The LORD confides in those who fear Him, and reveals His covenant to them.
Psalm 25:8-14Psalm 25:8-14. Here we may learn something as to
God's revelation to man.
I. That God's revelation MUST BE IN HARMONY WITH HIS CHARACTER. With God there can be no contradiction. What he does shows what he is. His words and his works agree. If we were created in the image of God, then we reasonably infer that, when God makes a special revelation to us, it will be in accord with our moral nature. This is what gives the gospel its preciousness and its power. "God was in Christ."
II. That God's revelation IS MADE TO THE SPIRITUALLY SUSCEPTIBLE. (Vers. 8, 9.) In this there is nothing arbitrary or strange. It must be so, from the very nature of things. As Coleridge sings -
"O lady, we receive but what we give, III. That God's revelation CAN ONLY BE RECEIVED IN ITS FULNESS BY THE OBEDIENT. (Vers. 10-14.) The question is asked, "Who is the man that feareth the Lord?" and this is as good as saying, "Find me such a man, and I will tell you how it will fare with him. God will reveal himself to him otherwise than he does to the world. Between them there is sympathy and sweet accord." God opens his mind to those who love him. He lets them into his secrets. They are in the way of light, and evermore, as they advance, the light shines on them more fully. The word of the psalmist is confirmed and completed in the teaching of our Lord (John 15:7-15). This has been the experience of God's people in all ages. Abraham in his tent (Genesis 18:17), David with his flocks, Daniel in the king's palace, the apostle in the dungeon at Philippi, - all have felt alike that God reveals himself to those who truly serve him. - W.F.
III. That God's revelation CAN ONLY BE RECEIVED IN ITS FULNESS BY THE OBEDIENT. (Vers. 10-14.) The question is asked, "Who is the man that feareth the Lord?" and this is as good as saying, "Find me such a man, and I will tell you how it will fare with him. God will reveal himself to him otherwise than he does to the world. Between them there is sympathy and sweet accord." God opens his mind to those who love him. He lets them into his secrets. They are in the way of light, and evermore, as they advance, the light shines on them more fully. The word of the psalmist is confirmed and completed in the teaching of our Lord (John 15:7-15). This has been the experience of God's people in all ages. Abraham in his tent (Genesis 18:17), David with his flocks, Daniel in the king's palace, the apostle in the dungeon at Philippi, - all have felt alike that God reveals himself to those who truly serve him. - W.F.
Bernard says, "A secret counsel calleth for a secret hearing. He will assuredly make thee hear of joy and gladness if thou receivest Him with a sober car." "They who would behold God," says St. Gregory, "dwell in a loneliness of soul, and free from the tumults of worldly cares, thirst for God."
I. THE CLASS OF PERSONS SPOKEN OF. Those that "fear the Lord."
The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him.
(J. S. Swan.)
1. Fear sometimes signifies fear of God's punishments. This fear is better than none at all, as it exercises a restraining power over men who would otherwise commit sin.
2. But there is a fear which merits the severest reprobation: when it fears God because it considers Him to be an angry, vindictive being.
3. There is a fear which deserves the highest commendation; it is filial fear, the fear which an affectionate child has of grieving its father, or causing him pain.
II. THE PRIVILEGE WHICH SUCH PERSONS ENJOY. "The secret of the Lord is with them." God holds communion and fellowship with men whose hearts are rightly disposed towards them. Suppose a group of persons discussing the conduct and policy of some public man. All kinds of opinions might be expressed, favourable or otherwise. But of what worth would they be compared with the word of one who knows this public man personally, intimately, who is in his secret, and can speak with confidence regarding his public conduct? Or the "secret" may be illustrated ill another way — by the relation in which two friends stand to each other, who are in perfect sympathy with one another. How they would understand each other! A glance of the eye, a mere hint, suffices to reveal the mind of the one to the other. So the favour and fellowship of God are enjoyed by the man who fears Him. What do we know about this "secret"? The infidel Hume taunted his servant with believing in nonsense. He replied that in his History of England Hume told of Queen Mary, who said that when she died, Calais would be found written on her heart. So, the servant said, Christ was written on his heart. This is the secret of the Lord.
(W. Logan, M. A.)
(E. B. Pusey, D. D.)
(T. Slade, M. A.)
