The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the righteous.
I. THOSE WHOM GOD FAVOURS AND THAT WHICH HE APPORTIONS THEM. There are three epithets by which they are here characterized; they are called "the just," "the lowly," and "the wise." In those whom God loves and means to bless there are found
(1) the spirit of humility, - they are conscious of their own demerit and unworthiness;
(2) the spirit of wisdom, - they are in the attitude of inquiry towards God, desirous of knowing his truth and doing his will; and
(3) the spirit of conscientiousness, - they are the "just," wishful to do that which is right toward their fellows, to act honestly, fairly, considerately, in the various relations they sustain. These God loves, and on them he will bestow his Divine benediction.
1. He will give them "grace" - his own royal favour and that which draws down upon them the genial and gracious regard of men.
2. He will bless them in their home life. He "blesseth the habitation of the just." He will give them purity, love, honour, affection, peace, joy in their most intimate relations; so that their homes shall be blessed. He will be known as the "God of the families of Israel."
3. And He will give them exaltation in the end. "The wise shall inherit glory." "Unto the upright there will arise light in the darkness." Present gloom shall give place to glory, either now on this side the grave, or hereafter in "that world of light."
II. THOSE WITH WHOM GOD IS DISPLEASED AND HIS AWFUL MALEDICTIONS ON THEM. These are also thrice characterized here; they are "the wicked," "the scorners," "fools." These are they who
(1) in their folly reject the counsel of God; who
(2) in their guilt yield themselves up to sin in its various forms; who
(3) in their arrogance scoff at all sacred things - the "scorners;" this is the last and worst development of sin, the treatment of things holy and Divine with flippant irreverence. These God regards with Divine disapproval; them he strongly condemns and visits with fearful penalty.
1. His wrath is on themselves. He "scorneth the scorners." "He that sitteth in the heavens laughs" at them, he "has them in derision" (Psalm 2:4). His feeling toward them and his power over them are such that they have reason to apprehend overthrow and ruin at any hour (see Psalm 73:19, 20).
2. His curse is on their house (ver. 33). They may expect that in their domestic relations they will have, as in fact they do have, saddest occasions of sorrow and remorse.
3. His hand is against their hope. They may be anticipating great things for themselves in the future, their castles are high and strong in the air, their hope is great; but "lo! sudden destruction," the wind of heaven blows, and all is brought into desolation. God touches their fine structure with his finger, and it is in ruins. "Shame is the promotion of fouls." - C.
I. THE DIFFERENCE OF CHARACTER. The doctrine of the corruption of human nature should always be viewed in connection with the redemption of the world by the sacrifice of the death of Christ. As this redemption extends to all mankind, all are consequently placed in a state of trial. And this leads to the difference of character mentioned in the text. Some receive and improve the grace that is offered to them; others refuse and oppose it. Hence all the inhabitants of the world are divided into two distinct classes of character. By the "wicked" we are to understand all that vast multitude who take this world for their portion. The "house of the wicked" means every family where the love and fear of God are not the ruling principles. The "just" means one who accepts and improves the grace offered him in the gospel; whose religion is seated in the heart and is displayed in the life. A just person is governed by a principle of love to God and of love to man. The "habitation of the just" means a family where religion is the principal thing. The members of such a family act uprightly, according to their different stations.
The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked.I. CHRISTIANS ARE MOST CERTAINLY EXPOSED TO THE DIVINE CURSE, IF GUILTY OF THE SINS TO WHICH IT APPERTAINS. There is no curse remaining for the believing and the penitent. But still there is a curse retained on record, and it must be as surely kept for some beneath the gospel as it ever was aforetime. There are some who are cold and selfish, who have no root of Christian tenderness, nor any spirit of believing love; who take no pity on the poor, the stranger, or the naked. If neglect brings curse, how much more must positive wrong. Our Saviour speaks of the condemned in general terms as "the workers of iniquity." There is, then, a possibility of curse yet remaining beneath the covenant of grace.
