Eld Ko Swee Chay
Trust in the LORD
“5Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
These are two of the most well-known verses in the book of Proverbs and are familiar to many of us. Many believers make these two verses their “life verse”. The book of Proverbs was written for the people of Israel, i.e. God’s chosen people, the children of God. In these two verses the LORD gives us His precious promise to direct our paths, if we wholeheartedly put our trust in Him, do not depend on our own understanding and acknowledge Him in all our ways. Many can memorise and recite these two verses easily but trusting in the LORD with all our hearts and allowing Him to direct our paths is the hard part. Knowing God and His promises through diligent study and faithful obedience to His Word and experiencing His grace and goodness in our lives are key to trusting in the LORD. Let us seek to have a deeper understanding of these two verses whereby our trust in the LORD may increase henceforth.
I. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart
Christians are called to trust in the LORD. When we trust in something, we are placing our confidence and security in that entity. We all exercise trust in our daily lives. We trust that the groceries purchased from the supermarket or departmental store are of trustworthy quality and are safe to consume or use. We trust the banks to keep our money safe. We trust the airlines to have reliable and well-maintained planes, and qualified pilots to fly us safely to our destination. We trust our earthly father and mother and have complete confidence in their integrity, character and ability because we know them and have a close relationship with them, and we trust that they have our best interest in their hearts. What more when it comes to trusting our heavenly Father, who is our Maker, Redeemer and Saviour! There must be total surrender and commitment to the LORD. We trust that He will guide, lead, protect and preserve us through our lives. This trust in the LORD is based upon the nature, character, will and desire of God revealed in the Bible. He is powerful, faithful and trustworthy. Believing in and accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Saviour is just the beginning of the Christian’s trust. What comes next is to grow in faith and knowledge of the LORD, for without faith it is impossible to please Him (Heb 11:6). Trust is the practical outward demonstration of faith. Studying, knowing and obeying God’s Word and will are needful to strengthen our faith and increase our trust in the LORD. Surely the more we study and know God’s Word, the more we know God and His will and His promises, the more we will want to obey and trust Him.
For most believers it is not natural to depend on God for what we do. More often than not we forget to seek God when we have an important decision to make. Our natural tendency is to rely on our own experience and knowledge and on our natural abilities and skills to manage our lives. We trust ourselves more than God, and sometimes God is not even in the picture. But remember God knows what is best for us. He knows what we need and where we ought to go much better than we ourselves! We must trust Him completely for everything we do and every choice and decision we make. Take note that we are to trust in the LORD with all our heart. This refers to a total and complete trust, and total surrender of all areas of our lives to God, be it our health, career, marriage, how we bring up children, how we manage our material possessions, how we handle relationships.
God’s Word warns us against those who trust anything or anyone other than the LORD:
Dear brethren, let us put our hope and trust in the LORD with all our heart no matter what.
II. Lean not unto thine own understanding
To lean on something – a synonym for “trust” – is to use it as if it were a crutch. Proverbs 3:5 tells us, “lean not on your own understanding”, which means to not depend or rely on ourselves or base conclusions on our own perceptions; instead we are to rest upon the wisdom and intellect of God instead of our own.
Proverbs 3:5 is a complementary pair of commands. Believers are told positively to trust in the LORD, and negatively to not lean on our own understanding. These two commands are mutually exclusive. In other words, if we trust in the LORD, we will not depend on our own understanding of things; conversely, if we depend on our own understanding of things, we will not trust in the LORD.
To “lean not on our own understanding” is another way of saying we need to live by faith and trust in the LORD. The Bible gives us examples of saints of old who leaned not on their own understanding. Abraham leaned not on his own understanding when he rose up early in the morning and brought his beloved son Isaac to the mountain to offer him as a sacrifice to the LORD. Daniel leaned not on his own understanding when he was led to the pit to spend the night with hungry lions. They leaned on the LORD for courage, comfort, strength and hope to enable them to fulfil God’s will and command.
The Bible gives us a good example of a dire consequence when the children of God leaned on own understanding. In Joshua chapter 7 we learn of Joshua and his men’s decision to invade a small city called Ai with two or three thousand men. This was after they had just defeated the large city of Jericho. They reasoned among themselves that they didn’t need their whole army to conquer such a small city. Their hearts deceived them, for they forgot that God alone had given them the victory at Jericho and that they would also need God to enable them to conquer the enemy at Ai. They ended up suffering a humiliating defeat with 36 men killed because they leaned on their own understanding.
