Come, you children, listen to me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.…
What man is he that desireth a life that will extract the real "good" out of things, that will gather the honey in the hidden places, that will discover the essences in experiences, and get the marrow out of trifling and apparently inconsiderable events'? That is the modern statement of the problem. In what can we find the life of blessedness, full, spacious and refined?
I. THE FEAR OF THE LORD. We must put aside all ideas of terror, of trembling servitude, of cringing servility. If the content included any element of terror, the spiritual life would be a doleful bondage; but there are strange conjunctions in the Word of God which make this interpretation impossible. What an amazing companionship is to be found in these words: — "Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice! .... The fear of the Lord" is sensitiveness towards the Lord. It is the opposite of hardness, unfeelingness, benumbment. The soul that fears God is like a sensitive plate exposed to the light, and it records the faintest ray. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Sensitiveness towards God is the beginning of wisdom. Sensitiveness in music is the beginning of musical ability; sensitiveness in art is the beginning of artistic competence. Sensitiveness towards .God is the beginning of expertness in the knowledge and doings of God. This sensitiveness towards God is one of the roots of the blessed life. To thrill to His faintest breathings, to hear the still small voice, to catch the first dim light of new revelations, to be exquisitely responsive to the movements of the Father, this is the great primary rootage of a full and blessed life. This sensitiveness towards God is a gift of God. "I will put My fear in their hearts." By waiting upon the Lord, His refining ministry begins to restore the hardened surfaces of our life, and fills us again with a spirit of rare and exquisite discernment.
II. KEEP THY TONGUE FROM EVIL AND THY LIPS FROM SPEAKING GUILE. It is stupendously significant that in disclosing the secrets of the blessed life, the psalmist should immediately turn to the government of the tongue. Every word we speak recoils upon the speaker's heart, and leaves its influence, either in grace or disfigurement. Therefore "keep thy tongue from evil." Hold it in severe restriction. Venom, that passes out, also steeps in. "And thy lips from speaking guile." Where the lips are treacherous, the heart is ill at ease. Where the lips are untrue, the heart abounds in suspicion. Where the lips have spoken the lie, the heart is afraid of exposure. How, then, can there be blessedness where there is dread? How can there be a quiet and fruitful happiness where poison is impairing the higher powers?
III. DEPART FROM EVIL. Turn from it. Don't play with uncleanness. Don't touch it with thy finger. Don't hold conversation concerning it, for there are some things of which it is a "shame even to speak." "Depart from evil and do good." The best way to effect a permanent divorce from evil is to exercise oneself in active good. Where there is no positive ministry in goodness, we soon relapse into sin. A positive goodness will make the life invincible.
IV. SEEK PEACE, AND PURSUE IT. Not the peace of quietness, not, at any rate, the quietness of still machinery, but perhaps the smoothness of machinery at work. We have to live together in families, in societies, in nations, as a race. To seek peace is to seek the smooth workings of this complicated fellowship. We are to labour for right adjustments, equitable fellowships. We are to labour that the companionships of God's children may run smoothly without a wasting and painful friction. "Seek peace, and pursue it." We are not to give up the search because we are not immediately successful. We are not to say that society is hopeless because we make such little headway in the work of readjustment. We are to "pursue" the great aim, go chase it with all the eagerness of a keen hunter, determined not to relax the search until the mighty end is gained.
(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.