I. IT MUST BE ONE OF KNOWLEDGE. You all know what the Bible is to the natural heart. It gives information, much and valuable, about most important things. But there it ends. It does not touch us, does not move us, does not make us feel. But see the true Christian over his Bible. How he drinks in his words, and how they refresh and comfort him. How he trusts them, and lives by them. He has got the secret of his Bible.
II. IT MUST BE A SECRET OF SAFETY. "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it, and is safe." That is just what we cannot do; we have no such tower. Life's troubles find us out of doors, and beat upon us. How insecure, defenceless, comfortless we are. A tale was once written of a man who had committed a murder, a base, treacherous, but well-concealed murder, after which he lived for many years in respect and honour, in the gratification of all tastes and wishes, in affluence, and comfort, and domestic love, till a day of late discovery and late retribution. People spoke of this as an "immoral story," because it gave the man half a life of enjoyment. But that was a short-sighted judgment. How little could such observers know of the torture that man endured from the one fact of his consciousness of insecurity; that at any moment ruin might come. Without security, which is a sense of safety, no happiness is worth the name. The secret of the Lord is a secret of safety.
III. A SECRET OF STRENGTH. How strong a weak person may become who has it. And we have known strong men become weak for the lack of it.
IV. A SECRET OF PEACE. The wicked are like the "troubled sea." There is such a thing as a false peace; but a man must have gone very far astray before he can know that, the peace of spiritual death. Between these two extremes, the peace of God and the peace of death, there lies a very wide and dreary morass, a state of disquiet and unrest.
V. CONSIDER THE COMMUNICATION OF THIS SECRET. It is given to them who "fear Him." There are two kinds of fear: that fear which is cast out by love, and that fear which is part of love. It is a very serious thing when the foundations of religion are not laid deep in the fear of God. Remember that the fear of God, like everything else, must come instrumentally by practice. Abstain from something tonight, each one of you, some thought, some word, some act, by a great effort if necessary, on this single ground, that it will displease God. Do so again tomorrow; in a little while it will become easier to you, at last it will become habitual.
(C. J. Vaughan, D. D.)
I. WE TURN ASIDE INTO A WIDE AND SPACIOUS HALL. Before us is a throne, high and lifted up, — it is the throne of grace. Watch the comers as they enter; their penitential aspect, humility, solicitude; listen to their confessions and their requests. They have come with woe, care, perplexity, sin. But they all fear Him, and so are admitted to the secret of prayer.
II. ANOTHER CHAMBER — THE ARMOURY OF LIGHT. Nations boast their arsenals, but there is none like this. Watch those who are coining in and being armed.
III. THE TREASURE ROOM WHICH CONTAINS THE BOOK OF LIFE. Old books are counted as treasures. Here is one of the oldest, and it is indestructible. Let Mosaic chronology be mistaken, it only makes this book a little more venerable; for it was made ere the foundations of the earth. Whose names are in it? This is one of the Lord's secrets. But all those who have been born again of the Spirit of God are written there.
IV. THE CHAMBER OF CONSOLATION. Numerous visitors come crowding in. Heavily laden, worn-out, exhausted, fainting ones. They have all come to the right place. Here are staffs, cordials, medicines, anchors, lights, garments of praise.
V. THE ROOM NAMED "CROSS OF LOVE." This is the highest of all. Here is revealed the secret of secrets. A soft and heavenly light fills the whole chamber. St. Paul was often in this room; it had a special charm for him.
VI. THE TOWER OF THE PALACE. It is the "Tower of Vision." Winding up its alabaster stairs, well-worn but ever-renewed, we at last reach the lofty summit. Below us is the world, half hidden by the mist, its hum scarcely audible. Our eyes climb up to the regions of serene and perpetual light, to the holy splendours of the city of our God.
(W. A. Essery.)
1. Use for instruction. Is God's secret with them that fear Him? Then the godly are the friends of God. Then the godly are all one with God.
2. For refutation. Away with all who say that God gives no secret thing to any one man more than another.
3. For consolation. They are so honoured with the Lord that God hides no good thing from them that is necessary to their salvation.
4. For terror to the wicked. Here is horror to all the ungodly; they are strangers from God, they are not admitted into God's secrets.
(W. Fermer.)1. The fear of the Lord — its origin is of God. Its effect is cleansing, purifying from the power and love of sin (Psalm 19:9). The fear of the Lord is clean, or cleansing; its evidence is in assembling with the Lord's people (Malachi 3:16). "Then they that feared the Lord," etc., but this fear is not the cause of the blessings spoken of, but the proof.
