1 The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.
Christadelphian writing is "bold," because of full assurance of faith and understanding as the result of daily familiarity with the holy oracles. Your notion that a man must have a personal "commission" is a mistake and a hindrance. If it were true, no work of God could be done now, for none are personally commissioned.
All are "sent" who understand and believe the word of the water of life (Rev. 22:17), and who, being "faithful men," have apprehended the things which Timothy heard of Paul.-(2 Tim. 2:2.)
Such, being fully persuaded of the truth and the glory of the gospel, have great confidence and boldness, and no sympathy with the uncertainty and deadness that reigns among so-called Christendom.
4 They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.
Here we have the case of Christ depicted, and a cue supplied for the guidance of all his brethren. Jesus was a keeper of the law. He was "made under the law" (Gal. 4:4), and was obedient in all things. And what was his relation to "the wicked" around him-the Scribes and the Pharisees, and leaders of the people, of whom he said that they outwardly appeared righteous unto men but were full of all unrighteousness? He contended with them.
He both opposed them personally and warned the people against them (Luke 20:46; Matt. 23:13-39). In this he exemplified a line of deportment greatly in contrast with what is considered the right and the Christian thing in our day. To speak well of everybody and "let other people enjoy their own opinions":
this is the modern ideal of charitableness. To die without an enemy is considered the highest pitch of moral achievement. "He died without an enemy": this is regarded as the finest thing that can be said of a dead man. What can we say but that such sentiments cannot be harmonised with the case of Christ who died in the midst and at the hand of enemies, and who, telling his disciples of the coming hatred they would experience, said,
"If the world hate you, ye know it hated me before it hated you" (John 15:18).
From a divine standpoint, the fact of a man's having no enemies is a bad sign. Jesus says,
"Woe unto you when all men speak well of you."
The reason of this is germinally contained in the verse under consideration. The wicked love to be praised, and speak well of those who praise them. They hate those who do not praise them. A man who "keeps the law" cannot praise them. His own love of the law would disincline him: the commandment itself forbids it. Only those who forsake the law praise them, and there are many such. The world is made up of them. The world lieth in wickedness.
Consequently, there is much praising of the wicked. It is to be heard all round: in the press, in public meetings, in the pulpit, in private conversation-everywhere. In this praise, it would be pleasant and advantageous to join, but the keepers of the law cannot join. Consequently, they are hated; but they are hated yet the more because of their attitude.
"Such as keep the law contend with them."
It may be said that as we are not under the law of Moses, the maxim cannot apply. This would be a short-sighted conclusion. Though we are not under that particular form of divine commandment, we are
"not without law to God, but under the law to Christ" (1 Cor. 9:21).
And the principles governing obedience to God are the same under one form of command as another. "Such as keep the law," whatever it may be, "contend with" those who are not subject to it, and who are therefore the wicked. Paul's life is an example. His life was a continual contention with evil men; and Jude lays it down that we must
"contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints" (verse 3).
Of course there is such a thing as being "contentious": this is a different thing. We must carefully distinguish between the mere pugnacity of the flesh and a faithful insistence on the will of God.
Lovers of "debate, wrath, strife, seditions, malignity, deceit," are themselves the wicked, even if the subject of their debate be furnished by themes of Bible origin. The contentions of such do not come within the commendation of Prov. 28:4.
Those who are commended are "those who keep the law," and men do not keep the law who do not obey
"the first and great commandment": "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,"
and the second which is like unto it: "and thy neighbour as thyself." Men who are proud, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, boasters, inventors of evil things, covenant breakers, implacable, unmerciful, are not keepers of the law, however much they may contend about the law or the gospel.
The passage we are considering contemplates a quiet, loving class, whose perception of right and sense of duty impel them to a contention with those who would lead men from the way of life. They contend with the wicked; they do not praise them, yet are they good men, kind men, gentle, faithful, loving men, whom the circumstances of the present evil world force into an attitude of hostility to all around them.
13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
God pardons transgressions. Yes, and heinous ones too! If God should mark sin (in the unqualified sense) who could stand? Not one, save Christ, for all have sinned, and, therefore, fallen short of His Glory. But God is very merciful. Provided sins be confessed and forsaken, He will lovingly and abundantly forgive. His anger remains only where sin is wilfully and persistently practised-where no effort is made to improve, and where every opportunity for redeeming the time is allowed to slip.
The forgiveness of God is fully demonstrated in the lives of those whom we are told "died in faith." To cite one of them will suffice. David was guilty of more than one great crime, but for all that he was greatly beloved of God. He receives in the Word of Truth the highly honourable mention of being a man after God's own heart, and is set forth as an example for others to follow. Why is this?
There is much consolation in the answer. David was not an habitual worker of unrighteousness-his life generally was characterised by uprightness and the fear of God. His sins were exceptional slips. When he sinned, he confessed his unworthiness with deep sorrow. This in itself forms a matter of example to us.
Where David's disposition is wanting, there is the tendency either to falsely exalt ourselves or to pull the Bible standard down.