II. MAKE DETAILED EXAMINATION OF ONE OR TWO OF THE MORE SECRET OF THE SINS THAT TOO MANY CHRISTIANS ARE GUILTY OF.
1. "Cursed is he that removeth his neighbour's landmark." The Christian translation of this is, "Let no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter."
2. "Cursed is he that maketh the blind to go out of his way." In a moral and spiritual sense this reads, "Cursed is he who imposeth upon the simple, the credulous, the unwary, the ignorant, or the helpless, and either wilfully deceives, misleads, corrupts, or plunders any of these, for selfish or unworthy purpose of his own."
(John Miller, M.A.)
American National Preacher.I. THE DIFFERENT CHARACTERS HERE MENTIONED. All men are sinful, but all men are not wicked, in the sense of being immoral. The "just" are the sincere and renewed of mankind.
II. THE DIFFERENT PORTION ASSIGNED TO EACH. On the house of the wicked a curse, on the habitation of the just a blessing. The curse of the law, of a troubled conscience, of a neglected gospel, of a judgment to come. The blessing comes by God "making all things work together for good." The blessing of God is upon the table of the just, upon their sorrows, upon their toils, upon their families — in a word, upon their souls. They are blessed with peace and light and liberty — with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus.
(American National Preacher.)
II. THE DIFFERENT STATES OF THOSE TO WHOM THESE CHARACTERS SEVERALLY BELONG.
1. The curse of the wicked. They are not, however, always in an afflicted state. The expression means that, whatever their outward circumstances, God does not look favourably upon them. When God's blessing is withdrawn nothing but curse remains.
2. The blessing of the just. It lies in the continual favour, protection, and presence of God. Not necessarily in outward circumstances. "All things work together for their good."Observe —
1. That the characters and states of mankind have been always the same in every age of the world, and they will continue to be so till time shall cease.
2. That the difference of character necessarily leads to a difference of state.
(J. S. Pratt, B. C. L.)
2. God's blessing is on godly men in all their doings. If they have but little, they have content with it. God will turn poverty into plenty if He sees it best so to do.
(Francis Taylor, B.D.)
I. LET US SEEK TO BRING THAT RADICAL CONTRAST BEFORE OUR MINDS IN A GENERAL VIEW. What is right? What is wrong?
1. The words themselves give us some hint of what we mean and what we feel, for right is the same as direct, straight, and wrong is the same as wrung, twisted, turned, perverted from that which is straight and direct. There are actions and habits of mind which we feel to be in some sense straight, direct, right; others which we feel to be wrong — that is, which deviate from that which is straight. There are other words, referring to moral distinctions, which contain the same idea. A good man is constantly spoken of in the Scriptures as an upright man — a man upright in heart. A bad man is often spoken of as a perverse, a froward man; he is one who turns aside from the right way; his ways are crooked; and so on. But, so far, we have nothing more than an analogy before our minds. The word informs us that we have gathered our notion of something belonging to the mind and feelings from something that has been seen by the bodily senses in the world outside us; that is all. It tells us that our ideas of right and wrong resemble our ideas of a straight or a curved line. But we want to know not merely what right and wrong resemble, but, if possible, what they are in themselves.
