"A son honors his father, and a servant his master. But if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is your fear of Me?" says the LORD of Hosts to you priests who despise My name. Yet you ask, "How have we despised Your name?"
priests, they were children honoured with special trusts. They were favoured children, and were bound to be model children. The obligation of the servant to the master is similar to that of the son to the father, but in the case of the child there is the help of personal affection. The two figures may be used to illustrate the point of this passage.
I. A MASTER'S CLAIM ILLUSTRATES THE DIVINE CLAIM. "If I be a Master, where is my fear? saith the Lord." This is taking the lowest ground. There is no necessary affection in this relationship, There is simply obligation and duty. A servant is bound to serve. Apply to the priests, who were precisely the servants of Jehovah's house, or temple. He had a right to claim service that would honour him, that would show a cherished sense of reverence and fear, and would make others think highly of him. But just that service the priests of the day were failing to render. Still, if no higher relation be realized, God claims our service as his servants.
II. A FATHER'S CLAIM ILLUSTRATES THE DIVINE CLAIM. This is higher ground to take, because it is a relation involving personal affection, and the refusal of the claim is therefore the more unworthy. Work out that if the father figure as presented in the Old Testament was a great persuasion of the Divine claims, much more must the Father figure be as revealed in the teaching and Sonship of Jesus Christ. - R.T.
A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master.
(F. E. Paget, M. A.)
I. WHENCE THE CLAIM OF GOD UPON THE YOUNG ARISES. From His character as Father. The reason why the Most High is thus represented is, because from His creative will and power men derive their being, and because by His providential arrangements and care their being is supplied and preserved. Hence His paternal character is extensive as the world and permanent as time. It is designed to be recognised by us as involving the two great attributes of authority and kindness — authority which is supreme and unimpeachable, kindness which is unfailing and unbounded.
II. WHAT THE CLAIM OF GOD UPON YOU INVOLVES. He claims a Father's right to be honoured. The mode of address here implies. the guilt omission of men to render to God what is His due. "Where Is Mine honour?" A vast proportion of the human family have attempted to banish God as an alien from the universe He has made.
1. The honour which your Father requires is your adoring reverence of His perfections.
2. Your practical obedience of His law.
3. Your zealous devotedness to His cause.
III. HOW IS THE CLAIM OF GOD UPON YOU COMMENDED? He whom you are summoned to honour possesses an absolute right to you.
1. Your compliance with the claim of God as your Father will secure your dignity.
2. It will secure your usefulness.
3. It will secure your happiness.Your consciences will be perturbed by no agitations. Your happiness will be that arising from gratitude and from benevolence. The knowledge that you have imparted happiness to others will be delightful.
(Canon Wilberforce, D. D.)
I. CONSIDER THE TRUTH ASSUMED. "If then I be a Father." God's Fatherhood has been generally recognised. He has always acted as a Father towards men —
1. In bringing them into existence.
2. In stamping upon them His own image.
3. In providing for their needs in the bounties of nature.
4. In redeeming them from sin.
5. In adopting them into His heavenly family.
6. In arranging life so as to discipline them.
II. GOD'S APPEAL IN VIEW OF THIS TRUTH. "Where is Mine honour?" This appeal is just and right. It is our duty to render honour to God. This involves —
1. Reverence toward Him. Always to speak of Him with respect and love; revering His ordinances; worshipping in His sanctuary.
2. Obedience to His commandments. Making them the rule of our lives, and delighting in them as the expression of His will.
3. Trust in His goodness. Believing that He will never err in the arrangements of His providence, but that all things will work together for our good.
4. Submission to His chastisements. Bearing affliction as from His hand.
5. By revealing His image. Showing in our dispositions and deeds that we are His children.
III. HOW THIS APPEAL SHOULD BE RESPONDED TO.
1. By serious reflection.
2. By true repentance.
3. By earnest prayer for the possession of the spirit of sonship promised in Christ.
4. By constant efforts to honour God in the future.
(W. Osborne Lilley.)
I. HOW TRULY GOD IS THE FATHER, AND THE MASTER OF MANKIND.
1. The Father. God gave being to the world and all things in it. St. Paul styles Him "the Father, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named," the Head of the rational system, the Father both of angels and men, who all derive their being from Him, and in the constitution of their nature bear some features and resemblances of the great original from whence they sprung. God created man in His own image. It is evident from our consciousness and experience, that we have such powers of perception and understanding, such a sense of good and evil, right and wrong, and such principles of honesty and goodness in our nature as ally and unite us to the Father of spirits, and give us a striking resemblance of Him, in some of His most glorious attributes and qualities. God is also to be considered the Father of mankind, as He has made an ample provision for the improvement and happiness of the excellent nature which He has given them.
2. The Master. As God hath all power in Himself, and as by this alone the universe subsists, all creatures whatsoever are necessarily in a state of subjection to Him. There is something implied in the notion of God's being the Master of men, more than His merely exercising an uncontrollable dominion over them. But God is a perfectly holy, righteous, and good Potentate, governing rational agents according to the dictates of the highest sanctity and justice, and consulting their happiness in all His administrations towards them. That He is the righteous Governor of men is evident from His having laid us under the law of righteousness in the constitution of our being. The foundation of God's moral government over men is firmly laid in His own nature and in ours. A just order is plainly prevalent in the conduct of human affairs, notwithstanding the irregularities and confusions which are to be observed in them.
