The secret things belong to the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children for ever…
This passage states fairly both the purpose and limits of revelation.
I. THE PURPOSE OF REVELATION. It is not to gratify curiosity, but to secure obedience in the successive generations. In other words, it is not speculative, but practical.
1. The objections, urged against revelation largely consist in the disappointments of speculative curiosity. Because God did not inform man scientifically about the creation of the world; because he did not deliver an articulated theological system; because he did not compose a philosophical textbook; - therefore this popular, miscellaneous, and discursive Book cannot be Divine. But so far from such arguments being valid, they go to substantiate the Divine character of the Book. For -
2. It is an intensely practical Book, inculcating on parents and children obedience to God. It takes up man in the family, and urges him to obey God and try to get his children to obey him. It reveals God as a Father seeking the obedience and trust of his human children, and inviting them to the heaven of obedience to his commandments. It makes man understand sufficient about God to know the duty and the blessedness of obeying him. And here let us notice two important positions taken up by the revelation.
(1) It declares that we have been made in the Divine image. Let men make us out to be physically in the image of the beast, we are spiritually in the image of God. And
(2) it declares that for man's salvation God became incarnate. Mutual acquaintance and understanding are manifestly possible and practicable upon these terms. Man can reason upwards from his own nature, which, as Carlyle said, after Chrysostom, is "the true Shechinah;" and man can appreciate Godhead whet, revealed through a sinless human life. As a revelation, then, it is most reasonable.
II. THE LIMITS OF REVELATION. It leaves a realm of secrecy to God. That is, it does not profess to reveal God fully, for "he cannot, on account of his incomparable greatness and excellence, bring his plans and operations within the comprehension of his creatures." The finite cannot take in the infinite. We only know in part. But we know. To doubt the possibility of knowing God would lead us straight to universal skepticism. Agnosticism has no logical halting-ground on this side of universal doubt. Hence we venture not beyond the assigned limits of the knowable. We take all that God gives and use it reverentially. At the same time, we recognize a world beyond our ken, of essence and of purpose and of perception, which is God's alone. Our pride is broken; we are penitent before him, and we adore. - R.M.E.
Parallel VersesKJV: The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.