2. Do you mean that what you call a right action is a useful action, and what you call a wrong action is a hurtful action? The opinion before us is, that the experience of mankind, gradually forming and accumulating through the ages of the past, has ascertained certain things to be helpful, and certain other things to be injurious, to its welfare, and that we have learned to name the one class of things right, and the other wrong.(1) If this theory, which identifies the right with the socially useful, and the wrong with the socially injurious, be true, why should we need two sets of words to express the same idea? When a man has done a generous action, or spoken the truth in the face of a strong temptation to speak falsehood, why should we not say he has acted usefully, instead of saying he has acted rightly?(2) Again, refer this question to your own feelings. When these words — useful, right — are pronounced in your hearing, and you take in their respective meanings, do they not awaken two entirely different feelings in your mind? You may, indeed, feel about a particular act that it is both right and useful at the same time; still, that is not one, but two feelings in regard to the action, which happen for the moment to meet and be blended in your mind. On the other hand, there are many actions in regard to which you have one of these feelings and not the other present to your mind. You say, "It was a useful deed, it was very convenient; but it was not right after all." You have a sense of utility which is gratified by what has been done; you have another and a higher feeling about right and wrong, which is dissatisfied and displeased by what has been done.(3) Again, if you take a general survey of men's actions, you will be led to the same conclusion. What do you say of the act in which one man rushes forward in a moment of sudden opportunity and takes the life of his fellow-man? What do you say of assassination, of murder? Is it right — can anything in the world ever make such an act other than wrong? Yet such an act has often turned out in the highest degree useful to society.
3. Is our feeling about right and wrong the same essentially as our feeling about beauty and ugliness? All that is right is beautiful; but there is much that is beautiful that is not right.
4. I take my stand, then — fearless of contradiction from any really awakened conscience — upon this position: your feeling for right is superior to every other single feeling of your nature. It is the noblest part of your feeling for God, and every other feeling — that for use and that for beauty, that for self and that for society — stands in a lower and subordinate relation to it: like servants in the presence of their master. Your conscience is your master, and woe to you if you seek to put any other passion into the lordly seat which conscience holds — if you would make that part of your nature the slave which something within you says you were Divinely made to obey.
II. APPLICATION OF THESE PRINCIPLES TO THE TEXT.
1. The "wicked "is spoken of, and the "just" is spoken of. These names, these characters, can never be interchanged. Who is the wicked man? He is one who is the slave of his lower feelings — his appetites, his passions, his lusts, his comforts and conveniences, and who is the constant rebel to the law of right, to God within his soul. Who is the just man? He is the man who obeys and follows, because he reveres the right, the God revealed in the soul; and who makes every other part and passion, every comfort and convenience, give way to and follow in the wake of the highest. The curse of the Lord is in the house of the former, and cannot but rest thereon, and there must remain until the falsehood of his heart and life be removed. The blessing of the Lord is on the habitation of the later — is necessarily there, as God is true and faithful in His ways. As the blade of grass catches on its summit the pearly globe of heaven's dew, so the blessing of the Most High is caught by every upward-looking, obedient, praying heart.
2. Again, there is the scorner, and there is the lowly man. These names, these characters, cannot be confounded with one another. Who is the scorner? The man who has lifted his pride and egotism into the seat where conscience ought to be; who obeys that dark and irrational passion; who is swollen with self-idolatry instead of bending in the sense of his littleness before the God who made him. And the lowly — who is he? The man who feels and owns himself to be low and God to be high; himself to be little and God to be great; himself to be sinful and seamed with faults, and God to be the Holy Father of his spirit. The former is and will be an object of Heaven's scorn; for who is so worthy of the deepest contempt as a human creature the slave of pride? and a scorned object he must remain until his proud heart be broken. But to the lowly grace, or favour, is given; for God is faithful, and grants to men their true needs. Heaven stoops to those who know that they cannot of themselves rise to heaven.
3. There is the wise man and there is the fool; and these names and characters can never really be confused. For who is the wise man? He who lives, and ever seeks to live, according to the best light given to him; who reveres the nature God has bestowed upon him; who prayerfully and humbly endeavours to be true to it. And who is the fool? Just the opposite of this. One who "plays the fool" with the glorious nature God has given; breaks down its holy landmarks by letting loose the swine and tigers of his evil passions into it; defiles the temple of his body by vice; does his best to put out the eyes of his conscience, and fling the dethroned ruler of his nature into prison and darkness. Glory, eternal glory and life, shall be the portion of the former; but shame the promotion (or exaltation) of the latter! What terrible irony, what scathing satire, in that word! "Exalted" to shame! "Promoted" to disgrace! Advanced in the ranks of ignominy and dishonour!
(E. Johnson, M. A.)
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