Although a sinner does evil a hundred times and still lives long, yet I also know that it will go well with those who fear God, who are reverent in His presence.
I. THE PERPLEXING FACTS OF OBSERVATION. These are recorded in the fourteenth verse, and are described as "a vanity which is done upon the earth."
1. The just suffer the inflictions which seem appropriate to the wicked.
2. The wicked reap the prosperity which might be expected to recompense the righteous. These are facts of human life which belong to no age, to no state of society more than to another. Taken by themselves, they do not satisfy the intellect, the conscience, of the inquirer.
II. THE ASSURED CONVICTION OF FAITH. The Preacher, regarding the admitted facts with the eye of faith, comes to a conclusion which is not supported by mere reasoning upon observed facts. For him, and indeed for every truly religious man, there is a test of character which determines the destiny of spiritual beings; the discrimination is made between those who fear God and those who fear him not. Time and earth may not witness the award; but it is the award of the Almighty Judge and Lord.
1. It will not be well with the wicked, even though he may be permitted to continue anti to repeat his offences.
2. On the other hand, it shall be well with them that fear God. Such convictions are implanted by God himself; the righteous Lord has implanted them in the mind of his righteous people, and nothing can shake them, deep-seated as they are in the moral nature, which is the most abiding work of the Creator-Spirit.
III. THE ATTITUDE OF GODLY WISDOM. Those who, in the face of the facts described, nevertheless cherish the convictions approved, may reasonably apply such convictions to the practical control of the moral life.
1. Patience should be cultivated in the presence of perplexing and often distressing anomalies. We must wait in order that we may see the end, which is not yet.
2. Quiet confidence is ever the strength of God's people. They do not lean upon circumstances; they lean upon God, who never changes, and who will not fail those who place their trust in him.
3. Expectation of deliverance and acceptance. God may tarry; but he will surely appear, and will vindicate and save his own. Our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. Much has happened to test our faith, our endurance; but when the trial has been sufficiently prolonged and severe to answer the purpose of our all-wise Father, it will be brought to an end. "Unto the upright light ariseth out of darkness;" "The Lord is mindful of his own." - T.
Yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God.
I. THE PERSONS WHO ARE HERE DESCRIBED — "them that fear God." This is in the Word of God a common designation of the people of God. The fear of the Lord is emphasized as the beginning of wisdom. What is meant by this fear? What kind of fear is it? It is not servile fear. It may have that characteristic in its beginning; but it will not long continue in that atmosphere. The man who is learning a new language, or to speak his own correctly, speaks for a time laboriously under the fear of violating some grammatical rule; but after a time the knowledge of the language becomes a part of his very nature, and he rises above the fear of violating the rules of grammar and comes into the love of correct speech. So, starting in the Christian life on the low plane of fear in its lower senses, we rise into the perfect love of God which casteth out all fear; we love truth, holiness and God for their own sake; we would serve God if there were no hell to be shunned and no heaven to be won; we think little of either; the love of Christ constraineth us. We fear simply lest we may offend God, our Father, Friend, and Redeemer. This fear is filial. It is the fear of a son, and not that of a slave.
II. THE PROMISE CONCERNING THE PEOPLE OF GOD: "It shall be well with them." It is not said that believers shall not have their share in the ordinary trials of life. The Bible nowhere promises us exemption from these trials. It does not assure us that we shall not go into the furnace, nor into the deep waters; but it does promise that the fire shall not consume us and the waters shall not overflow us. It is not said that Christians shall not have extraordinary trials. Christianity develops manhood; vastly enlarges the sphere of life. It gives a broader surface across which the winds of adversity may sweep. It gives greater possibilities of enjoyment; and these make greater trials certain. A Christian man is higher, deeper, and broader than other men are. He has more fully developed all his capacities both for joy and sorrow. The more our natures are developed, the greater, also, will be our responsibilities. Loyalty to God put Joseph into prison; made Elijah face cruel Ahab and wicked Jezebel; drove Daniel into a den of lions; hurled the three faithful Hebrews into the seven-times heated furnace; put Peter into the common prison, and Paul and Silas into the inner prison, with their feet fast in the stocks. But it was still well with them. This fact is the glory of our faith; this is the joy of our life in God. Joseph finds his prison the vestibule to the palace of the Pharaohs; Elijah's fiery mission is but the prelude to the chariot of fire which carried him to glory and to God.
