in Him; don’t share your trust with anything or anyone.
Trust in the Lord, acknowledging Him “and He shall direct thy paths.“
How might we apply the plural paths? Could it mean that we have a different path every day? Or does it suggest that we all have an intellectual path, a spiritual path, an economic path, and a social path and others – each of which needs the Lord’s direction?
“In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and he shall direct they paths.” I feel sorry for those Ruckmanite disciples who refuse to admit that the Bible was written in languages other than English. I hope that no one ever thinks that I want to change the words of our King James Bibles when I refer to Greek and Hebrew. But those who refuse to look at the original languages also refuse great blessings. The word “direct” is somewhat multi-talented. “Yashar” (yaw-shar’) is found 27 times in the Old Testament where it is translated “direct” only 4 times. One expert suggested that since the word is also translated “straight” it means “direct” in the way an archer would direct an arrow. That is an excellent image – “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and he shall shoot you straight down the best paths.” That is the word used by Isaiah in his prophecy of John the Baptist – “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make STRAIGHT in the desert a highway for our God.” Jeremiah uses that word in another way – to describe the kind of vessel in which the potter most delights – a “good” vessel. But none of these are the most common translations of “Yashar” (yaw-shar’). Most often it is translated “to please.” To the saint, who whole-heartedly trusts in the Lord, and who in all his ways acknowledges Him, the Lord will send him down paths which please them both – God and saint.
Isn’t this what we desire – pleasant paths, and lives which please both God and our own hearts? Well then, “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.”