Posted by: arieliondotcom | January 10, 2009

The Sponge, the Stone and the Ship

SCRIPTURE:  PROVERBS 3:5,6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding.  Acknowledge Him in all your ways and He will direct your paths.”

MUSIC:  “Trust in the LORD” (*Waelde version) or “Trust and Obey”

Audio Version

Who do you really trust?  Not who your mouth or even your heart seems to say you trust, but who do you really trust as witnessed by your actions?

King Solomon is the one who wrote our Scripture today, from Proverbs, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding.  Acknowledge Him in all your ways and He will direct your paths.”  We’d all like to say we trust GOD but if we examine ourselves I think most of us would find out something different most of the time.

I wonder what Solomon was doing when he was inspired to think of this verse.  Perhaps he was walking along the shoreline of Israel as king, looking out over the sea.  There, floating in the water, he might have seen a piece of sponge, that had broken off of a fishing net.  He probably would have seen a stone.  And he might have looked out and seen the great ships, the greatest ships in the world, bringing in a cargo of sweet smelling, strong cedar wood from the forests of Lebanon, the trees and the ships both gifts from his friend Hiram.

Those three things, a sponge, a stone and a ship, are good symbols of the three kinds of trust human beings can have.  

The sponge could symbolize trusting in others and in circumstances.  Most of us would like someone we can depend on.  We want a helping hand.  And that’s natural.  It’s good, even a blessing for folks to be helpers to others and to be helped.  GOD wants us to help others and He specifically points out throughout Scripture that widows, orphans and the handicapped aren’t meant to fend for themselves and fight their own battles.  They should have someone who will step in for them and take up their cause for them.  

The problem is that human beings are flawed and we will get hurt by trusting human beings too much.  You must have trust for friendship, for love, and for marriage.  But there are limits to what humans can be trusted with.  The Bible warns “do not put your trust in princes, neither in the sons of princes” (Psalm 146:3) because princes change. And “the arm of flesh will fail.” (Jeremiah 17:5).  You will find yourself pulled this way and that, like the sponge.  Cowardice, self-serving, worldliness, distraction, a whole host of things will have those you trust changing and shifting and if you trust them too much your life will be constantly in turmoil, floating and changing, up and down here and there as well like the “double-minded” man spoken of by James.(James 1:8).  

The stone could symbolize trusting in self alone.  No one knows enough within himself to keep from being misled by his own thoughts, sin, the world, the flesh and the devil.  That is why Scripture warns us (Hebrews 10:25) “do not forsake the assembly of Believers.”  Don’t stop going to church.  You might have the Holy Spirit and be a Believer but you need the counsel of hearing from other Believers.  You need the fellowship of other Believers physically present near you to let you know, even if there is only one other person, that you are not alone and you are not a totally Spiritual being.  Those same failings and flaws in those other human Believers are what make you grow as a Believer yourself and keep you from thinking you will not fall or fail.  There is also success and safety in many counselors (Proverbs 11:14; 24:6).  But it takes a balance of not becoming too trusting (as people tend to do with politicians), having great expectations of human beings who will always, ultimately falter, and trusting in yourself too much, who have failings of your own.  

Trust can only be placed permanently and safely in the LORD.  The ship is a symbol not of a ship of human construction, not of a ship of wood we build ourselves, but the ship of Salvation built with the wood of the cross.  JESUS Himself is the only One who can carry us across the waters of sin and shifting circumstance, over the failures of friends and flesh, including our own.  The Father is our only Captain and the Holy Spirit Himself is the breath in the sails that leads us through all circumstances toward our Heavenly Home.

All else will change and disappoint.  And we may not know our way.  Confused we may think of even “abandoning ship” from time to time convinced that even GOD cannot or will not care because we see so little care in the world.  Still searching for that advocate to fight for us, defend us, help us in life.  That help when it comes will itself be a gift from GOD, not only for the receiver but for the giver as long as the giving continues and not just for now but for eternity.

The sponge of society and circumstance may serve but cannot be wholly leaned upon.  The stone of self is too isolated and restricting.  But the ship of Salvation, with GOD at the helm, can be completely trusted to see us through no matter how hard the journey in our sort time here to Home.

*NOTE:  This version of “Trust in the LORD” was taught to me by a blind singer named Gail Waelde many years ago.  I don’t know if the words or music were original with her and have lost contact with her.  But the tune and (most of!) the words still stuck with me.  🙂

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Responses

  1. How beautiful. You put this all so great. If you truly belive this you wasted so much energy last week with hurt feelings.

    Your Jersey friend

  2. Heh-heh. That’s the way it works, Johanne. When we get upset (and we all do, even ministers and folks who have been Christians for…cough, cough…years), the LORD comforts us and we “confort others with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted.” JESUS says “You know these things. Blessed are you if you DO them!” But it’s not an easy process for any of us. 🙂 This sermon is another example of how the LORD comforted me and I’m sharing so others might be comforted in the same way.


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