III. THE ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY HERE EXPRESSED. "Yet surely I know." The inspired preacher had good grounds for his knowledge. Because of God's character men may be sure that it will be well with those who fear Him. God must be right, God must do right.
(R. S. MacArthur, D. D.)
Homilist.I. THE CHARACTER HERE MENTIONED — "them that fear God." The fear of God is that principle which reverences God and respects His authority. It is one of the great blessings of the new covenant, produced in the heart by the Holy Spirit.
1. This fear is the result of regeneration. An unrenewed man does not fear God (Romans 3:18). But regeneration turns the heart from unlawful objects to God as the chief good.
2. This fear is the result of adoption. God is regarded as a Father, worthy of reverence and love.
3. This fear is manifested by hatred to that which is hateful to God.
4. Manifested by delighting in that which is pleasing to God. The fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23). Delight in His house, in His people, in His service, etc.
5. This fear is submission to His will. Their will is revealed in His Word; it is manifested in His appointments. As to doctrines, ordinances and precepts, I do not follow my own mind. In afflictions I do not resist or repine. "It is the Lord; let Him do as seemeth good in His sight."
II. THE HAPPINESS HERE REFERRED TO — "It shall be well with them."
1. It is well with them already. Are they not saved from guilt and condemnation? Have they not hope? They "fear God," and from that principle arises their happiness.
2. It shall be well with them hereafter. They are under the conduct of Divine providence. God appoints the bounds of their habitations. It shall be well in adversity. Well in death. The retrospect of life will give no pain. "The righteous hath hope in His death." Well in the resurrection. The rearers of God will be raised to immortal life (Romans 8:11; Philippians 3:20, 21). Well in the judgment day. It shall be well with them then. It shall be well with them for ever — "Their sun shall no more go down."
III. THE CERTAINTY HERE AFFIRMED — "Surely I know."
1. I know from experience. I never found happiness in sin — I have found it in the fear of God.
2. I know it from observation. "Mark the perfect man." "Let me die the death of the righteous."
I. There is, first, THE FEAR CAUSED BY AN AWAKENING CONSCIENCE. This is the lowest grade of godly fear; here all true piety takes its rise. We shall never forget, to our dying day, that hour of desperate grief when first we discovered our lost estate. Sinner, it shall be well with thee if thou art now made to fear the wrath of God on account of thy sin; if God the Spirit hath poured forth the vials of Almighty wrath into thy soul, so that thou art cast down and sore vexed. Think not thou shalt be destroyed; it shall be well with thee. Your distresses are very painful, but they are not singular; others have had to endure the same. But I will tell thee something else to comfort thee; I will put this question to thee — Wouldst thou wish to go back and become what thou once wast? Sins are now so painful that thou canst scarce eat, or drink, or sleep.
II. There are many who have believed, and are truly converted, who have a fear which I may call THE FEAR OF ANXIETY. They are afraid that they are not converted. They are converted, there is no doubt of it. Sometimes they know they are so themselves, but, for the most part, they are afraid. First, they will tell you they are afraid they never repented enough; the work in their heart, s, they say, was not deep; it was just superficial surface-ploughing, and never entered into their souls. Then they are quite sure they never came to Christ aright; they think they came the wrong way. How that can be no one knows, for they could not come at all except the Father drew them; and the Father did not draw them the wrong way. They say they can trust Christ, but they are afraid they do not trust Him aright; and they always, do what you may, come back to the old condition; they are always afraid. And now, what shall I say to these good souls? Why, I will say this, "Surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before Him." Not only those who believe, but those who fear, have got a promise, I would to God that they had more faith; I would that they could lay hold on the Saviour, and had more assurance, and even attain unto a perfect confidence; but if they cannot, shall I utter a word that would hurt them? God forbid; "Surely it shall be well even with them that fear God, with them that fear before Him."
