I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not to the seed of Jacob, Seek you me in vain…
Henderson regards this as an appeal "to the publicity" and perspicuity with which the Divine predictions had been announced; with manifest reference to the responses of the heathen oracles, which were given from deep and obscure caverns, or the hidden recesses of temples; and were, at the best, artful and equivocal, and, in cases of extreme difficulty, were altogether withheld." Cheyne says, "The heathen oracles are as obscure in their origin as they are unveracious and disappointing. Those who deliver them say, as it were, 'Seek ye me as chaos.' But the revelations of Jehovah are the embodiments of righteousness and uprightness." (comp. Proverbs 8:6). It may be urged
(1) that God's message to men is plain;
(2) is satisfactory;
(3) is just.
Or it may be shown that God's will is clearly and sufficiently revealed, in all its several forms:
(1) in creation;
(2) in history;
(3) in individual experiences;
(4) in Word-revelations spoken directly within man, as the law of conscience; and
(5) in Word-revelations spoken to man, as the law of conduct.
It is suggestive of illustration to recall the declaration of our Lord Jesus, "In secret have I said nothing" (John 18:20). Another line of treatment may be offered.
I. MEN'S SELF-PURSUITS END IN VANITY. We do "seek them in vain" Illustrations should be taken from the Book of Ecclesiastes, which is precisely this - a man's record of his seeking the "chief good" as he could conceive it. He sought this way and that, in every conceivably hopeful direction, and with every possible advantage in the search; and his conclusion of the matter is, "Nothing satisfies. All is vanity." Byron sought self-satisfaction in pursuing self-ends; and long ere old age could come with its burdens he wrote, "The worm, the canker, and the grief, are mine alone." Before the ruins of the self-seeking life, we stand and say, "So is he who heapeth up riches for himself, and is not rich toward God."
II. MAN-MADE RELIGIONS END IN VANITY. To trust them is "spending money for that which is not bread." Illustrate this by showing how, in St. Paul's day, the Athenians had multiplied gods because, one after another, they had been sought, and failed to satisfy; and at length they even, in their unrest, inscribed altars to the "Unknown God."
III. GOD'S WAY OF LIFE IS ABUNDANTLY SATISFYING. It is a living fountain of waters.
1. It meets the soul-cry for righteousness in God.
2. It meets the soul-cry for pardon of sin.
3. It meets the soul-cry for restored and happy relations with God.
4. It meets the soul-cry for power to perform that which is good.
5. It meets the yearning of the soul for assurance concerning the future.
So men never seek God in vain. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.