2. In every heart thus filled with the fear of God there is a communication of a secret. The Lord opens His mind and His heart to them, and, to begin with the lowest, there is the secret working of His grace, in conviction of sin, of righteousness, of pardon and peace — in the creation of a spirit of prayer and praise; all these being the work of grace in the soul. Then there is the secret witness of the Spirit, testifying to their adoption into His family, and the secret whispers of His love, whereby He continues to assure the soul by these tokens, that He has loved that soul with an everlasting love, and prepared it for a crown of glory.
3. The promise. Something more in prospect — He will show them His covenant. The "everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure;" this was Davids support in trouble and in the hour of death. He will show them, will teach them, more and more therein, the nature of it, the duration of it, its comprehensiveness, its security, its terms and conditions, its blessings and promises, all in Christ, and Christ in all.
(A. Hewlett, M. A.)
I. THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST IS A MYSTERY. It is not attainable without supernatural revelation. It was undiscoverable by the most exalted powers of human understanding until God, out of infinite mercy, was pleased Himself to reveal it. But even after the clearest revelation that our present state is capable of there must be owned to be, in the Christian religion, mysteries far surpassing the highest pitch of human understanding. To "know in part" is too poor and mean a degree of knowledge for our modern Christian philosophers. To them there must be nothing in Christianity mysterious. Examine their pretensions, and we shall find that they neither speak of faith as becomes Christians, nor of reason as becomes men. How far are we glad to allow the use of reason in Divine matters?
1. Reason is of great use in asserting the principles of natural religion, such as the Being of a God; the obligation to worship Him; the immortality of the soul; and the eternal and essential difference between good and evil, partly discoverable by natural light.
2. Reason is useful, since it is from rational inducements that we first admit even revelation itself. It is by reason we distinguish what is truly Divine from enthusiasm and imposture.
3. Reason is of excellent use in expounding and interpreting the mind and meaning of Holy Writ, as long as it is sober and modest and keeps strictly to the analogy of faith.
4. Reason is usefully employed in stopping the mouths of gainsayers, in enlightening their blindness or subduing their contumacy, in confuting heretics by turning their own weapons upon them, and vindicating Divine truth from all those calumnies which are unjustly brought against it. But in the sublime mysteries of our religion reason has no more to do, when it is once satisfied and convinced of the revelation, but to receive from it those truths which by its own natural powers it never had been able to have found out.
II. THE QUALIFICATIONS REQUISITE IN THOSE THAT ARE TO RECEIVE THIS GREAT MYSTERY. "Them that fear Him." The fear of the Lord is the beginning of that wisdom which alone makes wise unto salvation; and that —
1. By a natural efficiency. Whoever loves the precepts of God, and delights to do what He commands, will meet with little difficulty in believing what He reveals. There is a natural and easy passage from loving to believing. True saving faith requires a devout and humble submission of the mind and heart, a complacency and delight and joy in the truths that it receives.
2. Besides this natural tendency, there are through the whole Scripture many signal examples, as well as positive promises, of faith and heavenly knowledge to a due and sincere practice of what we already know. Inferences —(1) Since pride and self-concept and a too confident relying upon our own reason have been shown to be so dangerous and destructive of our holy faith, let us strive to attain a deep and true humility of spirit, and a just sense of our own natural blindness and infirmity. Let us avoid all curious and nice inquiries into things that are too high for us.(2) Let us heartily and industriously and zealously set upon this work, the fulfilling the whole will of our Lord. Then there would soon be no remains of infidelity left in us; we should soon, then, to our unspeakable joy and satisfaction, feel, by a sincere and strict observance of the Christian duties, that we should no longer have any doubts or scruples of the Christian faith.
