Solomon was given remarkable wisdom by God. He was made the wisest of men in answer to prayer. He desired wisdom, and the Lord was so pleased with this request that He gave him greater wisdom than He had given to any other man: “God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt” (1 Kings 4:29,30). “And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five” (1 Kings 4:32). Here we have some of his proverbs. They are not all here, but all are here that the Holy Spirit deemed necessary for the Church of God. They are not only the writings of Solomon, they are also the words of God. In this chapter Solomon is exhorting us to seek after wisdom as the principal thing, and to get understanding (v 7). He advises his son of the danger of the path of the wicked (vv 14-17) and then, in verse 18, he goes on to describe the path of the just.
1 Who are the just?
2 The path of the just.
1. Who are the just mentioned here? To find the answer we must go to the Word of God. It will keep us right. It tells us that none are just: “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom 3:10). “Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Ps 53:3). This is man as he is by nature, but in our text reference is made to the just. They are believers in Christ. Christ is God’s gift to a lost world, His unspeakable gift. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Here is the love of God: “herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Christ gave Himself a living sacrifice to satisfy divine justice and to reconcile sinners to God.
In the first chapter of Romans, Paul shows how lost the Gentiles were; then in chapters 2 and 3 he shows that the Jews were lost also and comes to this conclusion: “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference” (Rom 3:20-22). The righteousness of God spoken of here is not His essential righteousness, but the righteousness which He provided in Christ. Christ, in His perfect obedience to the law of God, in His life and in His death, wrought out this righteousness for His people. This is the gospel – the righteousness of Christ.
The first eight chapters of Romans are about this righteousness, and Paul declares, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith” (Rom 1:16,17). This is what makes the gospel such glorious news: that by believing in Christ the sinner is justified freely. This is the way in which Abel was justified, by believing in the One who was to come; and in the same way the publican was justified, by believing in the provision made. They are all accepted in the Beloved, “in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph 1:7). They come to be lights in the world, for Jesus said of His disciples, “Ye are the light of the world” (Matt 5:14). Also Paul writes, “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Phil 2:15).2. The path of the just is as the shining light. The shining light is the sun which, as it rises, gives greater and greater light until noon – the perfect day. The Lord’s people come to some experience of the Word of God. This has small beginnings. Sinners called by grace come to understand something of the authority and power of the Word of God as it is applied by the Holy Spirit. They come to see, in a measure, that they are lost and in need of salvation. It is a question for many believers: Did I get enough law work? Well, if you got such a knowledge of the law as to make you aware of your need of salvation, that is enough. The Philippian jailor had great terror, while Lydia did not; but both came to see their need of salvation. We must leave these things to the Lord. As Mr Macfarlane used to say, “By a touch the Holy Spirit can convince a person of his sin”, as in the case of the thief on the cross.
The light that the Holy Spirit brings to bear on the sinner shows him his inability to satisfy the law; “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in [God’s] sight” (Rom 3:20). His inability to believe the gospel is also brought home to him. This is the work of the Lord, and the sinner comes to see the suitability of Christ: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Tim 1:15). Paul was seeing that Christ crucified was suitable for him, that there was enough in Him to save the chief of sinners. Sinners are brought to see Christ in the free offer of the gospel; by God-given faith they are enabled to embrace Jesus Christ as He is freely offered to them.
If it is true concerning you that you have looked to Christ by God-given faith, was that not a good morning for you, when the Holy Spirit revealed the glory of this salvation – a salvation which is all of grace, and by faith alone? Just as the sun rises and shines more and more, so does this light increase gradually as the Holy Spirit enlightens the sinner’s mind. Objects that were not seen in the darkness are now seen. While the just were in darkness, they were unaware of their danger. They “loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). Now, by God-given light, they see the dangers from which they were delivered, and they are thankful to the Lord for steering them past these dangers. They see this keeping as the doing of the Lord, “who hath delivered [them] from the power of darkness and translated [them] into the kingdom of His dear Son” (Col 1:13).
The higher the sun goes, the more there is to see. As it rises over the world, it discovers objects that were not seen before, such as beasts in the fields. It is the same with the just. They discover wild beasts within their hearts. They discover unbelief, carnality and pride of heart. They come to understand that they must crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts. It is the believer to whom these things are revealed. Paul was years on in his wilderness journey when he had to cry out, “O wretched man that I am” (Rom 7:24), and to confess that “in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing” (Rom 7:18). The light of the Word of God applied by the Holy Spirit showed the Apostle “the body of this death” (Rom 7:24), but the same light showed him how he was to be delivered: “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 7:25) – Christ, the fountain open for sin and for uncleanness. “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). This is the hope of the believer, and it is to this fountain that he comes. This was precious to the Psalmist, who prayed, “Do Thou with hyssop sprinkle me, I shall be cleansed so” (Ps 51:7). He came to see that he was a sinner and that he had sinned grievously in the sight of God. But the very same light that showed him this showed him also the fountain and, looking to the fountain, he prayed this prayer. If you are meeting with things within you that you never thought were there, bring them to the throne of grace with that prayer, “Do Thou with hyssop sprinkle me”.
There is enough within this glorious fountain to make the vilest sinner whiter than the snow. Justification is an act, but sanctification is a work which goes on; so the Lord reveals to His people their need of being cleansed. They will then be hungering and thirsting after righteousness – holiness and conformity to Christ. They are still led by the light which brought them to see Christ as their only hope of salvation and to see Him as their only hope of sanctification. This light shows them their need of prayer. It is essential to be at the throne of grace. “Abide in me,” Christ says, “and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing” (John 15:4,5). Without Christ they can do nothing, but with Christ they can do all things: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil 4:13). “By my God assisting me, I overleap a wall” (Ps 18:29). These walls and mountains that come in your way, what are you to do with them? They are weighty burdens. “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee” (Ps 55:22). Be at the throne of grace. The Lord can move mountains and make a plain path for you.
The just see their need more and more, and their need drives them to the throne of grace. Consider the Pharisee and the Publican. Both went up to the temple to pray. The Pharisee went to pray, but it was not his need that brought him. He went to be seen of men. But the Publican went to pray as a poor, needy sinner. The Lord has promised to supply all the needs of His people: “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19).
They see more and more in Christ, for this light shines more and more. We sometimes lose sight of the sun because of clouds, but these clouds have no effect on the sun. It continues to rise. The Lord’s people may be more conscious of temptations and of the evil that is in their heart, but the good work continues.
“For sure the Lord will not cast off
those that His people be,
Neither His own inheritance
quit and forsake will He” (Ps 94:14).
Many a time they think that, because of their poverty and sin, the Lord will leave them; but He will not, although He will chastise them.
The work of sanctification goes on until perfection is achieved, at their death. After noon is reached the sun begins to go down, but with the believer it will not go down. They “immediately pass into glory”. “Thy sun shall no more go down” (Is 60:20). No more clouds or storms, sin or sinning. “And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev 22:5). The perfect day is the hope of every believer – the hope set before them as they are being sanctified. This is the Father’s house of which the Saviour spoke: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1,2). “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” (Rev 21:23). The Lamb is all the glory in Immanuel’s land. Believers are called to grow in grace (2 Pet 3:18) but without Christ they cannot do this. “Without Me ye can do nothing.” But “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me”.
1. This sermon was preached in Edinburgh on the evening of Sabbath, 14 June 1992. Mr MacLeod was minister of Greenock before he retired in 1993. He died in 1998.