Why Shouldest Thou Be Astonied?


Elder Mark Green

From the Primitive Baptist/ Christian Pathway/ Gospel Appeal December 2016

"Why shouldest thou be as a man astonied, as a mighty man that cannot save?" (Jer. 14.9). Strong tells us that the word astonied here means "dumbfounded." Other synonyms are "stunned, amazed, bewildered." In our text, Jeremiah is calling upon the Lord for help and argues that God should not be like a man who is rooted to the spot, but should act on their behalf. I mention this text just to get the word before us. There are two things at which we should never be astonied; they ought never to amaze or surprise us: one is the sinfulness of man and the other is the goodness of God.

Frequently we are horrified at what we see from the hand of sinful men. All manner of perversities and atrocities are continually before us in the media; and all that is nothing new, for man has been acting like that since Cain slew Abel. The poet speaks of "cruel and bloodthirsty men" who will be deterred from acting in such a way only by the grace of God Almighty. Those of us who live in rural areas where life is generally quiet and a good number of the people are still reasonably considerate and where violence, even today, is the exception do not see as much of the dark side of man as those who live in the degradation of large cities or in war-tom regions.

We must never forget, however, that it is not the nature of man that keeps the conduct of certain individuals from being among the very vilest. Not even all unregenerate men act as badly as they might act, for there are laws and social conventions that restrain their conduct. Our depraved natures were not one whit different from that of the cruelest and most perverted man on earth. We should never be astonied or surprised at what sinful men will do, for it is in them (and in all of us) to do it.

While we should not be amazed at the capacity of sinful man to commit all manner of atrocities, we ought also never to forget the infinite store of goodness that is in our heavenly Father. God is good: that fact is stated all through Scripture and our experience bears it out every day. That God is "able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" is a statement of his power. That God is willing to act in his power to our benefit demonstrates his goodness. "If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean," the leprous man told the Lord. In that statement he acknowledged both the power and the goodness of God.

Abraham believed in the goodness of God when he prayed for God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah, but he hesitated when he got to ten righteous men. He was, after a fashion, astonied that God would be so good as to spare the cities for only one righteous man. He never asked that question, so we never got an answer to it; but we do know that God spared that one righteous man from the destruction. Ah, my friends, we know but little of the richness of the vast stores of mercy and compassion which are in the divine breast. In all our experiences under the protection and providence of his almighty hand, have we ever been neglected or forsaken? Has God ever violated or gone back on his divine word? I think not. He has ever been faithful to his promises, and to us. Nothing that God does in mercy toward us should make us astonied. "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life."