Blessed is the man You discipline, O LORD, and teach from Your law,
I. THE STRANGE BEATITUDE. "Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest." Wherein is the blessedness? We reply:
1. Because of what such chastening often reveals. If he were not really a child of God, he would not endure it; he would start aside and rebel. An infidel told a minister of Christ, who has been stricken with total blindness, that if God served him so, he would curse him to his face. Then this minister - well known to the writer - bore his testimony to the wonderful grace of God, how his soul had been kept in peace, and that he could and did rejoice in God, notwithstanding all his trouble. The text is like the last of the Beatitudes, "Blessed are ye when men shall persecute you," etc. (Matthew 5.). The endurance, and yet more the meek acquiescence in it, are a real revelation from God, that such a man is one of the Lord's very own. To know that is blessedness indeed.
2. Because of what it is followed by. The Lord teaches him out of his Law. We are all of us laggard scholars; some of us are too proud to learn. But God's chastenings have a wonderfully humbling and softening effect, and bring the soul into the blessed and indispensable condition for receiving the teachings of God.
3. Because of what it ministers. "Rest from the days of adversity." They cannot trouble him. A while ago some works were being carried on at Dover pier; the men had to go down deep in diving bells to reach their work. One evening one of the men was drawn up, the day's work being done, and went to his home. It suddenly occurred to him that he had left one of his tools on the stone which he had been working at. That night a furious storm raged, and the sea was lashed into a wild tumult. When at length on the following day the man went back to his work, he made up his mind that he should never again see the tool he had left the previous day. But lo! when he got down to the depths where he had been at work, there was his tool, just where he had left it the night before. The fury of the storm had not penetrated so far down; it only had power on the surface; in the depths beneath all had been quiet and still. So is it with the soul of him to whom God gives rest from the days of adversity. His soul is in the depths of God's love, where no power of adversity can reach. And this has been proved true a thousand times, and will be for us all if we be really the Lord's. And by and by the adversity itself shall depart; it continues only "until the pit be digged for the wicked." Then there shall be rest without as well as within. Now he can have only the inward rest, and blessed indeed is that; but then externally as well as internally he shall be at rest.
II. A STERN NECESSITY. The destruction of the wicked; for that is what the words just quoted mean. For until then God's people cannot be perfected, but then they shall. Many object to this stern doctrine. They say God is too merciful ever to let such doom fall upon any soul. But what about his own people? If they cannot enter into God's rest until what is here said is fulfilled, does not this make it altogether likely that it will be fulfilled; yea, that it must be? If mercy to the wicked be cruelty to the righteous, as it is, what is it likely that God will do? There can be but one answer.
III. A TERRIBLE ONLOOK. "The pit digged," etc.
1. These words assert the fact that such retribution will surely come. Scripture evermore affirms it. Conscience confirms the Scripture, and observed facts in the constant acting of God's providence - the awful retributions that we see do actually come on the wicked - attest the same awful truth.
2. They tell the nature of this retribution. "The pit." It brings up before the mind the dark horror which awaits sin.
3. Its gradual approach. The pit is not yet dug, but is being made ready. It becomes wider and deeper every day.
4. Those who are preparing it. God and the sinner himself. In an awful sense he is a "coworker with God."
5. Its loud appeal. "Stop the digging!" If man stops, God will; he will not go on if you will not. Turn to him, and he will deliver you out of the horrible pit (Psalm 40:1). - S.C.
I. THE QUALITIES OF THE MAN HERE BLESSED BY THE PROPHET.
I. WHY GOD CHASTISES MEN IN ORDER TO TEACH THEM OUT OF HIS WORD. The general reason is because they disregard milder modes of teaching. If men would regard the still small voice of God in His works, and read His character therein displayed, they would fly to His Word for light and instruction, without needing or feeling His chastising hand. But they will not open their eyes to see Him, nor their ears to hear Him, until they are constrained to do it by the rod of correction.
