DO YOU WANT
TO KNOW A SECRET?
If you answered "Yes," then this study of Psalm 25:14 is for you.
- The secret of the LORD - Ge 18:17-19 Jer 13:18 Mt 13:11,12 Joh 7:17 Joh 14:17,21-23 15:15 17:6 1 Co 2:14 Eph 1:9,18 Col 3:3 Rev 2:17
- He will make them know His covenant - Ge 17:13 De 4:13 Jer 31:31-34 Ro 11:26,27
Amplified - The secret [of the sweet, satisfying companionship] of the Lord have they who fear (revere and worship) Him, and He will show them His covenant and reveal to them its [deep, inner] meaning.
ASV The [a]friendship of Jehovah is with them that fear him; And he will show them his covenant.
Complete Jewish Bible - Adonai relates intimately with those who fear Him; He makes them know His covenant.
Easy-to-Read Version - The Lord tells his secrets to his followers. He teaches them about his agreement.
ICB The Lord tells his secrets to those who respect him. He tells them about his agreement.
Living Bible - Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence him. With them alone he shares the secrets of his promises.
NIV - The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.
HCSB - The secret counsel of the LORD is for those who fear Him, and He reveals His covenant to them.
NET The LORD's loyal followers receive his guidance, and he reveals his covenantal demands to them.
Lexham - Intimate fellowship with Yahweh is for those who fear him, and he makes known his covenant to them.
ESV The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.
NLT The LORD is a friend to those who fear him. He teaches them his covenant.
NAB The counsel of the LORD belongs to the faithful; the covenant instructs them.
NJB Only those who fear Yahweh have his secret and his covenant, for their understanding.
GWN The LORD advises those who fear him. He reveals to them the intent of his promise.
DIVINE COMMUNICATION & COMMUNION
In secret silence of the mind,
My heaven, and there my God I find.
The promise of this passage is earth shaking, but even more it is "heaven shaking" so to speak! So let's look briefly at this wonderful promise penned by David over 2500 years ago but still true and relevant to every saint who desires to experience the abundant life in Christ (John 10:10b)!
- To set the context of this great passage take a moment and play the vocal version of Secret Place.
The secret of the LORD - In English the word secret (see sod below) describes something that is hidden from others, information known only to a special group and even something that baffles understanding and cannot be explained. This secret in this Psalm is divine. It is supernatural. It is available only from Jehovah, the Sole Possessor. And while He Alone possesses it, it is a secret He makes available to those who are His possession by grace through faith in Christ. It is His supernatural secret which is made intelligible to the hearts of natural men and women who are in Christ. So the first requirement to receive the blessing of this divine communication is that the recipient knows Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord of his or her life. Is Jesus your Savior and Lord? If so the "Door" (cf John 10:9) of this secret is accessible to you.
The next question is how do we "walk through this door" into the secret place of Jehovah? David explains that we enter this door by making a choice, a choice alluded to by Solomon when he wrote
Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently but they will not find me, Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD. (Pr 1:28-29)
Solomon describes the way in which one cannot enter into the secret of the LORD. And so while this Proverb states the principle from a negative viewpoint, we can clearly see the key which is positively explained by David. The key to the door into the secret place of the Lord of the Universe is opened when we make a choice of our will (which in a way mysterious to me is only enabled by the Spirit of God, for "There is none who seeks for God" Ro 3:11) and we choose the fear of the LORD. The Hebrew word for "choose" is bachar which always involves a careful, well thought-out choice. The Septuagint translates bachar with the Greek verb proaireomai which describes a premeditated, predetermined plan of action that is done from the heart, voluntarily, but not impulsively. And so as you meditate on the great promise in Psalm 25:14, beseech the Lord to enable you to make the conscious choice from your heart to fear Him so that He might begin to unfold what the fear of the LORD means practically in your life. Toward that goal, let me encourage you to take time to ponder what it means to fear the LORD by studying (and even charting out) the passages listed in the article The Fear of the Lord. You will be utterly amazed at the dividends that unfold to the one who chooses the fear of the LORD.
The Hebrew word sod translated by the NAS in Ps 25:14 as secret can also mean counsel or council.
Counsel is something that provides direction or advice as to a decision or course of action. So we would be justified in saying when we fear the LORD, we can expect that He Himself will give us direction as to the best course of action we should take. Joseph Parker says ""The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him." To such He can give advice, can guide, can say behind them as they walk the path all wrapped in mystery, "This is the way: walk ye in it."
Council is a group of people who come together to consult, deliberate, or make decisions. For example in Jer 23:22 we see sod used with the sense of council, God Himself speaking of the false prophets "But if they (false prophets) had stood in My council (sod), Then they would have announced My words to My people, And would have turned them back from their evil way And from the evil of their deeds."
Joseph Parker adds on council - The idea is that of a company of persons sitting together, of one mind, of one heart; of a company of people separated from the heathen and from strangers, unified, of one heart, with single purpose, at absolute agreement with each other. It is a very beautiful idea, rarely realized in the experience of any company of men and women. The poetic and beautiful idea of the psalmist is that of the gathering together of such as have no controversy as between themselves—a perfect company. Once in the history of humanity, so far as I know, there has been such a gathering. It was on the day of Pentecost, when they were all together of one mind, and of one heart, and of one spirit, under the dominion of one Lord; with one master passion in their heart, that of obedience to Him. It was soon lost, and we have never regained it. That, however, is the idea of the Hebrew word; perfect union because of no discord; perfect harmony therefore. "The secret of Jehovah is with them that fear Him." Jehovah sits in council—that is, in perfect union, in perfect harmony—with such as fear Him. There is no controversy between them and Himself, no controversy between Him and such.
Earlier David had spoken of another dividend of fearing God asking
"Who is the man who fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way he should choose. His soul (the one who fears the LORD) will abide in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land." (Ps 25:12-13)
Preaching the Word – The Psalms: Students and their families are willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars a year to go to the best schools to sit under the best teachers. God himself, the one who created the universe, personally tutors those who fear Him. How does God teach? He teaches us through his Word. Sometimes the Bible gives us direct commands to follow; sometimes the Bible equips us with wisdom to make a good decision. God also teaches us through fellow believers He places in our lives. And sometimes God speaks to our hearts. Charles Spurgeon put it this way: “Those whose hearts are right shall not err for want of heavenly direction. Where God sanctifies the heart he enlightens the head.”
Pulpit Commentary - God will make His way plain to the God-fearing man.
As alluded to one of the "key words" of this passage is the word translated "Secret" in the NAS, which is the Hebrew word sod discussed in more depth below. The NET Bible reads "The LORD's loyal followers receive His guidance," while the ESV has "The friendship (marginal note = "Secret counsel") of the LORD." Here are some of the other OT uses of this Hebrew word sod to help give you a sense of what David meant by the secret of the LORD:
- Proverbs 3:32 For the devious are an abomination to the LORD; But He is intimate (sod) with the upright.
Comment: Note that it follows that the upright are those who live life with a healthy, wholesome fear of the LORD.
- Psalm 55:14 We who had sweet (pleasant) fellowship (sod) together walked in the house of God in the throng.
Comment: Where do those who fear the LORD choose to walk? The house of the LORD, the place where Jehovah dwells. Is this not what the Psalmist alludes to in Psalm 84:10 affirming that "a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God, Than dwell in the tents of wickedness." Play Better is One Day.
- Psalm 111:1 Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart, In the company of the upright and in the assembly.
Comment: Note that the soul who fears the LORD, is the one who wholeheartedly lives a life of praise and thanksgiving to Jehovah.
- Proverbs 15:22 Without consultation, plans are frustrated, But with many counselors they succeed.
- Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord GOD does nothing Unless He reveals His secret counsel To His servants the prophets.
- Job 29:4 As I was in the prime of my days, When the friendship of God was over my tent;
Comment: Recall the opening description of Job "was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil." (Job 1:1) He is the "prototype" of the one who enters attains to the secret of the LORD, even experiencing the presence of Jehovah as His intimate Friend, indeed a Friend Who was "over" his tent, watching, protecting, communing.
Who is a friend of Jehovah? And remember that Jehovah also speaks of Jesus (Jehovah = Jesus). The simple answer from David is the one who fears Him. As discussed this fear is not that of dread of a vindictive Judge, but the reverential awe of a Loving Lord. The Septuagint further helps understand the character of this fear for it translates the Hebrew verb for fear (yare) with the Greek verb phobeo which is in the present tense, which signifies that this holy fear is to be our lifestyle, our daily practice. Here is where we need to be careful. We in and of ourselves cannot stir up this holy fear. We need to jettison our natural human tendency of self-reliance and instead daily seek to rely wholly on the supernatural enabling power of the Holy Spirit, Who lives in us, " working in us, giving us the desire and the power to do what pleases" the Father. (Phi 2:13NLT-note)
F B Meyer - What secrets God has to tell his own! (Gen. 18:17; John 15:15; 1 Cor. 2:9, 10).
Warren Wiersbe - As we "walk with the Lord in the light of His Word," we develop a close fellowship with Him and better understand His ways. (Bible Exposition Commentary – Be Worshipful Psalms 1-89).
In Genesis we see an illustration of a man who would surely be classified as a friend of Jehovah. In Genesis 5:22, 24 we see repetition of the phrase Enoch walked with God. The Septuagint translates Genesis 5:22 with the verb euaresteo which means that Enoch pleased God. The writer of Hebrews affirms the Septuagint rendering, writing that "By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God." (Hebrews 11:5-note) One is reminded of Genesis 3:8 when Adam and Eve had just sinned and "they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day" and they hid themselves from His presence. Sin had broken their intimate fellowship (cf "secret of the LORD") and in place of the confident communion came covering up! Adam and Eve were afraid of the LORD with a sense of dread. But for the man or woman who has a reverential fear, a holy awe of the LORD God, with them He shares intimate communion. Has your communion with Jehovah been disrupted by sins. Then ask God to search you and confess them to Him one by one. Then repent and choose the fear of the LORD, and intimate fellowship will be restored. And to these He will reveal such a deeper and fuller knowledge of His covenant than others experience.
- Take a moment and study the wonderful aspects of Oneness of Covenant with the LORD God.
Preaching the Word – The Psalms - To be God’s friend is more than knowing about him. Friends enjoy each other’s company. Friendship is close, personal knowledge. It is one thing for God to teach us which path to take—this is a blessing. For God to make us his friends is almost inconceivable. Apple CEO Tim Cook offered to have coffee for an hour with up to two people. The only catch—it will cost you $210,000. God is not selling you his time—he offers his friendship. He opens his heart to those who fear him and shares his plans and purposes. Do you fear the Lord? This blessing is yours in Christ.
That sōd here bears the connotation “friendship” is supported by the fact that it stands parallel to “covenant”. Why? Because "friend" is a covenant word. (See Oneness in Covenant - The Meaning of Friend; See additional notes on Friend and Covenant)
Albert Barnes writes that "The word “friendship” would perhaps express the meaning here. The sense is, that those who fear the Lord are admitted to the intimacy of friendship with Him; are permitted to come into His presence, and to partake of His counsels; are allowed free access to Him; or, as it is more commonly expressed, have “fellowship” with Him. Compare 1 John 1:3 ("indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ."). The language is such as would be applied to the intimacy of friends, or to those who take counsel together. The language belongs to a large class of expressions denoting the close connection between God and His people."
Alexander Maclaren - “Whether we translate the first word ‘secret’ or ‘friendship,’ the sense is substantially the same. Obedience and the true fear of Jehovah directly tend to discernment of His purposes, and will besides be rewarded by whispers from heaven.” (Don't you love his phrase "whispers from heaven?") (Maclaren)
F B Meyer says “There are secret passages of love between Christ and the believing soul, which it would not be lawful to utter. High fellowship: deep blessedness.”
Spurgeon - Some read it "the friendship:" it signifies familiar intercourse, confidential intimacy, and select fellowship. This is a great secret. Carnal minds cannot guess what is intended by it, and even believers cannot explain it in words, for it must be felt to be known. The higher spiritual life is necessarily a path which the eagle's eye hath not known, and which the lion's whelp has not travelled; neither natural wisdom nor strength can force a door into this inner chamber. Saints have the key of heaven's hieroglyphics; they can unriddle celestial enigmas. They are initiated into the fellowship of the skies; they have heard words which it is not possible for them to repeat to their fellows.
David Guzik writes that "The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him reminds us that there are realities of Christian knowledge and experience known only by those who have new life by the Spirit of God; the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14). To explain such secrets to those who do not have the Spirit of God is like explaining colors to a blind man or musical harmonies to a deaf man."
Compare Genesis 18:17 which is a wonderful example of confidential conversation, this conversation being between God and Abraham "the friend of God" (James 2:23), Moses writing "The LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do." Note that in context, the One speaking is the Messenger (Angel) of Jehovah, the pre-incarnate Messiah speaking to His "friend," Abraham revealing the secret counsel regarding what He was about to carry out in the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah. This same principle is described in Amos 3:7 "Surely the Lord GOD does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel (sod) To His servants the prophets." And best of all we hearken to the wonderful words from our Lord Jesus Christ "No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known (gnorizo) to you." These (friendship, secret counsel) are all the privileged possession of those who choose the fear the LORD!
Gaebelein writes "Yea, they know His secrets through His Word; this godly remnant will see and enjoy His covenant, the new covenant. (See Jeremiah 31:31–34.)"
Note that secret in this passage is an entirely different word than secret in Dt 29:29 "The secret things belong to the LORD our God." The Hebrew word in that passage is cathar/satar which conveys the meaning of to hide with the added thought of protection, shelter, concealing. Joseph Parker adds that "Secret things is, quite literally, veiled things, hidden things, things that cannot be discovered, things that cannot be revealed. There are always such, even for the saints, to the end of the journey; the secret, veiled, hidden mysteries of life and of government."
Oswald Chambers - The secret of the Lord - The secret (friendship R.V.) of the Lord is with them that fear Him. Psalm 25:14. What is the sign of a friend? That he tells you secret sorrows? No, that he tells you secret joys. Many will confide to you their secret sorrows, but the last mark of intimacy is to confide secret joys. Have we ever let God tell us any of His joys, or are we telling God our secrets so continually that we leave no room for Him to talk to us? At the beginning of our Christian life we are full of requests to God, then we find that God wants to get us into relationship with Himself, to get us in touch with His purposes. Are we so wedded to Jesus Christ’s idea of prayer—“Thy will be done”—that we catch the secrets of God? The things that make God dear to us are not so much His great big blessings as the tiny things, because they show His amazing intimacy with us; He knows every detail of our individual lives. “… him shall He teach in the way that He shall choose.” At first we want the consciousness of being guided by God, then as we go on we live so much in the consciousness of God that we do not need to ask what His will is, because the thought of choosing any other will never occur to us. If we are saved and sanctified God guides us by our ordinary choices, and if we are going to choose what He does not want, He will check, and we must heed. Whenever there is doubt, stop at once. Never reason it out and say—‘I wonder why I shouldn’t?’ God instructs us in what we choose, that is, He guides our common sense, and we no longer hinder His Spirit by continually saying—‘Now, Lord, what is Thy will?’ (My Utmost for His Highest)
Charles Simeon on secret of the LORD - It is not to all, but to his friends only, that God imparts these heart-reviving secrets, even to them who truly “fear him.” Nor is it amidst the noise and bustle of the world that he will communicate them, but in seasons of retirement, and in the stillness of the night. It is by a still small voice that he imparts them to the sold. O let your fellowship with him be sweet and frequent! Go to him on all occasions: consult him in every emergency: listen to his voice, whether he speak by the written word, or by his Holy Spirit. Say to him at all times, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.” So “will he draw nigh to you, when you draw nigh to him:” and when you spread before him your inmost wants, “he will guide you by his counsel:” he will “lead you into all truth;” he will make known to you “the deep things of God [Note: 1 Corinthians 2:10.];” and by communications of every kind will “perfect that which concerneth you [Note: Psalms 138:8.];” enabling you to “comprehend, in a measure, what none can fully comprehend, the height and depth and length and breadth of the love of Christ, and thereby filling you with all the fulness of God [Note: Ephesians 3:18-19.].”]
THE OPEN SECRET I TOO would know the secret of the Lord which is with them that fear Him.
I. It is a birth-secret.—Ah, has He quickened me into a new life, me who through the past was unprofitable and sad? Of water and of the Holy Ghost has He regenerated my soul? Has He taught me what conversion means, ‘in the intense and incandescent sense,’ to quote the words of a recent biography? This is a secret, between my soul and Him; and no one else can know it just as I do.
II. It is a life-secret.—Day by day, if I am His child, He guides me, teaches me, humbles me, cleanses me, hallows me. And this, too, is a secret between myself and Him, for one Christian’s experience never reiterates another’s.
III. It is a death-secret.—In front of me the cold deep river rolls its flood, and I must cross it before I can enter the City of God. But, when I come to it, if all my hope is in Him, He will have His own communication of needed grace, His own whisper of satisfying peace, for me. This is why there is a light in dying eyes, a smile on dying lips. And, again, it is a joy with which no stranger, no brother even, nor wife, nor child, can intermeddle. (Church Pulpit Commentary)
Life Application Commentary - The LORD is a friend to those who fear him." God offers intimate and lasting friendship to those who revere him, who hold him in highest honor. What relationship could ever compare with having the Lord of all creation for a friend? Your everlasting friendship with God will grow as you respect and honor him.
F B Meyer - Psalm 25:14 The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him. What marvellous words! They remind one of the sapphire work which the elders saw at the foot of the throne, and which was like “the body of heaven for clearness.” Three different renderings are suggested by the R.V.
The Secret of the Lord. — To some it is permitted to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. To these the white stone is given, on which is engraven a name, which only he knows that receives it. There are secret passages of love between Christ and the believing soul, which it would not be lawful for it to utter. High fellowship: deep blessedness. Things which eye hath not seen. Jesus revealed his secrets when Judas had gone forth. “Wherefore askest thou after my name,” He said to Manoah, “seeing it is secret?”
The Counsel of the Lord. — “His Name shall be called… Counsellor.” He draws near to those that fear to grieve Him, and gives them counsel. He instructs them in the way that He chooses for them; He guides them in his truth and teaches them; He guides them in judgment; and tells them, as He did Abraham, what He is about to do.
The Friendship of the Lord. — “Ye are my friends,” said Jesus, “if ye do whatsoever I command you.” He longs for friends — those to whom He can tell his desires, on whom He may impose implicit confidence, and who will be so taken up with Him as to be indifferent to everything else, their one purpose to do his least bidding. Oh to be honored with the personal friendship of Jesus! It were a rare privilege to be entrusted with his secrets, and to hear Him say, “I have not called you servants, but friends.” (Our Daily Homily )
John Kennedy - The Lord shares His secrets with those who fear Him, imparting wisdom and peace in difficult times. He gives them guidance during times of decision. He gives reassurance as needed. Fear the Lord. Let His Word be precious, and use it for the ends for which it is given. Aspire for a clearer view of its wonders, a simpler faith in its truth, a ravishing sense of its sweetness, and a deeper experience of its power. Be guided by its light, molded by its form, fed by its manna, and cheered by its comforts, fearing Him and learning His secrets day by day. (See full sermon below - "The Secret of the Lord")
Would you like to know that sweetness
Of the secret of the Lord?
Go and hide beneath His shadow;
This shall then be your reward;
And whene’er you leave the silence
Of that happy meeting-place,
By the Spirit bear the image
Of the Master in your face.
by Ellen Lakshmi Goreh
Secret (05475)(sod - click for full word study) primarily means confidential conversation, speech or talk. Sod emphasizes confidentiality in contrast to more general advice or counsel. Sod can refer to the close friendship which exists between people (Ps 55:14) or to the intimate knowledge that friendship brings, especially their secrets (Pr 25:9). While not all would agree with Ellicott's comment regarding the derivation of this Hebrew word, it is interesting - "The Hebrew word primarily means couch, and then the confidential talk of those sitting on it."
THE FEAR OF THE LORD
Those who fear Him - This person is the one who recognizes Who God is and shows Him the reverence He is rightly due. This fear includes acknowledging God's authority over his life and is manifest by living his life in view of the fact that he is accountable to Him. Such recognition of Jehovah results in submissive obedience to Him and His Word. The fear referred to here is not fear of God's punishments (which is not a bad fear as it can serve to restrain us from committing sin) but it is filial fear, the fear which an affectionate child has of grieving its father, or causing him pain.
Thomas Constable - Fearing the Lord will result in listening to His Word. The person who listens to the Lord's Word will prosper as will his or her descendents.
Raymond Edman called the fear of the Lord “the fear that casts out every other fear."
So Ps 25:14 teaches us that as we learn to fear of the LORD, we will grow in our intimacy and in our communication with the LORD of the Universe! Is this not sufficient motivation to set aside a few days to ponder what God Himself teaches us about a proper fear of Him (See study of the Fear of the LORD)? Do you desire a greater intimacy with Jesus, a more vibrant prayer life where you are truly praying without ceasing, with the phone always "off the hook" ready to speak at a moment's notice with the Most High God (cf 1 Th 5:17-note)? Then prayerfully study the fear of the Lord and the Spirit will renew your mind (Eph 4:23-note), transform your thinking (Ro 12:2-note) and ultimately transform your very being from glory to glory into the image of Jehovah Jesus (2 Cor 3:18-note).
Solomon echoes the teaching of his father David writing (using the same Hebrew word for secret - sod)
For the devious (one who turns aside, departs) are an abomination (loathsome or detestable) to the LORD; But He is intimate (sod) with the upright. (Pr 3:32)
NET Note - God reveals his secret counsel to the heavenly assembly (Job 15:8; Jer 23:18, 22) and his prophets (Amos 3:7). The perverse are repugnant to the LORD, but he takes the upright into his confidence and brings him into his intimate circle.