III. And now, in the next place, there is A FEAR WHICH WORKS CAUTION. When we get a little further advanced in the Christian life, our present state is not so much a matter of anxiety as our future state. These persons say, "I dare not join the Church, because I am afraid I shall fall." That fear is good, in itself. But do you think that you would not bring disgrace on Christ's cause as it is? You are always at the place of worship; you are never away. You were always looked upon as being one of the Church, though you have not made a profession. Now, if you were to sin, would it not dishonour the Church even now? And then I will ask you this question, Where do you think a man is safest, — in the paths of obedience, or in the paths of disobedience? You are afraid you will fall into sin — "Surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before Him." If you should tell me you were not afraid of falling, I would not have you in the Church for the world; you would be no Christian. I love your fear, and love you, too, for it; you are my brother and sister in Jesus ii you can truly say that you fear lest you should sin. Seek then, my friends, to grow in this fear of caution; obtain more and more of it; and whilst thou dost not distrust the Saviour, learn to distrust thyself more and more every day.
IV. I notice, in the next place, the fear which I may call THE FEAR OF JEALOUSY. Strong love will usually promote jealousy. The true believer, when he gets his Saviour in full possession, and in blissful communion, is so jealous lest any rival should intrude in his heart; he is afraid lest his dearest friend should get more of his heart than the Saviour has. He is afraid of his wealth; he trembles at his health, at his fame, at everything that is dear to him, lest it should engross his heart. Oh, how often does he pray, "My Lord, let me not be of a divided spirit; cast down each idol — self-will, self-righteousness." And I tell you the more he loves, the more he will fear lest he should provoke his Saviour by bringing a rival into his heart, and setting up Antichrist in his spirit; so that fear just goes in proportion to love; and the bright love is congenial, and must walk side by side with the deepest jealousy and the profoundest fear.
V. I will conclude by just mentioning that fear which is felt WHEN WE HAVE HAD DIVINE MANIFESTATIONS. Did you never, in the silence of the night, look up and view the stars, feeding, like sheep on the azure pastures of the sky? Have you never thought of those great worlds, far, far away, divided from us by ahnost illimitable leagues of space? Did you never, whilst musing on the starry heavens, lose yourself in thoughts of God? and have you never felt, at such a time, that you could say with Jacob, "How dreadful is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and the very gate of heaven"? Now, this kind of fear if you have ever felt it, if it has been produced in your heart by contemplation of God, is a high and hallowed thing, and to you this promise is addressed — "Surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before Him."
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
TopicsAlthough, Better, Commits, Crimes, Evil, Fear, Fearing, God-fearing, Hundred, Lengthen, Openly, Prolong, Prolonged, Prolongeth, Prolonging, Prolongs, Reverent, Sinner, Surely, Though, Wicked, Yet
Outline1. true wisdom is modest
2. Kings are to be respected
6. Divine providence is to be observed
12. It is better with the godly in adversity, than with the wicked in prosperity
16. The work of God is unsearchable
Dictionary of Bible ThemesEcclesiastes 8:12
'Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil'--ECCLES. viii. 11. When the Pharaoh of the Exodus saw there was respite, he hardened his heart. Abject in his fear before Moses, he was ready to promise anything; insolent in his pride, he swallows down his promises as soon as fear is eased, his repentance and his retractation of it combined to add new weights about his neck. He was but a conspicuous example of …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
The Wicked Man's Life, Funeral, and Epitaph
Whether Christ Should have Been Circumcised?
Whether in Loving God we Ought to Observe any Mode?
Concerning Jonathan, one of the Sicarii, that Stirred up a Sedition in Cyrene, and was a False Accuser [Of the Innocent].
A Few Sighs from Hell;
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