Blessed is the man whom Thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of Thy lawI. GOD'S CHILDREN ARE UNDER TUITION. Other children may run about, and take holiday; they may wander into the weeds, and gather the flowers, and do very much what. they like; but. God's own children have to go to school. This is a great, privilege for them, although they do not always think so. Children are not. often good judges of what is best. for themselves. Note how this tuition is described in our text; the very first word concerning it is "chastenest." In God's school-house the rod is still extant; with the Lord, chastening is teaching. He does not spoil His children; but chastens them, aye, even unto scourging, as the apostle puts it (Hebrews 12:6). I know that some of us have learnt much from the Lord's chastening rod. For instance, we have learnt the evil of sin. "Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept Thy Word." Our chastening teaches us the unsatisfactory nature of worldly things. We can easily become attached to the things which we possess. It is a very difficult thing to handle gold without allowing it to adhere to your fingers; and when it gets into your purse, you need much grace to prevent it getting into your heart. Do we not also learn by affliction our own frailty, and our own impatience? Ah, yes, we find how great our weakness is when first one thing is taken away, and then another. Do we not then learn also the value of prayer? And then how precious the promises become. They shine out like newly-kindled stars when we get into the night of affliction. And oh, how should we ever know the faithfulness of God if it were not for affliction? We might talk about it and theoretically understand it; but to try to prove the greatness of Jehovah's love, and the absolute certainty of His eternal faithfulness — this cometh not except by the way of affliction and trial.
II. GOD'S CHILDREN EDUCATED. "That Thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity," etc. "What!" you ask, "chastened to give us rest? It is usual for chastening to break our rest." Yes, I know that it is so with other chastenings; but in very deed this is the way in which God gives rest to His people. First, we learn to rest in the will of God. Our will is naturally very stubborn; and when we are chastened, at first we kick out, like a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke; but by degrees we feel that we must bear the yoke. We then go a little further, and we feel that we ought to bear it, even though God should lay upon us anything He pleases, and we should feel it very galling. By and by the yoke begins to fit our neck, and we come even to love it. We make advances in our spiritual education when we learn to rest after our afflictions. When any trouble is over, great delights often come to us. It is with us as it was with our Master; He had been with the wild beasts; worse still, He had been tempted of the devil; but angels came, and ministered unto Him. Perhaps there is no happier period of life than the state of convalescence, when the sick man is gradually recovering his former strength after a long illness. So God gives surprising peace to His people when He takes away their troubles, but He also gives them a great measure of peace in their troubles. Thus, for another lesson, we learn to rest in adversity. The Lord chastens us in order that we may learn how to stand fast, and bear up bravely while the trouble is yet upon us.
III. GOD'S CHILDREN ARE STILL DEAR TO HIM (ver. 14). First, "the Lord will not east off His people." When you are put into the furnace, and into the greatest heat that can be obtained, it is that the Lord may take away your dross and purify you for His service. Then, further, the Lord "will not forsake His inheritance."
IV. GOD'S PEOPLE WILL BE RIGHTED IN THE END (ver. 15). Judgment has gone out of the world for a while, though it watcheth and recordeth all things. It is gone partly for our trial and testing, that we may learn to trust an absent God and Saviour. Judgment is also gone away in order that mercy may be extended to the ungodly, that they may live, and that they may turn to God; for He willeth not the death of any, but that they may turn unto Him and live. Judgment has gone up to the throne for a while until the wicked shall have completed the full measure of their sin, "until the pit be digged for the wicked." Do not be in a hurry, child of God; the Lord has timed His absence. "Judgment shall return unto righteousness." You shall hear the trumpet soon. And what then? Judgment shall be welcomed by the godly. When it comes, "all the upright in heart shall follow it." The chariot of righteousness shall lead the way, and all the people of God shall follow it in a glorious procession. Then shall they receive their Lord's commendation, "Well done, good and faithful servants."
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
II. HOW GOD EMPLOYS CHASTISEMENTS TO TEACH MEN OUT OF HIS WORD. He makes them feel the necessity of reading, hearing, understanding and embracing the Gospel, and then opens their hearts to embrace it. He causes them to know the rod, and who has appointed it; and the happy fruit is the taking away of their sins. Thus He often afflicts men for the purpose of giving them saving instruction.
III. THE HAPPINESS OF THOSE WHOM GOD EFFECTUALLY TEACHES THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIS WORD, BY MEANS OF THE AFFLICTIVE DISPENSATIONS OF HIS PROVIDENCE.
