And you, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with you…
The path of duty, since the Fall, is never smooth. We may have an inward sense of delight - tranquil satisfaction, arising from the approval of conscience and the smile of God - but from without we must expect sharp opposition. There is demand for vigilance, skill, and courage.
I. OPPOSITION FORESEEN. Men who have long time departed from God are not easily induced to return. The tree that has grown wildly crooked, cannot readily be restored to straightness and shape. Those who have abandoned the paths of truth and righteousness, sadly degrade their original nature. The cedars are reduced to thorns and briers. Sinners are unprofitable and injurious in the world - a curse to society. They bear no fruit, or only sour and poisonous fruit. They choke the promise of better things. Or they are like scorpions, bent only on mischief. Originally lords of nature, they have sunk to the level of the meanest insects. There is poison in their crafty words. There is a danger in their very looks.
II. COURAGE DEMANDED. "Be not afraid of them." Why should God's servants fear? Our adversaries' words are mere breath. Not a particle of power have they but such as is permitted them by our Master. While they open their mouths in loud boasting, the finger of death is loosening the silver cord within. As the mighty God hath said to the angry waves, so hath he said to these, "Thus far shall ye go, and no further." They may loudly bark, but it is seldom they have power to bite. The fierce opposition of the ungodly may turn to our good; it may and ought to develop our courage. The severer the conflict, the more strength we may gather, and the greater will be our triumph. As they are so zealous in a bad cause, how much more zealous should we be in the very best of enterprises?
III. THE ONLY WEAPON PERMITTED. In this conflict with human folly and rebellion, our only weapon is to be "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." "Thou shalt speak ray words unto them." If they meet us with contempt and malice, we have but to repeat in calmer tones, and with undisturbed patience, the same facts - the message from the lips of God. Any addition of ours, however suitable it may seem, only weakens the force of the message. We must see to it that the edge of the weapon is not blunted by our own carelessness. Our only concern should be that we do speak all the counsel of God - that it is the Word of God, both in substance and form, which we utter.
IV. AN INSIDIOUS DANGER EXPOSED. "Be not thou rebellious like that rebellions house." One foe within the camp is more injurious than a thousand outside. If a germ of disease be in the medicine, it will invalidate all its efficacy. Rebellion assumes a myriad forms. It is a hydra with more than a hundred heads. Listlessness in hearing the heavenly commission - a tampering with its fixed terms, a rash attempt to improve the Divine original - these and such-like acts are seed germs of rebellion in the soul. "If the salt be deprived of its savour," wherewith shall the corruptions of the world be purged out? An unfaithful ambassador adds fresh aggravation to the revolt of a province. Sin is a contagious evil. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.
WEB: You, son of man, don't be afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you, and you do dwell among scorpions: don't be afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they are a rebellious house.