Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Choose Carefully Where You Lean
Julius Caesar was a great statesman, general, and author. He was not, however, a great zoologist. At one point in his Commentary on the Gallic Wars, Caesar describes some of the animals he saw in the German forest. Among these animals is the German elk. According to Caesar, the elk have no joints in their legs. This inability to bend their legs forces the elk to rest while standing up and leaning against a tree. If they ever fall down, it is impossible for them to get back up. If you want to catch a German elk, all you have to do is find the trees against which the elk rest at night and cut through the trees until they are just about to fall over. Then, when the elk come to rest against those trees, they give way and the elk fall down, unable to get back up.
Caesar was mistaken about the German elk’s ability to bend its legs, but his description provides an apt illustration of the point Solomon is making in today’s Bible passage.
The Bible tells us that King Solomon was the wisest person on earth because “God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore” (1 Kings 4:29). Unlike Caesar, Solomon was a great zoologist, as well as a great botanist, author, composer, and philosopher. There was very little that Solomon could not understand and explain. Yet, Solomon knew that even he, the wisest person in the world, could not lean solely on his own understanding and expect it always to hold him up. Doing that was a lot like Caesar’s impression of a German elk leaning on a weakened tree. Although human understanding seems very sturdy to us, it will give way inevitably. And if we’re leaning only on it as it falls, we’ll fall right along with it and vainly struggle to pick ourselves up again.
That’s why Solomon encourages us to find something sturdier than our own human understanding to lean our lives on. We need to lean our lives on the Lord himself. Only the Lord has the infallible answers to all of life’s most important questions. He has provided the perfect answer to the guilt of all our sins by the perfect life and innocent death of his Son, Jesus. He has provided the perfect answer to our struggles in life through his promise to work all things for our good. No matter what situation we may face in life, we can always be confident that we’re on the right track when we’re leaning completely on the Lord. For the Lord is the sturdiest support that there is. He can never, and will never, give way. When we lean on him, we cannot fall.
Lord, lead me to lean on you alone. Lead me firmly on your paths. Amen.