The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.
No search is more vain than the search for a contented man. We have made happiness and contentment to be something outside of ourselves. In the text are three paradoxes.
I. A GOOD MAN. Goodness is an internal quality. The good man is whole within, sound within. Hence his satisfaction; all health is within. Piety has its own internal resources and powers. There is a pretty story told of a king, Shah Abbas, who in his travels met with a shepherd. He found him to be so wise that he elevated him to great power: he became a great statesman. But it was discovered, many years after, that he frequently went to a lonely house, of which he kept the key; there it was supposed he kept his treasure; nay, it was supposed that there he hatched schemes against his royal master; thither, it was thought, traitors might resort. The whispering courtiers persuaded the king to break open the door, in order that all the villainy may be laid bare, and there was found an empty room, save that his shepherd's wallet and staff, and crook, and old coat were there. "Hither," said he, "I come, in order that if I ever am tempted to think more highly of myself than I ought to think, I may be rebuked by remembering my origin, and what my rise has done for me." Contentment is containment; the idea in it is that of having learned the lesson of self-sufficing and self-sustaining. Contentment is a sense of possession; a sense of satisfied want.
II. A MAN SATISFIED. The lives of most men are passed in fretfulness. To fret is to fray out; fretfulness wears life threadbare. Contentment is the science of thankfulness. The causes of discontent are idleness, living to no purpose. It is only in self-occupation that we have self-possession.
III. THE SOURCE OF THE SATISFACTION. "From himself."
1. The holy man is satisfied with the object and foundation of his faith.
2. In the evidence of his religion.
3. In the ordinances of the sanctuary.
4. In the law of life.
5. In the apportionment and destiny of the world.There may be four replies to the question, Are you satisfied?
(1) I am. Not with myself, but from myself. I find my happiness within.
(2) I am not. Religion is to me not rest, but unrest; it is described to me now principally by unsatisfied, appetites.
(3) I try to persuade myself that I am, but I am not; it is all so fading, so fleeting, could be satisfied, could we continue here.
(4) I am. Extremes meet — I am. I see no reason for anxiety, and my business and my pleasures, they suffice for me. But what you call satisfaction I call death. There is not one ray of happiness, properly, from yourselves; all is borrowed, and all is illusion. If you do not find the true contentment on the earth, you will find it nowhere.
(E. Paxton Hood.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.