The "Shall Nots" of Scripture

“The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.” (Psalm 34:10)

Many worldly minded people tend to resent the Bible as a book of prohibitions, or “thou shalt nots,” as in the Ten Commandments. The fact is, however, that many of God’s most precious promises use the phrase “shall not” in a diametrically opposite way, not listing prohibitions, but provisions!

As a beautiful example, there is the opening verse of the much-loved 23rd Psalm—“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Or, as in the words of our text, “they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.”

There is the great promise of salvation and everlasting life: “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation” (John 5:24). Following salvation, there is the promise of divine guidance. “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). With such assurances, we can rejoice with the psalmist: “The LORD. . . is at my right hand, I shall not be moved; . . . Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand” (Psalm 16:8; 37:24). No matter how great the trial, the Lord will not leave us. “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee” (Isaiah 43:2).

God’s Word and God’s purposes can never fail. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). “Sin shall not have dominion over you” (Romans 6:14).

We should never resent God’s “negative” commands, for His gracious “shall not” promises are far greater! HMM


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