Malachi 1:6
"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?"
A Dialogue with GodAlexander MaclarenMalachi 1:6
A Fatherly ExposulationW. Osborne Lilley.Malachi 1:6
A Life Expected Worthy of the Divine MasterMalachi 1:6
Christian ReverenceF. E. Paget, M. A.Malachi 1:6
Devotion to a MasterS. S. ChronicleMalachi 1:6
Honour Shown in Conduct and in SentimentChristian AgeMalachi 1:6
Human Claims Impressing Divine ClaimsR. Tuck Malachi 1:6
Obedience the Practical Test of AffectionD. A. Clark.Malachi 1:6
Of God's Being the Father and Master of MankindJ. Orr, D. D.Malachi 1:6
The Father's HonourCanon Wilberforce, D. D.Malachi 1:6
The Honour Due to GodJames Parsons.Malachi 1:6
The Priests ChallengedJ. Parker, D. D.Malachi 1:6
Truth Learned from Our Human RelationsJ. Johnston.Malachi 1:6
Whereby We Cry, Abba, FatherHugh BinningMalachi 1:6
The Profession and the Practice of ReligionD. Thomas Malachi 1:6-9
The figure of fatherhood is used in Scripture to suggest God's peculiar relation to Israel; and we are therefore invited to use the family sentiments and responsibilities in the endeavour to realize our obligations to God. Our Lord, in his teachings, made a similar appeal to family feelings: "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" And the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews argues in a similar way, "Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?" It is true that arguments based on human relationships must take due account of human infirmities; but there is an ideal human relationship in every case, which men in their hearts recognize, and the obligations connected with it may always be safely applied to our relations with God. But there is a special point in Malachi's pleading with the priests of his day. In common with Jehovah's people, they came under the children's claims and responsibilities; but, as 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.
There is a sin common among us, which we may be unwilling to recognise, the sin of irreverence; a want of respect for the presence, power, and majesty of God, arising from thoughtlessness or practical unbelief. We need not attempt to prove that God has a right to expect from us the fullest tribute of veneration which we can offer, for this truth is a self-evident one. He is the Creator; we are the creatures. He is the Redeemer; we are they whom He has purchased to Himself. He is the Sanctifier; we are they who need sanctification. He is Eternal, Almighty, Infinite; we are mortal, weak, finite. As His mercy claims our love, so do His power and goodness claim our reverence. This conclusion we must have arrived at, if we had only the light of nature; it is fully sustained by revelation. In order to serve God acceptably, we must serve Him "with reverence and godly fear." But on this point we are lamentably defective, so that the reproof addressed to Israel in the days of Malachi may, with as great, or even greater, appropriateness, be applied to ourselves. Malachi's censure was, in the first instance, applied to the priests. But as it was with the priests, so is it now with all. We do not deny that God is our Father and Master. With our lips we acknowledge Him, but our hearts are far from Him. We do not consider the force of our words when we confess Him, or what they involve. We speak of Him as our Father and Master, but we tacitly persuade ourselves that in His case the paternal and domestic relation is something different from what it is among ourselves; that we are not His servants and children in the same sense as we are with regard to such of our fellow-creatures as hold such a connection with us. And it is true God has this further claim upon us, that He is our God. But this is a consideration from which we shrink, and so endeavour to persuade ourselves that His Godhead rather diminishes than enhances His claims upon us on other grounds. Irreverence in Malachi's days was shown by the character of the offerings made to God. Instead of bringing the best and most perfect, men thought it sufficient to sacrifice what was torn and crippled, what was cheap and paltry, what was of no value in the market. They offered to God of that which cost them nothing. Have we no temptation to commit precisely the same kind of sin? Look at the state of our churches; and negligence in church-repairs. It may be said, "so as our hearts be right, it matters little under what external circumstances we worship." The Israelites might have offered a similar plea. But let us examine whether our hearts are right, and whether we have as much reverence for God's presence in His house as we ought to have. It is not in God's own house only that we show our indifference to Him. The manner in which we treat His name, His day, His Word, His ministers, His sacraments, all is so much evidence against us that we have not that abiding awe of Him which is due to Him. From what causes such a spirit of irreverence has grown, and spread till it has taken possession of us; in what was its origin, and how it has been fostered, I cannot now stop to express an opinion. The fact is before us, and the bitter fruits of our profaneness and irreverence are ripening day by day. I do not say that our national and individual irreverence will end in open apostasy, but the tendency is, of course, that way; and we are in the greater peril, because the infection has spread both silently and universally. What then must be done? Let each endeavour to realise to himself more fully than he has yet done, the presence of God among us. He is present in His Church, in His sacraments, in His ministers, in His poor; present among us everywhere, and at all seasons. We must watch ourselves in little things, and reflect continually before whom they are done. We must avoid speaking of religious subjects before those who are likely to ridicule them. As a Father, we must pay God the honour that is due. We must not forget that, as our Master, He claims our fear as well as our love.

