Give ear, O you heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.…
The highest power is consistent with the lowliest tenderness. He that is mightiest in word is mighty, not so much in thunder, and earthquake, and fire, as in a silent persuasiveness.
I. MOSES MEANT TO BE TENDER. Moses intended, in the sermon he was about to preach, to be exceedingly gentle. He would water minds as tender herbs, and water them in the same fashion as the small rain does. He would not be a beating hail, nor even a down-pouring shower, but he would be "as the small rain upon the tender herb."
1. And this is the more remarkable, because he was about to preach a doctrinal sermon. Does he not say, "My doctrine shall drop as the rain"?
2. It is equally remarkable that this discourse of Moses was a sermon of rebuke, lie rebuked the people, with no small degree of sternness, when he said, "Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked; thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick; then he forsook God which made him." He warned the people of their great sin, and he did not hesitate to say, "They are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them." Yet he felt that he had rebuked with the utmost meekness, and had still been as the soft dew and gentle rain. Upbraiding must be done in tenderness.
3. Furthermore, his style of speech was compassionately considerate, even as the dew seems to consider the withered grass, and the small rain to adapt itself to the tender herb. In his teaching he evidently thought of the feebler sort, and suited himself to those depressed by grief.
4. Furthermore, note well that the truth which our Lord spoke had always a refreshing effect upon those who were spiritually alive,. Our blessed Master's sermons were "as the small rain upon the tender herb," not merely for the softness of their descent, but for the wondrous efficacy with which they came. His words fell not as fire flakes to destroy, nor as the dust from the wilderness to defile, but ever as the warm shower to cherish. So we learn that Moses meant to be tender, and Jesus was tender. What else do we learn?
5. Why, that all the servants of Jesus Christ ought to he tender; for if Moses was so, much more should we be.
II. MOSES HOPED TO BE PENETRATING: "as the small rain upon the tender herb." Now, small rain is meant to enter the herb, so that it may drink in the nourishment and be truly refreshed. The rain is not to drench the herb, and it is not to flood it; it is to feed it, to revive it. This was what Moses aimed at. That is what all true preachers of Christ aim at. Why is it some people never seem to take in the Word, "as the small rain upon the tender herb"?
1. I suppose it is, first, because some of it may be above their understanding. If you hear a sermon, and you do not know at all what the good man is about, how can it benefit you?
2. Many do not drink in the sacred Word because it seems to them too good to be true. This is limiting the goodness of God: God is so good that nothing can be too good to be looked for from Him.
3. Many persons do not receive the Gospel promise to the full because they do not think it is true to them; anybody else may be blessed in that way, but they cannot think it probable that they shall be. Though the Gospel is particularly directed to sinners, yet these good folks think, "Surely grace could never reach to us." Oh, how we lose our labour, and fail to comfort men, because of the unbelief which pretends to be the child of humility, but is really the offspring of pride! The small rain does not get at the tender herb, because the herb shrinks from the silver drops which would cherish it.
4. No doubt many miss the charming influences of heavenly truth because they do not think enough. Is it not strange that people should think sermons worth hearing, but not worth meditating upon? It is as foolish as if a man thought a joint of meat worth buying, but not worth cooking; for meditation is, as it were, a sort of holy cookery by which the truth is prepared to be food for the soul.
5. And, once more, we ought to pray that when we hear the Word we may be prepared to receive it: it is of great importance that we should open the doors of our soul to let the Gospel enter us. Hospitality to truth is charity to ourselves.
III. MOSES HOPED TO SEE RESULTS. "As the small rain upon the tender herb." Now, observe, in looking about among mankind, that whenever wise men expect any result from their labours, they always go to work in a manner adapted to the end they have in view. Finding the people to be comparable to tender herbs, he adapted his speech to them, and made it like the small rain. Now, what will be the result if we do the same? It will come to pass there will be among us young converts like tender herbs, newly planted, and if we speak in tenderness we shall see the result, for they will take root in the truth, and grow in it. Paul planted, and then Apollos watered. Why did Apollos water? Because you must water plants after you have planted them, that they may the more readily strike into the earth. Happy shall you be if you employ your greater experience in strengthening those whose new life is as yet feeble. Next, when a man's discourse is like small ram to the tender herb, he sees the weak and perishing one revive and lift up his head. The herb was withering at first, it lay down faint and ready to die; but the small rain came, and it seemed to say, "Thank you," and it looked up, and lifted its head, and recovered from its swoon. You will see a reviving effect produced upon faint hearts and desponding minds. You will be a comforter, you will cheer away the fears of many, and make glad the timid and fearful. What a blessing it is when you see that result, for there is so much the more joy in the world, and God is so much the more glorified! When you water tender herbs, and see them grow, you have a further reward. It is delightful to watch the development and increase of grace in those who are under our care.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.