G Campbell Morgan on those who fear Him - There are two kinds of fear. They have been defined as servile and filial. I sometimes define them thus. There is a fear which is fear lest God should hurt me. There is a fear which is fear lest I should grieve God. This last is the fear referred to in my text. They are utterly opposed. Servile fear dreads God, and issues in hatred, in deceit and in ultimate ruin. But this fear, how does it issue? Note the first fruit of this fear. I am certainly in the humor tonight for Bible definition. Let me go back to one of the wisdom books of the Old Testament, to Proverbs 8:13, "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil." From that, turn over to Proverbs 16:6, "By the fear of the Lord one keeps away from evil." I am content with these two passages for our present purpose. "The secret of the Lord is with them. What is it to fear Him? To hate evil and to depart from evil. The secret of Jehovah cannot be with a man who loves his sin. The secret of Jehovah cannot be with a man who, conscious of sin, hating it, yet refuses to abandon it. Is it true that we know nothing of being able to sit in silent fellowship with God? Is it true that we know nothing of holding familiar intercourse with God? Is it true that we know nothing of what it is to hear God directly, immediately, counseling, advising, guiding? Is it true that He cannot tell us a secret? Why not? There is only one reason. It is that our sin is shutting us out from God. (Westminster Pulpit)
Fear (03372)(yare) is the Hebrew verb meaning to fear, to be afraid (Ge 3:10-note), to respect, to reverence, to be terrified, to be awesome, to be feared, to make afraid, to frighten. In this context to fear is not to dread but to be in awe of God. This godly fear doesn't mean we are slaves, but that we have loving reverence and respect for a gracious and kind God. The Septuagint translates yare with the Greek verb phobeo which in this context represents reverential awe, not cringing fright. It expresses the feeling of a person who is in the presence of someone infinitely superior. Phobeo is in the present tense which speaks of the fear of the saint as his or her lifestyle. One is reminded of Peter's words
If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct (aorist imperative - a command which reminds us we need to depend on the Spirit for supernatural power) yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth (1 Peter 1:17-note)
Lightfoot explains the godly fear which should be in every believer as "a nervous and trembling anxiety to do right." (cp 2 Co 5:9) Because of Christ's victory on the Cross, Christians are not to fear people (Pr 29:25) or persecution or even Satan. However, they are called to show proper reverence and awe toward God. Indeed, one of the most common commands of Jesus to His little flock was "fear not" (see Mt 10:28KJV, Lk 12:4,5-note).
William Barclay notes that phobos (cf use of the verb phobeo in Lxx of Ps 25:14) "is not the fear and trembling of the slave cringing before his master; nor fear and trembling at the prospect of punishment. It comes from two things. It comes, first, from a sense of our own creatureliness and our own powerlessness to deal with life triumphantly. That is to say, it is not the fear and trembling which drives us to hide from God, but rather the fear and trembling which drives us to seek God, in the certainty that without His help we cannot effectively face life. It comes, second, from a horror of grieving God. When we really love a person (God), we are not afraid of what He may do to us; we are afraid of what we may do to Him! (cp Jn 14:15) (The Daily Study Bible Series. The Westminster Press)
Fear of the Lord therefore is a healthy spiritual attitude which on one hand is an awe of God's greatness and glory and on the other hand is a deep and reverential sense of accountability to Christ and even somewhat of a dread of the discipline we will reap for violating His holy nature. Such fear involves self-distrust, a sensitive conscience, and being on guard against temptation.
Jerry Bridges has some insightful comments on the fear of the Lord noting that...
The late professor John Murray said
The fear of God
is the soul of godliness.
Yet the fear of God is a concept that seems old-fashioned and antiquated to many modern-day Christians. There was a time when an earnest believer might have been known as a “God-fearing man.” Today we would probably be embarrassed by such language. Some seem to think the fear of God is strictly an Old Testament concept that passed away with the revelation of God’s love in Christ. After all, doesn’t perfect love drive out fear, as John declares in 1Jn 4:18? Although it is true that the concept of the fear of God is treated more extensively in the Old Testament, it would be a mistake to assume that it is not important in the New Testament. One of the blessings of the New Covenant is the implanting in believers’ hearts of the fear of the Lord. In Jer 32:40 God said,
And I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them (Ed: Note the divine keeping power of covenant - a strong argument against the spurious [in my opinion] teaching that one can lose their eternal security! cp Jn 10:28, 29), to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts (Ed: not just head knowledge, but heart knowledge, knowledge that transforms one's will and desire) so that (term of explanation = explains the vital association of proper fear and proper conduct! cp Job 1:1) they will not turn away from Me.
Murray wrote that...
Nothing could be more significant than that the fear of the Lord should be coupled with the comfort of the Holy Spirit as the characteristics of the New Testament church:
So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and, going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase. (Acts 9:31).
Paul (2 Co 7:1-note) and Peter (1Pe 1:17-note) both use the fear of the Lord as a motive to holy and righteous living. The example of the Lord Jesus Himself, of whom Isaiah said, “and he will delight in the fear of the LORD” (Isaiah 11:3), should put the question beyond all doubt. If Jesus in His humanity delighted in the fear of God, surely we need to give serious thought to cultivating this attitude in our lives (1Pe 2:21-note). (The Practice of Godliness)
Wesley on make them know - He will make them clearly to understand it, both its duties and its blessings; neither of which ungodly men rightly understand.
Believer's Bible Commentary: It was to Daniel, "a man greatly beloved," that God revealed the wonderful visions of Gentile governments superseded by the final kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And it was to John, the disciple who leaned on Jesus' bosom, that the glorious revelation of Patmos was given.
And He will make them know - More literally this reads "and his covenant, to make them know." The LORD will disclose more of Himself and His covenant. As discussed in more detail below know is yada which generally refers to an experiential knowledge, even an intimate knowledge. Indeed, it is the very word used to describe the most intimate arrangement of a husband with his wife! In short, yada is not so much head knowledge as it is heart knowledge so to speak. In other words, this is the essence of the secret, that Jehovah Himself will supernaturally reveal to us the true knowledge of His covenant in all its manifold manifestations and its gracious provisions which are for the achieving of their holiness and joy in living out their salvation. In a word, this is the door to abundant life in Christ (John 10:10). David has just promised that "All the paths of the LORD are lovingkindness and truth to those who keep His covenant and His testimonies." (Ps 25:10) As Albert Barnes says "Whatever there is in that arrangement to promote the happiness and salvation of His people, He will cause them to understand."
We see a similar dynamic in the following passages where the key to increasing intimacy with God is obedience.
Jn 7:17 “If anyone is willing to do His will (OBEDIENCE), he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.
Comment: He will know is the Greek verb ginosko which speaks of knowing in an experiential sense. The basic meaning of ginosko is taking in knowledge in regard to something or someone, knowledge that goes beyond the merely factual. By extension, the term frequently was used of a special relationship between the person who knows and the object of the knowledge, in this passage God's teaching which is His will for us. Ginosko, like the Hebrew verb yada, was often used to describe the intimate relationship between husband and wife (Mt 1:25). Ginosko was used by Paul in Phil 3:10 when he said "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death."
Wayne Barber helps understand the "experiential" aspect of ginosko noting that the "process of getting spiritual knowledge primarily involves OBEDIENCE (Jn 7:17: willingness, doing, then knowing or ginosko) As I OBEY, (as I choise to deny my fleshly way of thinking and instead choose God's thinking regardless of how I ''feel") I began to learn truth and as this truth sinks down into my life, the final product = GNOSIS. The process of getting the finished product, gnosis, is called ginosko. Have you ever gone through and trialand had no idea where that trial was taking you? And yet you are willing to take those steps God shows you and calls you to take and then afterwards you look back at the process of that trial and think "Look at all I have learned!" Ginosko describes that part no one really wants to talk about…the part where you are LEARNING. We say let's talk about the gnosis but let's not talk about the ginosko. We don't want to go through the Experience. Story of a man of great faith that caused the crowd to cry over what God had done in his life. Another man got up and said "Everyone wants this man's faith, but no one wants to go to the ''school'' he went to to get it!" A lot of people want the gnosis but they don't want the ginosko! No ginosko, no gnosis, the finished product. You have got to walk through the experience God is allowing or you won't receive the gnosis! You've got to remain obedient (cp Heb 5:8) in and thru the trial or you won't get gnosis. You can't get gnosis from a book, no matter how sound and how devotional or by going to church! You get gnosis by obeying the Lord, by being totally "sold out " to Him.
Spurgeon - If any man will know the will of Christ, let him do that will. When a young man is put to learn a trade, he does so by working at it; and we learn the truth which our Lord teaches by obeying His commands. To reach the shores of heavenly wisdom every man must work his passage. Holiness is the royal road to Scriptural knowledge. We know as much as we do.
Henry Morris adds "This could be read: "If any man sincerely wants to do his will, he shall know...." Thus the first prerequisite to ascertaining God's leading in some matter, or the truth about some doctrinal question, is a genuine willingness to believe the truth and to follow God's will before they are made known, even if the answer goes against one's preference."
Jn 14:21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”
Comment: Notice the progress "has...keeps....loved." The first prerequisite is "has My commandments" -- he reads, studies, memorizes, meditates on God's commandments. But he is a "doer" and not just a "hearer" and so enabled by the Spirit, he keeps them as his lifestyle ("keeps" is the verb tereo in the present tense) which is another way of saying he is obedient to them. No one keeps them perfectly but as we learn to rely on the Holy Spirit, He gives us the desire and the power to walk pleasing to the Lord (cf Php 2:13NLT-note). Then Jesus parallels obedience with love. If we say we love God we will obey Him. And the reward for such a walk is that Jesus will reveal (emphanizo) Himself to us. And so we see a parallel between the volitional choices of fearing the Lord in Psalm 25:14 and obeying the Lord in Jn 14:21, and the Spirit wrought fruit of these choices which is greater knowledge of God's covenant and greater initmacy with the Father and the Son.
Spurgeon comments on know His covenant - Its antiquity, security, righteousness, fulness, graciousness and excellence, shall be revealed to their hearts and understandings, and above all, their own part in it shall be sealed to their souls by the witness of the Holy Spirit. The designs of love which the Lord has to his people in the covenant of grace, he has been pleased to show to believers in the Book of Inspiration, and by his Spirit he leads us into the mystery, even the hidden mystery of redemption. He who does not know the meaning of this verse, will never learn it from a commentary; let him look to the cross, for the secret lies there.
John Trapp on know His covenant - As having no greater secret to impart to them, than by showing them the covenant of grace, his good pleasure and purpose of their eternal salvation; to make them "know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that they may be filled with all the fulness of God," Ephesians 3:19. The Jews bragged much of God’s covenant, but here they are given to understand, that only such as fear God are covenanters. Acts 13:16, "Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience."
Gill feels this refers to "the covenant of grace, which was made with Christ for them from eternity, is made known to them in time, when they are called by the grace of God, and made partakers of the grace of the covenant, then the Lord reveals himself as their covenant God and Father; shows them that his Son is their surety, Mediator, Redeemer, and Saviour; puts his Spirit into them to implant covenant grace in them, to seal up the blessings of it to them, and bear witness to their interest in them, as pardon, justification, and adoption; and to apply the exceeding great and precious promises of it to them."
The Rev. F.B. Meyer, when speaking of God’s faithfulness to His covenant promises, used the striking illustration of the deed to a house. The deed may be very old. It may be hard to decipher. The parchment may be stained and cracked. The inmates of the home in their busy life may forget all about it. But the very existence of the home depends upon it, and if it were lost and could not be replaced, sorrow and poverty and wretchedness would be the portion of that household. So our peace of soul, our very spiritual life, depends on the covenant which God the Father made long ago on our behalf with Christ the Son, that for His sake our sins should be forgiven and we should have a right to the many mansions.
See James Hastings lengthy comment on this verse below
Covenant (01285)(berit/berith/beriyth; Lxx = diatheke) describes the closest, most solemn and binding agreement one man could make with another. And in regard to God, the covenant was a privileged and intimate relationship, like that which one would have with a close friend. God binds Himself to us in steadfast love. Amazing grace indeed!
Adrian Rogers comments on Ps 25:14 that the blood covenant "is the secret of blessing. All of the promises in the Bible are really covenant promises." I would only add that the key to knowledge of this covenant is the fear of the LORD.
John Trapp on the secret of the LORD - It is neither learning nor labour that can give insight into God’s secrets, those Arcana imperii, (secrets of the empire) Matthew 13:12, the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, "the mind of Christ," 1 Corinthians 2:16-note; these things come by revelation rather than discourse of reason, and must therefore be obtained by prayer. Those that diligently seek him shall be of his cabinet council, shall know his soul secrets, and be admitted into a gracious familiarity and friendship: John 15:15,
Spurgeon - The word “secret” here might, with greater propriety, be translated “friendship.” “The friendship of the Lord is with them that fear him,” but it also signifies in its root that conversation which familiar friends hold with each other. Conversation in its most cherished exercise, that homely intercourse which springs from mutual confidence, and is on the part of one man the unbosoming of himself to another, is thus implied. If I may open it up in a phrase, it means, “The amity of true friendship.” Such is the favour vouchsafed to those who fear God. But taking the word as it stands (for I dare say the translators weighed all these variations well before they chose the one before us), we will endeavour to give amplitude to the sense, while we keep to the word “secret.” (See full sermon below)
Spurgeon - Trust the Lord much while He is with you. Keep no secrets from Him. His secrets are with you; let your secrets be with Him.
The Secret of the Lord by Henry M. Morris, Ph.D. "The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant." (Psalm 25:14) This is an amazing promise. The word for "secret" means the "inner counsel," evidently of the triune God Himself. But how can those who fear the Lord really know the secret counsels of the Godhead? The answer can only be by divine revelation to God’s prophets. Thus the prophet Amos affirms: "Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but [unless] he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7). When these ancient promises were given, however, much of God’s revelation, though already "settled in heaven" (Psalm 119:89), was still not revealed to men. Then Christ came and promised His disciples, "The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost . . . shall teach you all things" (John 14:26). "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son" (Hebrews 1:1-2). In addition to the twelve disciples, God then also called the apostle Paul, and through these men, the Son would convey to those who fear Him all the rest of His revelation. "By revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (. . . Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit" (Ephesians 3:3-5). Finally, "the secret of the Lord" was completed in written form by John, the last of the apostles, with nothing else to be either added or deleted (Revelation 22:18-19), that "the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets" (Revelation 10:7). All we shall ever need to know of God’s eternal counsels is now available to all who desire to know, in the Holy Scriptures. HMM
Puritan Daily Readings - God’s Treasure. Psalm 25:14 - The true fear of God is called “God’s treasure,” for it is one of His choice jewels, it is one of the rarities of heaven; “The fear of the Lord is his treasure” (Isa. 33:6). And it may well go under such a title, for as treasure, so the fear of the Lord, is not found in every corner. It is said, “All men have not faith” (2 Thess. 3:2); because that also is more precious than gold, the same is said about this fear. “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Rom. 3:18); that is, the greatest part of men are utterly destitute of this goodly jewel, this treasure, the fear of the Lord. Poor vagrants, when they come straggling to a lord’s house, may perhaps obtain some scraps and fragments, they may also obtain old shoes, and some sorry cast-off rags, but they get not any of his jewels; they may not touch his choicest treasure; that is kept for the children, and those that shall be his heirs. We may say the same also of this blessed grace of fear, which is here called God’s treasure. It is only bestowed upon the elect, the heirs and children of the promise; all others are destitute of it, and so continue to death and judgment. This grace of fear is that which makes men excel, and go beyond all men in the account of God; it is that which beautifies a man, and prefers Him above all other. “Hast thou,” said God to Satan, “considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” (Job 1:8).
J C Philpot - “The secret of the Lord” (that is, present possession) “is with them that fear Him; and He will shew them” (that is, something future) “His covenant.” This shews, that while all the people of God, who fear His name, have the secret with them, that is, a measure of the secret, yet all the people of God have not the covenant revealed to them at the same time with the secret. The “secret” is in the present tense; the “shewing of the covenant” is in the future. It is very sweet to see how the Holy Ghost has discriminated between these blessings. If, for instance, it had run thus, “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and He shews to them His covenant,” some doubting, desponding child of God might say, “How can I be one of those that fear God? for it says, God shews to them His covenant, and He has not shewn it to me yet.” But being put in the future sense, “He will shew to them His covenant,” it takes the form of a promise, and so is just adapted and sweetly suited to their wants. This covenant is the covenant that “stands fast for evermore;” the everlasting covenant of grace, which stands in the Person, love, blood, and work of the Son of God; the covenant made by a Triune Jehovah, on behalf of the elect, before the world was. What a suitable foundation for a poor tottering heart! The Lord in showing this covenant unto them that fear Him, shews them that it is all of grace, and therefore meets all their unworthiness and superabounds over all the aboundings of their sin; that it is more than a match for their aggravated iniquities, and will land them safe in glory, because God has determined to bring them there. Nothing but a covenant of grace can suit a poor exercised soul, who knows His helplessness and worthlessness; and the Lord shews this to them that fear Him. (Ears from Harvested Sheaves.) (See also his entire sermon on The Secret of the Lord)
Tim LaHaye in Embracing Eternity - Relationship with God Today's Reading: Psalm 25:14; Luke 7:36-50-note. With them he shares the secrets of his covenant. Psalm 25:14 -- WE WILL NEVER understand the heart of God until we learn to revere the holiness of God. If we want to know Him, we must first learn to honor Him. "Friendship with the Lord is reserved for those who fear Him," writes the psalmist. "With them he shares the secrets of his covenant" (Psalm 25:14). The hidden things of God are revealed only to those who understand His greatness in the face of our unworthiness. It is intended for those who come to Him in humility and admiration. When Jesus was invited to eat at the home of a Pharisee, a sinful woman showed up with a bottle of expensive perfume. She knelt at his feet weeping. Then she anointed his feet with her perfume and wiped them with her hair. She sat broken before him. When the Pharisee realized who she was, he said to himself, "This proves that Jesus is no prophet. If God had really sent him, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She's a sinner!" (Luke 7:39-note). While the woman wept, the Pharisee accused her in his thoughts. While she knelt at his feet, he judged. While she humbled herself in the presence of the Deity, he tried to humiliate the Divine One. So what did she understand that the Pharisee had missed? he knew that friendship begins with honor. That forgiveness begins with brokenness. That being right with God begins with reverence for Him. Jesus said to the Pharisee, When I entered your home, you didn't offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn't give me a kiss of greeting, but she has kissed my feet again and again from the time I first came in. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume. I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven. (Luke 7:44-47-note) Too often we want to sit and dine with Jesus, but we neglect to kneel before Him. We want the pleasure of his company but not necessarily at the expense of our dignity. We want to talk face-to-face, yet never think to stoop and wash his feet. We want friendship with God without a healthy reverence for Him. Jesus is our friend, but He is also our Lord. If we want a relationship with Him, we begin by remembering who He is. (See also LaHaye's devotional Reverence for God below)
Vance Havner - The Secret Ingredient. Psalm 25:14. -- Everything has that mysterious "something" nowadays, whether washing powder or gasoline or vitamin pills or shaving cream or tooth paste—everything has that new added element that no other brand has. This magic X has a wonderful unpronounceable name not yet in any dictionary. We smile, but thousands of gullible mortals will buy truckloads of the hokum and find it no better than something else they fell for months ago. But there is a secret ingredient that makes one brand of people different from all others. It is not some new religious fad or ism, although these too shout their magic formulas today. There are among us here and there those who have a deep inner peace and joy, "who ply their daily task with busier feet because their secret souls a holier strain repeat." No double-jointed theological jawbreaker is needed to name that secret ingredient. It is simply the grace of God, peace with God, and the peace of God in the trustful and obedient heart. "His secret is with the righteous" (Prov. 3:32)
Ian Paisley - It Is Secret for It Is God's Purpose. The secret is God's purpose. Psalm 25:14 The Covenant of God's grace, secret from before the foundation of the world, is made known in this hidden life. That life gives us growth not only in grace but in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Oh that I might thus know Him.
John Phillips - A Right Attitude Toward the Word (Ps 25:14) "The secret of the LORD is with them that fear Him; and He will shew them His covenant." God's covenant with Israel, of course, was contained on the tables of stone laid up within the ark. God's covenant with us is likewise contained in His Word. Nobody can hope to have any real guidance unless willing to spend time with the Word of God, seeking out the great secrets of the Lord which are contained in Scripture. There is no situation we can face in life which is not covered by some specific word of God. So we have David's plea-his concern as a believer and his confidence as a believer. But David has not yet finished his psalm.
II. David's Plight (Ps 25:15-22) When David was writing this psalm he was in trouble, in desperate need of guidance from God. His whole world had collapsed. This discussion of the priorities, principles, and prerequisites of guidance was no mere academic exercise. David needed help. In the closing verses he makes that clear.
A. How He Proceeded to Evaluate His Plight (25:15-19)
Note the five things he says about this.
1. His Difficulty (Ps 25:15)
"Mine eyes are ever toward the LORD; for He shall pluck my feet out of the net." Absalom's plots were cleverly and cunningly laid. He had succeeded in winning the hearts of the men of Israel and David's plight was real.
Psalm 25:14 reminds me of Paul's great desire in Philippians...
that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Php 3:10-11-note)
C H Spurgeon - Treasury of David EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 14. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, etc. It is the righteous that is God's friend, it is to him that God is joined in a loving familiarity, it is to him that God revealeth his secret, telling him what misery and torments he hath reserved for them who by wickedness flourish in this world. And indeed the Lord doth not more hate the wicked than he loves the godly: if he keeps far from the froward, as being an abomination unto him, his very secret shall be with the righteous, as with his dearest friend. It is an honour to him to whom a secret is committed by another, a greater honour to him to whom the king shall commit his own secret; but how is he honoured to whom God committed his secret? for where the secret of God is, there is his heart and there is himself. Thus was his secret with St. John, of whom St. Bernard saith, by occasion of the beginning of his gospel, "Doth he not seem unto thee to have dived into the bowels of the divine Word, and from the secrets of his breast, to have drawn a sacred pith of concealed wisdom?" Thus was his secret with St. Paul, who saith, "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which none of the princes of this world knew." 1 Corinthians 2:7-8. St. Gregory reads, for the secret of God, as the Vulgar Latin doth, sermocinatio Dei, the communication of God is with the righteous; but then addeth, Dei sermocinari est per illustrationem suae praesentiae humanis mentibus arcana revelare, God's communication is, by the illustration of his presence, to reveal secrets to the minds of men. But to consider the words somewhat more generally. There is no less a secret of godliness, than there is of any other trade or profession. Many profess am art or a trade, but thrive not by it, because they have not the secret and mystery of it; and many profess godliness, but are little the better for it, because they have not the true secret of it: he hath that, with whom God is in secret in his heart; and he that is righteous in secret, where no man sees him, he is the righteous man with whom the secret of the Lord is. Michael Jermin, D.D., 1591-1659.
Ver. 14. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, etc. There is a vital sense in which "the natural man discerneth not the things of the Spirit of God; "and in which all the realities of Christian experience are utterly hid from his perceptions. To speak to him of communion with God, of the sense of pardon, of the lively expectation of heaven, of the witness of the Holy Ghost, of the struggles of the spiritual life, would be like reasoning with a blind man about colours, or with one deaf about musical harmony. John Morison.
