And you shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that has dealt wondrously with you…
There are few men in whom the moral sense is so extinguished that they never think at all of a judgment to come. But there are "many deceits by which the worldly minded may impose on themselves. Putting off consideration to a more convenient season. Attempting to serve two masters. But religion is not a thing for half measures. Who are those who shall never be ashamed? They are described as "the people of God." Not persons wholly free from sin. Those who hate sin, and are earnestly striving to be wholly freed from it. Their sins are sins of ignorance or infirmity; and these, though they call for sorrow, can hardly demand shame. The people of God are those in whom there is honesty and integrity of moral purpose, rather than actual conformity to the whole law of God.
I. THE MAN OF GOD HAS NO CAUSE TO BE ASHAMED WHEN HE SEARCHES INTO HIMSELF. Arraign him before the tribunal of conscience. There could be nothing of shame where there was nothing of sin. Shame entered the world with sin. Our first parents had no sooner transgressed than conscience poured out its reproaches, and they hid themselves from the presence of the Lord. When his own heart is laid open to a man, he shrinks from the scene of foulness and deformity. He cannot look into a single recess of his heart without finding fresh cause for confusion of face. Can a man ever be so transformed that he may search into himself and find no reason to be ashamed? It is not true that he can ever examine himself and find no impurity. But his paramount desire, and unwearying endeavour, may be to obey in everything the law of his God. When he falls into sin, it is not because he loves it; and his every offence is quickly followed by penitence and confession. If a man "have respect unto all God's commandments," conscience may produce the catalogue of his sins, and yet not put him to shame. If a man have not sinned deliberately, and if he have repented sincerely, there is nothing of which he needs to be ashamed.
II. THE MAN OF GOD HAS NO CAUSE TO BE ASHAMED WHEN HE STANDS BEFORE THE WORLD. Arraign him before the tribunal of the world. Nothing but a clear conscience will enable us to look the world clearly and calmly in the face. We know how, in extreme cases, the inquietude of conscience will make a man afraid to meet his fellow-man. Probably much of the reluctance that is observable among Christians to reprove unrighteousness and assert cause of truth may be traced to a consciousness of their own inconsistency, which makes them ashamed to condemn what they too often practise, and recommend what they are apt to neglect. It is quite essential, in order that we be not ashamed before men, that we be not ashamed at the tribunal of conscience. The world is very disposed to impute wrong motives to the professors of religion — to put a false construction on actions which should excite the praise of all honest and well-meaning men. What is to secure Christians in the midst of unceasing endeavours to laugh them to scorn? They must uphold the characteristics of God's people, and have respect unto all God's commandments. There is no other receipt against shame. The people of God must carry religion with them into every business of life, and see that all scenes are pervaded by its influence. Christians should bear themselves with that lofty dignity which no calumny could disturb.
III. THE MAN OF GOD HAS NO CAUSE TO BE ASHAMED WHEN HE STANDS BEFORE GOD. Here it will not serve our argument to say that there is no love of sin, for every offence must be known. Indeed, if the blush is to be removed from our hearts, only by a consciousness that though God may search us and try us, He will find no evil in us, we must be left without confidence. But the people of God have respect unto all God's commandments; and amongst these from the first have been reckoned the commandments which relate to faith. Here we have the ground-work of confidence before God, notwithstanding our own insufficiency. There is a breadth and fulness in the work of atonement which makes it commensurate with every necessity, leaving nothing unperformed which either human wants or Divine honour could demand. Then how are God's people to be ashamed before God?
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.