A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the LORD that renders recompense to his enemies.…
It is well for us to look around upon the things that are done in the midst of us as a people; well, because we must give no connivance at evil thinking or teaching or doing; well, because we must be careful about ourselves; well, because we must be truthful towards our neighbours; well, because we must be faithful toward our God. This text suggests three different voices which thoughtful men should hear: "A voice of noise from the city," etc. In other words, our ear must listen to the state of society and the state of religion amongst us, and then consider what the Lord has to say concerning both.
1. What is the voice which comes from the city, from the secular pursuits, the social habits, the business transactions, the political doings of men? There is a voice of noise, as of men that laugh, as of men that strive, as of men that boast. Luxury, with all its attendant evils, has come up as a cry from all our land, into the ears of earnest and anxious men, who know how foolish it is to be "lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God." It has carried with it a hasting to be rich; and out of that has grown a covetousness, a cold system of reckless speculation, a hard system of indifference, to the ruin of many for the enrichment of a few, which have made our age and our country a by-word amongst men. What awful accounts of utter contempt for human sufferings! What sad chronicles of entire forgetfulness of human wrongs have become the familiar subjects of every-day knowledge amongst us! These are crying evils in our days; the voice of noises from the city, symptoms of our social life, of which all true patriots ought to be blushingly ashamed. Yet, over the moanings of the oppressed, and the sorrows of the forsaken, the roar still rises. I ask every pious parent to keep a jealous and watchful eye upon the children growing in their simplicity at home, and to protect them against the strange fascination which has come over the land. I call upon all true servants of Christ to come out and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing. The Lord's people should be often with their God, seeking protection against the prevailing current of evil in men's hearts, minds, and ways. Expect no sympathy, because everything seems to say that faithful men must suffer for their faithfulness in the evil day. Fall back upon the right, the true, the good, the pure; fall back upon the oath and covenant and power and promise of God; but make no compromise with Satan.
2. But the prophet heard a voice out of the temple, and so may we. The luxury of the nation has had its influence upon the nation's faith. Men who will not shape their conduct by God's law will soon find means of accommodating their creed to their conduct. The pure Gospel is too plain-spoken for the consciences of men who desire to quarrel with God rather than with themselves. What is the voice from the temple in this our day? The great feature is a real indifference, not an avowed unbelief, not a bold blasphemy, not a studied contempt, not an entire ignoring of religious things, but a real indifference. There is an evil spirit abroad which takes to itself the blessed name of charity. It has always an excuse for evil, but it has little patience with truth. It has no strong convictions and no real love. There is a voice to be heard from the temple which may well make thoughtful people tremble. Men are falling again to their old and mischievous work of tampering with God's Word. Multitudes, it is to be feared, have lost their reverence, if not their faith.
3. This brings me to the third voice, which the prophet heard in the days of Israel's decline and fall: "A voice of the Lord that rendereth recompence to His enemies." In the written Word we have warning about evil time. (1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:1.) The voice of God is against all such evil (2 Timothy 4:1-4). "The voice of Him that rendereth recompense unto His enemies is, Woe unto you." What, then, should God's servants do? The voice from the city suggests that they must make their healthy influence felt in social life by a solemn and sacred protest against things which frivolize, secularize, materialize men's minds and ways. The voice from the temple suggests that all who love the pure Gospel truth must search it out so as to boldly set it forth, stand by it, speak for it, identify themselves with its honour, its advance, its defence. And the voice of the avenging God suggests that all who know Him should humble themselves before Him, and plead with Him that He would have mercy.
(J. Richardson, M.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the LORD that rendereth recompence to his enemies.