Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Proverbs 20:24

Man's steps are ordained by the Lord , How then can man understand his way?
New American Standard

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Ignorance;   Thompson Chain Reference - Divine;   Leader, Divine;   The Topic Concordance - God;   Man;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Providence of God, the;  
Dictionaries:
Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Pardon;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Providence;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Proverbs, Book of;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Foreknow;   Providence;  
Devotionals:
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for May 16;   Every Day Light - Devotion for December 8;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Man's goings are of the Lord - He, by his providence, governs all the great concerns of the world. Man often traverses these operations; but he does it to his own damage. An old writer quaintly says: "They who will carve for themselves shall cut their fingers."

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:24". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/proverbs-20.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The order of a man‘s life is a mystery even to himself. He knows not where he is going, or for what God is educating him.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:24". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/proverbs-20.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Proverbs 20:24

Man’s goings are of the Lord: how can a man then understand his own way?

Man’s goings

I. The text in its negative bearings.

1. Appeal to Scripture (Proverbs 16:9; Jeremiah 10:23).

2. Appeal to history. Hazael (2 Kings 8:11).

3. Appeal to your own experience.

Is it not true that when you trust to your own strength you are apt to trifle with temptation?

II. The text in its positive bearings. “Man’s goings are of the Lord.” His goings in the path of duty are. What is true of duty is true also of the conduct of life. From this gather encouragement, and nourish humility. Check all presumptuous schemes as to the future. (A. Nicholson, B. A.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Proverbs 20:24". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/proverbs-20.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"A man's goings are of Jehovah; How then can man understand his way?"

"The steps of a man are guided by the Lord. But who is the man that can understand his own way."[17] Although the freedom of the human will and the individual responsibility of every mortal are continually affirmed throughout Proverbs, "This verse stresses the absolute sovereignty of God."[18] There is indeed a sublime mystery in every life. "The order of a man's life is a mystery even to himself. He knows not whither he is going, or for what God is educating him."[19] Toy, it seems to us, had a better grasp of what is taught here. "No man can comprehend fully the meaning of his own experiences; and the suggestion here is that man must throw himself on God, acknowledge, obey and trust Him; and then his life will be rationally and successfully directed."[20] The Anchor Bible also carries the same understanding. "It is by the Lord that a man's steps are directed; how (then) could a human being know which way to take"?[21]

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:24". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/proverbs-20.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Man's goings are of the Lord,.... In a natural and literal sense, the instruments of going are of the Lord; the act of motion from place to place is not without the concourse of his providence; as in him we live, and move, and have our being, so "in and by him we move"; he preserves our going out and coming in; and as the preservation, so the success and prosperity of journeying are owing to his providence, and the whole is under his care and direction: and so likewise, in a civil sense, all the civil concerns, business, and actions of life, are guided by his providence; there is a time for every purpose under heaven, and the success of all depends on a divine blessing; and things are with every man in civil life according to the providence of God, and as it is his pleasure they should be; and it is by him they are directed to take this and the other step, the issue of which is according to his will: and this may be applied to men's goings in a spiritual and religious sense; faith, which is properly a man's going to Christ as a perishing sinner for pardon and cleansing, for righteousness and life, for food and rest, and eternal salvation, is not of a man's self, it is of God; it is his gift, and of his operation; no man can go to Christ in this way unless it be given him of God, or he is drawn by his grace, John 6:35; and all spiritual actions which flew from hence are by the grace of God, and under his influence and direction; as walking in the path of truth, it is the Lord that teaches it, causes to choose it, leads into it, and preserves there; walking in the statutes and ordinances of the Lord, and in the ways of righteousness and holiness, is of him, and owing to his Spirit puts within his people; and indeed all good works done by them, which may be called their goings, he has foreordained that they should walk in them; it is by the grace of God, and in the strength of Christ, and with the assistance of the blessed Spirit, they walk on in them; and their perseverance in faith and holiness, or their going from strength to strength, is all of the Lord;

how can a man then understand his own way? even of a journey in a literal sense, what will be the issue and event of it, when or whether ever he shall return to his own house again, since all is under the direction and providence of God; and also of his civil affairs, he knows his beginning, and how he goes on for the present; but what will be the end he knows not; and a natural and unregenerate man knows not what way he is in, where he is going, and what his last end will be; being in darkness, in which he was born, brought up, and continues, he does not rightly understand what is his duty, what he should do, what is the good and perfect will of God, what the way is in which he should go, and which is for his good; nor the way everlasting, which leads to eternal life, few find this way. Or it may be understood of the way of the Lord, "how can a man then understand his way?" the Lord's way, not man's; the way of the Lord in providence, which is as the deep, and unsearchable; and the way of life and salvation by Christ, which is of the Lord's devising and resolving on; this way of peace, pardon, righteousness, and eternal life, is not known by the natural man; and when it is externally revealed in the word, and by the outward ministry of it, it is not understood so as to be approved of, but is despised, unless God gives a heart to know it, or a spiritual and experimental understanding of it.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:24". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-20.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Man‘s goings — literally, “Stately steppings of a strong man.”

a man — any common man.

understand — or, “perceive.”

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:24". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/proverbs-20.html. 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

24 The steps of a man depend on Jahve;

And a man - how can he understand his way?

Line first is from Psalms 37:23, but there, where the clause has the verbal predicate כּוננוּ, the meaning is that it is the gracious assistance of God, by virtue of which a man takes certain steps with his feet, while here we have before us a variation of the proverb “ der Mensch denkt, Gott lenkt ” = man proposes, God disposes, Proverbs 16:9, Jeremiah 10:23; for מן, as at 2 Samuel 3:37; Psalms 118:23, denotes God in general as conditioning, as the ultimate cause. Man is indeed free to turn himself hither or thither, to decide on this course of conduct or on that, and is therefore responsible for it; but the relations co-operating in all his steps as the possible and defining conditions are God's contrivance and guidance, and the consequences which are connected with his steps and flow therefrom, lie beyond the power of man - every one of his steps is a link of a chain, neither the beginning nor the end of which he can see; while, on the other hand, God's knowledge comprehends the beginning, middle, and end, and the wisdom of God ruling in the sphere of history, makes all human activity, the free action of man, subservient to his world-plan. The question, which has a negative answer, is applicable to man: what, i.e., how shall he understand his way? מה is like, e.g., Exodus 10:26; Job 9:2; Job 19:28, accus., and fluctuates between the functions of a governed accusative: What does he understand... (Job 11:8) and an adv.: how, i.e., how so little, how even not, for it is the מה of the negative question which has become in (Arab.) mâ a word of negation. The way of a man is his life's-course. This he understands in the present life only relatively, the true unravelling of it remains for the future.

