A Study of Proverbs 29:27
“An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked.” (Proverbs 29:27)
As can be seen from every portion of the Bible, the world is divided into two categories of people – the unjust and the upright; God’s sheep and the goats; the wicked and the righteous, etc. To the just, the unjust man is an abomination. He always has been, and he always will be. There is something about the unjust that repulses and revolts that one who has been made just in the righteousness of his LORD. He cannot walk with him; he had rather walk alone. He cannot fellowship with him, he had rather dwell alone. And conversely, those who are upright in the way are considered an abomination to those that are wicked. Of these upright ones the text says they are “in the way.” We would desire to inquire somewhat about what this way is that the upright are in, for there are many professing to be in the way crying “Lo here, and Lo there”. Multitudes would draw us off and tell us that “this is the right way, this is the only way, or this is the better way.” But the children of the Heavenly King are interested in only one way, and that is the way that leads to life, which is the narrow way our Lord spoke of in the Sermon on the Mount. Other ways the little remnant leaves to those who know not the Lord.
Before engaging in the subject it seems well that we view the territory where God’s children must not walk, with much caution. This is found in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” How treacherous is this territory, this way which seemeth right. Thousands have fallen here and tens of thousands have gone astray because the way in which they traveled seemed to them to be right, but alas it was but the broad way which leadeth to destruction. May God ever preserve us and keep us that we might see that if the Lord Himself is not our Way, we certainly are out of the way. Blessed is that text to our souls when we hear it. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Would any poor trembling soul desire to go in any other way than the way of Christ Himself, to follow in His footsteps, to walk in His travail, to join with Him in His sorrow; to flee with Him outside the camp; to journey with Him through tribulations, temptation and distress while we sojourn in this world? To a person, the elect will say there is no other way but Jesus, and that alone suffices them.
It might seem to some an over-simplification to say that Jesus is the Way. But the student of the Bible knows that this way is not so easily discovered as some might propose. On every corner, practically, we find religious assemblies meeting, religious organizations gathering, great edifices erected for the supposed purpose of worshipping in the true and living way, but when God’s hungering children investigate these places, they find them to be but synagogues of Satan, and discern soon enough that the way is not here, they can find no comfort, no joy, no peace, nor any rest for their weariness, and they must look elsewhere. But can they, even by searching, find out God’s ordained way? By no means, for we know that we are found of Him whom we sought not. The elect have been called from this world by grace, and they did not choose to become soldiers in the army of the cross, but rather were chosen by Him who has loved us with an everlasting love.
“And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee saying, This is the way, walk ye in it. When ye turn to the right hand and when ye turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21)
Blessed sound when God’s little children hear such words as these in their ears. When they have traveled on wearily, feeling that there can be no hope, that there is no rest in sight, and all is darkness and gloom, then it is that these words from behind come, saying, “This is the way.” Oh, how they delight to walk in it then, for they know through grace that this is the voice of the Good Shepherd. They know the voice of Him who speaks peace to their soul, and they cannot be deceived. (Jesus said His sheep hear His voice.) The lo here, and lo there have no meaning at this time to them, for their heart leaps for joy. The Saviour calls, “Up and follow me;” “Arise, my love, and come away.” This is the voice of their Beloved and they cannot be deceived. This is the way, and they shall walk in it, for they have been given power. Where the word of the King is, there is power. The only ones who will ever walk in this way to the end which leads to life are those who have been chosen in Him from the foundation of the world. The very cornerstone of all we believe is the election of grace, and we have this assurance, that everyone who is elected and chosen in Him shall effectually be called, and they shall hear these words, “This is the way, walk ye in it.” And they also will neither turn to the right hand nor to the left. There is no gaudiness nor grandeur on either side that will entice them. There are no allurements or beauties in this world that could hinder them on their journey. They are heavenly footmen, and they travel, sometimes slowly, sometimes swiftly, but always traveling, looking for a city which hath foundations; whose builder and maker is God. This is the way, and they do walk in it, for their Saviour hath bidden them.
There is one thing the children of God learned early in their experience, and that is that no human can show them this way. This is a way that cannot be found by searching. This is a way that cannot be seen by even the most cunning discernment. Our eyes are holden that we cannot see, and until the Saviour comes and speaks to us by the way, our hearts will not burn within us to walk with Him. What a joy and delight it is to know that though there be many who would contrive to tell us, “This is the way”, we must wait and hear the bidding of our Saviour when He says, “This is the way”. We know also that this is an unpopular way. This is not a friendly way, because this is the way where few there be that go in there at. Along this way, this narrow, straight path we find but few other travelers; few others like us who sojourn, seeking a heavenly city, seeking a kingdom which cannot be builded by the efforts of humankind. And so we travel on, wondering, are we all alone? Is there anyone like me? And yet this does not deter those who have been called, for the calling far outweighs all of the doubts and all of the fears that they might not be in the way. When the time comes that we question ourselves, am I deceived? am I truly in the way? or have I gone in the paths of the wicked? we find once again that we must say, that word came from behind, that word spoke in our ears and it said, “This is the way” and it was so powerful and so effectual that we could but say, Come what may, of life, or death, we must travel on and seek to end our journey in the way that leads to life.
