(Rough notes for a future sermon or lesson):
Thomas Brooks in his “General Epistle to All Suffering Saints” noted a promise of God:
Thirdly, Know for your comfort, that you shall have mercy and kindness, and whatever good you need in due season, at that very instant, at that very nick of time wherein you most need mercy.
He then gave the example of the Walter Mill, who would not be blown away:
Another [Walter Mill] who suffered martyrdom in Scotland, being solicited to recant, made this reply: ye shall know that I will not recant the truth, for I am corn, I am no chaff; I will not be blown away with the wind, nor burst with the flail; but I will abide both (440).
How could Mill have such strength to know that he would not be blown away? To see his strength, we need to look back to Psalm 1:
1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
There are two plants, a tree and one that ends in chaff (vv. 3 “a tree….” And v. 4, “chaff that the wind drives away”). One stands strong, the other will be blown away:
“like the chaff which the wind driveth away.” This allusion describes the instability of the principles of the ungodly, rather than of their fortunes. Their want of principle is opposed to the good man’s steady meditation of Jehovah’s law, which is the foundation of his prosperity. On the other hand, because the ungodly want this principle, therefore they shall not stand in the judgment.
Samuel Horsley, The Book of Psalms; Translated from the Hebrew: With Notes, Explanatory and Critical, Fourth Edition (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans; F. & J. Rivington, 1845), 191.
The distinguishing mark of the two is the source of strength. The godly has a source of strength outside himself; the ungodly relies upon himself alone:
He who hath once brought himself to “delight” in the Scriptures, will find no temptation to exchange that pleasure for any which the world or the flesh can offer him. Such an one will make the lively oracles of God his companions by day and by night. He will have recourse to them for direction, in the bright and cheerful hours of prosperity; to them he will apply for comfort, in the dark and dreary seasons of adversity. The enemy, when advancing to the assault, will always find him well employed, and will be received with—“Get thee behind me, Satan!” When the law of God is the object of our studies and meditations, we are conformed to the example of our Redeemer himself, who, as a man, while he “increased in stature,” increased likewise “in wisdom,” and grew powerful in the knowledge of the law which he was to fulfil, and of those prophecies which he was to accomplish; so that, at twelve years of age, he appeared to “have more understanding than all his teachers; for the divine testimonies had been his meditation.” Ps. 119:99.
George Horne, A Commentary on the Book of Psalms (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1856), 37-38. The image of the man blown about is picked up by the Lord’s brother:
4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; James 1:4–7 (ESV)
The unstable man is one who does not rest upon the wisdom of God (which must, at the least, include the “torah” of the Lord). He does not seek the stability of God’s wisdom and thus has no stability in himself:
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:24–27 (ESV)
Walter Mill could not be moved because he had rested upon the words of Christ. Thus to stand is not to waver from Christ. And it is for this stability that Christ gives gifts to his church:
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Ephesians 4:11–14 (ESV)
The gifts given are those who teach the words of Christ, which are received within the heart of the people of Christ. Those words meditated upon, transform and conform the heart of the believer by the power of the Spirit, until that one will not be blown about by other, strange ideas.