Cautious Deliberation

Isaiah 11:1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:

2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;

3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:

4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.

Isaiah 26:7 The way of the just is uprightness: thou, most upright, dost weigh the path of the just.

8 Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee.

9 With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.

Ecclesiastes 5:1 Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.

2 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.

Ecclesiastes 7:8 Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

9 Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.

Ecclesiastes 8:5 Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment.

6 Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him.

I Corinthians 4:3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.

4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

MEMORY VERSE: Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. —John 7:24

CENTRAL THOUGHT: Jesus, the supreme example of one who judged righteous judgment, didn’t make hasty decisions based on the sight of His eyes or the hearing of His ears; therefore, we are cautioned to be patient rather than hasty, waiting on the Lord to bring the hidden things to light so that we may judge righteous judgment.


Isaiah 11:3 “Quick understanding”: “or, his smelling shall be. Smelling is put for judging, because the sense of smelling, where it is quick and good, is more exact and sure in the judging of its proper objects, than the senses of seeing and hearing are…So the sense is, He shall not judge rashly and partially, but considerately and justly, as the fear of God obligeth all judges to do” (Matthew Poole’s Commentary). Another meaning is suggested: “He shall delight in the fear of the Lord.” Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible expresses it as, “‘Cause him to smell the fear of the Lord’; that is, to discern in whom it was: this is one effect of the Spirit’s resting upon him, and particularly as the spirit of understanding, and of the fear of the Lord, whereby he has a quick and sharp discerning of it; so as to discern where and in whom it was, and was not; he could distinguish between him that feared God and him that feared him not.”

Isaiah 11:4 “Reprove with equity for the meek of the earth”: “And with equity will He decide in favor of the earth’s oppressed” (Berean Study Bible). Equity means fairness; justice. I Corinthians 4:4 “I know nothing by myself”: nothing against myself.


Today’s lesson examines the way Jesus Christ weighs the spirits of all men and discerns them; not by outward appearances only because that can be deceiving; nor by what he hears from this one or that one, but by what they are inside—their spirits, which can only be “smelled” or discerned by God. Judging or discerning between right and wrong for ourselves is an obligation for which we must individually take serious care. Discerning others requires even more cautious deliberation. Examples in the scriptures illustrate the solemn contemplation and waiting before God practiced by holy men of God when faced with judicial decisions. Moses and Aaron once had to decide what to do with a man who had cursed. Did they cut him off immediately? No, they put him “in ward, that the mind of the LORD might be shewed them.” They prayed until God showed Moses exactly what to do (Leviticus 24:10-16).

There are precedents in Scripture where God gave individuals space for repentance before He struck with a judgment sentence. The very words, “Thou dost weigh the path of the just” suggest the slow but sure methods in which God works. Isaiah recognized this when he said, “In the way of thy judgments have we waited for thee.”

The Ecclesiastes writer also admonished against being hasty with the utterances of our mouths or the anger of our spirits. Being “soon angry” implies that a quick judgment has been made and a hasty decision to act in vengeance or harm has taken over good sense. The word “prejudice” contains the idea of a judgment made or an attitude taken without all the facts being considered or the full story heard and understood.

Paul instructed the Corinthians to wait for the Lord to come and make things clear before passing judgment on one another. I don’t believe he is saying to wait for the second coming of our Lord; rather, we must wait for His coming to the individual situation with His wisdom and direction. In our own personal judgment, he is saying, we tend to go very easy on ourselves and may not find anything worthy of judgment against ourselves. We tend to go to the opposite extreme with others. He exhorts to judge nothing before “the time.” It is true that a judgment must necessarily be made. But there is “a time.” And a wise man will discern the correct timing and method of judgment.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


  1. How did Isaiah say the Messiah would judge?
  2. What is meant by “quick understanding?”
  3. What is the effect of God’s judgments being manifest in the earth through our lives?
  4. A wise man discerns both _________ and _______________.
  5. In judging others, for what are we to wait?
  6. What is meant by righteous judgment?


The scriptures in this lesson, together with the preceding lessons about waiting on God, give a clear picture of the spirit of waiting so necessary for the people of God. How we err when we are hasty! Hasty to condemn others, hasty to utter hurtful words, hasty to retaliate, hasty to be angry. The wrath of man just doesn’t work the righteousness of God! Prejudices or decisions made because of surface appearances are never fair or balanced. Running ahead of God’s timing can be disastrous, even fatal.

When my husband and I were young people, we were troubled to learn that some individuals in a congregation did not get along with some others. It was easy to watch their actions and draw conclusions, which is what we did one night in campmeeting when, in a packed auditorium, one family arrived late and stood looking for an empty seat. We could see one—so we thought. But half of the bench was occupied by the “other people” and it looked for all the world that the latecomers saw the vacant place, decided they wouldn’t sit there because of “who” was also there, and stood against the wall for the remainder of the service. How we judged their motives and attitudes from our viewpoint across the chapel! As the congregation stood for the closing hymn, we noticed a very important fact that we had missed: small children sleeping on the “vacant” pew. Our conversation driving home was very sober. We had just been delivered a “wake-up call!” That incident has influenced the way we have dealt with others unto this day. God, make us patient in spirit!

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


William Tyndale was burned at the stake because of his passion for translating the Bible into the English language. He gave his life for a great cause, and in his lifetime, as he waited for the judgments of the Lord, the fulfillment never came to pass as he desired. He was burned at the stake before all his desires were fulfilled. But as the flames were consuming his flesh, this cry came out of his mouth: “LORD OPEN THE KING OF ENGLAND’S EYES!” Within three years King Henry VIII licensed English Bibles to be placed in the parish churches of England. God is not slack concerning his promises!

John Huss became a hero to Martin Luther and many others. He was also burned at the stake waiting for God’s judgments. He turned to his executioner and said, “Today you burn a goose“—speaking of himself, as his last name meant goose—“But in a hundred years a swan will arise which you will prove unable to boil or roast.”

True to his word, Martin Luther came with his 95 theses and nailed them to the door, protesting the Catholic Church’s stand on vital issues. These three men waited on the judgments of God and never saw all the fruits of their labor.

—Bro. James Bell