1. The knowledge men are taught through this medium affords them real comfort and consolation, though their afflictions continue. They feel a joyful confidence in the rectitude, wisdom and goodness of all His dispensations. They choose that His will should be done rather than their own; and that His glory should be promoted, rather than their own personal good should be regarded.
2. They are happy when their peculiar troubles and trials are removed. Divine instruction in adversity teaches them how to feel and act in prosperity.
3. They shall be happy for ever.
1. If God sometimes chastens men in order to teach them out of His Word, because milder means will not produce that desirable effect, then we must conclude that they are very unwilling to receive Divine instruction.
2. If it be owing to Divine-instruction that Divine chastenings do men good, then we may conclude that Divine chastenings alone will do them no good. The natural tendency of Divine chastenings is to stir up whatever moral corruption lies in the heart; and they will produce no other effect unless God Himself teaches them to profit.
3. If God improves the time of affliction as a favourable opportunity of instructing men out of His Word in the knowledge of Divine things, then the friends of God ought to improve the same favourable season for giving religious instruction to the afflicted.
4. If God employs chastenings as the most powerful means of instructing men in the knowledge of spiritual and Divine things, then those who refuse instruction under His correcting hand have reason to fear He will say concerning them, "Let them alone," that they may perish in their ignorance. He has said, "My Spirit shall not always strive with man."
5. Since God oftener instructs men in a time of adversity than in a time of prosperity, they have more reason to fear prosperity than adversity.
6. Let what has been said lead all to inquire whether they have ever derived any spiritual benefit from adversity.
(N. Emmons, D.D.)
1. He is chastised of God.(1) This must teach us patience when we are wronged, injured and oppressed in any sort by evil men, because then being under them we are under God's rod.(2) It is a doctrine of singular comfort to the children of God being in the hands of their cruel and crafty adversaries, because their adversaries also are in the hands of God, as a rod in the hand of the smiter.
2. He is taught of God in His law. If in our affliction we will learn anything, we must take God's Book into our hands, and seriously peruse it. And hereby shall it appear that our afflictions have been our teachers, if by them we have felt ourselves stirred up to greater diligence, zeal, and reverence in reading and hearing the Word.
3. The lessons which affliction teacheth.(1) Those who are yet to be converted. They by their afflictions are taught this one worthy lesson, worth all the lessons in the world; namely, to convert and turn to the Lord, to repent and believe the Gospel.(2) The second kind of lessons taught by affliction is to those already converted. Concerning the right manner of bearing affliction. Concerning the right profit and holy use of afflictions. These lessons are proper to the converted, it being impossible for a man unconverted to leave either of them.
II. THE BLESSEDNESS WHICH BELONGETH TO THE CHILD OF GOD.
1. The first kind of blessedness I call privative, because it consisteth in taking away of that curse which naturally cleaves to all afflictions.
2. There is also a positive blessedness in the afflictions of the godly. There is not only the absence of evil from affliction, but good also is present, in regard whereof the afflicted worthily are called and counted blessed.(1) The good from whence they have their original; namely, the love of God disposing these afflictions to us.(2) The good annexed to them, and necessarily concomitant with them. Our conformity with Christ our elder brother, who first suffered, and then entered into glory, who first wore a crown of thorns, and then of glory; who first felt the weight of His burdensome cross, and then that eternal weight of happiness (Romans 8:29). Our communion with Christ who is a fellow-sufferer with us in all our afflictions, unless such wherein we suffer as evil-doers (1 Peter 4:18). The powerful presence of God's Spirit, cheering and comforting us in our affliction. Blessedness is nothing else but enjoying sweet communion with God. Now, since this communion is most of all enjoyed in affliction, worthily are the afflicted counted blessed.(3) The good confirmed to us by them. The present good is our adoption, whereof they are assured pledges and badges unto us (Hebrews 12.). Good which afflictions confirm unto us is future. And that twofold.(i.) In this life, an enlargement of comforts both inward and outward, even answerable to the measure of afflictions.(ii.) In the life to come. "If we suffer with Him," etc. Thus were the martyrs blessed in their afflictions, blessed in their martyrdom, God honouring them like Elias, sending for them, as M. Bradford speaks, to heaven in a fiery chariot. Thus we see how in every respect the afflicted are to be accounted blessed.
(D. Dyke, B.D.)
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