Copyright Statement
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Bibliographical Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:24". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/proverbs-20.html. 1854-1889.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

We are here taught that in all our affairs, 1. We have a necessary and constant dependence upon God. All our natural actions depend upon his providence, all our spiritual actions upon his grace. The best man is no better than God makes him; and every creature is that to us which it is the will of God that it should be. Our enterprises succeed, not as we desire and design, but as God directs and disposes. The goings even of a strong man (so the word signifies) are of the Lord, for his strength is weakness without God, nor is the battle always to the strong. 2. We have no foresight of future events, and therefore know not how to forecast for them: How can a man understand his own way? How can he tell what will befal him, since God's counsels concerning him are secret, and therefore how can he of himself contrive what to do without divine direction? We so little understand our own way that we know not what is good for ourselves, and therefore we must make a virtue of necessity, and commit our way unto the Lord, in whose hand it is, follow the guidance and submit to the disposal of Providence.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Proverbs 20:24". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/proverbs-20.html. 1706.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Man's goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?

His way — What the issue of his designs will be.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:24". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/proverbs-20.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Proverbs 20:24 Man’s goings [are] of the LORD how can a man then understand his own way?

Ver. 24. Man’s goings are of the Lord.] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 16:1"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 16:9"} God brought Paul to Rome by a way that he little dreamed of. Augustine once travelling lost his way, and fetching a compass came safe to the place he intended; whereas, had he kept the right way, he had been caught by an armed band of the Donatists that lay in wait for him. (a) "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord," [Psalms 37:23] and he finds himself sometimes crossed with a blessing. As when Isabel, Queen of England, was to repass from Zeland into this kingdom with an army, in favour of her son against her husband, she had utterly been cast away had she come to the port intended, being there expected by her enemies; but providence, against her will, brought her to another place where she safely landed. Good, therefore, and worthy of all acceptation is the wise man’s counsel, "In all thy ways acknowledge God, and he shall direct thy path." [Proverbs 3:6] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 3:6"}

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:24". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-20.html. 1865-1868.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

v. 24. Man's goings are of the Lord, he is dependent upon the Lord in all his actions, he is directed by the manner of God's disposal; how can a man, then, understand his own way? It is impossible for him to decipher the ways in which God directs him, he cannot uncover the secrets of God's government

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:24". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/proverbs-20.html. 1921-23.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Man’s goings, all men’s purposes and actions,

are of the Lord; are ordered and overruled by God’s wise and powerful providence to accomplish his own counsel and good pleasure, and not what men list or intend.

His own way; either,

1. What course he ought to take; which he cannot know without God’s direction and assistance: compare Proverbs 16:9 Jeremiah 10:23. Or,

2. What is the issue of his designs will be, whether they shall succeed or be disappointed; the way being taken for the end or event to which it leads, as it is in many other places. The scope of the proverb is to show that all the events of human life are neither ordered nor foreseen by man’s, but only by God’s providence, and therefore men should only mind the doing of their duty, and then quietly depend upon God for a good issue to their endeavours.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 20:24". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/proverbs-20.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

24.Man’s goings are of the Lord — The results of his steps or ways are of God’s appointing.

How can a man then understand his own way — So understand it as infallibly to insure success. Mr. Benson well expresses the meaning of the proverb: “All men’s purposes and actions are so entirely subject to the control of God’s overruling providence, and so liable to be frustrated or changed as he shall see good, and to be directed to ends so far distant from those they thought of and intended, that it is impossible for any man to know what shall be the event of any of his undertakings.” Compare Proverbs 16:9; Psalms 37:23; Jeremiah 10:23.

 

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:24". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/proverbs-20.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Proverbs 20:24. Man’s goings are of the Lord — All men’s purposes and actions are so entirely subject to the control of God’s overruling providence, and so liable to be frustrated or changed, as he shall see good, and to be directed to ends so far distant from those they thought of and intended, that it is impossible for any man to know what shall be the event of any of his undertakings. The intention of this proverb is, to show that the events of human life are neither ordered nor foreseen by man’s, but only by God’s providence; and therefore that men should only mind to do their duty, and then quietly depend upon God for a good issue to their endeavours.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:24". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/proverbs-20.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Way? Jeremias x. 23. Independently of God, who can do any good? (Calmet)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:24". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/proverbs-20.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Man"s = A strong man"s. Hebrew. geber. App-14.

man = an ordinary man. Hebrew. "adam. App-14.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:24". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/proverbs-20.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Man's goings are of the LORD how can a man then understand his own way?

Man's (Hebrew, gaaber (H1397): a mighty man's) goings (are) of the Lord. Whatever success attends mighty warriors, as Julius Caesar, Alexander, Napoleon, etc., is entirely due to the Lord.

How can a man ( 'aadaam (H120): man in general) then understand his own way? As the former clause attributes to the Lord exclusively the ordering of great men's goings, in order to attain success; so this clause attributes to Him, to the exclusion of man, the prescient understanding of man's course. God directs natural actions by ordinary providence, spiritual actions by His special providence, which foreordains from eternity, awakens the sinner, removes obstacles, suggests that state of life wherein He foresees that the man will not fall away, but attain to glory. However a man may understand his way in respect to its beginning and aim, yet he understands not the best means in doubtful cases, nor can he ensure the issue. We ought therefore to call upon God in all our undertakings, for His overruling guidance, and not trust in our own sagacity.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:24". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/proverbs-20.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(24) Man’s goings are of the Lord.—Comp. Jeremiah 10:23 and the collect, “O God, from whom . . . all just works do proceed.”