Ver. 14. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, etc. Albeit the Lord's covenant with the visible church be open, and plain in itself to all men in all the articles thereof, yet it is a mystery to know the inward sweet fellowship which a soul may have with God by virtue of this covenant; and a man fearing God shall know this mystery, when such as are covenanters only in the letter do remain ignorant thereof; for to the fearers of God only is this promise madeâ€”that to them the Lord will show his covenant. David Dickson.
Ver. 14. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him. The gospel, though published to all the world, yet it is entitled a mystery, and a mystery hid, for none know it but the saints, who are taught of God, and are his scholars. John 6:45. That place shows that there must be a secret teaching by God, and a secret learning. "If they have heard, and been taught of God." Now God teacheth none but saints, for all that are so taught come unto him: "Every one who hath heard, and learned of the Father, cometh unto me." Aye, but you will say, Do not many carnal men know the gospel, and discourse of things in it, through strength of learning, etc? I answer out of the text Colossians 1:26-27, that though they may know the things which the gospel reveals, yet not the riches and glory of them, that same rich knowledge spoken of in the word, they want, and therefore know them not; as a child and a jeweller looking upon a pearl, both look upon it, and call it by the same name; but the child yet knows it not as a pearl in the worth and riches of it as the jeweller doth, and therefore cannot be said to know it. Now in Matthew 13:45, a Christian only is likened to a merchantman, that finds a pearl of great price, that is, discovered to be so, and sells all he hath for it, for he knows the worth of it. But you will say, Do not carnal men know the worth of the things in the gospel, and can they not discourse of the rich grace of Christ, and of his worth? I answer, yes, as a man who hath gotten an inventory by heart, and the prices also, and so may know it; yet never was he led into the exchequer and treasury, to see all the jewels themselves, the wardrobe of grace, and Christ's righteousness, to see the glory of them; for these are all "spiritually discerned, "as the apostle says expressly, 1 Corinthians 2:14. Thomas Goodwin.
Ver. 14. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him. The truth and sincerity of God to his people appears in the openness and plainness of his heart to them. A friend that is close and reserved, deservedly comes under a cloud in the thoughts of his friends; but he who carries, as it were, a window of crystal in his breast, through which his friend may read what thoughts are writ in his very heart, delivers himself from the least suspicion of unfaithfulness. Truly, thus open hearted is God to his saints: "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him." He gives us his key, that will let us into his very heart, and acquaint us what his thoughts are, yea, were, towards us, before a stone was laid in the world's foundation; and this is no other than his Spirit 1 Corinthians 2:10-11, "One who knows the deep things of God; "for he was at the council table in heaven, where all was transacted. This, his Spirit, he employed to put forth and publish in the Scriptures, indited by him, the substance of those counsels of love which had passed between the Trinity of Persons for our salvation; and that nothing may be wanting for our satisfaction, he hath appointed the same Holy Spirit to abide in his saints, that as Christ in heaven presents our desires to him, so he may interpret his mind out of his word to us; which word answers the heart of God, as face answers face in the glass. William Gurnall.
Ver. 14. The secret of the Lord. This "secret" is called a secret three ways. 1. Secret to the eye of sole nature, and thus it is not meant; for so the grace of Christ is a secret only to heathens and such as are blind as they, for common Christians know itâ€”the rind of it. 2. Secret to the eye of taught nature, nor thus is it meant; for so the grace of Christ is a secret only to the ignorant sort of Christians; many carnal gospellers that sit under a good ministry know it and the bark of it. 3. Secret to the eye of enlightened nature, and thus it is meant; for so the grace of Christ is a secret to all unsanctified professors, whether learned or unlearned, namely, the pith of it; for though great doctors and profound clerks, and deep studied divines unconverted, know the doctrine of grace, and the truth of grace; though they can dispute of grace and talk of the glory of grace, yea, and taste a little the good word of grace, yea, and understand it generally, it may be as well as St. Paul and St. Peter, as Judas did, yet the special and the spiritual knowledge thereof, for all their dogmatical illumination, is a secret unto them. William Fenner.
Ver. 14. The secret. Arminius and his company ransack all God's secrets, divulge and communicate them to the seed of the woman, and of the serpent all alike; they make God's eternal love of election no secret, but a vulgar idea; they make the mystery of Christ, and him crucified, no secret, but like an apothecary's drug, catholical; they make the especial grace of God no secret, but a common quality; faith no secret, but a general virtue; repentance and the new creature no secret, but an universal gift; no secret favour to St. Peter, but make God a party ante, not to love St. Peter more than Judas; no secret intent to any one person more than another; but that Christ might have died for all him, and never a man saved; no secret working of the Lord in any more than other; but for anything that either God the Father hath done by creating, God the Son by redeeming, or God the Holy Ghost by sanctifying, all the world were left to their scramblingâ€”take it if you will, if you will not, refuse. They say God would have men to be saved, but that he will not work it for his own part, rather for this man or that man determinatively that he be saved. William Fenner.
Ver. 14. He will shew them his covenant, or and he will make them to know (for the infinitive is here thought to be put for the future tense of the indicative, as it is in Ecclesiastes 3:14-15; Ecclesiastes 3:18 Ho 9:13 12:3, his covenant, i.e., )he will make them clearly understand it, both its duties or conditions, and its blessings or privileges; neither of which ungodly men rightly understand. Or, he will make them to know it by experience, or by God's making it good to them; as, on the contrary, God threatens to make ungodly men to know his breach of promise. Numbers 14:34. Or, as it is in the margins of our Bibles, and his covenant, (is i.e., he hath engaged himself by his promise or covenant) to make them know it, to wit, his secret, i.e., that he will manifest either his word or his favour to them. Matthew Poole.
Ver. 14. It is neither learning nor labour than can give insight into God's secrets, those Arcana imperii, "The mysteries of the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 13:11. "The mind of Christ." 1 Corinthians 2:16. These things come by revelation rather than by discourse of reason, and must therefore be obtained by prayer. Those that diligently seek him shall be of his Cabinet Council, shall know his soul secrets, and be admitted into a gracious familiarity and friendship. "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." John 15:15. John Trapp.
Ver. 14. Walking with God is the best way to know the mind of God; friends who walk together impart their secrets one to another: "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him." Noah walked with God, and the Lord revealed a great secret to him, of destroying the old world, and having him in the ark. Abraham walked with God, and God made him one of his privy council: "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?" Ge 24:40 18:17. God doth sometimes sweetly unbosom himself to the soul in prayer, and in the holy supper, as Christ made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread. Lu 24:35. Thomas Watson.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
1. A secret, and who know it.
2. A wonder, and who see it.
The secret of the Lord
Then the Lord has a secret. Why does He not tell it to every man? Why do we not tell our secrets to every man? Every man does not understand us. We always best understand those who are like-minded with us. God gives His secret to them that fear Him. We individually give our secret--knowledge of our inner self--to those who see eye to eye with us, and by so much would not, cannot, offend us. That which must necessarily be a secret to some, even knowledge of ourselves, is, all else being equal, most obtainable by them that fear us; by them who put confidence in us. It is even so with society; its secret is with them that fear it. Outrage the moral sense of society, or even its sense of propriety, and refuse to be reconciled, and society will cast you adrift. He who acquiesces in the ways of society is received by society, and gets from it such secret as it has to reveal. He knows society through reconciliation, through a species of fear, in which there is an admixture of love.. The secret of business is with him who bends his will to it. The secret of all science, and all art, is with them that love it. No love, no secret, in personal intercourse, in industrial pursuits, in society. The more love, the more knowledge or secret. Admiration, devotion, love, each according to its nature and degree opens all locks and doors and souls. Have the spirit of any given man, and his secret is yours. Have his spirit entirely, and you have him. Harmony with God, sympathy, animation by His Spirit is necessary to knowing Him. (J. S. Swan.)
The secret of the Lord
I. The class of persons spoken of. Those that “fear the Lord.”
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.)
The teachings of God within and without
God reveals Himself in two ways to man. God wrote His word “on the pages of the elements.” But even on the heathen He wrote a more inward law, which answered to the outward and interpreted its voice--the law of conscience. Each of these voices is made more distinct as man is brought nearer to God. And when we forget both, He has given us the writings of the law, the voices of the prophets, the melody of the Psalms, the instruction of Proverbs, the experiences of histories, the words of Jesus and the Apostles. He speaks, too, by His Spirit. God ever speaks to the heart, as He speaks through the Word; for He cannot contradict Himself. What then? Because God must prepare the heart and open the ear and Himself speak to it, does nothing depend on us? It is with us to hearken or no. “The secret of the Lord” is a hushed voice, a gentle intercourse of heart to heart, a still small voice whispering to the inner ear. How should we hear it if we fill our ears and our hearts with the din of this world? There are two conditions, as there are degrees of inward hearing. You must fear God. You must be hushed yourselves. They who do not fear God cannot hear the secret. In grace, God forecomes man, and man follows grace given. In sin, on the contrary, man begins; he casts out grace, deadens his own car, until God’s voice sounds fainter and fainter. The question on which all hangs is this--is the flesh subdued to the Spirit, or the Spirit stifled by the flesh? This is the first condition of knowing the will of God, that we will to know it wholly. In vain is heaven opened to eyes fixed on earth. Love sees God The Psalmist speaks not of the “secret of the Lord” only, but of a “secret converse” with the soul, as of a friend with his friend. To have the love of the Great Friend, we must desire no love out of Him. St. 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.” (E. B. Pusey, D. D.)
The knowledge of God revealed to them that fear Him
The secret of the Lord means, that which cannot be known unless the Lord reveal it. And the phrase here implies an intimate knowledge of the Divine perfections, of the dealings and dispensations of God; a holy and vital communion with Him; an entire trust in His providential care and government, together with that peace which always dwells in the bosom of a true, penitent, pious believer. All this, including, as it does, a full acquaintance with the doctrines and duties, the privileges and comforts of the life of faith, is called the “secret of the Lord,” for man naturally knows nothing of them (Proverbs 2:6; Proverbs 2:9; 1 Corinthians 2:9). Men think all this enthusiasm, and have no notion that there is anything in religion which they, by their own skill, are not competent to discover. But, for instance, how can any man who neglects the worship of God pretend to decide upon its importance or utility? It is a matter of experience, and he is unqualified to judge. Because the sinner, when overtaken by sickness or affliction, declares that he derives no comfort from religion, are we therefore to conclude that religion has no comforts to bestow? The promises of the Gospel belong to them that fear the Lord. These persons, when they read the Scriptures, are blessed through them; theirs, too, is the secret of peace in the midst of trouble and in the hour of death. (T. Slade, M. A.)
The reward of fear
Think what God’s secret told to a man must be.
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.)
A palace of Divine secrets
I ask you to come with me through a spiritual palace, and I will describe the several apartments.
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.)
Hidden manna, or The mystery of saving grace
The saving grace that the children of God have is a secret that none in the world know besides. It is called a secret in three ways. Secret to the eye of nature; but this is not meant. Secret to the eye of taught nature; but this is not meant. Secret to the eye of enlightened nature; this is meant. It is a secret to all unsanctified professors. It is called a mystery. Grace is spiritual, and can only be received by the spiritually minded. A man must have another secret before he can know this secret. He must be a new creature.
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.)
The Lord’s secret
1. The fear of the Lord--its origin is of God. Its effect is cleansing, purifying from the power and love of sin (Psalms 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.)
God’s greatest secret
The secret of the Lord is His sending His Son into the world for the redemption of lost mankind.
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 modem 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--
All religions have their 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.)
Revelations to those who obey
There are commentators who refer this verse, not to the external orderings of God’s providence, but to the mental assurance which God gives those that fear Him, of the truth of His Word, and the adequacy of the religion it reveals, to satisfy the wants of the soul. This mental assurance, wrought into the soul by God Himself, is thought by some to be the secret of the Lord here intended. The Saviour is believed to refer to this secret assurance in the words, “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God” (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 understanding and grateful to his heart. Here is a cure for scepticism within the reach of every man. (David Caldwell, M. A.)
Knowledge the reward of obedience
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.)
The knowledge of covenant securities
The Rev. F.B. Meyer, when speaking of God’s faithfulness to His covenant promises, used the striking illustration of the deed to a house. The deed may be very old. It may be hard to decipher. The parchment may be stained and cracked. The inmates of the home in their busy life may forget all about it. But the very existence of the home depends upon it, and if it were lost and could not be replaced, sorrow and poverty and wretchedness would be the portion of that household. So our peace of soul, our very spiritual life, depends on the covenant which God the Father made long ago on our behalf with Christ the Son, that for His sake our sins should be forgiven and we should have a right to the many mansions.
- My eyes are continually toward the LORD : Ps 121:1,2 123:2 141:8
- for He will pluck my feet out of the net: Ps 31:4 Ps 124:7,8 Jer 5:26 2 Ti 2:25,26
NET Psalm 25:15 I continually look to the LORD for help, for he will free my feet from the enemy's net. (Psa 25:15 NET)
NLT Psalm 25:15 My eyes are always on the LORD, for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies.
MY EYES ARE CONTINUALLY: Looking to the Lord is an expression of faith in the Lord's power to deliver. Have you learned the power of looking to the Lord when you find yourself ensnared? David knows he (like all of us) is "prone to wander" and so he (and "we" enabled by the Spirit in the NT) chooses to fix His eyes "continually toward the LORD." And why does he do this? What is the spiritual benefit to us if each morning we begin by fixing our eyes on the LORD? David explains that he will pluck our feet out of the net!
David looks to Jehovah Who never ceases to look at us (both a comforting or a convicting truth)! Clivia Martin penned a hymn His Eye is on the Sparrow attesting to this wonderful truth
Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
Jamieson comments that "The psalmist returns to waiting on the Lord (Ps 25:1-3) and this is the expression of his confidence in God's deliverance."
David was beset by enemies who had laid snares to trap him. And the implication is clear that believers likewise will encounter many snares and temptations from the world, our own flesh and the devil's minionsl, all continually seeking to ensnare us and hinder our walk with Jesus. We see a similar dynamic in Psalm 119:12 "With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments." Notice the first declaration speaks of the psalmist's wholehearted commitment to the Lord. But he recognizes that he is always vulnerable to the wiles of the three enemies of his soul and ever prone to wander and so he wisely prays for divine protection.
Spurgeon on eyes...continually toward the LORD - The writer claims to be fixed in his trust, and constant in his expectation; he looks in confidence, and waits in hope. We may add to this look of faith and hope the obedient look of service, the humble look of reverence, the admiring look of wonder, the studious look of meditation, and the tender look of affection. Happy are those whose eyes are never removed from their God. "The eye, "says Solomon, "is never satisfied with seeing, "but this sight is the most satisfying in the world.
Albert Barnes on eyes...continually toward the LORD - This is an indication of the habitual state of mind of the psalmist. He had said that God would lead and guide those who were meek, gentle, teachable, humble; and he now says that this was his habitual state of mind. He constantly looked to God. He sought His direction. In perplexity, in doubt, in difficulty, in danger, in view of death and the future world, he looked to God as his guide. In other words, in reference to himself, he carried out the principles which he had stated as constituting true religion. It was a religion of dependence on God, for man’s only hope is in Him.
What the Bible teaches - Jehovah alone could deliver him from the entanglements and snares of life. Troubles are like a net, whether the deceitfulness of the heart within a man, or the callousness of adversaries without, or the pressures of circumstances around. There are pitfalls and traps that might imprison a man as in a net. As another has written, "What foes and snares surround me! What lusts and fears within!" (J. G. Deck). There was help in Jehovah alone and to Him only David lifts his eyes for deliverance. (What the Bible teaches – Psalms)
Continually is tamiyd which is from root meaning stretch so it pictures constancy (a stretching out of the hand like the beggar I am is the picture this creates to me) and in the context a constancy of personal devotion (Hos 12:6, Ps 34:1 71:6), " I will hope continually," (Ps 71:14); "Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me." (Ps 40:11). "And let them pray for him continually" - Ps 72:15), "So I will keep Your law continually, Forever and ever. " - (Ps 119:44) Tamiyd is first used in Ex 25:30 - "“You shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before Me at all times."
- Play the spiritual song "I lift my eyes up"
The Scriptures repeatedly speak of vertical looking which enables horizontal living (See discussion of "Vertical Vision")...
Ps 121:1; A Song of Ascents. I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? 2 My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.
Ps 123:2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the LORD our God, Until He is gracious to us.
Ps 141:8 For my eyes are toward You, O GOD, the Lord; In You I take refuge; do not leave me defenseless.
Col 3:1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
For - (term of explanation) David gives the reason for this look of faith to Jehovah.
Believer's Bible Commentary: His eyes are looking continually heavenward in trust and expectation, and he is confident that the Lord will extricate him from the net of trouble and affliction in which he is presently entangled.
He will pluck my feet out of the net - David fixed his eyes on the LORD, confident that He would deliver him from all the traps his enemies had laid.
Guzik - David said this both as a statement of fact, but also as a prayer for the future. He knew the importance of keeping the attention of his mind and soul toward the LORD.
Spurgeon on He will pluck my feet out of the net - Observe the conflicting condition in which a gracious soul may be placed, his eyes are in heaven and yet his feet are sometimes in a net; his nobler nature ceases not to behold the glories of God, while his baser parts are enduring the miseries of the world. A net is the common metaphor for temptation. The Lord often keeps his people from falling into it, and if they have fallen he rescues them. The word "pluck" is a rough word, and saints who have fallen into sin find that the means of their restoration are not always easy to the flesh; the Lord plucks at us sharply to let us feel that sin is an exceeding bitter thing. But what a mercy is here: Believer, be very grateful for it. The Lord will deliver us from the cunning devices of our cruel enemy, and even if through infirmity we have fallen into sin, he will not leave us to be utterly destroyed but will pluck us out of our dangerous state; though our feet are in the net, if our eyes are up unto God, mercy certainly will interpose.
Guzik - He shall pluck my feet out of the net: This reminds us that this Psalm was written from a season of trouble, in which David still felt himself caught. His feet were still in the net his enemies set against him.
Secret (05475)(sod - click for full word study) primarily means confidential conversation, speech or talk. Compare the Arabic word sa'wada which means to speak secretly. Sod emphasizes confidentiality in contrast to more general advice or counsel. Sod can refer to the close friendship which exists between people (Ps 55:14) or to the intimate knowledge that friendship brings, especially their secrets (Pr 25:9)
Sod describes talk to one about something that is to be kept confidential (eg, confidential conversation in Amos 3:7 "Surely the Lord GOD does nothing Unless He reveals His secret counsel (sod) To His servants the prophets."
Fruchtenbaum writes that "Hebrew word sod, (is) used 22 times in the Old Testament, and generally having the meaning of “secret counsel.” It is a divine secret that can be known and understood only if revealed by God to His people through the prophets. (Fruchtenbaum, A. G. The footsteps of the Messiah. Page 656)
Sod is used in the proper name "Besodeiah" (Neh 3:6) which has a great meaning - "in the secret of Jehovah." Sod is used in Nu 13:10 in "Sodi" (which means "a confidant"), the name of an Israeli in the tribe of Zebulun.
Bromiley in the ISBE writes that "The Hebrew sod can refer both to intimate or confidential speaking and to those involved in such speaking, or to a gathering of intimates."
Fear (03372)(yare) is a verb meaning to fear, to be afraid (Ge 3:10-note), to respect, to reverence, to be terrified, to be awesome, to be feared, to make afraid, to frighten. The most common translations are to be afraid, to fear, to fear God. On one had yare conveys the sense of threat to one's life, but on the other it can express the idea of reverence and deep respect (as in Ps 25:14). In the OT fear of the Lord involves a person's total response to the Lord. It is notable that more than 75% of the over 370 uses (see below) of yare are in the context of reverencing the Lord. In English our word reverence (from Latin reverentia "awe, respect," from revereri "to stand in awe of, respect, honor, fear, be afraid of; revere,") refers to a feeling of profound respect for someone or something, and with yare in the OT as noted this is most often to God. The classic use is Pr 1:7-note "The fear (yare) of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge." Notice that a genuine holy fear of the Lord is often equated with believers (e.g. Mal 3:16-note, Mal 4:2-note, Eccl 8:12-13, cf the last worldwide proclamation of the Gospel which says "Fear God..." - Rev 14:6-7-note)
Ungers Dictionary on "Fear": Fear is that affection of the mind that arises with the awareness of approaching danger. Fear is a feeling of reverence, awe, and respect, or an unpleasant emotion caused by a sense of danger. Fear may be directed toward God or humankind, and it may be either healthy or harmful.
The first use is by Adam after he sinned, so when sin entered fear entered. Fear here of course is a sense of dread, not necessarily a sense of awe and reverence. Adam said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself. (Ge 3:10-note)
Although most uses of yare refer to fear of YHWH, some uses refer to fear of men. For example Jacob declared “Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, that he will come and attack me and the mothers with the children. (Ge 32:11). The official in charge of Daniel feared the retributive wrath of Nebuchadnezzar declaring "I am afraid of my lord the king, who has appointed your food and your drink; for why should he see your faces looking more haggard than the youths who are your own age? Then you would make me forfeit my head to the king.” (Daniel 1:10-note)
In general, those who reverentially feared God were considered faithful and trustworthy for such fear constrained them to believe and act morally as in (Ex. 18:21) where God instructed Moses "you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, (NOTICE THE "FRUIT" OF THEIR FEAR) those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens." In a similar way the midwives feared God and did not kill the newborn Hebrew males (Ex. 1:17, 21). In Dt 6:1 we see that the commandments taught the Hebrews in Dt 6:1 to "fear the LORD your God." In other words a proper fear of the LORD was closely tied to keeping God's decrees and laws. Ps. 66:16 teaches that the those who fear God are the ones who delight in hearing of His deeds (contrast Adam's fear in Ge 3:10-note).
The God of Israel was an object of respectful fear as He Himself declared "‘You shall keep My sabbaths and revere My sanctuary; I am the LORD. (Lev. 19:30-note; cf Lev 26:2-note). Tragically, Israel wandered from the truth and began to fear and worship other gods, for which they were destroyed by Assyria (Jdg. 6:10; 2 Ki. 17:7, 35). Ps. 96:4 explains "For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. Thus the OT was unflinchingly clear that Israel, the Chosen People of God, were to worship and fear only Jehovah, as echoed by Joshua went they entered the land of Canaan filled with promise but also filled with a multiplicity of horrible gods - “Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD." (Josh. 24:14).