Another good example of the danger of leaning on our own understanding is Solomon, the writer of Proverbs 3:5-6. He started off well as king of the united Israel by asking God for wisdom. He built the house of the LORD. Solomon was obedient to God and pleased Him initially, but then with his God-given wisdom he began to think he knew better than God. He acquired a large army for himself and imported horses from Egypt; he had 700 wives and 300 concubines. He accumulated large amounts of gold and silver. He built a palace much larger and grander than the house of the LORD. He allowed idolatry to creep in and went after other gods. He began to oppress the people. All these were in direct contravention of the laws of God for kings mentioned in Deuteronomy 17. He thought he knew better than God. He leaned on his own understanding. The LORD was angry with him and rebuked him, resulting in his kingdom being split into the Northern and Southern kingdoms after his death. If we persist in leaning on our own understanding rather than trust in God with all our hearts, we will ruin our lives.
Yet, we often think we know better than God, believing that we know better how to run our lives. So many of the things that cause us difficulty and heartache in life, and the source of our worries, anxieties and fears, is the result of leaning on our own understanding. In Matthew 6:31-34, Jesus teaches us that when we lean on our own understanding instead of His, we are self-inducing unnecessary worries and anxieties. He promises that if we lean on God by putting Him first, He will take care of everything else. The Bible says wisdom and understanding are good and we should pursue them - “How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!” (Pro 16:16), but only if they are from the Lord - “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” (Pro 9:10). While we ought to use our God-given ability to think and reason carefully when faced with issues or making decisions, we must not be wise in our own eyes. We should commit them to God in prayer and must be willing to obey and be guided by God’s Word.
Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us why we often don’t understand why certain things happen in our life. “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.” These verses tell us that we ought not to insist that we know why. We must humbly admit that there are many things around us that we don’t have to understand, and submit to God and accept them, especially things that we are unable to control or change.
Dear brethren, lean not on your own understanding, instead lean on the wisdom of God's Word. As we read, meditate and understand His Word daily we will learn to think according to His thoughts. And that will help us as we seek to trust in Him with all our hearts.
III. In all thy ways acknowledge him
To acknowledge God is to admit and accept who He is, His authority and His sovereignty as revealed in the Bible. “In all thy ways acknowledge him” is to invite His presence into our daily lives and decisions. Not on some days or some ways, but always in all our ways. We must acknowledge God in all our lives and all that we do in order to receive God’s guidance.
How do we acknowledge God?
Dear brethren, let us acknowledge the LORD God Almighty in our daily lives all the way till we are called home to be with the LORD.
IV. He shall direct thy paths
The word “direct” literally means “make straight or smooth”. This is one of God’s most precious promises to us, that “He shall direct our paths”. We are in a sinful and wicked world ruled by Satan, full of confusion and evil. There are many important decisions of different complexities and difficulties we need to make in every area of our lives. We need divine direction and guidance to keep us in the narrow way and strait gate. The LORD may guide us by Scripture (Ps 119:105), or by the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:26-27), or by the wise counsel of godly brethren, or by circumstances. This precious promise of divine guidance is conditioned upon complete trust in the LORD and His wisdom as revealed in His Word, along with unashamed acknowledgment of Him in all our lives.
“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.” (Pro 16:9)
“A wicked man hardeneth his face: but as for the upright, he directeth his way.” (Pro 21:29)
We are now experiencing the Wuhan Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19), a seemingly dangerous and terrifying pestilence as tens of thousands of people in many countries have been infected and more than 2,000 have died. May all of God’s children not behave like the world, but instead remain calm and trust in the LORD; for as children of the most high God we know that He is powerful, faithful and sovereign and is in control of all things including the pestilence Covid-19. He will work His plan in His time even though we do not know or understand the specific reasons.
While we exercise human responsibility by taking all the precautions given by the Ministry of Health to keep us safe, let us not be disturbed and distracted by man’s words and all the information and messages we read, and not be fearful and panic and worry, but continue to trust in the LORD with all our heart. Surely, there is a purpose for all these things which we cannot comprehend, but we must have confidence that the LORD knows what is best for us and will protect and preserve us.
Through this frightening pestilence, it is to be hoped that the people of the world are once again reminded that their lives are fragile. A tiny virus not even visible to the human eye can cause so much harm and inconvenience to people and countries around the world and thus may they realise that it is far more painful and terrifying if they die in sin and end up in the lake of fire for eternity. We should also hope that many unbelievers may come to know the Almighty God, the Creator of the whole universe, repent from their sins and turn back to God, and come to the saving knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, for with Him there is no fear and worry, no sorrow and pain, no tears and death.
As for believers, may we all be fervent in the study of God’s Word, and may God use His holy and precious Word to encourage us and to warm our hearts.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear ...” (Ps 46:1-2)
“Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us.” (Ps 62:8).
“Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.” (Ps 16:1).
“In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion.” (Ps 71:1).
“For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD, thou art my trust from my youth.” (Ps 71:5).
May we earnestly share the gospel with people outside God’s Kingdom in these turbulent days. The LORD is always on the side of those who have faith and trust in Him. Remember always to fully put our hope and trust in Him, for faith is the victory in our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus. AMEN.