How can a man then understand his own way?—i.e., how he should go. So much the more reason for the prayer of Psalms 25:3, “Shew me thy ways, O Lord.” (Comp. Psalms 119:33, ff, Psalms 143:8.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:24". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/proverbs-20.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Man's goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?
Man's
Psalms 37:23; Jeremiah 10:23; Daniel 5:23; Acts 17:28
how
14:8; 16:9; Psalms 25:4,12; Isaiah 10:6,7
Reciprocal: Proverbs 16:1 - preparations;  Proverbs 21:1 - The king's

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:24". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/proverbs-20.html.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

CRITICAL NOTES.—

Pro . Man. The first word, Geber, denoting a superior or mighty man: the second, Adam, man in general, or an ordinary man.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF Pro

GOD OVER ALL

A reference to the Critical Notes will show that in this verse there is an argument from the greater to the less, for the first clause contains an affirmation of a truth, and the second an argument drawn therefrom.

I. The truth affirmed, viz.—That the actions of the most mighty men, and the purposes of the wisest, are directly and absolutely under the control of God. This is self-evident if we admit that God is an Eternal, Omniscient, and Almighty Being, who concerns Himself with the government of the world. Having existed throughout the Eternal past and possessing absolute knowledge of the Eternal future, and being the Author of every man's being—determining the date of his entrance into the world and the period of his continuance in it, and during all that time "encompassing his path and his lying down," and even "understanding his thought afar off" (Psa )—how can even the mightiest of men boast of his independence of God and foretell what shall be the issue of his most sagacious counsels, or be confident that he shall be allowed to carry out even the most matured of his purposes. While he is perfectly conscious of his power to will and to do within certain limits, he must be also conscious that his ability to do both are dependent upon the will of Him in whom we all live and move and have our being.

II. The inference drawn. If God is thus above and behind the goings of the mighty of the earth, it is man's wisdom to trust the mysteries of the present and the contingencies of the future in His hands. Every night throughout the year travellers from one part of our island to the other commit their bodily life unreservedly into the hands of one or two of their fellow-creatures. They are either impelled by inclination, or compelled by necessity, to undertake a certain journey, and to do this they must take their places in a railway train, and for a time surrender their power to take care of their own lives into the hands of others. Darkness is all around them as they travel on, and darkness is before them—they cannot discern the road by which they are travelling, or be absolutely certain that they will reach the place which they desire. Yet their confidence in the skill and fidelity of a few of their fellow-creatures is strong enough to make them generally at ease. Each human life resembles such a journey. The path from the cradle to the grave must be traversed, but insoluble mysteries lie all around, and the future is entirely hidden from view. There is but One who knoweth the way that we take, to whom both past, and present, and future are alike visible and comprehensible. His infinite wisdom and love ought to make us willing to leave Him to "direct our paths," while a sense of our individual responsibility ought to keep us from presumptuous rashness on the one hand, and from indolent inertness on the other. The truth set forth in this proverb ought to be set beside that in Pro .

OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS

As the first clause attributes to the Lord exclusively the ordering of great men's goings, in order to attain success, so the second attributes to Him the prescient understanding of men's course. God directs natural actions by His ordinary providence, spiritual actions by His special providence, which foreordains from eternity, awakens the sinner, removes obstacles, suggests that state of life wherein He sees that the man will not fall away, but attain to glory. However a man may understand his life with respect to its beginning and aim, yet he understands not the best means in doubtful cases, nor can he ensure the issue.—Fausset.

Little did Israel understand the reason of their circuitous way to Canaan. Yet did it prove in the end to be "the right way." As little did Ahasuerus understand the profound reason why "on that night could not the king sleep;" a minute incident, seeming scarcely worthy to be recorded, yet a necessary link in the chain of the Lord's everlasting purposes of grace to His Church (Est .) Little did Philip understand his own way when he was moved from the wide sphere of preaching the gospel in Samaria to go into the desert, which ultimately proved a wider extension of the gospel. As little did the great Apostle understand that his "prosperous journey" to see his beloved flock at Rome would be a narrow escape from shipwreck, and to be conducted a prisoner in chains. Little do we know what we pray for. "By terrible things wilt Thou answer us in righteousness, O God of our salvation" (Psa 65:5). We go out in the morning not understanding our way; "not knowing what an hour may bring forth" (chap. Pro 27:1). Some turn connected with our happiness or misery for life meets us before night (Joh 4:7). Joseph, in taking his walk to search for his brethren, never anticipated a more than twenty years' separation from his father (Gen 37:14). And what ought those cross ways or dark ways to teach us? Not constant, trembling anxiety, but daily dependence. "I will bring the blind by a way that they know not: I will lead them in paths that they have not known." But shall they be left in the dark perplexity? "I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them" (Isa 42:16).—Bridges.

The cross ways that thwart man's goings are of God's laying out, the short ways which some make are of His finding out, the long ways that some go about are of His leading.… He doth but tumble down the hill of his own audacious rashness that thinketh to climb up unto God's way. What God hath revealed of Himself in moderating man's ways is true wisdom to observe, and happy is he who maketh use of it. But as ignorance here is an idle carelessness, so knowledge there is a prying boldness.—Jermin.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:24". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/proverbs-20.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