The verb yare can describe the fear of men: Jacob feared Esau, his brother (Gen. 32:7); and the official in charge of Daniel feared the king (Dan. 1:10). In the sense of respectful fear, each person was to honor his mother and father (Lev. 19:3). As a stative verb, it describes a state of being or attitude, such as being afraid or fearful: a man afraid of war was to remove himself from the army of Israel (Deut. 20:3, 8; Judg. 7:3); as a result of rebellion, Adam and Eve were afraid before the Lord (Gen. 3:10). Contrast the reaction of David a man who feared God which enabled him to write "I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people Who have set themselves against me round about." (Ps 3:6) The sense of respect is conveyed in Lev. 19:3 where the Lord commands everyone to "fear" their mothers and their fathers. Joshua's authority was established when he led Israel through the Jordan river, and they "feared" or "revered" him as they had Moses (Josh. 4:14).
W E Vine on yare - Used of a person in an exalted position, yārēʾ connotes "standing in awe." This is not simple fear, but reverence, whereby an individual recognizes the power and position of the individual revered and renders him proper respect. In this sense, the word may imply submission to a proper ethical relationship to God; the angel of the Lord told Abraham: " I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." (Ge 22:12). The verb can be used absolutely to refer to the heavenly and holy attributes of something or someone. So Jacob at Bethel "was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” (Ge 28:17). The people who were delivered from Egypt saw God's great power, "When Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses." (Ex 14:31). There is more involved here than mere psychological fear. The people also showed proper "honor" ("reverence") for God and "stood in awe of" Him and of His servant, as their song demonstrates (Ex 15:1-27). After experiencing the thunder, lightning flashes, sound of the trumpet, and smoking mountain, they were "afraid" and drew back; but Moses told them “Do not be afraid (yare); for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear (yirah = derived from yare) of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.”(Ex 20:20). In this passage, the word represents "fear" or "dread" of the Lord. This sense is also found when God says, "Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.” (Ge 15:1-note). (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament Words)
Baker - In the passive form, yare expresses the idea of being feared, held in esteem: God was feared and awesome (Ex. 15:11; Ps. 130:4); His deeds were awe-inspiring (Deut. 10:21; 2 Sa 7:23); the Cushites were an aggressive people feared by many (Isa. 18:2); even the threatening desert area was considered fearful or dreadful (Deut. 8:15). (Complete Word Study Dictionary, The – Old Testament)
Gilbrant - The result of this reverential awe is a repentant humility and an ongoing sense of accountability (Lev. 19:14, Lev 19:32; Lev 25:17; Pr 3:7). Out of this flows obedience (Dt. 31:12; Hag. 1:12; Prov. 24:21) and performing one's duties righteously (2 Sam. 23:3). Job 1:1 has fearing God parallel to being blameless, upright and shunning evil (ED: WHY DID JOB TURN AWAY FROM EVIL? IN CONTEXT CLEARLY BECAUSE HE FEARED GOD!). Then, in Job 1:9ff, Satan contrasts fearing God with cursing Him after losing everything, which implies that fearing God includes trusting in and staying loyal to Him. Deuteronomy 8:6 parallels fearing God with walking in his ways. Devotion to the Lord in worship is the use of "fearing" Him found in 2 Ki. 17:34-39. Eccl 12:13 summarizes the life that has meaning and fulfillment as fearing God and keeping his commandments - "The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person." Thus, to fear God can refer to one's total devotion to God, with such a deep reverence that one responds in worship, and service to Him. Joshua 22:25 has the best example of this meaning - "“For the LORD has made the Jordan a border between us and you, you sons of Reuben and sons of Gad; you have no portion in the LORD.” So your sons may make our sons stop fearing the LORD.". There the trans-Jordan tribes say they were worried that the others would cause their descendants to "stop fearing the Lord." They might cause them to stop worshipping and serving the Lord. To fear the Lord is to respond to a true grasp of how awesome He is and make an effort to walk with Him in a well-balanced relationship of loyal devotion. (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary)
Andrew Bowling - biblical usages of yārēʾ are divided into five general categories: 1) the emotion of fear, 2) the intellectual anticipation of evil without emphasis upon the emotional reaction, 3) reverence or awe, 4) righteous behaviour or piety, and 5) formal religious worship. Major OT synonyms include pāḥad, ḥātat, and ḥārad as well as several words referring to shaking or quaking as a result of fear. Typical examples of fearing as an emotional reaction are the Jews' fear of the fires on Mount Sinai (Deut. 5:5) and the fear of the Jews at Mizpah when they heard of the Philistine mobilization (1 Sa 7:7). Other examples give more emphasis to the anticipation of evil without necessarily pointing to the emotional reaction. David's recognition while in Achish's court that his reputation was a danger to him (1 Samuel 21:13) is an example along with Jacob's anticipation that his family might be taken from him (Genesis 31:31).
These two usages are in mind in using the negative command not to fear as a comforting phrase or a greeting (e.g. Genesis 50:19-20). In such cases yārēʾ is often used parallel to one or more synonyms (e.g., ḥātat "be demoralized"; ʿāraṣ "be terrified"). A similar motif is the defining of security as the lack of fear (e.g. Psalm 56:4).
There are many examples of the third usage listed above. Such reverence is due to one's parents (Leviticus 19:3), holy places (Leviticus 26:2), God (Psalm 112:1), and God's name (Psalm 86:11). Habakkuk's "fearing" of God's work (Habakkuk 3:2) and the fearing of Job's friends at seeing his misery are best considered as this kind of fear (Job 6:21).
In several passages, "fearing" and proper living are so closely related as to be virtually synonymous ideas (Leviticus 19:14; Leviticus 25:17; 2 Kings 17:34; Deut. 17:19). It is plausible that this usage of "to fear" as a virtual synonym for righteous living or piety grew out of viewing "fear"—in any of the senses above—as the motivation which produced righteous living. This practical, active fear is the kind of fear for which God rewarded the Egyptian midwives (Exodus 1:17, 21). This kind of fear was most appropriately learned by reading the Law (Deut. 31:11-12). One righteous deed repeatedly and emphatically associated with "fearing" God is kindness to the stranger or resident alien (e.g. Deut. 10:18-20; Deut. 25:18).
The clearest example of "fearing" as formal religious worship occurs in describing the religious syncretists of the northern kingdom who "feared" the Lord in respect to cultic worship (2 Kings 17:32-34), while not "fearing" the Lord in respect to righteous obedience to his law. The formal cultic elements mentioned in Deut. 14:22-23 suggest that this is the kind of fear to be learned in that context. In light of the above discussion and of the context of Joshua 22 the RSV is probably correct in translating "fear" as "worship" there (Joshua 22:25).
There are a few passages in which "fearing" seems to mean "being a devotee or follower." This usage could reflect either usages 4 or 5 above. Related substantival examples will be discussed below under yārēʾ, but possible verbal examples are found in Job 1:9 and 2 Chron. 6:33.
Fear of various sorts may be caused by God's great deeds-(Exodus 14:31; Joshua 4:23-24; 1 Samuel 4:7-9), by judgment (Isaiah 59:18-19), and God's law (Deut. 4:10) as well as by various human agencies (1 Samuel 7:7; 1 Samuel 15:24).
In the Piel, yārēʾ means "to make to fear" (2 Samuel 14:15; Neh. 6:9, 14, 19; 2 Chron. 32:18). In the Niphal, the meaning is passive, "to be feared" (Psalm 130:4). The Niphal participle is frequently used to describe things as "terrible," "awesome," or "terrifying." This is a good example of the gerundive character of the Niphal participle, "to be feared" (GKC, 116e). It may describe places (Genesis 28:17), God (Exodus 15:11), God's name (Deut. 28:58), God's deeds (Exodus 34:10), people (Isaiah 18:2), and the Day of the Lord (Joel 2:31 [H 3:4]).
The discussion of yārēʾ is complicated by the need to distinguish between those examples which are genuinely substantival—and therefore discussed in this section—and those examples which are involved in periphrastic verbal form and thus discussed above with the verb. This distinction is not always clearly made in translation; and often need not be made. The most frequent usage of the substantive is to refer to the "God-fearer" (different names or expressions for God may be used). Clearly substantival examples which show fear as an emotion (I above) or as an anticipation of evil (2 above) are found (e.g. Exodus 9:20; Deut. 20:8; Judges 7:3). More frequently the emphasis is upon awe or reverence rather than terror (Psalm 112:1; Eccles. 8:12).
The "God-fearer" will implement his fear in practical righteousness or piety. Job, as a God fearer, avoids evil (Job 1:1). In Psalm 128:1 the "fearer" of the Lord walks in his ways. The fearers of the Lord may be those whose particular piety is evidenced by a response to God's message. The "fearer" of God is contrasted with the wicked (Eccles. 8:13). It is desired that office holders be fearers of God (Neh. 7:2). Blessings are provided for fearers of God: happiness (i.e. "blessed"; Psalm 112:1), goodness from God (Psalm 31:19), provision of needs (Psalm 34:9), protection (Psalm 33:18-19), overshadowing mercy (i.e., ḥesed; Psalm 103:11), and promise of fulfilled desires (Psalm 145:19). (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament)
Yare - 370 verses- Translated in NAS as - afraid(100), awesome(21), awesome acts(1), awesome things(4), became afraid(1), became...frightened(2), become frightened(1), cautious(1), dismayed(1), fear(165), fear and awesome(1), feared(36), fearful(1), fearful thing(1), fearfully(1), fearing(5), fears(9), frighten(4), frightened(1), have...fear(1), made me afraid(1), revere(10), revered(3), reverence(3), showed reverence(1), stand in awe(1), terrible(3), terrible things(1), terrifying(2).
I realize this is a very long list of verses using yare, but it would make for an incredible study to walk through these passages and make notes on what you discover about the meaning of yare in the Old Testament. See a couple of examples below (after the long list).
Gen. 3:10; Gen. 15:1; Gen. 18:15; Gen. 19:30; Gen. 20:8; Gen. 21:17; Gen. 22:12; Gen. 26:7; Gen. 26:24; Gen. 28:17; Gen. 31:31; Gen. 32:7; Gen. 32:11; Gen. 35:17; Gen. 42:18; Gen. 42:35; Gen. 43:18; Gen. 43:23; Gen. 46:3; Gen. 50:19; Gen. 50:21; Exod. 1:17; Exod. 1:21; Exod. 2:14; Exod. 3:6; Exod. 9:20; Exod. 9:30; Exod. 14:10; Exod. 14:13; Exod. 14:31; Exod. 15:11; Exod. 18:21; Exod. 20:20; Exod. 34:10; Exod. 34:30; Lev. 19:3; Lev. 19:14; Lev. 19:30; Lev. 19:32; Lev. 25:17; Lev. 25:36; Lev. 25:43; Lev. 26:2; Num. 12:8; Num. 14:9; Num. 21:34; Deut. 1:19; Deut. 1:21; Deut. 1:29; Deut. 2:4; Deut. 3:2; Deut. 3:22; Deut. 4:10; Deut. 5:5; Deut. 5:29; Deut. 6:2; Deut. 6:13; Deut. 6:24; Deut. 7:18; Deut. 7:19; Deut. 7:21; Deut. 8:6; Deut. 8:15; Deut. 10:12; Deut. 10:17; Deut. 10:20; Deut. 10:21; Deut. 13:4; Deut. 13:11; Deut. 14:23; Deut. 17:13; Deut. 17:19; Deut. 19:20; Deut. 20:1; Deut. 20:3; Deut. 20:8; Deut. 21:21; Deut. 25:18; Deut. 28:10; Deut. 28:58; Deut. 31:6; Deut. 31:8; Deut. 31:12; Deut. 31:13; Jos. 4:14; Jos. 4:24; Jos. 8:1; Jos. 9:24; Jos. 10:2; Jos. 10:8; Jos. 10:25; Jos. 11:6; Jos. 22:25; Jos. 24:14; Jdg. 4:18; Jdg. 6:10; Jdg. 6:23; Jdg. 6:27; Jdg. 7:3; Jdg. 7:10; Jdg. 8:20; Jdg. 13:6; Ruth 3:11; 1 Sam. 3:15; 1 Sam. 4:7; 1 Sam. 4:20; 1 Sam. 7:7; 1 Sam. 12:14; 1 Sam. 12:18; 1 Sam. 12:20; 1 Sam. 12:24; 1 Sam. 14:26; 1 Sam. 15:24; 1 Sam. 17:11; 1 Sam. 17:24; 1 Sam. 18:12; 1 Sam. 18:29; 1 Sam. 21:12; 1 Sam. 22:23; 1 Sam. 23:3; 1 Sam. 23:17; 1 Sam. 28:5; 1 Sam. 28:13; 1 Sam. 28:20; 1 Sam. 31:4; 2 Sam. 1:14; 2 Sam. 3:11; 2 Sam. 6:9; 2 Sam. 7:23; 2 Sam. 9:7; 2 Sam. 10:19; 2 Sam. 12:18; 2 Sam. 13:28; 2 Sam. 14:15; 1 Ki. 1:50; 1 Ki. 1:51; 1 Ki. 3:28; 1 Ki. 8:40; 1 Ki. 8:43; 1 Ki. 17:13; 1 Ki. 18:3; 1 Ki. 18:12; 1 Ki. 19:3; 2 Ki. 1:15; 2 Ki. 4:1; 2 Ki. 6:16; 2 Ki. 10:4; 2 Ki. 17:7; 2 Ki. 17:25; 2 Ki. 17:28; 2 Ki. 17:32; 2 Ki. 17:33; 2 Ki. 17:34; 2 Ki. 17:35; 2 Ki. 17:36; 2 Ki. 17:37; 2 Ki. 17:38; 2 Ki. 17:39; 2 Ki. 17:41; 2 Ki. 19:6; 2 Ki. 25:24; 2 Ki. 25:26; 1 Chr. 10:4; 1 Chr. 13:12; 1 Chr. 16:25; 1 Chr. 17:21; 1 Chr. 22:13; 1 Chr. 28:20; 2 Chr. 6:31; 2 Chr. 6:33; 2 Chr. 20:3; 2 Chr. 20:15; 2 Chr. 20:17; 2 Chr. 32:7; 2 Chr. 32:18; Neh. 1:5; Neh. 1:11; Neh. 2:2; Neh. 4:14; Neh. 6:9; Neh. 6:13; Neh. 6:14; Neh. 6:19; Neh. 7:2; Neh. 9:32; Job 1:1; Job 1:8; Job 1:9; Job 2:3; Job 5:21; Job 5:22; Job 6:21; Job 9:35; Job 11:15; Job 32:6; Job 37:22; Job 37:24; Ps. 3:6; Ps. 15:4; Ps. 22:23; Ps. 22:25; Ps. 23:4; Ps. 25:12; Ps. 25:14; Ps. 27:1; Ps. 27:3; Ps. 31:19; Ps. 33:8; Ps. 33:18; Ps. 34:7; Ps. 34:9; Ps. 40:3; Ps. 45:4; Ps. 46:2; Ps. 47:2; Ps. 49:5; Ps. 49:16; Ps. 52:6; Ps. 55:19; Ps. 56:3; Ps. 56:4; Ps. 56:11; Ps. 60:4; Ps. 61:5; Ps. 64:4; Ps. 64:9; Ps. 65:5; Ps. 65:8; Ps. 66:3; Ps. 66:5; Ps. 66:16; Ps. 67:7; Ps. 68:35; Ps. 72:5; Ps. 76:7; Ps. 76:8; Ps. 76:12; Ps. 85:9; Ps. 86:11; Ps. 89:7; Ps. 91:5; Ps. 96:4; Ps. 99:3; Ps. 102:15; Ps. 103:11; Ps. 103:13; Ps. 103:17; Ps. 106:22; Ps. 111:5; Ps. 111:9; Ps. 112:1; Ps. 112:7; Ps. 112:8; Ps. 115:11; Ps. 115:13; Ps. 118:4; Ps. 118:6; Ps. 119:63; Ps. 119:74; Ps. 119:79; Ps. 119:120; Ps. 128:1; Ps. 128:4; Ps. 130:4; Ps. 135:20; Ps. 139:14; Ps. 145:6; Ps. 145:19; Ps. 147:11; Prov. 3:7; Prov. 3:25; Prov. 13:13; Prov. 14:2; Prov. 14:16; Prov. 24:21; Prov. 31:21; Prov. 31:30; Eccl. 3:14; Eccl. 5:7; Eccl. 7:18; Eccl. 8:12; Eccl. 8:13; Eccl. 9:2; Eccl. 12:5; Eccl. 12:13; Isa. 7:4; Isa. 8:12; Isa. 10:24; Isa. 18:2; Isa. 18:7; Isa. 21:1; Isa. 25:3; Isa. 29:13; Isa. 35:4; Isa. 37:6; Isa. 40:9; Isa. 41:5; Isa. 41:10; Isa. 41:13; Isa. 41:14; Isa. 41:23; Isa. 43:1; Isa. 43:5; Isa. 44:2; Isa. 50:10; Isa. 51:7; Isa. 51:12; Isa. 54:4; Isa. 54:14; Isa. 57:11; Isa. 59:19; Isa. 64:3; Jer. 1:8; Jer. 3:8; Jer. 5:22; Jer. 5:24; Jer. 10:5; Jer. 10:7; Jer. 17:8; Jer. 23:4; Jer. 26:19; Jer. 26:21; Jer. 30:10; Jer. 32:39; Jer. 40:9; Jer. 41:18; Jer. 42:11; Jer. 42:16; Jer. 44:10; Jer. 46:27; Jer. 46:28; Jer. 51:46; Lam. 3:57; Ezek. 1:22; Ezek. 2:6; Ezek. 3:9; Ezek. 11:8; Dan. 1:10; Dan. 9:4; Dan. 10:12; Dan. 10:19; Hos. 10:3; Joel 2:11; Joel 2:21; Joel 2:22; Joel 2:31; Amos 3:8; Jon. 1:5; Jon. 1:9; Jon. 1:10; Jon. 1:16; Mic. 6:9; Mic. 7:17; Hab. 1:7; Hab. 3:2; Zeph. 2:11; Zeph. 3:7; Zeph. 3:15; Zeph. 3:16; Hag. 1:12; Hag. 2:5; Zech. 8:13; Zech. 8:15; Zech. 9:5; Mal. 1:14; Mal. 2:5; Mal. 3:5; Mal. 3:16; Mal. 4:2; Mal. 4:5
Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Why does David not fear death? Simple question. Straight-forward answer!)
Ecclesiastes 8:12-13 Although a sinner does evil a hundred times and may lengthen his life, still I know that it will be well for those who fear God, who fear Him openly. 13 But it will not be well for the evil man and he will not lengthen his days like a shadow, because he does not fear God.
Comment: A sinner may have long life (and seeming success in life) but v13 says "Unlike a shadow that lengthens at sunset, the wicked do not normally live long." (NET Note)
Malachi 3:16-note Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another (BELIEVERS), and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance (in which the LORD keeps an ongoing record of the names of all the redeemed - Ex 32:32; Isa 4:3; Da 12:1; Rev 20:12–15-note) was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His Name.
Comment: See in depth discussion of the Book of Life
Malachi 4:2-note “But for you who fear My name (BELIEVERS), the Sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.
Comment: While some don't see this prophecy as Messianic, I think it is indubitably Messianic. See discussion.
The Septuagint translates yada (see below) in Psalm 25:14 with the verb deloo which means to make clear or plain, to show clearly. It is the verb used by Peter of the Lord Jesus Christ's making it clear to him that his laying aside of his earthly dwelling was imminent (2 Pe 1:14), or in other words telling Peter he would soon die. In 1 Cor 3:13 deloo speaks of "each man's works will become evident, for the day will show (deloo) it."
Know (03045)(yada) to know, to learn, to perceive, to discern, to experience, to confess, to consider, to know people relationally, to know how, to be skillful, to be made known, to make oneself known, to make to known. As noted below in several examples, the Septuagint translates yada often with the Greek verb ginosko, which conveys the sense of to know by experience and/or to know intimately (as used in Mt 1:25KJV and ESV which says Joseph "knew her not" which the NAS paraphrases "kept her a virgin"). And many of the uses of yada also have this experiential emphasis as with the Greek ginosko.
Yada is often used in Scripture in a protective sense and refers to God’s providential care and love, which includes the eternal security of believers and His divine provision. It means that God looks out for the righteous as in (Ps 1:6) which says "For the LORD knows (Lxx = ginosko) the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish (Hebrew = abad; Lxx = apollumi - not loss of being but of well being - see a study of eternal punishment)". Ps 9:10 says "those who know (yada; Lxx = ginosko) Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You." Ps 16:11 says "You will make known (Lxx = ginosko) to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever." In a great prayer for all of us to pray David prayed "Make me know Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths." (Ps 25:4, cf Ps 39:4). In Ps 32:5 David "acknowledged" (yada) his to God. And one of favorite (well, not always) prayers to pray is Ps 139:23-24 "Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; 24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way." A great proverbial promise is found in Pr 1:23-note "Turn to my reproof, Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you." In Pr 3:6 we read "In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight." Solomon uses yada three times in Eccl 1:17 "And I set my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after wind." David has a great response to Solomon's frustration of "striving after the wind," writing ""Cease striving and know (Lxx = ginosko in aorist imperative = do this now! Do not delay!) that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." The antidote for restless, anxious, futile striving after the things of this world is to know the One Who is out of this world! In Da 11:32-note there is a great promise for those who live in the end times (THAT'S YOU AND ME BELOVED!) - By smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will display strength and take action." And take heart in the truth in Nah 1:7 "The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble, And He knows those who take refuge in Him." (cf similar idea in Ps 1:6). And then the glorious prophetic promise for all believers in Hab 2:14 “For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea."
The first OT use of yada was by Satan the great deceiver using it twice in Ge 3:5 to ensnare Eve declaring "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Sadly the next use is Ge 3:7 when "they knew that they were naked." And also sadly Satan's "prophecy" proved true when in Ge 3:22 the LORD God said "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil...." Yada is a word of intimacy and in fact speaks in some contexts of a man "knowing" a woman as in Ge 4:1KJV "Adam knew (had relations with) his wife Eve." (cf Ge 4:25, Jdg 11:39, 19:25, 21:11, 12) Gilbrant has an interesting comment about yada in these uses of intimacy between a man and a woman writing "The experiential emphasis of the Hebrew word for knowing is seen further in Gen. 4:1 and several other places in the Scriptures where it refers to sexual intercourse. This is intended by God to be the ultimate human experience of intimacy between a man and a woman, and thus the deepest "knowing" of another person."
