Furthermore, we have all had earthly fathers who disciplined us, and we respected them. Should we not much more submit to the Father of our spirits and live?
I. ITS CHARACTER. Three words are used to express it - "rebuke," "chastening," "scourging." The last two seem to be used synonymously here. Archbishop Trench points out that "'to rebuke" and "to chasten" are often found together, but they are very capable of being distinguished. "To rebuke" is so to rebuke that the person is brought to the acknowledgment of his fault - is convinced, as David was when rebuked by Nathan (2 Samuel 12:13)." The word translated to "chasten," "being in classical Greek to instruct, to educate, is in sacred Greek to instruct or educate by means of correction, through the severe discipline of love." The object of the discipline is to deliver the subjects of it from sin, to establish them in the faith, and to perfect them in holiness. The means of the discipline are afflictions, persecutions, and trials. And it may be administered by the enemies of the Church of Christ. The persecutions of man may be the discipline of God. "Persecution for religion is sometimes a correction and rebuke for the sins of professors of religion. Men persecute them because they are religious; God chastises them because they are not more so: men persecute them because they wilt not give up their profession; God chastises them because they have not lived up to their profession."
II. ITS AUTHOR. "The chastening of the Lord .... Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth." Some of our trials are from his hand. He is the great Husbandman, and he prunes the vines that they may bring forth more fruit. The trials which are not sent by him are permitted by him (cf. Job 1:12; Job 2:6; 2 Corinthians 12:7). And he gives to all our trials their disciplinary character. He makes the bitter potion medicinal. By his blessing our sufferings become salutary, and our sorest afflictions our sagest instructors. The fact that the Lord is the Author of our discipline, that our trials either proceed from him or are permitted and regulated by him, supplies a guarantee that we shall not be tried beyond our strength. He is infinite in wisdom and in love. "He knoweth our frame;" and he will either restrict our trials so that they exceed not our strength, or increase our strength until it surpasses the severity of our trials. "He stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind." "I will correct thee in measure." "Though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies." "My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness."
III. ITS SUBJECTS. "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."
1. They are filially related to him. "Every son" of his he subjects to reproof and chastisement. "God has one Son without sin, but none without suffering." If we are his sons, we may rest assured that he will not fail to secure to us the discipline that we need. Thus our sufferings may be an evidence of our sonship.
2. They are beloved by him. "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth." Because he loves us he corrects us. It has been well said, that "lawns which we would keep in the best condition are very frequently mown; the grass has scarcely any respite from the scythe. Out in the meadows there is no such repeated cutting; they are mown but once or twice in the year. Even thus the nearer we are to God, and the more regard he has for us, the more frequent will be our adversities. To be very dear to God involves no small degree of chastisement."
IV. ITS RECEPTION. "My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord," etc.
1. It should not be deemed unimportant. "Regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord." "We may be said to despise the chastening of the Lord," says Dr. Wardlaw, "in the following eases:
(1) When it is not felt; when there is a want of natural sensibility to the particular stroke of the rod. This is but rare. Men in general are quite sufficiently alive to the value of temporal things. But the value is comparative. There are cherished and favorite possessions, and others less highly thought of, less fondly held. The Lord, it may be, deals gently. He spares the 'gourd.' He does not take what is most highly set by. And instead of humbly owning the kindness - being lowly and submissive, and seeking a blessing on the gentle stroke, that the heavier one may be withheld - the preservation and safety of the greater produces insensibility to the privation of the less; and the correction is thus disregarded, and proves inefficient.
(2) When it is not duly felt as from God.
(3) When, although God is seen in it and his hand is felt, it is not felt humbly and submissively; not bowed to, but resisted.
(4) When the design or end of correction is not laid to heart."
2. It should not be deemed intolerable. "Nor faint when thou art rebuked of him." We are not to sink under the reproofs and strokes of the Divine discipline, though they be severe. The fact that our trials are regulated by our Father's hand, that they are educational, that they are intended and adapted to promote our spiritual and eternal well-being, should keep us from sinking beneath their pressure.
"The tears we shed are not in vain; Tis in the tempest souls expand, Oh, welcome, then, the ocean's roar!
Tis in the tempest souls expand, Oh, welcome, then, the ocean's roar!
Oh, welcome, then, the ocean's roar!
Subjection unto the Father of spirits.I. THE DUTY IS SUBJECTION. "Shall we not be in subjection?" This is not opposed to insensibility. There is no patience, no resignation, in bearing what we do not feel. If you do not prize what you give up at the call of God, there can be no value in your obedience. But it is the repression of everything rebellious — in our carriage — in our speech — and in the temper of our minds.
II. Let us consider THE REASONS BY WHICH THIS DUTY IS ENFORCED. Here are four motives.
1. The first is derived from the relation in which God stands to us. He is our Father. But to what does this lead? The conclusion, says the apostle, is obvious. If He pre-eminently fills this relation, His claims to duty are proportionally great. You gave the fathers of your flesh reverence. And shall a man obtain more obedience than God?