Divine Care of Life

Proverbs 20:24

Man is bound to be religious. Even atheism is a religion. In proportion to its supposed intelligence and sincerity is it one of the religions of the world. We cannot escape mystery. It has occurred to some minds, if they may be dignified by that appellation, that if we could close the Bible and burn the Church we should escape all mystery, and get into fine weather, and under clear skies, and breathe an air full of health The Bible does not make mysteries, it recognises them. That there is a Force somewhere, and of some kind, that controls and limits us, is undeniable. I will not ask you to give that Force any name. I simply ask you to recognise what has been recognised by the greatest and calmest thinkers of all times—the fact that there is above, below, behind all things a Force that limits us. I will not ask at this point whether that unknown Force directs us or blesses us. I confine my remarks in the first instance to the simple fact that it limits us. We cannot do all that we want to do. Sometimes we are mocked because our actions are less than our prayers. What say you to the taunt that your actions are less than your desires, your accomplishments are less than your ambitions? Who would you like to take his own medicine? That is exactly how the case stands. Some say in mocking tones, "Are these the men who pray? Behold, how inconsistent they are, how self-contradictory." So it is. "And are those the men that plot, and plan, and scheme, and go out on noble adventures, and come back with empty hands?" We must not taunt one another. The taunt is as complete on the one side as on the other, and it adds nothing to the illumination of the mystery which deeply concerns us all. Granted that there is such a Force, and, compared with inquiry into its nature, compass, and laws, all other investigation not only becomes common, but becomes contemptible. Consider that point well. If we get hold of that doctrine, we have got hold of a key that ought to open many a difficult lock. Let me repeat in other words this grand conviction. Granted that there is such a Force watching us, limiting us, guiding and directing our life, and finally bent on judging it; then inquiry into the nature and compass of that Force dwarfs all other inquiry; it becomes the supreme inquiry of the human mind. How little, how abject, how contemptible is every other inquiry as compared with the inquest into the unseen Spring and Secret of things. There is a learned book upon "Heat Considered as a Mode of Motion." Very good; but extremely trifling compared with this inquiry, What is it that moves and moulds and inspires all things? Whilst you are outside counting the bricks of the house, measuring them one by one, and making memoranda of what you call the phenomena of the building, I want to know who lives in it. It is the life that interests me, not the outer habitation. Do not suppose, therefore, that religion undervalues any inquiry on its own merits. Keeping upon its own ground, it may be excellent and useful, but no inquiry can touch the supremacy of religious investigation reverently conducted. It is customary to laugh at the religious fanatics; but granted that there is such a Force, written with very large capitals, and you have granted all I want to have admitted to justify me in the statement that, in inquiring into the nature of that Force, I take the leading position in human investigation. I may bring you false reports, and you may bring me false reports from your inquiries as well. I may in my little book write many things I must expunge, but your note-book is full of interrogations and marks indicating points that must be Revelation -investigated. Do not let us mock one another. If your note-books were all written in capitals, and read straight on, without erasure or correction, then you might wonder that our books were not kept so clearly. But when we read the memoranda of men of science, we find that they have been contradicting and correcting themselves all through. The object we have in view is to find out as much as we reverently can of the upper universe, and we, when conducting that inquiry, feel that we cannot come down and chaffer with those who are pursuing inferior objects so long as there is a glint of light in the sky by whose aid we can take another upward step. I do not feel that in pursuing these inquiries I am so remarkably foolish. I do not feel that I am at all fanatical in conducting these inquiries. You are looking at a man"s clothes; we want to see his heart. You say you are confining your attention to what you call phenomena. Many persons are the victims of that word. They do not understand it, but it has a rich, full sound in the mouth; it seems as though it meant something, or ought to. We are not engaged in the study of phenomena; we are engaged in the pursuit of the Unseen Secret that lies behind all phenomena and gives them shape and meaning. Do we then hold these phenomena in contempt? Nothing of the kind; only when we compare them with the Secret that gives them their place. They are assistances in our higher inquiries; they give us foothold, they supply points from which we can reckon progress. By putting them together and watching their wondrous ways, we find they shape themselves into a Revelation, and lift themselves into the dignity of a providence. Granted that it is possible for a man to read your soul"s thought, of what avail would it be for him to renounce that high prerogative and function, and to count the buttons upon your coat, to observe your general habits, to note the times of your rising and lying down, your times of taking exercise, and of replenishing the waste of the body? All these things have their importance,—we are not undervaluing them,—but if we keep ourselves to these inquiries when we might read your thought, we are abandoning a higher plane for a lower. Can we then find out the Lord unto perfection? No; but that is no reason why we should not go as far as he permits us to go. We have not yet found out phenomena to perfection—is that any reason why we should leave our inquiries? We, in trying to find out more and more of God every day, are rewarded, not by a full disclosure of his personality, but by a growing love, an increasing humility of spirit, and by a continual ennobling of our thoughts; we are made more restful, more tender, and more charitable, and other rewards we cannot ask for just now, it promises the consummation of heaven!

It is in this fact, as stated in the text, that we find the secret of superstition. No doubt there is a great deal of superstition in the world. Do not hold superstition in contempt I would rather trust my life with a man sincerely superstitious than with any man who denied the existence of God. Were I dying, and had a child to leave to the tender mercies of some guardian or friend, and did my choice lie between a man whose veneration was so excessive as to run up into the region of superstition and a man who blatantly denied the existence of a God, I could not hesitate for one moment into whose hands to commit the destiny of the child. Once let God go, and man goes along with him. Once let the Sabbath go, and the Monday goes at the same time. You cannot keep the one if you let the other escape. The second commandment grows upon the trunk of the first, and you may as well say that you will keep the apple and cut down the tree as say you will love your neighbour and deny your Maker.

Even superstition has its defences. We know not all that is about us; what wonder if some timid minds should bow down in fear? Be mine the friend who sees God in every age and scene, who calls the lightning his wings, and the clouds the dust of his feet, rather than the man so conceited and so unmanned as to say, "The name of God has no meaning for me." No more has the name of man. You must not imagine, however, that because there is superstition in the world that, therefore, there is no true worship. We believe, as Christian men, that we have a revelation of this unknown God. We do not accept the revelation simply because it professes to be one, but because it comes with ten commandments, a high morality, a noble patriotism, a force that frees the slave, deposes the oppressor, and gives to authority its necessary and rightful place. If the Bible came to us and said, "You must believe that or you will be damned," we might rebel against so peremptory and arbitrary a command. But it does not say so. Do not separate anything from its own atmosphere. What is the atmosphere of the Bible theology? It is righteousness and true purity. The Bible that says, "Man"s goings are of the Lord," says a wicked balance, an unrighteous balance, is hateful to the Most High. False weights are a temptation of God"s wrath. The Bible that introduces all this wondrous revelation and display of mystery says, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Do not, therefore, imagine that you can separate the revelation from the morality, the mystery from the righteousness.