(F. E. Paget, M. A.)

This text is identified with general and permanent principles, and it admits of a general and permanent application, to be interpreted as a just pleading by Jehovah on behalf of His own glory, with the whole family of man.

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.

(James Parsons.)

The claim of God upon the confidence and obedience of man is based upon the unalterable fact that man is the son of God. For the answer to this ceaseless appeal to the filial instinct of humanity the world's Father stands waiting with tireless patience and unspeakable compassion at the door of every heart. There is a stage in the spiritual development of most lives when this transcendent truth passes from a dim instruct into a radiant certainty, it is the stage of "knowing the Lord." The instinct of sonship has never been absent from the race. The ancient Aryans spoke of the Eternal as "Dyaus Pitar"; the Greeks as "Zeus Pater"; the Latins as "Jupiter"; the Norsemen as "Thor," each word foreshadowing with stammering lips the Pater-noster — our heaven Father. Christ alone revealed the truth in perfection, and taught it in power. He, the revealer of the Father's moral and affectional nature in the limitations of a human body. This new clement infused into the thought of the world possesses individual hearts but slowly. The mind perceives that as the self-existent primal cause of all has conditioned Himself in natural phenomena that all thinkers might recognise Him as an Intelligence; so Almighty fatherhood has conditioned His moral attributes, His love, tenderness, and sacrifice in the workings of a human mind, and the words of a human voice, and the actions of a human life, in the Incarnation. As he looks on Jesus he sees Him as the great Sacrament of the Fatherhood, the visible embodiment of the all-pervading Father-Spirit. Just here comes in the searching power of the individual application of the appeal of God for the spiritual evolution of man. "If I be a Father, where is Mine honour?" The test of knowing the Lord is hearing the voice: ears that are deafened by the din of second causes hear not the voice. The conscious moral act whereby a son of God accepted the challenge, is deliberate mental disentanglement from second causes, and the recognition of God in every concern of life. The Father's demand, "Where is Mine honour?" is not satisfied without witness, enthusiasm, and loyalty. The duty of witness is clear and inalienable. No son of God can claim exemption. As to enthusiasm; one characteristic of the civilised heathenism of the age is the undisguised contempt ever poured upon enthusiasm. The Archetypal Man was an enthusiast; He loved the people with passion, and He turned the world upside down. And loyalty to the heavenly citizenship, and the guidance of the Eternal Spirit.

(Canon Wilberforce, D. D.)

Every relationship has its rights and duties. God's claims are paramount. As our Father He has a right to our veneration and love. He requires us to possess the filial spirit.

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.


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.)

Consider —


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.)

