He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool:
but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.
~ Proverbs 28:26
Certainly, a uniquely wise man, like Solomon, is qualified to identify a fool. In the verse before us, he calls such a one as trusts in his own heart, a fool. The Hebrew word batach, here rendered “trusteth,” means “to be reliant, trust, be unsuspecting.” The word implies a great confidence even to the point of blind trust. It seems to have the sense of being careless or thoughtless. The idea is of one who without question follows the tendency of his own heart. Maybe you could say, “He flies by the seat of his pants.” You might also say of one, “He follows his gut instinct.” Either way, he follows his own instincts without deliberation or contemplation of the Word of God. He lives a carefree, spontaneous life. However, this man is a fool. “The prudent man looketh well to his going” (Proverbs 14:15). Let us now consider this great folly.
In the first place, the heart is not a good guide. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). The heart of a saved man, while he continues on this earth, has not been glorified. He still has the flesh with which to contend. We should never look within ourselves for guidance. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7:21-23).
Only God knows the depth of depravity to which the human heart can descend. The flesh is still sinful and therefore cannot be trusted. Paul said, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing” (Romans 7:18). The flesh is to be mortified not trusted. The blessed man of God “walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,” even if that counsel issues from his own heart.
Secondly, our emotions are bound up in our hearts. I fear that far too many Christians live according to their feelings. I had a conversation once with a certain saved woman. We were in disagreement about a subject. I quoted plain scriptures. She responded with, “I understand that, but I feel… Yes, but I feel… Well, I feel… etc.” If we base the interpretation of scripture upon our feelings, we have a very fluid theology that more resembles the shifting sands than the solid rock that Christ claimed wise servants to be building upon.
Christianity does not preclude all emotions, but it is not founded upon our feelings. A saved man that is sick does not feel very good. Does this mean his religion is vain? In the mind of some charismatic heretic, maybe it is, but not according to God’s Word. True religion is based solely upon “Thus saith the Lord,” and not our feelings. Our emotions swell and rescind like the tides, but God’s Word is forever settled in Heaven. How I feel does not change God or His Word in the least. Lazarus did not feel very good laying at the gate, competing with stray dogs for dinner, yet “now he is comforted,” and that rich man that felt so good faring sumptuously every day is “tormented.”
In the last place, we see the man that walks wisely. Our verse says, “But whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.” The fool trusted his own heart and the wise man placed his trust elsewhere. He heeds the admonition found in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” He forsakes the dubious counsel of his heart for the “sure word of prophecy.” “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:2). He looks well to his own goings. He considers his path in the light of God’s Word. He declares confidently, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). It is not his intelligence, experience, reason, or feelings that he depends on, but rather the infallible “counsel of God.”
The wise man walks “not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1). In regeneration, we receive the Spirit, the divine principle of life within us. To walk after the Spirit, we must deny the lusts of the flesh. If we are walking satisfying the flesh, we are not walking after the Spirit. “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 16:25).
The wise man will not trust his flesh to be his guide. Neither will he glory in the flesh if he walks a path that is right. He well ascribes all the glory to God knowing, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13). Let us put our full trust in Christ and sing the old song.
‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His word;
Just to rest upon His promise, Just to know “Thus saith the Lord.”
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him, How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust Him more!