"How then can a man understand his own way?" We do not understand it. Why, for example, are you not as gifted as your brother? I do not ask why you are not as gifted as a man on another continent. You might plead difference of circumstance and surroundings; but why are you not as gifted as your own brother, born of the same mother, nurtured in the same family? He is a philosopher, you are a common man; he is a thinker, you are a worker; he is a statesman, you can take but a parochial view of any subject that challenges your attention. He is a painter, and you are no artist; he is an orator, and you can hardly stammer out your meaning in your native tongue. How is it? Do not ask me to explain the mysteries of the Bible—I ask you to explain the mysteries of your own family. Why cannot you guarantee the success of your purposes? Why cannot you say, "I have done this and that, and have made all my arrangements, and the result must be good"? What—what hinders you? Do answer that question. You see, if you renounced your seat in church, and never read a chapter in the Bible, you would only step out of one set of mysteries into another. Can you not explain the reasons of your actions? Why did you leave the town you resided in last? Why did you resign the work you enjoyed so much? Explain your actions so as to leave no doubt as to the motives from which they sprang. You cannot Life is a mystery, breathing is a mystery, the whole sum total of what we call our being is steeped in mystery. The lifting of a hand, the glancing of an eye, these things have their religious and inexplicable mysteries. Why, then, I will give myself right up to God. "Commit thy way unto the Lord." That is what I will do. I will not murmur at what pains; what pains is sometimes best, if mine is a filial spirit. I will have nothing to do with myself. I will go every morning as soon as I awake, and say, "Father, what wilt thou have me to do?" I will have no tastes, no whims, no fancies. I will say, "Thy will, not mine, be done." It is not necessary for me to live, but it is necessary foe me to be true. "Lord, undertake everything for me; put me here or there, high up or low down; if I do but know that thou hast chosen the place for me, that will do." "Thy will be done." Sometimes he allows me to tell a long tale of what I would like, and he is always pleased with it, if I end with "Nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done." We all have our times of ambition, and we want to live in such a place, and such and such a house, and under such and such circumstances. "Lord, this is my little programme, burn it if thou wilt, laugh at it if thou wilt; thy will be done." If I can say this with my whole heart my life cannot be a failure, the saying of it makes my life a supreme success.

Then my life has been so beautifully directed hitherto that I will not have anything to do with its directions, but leave it to be guided as seems best to God. How wonderfully he has trained us! I once heard one teacher say of another celebrated in his profession, "He does not reveal his system all at once, he leads his pupils on from point to point, enforcing the doing of things the meaning of which they do not fully understand, until lo! in the process of time the whole purpose is revealed and success is enjoyed." It is even so with God. I have said, "I do not want to go there, I would rather not go," but he has troubled my life until I said, "Then, Lord, I will go." I have not wanted to be associated with such and such persons, but he has said, "This is right, accept the association, and work out the result patiently."

Young Prayer of Manasseh, what are you going to do with your life? Your life is not a something four square, so many pounds" weight, measurable, and to be wholly accounted for. Your life has roots, your life is a mystery, is an agony, and I want you to give yourselves to Christ"s keeping. I want you to say, I will take Christ"s prayer as my prayer, "Not my will, but thine, be done." And if riches are good for you, you shall have more than you can put your arms around. If acres are good for you, you shall have mile on mile; and if these things would make fools of you, would dispossess you of natural dignity, you shall have none of them; just crust enough to be going on with. "Not my will, but thine, be done." Oh, my Father, thou hast done wondrous things for me in times that are gone. No weapon that has been formed against me has prospered! Those who have come out from their houses to injure me have been struck with blindness and have never got back again! Thou dost not do such great things to reverse them, and by their inversion prove thine own weakness.

Now for a holy row, a solemn, sacred, glorious vow, to give ourselves, body, soul, and spirit, to the divine guidance. Come, dear old traveller, a few days more thou hast; give thyself into the Father"s hand. And, dear little child—bless thee, a thousand blessings be thine!—say with thy dear little sweet mouth and most eloquent eyes, "Father, take care of me always, for Christ"s sake." Say that These are little words, but they are full of dewy meaning and sweet and happy thought. And you, poor, poor wanderer, who went out from your Father"s house with the portion of goods that fell to you to make your fortune in a distant land! Famine-bitten, come! Weary, hungry, drenched through and through, come! "I dare not." You dare. "I may not." You may. This Man—there is but one Man—this Prayer of Manasseh, Son of Prayer of Manasseh, receiveth sinners and eateth with them.

Prayer

Almighty God, how delightful it is to sing thy praise! because how delightful to realise the tenderness of thy mercy. Thy love is a great love; it is like the sea, beating upon every shore. Thy mercy is an everlasting mercy; all the houses of history which have known it have said so one to another across the ages; and now we in our time take up the grand refrain and say, His mercy endureth for ever. Who can wear out the mercy of God? Yet thy Spirit will not always strive with man; there are appointed times which thou hast fixed and none can disarrange. We are in the hands of the living God; we are watched by the unslumbering eye; we are guided by the infinite counsel. Oh that we were wise, that we might know the meaning of all this blessedness, and receive it into our hearts, and repeat it in conduct worthy of its grace and music. But that we wish to do so is itself a blessing; the desire is the beginning of heaven. That such a purpose is in our heart is a miracle wrought by none but God. We would live in thy light; we would study thy will; we would do all thy bidding; we would be the slaves of the Son of God. We thank thee for these cleansing thoughts, for these high animations of soul, for these beginnings of immortality; this is the Lord"s doing—the very miracle of heaven. Once we were dead, once we strayed far and knew not where we were; but we have returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, and to-day we are found within the gates of the city of God, praising him with a loud voice and a fearless heart Thy word is very precious to us; it is most precious when we need it most. Who can find out all its meaning—deeper than all the depths we have fathomed, and higher than all the heights we have scanned? We are lost in wonder and in praise as we peruse the inspired pages. In all things give us the seeing eye, the receptive mind, the understanding and responsive heart; then shall our prayers be answers, our waiting shall be working, and our endeavour shall be success. Thou knowest every life—its joy, its sorrow, its innermost pain, its distress that may never be spoken, its penitence too sacred for created eyes to look upon. We are in thy hands: do thou answer us according to our necessity, and be pitiful to us because of our great weakness. The Lord help us to do all we know of his will, for in the doing of it shall we know more, and the doctrine shall be revealed through the practice. Direct us in all perplexity, strait, and embarrassment; comfort us in all sorrow, long-standing or newly-come, and help us to become chastened because of its action upon the soul. Where we realise our weakness most, may we realise thy strength as the help of our infirmity. When we hesitate between two opinions, incline us to the right, and make us strong in virtue and in goodness, and valiant in all truth and nobleness. Destroy the mean thought, the unworthy suspicion, the cruel jealousy, and set up thy kingdom within us, thou Christ of God, Son of David, Son of Mary, Son of man. Grant thy holy Spirit unto us to abide in the heart, to sanctify it, direct it; and make a temple of the living God of every affection which moves us. Heal the sick, thou loving, sympathising Christ, if not with bodily health, yet with spiritual hope and moral victory and saintly fearlessness; then shall they praise thee in the valley and conquer when they fall. Regard all our interests, and do not allow our minds to be distracted by them: for who can be in all the ends of the earth at the same time but God? We will watch at the altar, we will fight in the field, we will suffer in solitude, we will study thy word: as for all that belongs to us, thou wilt take care of it, for thou art our Father and Lord. We fall into thy hands. Thou didst give us Christ, and in him thou wilt freely give us all things; the Cross is the measure of thy love, and whilst we look at that we have no fear. Amen.

