Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content.
1. Of the special matter of it.
(1) Who orders the state, and how is it ordered? (Psalm 31:15). God orders things
(a) irresistibly (Isaiah 43:13; Ecclesiastes 8:3; Ephesians 1:11);
(b) righteously (Genesis 18:25; Psalm 145:17; Revelation 15:8);
(c) wisely (Psalm 104:24);
(d) graciously (Psalm 25:10).
(2) The state itself.
(a) It is mixed — the good more than the evil; the evil is our desert and the good of grace.
(b) It is common (1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Peter 5:9).
(c) It is proper to this present life, which is but a pilgrimage.
(d) It might be worse.
(3) The frame of contentment.
(a) It is a gracious frame.
(b) It is a frame highly pleasing to God.
(c) It is a frame greatly advantageous to ourselves. It fills with comfort; fits for duty; procures the mercy we desire, or something better; sweetens every cup. Whereas discontent is a sad inlet to sin; a preparation to all temptations; deprives of happiness; exposes to judgments (Psalm 106:24-27; 1 Corinthians 10:10).
2. Of particular cases where consideration is to be acted upon in order to contentment.
(1) Lowness of estate. Is extreme poverty the ease? consider then —
(a) The Lord maketh poor and rich (1 Samuel 2:7).
(b) None are so poor but they have more than they deserve.
(c) Hitherto the Lord hath provided, and if you trust Him will still provide (Psalm 73:8; Matthew 6:25; Hebrews 13:5).
(d) A little with God's blessing will go far and do well (Exodus 23:25; 1 Kings 17:12).
(e) The saint's little is better than the sinner's all (Proverbs 15:16; Psalm 37:16).
(f) No man can judge of God's love or hatred by these things (Ecclesiastes 9:1; Matthew 8:20; 2 Corinthians 8:9).
(g) God keeps you low in earthly possessions, but how is it with you in higher and better things (Revelation 2:9; James 2:5; 1 Timothy 6:18; Luke 12:21).
(h) You think God is strait with you in temporal, but is He not abundantly gracious in spiritual things?
(2) There are some with whom it is much better. Consider in your case —
(a) The greatness of the sin of discontent in you above what it is in the persons spoken of before.
(b) How thankful would many be if they were in your position.
(c) Christians are to bound their desires after things below (Jeremiah 45:5; 1 Timothy 6:8; Matthew 6:11).
(d) A little sufficeth nature, less sufficeth grace; but covetousness is never satisfied.
(e) A great estate is not the best estate (Proverbs 30:8) for duty (Ecclesiastes 5:13); for safety — the higher the building the more endangered; for comfort.
(f) The contented man is never poor let him have ever so little; the discontented never rich let him have ever so much.
(g) What are earthly treasures that we should be greedy of them? (1 Timothy 6:17; Proverbs 23:5).
(h) The less we have, the less we shall have to account for.
(3) There are those who have lost what they had. Consider —
(a) God's hand is in losses (Job 1:21).
(b) Something is gone, but possibly all is not lost.
(c) Did you really need them? (1 Peter 1:6).
(d) Suppose all is lost, it amounts to little (1 Corinthians 7:31).
(e) If thou be a child of God the best is secure.
3. The manner in which consideration is to be managed. It must be —
II. GODLINESS. This produces contentment.
1. As it rectifies the several faculties of the soul.
(1) It rectifies the understanding, by dispelling natural darkness and setting up a saving light.
(2) It rectifies the will; causing it to comply with the will of God.
(3) It rectifies the affections; taking away their inordinancy towards earthly things and keeping them with true bounds.
(4) It makes the conscience good (Proverbs 15:15).
2. As it makes a person to have a powerful sense of God's glory, so as always to rest in that as his ultimate and most desirable good.
3. In the general habit of grace there are special graces which further contentment.
(4) Heavenly mindedness.
III. PRAYER. Upon this the two others depend. It furthers contentment.
1. As it gives a vent to the mind under trouble.
2. As it obtains grace and strength from God.
(T. Jacomb, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.