(R. Duke.)areana, or secrets known only to those who are within. The religion of the Bible does not disdain to acknowledge its own secrets, and to drive away from its archives those who come with irreverent curiosity to pry into the contents of revelation. By "secret" we are hero to understand familiar intercourse. The word here rendered "secret" is traced to a word which means couch; the idea is that of two friends seated upon the same couch, holding confidential intercourse. The talk is as between companions, and is conducted in eager whispers. God is represented thus as bringing to a loving heart His own peculiar messages and communications, which he will not publish to the general world. God has so made His universe that its various parts talk to one another. Men hold friendly and confiding intercourse. The sun is full of lessons, so are the flowers, so are all the winds that blow, so are the forests, and so are the oceans. All these may be said to be open secrets; that is to say, men may discover their meanings for themselves — by comparison, by the study of analogy, by the watching of the coming and going phenomena of nature. But beyond this open revelation there is a secret covenant. God calls His children into inner places, and there, in hushed and holy silence, He communicates His thought as His children are able to receive it. "he will show them His covenant"; He will read to them His own decrees; He will be His own interpreter, and make plain to the heart things that are mysterious to the intellect. We are to remember that in holding these secrets we do not hold them originally, or as if by right: we hold them simply as stewards or trustees, and we are not to make them common property. The heart should always know something that the tongue has never told. Deep in our souls there should be a peace created by communion with God which no outward riches can disturb. "The secret of the Lord" may not mean any curious. knowledge of mere details, or of future events, or the action and interaction of history; but it may mean, and does mean, a complete and immutable confidence that God reigns over His whole creation, and is doing everything upon a basis and under a principle which must eventuate in final and imperturbable peace. The universe is not governed in any haphazard way. This word "covenant" has been, no doubt, abused, perverted, or misapplied; but its use indicates that the Divine plan is sovereign, settled, unchangeable. The universe is the Word of God, and it cannot fail of its purpose. Revelation is the heart of the Most High, and every jot and tittle of it will be fulfilled. The truly religious life is not a matter of mere intellectual intelligence, or information, or power of argument; it is a profound persuasion clothe heart, a real, simple, solid trust in the righteousness and goodness of God. How such a trust lifts us above the fret and the anxiety of ever-changing details! This passage is in perfect harmony with many assurances given by Jesus Christ Himself. He promised the Holy Spirit to abide with the Church, to show the Church things to come, and to take of the things of Christ and show them unto the Church. The secret of the Lord is thus an ever-enlarging mystery — an ever-enlarging benefaction.
(Joseph Parker, D. D.)John 7:17). The Jews had denied the Divine reality of His miracles, and also that the Messianic prophecies had been verified in Him. "Very well," answers our Lord, "I propose to you another means of testing My claim to be your Messiah and Saviour. Practise the precepts of the religion I teach you, and you shall soon have revealed to you the secret whether it be of God. Do His will, and you shall know of the doctrine. In obeying the precept, all else shall become plain." I knew a man who acted upon this saying of the Saviour. He admired, as perfect, the preceptive portions of the Bible, but stumbled at some of its peculiar doctrines. He determined, therefore, to ascertain what effect obeying the precepts would have toward dissipating his difficulties in regard to the doctrines of our religion. He therefore at once endeavoured to live in every respect as he would have lived had he been a Christian: reading, praying, attending public worship, and making the moral code of the Bible his only rule of action. So obeying the precept, in less than a twelvemonth's time the secret of the Lord was revealed to him, the truth of all the doctrines of God's covenant of redeeming mercy in Christ was made plain to his under. standing and grateful to his heart. Here is a cure for scepticism within the reach of every man.
(David Caldwell, M. A.)1. There are some parts of the Bible which none but a learned man can understand or explain. There are seeming difficulties and discrepancies in the Bible which may escape the notice of the casual reader, but of which all well-instructed theologians are aware, since they are standing objections in the mouth of the sceptic or the scorner.
2. There are some parts of the Bible which all can understand. No one who reads the New Testament, or who hears it read, can doubt what be ought to do, and what he ought not to do. The Bible is clear about many of its doctrines.
3. There is a middle class of truths that are easy of comprehension to some, and hard to others, — truths which human learning cannot impart, nor the want of learning, as such, exclude from the mind. These are the most solemn and most important teachings of Scripture, which tell us of the intimate relations which exist between man and his God: such as, the doctrines of the corruption of our nature; of the degrading and shameful conduct of sin; of our need of salvation and purification; of our own inability to purify and save ourselves; of the priceless blessings involved in the atonement of Jesus, and in the gift of the Holy Spirit. Of all these doctrines it may justly be said, they are easy or hard to be understood by different persons, and sometimes even by the same persons at different times. The practical knowledge of these great truths is an effort beyond the power of the intellect, apart from the convictions and aspirations of the soul. The natural man understandeth not the things of the Spirit of God. They are spiritually discerned, and mere learning cannot spiritually discern. "If any man will do God's will he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God. An obedience springing from true faith is the key by which we are to unlock the hidden and more precious mysteries of the heavenly kingdom.
(G. W. Brameld.)
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