Searching and Trying Our Ways
The people of Judah have been following the footpaths of the people of Israel, which grieved the Lord and he because of this decide to sell them into the hands of their enemies, those who eventually overtook and overthrew the northern Kingdom thus leading them off their abode as slaves and servants to other lands.
What was theirs were taken off them, and they were subjected to hardship under foreign leaderships. They were in this position when Jeremiah writes the book of lamentation, crying about the pathetic condition of the country and the people of the land.
In bemoaning what has befallen them he writes about the need for the people to search themselves, try their spiritual status as an individual would try a cloth whether it is fitting on him or not, whether it is his size or not, as ear tries words, as mouth tries foods.
“Doth not the ear try words? and the mouth taste his meat?” (Job 12:11)
In this article I want us to see what the author, prophet Jeremiah, suggests to all Israelites and by extension all believers today to do in ensuring that they are spiritually sound and if not spiritually sound they should return unto the author of the spirit who will help them in ensuring that their spiritual status is okay.
“Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD.” (Lam 3:40)
Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines search “as an attempt to find something or somebody especially by looking carefully for them”.
The Hebrew word used for search here is “חפש”, when it is romanticized it becomes châphaś (phonetic spelling is khaw-fas') which means to seek, let be sought out, search for or out.
From this definition we shall see that he is saying to the Israelis that they be allowed to be sought out wherever they are hiding whatsoever it is their secrets which they are hiding they should allow those gray areas to be touched, for their restoration to take place and be perfect.
Some of us we do not want people to touch some aspects of our lives, we have kept those aspects secret from the populace, perhaps from the pains we have encountered through those areas, or because we have done something that we do not want people to know about.
From this word, he is encouraging us that we should allow the word of God to touch those areas, revealing unto us our weaknesses in those areas so that we shall make needful amendments and be turned unto God for him to bless us in return.
2. It is a Form of Imploring
Critically looking at this verse we shall discover that he is in a way pleading with all and sundry of the need to take this action so that the Lord would look on their country and their individual person and visit them again.
In addition to searching, he adds that we should try. The Hebrew word for try here is “חקר” the romanticized form is châqar (phonetic spelling is khaw-kar') which means to penetrate, to examine intimately, find out.
The word is also related to searching, which gives it double force, a form of emphasis, showing the importance of what he is saying to the people for the welfare of the nation and themselves.
He is saying we should balance all that we are doing with the word of God, we should not do anything in isolation from the word of God, we should balance all that we are doing with the word of God. Therefore apostle Paul says,
“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” (Col 3:17)
1. None is Exempted
From the prophet’s word we shall see that no one is exempted in the suggestion he is raising to them, because he says, “let us” which means he has not exempted himself, he was not claiming to be holier than them all, thus, he includes himself to be among those who ought to search themselves.
Ironically today, many people claim to be holier than the rest perhaps because they were living in a secluded place. But living in a secluded place does not make one’s heart to be pure, there are people who have confined themselves to some areas whose minds are polluted than those who are daily mingling with people.
When we have been saved, we should know that all our ways have been incorporated into the Lord, they should not be separated for doing so would mean that we can take care of ourselves, we are independently living from God, which God does not want.
There are believers in the gospel who would say they should separate their business from their daily christian living that they differ from each other. Some would say their salvation is in their hearts and could thence dress as they like, there is no such thing as that in the Gospel, how we should dress has been stated in the gospel and we need to follow those means to bring people to Christ our Savior.
6. Outcome of Their Searching and Trying
He is saying that after searching their ways, and discovering that they have missed their steps, they do not have to bury their heads in their hands and start mourning, but rather should take another step because crying cannot do them any good at that position. What does he expect them to do?
7. What to do - Turn
What he expects that they do after they discovered that they have missed it somehow through one or all of the followings
(a) Neglect of the word of God being spoken to them,
(b) Unconcern (Nonchalant Attitude): Some do not value the word of God, they are like samson the mighty who does not value what God gave him until the enemies teach him a hard lesson (Judg 16),
(c) Fear: Some like apostle Peter it is through fear that they missed their steps,
(d) Imitation: Some missed it through imitating others. We are enjoined to learn from others, but it is not absolutely good to try being a carbon copy of someone else, you are distinct being before God.
(e) Ungodly Counsel: Some missed it through ungodly counsels that they receive from their spouses, friends, relatives and so on. They are like King Ahab who listens and yields to the evil counsel of his wife always
“But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.” (1 Ki 21:25)
These and more are the means of people missing their steps, thence, the prophet counsels that after discovering where and how they have missed their steps after thoroughly searching their ways, they should turn to their original position.
The again added to the turning shows that they had been on the Lord side before, or put this way they have been following the Lord before, but after a while they deviated from following him and now that they have searched themselves thoroughly and have discovered their errors, they should retrace their steps and come back to their original position.
9. Whom to Turn to
Whom they should turn to was categorically stated in the word and it is unto their Lord, who is their first love (Rev 2:4) that they have turned down, they need to return to that Lord.
“Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD.” (Lam 3:40)
Conclusively, when we do spiritual searching of ourselves we shall know where we have missed our steps and we should be ready to make amends to those places, and then turned back from those ways that the Lord does not want and begin to do what he loves and sanctions.
5. What We are Employed to Search and Try – Our Ways
He does not leave them in the dark about what he expects them to search out, and what he expects they search and try is their ways.
Hebrew word for ways is “דּרך”, when romanticized it becomes derek (phonetic spelling is deh'-rek) which means course of life, mode of action, conversation, custom, manner.
He implored them to try their manner of action with other people, their ways of lives and living among the people should be diligently sought out and tried.
This of course is being directed to us too, that we need to examine critically our mode of interacting with others, how we react to issues in the world.
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