TRUST IN THE LORD
T. PIERCE BROWN
Of all the wise sayings of Solomon, there are probably none that more sorely need our attention, meditation, exegesis and practice than Proverbs 3:5-6. Since I first read those verses some 65 years ago they have probably had as much influence on my life as any verses in the Old Testament.
Let us review the passage again. The word “trust” deserves a whole lesson by itself. The Hebrew term is “batach,” which means something like “cling to,” “confide in,” “have enough confidence in that you lean on or commit yourself to.” The Septuagint has an imperative and perfect participle that loosely translated means, “continue to be persuaded to do what God says.”
Although in the New Testament the words “faith” and “belief” are both translated from the same Greek word “pistis,” it is clear that the faith that brings salvation, or any other blessing, is not simply belief in the reality of a fact. The Devil believes (James2:19). It is not even simply a belief in the truthfulness of a statement of proposition. This is a distinction that I doubt that enough preachers of the gospel make. Most of us equate trusting in some word of Christ with trusting in Christ Himself, probably because we abhor the idea of “trusting Jesus as your personal Savior” while disregarding His word. Note a VERY important point: If you properly trust in Christ, you must believe any statement He makes. However, you may believe some statement He makes without trusting in Him. Perhaps an illustration will clarify. Suppose a person says, “It will rain today.” You may believe that statement, yet know that the person is a liar, thief or atheist. So it is possible to believe a number of specific statements the Lord made and not trust in the Lord.
In fact, that is one of the great problems of denominational preachers. They all believe and teach many statements of the Lord, but because they do not properly trust in the Lord, they may pick and choose which ones to take. Many of us who have done extensive personal evangelism have had persons tell us about some scripture, such as Acts 2:38, “That is your scripture. I will take John 3:16.” Trust in the Lord involves believing all His revelation, not just the part that suits our preconceived notions. If He says salvation is by faith, we believe it. If He says it is by grace, we believe it. If he says it is when we obey from the heart a form of doctrine, we believe it. If he says that baptism also saves us, we believe it.
Trust in the Lord is not only confidence in the reality and truthfulness of any and all specific statements He makes, it is confidence in Him to do what is right even when He has not made a specific statement about that particular thing. Trust in the Lord begins by hearing what He says (Romans 10:7) and grows by doing what He says by confidently surrendering your will and life to Him.
Although it is true that trust in Jesus goes beyond trusting in some specific statement He makes, it is not true that it involves assuming that He will be pleased with us doing a specific act about which He is silent.
God said that all things work together for good to those that love Him (Romans8:28). Trust in Him involves my believing that. It does not involve my assumption that therefore I cannot have a car wreck. It does give me the right to conclude with full confidence that if I do have a car wreck, God will make good come from it if I love Him.
The expression “with all thine heart” deserves more space and time than we have available. Since the Bible teaches that we think, believe, love, purpose and understand with the heart, that the term “heart” is simply another term for the mind. That is not exactly true. The heart includes the mind, but in its Bible sense it is the center of all the mental, emotional and spiritual activity. It involves the conscious mind, the subconscious mind, the emotions and the will. This is why the Bible says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; For out of it are the issues of life” (Prov.4:23). Matthew12:34says, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”
When one trusts in the Lord with all the heart, all aspects of the mind, emotion and will are involved. The second phrase is almost a re-statement or enlargement of the first. “In all thy ways acknowledge Him” is a necessary corollary to the first statement. That is, if you trust the Lord with all your heart, you must acknowledge Him in all your ways.
The word “acknowledge” in the original is so rich, varied and powerful that it is almost impossible to adequately translate it with any one word. It is translated by about 72 different expressions in the Old Testament. The primary meaning of “acknowledge” in English is to “own or admit the knowledge of.” This only begins to touch the surface of what is in the original expression. It almost requires that we coin another word like “act-knowledge” and then define it. It involves knowing God, then acting in conformity with His nature and will. Knowing God involves having such an intimate relationship with Him that you not only love and trust Him with all your heart, you understand His nature and partake of it (2 Peter 1:4) insofar as it is possible for a finite being to understand and be like an infinite One. For example, God is love (1 Jn. 4:8). To know God not only enables us to understand the meaning of love as we see it demonstrated by Jesus on the cross. It enables us to do what would otherwise be unlikely, if not impossible. I know of no historical record of anyone being able to love his enemies without getting that ability from God. This is why Jesus indicated that one who does this is perfect, as the Father is perfect (Mt.5:45-47). This does not mean you love as much, but you have the kind of love the Father has. When one has such an intimate and full knowledge of God that he has become partaker of His divine nature, and then in every act of his life responds as Christ would respond, we have an approximate meaning of “in all thy ways acknowledge Him.”