“They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses. And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.” (Psalms 107:4-7)
You will observe that God’s children are wanderers. The place they wander is a wilderness, and truly this world is a wilderness to their souls. They wander in a solitary way as if they were alone. They can find no city where they might dwell. They are hungry; they are thirsty; and it seems that they must faint at any moment and can go no further. But it is then the LORD builds up within them through His effectual work and the Spirit of God to cry out unto Him. So in their trouble they do cry. Does the LORD hear them? Indeed He does, and He delivers them out of their distresses. He does not deliver them out of some, but all of their distresses. He delivers them in His good time and as we see from this text, His good time is when they are in trouble. When God’s children are traveling in the high road, when the sun is shining and the gentle breezes are blowing, it is not a time of trouble, and so they are not inclined to want to call upon the LORD. But when they are in the low ground of sorrow and sin, distresses and darkness, Satan on every hand and wickedness abounding, it is then they are made to cry out in their trouble and He delivers them then. And how does He deliver them? The scripture says, “He leads them forth by the right way.” How blessed then, it is to know, though there are a million wrong ways, the one right way is the way the LORD will lead them. We could not begin to describe the right way except to say that it is the way the LORD leads, and God’s children feel comfortable here. And though all of the assaults and fiery darts of Satan are hurled at them, and all of the criticisms of the world on top of criticisms are heaped upon them for their foolish, narrow-minded bigoted ways, they cannot but feel that this is right for their Saviour has bid them. This is that they might go to a city of habitation. They find scarcely any in this world who have the same inclination they do. They find that most would rather congregate in the assemblies of the dead and go through the monotonous and tedious formalities of religion which salves over dead men’s souls. God’s children, however, are looking for a place where habitation dwelleth, where it is a city, a city with foundations whose Builder, whose Maker is God. This is the right way, and God leads His children forth. He does not simply tell them to go, for as we read before, the word came from behind to their ears. He leads them on; He directs and guides them every step of the way, and though it might seem treacherous and dangerous to them, and they can see but dimly, and trembly, they hesitate and halt with each step, they know it is the right way because their LORD has called them out and delivered them in their distresses.
Even so, in this same Psalm we find that others wander in the wilderness but they find no way. In Verse 40, “He poureth contempt upon princes and causes them to wander in the wilderness where there is no way.” The children of the Heavenly King wander in the wilderness in a solitary way, but in their trouble they call upon the LORD. But these princes, these mighty, these noble and wise of the world have never discovered within themselves what wretched, miserable, blind creatures they are. They do not realize the trouble they are in, the dangers that beset them, and thus they never call upon Him, so He causes them to wander in the wilderness. It’s not that they stumbled into the wilderness and couldn’t find their way out, but the LORD caused it. Mark that well! The LORD caused them to wander. And where did they wander? In the wilderness where there is no way. The same wilderness where there is a way for God’s children is a wilderness where there is no way for the princes of this world. May it ever be that we can cry out then, “Lord, make us poor beggars to walk in the right way, while princes wander in the wilderness where there is no way.”
Could God’s children consider abandoning this way? Could they take their hand from the plow and look back, or turn back? Could they say, “I’ve had enough of this way, and it’s too worrisome to me”? Never, ever could they do such. Once they are in this way, they will never go in another way. Not one of them shall ever be lost. And they will confess as Paul did in Acts 24:14, “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets.” Yes, the Apostle could say that this way was called heresy by them, but it’s called beautiful and satisfying to him. And so with those of us who have been called by that Mighty Voice saying, “This is the way; walk ye in it.” We say, also, it might be heresy to some; it might be the Devil’s work to others; it might lead to licentious to many, but to us this is the right way. And though they call it heresy, so worship we the God of our fathers. And we do believe all things that are written in the law and the prophets, and the reason why we believe is because it is through grace that we believe. It is by the faith that God has wrought in us that we are able to say, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. Bless us to walk in this way. Never, ever let us stumble, and though others may call us fools, and though others may heap reproach upon us, bless us to see that there is no other way, that all other ways lead to destruction, and without Thee, we are helpless. Open our eyes; give us strength; encourage us when we fail; but more than all else, teach us the right way – the way of Jesus – the way of our dear Redeemer, He who died that we might live.”
J. Poole – 1989