‘Thy foot shall not stumble.’—Prov. iii. 23.
MANY a Christian says: ‘I shall be kept from falling at last; but, of course, I shall stumble continually by the way.’ But’ have ye not read this Scripture,” Thy foot shall not stumble’ ?1 And if we have only once read it, ought not the ‘of course’ to be put over on the other side? for ‘ hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good ? ‘2 ‘And the Scripture cannot be broken.”
‘But as a matter of fact we do stumble, and though he riseth up again, yet even the just man falleth seven times.’* Of course we do; and this is entirely accounted for by the other ‘ of course.’ God gives us a promise, and, instead of humbly saying, ‘Be it unto me according to Thy word,’5 we either altogether overlook or deliberately refuse to believe it; and then, ‘of course,’ we get no fulfilment of it. The measure of the promise is God’s faithfulness; the measure of its realization is our faith. Perhaps we have not even cried, ‘ Help Thou mine unbelief as to this promise, much less said, ‘Lord, I believe.’6
It does not stand alone; it is reiterated and varied. He knew our constant, momentary need of it. He knew that without it we must stumble, and fall too; that we have not the least power to take one step without a stumble—or, rather, that we have no power to take one single onward step at all. And He knew that Satan’s surest device to make us stumble would be to make us believe that ‘it can’t be helped.’ We have thought that, if we have not said it.
But ‘what saith the Scripture?” ‘When thou runnest’ (the likeliest pace for a slip), ‘thou shalt not stumble.’8
1 Mark xii. lo. 2 Num. xxiii. 19. 3 John x. 35.
< Prov. xxiv. 16. 5 Luke i. 38. ‘Mark ix. 24.
? Rom. iv, 3. 8 Prov. iv. 12,
‘He will not suffer thy foot to be moved.’1 ‘He will keep the feet of His saints.” ‘He led them . . . that they should not stumble.’3 Can we say, ‘Yea, hath God said? ‘*to all this? Leave that to Satan; it is no comment for God’s children to make upon His precious promises. If we do not use the power of faith, we find the neutralizing power of unbelief.
‘But how can I keep from stumbling?’ You cannot keep from stumbling at all; but He is ‘ able to keep you from falling,’5 which in the Greek is strongly and distinctly ‘without stumbling.’ The least confidence in, or expectation from, yourself not only leads to inevitable stumbling, but is itself a grievous fall. But again we are met with the very promise we need to escape this snare: ‘For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.’6
‘Still, how shall I be kept?’ Jesus Himself has answered: ‘If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.” ‘Walk in the light,’ ‘looking unto Jesus,’ and so shall we be ‘kept by the power of God through faith.’
We tell a little child to look where it steps and pick its way; but Christ’s little children are to do just the opposite: they are to look away to Him. ‘Let thine eyes look,’ not down, but ‘ right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.’8 Why? Because ‘ He it is that doth go before thee,” and it is on Him, the Light of the world, that the gaze must be fixed.
iPs. cxxi. 3. SiSam. ii. 9. sj^a. Ixiii. 13,
*Gen. iii. i. Bjude 24. cprov. iii. 26.
I John xi. 9. 8 Prov. iv. 25. » Deut. xxxi. 8.
‘Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved,” let us use them. Let us turn them into prayers of faith. ‘Hold up my goings in Thy paths, that my footsteps slip not” (did David add the whisper, ‘But nevertheless, of course, they will slip ‘ ?). ‘Hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe.’ ‘When I said, My foot slippeth; Thy mercy, O Lord, held me up’ (not ‘picked me up ‘).s
Then comes the New Testament echo: ‘Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.’* But take ‘all the counsel of God; ‘5 for this, too, is needed: ‘And thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear.’
Now if these promises are worth the paper they are written on, ought we not to believe and accept and give thanks for them, and go on our way rejoicing, claiming His promise not once for all, not for to-morrow, but always for the next step of the way ?’ Thy foot shall not stumble!’ Jesus is now ‘upholding all things by the word of His power; ‘6 shall our unbelief make us the exception? Shall we not rather say, ‘Uphold me, according to Thy word’ 8
1 2 Cor. vii. I. 2Ps. xvii. 5. ^Vs. cxix. 117; ib. xciv. 18.
<Rom. xiv. 4. 6 Acts xx. 27. ^Heb. i. 3. 8Ps. cxix, 116.