The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.
This sentiment sounds more akin to the proud spirit of the stoical philosophy than the humble spirit of revealed religion. That philosophy taught its disciples to aspire after an absolute and universal independence. It insisted that the "wise man" should not look abroad for happiness in any direction, but find it in himself absolutely. Scripture seeks to make men independent in a way that is possible, and by means that are good. Man, as a finite creature, must always be dependent. He cannot revolve upon his own centre, and look abroad far nothing. God only is self-existent and self-sufficing. Who needs to be told that mankind generally do not find happiness by searching for it in their own bosoms? This text does not teach that a good man's happiness is enjoyed in absolute independence of all created things, much less of the one Uncreated. Nor does it teach that he is called on to deny himself the moderate use of such things as Providence may put within his reach, and to which his nature is adapted. It simply teaches that the good man is satisfied from himself, in opposition to outward, temporal blessings as chief, indispensable, and absolute grounds of support. The souls of God's real servants are made His habitation through the Spirit, and this indwelling is attended with a peace which the world can neither give nor take away. The witness of the Spirit of God to the spirit of man essentially involves happiness — a happiness which is independent of all things else, and which is enjoyed, both spontaneously and on reflection. Those dispositions and habits which are the fruits of the Spirit make the human soul a treasure-house of happiness, and render their possessor to a great degree independent of all created things; but this same happiness may be made a subject of reflection, and be heightened by it. The gift of the Spirit in man, the testimony of the Spirit to a man, the fruits of the Spirit upon a man, these things are internal and exhaustless. A man so favoured and endowed is satisfied from himself, for various reasons — because he is not tormented with apprehensions of God's wealth; because he is more or less delivered from the dominion of the passions which embitter human life; because he has acquired tastes and tempers which essentially and spontaneously produce peace and joy; because reflection on what has been done for him and in him is a further source of comfort; and because he has a positive hope full of immortality, which cheers him in every trial, and burns brighter and brighter as the darkness of outward tribulation thickens around him. What is thus set forth as doctrine has been thousands of times realised in human experience. God's people have often been found maintaining a marvellous independence by simply depending upon God, and to have been satisfied with themselves because God was in them. Enoch, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Daniel, Paul, and John. At the best, human life is a chequered thing. With the good, evil is everywhere mingled — largely mingled. Every heart knows its own bitterness, and every heart has its own. It is clear that if happiness and satisfaction are to be found at all, they must be found within.
(W. Sparrow, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.