“Be in the fear of the Lord all the day long. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” — Prov 23:17-18
The Lord is here addressing himself to a soul laboring under temptation, and passing through peculiar exercises; and this is the exhortation that he gives it—“Be in the fear of the Lord all the day long;” watching his hand, submitting to his will, committing everything into his care and keeping; not hardening your heart against him, but looking up to him, and worshiping him with godly fear; “there is surely a future hope for you.”
You may be tempted, exercised, and surrounded with difficulties, and see no outlet; but “there is surely a future hope for you;” and, when the end comes, it will make all plain and clear. This quiet submission, this watching and waiting, a man can never be brought to unless he has seen an end to all creature perfection; an end of his own strength, wisdom, and righteousness. To sit still is the hardest thing a man can do. To lie passive at God’s footstool when all things seem to be against us; to have a rough path to walk in, to be surrounded with difficulties, and yet to be in the fear of the Lord all the day long, watching his hand, desiring to submit to his will, seeking only that wisdom which comes from above, and trusting that he will make the way straight; not putting our hand to the work, but leaving it all to the Lord—how strange, how mysterious a path!
And yet it is the only one that brings solid peace to a Christian; “there is surely a future hope for you.” Whatever sorrows and troubles a man may have to wade through, there will surely be an end of them. If we try to get ourselves out of perplexities, we are like a person trying to unravel a tangled skein of silk by pulling it forcibly; the more it is pulled, the more entangled it gets, and the faster the knots become. So if we are plunged into any trial, providential or spiritual, and we attempt to extricate ourselves by main force, by kicking and rebelling, we only get more entangled.
The Lord, then, to encourage us to wait patiently upon him until he shall appear, says, “there is surely a future hope for you.” This is the universal testimony of the Scripture, that the Lord appears and delivers, when there is no other to help; and the experience of the saints agrees with the testimony of the written word—“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”