Abram asked God "how may I know that I will possess it ("this land" Ge 15:7)(Ge 15:8-note, cf God's promise "know for certain" - yada used twice for emphasis)
One of the saddest uses of yada (other than Genesis 3) in the OT is found in Judges 2:10 All that generation (THE GENERATION THAT HAD BEEN EXPOSED TO JOSHUA - THEY HAD RESPONDED TO JOSHUA'S LAST WORDS IN Josh 24:15-18) also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know (Hebrew = yada; Lxx = ginosko = know by experience) the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel." Why didn't they know Him? Because they didn't obey Him. They knew about Him but had not experienced Him in a personal way. They had heard the great works but they didn't know Him. Head knowledge had not become heart knowledge. I essence they forgot God [Jdg 3:7-note]. Another sad use of yada is Jdg 16:20-note when the Philistines came upon Samson who said "I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him."
Gilbrant - Some level of personal, experiential, acquaintance with another person is often the use of this verb. Jacob asked the shepherds if they "knew" Laban (Gen. 29:5). A pharaoh arose who did not "know" Joseph (Exo. 1:8). God's miraculous salvation of Israel from Egypt would result in the Egyptians as well as the Israelites "knowing" that He is the Lord (Exo. 7:7 and 6:7 with the addition of "your God"). In Exo. 6:3, God says He was not "known" (Niphal, or passive, stem of the verb) by his name, Yahweh (the Lord), to the Patriarchs. This does not mean there was no knowledge of his personal name before Moses, but that his people would now have an experience that would give them a much deeper understanding of the significance of that name in relation to Him as their covenant Lord who was fulfilling his promise to the Patriarchs. In the future, He will "make known" (Hiphil, or causative, stem) his holy name among his people (Ezek. 39:7) so that they and the world will know his true character and purpose instead of the misrepresentation of who He is, conveyed by his unfaithful people. Under the New Covenant all his people will know him personally (Jer. 31:34). Another kind of knowing is recognizing someone, or realizing a truth, or perceiving a deeper understanding of reality (Gen. 28:16; Deut. 7:9; Josh. 22:31; Judg. 13:16; 2 Sam. 19:6). It can be something as simple as learning from a report or being notified of something (2 Sam. 24:2). The verb can also refer acquiring competence at a particular task (Gen. 25:27; 1 Ki. 9:27). Those who humble themselves to the Lord and listen to Him will experience a deeper revelation of who He is and what He desires. There are those, especially the young, who have no understanding or discernment to distinguish right from wrong, owing to their lack of experiences (Deut. 1:39; Isa. 7:16; Jon. 4:11). Finally, there are a few passages where the idea is actively showing awareness of the Lord and his activity and perhaps a desire to experience Him in one's situation, usually translated "acknowledging" Him (Prov. 3:6; Isa. 33:13). The opposite may be seen in Hos. 11:3, where Israel is said to not "know" that it was the Lord who healed them of all their hurts as they were, in a metaphor, growing up. This could mean that they willfully rejected such knowledge from their consciousness or chose not to outwardly acknowledge or admit that the Lord had done it. Closely related is the idea of confession of sin where one recognizes and admits guilt (Ps. 51:3; Jer. 3:13; 14:20). Thus, the idea in Hos. 4:6 behind God's people being destroyed for lack of "knowledge" (noun) could be that they had rejected continuing in a personal experiential relationship with the Lord failing to continue acknowledging Him in faith and obedience in every area of their lives. The Hiphil (causative) stem means to teach or show someone the truth (Deut. 4:9; Isa. 40:13). It also can have the idea of bringing someone to experience a divine provision (Exo. 33:13; Pss. 16:11; 106:8; Jer. 16:21). Most often, the Hiphil usage (literally translated as "to cause to know") is used in contexts where someone is informing another. (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary)
Vine writes "Essentially yādaʿ means: (1) to know by observing and reflecting (thinking), and (2) to know by experiencing. The first sense appears in Ge 8:11, where Noah "knew" the waters had abated as a result of seeing the freshly picked olive leaf in the dove's mouth; he "knew" it after observing and thinking about what he had seen. He did not actually see or experience the abatement himself. In contrast to this knowing through reflection is the knowing which comes through experience with the senses, by investigation and proving, by reflection and consideration (firsthand knowing). Consequently yādaʿ is used in synonymous parallelism with "hear" (Ex. 3:7), "see" (G. 18:21), and "perceive, see" (Job 28:7). Joseph told his brothers that were they to leave one of their number with him in Egypt then he would "know," by experience, that they were honest men (Ge 42:33). In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat of the tree whose fruit if eaten would give them the experience of evil and, therefore, the knowledge of both good and evil. Somewhat characteristically the heart plays an important role in knowing. Because they experienced the sustaining presence of God during the wilderness wandering, the Israelites "knew" in their hearts that God was disciplining or caring for them as a father cares for a son (Deut. 8:5). Such knowing can be hindered by a wrongly disposed heart (Psa. 95:10). Thirdly, this verb can represent that kind of knowing which one learns and can give back. So Cain said that he did not "know" he was Abel's keeper (Gen. 4:9), and Abram told Sarai that he "knew" she was a beautiful woman (Gen. 12:11). One can also "know" by being told, in Lev. 5:1 a witness either sees or otherwise "knows" (by being told) pertinent information. In this sense "know" is parallel by "acknowledge" (Dt. 33:9) and "learn" (Dt. 31:12-13). Thus, little children not yet able to speak do not "know" good and evil (Dt. 1:39); they have not learned it so as to tell another what it is. In other words, their knowledge is not such that they can distinguish between good and evil. In addition to the essentially cognitive knowing already presented, this verb has a purely experiential side. The "knower" has actual involvement with or in the object of the knowing. So Potiphar was unconcerned about (literally, "did not know about") what was in his house (Gen. 39:6), he had no actual contact with it. In Gen. 4:1 Adam's knowing Eve also refers to direct contact with her, in a sexual relationship. In Gen. 18:19 God says He "knows" Abraham; He cared for him in the sense that He chose him from among other men and saw to it that certain things happened to him. The emphasis is on the fact that God "knew" him intimately and personally. In fact, it is parallel in concept to "sanctified" (cf. Jer. 1:5). A similar use of this word relates to God's relationship to Israel as a chosen or elect nation (Amos 3:2). Yādaʿ in the intensive and causative stems is used to express a particular concept of revelation. God did not make Himself known by His name Jehovah to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He did reveal that name to them, that He was the God of the covenant. Nevertheless, the covenant was not fulfilled (they did not possess the Promised Land) until the time of Moses. The statement in Exod. 6:3 implies that now God was going to make Himself known "by His name"; He was going to lead them to possess the land. God makes Himself known through revelatory acts such as bringing judgment on the wicked (Psa. 9:16) and deliverance to His people (Isa. 66:14). He also reveals Himself through the spoken word, for example, by the commands given through Moses (Ezek. 20:11), by promises like those given to David (2 Sam. 7:21). Thus, God reveals Himself in law and promise."To know" God is to have an intimate experiential knowledge of Him. So Pharaoh denies that he knows Jehovah (Ex. 5:2) or that he recognizes His authority over him. Positively "to know" God is paralleled to fear Him (1 Kings 8:43), to serve (1 Chron. 28:9), and to trust (Isa. 43:10). (Ibid)
Baker - The simple meaning, to know, is its most common translation out of the eight hundred or more uses. One of the primary uses means to know relationally and experientially: it refers to knowing or not knowing persons (Gen. 29:5; Ex. 1:8) personally or by reputation (Job 19:13). The word also refers to knowing a person sexually (Gen. 4:1; 19:5; 1 Ki. 1:4). It may even describe knowing or not knowing God or foreign gods (Ex. 5:2; Deut. 11:28; Hos. 2:20; 8:2), but it especially signifies knowing what to do or think in general, especially with respect to God (Isa. 1:3; 56:10). One of its most important uses is depicting God's knowledge of people: The Lord knows their hearts entirely (Ex. 33:12; 2 Sam. 7:20; Ps. 139:4; Jer. 17:9; Hos. 5:3); God knows the suffering of His people (Ex. 2:25), and He cares (The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament)
Paul Gilchrist - yādaʿ is used of God's knowledge of man (Genesis 18:19; Deut. 34:10) and his ways (Isaiah 48:8; Psalm 1:6; Psalm 37:18), which knowledge begins even before birth (Jeremiah 1:5). God also knows the fowl (Psalm 50:11). yādaʿ is also used for man's knowledge and for that of animals (Isaiah 1:3). The participle occurs in phrases describing skill in hunting (Genesis 25:27), learning (Isaiah 29:11-13), lamentation (Amos 5:16), sailing the sea (2 Chron. 8:18), and playing an instrument (1 Samuel 16:16). In certain contexts it means "to distinguish." "To know good and evil" (Genesis 3:5, 22) is the result of disobeying God. To distinguish between these is necessary for the king (2 Samuel 19:36). A child cannot distinguish between the left and right hands (Jonah 4:11) nor between good and evil (Deut. 1:39; Isaiah 7:15). The context of the latter passage and the similar statement in Isaiah 8:4 may indicate that the reference is to a child's not being able to distinguish what is beneficial and harmful. While ordinarily gained by experience, knowledge is also the contemplative perception possessed by the wise man (Proverbs 1:4; Proverbs 2:6; Proverbs 5:2; Eccles. 1:18). yādaʿ is used to express acquaintance with a person in such statements as "do you know Laban?" (Genesis 29:5; Exodus 1:8; 2 Samuel 3:25). The Pual participle designates kinfolk (2 Kings 10:11, etc.) and acquaintances (Job 19:14; Ruth 2:1, etc.). yādaʿ is also used for the most intimate acquaintance. God knows Moses by name and face to face (Exodus 33:17; Deut. 34:10). He knows the Psalmist's sitting and arising (Psalm 139:2). yādaʿ is also used for sexual intercourse on the part of both men and women in the well-known euphemism "Adam knew Eve his wife" and its parallels (Genesis 4:1; Genesis 19:8; Numbers 31:17, 35; Judges 11:39; Judges 21:11; 1 Kings 1:4; 1 Samuel 1:19). It is used to describe sexual perversions such as sodomy (Genesis 19:5; Judges 19:22) and rape (Judges 19:25). In addition to knowledge of secular matters yādaʿ is also used of one's relation to the divine, whether acquaintance with other gods (Deut. 13:3, 7, 14) or with Jehovah (1 Samuel 2:12; 1 Samuel 3:7). The heathen do not know God (Jeremiah 10:25) and neither does Israel, according to the prophets (Jeremiah 4:22). The plagues of Egypt were sent so that the Egyptians might know that Jehovah is God (Exodus 10:2, etc.). He will destroy (Ezekiel 6:7) and restore Israel so that they may know that he is God (Isaiah 60:16). The prophet Ezekiel, in particular, uses the phrase "that you may know" in his threats (Ezekiel 6:7, 10, 13, 14; Ezekiel 7:4, 9, 27, etc.). (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament)
Yada - 872 verses- NAS = ability(1), acknowledge(4), acknowledged(2), acquaintances(5), acquainted(1), aware(6), becomes known(1), bring forth(1), cared(1), chosen(2), clearly understand(2), cohabit(1), comprehend(1), concern(2), concerned(1), consider(3), declare(1), detected(1), directed(1), discern(2), disciplined(1), discovered(3), distinguish(1), endowed(3), experienced(4), experiences(1), familiar friend(1), find(5), found(1), gain(1), had knowledge(1), had relations(6), had...relations(1), has(1), has regard(1), has...knowledge(1), have(4), have relations(3), have...knowledge(2), ignorant*(1), illiterate*(1), indeed learn(1), inform(1), informed(4), instruct(3), instructed(1), intimate friends(1), investigate(2), knew(38), know(542), know for certain(4), know with certainty(1), know assuredly(1), know well(1), knowing(5), knowledge(4), known(65), knows(54), knows well(1), lain*(1), leading(1), learn(7), learned(1), literate*(1), made himself known(2), made it known(1), made myself known(2), made known(10), make himself known(1), make his known(1), make it known(1), make my known(1), make myself known(4), make them known(1), make your known(1), make yourself known(1), make known(14), notice(2), observe(2), perceive(1), perceived(1), possibly know(1), predict(1), professional mourners(1), provided(1), raped(1), read*(1), realize(1), realized(5), recognize(2), recognized(1), regard(1), satisfied*(1), seems(1), show(3), shown(1), skillful(3), sure(1), take knowledge(1), take note(1), take notice(1), taught(2), teach(6), tell(3), tells(1), took notice(1), unaware*(1), unawares*(1), understand(10), understands(1), understood(3), unknown*(1), very well know(1), well aware(1).
Let me encourage you to read through many of these uses of yada in the Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah many of which are very encouraging.
Gen. 3:5; Gen. 3:7; Gen. 3:22; Gen. 4:1; Gen. 4:9; Gen. 4:17; Gen. 4:25; Gen. 8:11; Gen. 9:24; Gen. 12:11; Gen. 15:8; Gen. 15:13; Gen. 18:19; Gen. 18:21; Gen. 19:5; Gen. 19:8; Gen. 19:33; Gen. 19:35; Gen. 20:6; Gen. 20:7; Gen. 21:26; Gen. 22:12; Gen. 24:14; Gen. 24:16; Gen. 24:21; Gen. 25:27; Gen. 27:2; Gen. 28:16; Gen. 29:5; Gen. 30:26; Gen. 30:29; Gen. 31:6; Gen. 31:32; Gen. 33:13; Gen. 38:9; Gen. 38:16; Gen. 38:26; Gen. 39:6; Gen. 39:8; Gen. 41:21; Gen. 41:31; Gen. 41:39; Gen. 42:23; Gen. 42:33; Gen. 42:34; Gen. 43:7; Gen. 43:22; Gen. 44:15; Gen. 44:27; Gen. 45:1; Gen. 47:6; Gen. 48:19; Exod. 1:8; Exod. 2:4; Exod. 2:14; Exod. 2:25; Exod. 3:7; Exod. 3:19; Exod. 4:14; Exod. 5:2; Exod. 6:3; Exod. 6:7; Exod. 7:5; Exod. 7:17; Exod. 8:10; Exod. 8:22; Exod. 9:14; Exod. 9:29; Exod. 9:30; Exod. 10:2; Exod. 10:7; Exod. 10:26; Exod. 11:7; Exod. 14:4; Exod. 14:18; Exod. 16:6; Exod. 16:12; Exod. 16:15; Exod. 18:11; Exod. 18:16; Exod. 18:20; Exod. 21:36; Exod. 23:9; Exod. 29:46; Exod. 31:13; Exod. 32:1; Exod. 32:22; Exod. 32:23; Exod. 33:5; Exod. 33:12; Exod. 33:13; Exod. 33:16; Exod. 33:17; Exod. 34:29; Exod. 36:1; Lev. 4:14; Lev. 4:23; Lev. 4:28; Lev. 5:1; Lev. 5:3; Lev. 5:4; Lev. 5:17; Lev. 5:18; Lev. 23:43; Num. 10:31; Num. 11:16; Num. 12:6; Num. 14:31; Num. 14:34; Num. 16:5; Num. 16:28; Num. 16:30; Num. 20:14; Num. 22:6; Num. 22:19; Num. 22:34; Num. 24:16; Num. 31:17; Num. 31:18; Num. 31:35; Num. 32:23; Deut. 1:13; Deut. 1:15; Deut. 1:39; Deut. 2:7; Deut. 3:19; Deut. 4:9; Deut. 4:35; Deut. 4:39; Deut. 7:9; Deut. 7:15; Deut. 8:2; Deut. 8:3; Deut. 8:5; Deut. 8:16; Deut. 9:2; Deut. 9:3; Deut. 9:6; Deut. 9:24; Deut. 11:2; Deut. 11:28; Deut. 13:2; Deut. 13:3; Deut. 13:6; Deut. 13:13; Deut. 18:21; Deut. 20:20; Deut. 21:1; Deut. 22:2; Deut. 28:33; Deut. 28:36; Deut. 28:64; Deut. 29:4; Deut. 29:6; Deut. 29:16; Deut. 29:26; Deut. 31:13; Deut. 31:21; Deut. 31:27; Deut. 31:29; Deut. 32:17; Deut. 33:9; Deut. 34:6; Deut. 34:10; Jos. 2:4; Jos. 2:5; Jos. 2:9; Jos. 3:4; Jos. 3:7; Jos. 3:10; Jos. 4:22; Jos. 4:24; Jos. 8:14; Jos. 14:6; Jos. 22:22; Jos. 22:31; Jos. 23:13; Jos. 23:14; Jos. 24:31; Jdg. 2:10; Jdg. 3:1; Jdg. 3:2; Jdg. 3:4; Jdg. 6:37; Jdg. 8:16; Jdg. 11:39; Jdg. 13:16; Jdg. 13:21; Jdg. 14:4; Jdg. 15:11; Jdg. 16:9; Jdg. 16:20; Jdg. 17:13; Jdg. 18:5; Jdg. 18:14; Jdg. 19:22; Jdg. 19:25; Jdg. 20:34; Jdg. 21:11; Jdg. 21:12; Ruth 2:11; Ruth 3:3; Ruth 3:4; Ruth 3:11; Ruth 3:14; Ruth 3:18; Ruth 4:4; 1 Sam. 1:19; 1 Sam. 2:12; 1 Sam. 3:7; 1 Sam. 3:13; 1 Sam. 3:20; 1 Sam. 4:6; 1 Sam. 6:2; 1 Sam. 6:3; 1 Sam. 6:9; 1 Sam. 10:8; 1 Sam. 10:11; 1 Sam. 12:17; 1 Sam. 14:3; 1 Sam. 14:12; 1 Sam. 14:38; 1 Sam. 16:3; 1 Sam. 16:16; 1 Sam. 16:18; 1 Sam. 17:28; 1 Sam. 17:46; 1 Sam. 17:47; 1 Sam. 17:55; 1 Sam. 18:28; 1 Sam. 20:3; 1 Sam. 20:7; 1 Sam. 20:9; 1 Sam. 20:30; 1 Sam. 20:33; 1 Sam. 20:39; 1 Sam. 21:2; 1 Sam. 22:3; 1 Sam. 22:6; 1 Sam. 22:15; 1 Sam. 22:17; 1 Sam. 22:22; 1 Sam. 23:9; 1 Sam. 23:17; 1 Sam. 23:22; 1 Sam. 23:23; 1 Sam. 24:11; 1 Sam. 24:20; 1 Sam. 25:11; 1 Sam. 25:17; 1 Sam. 26:4; 1 Sam. 26:12; 1 Sam. 28:1; 1 Sam. 28:2; 1 Sam. 28:9; 1 Sam. 28:14; 1 Sam. 28:15; 1 Sam. 29:9; 2 Sam. 1:5; 2 Sam. 1:10; 2 Sam. 2:26; 2 Sam. 3:25; 2 Sam. 3:26; 2 Sam. 3:37; 2 Sam. 3:38; 2 Sam. 5:12; 2 Sam. 7:20; 2 Sam. 7:21; 2 Sam. 11:16; 2 Sam. 11:20; 2 Sam. 12:22; 2 Sam. 14:1; 2 Sam. 14:20; 2 Sam. 14:22; 2 Sam. 15:11; 2 Sam. 17:8; 2 Sam. 17:10; 2 Sam. 17:19; 2 Sam. 18:29; 2 Sam. 19:6; 2 Sam. 19:20; 2 Sam. 19:22; 2 Sam. 19:35; 2 Sam. 22:44; 2 Sam. 24:2; 2 Sam. 24:13; 1 Ki. 1:4; 1 Ki. 1:11; 1 Ki. 1:18; 1 Ki. 1:27; 1 Ki. 2:5; 1 Ki. 2:9; 1 Ki. 2:15; 1 Ki. 2:32; 1 Ki. 2:37; 1 Ki. 2:42; 1 Ki. 2:44; 1 Ki. 3:7; 1 Ki. 5:3; 1 Ki. 5:6; 1 Ki. 8:38; 1 Ki. 8:39; 1 Ki. 8:43; 1 Ki. 8:60; 1 Ki. 9:27; 1 Ki. 14:2; 1 Ki. 17:24; 1 Ki. 18:12; 1 Ki. 18:36; 1 Ki. 18:37; 1 Ki. 20:7; 1 Ki. 20:13; 1 Ki. 20:22; 1 Ki. 20:28; 1 Ki. 22:3; 2 Ki. 2:3; 2 Ki. 2:5; 2 Ki. 4:1; 2 Ki. 4:9; 2 Ki. 4:39; 2 Ki. 5:7; 2 Ki. 5:8; 2 Ki. 5:15; 2 Ki. 7:12; 2 Ki. 8:12; 2 Ki. 9:11; 2 Ki. 10:10; 2 Ki. 10:11; 2 Ki. 17:26; 2 Ki. 19:19; 2 Ki. 19:27; 1 Chr. 12:32; 1 Chr. 14:2; 1 Chr. 16:8; 1 Chr. 17:18; 1 Chr. 17:19; 1 Chr. 21:2; 1 Chr. 28:9; 1 Chr. 29:17; 2 Chr. 2:7; 2 Chr. 2:8; 2 Chr. 2:12; 2 Chr. 2:13; 2 Chr. 2:14; 2 Chr. 6:29; 2 Chr. 6:30; 2 Chr. 6:33; 2 Chr. 8:18; 2 Chr. 12:8; 2 Chr. 13:5; 2 Chr. 20:12; 2 Chr. 23:13; 2 Chr. 25:16; 2 Chr. 32:13; 2 Chr. 32:31; 2 Chr. 33:13; Neh. 2:16; Neh. 4:11; Neh. 4:15; Neh. 6:16; Neh. 8:12; Neh. 9:10; Neh. 9:14; Neh. 10:28; Neh. 13:10; Est. 1:13; Est. 2:11; Est. 2:22; Est. 4:1; Est. 4:5; Est. 4:11; Est. 4:14; Job 5:24; Job 5:25; Job 5:27; Job 8:9; Job 9:2; Job 9:5; Job 9:21; Job 9:28; Job 10:2; Job 10:13; Job 11:6; Job 11:8; Job 11:11; Job 12:9; Job 13:2; Job 13:18; Job 13:23; Job 14:21; Job 15:9; Job 15:23; Job 18:21; Job 19:6; Job 19:13; Job 19:14; Job 19:25; Job 19:29; Job 20:4; Job 20:20; Job 21:19; Job 21:27; Job 22:13; Job 23:3; Job 23:5; Job 23:10; Job 24:1; Job 24:16; Job 26:3; Job 28:7; Job 28:13; Job 28:23; Job 29:16; Job 30:23; Job 31:6; Job 32:7; Job 32:22; Job 34:2; Job 34:4; Job 34:33; Job 35:15; Job 36:26; Job 37:5; Job 37:7; Job 37:15; Job 37:16; Job 37:19; Job 38:3; Job 38:4; Job 38:5; Job 38:12; Job 38:18; Job 38:21; Job 38:33; Job 39:1; Job 39:2; Job 40:7; Job 42:2; Job 42:3; Job 42:4; Job 42:11; Ps. 1:6; Ps. 4:3; Ps. 9:10; Ps. 9:16; Ps. 9:20; Ps. 14:4; Ps. 16:11; Ps. 18:43; Ps. 20:6; Ps. 25:4; Ps. 25:14; Ps. 31:7; Ps. 31:11; Ps. 32:5; Ps. 35:8; Ps. 