As we continue our study of Solomon’s advice concerning worry, note that the second two lines expand on the main idea to trust in the Lord. “Trusting with all your heart” involves two actions: one negative, the other positive.
Today we examine the negative command: “Do not lean on your own understanding” (v. 5). The term understanding is so important that, in the Hebrew text, it appears first in the sentence: “Your understanding, do not lean upon.” This word refers to our ability to observe something, gain insight, and discern as a means of formulating a decision. Of course, due diligence is our responsibility. Investigate, seek perspectives, apply logic, and formulate ideas. God doesn’t ask us to forego planning or to throw ourselves blindly into decisions. He calls us to give greater priority to trusting Him. Let confidence in God’s character, power, plans, and past faithfulness be the foundation of all your decision-making as you exercise sound judgment. (Please read that again.)
Here’s a helpful illustration: A young man is convinced God has called him to full-time, vocational ministry. In responding to this call, he recognizes his need for training at a good seminary. He visits the school, considers living arrangements, estimates tuition and cost of living, and even locates a suitable job that will not interfere with his studies. But—on paper—his budget doesn’t work. Expenses outweigh income and savings. Even so, he knows God has called him to prepare, so he packs up, moves, and enrolls. Why? Because he places such confidence in God’s provision that he won’t wait until he has solved all the details before obeying the Father’s will.
To “not lean on your own understanding” means that you will not give first priority to your own limited perspective. Lean is, of course, figurative, meaning “to depend upon something.” One might lean upon a staff, a wall, or another person in order to remain standing. The message is “Feel completely confident in God and do not depend upon your own intelligence, insight, or skill to keep you from falling.”
I know a gentleman who suffered a terrible injury while skiing, and he was confined to crutches for many long weeks. Several times I found him panting at the top of a flight of stairs. His hands had become red and sore from his constant use of the crutches. He discovered that leaning on crutches is exhausting.
So is leaning on our own understanding! If you want to spend an exhausting day, try to work out your problems using only your limited viewpoint. Chase down all the possibilities you can think of. When you inevitably hit a dead end, back up and try a new man-made direction. Eventually, you will run out of ideas as well as energy. Then, if you don’t trust in God, you will have only one option left: worry.
From Living the Proverbs by Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of Worthy Inspired., an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
In Embraced by the Spirit, we step away from the heat of theological battle that analyzes and criticizes and move quietly and closely to the One who has been sent alongside to help.