When you walk, they will guide you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you.
I. IN ACTION, OUR GUIDE. "When thou goest, it shall lead thee." We go "front home," "into business," "to sea," "abroad," etc. In all these goings forth we want that which will lead us in the fight and the wise way - the way of truth, purity, righteousness, happiness. The Word of the heavenly Father will supply this.
II. IN DANGER, OUR DEFENCE. "When thou sleepest, it shall keep thee." Not. only when we are "asleep" on our couch are we in danger from those who might wish to injure us, but when we are unconscious of the spiritual dangers by which we are surrounded; when in a state of "innocence," of being uninitiated into the secrets of sin; when we are not alive to duty and opportunity as we should be; - then the Word of God will be a fence, a security. Following it, coming to it to learn God's will, we shall know which way to take, what courses to avoid, how to revive and to be reanimated with holy energy and zeal.
III. IN LONELINESS, OUR COMPANION. "When we awake," when we find ourselves with our faculties all in force, and no one to hold fellowship with us, then the Word of God will "talk with us." It will speak to us of God our Father, of the supreme value of our spiritual nature, of the path of life, of the kingdom of Christ and the salvation in him, of the heavenly home. "Lamp of our feet, whereby we trace," etc. (ver. 23). - C.
When thou goest, it shall lead thee.
When thou awakest, it shall talk with theeI. THE SUBJECT OF THIS STATEMENT — WHAT IT IS THAT WILL DO THIS. The commandment and law of religious and well-instructed persons come to be equivalent to the law of God. "It" really stands for God's book. "Talk" is expressive of that familiarity and friendship which may come to be established between the mind and heart of a young man and the wisdom of God personified and embodied in the book. There is a sacred familiarity, an affectionate friendship, an intercourse of tenderness. Two or three things characterise this sacred converse and intercourse.
1. It will talk with you on the most important subjects.
2. It will talk with you in all sorts of ways.
3. It will talk with authority.There is nothing harsh, nothing grating in its tone of authority if the heart be right. But it will talk with honest plainness. This friend will speak to you with openness and honesty, and with the plainness of reproof. Two or three things you must carry with you in order that this converse may be fully beneficial.
1. You must be on terms of sincerity with the Bible. You must not come reluctantly, nor with doubt, nor to ridicule; you must not come in an improper spirit of questioning. This book treats a man just as one man treats another. To the "froward it will show itself froward."
2. There must be serious and earnest prayer for God's enlightening and guiding Spirit.
3. There must be frequent and sometimes prolonged and deep meditation on the words spoken.There are three ways in which may be illustrated the time that is here indicated —"When thou awakest."
1. Take the expression literally. When you come back in the morning to consciousness.
2. Take the expression figuratively. At particular times, through the force of inward thoughts or of outward circumstances, young man may suddenly wake up to his peril, foolishness, sin — to duty, the greatness of life, the past, the future.
3. Youth figuratively is emphatically a time of awakening to the realities of life. The young man wakes up to his personal individuality, to a sense of his obligations, feeling that there are now many things which depend on his own judgment — upon himself.
II. THE OBJECT OF DISCOURSE IN THE CHAPTER. To warn the young man against things which may injure and ruin in a worldly point of view. And there is a far greater connection between the ruin of a man in a worldly respect and the ruin of the soul than people are apt to imagine. Three causes of ruin —
1. Want of caution. Illustrated in giving your name in a bond or guarantee for another. Speculations, hazardous schemes, efforts to get profit without giving sweat. It is God's law that we shall purchase everything with the sweat of our brow; and all hazardous speculations, all gambling transactions, are, in fact, efforts to evade this law.
2. Indolence. There are some people who seem to be asleep all day long.
3. Profligacy. There is not only the seduction of man by the harlot, but the injury of man by his fellow-man. This last is a more complicated crime than the first. The man who gives way to any impure form of vice is said to "lack understanding," to "destroy his own soul."
III. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A MAN WHO IS ON THE ROAD TO RUIN. Along with the evil imaginations of the heart, a false tongue, and the love of sowing discord, there is a loss of manliness, of transparency, of sincerity, and the like. Conclusion:
1. Give a spiritual turn to the teaching of the chapter, and see what spiritual thoughts may be educed from it.
2. Invite young men who accept the Christian faith to devote themselves to God's service in the beginning of life.
3. Being so devoted, see that ye be not led away and seduced from your steadfastness by the world, the flesh, and the devil. Look ahead; always consider consequences. You are living under great moral laws, and you can no more alter those laws, you can no more avoid their working out their results, than you can turn the sun from its course. Beware of doing any one thing, of giving way to any one temptation, from which grievous results may arise.
I. WE PERCEIVE THAT THE WORLD IS LIVING. How else could it be said — "It shall talk with thee"?
1. It is living, because it is pure truth. Error is death, truth is life. The tooth of time devours all lies. Truth never dies.
2. It is the utterance of an immutable, self-existing
God. So the Word is sure, steadfast, and full of power. It is never out of date.
3. It enshrines the living heart of Christ. The living Christ is in the book; you behold His face on almost every page.
4. The Holy Spirit has a peculiar connection with the Word of God. The work of the Spirit in men's hearts is done by the texts which ministers quote rather than by their explanations of them. Take care, then, how you trifle with a book which is so instinct with life.
II. WE PERCEIVE THAT THE WORD IS PERSONAL. "It shall talk with thee."
1. God's Word talks about men, and about modern men; about the paradise of unfallen manhood, the fall, the degeneracy of the race, and the means of its redemption.
2. God's Word speaks to men in all states and conditions before God—to sinners and to the children of God.
3. God's Word is personal to all our states of mind. It goes into all details of our case, let our state be what it may.
4. God's Word is always faithful. You never find the Word of God keeping back that which is profitable for you. This suggests a little healthful self-examination. "How does the Word of God speak to my soul?"
III. WE PERCEIVE THAT HOLY SCRIPTURE IS VERY FAMILIAR. "Talk with thee." To talk signifies fellowship, communion, familiarity. Scripture speaks the language of men; it comes down to our simplicity; it is familiar as to all that concerns us; it answers inquiries.
IV. WE PERCEIVE THAT THE WORD OF GOD IS RESPONSIVE. "With thee," not "to thee." Talk with a man is not all on one side. To talk with a man means answering talk from him. Scripture is a marvellously conversational book; it talks and it makes men talk.
V. WE PERCEIVE THAT SCRIPTURE IS INFLUENTIAL. When the Word of God talks with us, it influences us. All talk influences more or less. This book soothes our sorrows, and encourages us. It has a wonderfully elevating power. It warns and restrains. It sanctifies and moulds the mind into the image of Christ. It confirms and settles us.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
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