“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5)
“And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” (Jeremiah 3:15)
Proverbs 3:5 is one of the most beloved verses in the Bible for Christians. I find this very interesting, because it’s so hard to do—it’s downright impossible! It’s much easier to obey one of the new-age and eastern philosophies that are so popular today. Steve Jobs wrote (about being successful), “You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”1 I guess, to be fair, I should write to Jobs and ask him to explain his quotation, rather than take it out of context, which is exactly what I am warned against in Proverbs 3:5—leaning on my own understanding—the “whatever.”
I admit that my heart is an enigma to me, physically and spiritually. Physically I know that it beats about eighty times every minute, pumping blood to my organs and keeping me alive. We can have part of our brains removed and still live on, with an unexpectedly high level of functioning, and this boggles my mind. But I cannot live with part of a heart, or one that been “divided.” How much less can I live spiritually with a divided heart? My inability to know what to do drives me to Scripture. “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls” (Luke 11:17).
John Gill, who preached in Spurgeon’s church, wrote in his exposition on Proverbs 3:5, “The understanding of man is darkened by sin; yea, is darkness itself; it is like the first earth, covered with darkness, till light is let into it, and therefore not to be leaned unto and depended on.”2 I long to know the truth, but I find that my unrighteous biases, opinions, preconceptions, and self-justifications are always there, affecting every aspect of my life, including my Bible study. I am driven to Jeremiah, who assures me that God will give us shepherds with His heart to teach us. Who are these shepherds? They are Jesus, first and foremost, along with the Holy Spirit. They include Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, and Peter—the writers of the New Testament, God’s apostles. They are Moses, David, Solomon, and the prophets—the writers of the Old Testament. They are the fathers, brothers, and sisters of the faith who rule and preach to us, give us creeds, catechisms, and hymns.
We have strong shepherds today who will guide us into biblical truth. The question is, will you and I seek to follow God with our hearts, willing to be challenged and rebuked by Scripture, or will we revert to what we think we already know because it’s just easier to follow the “whatever”?