[Another Treatment.]

The Ways of Man

Proverbs 20:24

In very deed has he any way that is his own if he be at all moved by the spirit of obedience and trust? What we call our own may not after all be so very much our own. May not a man do what he will with his own? Let us grant that; but the further question will occur, what is his own? Will a man say that what he has in his hand is his own? Instantly that would be disputed, because though what he has in his hand may be his own, his hand is not his own. "Ye are not your own." The question is fundamental, vital, inclusive. What property we have may be our own in a certain sense, but we ourselves who have it are not our own. Thus the smaller is swallowed up of the larger, and he only takes the true view of life who says, "I am nothing, I have nothing but what I have been made and what I have received; you do not see the whole when you see me. Behind me, above me, beyond me, is the all-explaining but never-explained Secret." When a man touches that region of thinking, we call him a religious man. He is no longer a flippant creature or a person moved by such calculations as he can make upon a slate; he belongs to the general assembly and church of the firstborn. He is a point in a cir-cumference—a little light in a great firmament of planets—he belongs to the whole family. He Isaiah, therefore, distinctively and (I think) rationally called a religious man. That Isaiah, a man who acknowledges a Secret in the universe, which is not a puzzle but a Revelation, and by so much a contradiction, a Secret that watches him, claims him, inspires him, lifts him up by the locks of the head, bears him away, brings him back, uses him like a trumpet through which to announce the blast of battle, and lets him down like a shattered thing. "Ye are not your own." We are errand-bearers, little children, free slaves, contradictions to the vulgar and the patent, but happy, harmonious, sacred reconciliations and unities to those who know that Three may be One and One Three. You cannot deny that there is a secret in the world or in the heavens that baffles you and disappoints you, sets the winds laughing at you at night when you go out; or makes the summer into a great and gracious smile upon you when you turn your lace upwards in filial piety and saintly expectation. We may differ about the name, but there is the reality. One man may say, Secret, another may say, Force; another may say, Infinite; and another yet may say, Father. But there, under all the names and round about them, is the solemn reality that we do not see all things and cannot handle all force; but that there is in creation a mysterious and governing power. Consider this well. Once let the idea get into your mind, and every other idea that comes into the same mind must sit down at its feet, and all other ideas must look up to this sovereign force and take their tone and being from its royalty. You cannot escape that conclusion. Let the idea of God—present, ruling, fatherly, redeeming, actual—take possession of the human mind, and all other ideas stand back and bow themselves in duteous homage to that central and all-ruling thought. Hence we have what are called "religious men;" men of solemn mind, of thoughtful, sober, reverent habit of soul. Men who often put off their sandals and lay down their staves and call for quietness—silence more than silent—that they may hear in its ineffable quietude the music of the heavens. We cannot despise such men; they cannot be little men; they cannot be mean-minded men, they cannot be narrow and prejudiced men if faithful to their central and sovereign idea. When they do deserve such descriptive terms they have fallen from their high intellectual and spiritual estate and are no longer sons of the morning. It stands to reason that where the idea of God is in the mind all other ideas must of necessity be secondary.

Do you wonder, then, that Jesus Christ, who proceeded forth and came from God, who revealed God, who spent his eternity in the bosom of the Father, said, "Take no thought for the morrow," "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness;" "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell"? That was the tone of his ministry. God being his Father, all worlds, planets, constellations, universes interlinked with universes fall back into little flecks of light upon the disc of the Infinite, and Christ"s life was an oblation at the altar of his God. This is reason. This is true rationalism. He is a foolish man who is busy here and there gathering worthless things out of a worthless dust, and letting the king pass by without homage or recognition. This idea has taken possession of the human mind in all ages and places, and with varying, yet not inharmonious, results. Hence we have in one sphere of human progress what is termed superstition. There are people who will not begin important enterprises on certain days of the week. There are other persons who will not sit down at a dinner-table with a certain number of guests. Others observe the wind, and others steal out in the darkening eventide that they may forecast the future by the manner of the stars. Others are always hearing noises, seeing shapes, and allowing themselves to be moved by what they call "intuitions." Do we despise any of these phases of what we may call the religious thought, for there is a deep solemnity under them all? Certainly not. Have no faith in any man who is destitute of veneration. If any man can say jauntily, "All days in the week are alike to me," that man is not to be trusted in solemn hours and in great crises. Be it Friday that he fears, or be it Sunday that he sanctifies, he is a better man for his doing either of them. In that action you find the link that unites him with upper places and upper vitalities. By-and-by he will learn that Friday is no more to be feared than the day before or than the day after. But, meanwhile, do not mock him, he will not be taunted out of his superstition, he will be educated out of it in due time: presently he will learn that the Sabbath Day is to be sanctified in order that through its intense sanctification all the other days in the week are to be brought under a common sanction and a common benediction. In other cases, you have true worship; but whether in the case of superstition, or in the case of true worship, you find the secret of the perpetual influence of religion; so long as there is anything behind the scene, above the cloud, within the wind, which man cannot feel, grasp, and comprehend, you will find in him elements which admit of religious challenges, appeals, and education. If life were a flat ball, a superficies, a lineal surface, you could have no superstition as well as no religion, no poetry as well as no prayer. Everything goes down before the superficial, it is in the cubic mystery that you find poetry as well as prayer, and that you find religion as well as superstition or faith. God keeps one thing amongst us which exerts a continual education among the human faculties, and that one thing is—the future. Where is the future? How much is there of it? How near? How far? What is its tone? What is its mystery? So near, yet so far. Near as the next hour that will be chimed on the bells of the clock. Far away as ten billenniums multiplied by themselves, and then cubed into inconceivable magnitudes of years. A face at the window dimly seen; a voice that never speaks to you; an eye that never looks at you; a presence that never sits down with you—that is the future—mystic, ghostly, divine. And God sets that among the ages to touch men"s fears, and charm men"s hopes, and move them to noble destiny.