35:11; Ps. 35:15; Ps. 36:10; Ps. 37:18; Ps. 39:4; Ps. 39:6; Ps. 40:9; Ps. 41:11; Ps. 44:21; Ps. 46:10; Ps. 48:3; Ps. 50:11; Ps. 51:3; Ps. 51:6; Ps. 53:4; Ps. 55:13; Ps. 56:9; Ps. 59:13; Ps. 67:2; Ps. 69:5; Ps. 69:19; Ps. 71:15; Ps. 73:11; Ps. 73:16; Ps. 73:22; Ps. 74:5; Ps. 74:9; Ps. 76:1; Ps. 77:14; Ps. 77:19; Ps. 78:3; Ps. 78:5; Ps. 78:6; Ps. 79:6; Ps. 79:10; Ps. 81:5; Ps. 82:5; Ps. 83:18; Ps. 87:4; Ps. 88:8; Ps. 88:12; Ps. 88:18; Ps. 89:1; Ps. 89:15; Ps. 90:11; Ps. 90:12; Ps. 91:14; Ps. 92:6; Ps. 94:11; Ps. 95:10; Ps. 98:2; Ps. 100:3; Ps. 101:4; Ps. 103:7; Ps. 103:14; Ps. 104:19; Ps. 105:1; Ps. 106:8; Ps. 109:27; Ps. 119:75; Ps. 119:79; Ps. 119:125; Ps. 119:152; Ps. 135:5; Ps. 138:6; Ps. 139:1; Ps. 139:2; Ps. 139:4; Ps. 139:14; Ps. 139:23; Ps. 140:12; Ps. 142:3; Ps. 143:8; Ps. 144:3; Ps. 145:12; Ps. 147:20; Prov. 1:2; Prov. 1:23; Prov. 3:6; Prov. 4:1; Prov. 4:19; Prov. 5:6; Prov. 7:23; Prov. 9:9; Prov. 9:13; Prov. 9:18; Prov. 10:9; Prov. 10:32; Prov. 12:10; Prov. 12:16; Prov. 14:7; Prov. 14:10; Prov. 14:33; Prov. 17:27; Prov. 22:19; Prov. 22:21; Prov. 23:35; Prov. 24:12; Prov. 24:14; Prov. 24:22; Prov. 27:1; Prov. 27:23; Prov. 28:2; Prov. 28:22; Prov. 29:7; Prov. 30:3; Prov. 30:4; Prov. 30:18; Prov. 31:23; Eccl. 1:17; Eccl. 2:14; Eccl. 2:19; Eccl. 3:12; Eccl. 3:14; Eccl. 3:21; Eccl. 4:13; Eccl. 5:1; Eccl. 6:5; Eccl. 6:8; Eccl. 6:10; Eccl. 6:12; Eccl. 7:22; Eccl. 7:25; Eccl. 8:1; Eccl. 8:5; Eccl. 8:7; Eccl. 8:12; Eccl. 8:16; Eccl. 8:17; Eccl. 9:1; Eccl. 9:5; Eccl. 9:11; Eccl. 9:12; Eccl. 10:14; Eccl. 10:15; Eccl. 11:2; Eccl. 11:5; Eccl. 11:6; Eccl. 11:9; Cant. 1:8; Cant. 6:12; Isa. 1:3; Isa. 5:5; Isa. 5:19; Isa. 6:9; Isa. 7:15; Isa. 7:16; Isa. 8:4; Isa. 9:9; Isa. 12:4; Isa. 12:5; Isa. 19:12; Isa. 19:21; Isa. 29:11; Isa. 29:12; Isa. 29:15; Isa. 29:24; Isa. 33:13; Isa. 37:20; Isa. 37:28; Isa. 38:19; Isa. 40:13; Isa. 40:14; Isa. 40:21; Isa. 40:28; Isa. 41:20; Isa. 41:22; Isa. 41:23; Isa. 41:26; Isa. 42:16; Isa. 42:25; Isa. 43:10; Isa. 43:19; Isa. 44:8; Isa. 44:9; Isa. 44:18; Isa. 45:3; Isa. 45:4; Isa. 45:5; Isa. 45:6; Isa. 45:20; Isa. 47:8; Isa. 47:11; Isa. 47:13; Isa. 48:4; Isa. 48:6; Isa. 48:7; Isa. 48:8; Isa. 49:23; Isa. 49:26; Isa. 50:4; Isa. 50:7; Isa. 51:7; Isa. 52:6; Isa. 53:3; Isa. 55:5; Isa. 56:10; Isa. 56:11; Isa. 58:3; Isa. 59:8; Isa. 59:12; Isa. 60:16; Isa. 61:9; Isa. 63:16; Isa. 64:2; Isa. 66:14; Jer. 1:5; Jer. 1:6; Jer. 2:8; Jer. 2:19; Jer. 2:23; Jer. 3:13; Jer. 4:22; Jer. 5:1; Jer. 5:4; Jer. 5:5; Jer. 5:15; Jer. 6:15; Jer. 6:18; Jer. 6:27; Jer. 7:9; Jer. 8:7; Jer. 8:12; Jer. 9:3; Jer. 9:6; Jer. 9:16; Jer. 9:24; Jer. 10:23; Jer. 10:25; Jer. 11:18; Jer. 11:19; Jer. 12:3; Jer. 13:12; Jer. 14:18; Jer. 14:20; Jer. 15:14; Jer. 15:15; Jer. 16:13; Jer. 16:21; Jer. 17:4; Jer. 17:9; Jer. 17:16; Jer. 18:23; Jer. 19:4; Jer. 22:28; Jer. 24:7; Jer. 26:15; Jer. 28:9; Jer. 29:11; Jer. 29:23; Jer. 31:19; Jer. 31:34; Jer. 32:8; Jer. 33:3; Jer. 36:19; Jer. 38:24; Jer. 40:14; Jer. 40:15; Jer. 41:4; Jer. 42:19; Jer. 42:22; Jer. 44:3; Jer. 44:15; Jer. 44:28; Jer. 44:29; Jer. 48:17; Jer. 48:30; Jer. 50:24; Ezek. 2:5; Ezek. 5:13; Ezek. 6:7; Ezek. 6:10; Ezek. 6:13; Ezek. 6:14; Ezek. 7:4; Ezek. 7:9; Ezek. 7:27; Ezek. 10:20; Ezek. 11:5; Ezek. 11:10; Ezek. 11:12; Ezek. 12:15; Ezek. 12:16; Ezek. 12:20; Ezek. 13:9; Ezek. 13:14; Ezek. 13:21; Ezek. 13:23; Ezek. 14:8; Ezek. 14:23; Ezek. 15:7; Ezek. 16:2; Ezek. 16:62; Ezek. 17:12; Ezek. 17:21; Ezek. 17:24; Ezek. 20:4; Ezek. 20:5; Ezek. 20:9; Ezek. 20:11; Ezek. 20:12; Ezek. 20:20; Ezek. 20:26; Ezek. 20:38; Ezek. 20:42; Ezek. 20:44; Ezek. 21:5; Ezek. 22:2; Ezek. 22:16; Ezek. 22:22; Ezek. 22:26; Ezek. 23:49; Ezek. 24:24; Ezek. 24:27; Ezek. 25:5; Ezek. 25:7; Ezek. 25:11; Ezek. 25:14; Ezek. 25:17; Ezek. 26:6; Ezek. 28:19; Ezek. 28:22; Ezek. 28:23; Ezek. 28:24; Ezek. 28:26; Ezek. 29:6; Ezek. 29:9; Ezek. 29:16; Ezek. 29:21; Ezek. 30:8; Ezek. 30:19; Ezek. 30:25; Ezek. 30:26; Ezek. 32:9; Ezek. 32:15; Ezek. 33:29; Ezek. 33:33; Ezek. 34:27; Ezek. 34:30; Ezek. 35:4; Ezek. 35:9; Ezek. 35:11; Ezek. 35:12; Ezek. 35:15; Ezek. 36:11; Ezek. 36:23; Ezek. 36:32; Ezek. 36:36; Ezek. 36:38; Ezek. 37:3; Ezek. 37:6; Ezek. 37:13; Ezek. 37:14; Ezek. 37:28; Ezek. 38:14; Ezek. 38:16; Ezek. 38:23; Ezek. 39:6; Ezek. 39:7; Ezek. 39:22; Ezek. 39:23; Ezek. 39:28; Ezek. 43:11; Ezek. 44:23; Dan. 1:4; Dan. 2:3; Dan. 8:19; Dan. 9:25; Dan. 10:20; Dan. 11:32; Dan. 11:38; Hos. 2:8; Hos. 2:20; Hos. 5:3; Hos. 5:4; Hos. 5:9; Hos. 6:3; Hos. 7:9; Hos. 8:2; Hos. 8:4; Hos. 9:7; Hos. 11:3; Hos. 13:4; Hos. 13:5; Hos. 14:9; Joel 2:14; Joel 2:27; Joel 3:17; Amos 3:2; Amos 3:10; Amos 5:12; Amos 5:16; Jon. 1:7; Jon. 1:10; Jon. 1:12; Jon. 3:9; Jon. 4:2; Jon. 4:11; Mic. 3:1; Mic. 4:12; Mic. 6:5; Nah. 1:7; Nah. 3:17; Hab. 2:14; Hab. 3:2; Zeph. 3:5; Zech. 2:9; Zech. 2:11; Zech. 4:5; Zech. 4:9; Zech. 4:13; Zech. 6:15; Zech. 7:14; Zech. 11:11; Zech. 14:7; Mal. 2:4
A Sermon PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, OCTOBER 15TH, 1914. DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
“The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant.”—Psalm 25:14.
THIS text is a great deep, but at the outset we must say that we have neither the time nor the skill at this time to attempt to fathom it. Our business just now is not so much to dive into its profound mystery, as to skim over its sparkling surface, to touch it with our wing as the swallow sometimes does the brook, leaving its soundings still unexplored. The current of thought here is too deep and too broad for the short meditation of a week-day evening. But where the very surface is rich, as it were, with “dust of gold,” we cannot fail, if God the Holy Spirit bless us, to be enriched by even the superficial reflections we may gather up from it.
“The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.” Mark the word used—“THE LORD”—Jehovah in the original;—the I AM THAT I AM. The very name is associated in the thought of every right-minded person with awe. Is it not the name of the one only living and true God; and none that take it in vain shall be held guiltless? The gods of the heathen are no gods, but our God made the heavens. It is by him that the heavens were outstretched as a curtain, and as a tent to dwell in. He is the Preserver of all things. In him “we live, and move, and have our being.” As we find him manifested, both in the book of Nature and in the book of Revelation he is a God “glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders.” The Lord is a good God, and we cannot think of him without awe. If you have ever heard his voice in pealing thunder or the rolling avalanche, or if you have seen the flashing of his spear in the lightning of the tempest, or if you have marked his going upon the mighty waves of the tempestuous sea, you must have felt within yourselves that he is high and mighty—in truth, a terrible God! Yet it seems from our text that there are some persons in the world in whom all emotions of dread in connection with God are suppressed by feelings of quite another kind. Though clouds and darkness are round about him, they have evidently passed through the clouds, and have come to the other side of the darkness, for “the secret of the Lord is with them.” Before him goes the pestilence, and hot burning coals are cast forth at his feet; but these persons must evidently have been preserved from the devouring pestilence by some mysterious power, and have escaped those burning coals by some gracious deliverance. They have come into familiarity with God; they know his secret, and he shows to them what he does not make known to other men, his covenant, the counsel of his will. There are such persons in the world now, to whom the Eternal Majesty is so tempered by Infinite Mercy that they can devoutly sing:—
The God who rules on high,
And thunders when he please,
Who rides upon the stormy skies,
And manages the seas.
This awful God is ours,
Our Father and our Love;
He shall send down his heavenly powers
To carry us above.
Think of “the Lord,” then, according to this grand revelation of his name—Jehovah. Oh! that your thoughts of him might bow you down with the lowly worship of the bright cherubim, and make you veil your faces as they do! Oh! that you might be led to feel how great God is, and how little you are! Oh! that grace were now given you to draw near to God, and that the passage on which we have alighted might become a place of communion with him.
Observe, then, first of all, a glorious privilege which may be possessed; secondly, a favoured class of people who do possess it; and thirdly, a choice and peculiar manifestation which God makes to them.
I. THERE IS A GLORIOUS PRIVILEGE WHICH MAY BE POSSESSED.
The word “secret” here might, with greater propriety, be translated “friendship.” “The friendship of the Lord is with them that fear him,” but it also signifies in its root that conversation which familiar friends hold with each other. Conversation in its most cherished exercise, that homely intercourse which springs from mutual confidence, and is on the part of one man the unbosoming of himself to another, is thus implied. If I may open it up in a phrase, it means, “The amity of true friendship.” Such is the favour vouchsafed to those who fear God. But taking the word as it stands (for I dare say the translators weighed all these variations well before they chose the one before us), we will endeavour to give amplitude to the sense, while we keep to the word “secret.”
Beyond a doubt, then, those who fear God have the secret of his presence revealed to them. If a man rambles amidst the wonders of nature with an atheistic heart, he may look up to the snowy peaks, and down again upon the sweet grassy slopes; he may listen to the music of the waterfall; he may stand and admire the eagle as he soars aloft, or watch the wild goat as he leaps from crag to crag, and all these things may be to him but so much animated nature—matter in so many various shapes, and nothing more. I suppose it is possible for men to be familiar with all that is beautiful and sublime in the world of nature, that “living visible garment of God,” and yet never catch the secret of his presence, the traces of his handiwork, or the whisper of his voice. How different it is with the man who fears God, who has bowed before God’s justice, and seen it satisfied through the atoning sacrifice of Calvary! Such a man, as he looks upon the things that are made, those silent witnesses of the eternal power and Godhead, says, “My Father made them all!”
“Not hear God?” saith he; “I as distinctly heard God speak in the thunder-clap, as I have heard my own father’s voice!” Not see God? Why, the veil seems thin that hides his glorious features, while the works shine transparent that unveil his wondrous attributes; so that to the Christian it becomes a moral phenomenon that there should be people in the world who can survey the gorgeous plan, the unfailing order, and the ample furniture, as it were, of this earth, with its wonderful adaptation of the means to the end, and then peer upwards to the heavens so grandly garnished, and contemplate the celestial bodies, ever restless, ever orderly in their motions, yet fail to apprehend the greatness, the wisdom, the goodness of the Creator. To us he is apparent everywhere:—
These are thy works, Father of good, Almighty!
Thine this universal frame!
He knows, he feels that, fallen as he is, he can, while walking through this world, commune with God, as Adam did ere Paradise to him was lost. The secret of God’s presence is with them that fear him. We have heard of some who have said that they have never had any consciousness of the existence of spirit. Very likely; very likely. I do not suppose, either that pigs or asses, or any dumb driven cattle, ever had any spiritual apprehensions. But some of us have a very clear consciousness thereof, and, as honest men giving testimony, we claim to be believed. Nay, what is more, we are certain that we have not only a consciousness of the existence of spirit, but of a great and all-pervading Spirit we have a like clear knowledge. We cannot be mistaken about it. We are as sure that there is a God as we are that there is a world; nay, sometimes more persuaded of the one than of the other. It is a part of our real consciousness. We have come to feel it, not merely in our imaginative moods, but when all our faculties were in full play; the secret of the existence of the pervading presence of God is with us if we fear him. Nay, it is not only in the open fields, amidst the enchanting scenery of the world, but much more in shady nooks and secluded places that we have found that Presence. Some months ago, I sat by the side of a woman who had not left her bed for several years. It was in a sloping room at the top of a cottage; the only walls were just the plastering that roofed it in. The room was hung round with texts of Scripture, which she had painted as she had been lying there. She was always full of pain; restless nights and weary days were her constant lot. When I sat down to talk to her, she said, “You cannot tell how the presence of God has made this room seem to me, sir! It has been such a palace that I have not envied kings upon their thrones when I have enjoyed the visits of Christ here. Though I have not known a wakeful hour free from pain for years, I assure you this chamber has been a very heaven to me.” She was not an excitable, hysterical, silly, weak-minded woman. Far from that, she was as simple and sincere a creature as you might have found in fifty miles’ walk. The daughter of an honest, smock-frocked labourer, and his quiet, godly wife. There was this poor woman declaring that God was ever in her room. As I talked with her, I began to feel that her witness was true, and to think that I had not felt more conscious of the presence of the Almighty among the baseless, boundless mountains, or upon the watery plain of the vast ocean, where mighty waves in ceaseless concert roll, or even in the midst of the vast congregation, when on the Sabbath our solemn hymns, the outflow of feeling hearts, have swelled to heaven with music such as pleases well the ear of God. Thus I did then perceive the mysterious secret of his presence when I lingered by the lowly couch of his suffering saint. Why, had some sceptic called in there, and merely suggested that “there is no God,” we should have laughed him to scorn; or else, peradventure, our pity for this ignorance might have turned our laughter into tears. Truly the secret of God’s presence everywhere is with them that fear him. They trust him, they love him, they lean upon him, and they get to feel that he is, and they have communion with him as a man communeth with his friend.
And this secret of God’s presence leads to the discerning of his hand. To the man who looks no higher than second causes, things that baffle his shallow wits like a continued drought in spring, or unintermitting rain in harvest, seem alike dreadful and bewildering. Though he cannot understand, perhaps, the laws of fluidity, he is likely enough to murmur at the dispensations that frustrate his conjectures; but the Christian says, “I believe that God ordains every drop of rain, or withholds every genial shower, when he binds up the bottles of heaven. I can find philosophy in faith. And here he is right. It has well been said, “There is more wisdom in a whispered prayer than in the ancient lore of all the schools”; and wonderful it is how this simple, silent trust gives the Christian man calmness and composure. At sea, when the tempest rages and the billows roar, the man who knows of nothing but the devouring element beneath and around him, full of alarm, may sigh to the winds; but the Christian, who firmly believes that God holds the sea in the hollow of his hand, and that “all must come, and last, and end, as shall please his heavenly Friend,” waits the leisure of the righteous God, commits his way unto him, assured that he hath control over the storm and fulfils his great decrees, unmoved by threatening clouds or scolding winds. Faith feeds his fortitude. Listening with the ears of faith, he constantly hears the footfalls of Jehovah. In the loneliness of his sorrow, he catches a sweet whisper, saying to him, “It is I; be not afraid.” The divine presence, and the divine hand, mysteriously hidden though they be from all mortal eyes, are discerned by such as live in fellowship with God, for “the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.”
Hence it is that the child of God carries on a secret intercourse with heaven. See him on his knees: he talks with God; he pours out his heart before the Lord; and in return—whether the world chooses to believe it or not, it is a matter of fact with us—in return the great Invisible Spirit pours into the praying heart a stream of sacred comfort, stays it in its time of trouble, and gives it to rejoice in its moments of sadness. Oh! some of you are living witnesses that God talks with men. Had you never talked with him, you would not be qualified to speak upon this question, but knowing that he hears you, and being conscious that he also answers you and speaks to you, you can declare, and rejoice in the declaration, that the secret of the Lord in this respect is with you. Why, the Christian makes communications to God of such a sort as he would not venture to make to his fellow-men. I consider the confession of sins to a priest most degrading to that priest. To make his ear the common sewer of all the filth of a parish is horrible, and for any man to tell out his sin at all to another is depraving to his own mind. But to tell it to God is a different matter; to lay bare his bosom, to let its inmost secrets be exposed to the great Searcher of hearts, to pour out what one cannot say in words, nor even perhaps convey with signs before the great eye which still sees, the great Searcher who discerns it all. Oh! this is blessed! Every child of God can say, when he is in a right state, that there is no reserve or disguise in the dealings of his soul with God. Is there a care which I dare not cast on him? Is there a sin which I would not humbly and tearfully confess before him? Is there a want for which I would not seek relief from him? Is there a dilemma in which I would not consult him? Is there ought so confidential that I may not divulge to man, which I may not breathe out to my God? Oh! when we are in spiritual health, we do verily pour our hearts before the Lord to the very dregs. We wear our heart upon our sleeve as we draw near to the Most High. I tell him all my woes and weaknesses, and all my sorrows, and sins likewise, so my secret is with him. Then the Lord is pleased in return to manifest himself unto his people. He shows to his trustful saints what he never shows to faithless sinners. When the sinner reads the Bible, he sees only the letter, that is all he can see; but the Christian sees the Spirit of the Word. He perceives that “within this awful volume lies the mystery of mysteries”; and he is one of those:—
“Happiest of the human race,
To whom their God hath given grace
To read, to fear, to hope, to pray,
To lift the latch to force the way.”