2. This brings us to the second reason of submission. It is taken from the danger of resistance. "Shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live?" Clearly intimating that disobedience will end in death. There cannot be a more awful presage of future misery than to counteract the afflictive dispensations of Divine Providence, and " despise the chastening of the Almighty." It provokes the anger of God, and operates penally in one of these two ways. Either, first, it induces God to recall the rod, and give a man up to the way of his own heart, or, secondly, He turns the rod into a scorpion, and fulfils the threatening: "If ye will not be reformed by Me by these things, but will walk contrary unto Me, then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins."
3. The third motive is taken from the brevity of the discipline. They verily chastened us; but it was only " a few days." The child soon became a man, and the course of restriction and preparation resulted in a state of maturity. This is to be applied to our heavenly Father, and contains an encouraging intimation, that the whole season of trial, when opposed to our future being and blessedness, is but a short period.
4. The last motive is derived from the principle and design of affliction. Men are imperfect, and their actions are like themselves. Hence, when as their children they chastened us, it was frequently "for their pleasure." They would do it. It was to give ease to their passions; to vent their feelings. It was to show their authority, or maintain their consequence, regardless of our welfare. But this is not the case with God. "He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." He does it only "if needs be" — He does it "for our profit." What profit? A profit that infinitely weighs down every other advantage, and which, above all things, yea, and by " any means," you should be anxious to secure: spiritual profit; Divine profit — "that you might be partakers of His holiness." If God chastens us to make us holy, we learn —(1) The importance of holiness, and the value of it in the eye of a Being who cannot be mistaken.(2) We learn how defective we all are in this attainment; seeing God deems such trying means necessary, in order to promote it.(3) We learn that if anything can promise a happy deliverance from trouble, it is the sanctification of it: when the end is answered, the rod is laid by.(4) We learn that whatever our afflictions may do for us, they have not fulfilled the Divine purpose unless they have made us more holy.
I. The first element of contrast suggested by the text is this. OUR HUMAN PARENTS PUNISH PASSIONATELY, AND NOT ALWAYS DELIBERATELY. Without meaning to, without, perhaps, being conscious of it, they are sometimes simply giving vent to impatient, excited, or even angry feeling, in chastising their offspring. The impatient impulse, the caprice of the moment, rules us and puts into the correction the severity, it may be violence, of an indignation by no means wholly righteous. God is not susceptible of anything like passion as we understand it — either in its impulsiveness, impetuosity, malice, or malignity. Even God's anger is the unchanging hatred of evil — the anger of principle, not of passion — calm even in its fury, slow even in its haste, cool even in its heat. Our anger is like the agitation of a shallow lake, rippled with every breeze. All this is our assurance in affliction that God cannot deal harshly, severely, or unjustly with us. With the calmness of eternal patience, the steadfastness of eternal love, He afflicts us solely for our good.
II. Again, our earthly parents chastise us PUNITIVELY AND NOT CORRECTIVELY. They aim more to punish the offence than to correct the evil and reform the evildoer. Here is another way in which passion often inflicts chastisement. An earthly father is grieved and rightly angry because the son has offended against truth, virtue, honesty, integrity. This is a far nobler passion than the caprices of ill-temper, yet it is doubtful whether a parent can be sure of inflicting profitable correction under its influence. It hurries one into a method of punishment which hardens rather than softens which is ill-adapted to the peculiar temperament of the child, which may restrain from similar offences, if at all, only from fear of the rod, and not at all from love of the right. It should ever be borne in mind that the highest purpose of all punishment is not the vindication of a principle, but the reformation of an offender, or at least the salvation of others from similar sins. To contend for a principle is noble, but oh, how insignificant all else in comparison with the welfare of a soul! Oh, let us not forget that true love of the parent may help to kindle that true love of the right which is stronger than any fear of correction. The word here rendered "chasten," means educate. All God's chastening is meant to educate His children; His dealings are designed as a discipline. He must punish our offences; but the grand end He proposes to Himself is to secure our sanctification and salvation. God teaches us that with Him fatherly pity prompts His chastisements. In all God's afflictions He consults the exact temperament of His children. He knoweth our frame. It is one of the most palpable facts of history that the men who have wielded the mightiest moral influence have been prepared for it by the severest Divine discipline. No less means would have subdued that great will and made its stubbornness an element of steadfastness anti stability. A degree of heat that must melt down the harder metals is far more intense than that which melts the softest; yet when made into vessels, that which it took the hotter fire to fuse is far the stronger and more serviceable; while you can bend and twist the other, this is unaffected by hard usage. So does God use the chastening rod with tender consideration for our temperament and constitution, adapting His discipline to our need. If we desire the largest fitness for service, we must submit to His wise chastening.
III. Again, our earthly parents chastens us IMPERFECTLY, NOT INFALLIBLY; according to their own fallible judgment of right and wrong. This thought is suggested in the text by the phrase, "according to their own pleasure," literally according to what seemed good or right to them. Parental love is imperfect, and so is parental wisdom, so that with the best possible intentions grave mistakes may be committed in a child's discipline. Hero appears perhaps the principal emphasis of the text: They, according to what seemed good: He, according to what is good for us. God reminds us that He cannot err. The chastening He inflicts is for our profit — and let us grasp the full meaning — not only for our profit is it designed, but adapted. Not what seems best, but what is best. Oh, let us remember the perfect fatherhood and fatherliness of God! This is the profit for which He chastens us, as He Himself defines it, "that we might be partakers of the Divine holiness."