It is as impossible to comprehend the future as to comprehend God himself. On this reasoning the text founds a practical question—"How can a Prayer of Manasseh, then, understand his own way?" We are mysteries to ourselves. We are our own church. The man who mocks my faith has to take away ninety-nine hundredths of my life before I can join him in his bitter taunt. I have in a sense to commit suicide before I can give myself into his mischievous hands. Can you understand your own way? Can you explain anything? What is it that constitutes the difference between you and your brother? Why are you not intellectually of the same weight, the same volume, the same tone and quality? Why are you so fond of arithmetic and he so fascinated by poetry? Why will you always stay at home and he never can be persuaded to remain within the family circle? What is the difference? Explain it you cannot; but there is the fact. Or take it contrariwise. He is an abler man than you. You are given the same piece of work to do and he will succeed while you will fail? How is that? You go out on the same day in the same city to do the same kind of work, and he comes back bearing his sheaves with him and you come back having cut your fingers all to pieces with your sickle. Explain it. That is a mystery that exists independently of the church. The priests did not make that mystery, that is not a trick of priestcraft, nor is it a line in the Bible. There is the patent, mysterious, solemn fact. Account for it. Why can you not guarantee the success of your purpose? Why all this hoping? Why all this timidity and hesitation of tone about "possibilities"? Why those parenthetic annotations which speak of "contingencies," "ifs," "buts," "mayhaps"? Why do not you "stand up like a man" and rule the future? Your speech is riddled through and through with qualifying and limiting terms. The man who never prays on his knees is obliged to pray in a semi-dumb way by the parentheses with which he guards and limits his most impetuous declarations.

Why can you not always explain the reasons of your actions? You do a deed, and when you are asked to explain it you say you felt as if "I must do it." Why "must"? Why did you not accomplish that deed three months ago? Why did you ever hesitate about it? How did you come to do it at that particular time? What was it that whispered over your shoulder, "The opportunity is come, "There is a tide in the affairs of men" and this is the flood—quick"? What was it that spoke to me just now? Not a priest—I don"t know one. Not some one belonging to the church—I never go to church! What was the imp, the deity? Such is life. Not an empty thing, not a straight line, not a bubble seen upon a river, but a mystery, a wonder, a religious thing. This being the case, let us commit all our ways to God, and let us do it now. All our ways in business, in education, in proposals of every kind, in all thy ways acknowledge him, and he will direct thy paths. We acknowledge him in some of our ways, but I want to know whether I ought to go from this house to that; whether I ought to change my residence now or not now; whether, having written this letter, it is wise to send it; whether the child shall go to this school or to that school. I want to ask God about little things. But will he be troubled with little things? Yes, "the very hairs of your head are all numbered." Do nothing without God. Plunge right into his presence and say, "Unless thy presence go with me carry me not up hence." Say that with your whole heart and then act according to the best of your judgment, and the result will be right in the long run. Have no fear after you have given your heart away in one great love-gift to the Father. He will make the crooked straight; he will make the rough places plain. He will touch the mountains with his fingers and they shall smoke before you and shall be lost as a cloud dissolved. O trust in the Lord! Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: and he will give thee thy heart"s desire.

Then let us escape the spirit of murmuring. Murmuring is worse than infidelity of an intellectual kind. In fact infidelity of an intellectual kind is nothing at all. Do not trouble yourselves with it for a moment. There is more infidelity than intellect when you speak of "infidelity of an intellectual kind." Murmuring is atheism, murmuring is blasphemy, this is high treason. What is it that you murmur against? All-Power, All- Wisdom of Solomon, All-Love? Then we should vividly realise and represent the Spirit by which we are ruled. Hearing two men speak about life and duty and future revelation and action, we ought to have no difficulty in distinguishing between the Christian and the non-Christian. To the Christian there is no future in any sense that awakens anxiety, or fearful and demoralising speculation. Tomorrow, Lord, is thine—not mine. I live in the present. If I and the Father are One in a sympathetic and deeply spiritual sense, then like him I live in one continual Now. Let it be seen amongst men that you have a bank that cannot be broken; that whatever fluctuations take place here and there, no fluctuations take place in your treasury. Let your religion be in your face. A man cannot see God with his soul"s eyes and then have a dull face. There will be shining on the very countenance, singular, penetrating, revealing radiance in the very skin. "Moses wist not that his face shone." Herein glorify the darkening end of life in having perfect trust; in committing all things into God"s care; in abstaining from murmuring as you would abstain from profanity, and in letting your light so shine before men that they may say, "This is not man"s doing." That lamp was never lighted by Prayer of Manasseh, and by man can never be blown out Christ realised all this mystery and duty in his brief, sweet, gracious, joyous life. He murmured not; he committed himself in all things to him that judgeth righteously. He had no future that was not secure, and wherever he was seen there streamed from him a radiance above the brightness of the sun.

