3.13 - Acquiring Trust in God

Chovos HaLevavos, Shaar HaBitachon Chapter 3, part I


If a person wants to acquire true trust in God, there are certain prerequisites that he must first understand and internalize. The first of these is that he must recognize seven principles vis-à-vis God, namely:

  1. God is more merciful towards man than anyone or anything else, as per Deuteronomy 13:18, “He will grant you mercy, be merciful to you, and increase you.”
  2. Nothing that benefits a person is unknown to God. He created us and He knows all our needs. If this is true of a human designer, how much more so is it the case with God! Referring to this, Isaiah 48:17 says, “I am Hashem your God, Who directs you for your own good, Who guides you in the way to go.”
  3. God’s will is absolute and no one can thwart it, as per Psalms 135:6, “Whatever God desired, He did.” 
  4. God oversees all the affairs of man; nothing is too great or too small for His attention. Regarding this, Isaiah 40:27 says, “Why do you say, Jacob, and why do you state, Israel, ‘My way is hidden from Hashem and my judgment is removed from God?’”
  5. No one can help or harm, neither himself nor another, unless God permits it to occur. If a servant has several masters, all of whom can help him, he will divide his reliance among them; if only one of his masters can help him, he will rely on that one exclusively. Similarly, if we recognize that only God can assist us, we will rely on Him to the exclusion of all others. To this end, King David wrote, “Trust not in princes, in human beings who have no power to save” (Psalms 146:3).
  6. One must be aware of how good God is to man strictly because of His own grace and not because we have done anything to deserve it. This is reflected by Psalms 40:6, “Many things You have done, Hashem my God - Your wonderful works and Your thoughts toward us; there is none to be compared to You! If I would declare and speak of them, they are too many than can be told.”
  7. One must understand that all created things have their designated parameters that have been decreed by God. Something cannot be increased if God desires it to be few in number, nor can it be decreased if He desires it to be many. One cannot delay what He wishes to occur and one cannot bring about that which He wishes to delay. 

Aside from grasping these seven principles, the other prerequisites that one must internalize to acquire trust in God are:

  • God is always watching us and nothing is hidden from His view, not even our innermost thoughts. He even knows if our trust in Him is sincere! Numerous verses convey this thought, including I Kings 8:39, “Because You alone know the hearts of all mankind.”
  • If a person must turn to God with a matter, he should turn only to God and not diminish his trust by turning to others as well. Among the verses addressing this is Jeremiah 17:5, “Cursed is the person who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, turning his heart away from God.”
  • One should be extremely careful to fulfill his duties to God and to keep far away from the things He has prohibited. Among the many verses reflecting this is Psalms 37:3, “Trust in God and do good, dwell in the land and cherish faithfulness.”
  • One must understand that everything brought into this world after the initial act of creation was brought into existence through God’s will and a series of causes. Man cannot bring a thing into being unless God so desires it and prepares the underlying mechanism necessary for its existence. An example of a verse addressing this concept is I Kings 12:15, “it was a matter brought about by God.”

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