The Carefully Weighed Step
Brian D. Dykstra, teacher at Hope PR Christian School in Walker, MI
“Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil” (Prov. 4:26-27).
Because out of the heart are the issues of life, Solomon has warned his children to keep it with all diligence. To do that, he has instructed us to put away a froward mouth and keep our eyes looking right on the goal of serving God. He finishes his admonitions on how to keep the heart by telling us that we must ponder the path of our feet.
Scripture often compares our lives to walking a path. We do not walk any random path, nor is God pleased when we walk a path because we believe this way will provide us with earthly pleasures. God has clearly told us the goal of our path is to love Him and the neighbour. Our path is not easy; however, we walk this path to show our gratitude to our Saviour.
Having this goal before our eyes, we may now ponder the best path of achieving the goal. It does not do us any good to weigh which would be the best path after the journey is finished. God also warns us there are dangers to the right and left of this path; therefore, we must be vigilant.
My wife and I camped in northern Arizona recently. We had rented a Ford Expedition which a clever handyman had converted to have a bed in the back. We took public transportation from the airport to pick up the vehicle. We were conspicuous to the locals as we were the only passengers with luggage. Once a fellow passenger discovered our plans to camp at the Grand Canyon, he warned us that in the past months two tourists had fallen to their deaths from the canyon’s rim. Clearly, while hiking the rim of the Grand Canyon, we would do well to ponder the path of our feet.
During my years of summer employment, there were times I served as the road inspector when a new subdivision was built. Excavators removed trees, rocks and other obstacles. They scraped away the high places and used the removed dirt to fill in the low places. Workers compacted the subsurface. Finally, after the blacktop was laid, a steamroller smoothed and compacted the surface. Knowing something of all the planning and work which went into those newly-finished roads, I thought they were beautiful.
We have many obstacles in our spiritual path. Our pastors send us away from God’s house each Sunday with the benediction of our Lord’s peace. Are we then anxious about the cares of daily living? Do we desire the things of this earth to the extent we have our treasures here instead of in heaven? Does our faith waver? Yes, God has given us great promises and we love them, but, you know, there are all of these factors to consider which seem to make these promises impossible to fulfil! We must remove these trees of anxiousness and rocks of doubt. God’s grace rolls smooth the way of faith. The way of faith, marked out by God, is truly beautiful, and we must not forget that God blessed us with peace through Christ crucified when we left His presence in public worship.
We now come to the word, “let.” It is a command. This is not to allow something to happen, as in “Let me help you.” This “let” will cause some action, as in “Let there be light!” When we ponder our path, our ways will be established, that is, erect, upright in the eyes of God. We will have no doubt about the end of the path. We are assured that just as God’s effectual Word created light, the path we walk leads to everlasting fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ. This will be true of all our ways.
We have thought about our path and it is established. Now we must not turn from it to the right or the left. God has given His Word to us. We may not take away nor add anything to it. Which way is more dangerous? Ignoring portions of God’s Word leads us to careless, ungodly living. Adding to God’s law leads us to Pharisaism. We see the dangers of both in our first parents. We can almost see this beautiful, young couple at the dawn of life. They had one commandment, do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So, they thought, just to be safe, let us make a rule for ourselves that we will not even touch the tree. Then eating it will not be a problem. However, at the instigation of Satan, Eve soon ignored the rule about touching the tree. Experiencing no punishment for breaking their rule, she soon advanced to disobeying the one prohibition God had given and the punishment was great.
Finally, we are commanded to “remove thy foot from evil.” Foot is singular. We must not take even the first step off the good path which God marks out for us. We must not ever underestimate the power of sin. How often has that first step into evil proven to be more disastrous than the last misstep which led to the plunge off the edge of the Grand Canyon? The first taste of the forbidden fruit, the first touch of the coveted Babylonian garment, the first hearing of the flattering lie from the wicked woman on her street corner, the first lustful look at Bathsheba and the first smell of the sacrifice offered to the golden calves have led to great spiritual consequences. The danger to us, and especially our young people, is constant. Satan never gives us a day off, so we must always be pondering the path of our feet.
May God be pleased to use our Christian schools to give His covenant children the wisdom they need to ponder the path of their feet and remove their foot from evil. God will establish their ways, ways which lead to everlasting fellowship with Christ in heaven, where the paths are paved with gold.