Thus he enters into the secret chamber of revelation, while the unconverted, the unregenerated, the unsanctified, stand in the outside court, and find no entrance within the veil. The heart of God is poured out into the Christian’s heart, so far as the infinite can discover itself to the finite; and as we tell the Lord what we are, he is pleased to tell us what he is. Surely, dear friends, as these intercommunications go on, it would be hard to say how richly the inmost secrets of God may become known to his privileged people. Shall I be understood if I say that man may know a great deal more than he thinks he knows; he may know more of God than he knows he knows; for it is one thing to know, and another thing to know that we know. Do you notice how John says, “That we may know that we know him”?—as if we might know him, and yet be hardly able to recognise how much we know him. Now, many a time you have known the secret decrees of God, though you have not known that you knew them. “Oh!” say you, “how is that?” Well, God decreed, purposed, and determined to save such and such a soul; you felt an irresistible impulse to go and pray for that soul as you had never prayed before. You mentioned that particular person by name before God, and then you went out and exercised all the spiritual grace you had in order to bring that soul to the knowledge of the truth; and God blessed your endeavour, and that soul was saved. Now, how was this? Why, the secret purpose of God had been made to act mysteriously upon you; you have become God’s instrument, his conscious instrument, in the fulfilment of it; and thus you were made privy to the decree, though scarcely aware that you were so. I do think there is such a harmony between the feeling of Christians and the purposes of God that you and I can never tell where these twain do unite, or where they separate. It often seems as if the Lord said to his people, “Now, I have ordained such and such things, in the volume of my book they are written, and you shall desire and purpose just such things in your heart; and so the things that are in your heart shall carry out the things that are in my book; I will not let you know it so as to go and tell it to others, but I will make you so know it that you will go and act upon it; I will let the secret of the Lord be with you.” We know not how often God gives his people premonitions of what he is about to do, nor how frequently, unknown to ourselves, we take a course of action which is precisely the right course, without our knowing why we took it, only that we are led and guided by the Holy Spirit into such a track. I believe that this is especially the case with the ministry of the Word. I have sometimes been very sharply taxed about this matter. I was a few days ago upbraided by a good soul for exposing all her faults from the pulpit. I have been, not merely now and then, but very often, thought by some people to be so dreadfully personal that they did not know how they could bear it; and yet I never saw those people, except from the pulpit, and did not know anything at all about them. The Word of God is quick and powerful, and “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” When, therefore, we ask God to direct us in speaking his Word, it is no marvel that the effect is searching. Ah! and did we always, with all our hearts, give ourselves up to the motions of his Holy Spirit, we should be led and guided in a mysterious manner which we ourselves should scarcely understand, and make full proof of the fact that the “secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.”
I will venture to say that the Christian gets to know more of God, of the real essence of God, by grace than all the philosophies in the world could ever have taught him. I read of God that he is a loving Father; that he is gracious towards the children of men. Now, if I fear him with a filial reverence, he disposes me, by his grace, to love the souls of men: makes me tender and compassionate. Thus I get to apprehend, by a devout sympathy, something of what his love, and tenderness, and compassion must be. To meditate upon the attributes of God is one means of seeking knowledge; but to be conformed to his image is quite another way of understanding him. Not till God makes you like himself can you know what he is. In proportion, then, as we grow in grace, and bring forth the fruits of the Spirit more abundantly, we shall be more and more admitted into the secret of the Lord. The day is coming, beloved, when we shall know more of God by our hearts—to say nothing of our heads, which probably never will be able to find out the Almighty to perfection—we shall know more of God by our hearts than we ever thought it possible to know, because our hearts shall be filled with himself; everything obnoxious to him shall be chased out, and we shall be like his only begotten Son, dwelling in his light, and basking in his love for ever. “The secret of the Lord,” as to his very character, “is with them that fear him. As they thus go from strength to strength, their heart pulsates with a love like the divine love; their souls yearn towards sinners with a benevolence like the divine benevolence; they begin to make sacrifices comparable, in kind, though not in degree, to the great sacrifice of God when he spared not his only-begotten Son. Their bowels move; their spirit yearns; they cry over souls, as God is said to cry over them. “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? How shall I make thee as Admah? How shall I set thee as Zeboim? Mine heart is turned within me; my repentings are kindled together. Whenever God would picture himself to us, he uses words suitable to our nature. But oh! how passing wonderful shall it be when God shall be seen in us, and we shall see God in ourselves; and so shall see God! That blessed promise, “The pure in heart shall see God,” is but another rendering of our text—“The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.” I wish it were in my power to explore this testimony of the Lord more fully, and expound it more clearly; but for the present I must leave these few simple thoughts with you, and pass on to observe that we have:—
II. A REFERENCE TO A FAVOURED CLASS OF INDIVIDUALS.
A peculiar privilege is conferred on a peculiar people; for it seems that the secret of the Lord is with some men, but not with others. Who are they who possess this sacred boon? A great outcry has been raised in this country of late about class and class interests. In our manufacturing districts particularly, the rights of the upper class, who find the capital, and the claims of the working class, who bring their skill and labour into the market, are paraded before us in hot debates, which often lead to an angry lock-out on the part of the employers, or a sullen strike on the part of the employed. Such feuds seldom bring much credit to either party. A great deal may be said concerning some of each to their praise, and not a little concerning some of both to their censure. So long as the struggle lasts, it must cause much heart-burning. I would the day were come when all this class-talk was over, that we felt and acknowledged the common ties and mutual obligations by which all men depend upon all men; each class being dependent for its welfare and prosperity upon each other class, even as “God hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell upon the face of the earth.” Still, there always will be a favoured class. God has so ordained it. But let me say they will neither be accepted because they are rich, nor rejected because they are poor. The favoured class before the Lord hath nothing to do with any position in society.
“None are excluded thence, but those
Who do themselves exclude;
Welcome the learned and polite,
The ignorant and rude.”
Neither hath this secret of the Lord ought to do with education. It is not with every Oxford graduate; it is only with a very few of them! The secret of the Lord is not with every Cambridge M.A., nor with every man who has taken his degree at any university. You may read the Scriptures in the original languages; with Hebrew and Greek you may be familiar. Excellent and profitable studies they are, but you cannot discover the secret of the Lord by mere classical attainments. No mathematical researches or astronomical observation can discover it to you. In vain does one mount to heaven and thread the spheres; alike in vain does another walk the earth, and conjure the old rocks to tell him what happened before Adam held the lease of its broad acres, or tilled its soil. No, it is beyond the province of human learning, as it is foreign to the privilege of creature rank. Some people think that the secret of the Lord is lodged in mystic rites, and draped in gorgeous ceremonies. There is among us a sect of ritualists, which professes to have acquired it. They pretend to derive it from some man in lawn sleeves who put his hand on their heads; and if they cannot exactly communicate it themselves, yet they can communicate a great deal, for they affirm that every little child sprinkled by them becomes, without more ado, a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven! With their guild I have no fellowship; of their weird arts I know little. Still, they say it is so, and it is all right with the little ones, no doubt, if they die in infancy, for are they not buried in consecrated clay? Listen to these gentlemen, these “successors of the apostles,” these men who have “gifts” which empower them to declare and pronounce absolution and remission of sins. Do you hear the Gospel from them? Well, you may from some of them, but then they tell you that they do not believe in the literal construction of the words they are paid to repeat, so they deliberately utter a lie! Or listen to others of them. Do they give you the gospel? Nay; they display themselves in petticoats and embroidered vestments, and such apparel as it were unlawful to appear in, save only when they are acting in their ecclesiastical theatres. You get no gospel truth from them, nothing but priestcraft from beginning to end. Were they honest they would go at once to Babylon, to Rome, to the Mother of Abominations, and consort with their own kindred. Thus we say the rite of ordination confers no privileges, and restrains no abuses. It does not teach a man the secret of the Lord, for the best ordained priest in England may still be as ignorant of God, our enemies themselves being judges, as if he had never been ordained at all. To whom, then, is it given to know the secret of the Lord, but to those who fear him, and hallow his name? To be conscious that I have sinned; to be humbled before God on account of it; to behold Jesus Christ as the way of atonement; to accept Christ as my Saviour; to come to God blessing him that I am saved through his dear Son; to feel a love to God because of his grace to me; to yield up myself to his service; by his Holy Spirit to be led to live to his Glory—this it is to fear him, and thus it is that his secret is with me. “Why,” says one, “then the secret of the Lord may be with any poor servant-girl!” Bless the Lord it may! “Oh! then,” says another, “the secret of the Lord may be with any humble workman, even though he be an illiterate and uneducated man?” Yes, certainly it may! “Then,” says yet another, “what becomes of the priesthood?” Why, I answer, we are all made priests. If we fear the Lord, we are admitted and initiated into the secret mysteries of religion; we become instructed in the way of the Lord, the Holy Spirit having promised that he will teach us all things, and bring all things to our remembrance, whatsoever Christ has told us. Though we cannot claim rank, nor wealth, nor diploma, we can yet humbly say, “The secret of the Lord is with us, for he has taught us, by his grace, how to live upon him, how to trust him, how to serve him.” “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.”
Dost thou answer to this description, my dear hearer? Dost thou walk in the fear of the Lord? Says one, “I am a member of a Dissenting church.” I do not inquire about that, for it has nothing to do with the secret. Dost thou fear God, I ask thee? “Well,” says another, “I have always done my duty ever since I can remember, from my youth up.” That is thy duty toward man, and it is well that thou shouldst never neglect it. But dost thou fear the Lord? Is the Lord the subject of thy thoughts, the object of thy love? And dost thou, therefore, revere and worship him? If so, the promise is thine, and the privilege shall not be withheld from thee. “I want to know,” says one, “which is right among all the contending sects.” Well, go thou to the Bible; search the Scriptures; yet not as one who is proud of his own wits, but rather as one who feareth the Lord greatly, and inquires at his holy oracle prayerfully. Then, although you may not find every knotty point solved, or every quibble settled, you shall surely find this saying good, “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children.” Come to the Lord for instruction, and there is nothing in his Word which he will keep back from thee any more than from others, for “the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.” And come to the Lord for guidance, and thou shalt not be left in doubt what fellowship of believers to join, for “it shall come to pass that in what tribe the stranger sojourneth, there shall ye give him his inheritance, saith the Lord God.” The last thing we have to notice is:—
III. THE CHOICE AND PECULIAR MANIFESTATIONS WHICH GOD MAKES TO HIS PEOPLE.
He will show them his covenant. What a soft, sweet, encouraging assurance this covenant gives us! To see God in covenant is to find grace in his eyes. To serve a covenant God is perfect freedom and exquisite delight. God out of Christ is a consuming fire. Luther was wont to say, “I will have nothing to do with an absolute God.” The fear with which we think of God is all terror, dread, and fright, in which we exceedingly tremble and quake, until he unveils himself in this mellow light of the covenant of peace. For what could the vision do but scare me to destruction? But God, in the covenant of his dear Son, is the hope, the desire, the delight of everyone that is godly; and their fear is not that of horror, but that of homage. What, then, does God teach his people concerning his covenant? Much every way. He shows them that his covenant is everlasting. It was made in Christ before the world began. It abides steadfast, and will for ever remain unchangeable So sure is it, that every blessing it provides is unconditional and irrevocable, being entailed upon all those who have an interest in its gracious provisions. He teaches them the fulness of this covenant, that it contains all that is necessary for the life that now is, and for that which is to come. He teaches them the freeness of this covenant; that it was made with them in Christ Jesus, not because of their good works, but because of the abounding of his grace towards them. He teaches them that this covenant is not the result of their tears or vows, their penitence or prayer, but that it is the cause of all these; ordered in all things and sure, it comprises all that their needs could lack, and all that their hearts could crave; it is all their salvation and all their desire. The Lord then shows his people that this covenant was made on their behalf. Ah! there is the beauty of it!
Each one of the blood-bought trophies of mercy is led to see that the covenant was made with David’s Lord for him. So each heir of heaven sets to his seal that God is true, and makes David’s protest his own—“Though my house be not so with God, yet he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure.” He also shows his people that this covenant is made with them by sacrifice through the precious blood of Jesus, wherein God smells a sweet savour of rest. No covenant could avail them, except it were a covenant made with blood and based on propitiation. They understand that the old covenant of works broke through because the first Adam was not able to carry out his part of it. God spoke to Adam after this manner, “If thou wilt be obedient, thou and thy children shall be happy.” That “if” proved fatal. Adam could not observe the condition. The second covenant is on another footing. It was made with Christ. “If thou wilt be obedient, thou and those in thee shall be blessed.” Christ was obedient; he kept the law; he suffered to the death his Father’s will; and we come, without an “if” or a “but” to inherit the blessing which Christ has merited for us. Now it is no more, “If you do this, I will do that”; it is, “You shall do this, and I will do that.” “A new heart will I give you; and a right spirit will I put within you; you shall repent of sin; you shall follow in my ways; you shall love me; you shall serve me; you shall persevere in holiness; and I will bless you.” There is not an “if,” nor a “but,” nor a “per-adventure” to foul the stream of God’s loving-kindness. The covenant was made with every elect soul in Christ beyond the hazard of a doubt, and beyond the chance of a forfeiture.
Oh! soul, hath God ever shown thee this covenant? Do I hear anyone murmur that it is a horrible doctrine? Then I am quite certain he has never been shown it. Or do I hear another affirm, that were he to believe it, he should live in sin? I think very likely he would; I do not doubt it. To sin is your propensity, whatever you believe. But mind this, I do not exhort you to believe in that which has never been revealed to you, and has nothing to do with you. But yet another voice greets my ear; it is that of a penitent, who says, “I do come to Christ just as I am; I welcome the promise; I thank God there is now nothing left for me to do in order to make the promise sure, or to make the covenant fast; I am a poor, lost, undone soul, and throw myself at the foot of the bloody tree; I look up to the Saviour and say, ‘Jesus, I trust thee to save me; I altogether trust thee; I believe thou hast saved me—saved me in such a way that I can never be lost, for the covenant that was made with me never can be broken, and I shall never be cast away.’ ” Sure, then, dear friend, thou hast no wish to pamper with the lusts of the flesh, or to wallow in uncleaness. The doctrine does not instigate thee to live in sin. Thou wouldest be a monster indeed if it did. Nay, thou wilt say, “If God has made a covenant with me, saved me from the curse, and endowed me with blessing, out of gratitude to him, what is there I can render to him for all his benefits? Nothing shall be too hard, nothing too heavy:—
“ ‘Loved of my God, for him again
With love intense I burn;
Chosen of him ere time began,
I choose him in return.’ ”
Let slaves go and work under the rod of the task-master if they will! Let the sons of the bondwoman pour contempt on the inheritance of the seed of promise if they like; but a seed shall serve him, and it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. The child of God has been shown the covenant; hence he knows he shall never be cast out of the family, for the love of the Father towards him will never change. He cannot love us more; he will not love us less. Such love in him begets more love in us. What manner of men ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness! “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant.”
I can only pray that some hearts may be led to look to Jesus, that they may discover the choice secret. Christ is not only a party to the covenant, and the Representative of the covenant, but he is the very impersonation of the covenant itself. “I will give him,” saith the Lord, “to be a covenant for the people.” Oh! if you have looked to Christ, you need not despair. He is holy, he is true, he hath the key of David, which can unlock the secret treasury in which are stored all covenant blessings. Fear him; it is the beginning of wisdom. Trust him; it is the first breath of faith. Desire him, as new-born babes crave milk. Oh! that the fear of the Lord may haunt you through the watches of the night, and abide with you all the day long. So may the Lord bless you now and for ever. Amen.
The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him;
And he will shew them his covenant.—Ps. 25:14.
WHEN the Hebrew poet spoke of the secret of the Lord he meant the knowledge of the God of Israel, the unseen and eternal Jehovah. When he thought of them that fear Him, he remembered the stalwart saints who shall ever be the heroic leaders of the faith. He recalled Abraham coming out of Ur of the Chaldees with a wisdom and a knowledge that no Babylonian star-gazer ever divined. He thought of Jacob rising from his midnight dream at Bethel, saying in penitence and awe, “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.” He saw Moses at the burning bush, putting off the shoes from his feet, for the place whereon he stood was holy ground. He remembered Samuel coming out of the temple in the morning light, having heard the voice of God, with a message he dared not tell to Eli. Each of these had entered into a solemn experience. Each of them had come forth with a secret. A new and deeper understanding of God’s ways, and thoughts, and purposes had been given them. He marks the law of their experience. It was the law of fear. They had that fear of God which is an awe and a reverence, a passion of desire to know, and a willingness to submit and to obey. Therefore God made known the secret to them.
¶ Thompson dwells on St. Paul’s unspoken message, which, designated by the name of wisdom, he withheld from many of the Corinthians because they were not fit to hear it. He communicated it to the spiritual not to the animal man. Origen says that that which St. Paul would have called wisdom is found in the “Canticle of Canticles.” Thompson dwells further on the hidden meanings of the Pentateuch, believing that there was “an inexhaustible treasure of divine wisdom concealed under the letter of Holy Writ.” Thompson saw wise men whispering, and guessed that there were secrets; their presence discovered, they were open secrets for such as he. “You have but to direct my sight, and the intentness of my gaze will discover the rest.”
¶ There were three courts in the Temple at Jerusalem. There was the outer court, where even the Gentiles who cared nothing for the God of Israel or the faith of the Hebrew people might freely come. There was the holy place with its sacred things, where only the Hebrew worshipper might walk. There was the most holy place, over which the veil of the Temple hung, and into whose unseen and unknown seclusion the high priest entered once every year, alone. There are these three courts in the life of a Christian man. There is the outer court, where a man who is living his life in the world must keep company with all who enter its circle. He must rub shoulders with the crowd, although he never forgets that they cannot enter into his secret. There is the holy place, where fellow-believers may pass, and speech and thought of the things of God have a gracious liberty. But there is the most holy place, and what passes there between God and the soul is to be kept with a guarded reticence until there is need for its being told.
¶ When the ancient Jew approached his sanctuary, he found an outer court of the Temple full of activity with the coming and going of those who touched the whole natural life and the daily sacrifice on the altar. But behind lay the still silent room where the golden lamp burned and the bread of life was resting on the golden table. And behind again the silence of the Holy of Holies where man and God merge in union. Even so it is not the great activity, touching national issues—it is not even the sacrificial life of Dr. Paton that has most attracted me and, I believe, others. But here was a priest of the Most High God, in the sanctuary of whose heart the light burned and the bread of life was broken. And with reverent awe we knew that behind lay communion with the Inspirer and Hearer of Prayer. So that out of him from the Divine source flow “rivers of living water.” Thus heaven touched earth through our intercourse, and the passion for service of his soul entered ours.
The secret of the Lord, as the Psalmist conceives it, may be held to include (1) Knowledge; (2) Character; (3) Happiness. Knowledge is the secret of the Teacher, Character is the secret of the Friend, Happiness is the secret of the Lover.
1. Every teacher has his secret. He scans his scholars, eager to find a receptive mind to whom he can reveal it. When the responsive glance, the significant word, or the searching question reveals the student’s promise, the teacher has an exquisite joy in revealing his secret.
¶ The great painters of the Middle Ages took pupils into their studios. To every aspirant they gave honest attention. When one came who was swift to understand his master’s conceptions, eager to imitate his strength of line and purity of colour, humbly and patiently reverent in his zeal, the secret was disclosed. In our own day Edward Burne Jones became a disciple of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. He spent still and strenuous hours in copying his master’s works, studying their distinction, and aspiring after their spirit. With a trembling heart young Burne Jones took his drawings to Rossetti to receive his judgment upon them. The honest painter looked at them in silence, and with a word of emotion he said, “You have nothing more to learn from me.” He had entered into the master’s secret. But mark the law. It is not to the carping critic, the scorning and cynical scholar, the contemptuous idler, that the secret is revealed. The secret is “with them that fear.”
God keeps His holy mysteries
Just on the outside of man’s dream.…
Yet, touching so, they draw above
Our common thoughts to Heaven’s unknown;
Our daily joy and pain advance
To a divine significance.
2. There is a mystery in every Christian life. When the words are said in our hearing, “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him,” they seem to give a momentary glimpse of the truth. There is a secret in such lives, and that secret is God’s. He has to do with them. There is a communication between their souls and Him. He has told them a secret, and they keep it. Others may see that they have a secret; but intermeddle with it they cannot. There is only one way to attain it—by going through the same process as these have gone through. We may not at present think it worth our while to do so, or we may have an undefined dread of the supposed difficulty and irksomeness of that process: but at least let us lay it up well in our hearts that there is such a process, and such an end; that the Christian’s life is a reality, whether we ever attain that life or not; a mystery, whether we be ever initiated into that mystery or not; let us accept and reverence the inspired declaration that “the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.”
¶ The more of a man a man is, the more secret is the secret of his life, and the more plain and frank are its external workings. A small and shallow man tries to throw a mystery about the mere methods of his life, he tries to make his ways of living seem obscure. Where he goes, how he makes his fortune, whom he talks with, what his words mean, who his friends are—he is very mysterious about all these, and all because the secret of his life is really weak, because he is conscious that there is no really strong purpose of living which he himself understands. It is a shallow pool which muddies its surface to make itself look deep. But a greater man will be perfectly frank and unmysterious about these little things. Anybody may know what he does and where he goes. His acts will be transparent, his words will be intelligible. Yet all the while every one who looks at him will see that there is something behind all, which escapes the closest observation. The very clearness of the surface will show how deep the water is, how far away the bottom lies. There is hardly a better way to tell a great man from a little one.
¶ He always lived with his blinds up, and you saw all the workings of his mind. Had he not been steeped in the spirit of love he could never have survived the self-exposure which was a habit with him. But his very caprices were always unselfish, and he could afford to let his friends look him through and through.
As in some cavern dark and deep,
My soul within me here lies low,
Where, veiled, she dreams in wondrous sleep
Of things I may not know.
And if perchance she wake awhile,
I probe her radiant eyes in vain:
She turns from me with misty smile
And, sighing, sleeps again.
3. God may be expected to keep some things hidden. In the most intimate and sacred of our friendships it is not for us to say what secrets shall be made known to us, and what secrets shall be guarded from our cognizance. A government reserves to itself the right of saying what information may be imparted to its friends, and what, for sufficient reasons, shall be kept back. A general on the battle-field, whilst putting safe and suitable selections of news at the service of authorized war correspondents, cannot allow them unlimited access to his plans. It is necessary to respect official reserve. And is not the temper which accepts such conditions binding on a true servant of God? Let God Himself choose the things He sees fit to make known to us. If we live in reverent and believing fellowship He will treat us as confidants, and our knowledge of His methods and purposes will surpass that of the world; but at the same time we need to be told once and again that He cannot admit us to equality with Himself by making known the veiled things we petulantly demand. It ought to satisfy us if His heart trusts us, and He comes to us in forms of revelation withheld from the world. He who is thus initiated into His deep counsels and led to know His will makes few mistakes in his prayers, and the faith he cherishes does not suffer the bitterness of disappointment or betrayal.
¶ I have heard Sir Clifford Allbutt and Signor agree that the necessity or, perhaps better, the love of the mysterious, was an essential and valuable part of the human mind; far from being all disadvantageous or an impediment to progress, it had been in the main a stimulus towards something transcending man’s best efforts. Signor said: “It is in fact the poetic element; and what in the superstitious mind is mere dread, in Browning and Tennyson is aspiration. You cannot take away the mysterious from man, he cannot do without it.”
