And the LORD heard the voice of your words, when you spoke to me; and the LORD said to me…
I. A WORD OF WARNING. The fervent desire here expressed implies a sense of danger, and the probability that many would not continue in the fear and commandments of God. It is not by a single resolution, however firm, or by a single effort, however strong, that a war like this can be concluded. The man who thinks so, vastly underrates the power of his spiritual enemies, and does but build his house upon a foundation of sand, which, when the tempests of trial come, will give way beneath him. Nay, more, while this is true of all, it is especially true of young believers, who are going forth for the first time to assay their armour in the battle. Let me very briefly point out to you some sources of this especial danger.
1. There is a risk in the very vehemence of your present resolutions. Your souls are now all on fire; you stand adoring before the wondrous truths of a redeeming God, and of an endless eternity. In the fervency of that holy enthusiasm, difficulties seem to vanish, and temptations to be as nothing; and you are liable to go forth, therefore, overrating your strength, and thinking that it will always be with you as it is at the present moment.
2. Another danger arises from your inexperience; and this in two points. As to the world around you, you are but standing as yet upon its very threshold, untried by the sense of individual responsibility, and untaught by the actual cares of life. You see before you the future, with its bright points, while its trials are mercifully hidden from you. You are like a traveller, who from some hilltop looks down upon the smiling valley beneath, radiant with a thousand lights, and spread before the eye in all its grace and beauty. He sees all the blended beauties of the scene, but the dangers which lie before his path are hidden from him in the distance. So you, in your view of your natural life, see its hopes and pleasures, while the troubles, labours, and anxieties which will be blended with them are unseen by you as yet. There is, consequently, a risk lest you value it too highly in the estimate of the worth of the two worlds to which you belong. And there is the greater danger of this, because in your view of the spiritual life your inexperience has an effect exactly the reverse of what it has in your temporal. Here you see all its difficulties, its self-denials, its privations; but the deep peace it brings, the wondrous glimpses of God, which cheer the soul meanwhile, as Stephen was cheered, when, through the opened heavens, he saw the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of God — these as yet you know not: these remain to be experienced, and can no more be told in words, than you can communicate to the dull canvas the gleaming radiance of a noontide sun.
3. There is a peculiar danger in the very buoyancy and animation of spirits, and that disposition to thoughtlessness, which characterise our early years. These things, if guided by grace, may indeed but give a greater constancy to zeal, and a warmer fervency to love; but unless they are carefully watched and disciplined, they may likewise lead into sore temptations, may open many a path of danger, and even seduce you unawares into sin.
II. A WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT. If the text clearly implies danger, it implies with equal clearness the possibility of that danger being overcome. He who knoweth all things, and from whose omniscience is not hidden either one outward temptation or one inward thought, would never impute as a fault to the soul that which Was beyond its power. It is very needful that this, too, should be borne in mind; for with what courage shall we wage a hopeless war, or attempt to accomplish anything, if we feel, crushing our spirit all the while, the conviction that success is impossible? Here, however, all is possible, if we have but the heart to do it — if there be in us no hesitating thoughts, no doubtful purposes, no affections which cling still to the world. Observe how everything is supposed to be easy, if this one thing were but possessed — "O that there were such an heart in them!" not such as beats naturally in the breast of man, self-willed, carnal in its tastes, shrinking in unholy repugnance from God, and finding in the things that perish its choicest treasure, but such a heart as turns simply and wholly to the redeeming Saviour, a heart quickened with a heavenly life.
III. A WORD OF ADVICE.
1. If you are earnestly desirous of fighting this holy warfare, and attaining by God's help these promises, never permit yourselves to neglect the means of grace. If you are not in earnest, do not deceive yourselves with a name; but have the courage to appear to your own hearts what you really are — strangers to the promises, and aliens to the covenant of grace.
2. Let me press upon you the duty of a daily self-examination.
3. Look well to the character of those whom you choose as the friends and companions of your life.
(E. Garbett, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD heard the voice of your words, when ye spake unto me; and the LORD said unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken.
WEB: Yahweh heard the voice of your words, when you spoke to me; and Yahweh said to me, "I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken to you: they have well said all that they have spoken.