As we form our notions of the Divine character and perfections from our consciousness of similar affections in our own minds, so all our ideas of the relations in which we stand to Deity are derived from the relations in which we am placed to our brethren of mankind. We could have no ideas or conceptions of the perfections of God unless we had some corresponding and similar powers in our own minds. Man was formed after the image of God; and, although that image has been tarnished and defaced by his fall and his transgression, he retains those capacities and susceptibilities of soul, which remind him of the moral glory from which he has fallen. He knows, from reflection on his own nature, and capacities, what is meant by wisdom, power, justice, truth, goodness. When he views these qualities as attributes of Divinity, he regards them as free from every imperfection, uninterrupted in their operation, and incapable of change or decay. In a similar manner we form our notions of the relations in which we stand to Deity, and of the affections and duties which these relations imply and demand. As we know of the relation of a father to his children, the Scriptures do not explain the nature of the relation, but urge the duties which it implies. In the very forcible and touching appeal of the text, we are reminded of that honour and obedience which we owe to God as His children and servants, and are pointedly charged with having withheld them. Endeavour to state the nature and reasonableness of that claim which God, as our Father and Master, has to our honour and fear, and urge the inquiry, whether the claim has been recognised and obeyed. The first characteristic of that honour and fear which a son and servant show to a father and master, is delight in his presence and society. Wherever the filial relation is felt and sustained with the affection which it implies, it prompts the child to seek the presence and company of his parent. A servant, too, that fears his master with sincere regard, delights in his presence. Similar to this is that honour and fear which God requires of those who profess to be His sons and His servants. If our relation to God be anything more than a name, His presence will be the object of our most ardent desire, and communion with Him the highest happiness we shall seek to know. But can this be said to be the experience or the taste of many who call God their Father and Master? In the second place, obedience to the Divine commandments is another indication of that honour and fear which God, as a Father and Master, demands of those who profess to be His sons and His servants. An implicit confidence in the wisdom of his parents is one of the earliest instincts which nature has implanted in the bosom of a child; and to merit parental approbation and love is one of the most amiable and powerful desires that influence his conduct. Every expression of a father's will commands respect, and the sweetest music that falls upon the ear is the voice of paternal applause. It is this cheerful, childlike, and affectionate obedience which our heavenly Father claims from those who profess to be His sons and servants. We say, He is our Father — let Him have our filial love and obedience. We profess to bow to Him as our Master and Lord — let us devote ourselves unreservedly to His service and honour. In the third place, the relation should prompt a desire after resemblance of God in His moral excellence. The principle of imitation is one of the earliest and most active tendencies of our nature. As reason advances, the principle of imitation retains its power, and exerts its influence. Its power and influence are chiefly discernible in the resemblance which it generates in the temper and affections of the child to those of the parent. It is true that the tendency may be very strikingly modified by counteracting circumstances. But the truth holds good, that there is a strong and ever-operating tendency in a son to imitate his father; and where this imitating tendency is exercised by virtue in the parent, it is the source of the highest reciprocal satisfaction and delight, what the Father of our spirits requires of us is to elevate and ennoble this tendency to imitation by directing it to Himself. In the New Testament this imitation or resemblance of God is repeatedly pointed out as the prominent and characteristic distinction of His children. The moral excellences of the Divine character are presented as at once the sources of our comfort and the objects of our imitation. Only at an infinite distance from the moral glory of the Divine character the sons of mortality must for ever remain. In every renewed heart there is the ardent and ceaseless, and ever active desire to grow in resemblance to the moral grandeur which it adores and loves. In the fourth place, acquiescence in the appointments of His providence, and submission to His chastisement, distinguish those who are the sons and servants of God. In the exercise of his authority, and to promote the happiness and preserve the virtue of his children, the father must sometimes insist on privation and restraint, and give inflictions which he administers with reluctance and pain. Our Heavenly Father, who knows our waywardness and frailty, puts forth His hand in chastisement upon us. He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men. Then what is the state of mind in which they should be met and endured? Have the visitations of Providence always been met in a right spirit? Have we not often, by the fretfulness of our temper in the hour of visitation, evinced the absence of the childlike spirit that becomes those who profess themselves the sons of God?

(J. Johnston.)

This address was made to the priests of the Lord, at a very corrupt age of the Jewish Church. The whole Church was exceedingly polluted. Every precept of the law was violated and every rite of the sanctuary perverted. It will be no violation of the spirit of the text if we apply it to an impenitent world, embracing those who have no show of godliness, as well as the whole family of false professors. We find in the lips of many who make no pretensions to a change of heart, high professions of respect for the character and government of God. They claim Him as their Father, and would have us believe that they respect and obey His laws. We inquire whether men of this character yield Him that filial esteem, that dutiful subjection, which are due to 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.


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.

(Christian Age.)

A former queen of Madagascar, gathering some of the palace officers together, said to them, "I am aware that many of you are numbered among the praying people; I have no objection to you joining them if you think it right, but remember, if you do so, I shall expect from you a life worthy of that profession.

O priests, that despise My name.
"And ye say, Wherein have we despised Thy Name?" This is the worst kind of impiety, because it displays utter ignorance of one's self. The caution is not against open or violent hostility; there may be simple ignorance, or unconscious contempt, or that sort of passivity and indifference which amounts to positive neglect. We go down not by a plunge, but by an inclined plane. The plane is lubricated, is well-oiled, so that we slip own little by little, and hardly know that we are slipping. "Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar." The retort is, "Wherein have we polluted Thee?" In this way. "Ye say, The table of the Lord is contemptible." There the error was fundamental. This is the charge that is levelled against all men to-day. Why patter with incidental errors, why not. lift up the impeachment to its proper dignity, and charge men with having left the Lord, with having turned their backs upon the Lord?

(J. Parker, D. D.)

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