¶ One of the most beautiful of the Bishop’s sonnets was composed at Trondhjem on August 12, 1888. It runs thus:—
And was it there—the splendour I behold?
This great fjord with its silver grace outspread
And thousand-creeked and thousand-islanded?
Those far-off hills, grape-purple, fold on fold?
For yesterday, when all day long there rolled
The blinding drift, methinks, had some one said
“The scene is fair,” I scarce had credited;
Yet fairer ‘tis than any tongue hath told.
And it was there! Ah, yes! And on my way
More bravely I will go, though storm-clouds lour
And all my sky be only cold and grey;
For I have learnt the teaching of this hour:
And when God’s breath blows all these mists afar,
I know that I shall see the things that are.
4. Knowledge comes by obedience. It would be hopeless to try to tell the secret, even for the sake of inducing others to treasure it for themselves. The fact is that the secret might be told, and told in the best of words, without its ceasing to be a secret to those who heard. Words are necessary in religious as in other matters; but there is no fear of their telling anything which ought not to be told: first, because the secret is designed for all, and revealed to all who will listen to it; and next, because it lies deeper far than the understanding, and never becomes the possession of any man till he takes it into his heart. For the obedience by which comes knowledge is the obedience of the heart. Obedience to law, and acts of worship arising out of fear of penalty, are merely hiding from God among the trees of the garden. Even obedience from duty can never be a satisfactory or final state; it is merely educational, to make manifest defect of life. “I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.” When the glory of the Lord has filled all the ‘courts of His temple, man’s outward nature becomes reconstituted, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless or indissoluble life. The tree of knowledge becomes one with the tree of life which is in the midst of the city, and on both sides of the river of life, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
¶ I have known more than one Highland saint who never had any intellectual training. They had had little schooling, they never were at college, and their libraries were of the scantiest kind. Yet in every true sense of the word they were men of culture; their language was choice and their thoughts large and just; and they had singular power in complicated questions of seizing on the things that really mattered. What was the secret of that mental clarity?—“If any man willeth to do his will.” To God they had prayed—in Christ’s name they had wrestled—they had clung to the right and beaten down the wrong; until at last that life of deep obedience—that faithfulness to God in what was least—all unexpectedly had reached their intellect, and made it a sphere of mastery and joy.
Just to ask Him what to do
All the day,
And to make you quick and true
Just to know the needed grace
Every bar of time and place
Just to take thy orders straight
From the Master’s own command.
Blessed day! when thus we wait
Always at our Sovereign’s hand.
5. Obedience is rendered easy by sympathy and an open mind. The man who is full of himself, bent on his own will, seeking his own ends, is not in a frame of mind to have the secret of the Lord revealed to him: probably he does not want it, or wish to have it revealed to him. It is a check upon him. He does not want the key to the Kingdom of Heaven, because he has no wish whatever to enter into it. To enter into the Kingdom of God is to do the, will of God, and to try to love it, and the will of God is human duty—what is due from us to God as poor, weak, ignorant creatures at the best; coming we know not whence, going we know not whither; seeing but a little way into things; living by faith, by trust in the power over us, trust in the good about us, trust in the good in other people; and what is due from us to others, for we are related to each other as brethren, because we are all related to God as the Father over all.
¶ “See how that noble fellow Collingwood leads the fleet into action!” exclaimed Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar, as he looked on the ship of his second bearing down upon the French line under a press of sail. “Ah! what would Nelson give to be here!” exclaimed Admiral Collingwood at the same moment. It seemed as if the two heroic men were animated by one spirit; as if by completeness of sympathy they knew each other’s thoughts. And have we not all seen something like this in our own experience? Have we not known persons so congenial in thought and feeling that scenes in nature lighted up their faces with the same delight, or cast over them the shadows of thoughtfulness and awe; sights of distress and tales of sorrow drew forth from them kindred tears of compassion; a noble poem or an eloquent oration awakened in their bosoms the same pure and generous emotions? And such, too, is the power of sympathy between man and God. Just as a man tells his secret only to his friends, knowing that it would often be unsafe, and at other times impossible, to tell it to others; and just as they, knowing his great aim and motive, can make more of a nod or look or word than others can of a lengthened statement; so God reveals, as He did to Abraham His friend in the matter of Sodom’s destruction, the depth of His mind and will to them who fear Him, and who by fearing Him have been made like Him; and they, loving in general as God loves, and hating in general as God hates, enter as others cannot into the meaning and spirit of God’s declarations.
1. God unveils His character by entering into friendly relations with man. It is always a sign of deepening friendship when people begin to open their inner rooms to us. To be made the depositary of a rare secret is to be sealed as a friend. When any one tells us a secret joy, it is a mark of intimacy; when any one unveils to us a secret grief, it is a proof of the closest fellowship. When we are taken from the suburbs of a man’s being to the centre, it is a proof of an enriching communion. “No longer do I call you servants; but I have called you friends; for all things that I heard from my Father I have made known unto you.” Is there not something tenderly suggestive in the word which tells us that “when they were alone, he expounded unto them”? When He had His familiar friends to Himself, He told them His secrets and showed them His covenant.
Are these the tracks of some unearthly Friend,
His foot-prints, and his vesture-skirts of light,
Who, as I talk with men, conforms aright
Their sympathetic words, or deeds that blend
With my hid thought;—or stoops him to attend
My doubtful-pleading grief;—or blunts the might
Of ill I see not;—or in dreams of night
Figures the scope, in which what is will end?
Were I Christ’s own, then fitly might I call
That vision real; for to the thoughtful mind
That walks with Him, He half unveils His face;
But when on earth-stain’d souls such tokens fall,
These dare not claim as theirs what there they find,
Yet, not all hopeless, eye His boundless grace.
2. Fellowship with God is the secret of the highest character in man. If a man admires, reveres and attaches himself to any one, he is naturally led to imitate him; and the tendency of all worship is to make a man like his God. The deities of heathendom are the product of the vain imaginations, unholy passions and guilty fears of their votaries, and the contemplation of them continues to quicken the foul source whence they have issued. The sins as well as the sorrows of those who follow after other gods are multiplied. And the worshippers of the true God are, in accordance with this principle of our nature, brought to godliness, induced and taught to love and hate, to approve and condemn, according to the perfect model. In every one that fears God, there is a real and growing assimilation.
¶ Some words of Kingsley’s written in 1872, in which he defines a “noble fear” as one of the elements of that lofty and spiritual love which ruled his own daily life, may explain why he speaks of entering the married state with “solemn awe and self-humiliation,” and why he looked upon such married Love as the noblest education a man’s character can have: “Can there be true love without wholesome fear? And does not the old Elizabethan ‘My dear dread’ express the noblest voluntary relation in which two human souls can stand to each other? Perfect love casteth out fear. Yes; but where is love perfect among imperfect beings, save a mother’s for her child? For all the rest, it is through fear that love is made perfect; fear which bridles and guides the lover with awe—even though misplaced—of the beloved one’s perfections; with dread—never misplaced—of the beloved one’s contempt. And therefore it is that souls who have the germ of nobleness within, are drawn to souls more noble than themselves, just because, needing guidance, they cling to one before whom they dare not say, or do, or even think an ignoble thing. And if these higher souls are—as they usually are—not merely formidable, but tender likewise, and true, then the influence which they may gain is unbounded—both to themselves, and to those that worship them.”
3. To enjoy this fellowship we must “fear” the Lord. In order to read any one’s secret we must respect him. You cannot show the real secret of your life, the spring and power of your living, to any man who does not respect you. Not merely you will not, but you cannot. Is it not so? A man comes with impertinent curiosity and looks in at your door, and you shut it in his face indignantly. A friend comes strolling by and gazes in with easy carelessness, not making much of what you may be doing, not thinking it of much importance, and before him you cover up instinctively the work which was serious to you, and make believe that you were only playing games. So it is when men try to get hold of the secret of your life. No friendship, no kindliness, can make you show it to them unless they evidently really feel as you feel, that it is a serious and sacred thing. There must be something like reverence or awe about the way that they approach you. It is the way in which children shut themselves up before their elders because they know their elders have no such sense as they have of the importance of their childish thoughts and feelings.
¶ You must believe that there is something deep in nature or you will find nothing there. You must have an awe of the mystery and sacredness in your fellow-man, or his mystery and sacredness will escape you. And this sense of mystery and sacredness is what we gather into that word “fear.” It is the feeling with which you step across the threshold of a great deserted temple or into some vast dark mysterious cavern. It is not terror. That would make one turn and run away. Terror is a blinding and deafening emotion. Terror shuts up the apprehension. You do not get at the secret of anything which frightens you, but fear, as we use the word now, is quite a different emotion. It is a large, deep sense of the majesty and importance of anything, a reverence and respect for it. Without that no man can understand another. And so “the secret of a man is with them that fear him.”
¶ We have listened to some sweet melody, and we cannot escape from its gracious thraldom. It pervades the entire day. It interweaves itself with all our changing affairs. We hear it in our work and in our leisure; when we retire to rest and when we awake. It haunts us. The analogy may help us to some apprehension of what is meant by the fear of God. The man who fears God is haunted by God’s presence. God is an abiding consciousness. God is “continually before him.” Everything is seen in relationship to God. The Divine presence pervades the mind and shapes and colours the judgment. Here are two descriptions from the Word of God, in the contrast of which the meaning will be made quite clear. “God is not in all his thoughts.” The Eternal does not haunt his mind. Everything is secularized, and nothing is referred to the arbitrament of the Divine Will. He is not God-possessed. “Pray without ceasing.” Here is the contrasted mind, from which the sense of God is never absent. Like an air of penetrating music the Divine presence pervades the exercise of all his powers. He is God-haunted, and in the consciousness of that presence he lives and moves and has his being. He fears God.
1. The secret of happiness is love. The people of God love Him, and He loves them; their habitual feeling is that their affection and gratitude bear no proportion to the greatness of His claims. Like the penitent disciple who had had much forgiven, they can solemnly appeal to His omniscience and say, “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.” And He loves them with a love which has a height and depth, and length and breadth passing knowledge—a love which has thrown open to them the book of Nature that their eyes might be filled with its beauty and their souls with its truth—a love which sings sweet songs in the carol of the bird, in the murmur of the brook, in the whispering of the breeze, and in the joyous music of the domestic hearth—a love which covers the earth with golden grain, and casts abundance into the lap of life—a love which has toiled, and bled, and died that the soul of man might be taken from the spoiler who has held it under his cruel and polluting sway, and be brought under the dominion of its rightful Lord and made fully happy, and that for ever, in His fellowship.
¶ He looked out on the world through the eyes of Love, and that is why it was to him ever beautiful in its infinite variety, and in its amazing friendliness. He lived to be seventy-one as the world counts years, but even then he was Youth and Joy—in the best sense of the word he refused to grow up.
¶ Though Mr. Paynter was a deeply spiritual man, there was nothing in his life or speech to suggest gloom; certainly there was not in his looks. Many a laugh have we had together, over some amusing incident or story, in the lighter interludes of life; and though he himself rarely told a story, yet sometimes he would make a “dry” remark, which showed that the sense of humour was not absent. He was a happy man—happy in all the domesticities of his home and family life—happy among his flowers—happy in his work—happy always in doing good to others, and all because he was happy in God, and had learned what St. Paul meant when he said, “All things are yours.”
Just to recollect His love,
Always shining from above,
Just to recognize its light
Just to claim its present might,
Just to know it as thine own,
That no power can take away.
Is not this enough alone
For the gladness of the day?
2. We learn the secret of happiness as we try to express our love in noble character and unselfish conduct. Men are so constituted that obedience is its own reward. There is no delight so deep and true as the delight of doing the will of Him whom we love. There is no blessedness like that of the increasing communion with God and of the clearer perception of His will and mind which follow obedience as surely as the shadow follows the sunshine. There is no blessedness like the glow of approving conscience, the reflection of the smile on Christ’s face. To have the heart in close communion with the very Fountain of all good, and the will in harmony with the will of the best Beloved; to hear the Voice that is dearest of all ever saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it”; to feel “a spirit in my feet” impelling me upon that road; to know that all my petty deeds are made great, and my stained offerings hallowed by the altar on which they are honoured to lie; and to be conscious of fellowship with the Friend of my soul increased by obedience—this is to taste the keenest joy and good of life, and he who is thus “blessed in his deed” need never fear that that blessedness will be taken away, or sorrow though other joys be few and griefs be many.
¶ To Florence Nightingale, communion with the Unseen meant something deeper, richer, fuller, more positive than the fear of God. The fear of God is the beginning, but not the end, of wisdom, for perfect love casteth out fear. It was for the love of God as an active principle in her mind, constraining all her deeds, that she strove.
¶ The income from his books and other sources, which might have been spent in a life of luxury and selfishness, he distributed lavishly where he saw it was needed, and in order to do this he always lived in the most simple way. To make others happy was the Golden Rule of his life. On August 31 he wrote, in a letter to a friend, Miss Mary Brown: “And now what am I to tell you about myself? To say I am quite well ‘goes without saying’ with me. In fact, my life is so strangely free from all trial and trouble that I cannot doubt my own happiness is one of the talents entrusted to me to ‘occupy’ with, till the Master shall return, by doing something to make other lives happy.”
3. And thus we are brought round again to knowledge. For the final verdict upon the realities of religion rests not with the highest intellect, but with the purest heart. Humboldt tells that the Arab guide employed in one of his desert journeys had such a keen and highly trained power of vision that he could see the moons of Jupiter without a telescope, and that he gave the date when one of those moons was eclipsed, a date afterwards verified by the traveller on his return to Europe. The watchmaker, the line-engraver, the microscopist, who for years have been poring over minute objects a few inches from the face, could not emulate the feat of the Arab whose eye had been trained for a lifetime by use in the desert, and might possibly doubt the fact. In that respect the man of science himself, with his wide knowledge, exact observation, many accomplishments, was inferior to his unlettered guide. A devout soul seeks wistfully after God, accustoms its faculties to discern and interpret His signs, and acquires a vision penetrative beyond that of his neighbour.
¶ In one of his saddest poems—in the series entitled “Men and Women”—Browning tells the story of Andrea del Sarto, who was called the faultless painter of Florence. In his youth he had loved and married a woman of rare and radiant beauty. He rendered to her an almost worshipping homage. He longed to lift her to the high plane of thought and desire and holy ambition on which he moved. But she was a shallow, thin-natured, mean-souled woman. She was the woman who smeared with a careless fling of her skirt the picture he had painted in hours of spiritual ecstasy. She was the woman who craved him for his hard-earned money that she might spend it at the gaming-table with her dissolute companions. Browning sets down the tragedy of their years with his usual unerring insight. It was not that she disappointed him, robbed his hand of its power, dulled his mind, shadowed his heart, and, as he foresaw, would sully his fame. It was this more piteous thing, that he could not disclose himself to her. She was not able to see and to understand him at his highest and noblest. She never discerned the moral majesty of his mind or the spiritual hunger of his heart. The poet sets the sorrow of it all in a sigh, which is the climax of his story.
But had you—oh, with the same perfect brow,
And perfect eyes, and more than perfect mouth,
And the low voice my soul hears, as a bird
The fowler’s pipe, and follows to the snare—
Had you, with these the same, but brought a mind!
Lover he was, with the lover’s secret, but she brought no mind, and the lover’s secret she never knew. For the lover’s secret is only with them that fear.
4. The nearer we live to Christ, the further shall we see into the Unseen and discern the secret of God. The vision of the godly man, like that of the prophet at Bethel, pierces into the unseen, and he is sensible of things to which others are blind. If he cannot envisage horses and chariots of fire, the vindicating ministries of the covenant, he can read the terms of the covenant in letters clear as the stars, and these revelations are enough, and assure as perfectly as glimpses of the hosts God leads. Doubts and misgivings are dispelled by spiritual insight. In the things which, to a worldly mind, suggest the anger of Heaven, he is made to see occasions which discipline the character into higher fitness for receiving the awaiting blessings of an immutable covenant.
¶ For many years a lady made her livelihood by taking Greenwich time round to the jewellers’ shops in the small towns to the west of London. She was the daughter of a watchmaker, and possessed an excellent chronometer which had been bequeathed by her father. When necessary, the authorities of the Observatory kindly regulated it. Every Friday she went to Greenwich, got the standard time, and carried it to her clients, who paid a small fee for the service rendered. She belonged to the old dispensation, and may stand for one of its types. Many provincial towns, and even private firms of watchmakers, are now in direct electric connexion with Greenwich, and get the standard time every day.… In the United States of America, every post office is linked with the Observatory at Washington. Under the earlier Covenant, men who wished to learn of the things of God had to avail themselves of the ministries of the prophets, or sit at the feet of scholars, whose office it was to interpret the books of the law. But under the New Covenant the regenerate soul is brought into direct contact with God, and acquires Divine wisdom, not by listening to a neighbour, but by heeding swift inward impressions wrought by the wonderful Spirit of God.
Love touch’d my eyes—these eyes which once were blind,
And, lo! a glorious world reveal’d to view,
A world I ne’er had dream’d so fair to find.
I sang for gladness—all things were made new.
’Twas Love unstopp’d my ears, and every sound
Borne through the silence seem’d a psalm of praise:
Bird-song, child-laughter—yet o’er all I found
Thy voice the music of my happy days.
Love chang’d life’s draught and made the water wine,
And through my languid senses seem’d to flow
Some pow’r enkindled by the fire divine,
Some inspiration I can ne’er forego.
Love rais’d the dead to life—and never more
Can many waters quench th’ eternal flame.
Love open’d wide the everlasting door,
And bade us enter, called by His name.
Scripture: Psalm 25:14 The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him.
Introduction: The older versions of the Bible use the word “peculiar” to describe Christians. Some of us are certainly peculiar, but I hope all of us are peculiar in the biblical sense—special, different, unique, people of singular character and exclusive privileges. Into our souls Christ infuses life; into our ears He whispers secrets. Fearers of God are favorites of God; and as such we are a peculiar people.
1. Christians differ from others because they fear the Lord.
A. Those who fear the Lord are quickened souls, once dead in sin, but now alive to God, “quickened together with Christ.” There are Godward movements in our hearts. We have crowned Him King of our hearts.
B. Those who fear must be near to God. We were once “far off,” but have been brought near by the blood of Jesus. The Spirit thus guides us to the throne of grace—not as rebels who dread the king’s approach or as strangers who have never visited a sovereign, but as courtiers and children who are already in the palace. Only His loving children and His loyal servants can honor the Lord as a Father and fear Him as a Master.
C. In approaching God on His throne, we mingle reverence of His glory with hope in His mercy. This is a combination only found where the true fear of God is. The same view of God that inspires hope also produces reverential fear. The glory of God, as seen in the cross, commands our admiration as well as our trust. It is at once solemnizing and encouraging. It bears us down while it draws us near. It breaks our heart as surely as it cheers it.
D. They who fear the Lord seek to do His will. That the Lord may be pleased and glorified is the end to which we aspire. We cannot be happy without respecting all God’s commandments (Ps. 119:6). It is then in reverent obedience that those who fear the Lord may expect His secret to be with them.
2. True Christians differ from others because with them is “the secret of the Lord.” This means more than that we have the Bible in our hands. The Bible contains the complete revelation of the will of God, but many who have the Bible in their hands don’t have the fear of the Lord in their hearts. Those who fear the Lord have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, to know the things freely given to them of God. Thus we are “peculiar.” The Lord shines the gospel light on us, and He also shines into our hearts the light of the knowledge of His glory in the face of Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). His Spirit guides us into daily lessons about His promises, presence, and power. In the process we are changed into the image of Christ, from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Cor. 3:18).
A. He acquaints us with His everlasting purpose to save us.
B. He reveals intimations of His will while we pray, providing inner peace regarding problems and opportunities.
C. He gives us secret burdens for others for whom we should plead, often suggesting the case of a particular individual to the mind of one who is pleading at the footstool of mercy. With it may come a suggested portion of Scripture to plead on their behalf.
D. He reassures us by reminding us of His providential governance over our lives and over history. We watch and walk with God while others live without Him in the world. We speak with Him about His doings, while others are dumb and deaf before Him.
Conclusion: The Lord shares His secrets with those who fear Him, imparting wisdom and peace in difficult times. He gives them guidance during times of decision. He gives reassurance as needed. Fear the Lord. Let His Word be precious, and use it for the ends for which it is given. Aspire for a clearer view of its wonders, a simpler faith in its truth, a ravishing sense of its sweetness, and a deeper experience of its power. Be guided by its light, molded by its form, fed by its manna, and cheered by its comforts, fearing Him and learning His secrets day by day.
Today's Reading: Psalm 24:1-10; 25:14 Friendship with the Lord is reserved for those who fear him. Psalm 25:14
YEARS AGO I had friends in college who liked to call God "Daddy" during their prayers. They pointed out that when Jesus prayed "Abba, Father," he was using a term of endearment. In effect, he was calling God "Dad." It was a common phrase in Jewish culture. They took this idea and made it their own. My friends had good hearts, and I'm sure God knew that. But something about their prayers made me uncomfortable. I couldn't really put my finger on it, though. Their prayers went something like this: "Hey, Dad, this is me, Randy. You know I have this test coming up, and I could really use your help. And thanks for letting me meet Sandy. I really like her. She's pretty cool. I'm thinking of taking her out sometime. Let me know what you think.... Anyway, I gotta go to class, so see you later. Love you, Daddy! Talk to you later." It wasn't as if these types of prayers were offensive to me, they just didn't feel right. There was a casualness to them that I wasn't used to. In some ways I wondered if it wasn't simply a backlash against the rigid, formal prayers that they had grown up with. And there seemed to be a sense of competition developing to see who could be the least formal. One friend decided that he would no longer bow his head or close his eyes during prayers, and others quickly took the same approach. There's nothing inherently offensive about any of this. I've always taken comfort in the father-heart aspect of God, and I love the idea of seeing him as our Father. I'm thrilled that we are able to connect with God on a real and personal level. Yet somehow it seems that in our effort to embrace the nearness of God, we have run the risk of overlooking his holiness. While it is true that God is our Father, he is also the Creator of the universe. The maker of heaven and earth.
"Friendship with the Lord is reserved for those who fear him," writes David (Psalm 25:14). A reverence for God's deity and supremacy is critical to a deep relationship with him. He is our Father, but he is also worthy of our respect and honor. When we become too casual in our relationship with him, we tend to forget who God is. He is the God of Abraham and Isaac. The great "I AM." The One who is, who always was, and who always will be. The King of glory!