Proverbs 14:14

An Exposition of the Book of Proverbs
Charles Bridges

"The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways,
but a good man will be satisfied from above."

Every spot is not a sign of leprosy. Every mark of sin does not prove a backslider. A man may be overtaken in a fault, or it may be the sin of ignorance, or it may be a sin abhorred and resisted yet still cleaving. Backsliding implies a willful step--not always open, but the more dangerous because hidden. Here was no open apostasy, perhaps no tangible inconsistency. The man may be looked up to as an eminent saint. But he is a backslider in heart. A secret canker of unwatchfulness, worldly conformity, neglect or indulgence has insensibly devoured his strength. He was once pressing onward; a languor has now stolen over him. His heart beats unsteadily. He has become formal and hurried in his prayers, lukewarm in the means of grace, reading his Bible to soothe his conscience rather than to feed his soul.

The first steps, instead of alarming and bringing him to secret weeping, hurried him onwards from one liberty to another till he lost all power of resistance. His unsoundness was known to God long before it was manifested to the church. Before the matter of Uriah, indolence and security had probably unhinged the man of God and laid him open to the tempter (2 Sam. 11:1,2). Perhaps this dispensation may be permitted to teach the child of God his need of watchfulness and dependence. The backslider's folly and wretchedness is graphically portrayed as a merciful warning to the church. He needs no other rod than his own ways. To be filled with them, and thus to become the fountain of his own misery is the most fearful of all Divine judgments.

The good man is also filled from himself, yet not as the backslider with misery, but with solid satisfaction. God has given him a fountain fed from a higher fountain--a living spring within himself, the witness of the Spirit, the life and joy of the Heavenly Comforter, the rejoicing testimony of his conscience, the assured hope of glory. This is not independent of God, the one source of self-sufficiency, but it is Himself dwelling in the heart and filling it with his fullness.

Let the sinner compare the satisfaction of sin and godliness, the curse and the blessing, and lift up his heart for the direction of a right choice. Let the backslider return to the gospel to awaken his contrition and reanimate his faith. Let the good man invigorate his soul daily from his well of consolation.

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