II. WHAT IS THAT DUTY WHICH WE OWE TO GOD AS FATHER AND MASTER? Expressed in the terms honour and fear.
1. Honour. No sentiments are made universal and better known to the mind than those of respect, duty, and submission, which children entertain for their parents in this world. If this be the temper which becomes us with respect to the fathers of our flesh, how much more must we cultivate the same temper towards the Father of our spirits. Surely the devotion of our minds towards Him must rise into a perfect adoration of His goodness, accompanied with the sincerest gratitude and love, the firmest affiance in Him, the most absolute resignation to His will, and the most earnest endeavours to obey His laws and to imitate His purity and benignity in our whole conversation.
2. Fear. As the masters of this world are of different tempers and characters, so the fear of their subjects or servants in regard to them is of very different kinds. God has nothing in His nature resembling the qualities of the arbitrary or oppressive masters and rulers of this world. His government is founded on the maxims of perfect wisdom, goodness, and righteousness, therefore a slavish fear of Him can be no part of thee homage which His worshippers and servants are to pay to Him. The only fear of God which it becomes us to entertain, is a mixed affection of mind, made up of a high reverence of His perfections, particularly His wisdom, justice, purity, goodness, and power; an affectionate esteem of His laws, an earnest solicitude to obey those laws, and a great dread of transgressing them, from a sense of the baseness and odiousness of trampling upon the authority of our rightful and most gracious Lord and Saviour. The cultivation of these principles, the honour and fear of God, should be earnestly commended. Let us not, upon any pretences, excuse ourselves from the cultivation of a becoming temper towards the Deity, but cheerfully pay Him all that honour and love, that obedience and submission which, as our most compassionate and indulgent Father, and our most gracious and righteous King and Lawgiver, He claims and demands from us.
(J. Orr, D. D.)
I. CONTEMPLATE THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD, AND SEE IF WE CAN DISCOVER HIM DEALING WITH ALL HIS RATIONAL CREATURES AS A FATHER AND A MASTER.
1. As a Father and Master He protects them. This the son and servant expect. God keeps His eye on all His intelligent creatures, and puts underneath them His arm of mercy.
2. He provides for all His creatures. No man could make his seed vegetate, or render his fields fertile, or ensure success in trade independently of his Maker.
3. He makes us know His will. We have some lessons from the broad sheet of nature; but in His Word He has opened all His heart; has made every duty plain, and placed it in the power of every son and servant of His to do His pleasure.
4. He has made our duties light. The service He requires is pleasant and easy.
5. He provides for our future happiness.
II. HOW WILL A KIND AND DUTIFUL SON OR SERVANT TREAT A FATHER OR MASTER?
1. The son loves his father, and the good servant his master. If we have any love to God, we must love His whole character, and must learn His character from the Bible. The question is, do that class of men who speak so highly of their Maker, love the whole of the Divine character? They are pleased with only a part of the Divine character. Hence they will deny such doctrines as clash with their views of God. If they loved God they would believe what He says.
2. The good child loves the society of his father; and the faithful servant loves to be with his master.
3. A good son and a faithful servant will be cheerfully obedient. A dutiful temper is indispensable in either of these stations. Will the class of men addressed in the text stand this test? Are they uniform in regard to their duty? Have they a tender conscience which fears to do wrong, fears to neglect a duty, fears to violate an obligation, dreads the least deviation from the most perfect rectitude?
4. The son and servant will each be attached to his father s or his master's family. Do these people attach themselves to the family of Christ? Do they love His disciples and choose them as their intimates?
5. The servant and son are very jealous of the honour of their father and master. But do we discover this delicacy of feeling in that class of men who would be esteemed religious, but who have no pretensions to a change of heart?
6. The kind son and the dutiful servant will wish to have others acquainted with their father and their master.
(D. A. Clark.)
S. S. Chronicle.Admiral Sir George Tryon, to whose fatal error of judgment (his only mistake as a commander, it is said) the loss of the Victoria was due, was much beloved and trusted by his subordinates. As he stood on the bridge of the fast sinking ship, he was heard to say to a midshipman standing beside him, "Go, my lad. Save yourself while there's time." But the midshipman answered, "I'd rather stay with you, sir." And he did. Christian! The duties and trials of life are daily testing your devotion to a Master who makes no mistakes.
(S. S. Chronicle.)
Christian Age.A young man who occupies pleasant rooms in a large city was entertaining a guest from his country home. "You see I honour my father and my mother," he said, pointing to two portraits which hung in prominent positions on the walls of his sitting-room. "You do in sentiment, Frank," answered his visitor; "but if you will forgive an old friend speaking plainly, your principles do not honour them to the same degree. Those portraits have looked down on a good many card parties and wine suppers and wasted hours. They have seen neglected the work which you came to the city to do, and your old habits of plain living and high thinking' forgotten very often. Think it over, won't you?" The young man, it may be said, did think it over, and he did not need another such reminder. Instances of inconsistency between sentiment and rules of conduct can be discovered by everyone in persons around him easily, in himself not quite so easily perhaps, but pretty surely.
O priests, that despise My name.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
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