"He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." (Prov. xxviii. 13). - ATJ
The Christadelphian, Oct 1887
15 As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people.
We know something of wicked rulers
The constitution of the world at the present time is, in fact, a constitution of wicked rulership. Here we have a simile illustrative of its character: a lion, a bear. The application in the verse is individual, but we may give it a wider scope. The same animals have been symbolically used in a larger way.
They are two of the four Beasts used in the vision shown to Daniel to represent the four great Gentile monarchies. Their employment indicates the divine estimate of the nature of Gentile government. Imagine a lion in the street-a bear at large: how different from a father and a friend of the people.
This is the difference between the kingdoms of the world and the kingdom of God-a glorious man on a throne, a lamb on the Mount Zion, a city of geometrical symmetry and dazzling brightness, having the glory of God like unto a stone most precious.
As the brethren of Christ, we belong to the latter. We are not of the Lion and the Bear and the Great Red Dragon party. We have here no continuing city. Our citizenship is in heaven, from whence we look for the Saviour to bless all the families of the earth.
Like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, concerning the promises, we have become "persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that we are strangers and pilgrims on the earth." Those who take part in the politics of the world, confess that they belong to the wicked rulership of the present darkness, which is destined to flee away before the glorious sunrise of Christ's presence.
We, who abstain, "declare plainly that we seek a country." We do not abstain because we have no interest in mankind and their affairs; but because by the gospel, we have been called out from among them during the Lion and Bear dispensations, to prepare for a place in the Glorious Shepherd dispensation of the age to come, when God will be glorified and mankind enlightened and blessed in all the earth.
The establishment of that dispensation is connected with a country-the country promised, which in the days of the fulfilment will be a heavenly country. In preparation for a permanent place in this heavenly country in the age to come, we accept a position of obscurity during the Lion and Bear ascendancy. We do so deliberately, in patient hope, and the turn of the saints will certainly come.
"Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart."
18 Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved: but he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once.
We are brought to the last and most important childlike characteristic we must evidence. The one upon which the parent-child relation of God and man is primarily based-TRUSTFULNESS-a child's trust and a Father's care.
Here is where the example of childhood faces its most difficult task - to teach adult faith to rely on the invisible, immovable Rock, and not the visible, shifting sand. To relax its frantic and worrying efforts to build security out of perishing mammon, and in the serene confidence of childlike faith to feel the assuring strength of the everlasting arms.
Our relationship to God is as children, shaping their characters under their father's care. As such, there are things to which we must give heed, and things to which we must not. As a Father to His children, God has said to us-
"Take no thought for temporal things-I shall supply them as they are needed. What you must do in the few brief years at your disposal is to diligently prepare yourselves for the work I have in store for you. You have much to do and the time is short. Be content with what I give you- and remember, too, that sometimes I shall give you more than you need to see if you use MY GOODS wisely and faithfully FOR ME, or if you squander them upon yourselves. Later on, you must give an account of how you have used your time and opportunities and possessions."
A true conception of our position as children will lead us to a proper use of our time. Childhood is a limited period, a time of passing opportunity. It is a time for learning and preparing. In it the basis of the future is laid. It is a time of education and discipline-often of necessary and beneficial chastisement.
If used diligently and wisely and intelligently and obediently, it will lead to an acceptable and eternal manhood. If used foolishly or thoughtlessly or frittered in pleasure or wasted in ambition, it will, of course, lead to another end, just as eternal and inevitable.
If we rely on ourselves, our knowledge, our ability, we lose the strongest incentive to resist temptation when it affects our wellbeing, but if we in faith cast aside worldly security and throw ourselves entirely upon God's care, knowing that we shall only be cared for if we are well pleasing to Him, it will be a strong deterrent to doing anything that may forfeit His care and guardianship.
That is, if our whole treasure and insurance and dependence is in heaven in the shape of God's favour and care, we shall be much more careful not to jeopardize it or let it lapse by rendering a faulty obedience.
Bro Growcott - As Little Children
26 He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.
The Scriptures make it clear that naturally we have no wisdom. Our natural condition is folly and ignorance, regardless of how well educated in worldly knowledge. We may have a mechanical, animal cleverness, but never wisdom, for the Scriptures speak of all worldly knowledge as foolishness.
The Scriptures measure wisdom and folly by the final result achieved. There is no other reasonable standard.
By this standard only one thing is wisdom, and that is godliness, for all else-regardless of how clever or prosperous or spectacular in achievement-leads only to the devouring worms of the grave at last.
Where is Aristotle? Where is Da Vinci? Where is Newton? Where is Einstein? They had tremendous animal mental power, far beyond normal - but no wisdom. They are wormy dust.
Only one path leads to life. All other activities lead to death. Therefore it alone is wisdom. And anything in life that does not contribute to this one purpose is folly - stupidity - idiocy: no word is too strong, the issues are so great!
It will help us a lot if we will honestly give our every action its proper label. Classification is the beginning of order. Face the facts. Face the Light.
We may still DO it, but let us at least, frankly, face the facts and label it clearly as wisdom or folly, according to whether it contributes to godliness or not.
We shall find, if we are honest, that much of our activity we will have to call folly. If we have any depth of sincerity toward God, things will soon lose their appeal if we frankly recognize them as time and life-wasting folly.
Bro Growcott - But where shall wisdom be found