I understand nothing; I do not know what I am going to do, how I am going to do it; I cannot tell by what impulses I shall be swayed and directed. I was born yesterday, and to-morrow I am going into the unseen. I do not behold anything as it really is. Just treat me, O Father, like a little, little child. "Not my will but thine be done." If it is thy will, labour will be rest, and pain sweet, and loss gain, and winter will be the beginning of summer. Into thy hands I commend my spirit.

Prayer

Almighty God, thou hast not left thyself without witness. All around we see the fruits of thy presence and ministry. Thy presence is a great light, and thy ministry a great love. Once we were blind, and could see neither of them, but by thy grace we have received our sight, and now all nature is full of thy beauty, goodness, and Wisdom of Solomon,—a great wide-open volume written all over with the finger of God. It is a great sight: we will turn aside and see it; we will watch until thou dost speak to us from every burning bush, from every quiet hill, from every lovely flower. May we have ears to hear: then shall thy gospel come to us from all quarters; thy still small voice shall be heard in the thunder; in our souls there shall be a whisper not human. We bless thee for these hopes, yea, for these confident expectations, for we are as men who wait for their fulfilment: we know they will be realised; we shall not always have our ears filled with din and noise and tumult; there shall come a day when we shall hear as it were the going of God, the movement of the Eternal, and we shall say This is none other than the house of God, and this the gate of heaven. Train us away from all dullness, from all blindness and darkness of mind; give us sharpness of vision, great sensitiveness of soul: may we hear thee, and answer thee; may we behold thee, and fall down prostrate in loving adoration. Thou hast made us in a fearful and wonderful way: how complex is man! what a terror to himself! sometimes what a joy! now burning with intolerable agony, and now as it were on the wings of eagles, away up where the light is born, and where heaven is fully seen. How abject, how august is man! Help us to study ourselves in the light of thy Revelation, in the light of thy daily providence; enable us to ask great questions, to put reverent but fearless inquiries; may we not stand back in superstition and wondering ignorance, but approach quietly, lovingly, hopefully, to ascertain what we may of the mystery of things, and be ennobled by a higher veneration, softened and chastened by a sweeter consciousness of thy presence. We have been in all things too superstitious we have held thee to be a God afar off and not nigh at hand: but now we see thee in Christ Jesus thy Son—how tender, how majestic, how wise, how simple, how awful in spiritual grandeur, how condescending in spiritual brotherhood! May we know more of Christ, not in the letter, but in the spirit. We know all his outward history, but we would have him live in our hearts, be born in the Bethlehem of our spirits, the hope of glory; there we would have him, babe, and child, and man; teacher, friend, example, Saviour, priest: in our own hearts we would Revelation -live the story, and thus be able to speak out of our own experience concerning the largeness and brightness and purity of Christ"s kingdom. Thou knowest our need; it is manifold; its only name is legion. Yet thou art able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think: even when we have asked all heaven, still thou canst always add a line we never dreamed, a gift we never imagined. Fill us with all the fulness of God: the river of God is full of water. Give us light, comfort, joy, sense of duty, obedience of will, gladness of heart, so that our broken bread shall be as the body of Christ and every cup we take be filled with sacramental blood: thus life shall become a holy peace, a sacred duty, a period of school and discipline and training; then shall we be brought among thy saints and princes in the upper spaces—the great, white, beautiful heavens, home of the pure and good—and shall enter upon service that brings with it no pain of weariness, no shame of regret, the very Sabbath of heaven, the sanctuary of eternity. Amen.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:24". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jpb/proverbs-20.html. 1885-95.

Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible

Proverbs 20:24

"A man"s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?"Proverbs 20:24

Does not your heart sometimes quake with fear lest you have nothing but a nominal profession, lest the god of this world is blinding you, and lest your conscience be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin? It is good to have such fears. He who fears not, who has no solemn apprehensions, no anxious inquiries, who is never exercised with some internal trepidation of soul, it is much to be feared has never known what it is to have "the candle of the Lord searching the inward parts of the belly."

But if God has quickened your soul into spiritual life, and you have ears to hear, I would just put two questions to you—Have you obtained righteousness by a manifestation of Christ"s righteousness; pardon by the application of Christ"s blood; love by a shedding abroad of love; deliverance by a discovery of God"s outstretched hand? My other question is this—If you have not, and let conscience bear its honest testimony—if you have never experienced righteousness, pardon, love, and deliverance, is there a cry in your soul after them? Is there anything like fervent supplication that God would bestow them? Is there anything of a groan in the depth of your spirit that the Lord would reveal them? These are marks of life; and he that has these marks will have the blessing, because God has quickened him into spiritual life. It may be long delayed, but it will come at last; "it will surely come, it will not tarry." It may be withheld for wise purposes, and you may have to travel through many a dark season and many an anxious hour, but deliverance is sure; it is reserved for you in Christ, and you are reserved for it, kept by God himself unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:24". Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jcp/proverbs-20.html.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Этот стих учит нас, что в своих делах

(1) мы должны постоянно зависеть от Бога. Все наши естественные поступки зависят от Его провидения, а духовные действия – от Его благодати. Самый хороший человек сам по себе не лучше, чем сделал его Бог, и каждое творение относится к нам так, как того желает Бог. Наши предприятия бывают успешными, но не так, как мы желаем и их планируем, а как их направляет и располагает Бог. Шаги даже сильного человека (дословно) направляются от Господа, ибо его сила – слабость без Бога; не всегда сражения выигрывают сильные.

(2) Мы не можем предвидеть будущие события и поэтому не можем предсказать их: человеку же как узнать путь свой? Как он может знать, что обрушится на него, если Божья воля относительно его остается тайной; и поэтому как он может планировать свои дела без божественных наставлений? Мы мало знаем о собственном пути и не осознаем, что для нас хорошо, поэтому, делая вид, что поступаем добровольно, мы должны предать свои пути Господу, в чьих руках они находятся, следовать водительству и подчиняться действиям провидения.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Proverbs 20:24". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary
>
>on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhn/proverbs-20.html. 1706.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

How can we form plans, and conduct business, independently of the Lord?

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Proverbs 20:24". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary
>
>on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhn/proverbs-20.html. 1706.