IV. Once more, our earthly parents chasten us TEMPORARILY, NOT PERMANENTLY, as the text says, "for a few days." This phrase means more than it seems to imply. It probably refers to the fact that much of our parental training looks to immediate results, not remote ones — it is with reference to a few days, or at most to our short earthly life. The effect is transient, not permanent. Now, God's chastening always looks to eternal results. That which is near at hand impresses us most vividly; we are therefore always emphasising present good and undervaluing the more precious things of the hereafter. How different must all this appear to God, whose omniscient eye sees the end from the beginning, and to whom the remotest future is as vivid as the present, the remotest result as real as the present process!
(A. T. Pierson, D. D.)
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
I. THE PURPOSE OF LIFE'S SUFFERINGS.
II. GOD'S PURPOSE IN SUFFERING IS TO EDUCATE MAN THROUGH HOLINESS INTO JOY. For the attainment of this end two things are requisite —
1. The vision of a higher world. It is manifest that unless we are delivered from the thraldom of the present world, we cannot resist its temptations or escape its snares. Until we realise the world of God and the angels, we can reach no true holiness. And for this the discipline of sorrow fits us. It isolates us from the turmoil of the present, and opens the spirit's eye.
2. Divine power is the second requisite for the full attainment of this joy. Until we are strong, we cannot be "partakers of His holiness." We become strong by self-surrender, for self-surrender is self-control. We must glance at the practical lesson which is here suggested, "Shall we not be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?" The question arises, How can this be realised? In three ways —(1) By accepting the fact — by believing that all life is a discipline, that its sorrows and its joys are intended to train you into holiness, and therefore into blessedness.(2) By endorsing it with your choice. Choose what God has chosen for you. Heartily accept His will as your will. Ask neither for joy or sorrow, success or failure, life or death.(3) And then, lastly, by acting under that choice.
(E. L. Hull, B. A.)I. THE LIGHT IN WHICH AFFLICTION OUGHT TO BE VIEWED BY CHRISTIANS.
1. As coming from God.
2. As merited by our sins,
3. As the effect of fatherly wisdom and love.
4. With a desire that His gracious design may be fulfilled in us.
II. THE TENDENCY WHICH AFFLICTION HAS TO BENEFIT US. "That we may be partakers of His holiness." Now the way in which affliction tends to produce this great end is —
1. By giving us a just idea, giving us a practical impression, of the evil of sin.
2. Affliction tends to convince us of the insufficiency of the present world.
3. Submission to the will of God.
5. Affliction weans us from the world, and fixes our thoughts on another state.Lessons:
1. Let the afflicted derive comfort.
2. Let those who have been afflicted seriously consider what has been the effect of their trials upon themselves. If no effect has been produced, what can they expect but "sorrow upon sorrow"?
(R. Hall, M. A.)
(R. M. McCheyne.)
(F. D. Maurice, M. A.)
Bushnell's Life.When Dr. Bushnell was dying, his wife repeated to him, slightly transposing the words of the text, "The good and perfect and accepted will of God." He replied, "Yes, and accepted."
That we might be partakers of His holiness.I. THE LIGHT IN WHICH AFFLICTIONS OUGHT TO RE VIEWED, AND THE DISPOSITION WITH WHICH THEY OUGHT TO BE RECEIVED.
II. CONSIDER THEIR TENDENCY, WHEN THUS VIEWED AND RECEIVED, TO PROMOTE OUR SPIRITUAL INTEREST. "That we might be partakers of His holiness"; that is, of the holiness which He requires. Holiness consists in conformity to the will of God. Afflictions have a tendency to promote the great work.
1. They teach you the evil nature of sin, on account of which they are sent, and point you to the Saviour. Practical lessons are the best of all lessons.
2. The utter insufficiency of this world, as a portion for the soul. In days of prosperity you may not be thoroughly convinced of this.
3. Afflictions excite and increase some of the most amiable and pious dispositions of the human heart. Such as resignation and patience.
4. When viewed in their true light, and received with a proper spirit, they are most satisfactory proofs of the love of God.Remarks:
1. In the light of this subject we see the reason why so many instances of affliction fail to produce any good and lasting effect. The agency of God is not acknowledged in them.
2. This subject furnishes solemn reproof and warning to such as have experienced affliction, and yet have not repented.
3. This subject affords instruction and peculiar encouragement to Christians. Those who wear the white robes in heaven came out of great tribulation.
(John Matthews, D. D.)
(O. Feltham.)H. W. Beecher.)
LinksHebrews 12:9 NIV
Hebrews 12:9 NLT
Hebrews 12:9 ESV
Hebrews 12:9 NASB
Hebrews 12:9 KJV
Hebrews 12:9 Bible Apps
Hebrews 12:9 Parallel
Hebrews 12:9 Biblia Paralela
Hebrews 12:9 Chinese Bible
Hebrews 12:9 French Bible
Hebrews 12:9 German Bible
Hebrews 12:9 Commentaries