The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of discipleship, to sustain the weary with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning; He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.
Isaiah 42:1-4; Isaiah 49:1-9. The manner in which God is referred to is peculiarly solemn - by his double name, the Lord Jehovah.
I. THE SERVANT'S ENDOWMENTS AND TEMPER. The tongue of disciples. The "facility of well-trained scholars" (Isaiah 8:6; Isaiah 54:13) - "a discipled tongue, speaking nothing but what it has learned from God." A tongue the object of which is comfort to the weary. Not to astonish, dazzle, bewilder, but to edify and console. "The wisdom of Heaven does not bespeak man in an unknown tongue; nor design, what would be more miraculous than all miracles, that men should be saved by what they could not understand." But true eloquence implies the faculty of listening. "The things we have heard declare we unto you." They are things imparted to the wakened soul, in the clear conscious hours of calm contemplation, and in the mood of devout sympathy. "The Servant was not a mechanical organ of revelation, but had a spiritual sympathy with it, even when it told of suffering for himself. It is not that bare assent to the truth which is seldom followed by spiritual effects. Nothing is more common than to see men of rare knowledge and raised speculations in the things of God, who have no relish and savour of them in their hearts and affections. Their practice bids defiance to their knowledge. They never know God so as to obey him, and therefore never know him at all. To hear the Word of God, and to hear God speaking in his Word, are things vastly different" (South). Now, Jehovah had opened an ear to his Servant; and he "had not been defiant, had not turned back." All our duties as servants of God resolve themselves into faith, obedience, and patience; and the vital principle of all is submission. Faith, the submission of the understanding; obedience, the submission of the will to what God bids us to do; and patience, submission to what God bids us suffer. In contrast to this temper Jonah may be cited; and in exemplification of it, Jeremiah (Jeremiah 17:6; Jeremiah 20:7). in such a temper humiliation and scorn may be patiently endured.
II. THE DIVINE PRESENCE AND HELP. "Against the crowd of mockers he places the Lord Jehovah." Jehovah is on his side; and therefore he can (in a good sense) harden his face like a flint against his foes, be confident, and not be disappointed. A good conscience is a tower of strength. "Near is he that justifieth me." "To justify," in the Old Testament, almost always means to pronounce a man righteous, or prove him so in act. The Servant is thinking of a trial through which he is passing, and where God is the Judge. But "while Job shrinks in terror from the issue, the Servant has no doubt as to a favourable result." The passage is full of a holy and strong confidence, in the strength of which he can face all his foes. Only he who has not defied God (ver. 5) is able to defy the world, and speak of his enemies as falling to pieces like a rotten, moth-eaten garment. And thus from personal experience he is able to comfort and to exhort others. "He that walketh in darkness and hath no light, let him trust in the Name of Jehovah, and rely upon his God." The opposition is between outward darkness and inward light - in the man's own "clear breast," where he "may sit in the centre, and enjoy clear day." To have a conscience defiled and obscured is to be left, in the time of adversity, "wholly in the dark." The man cannot tell whether God is his enemy or his friend; or rather, has cause to suspect him of being his enemy. Then, "if we would have our conscience deal clearly with us, we must deal severely with it. Often scouring and cleansing it will make it bright." We learn from the passage how the habit of submission to the Spirit of God, and hearty obedience to his will, tends to promote a reasonable confidence in every hour of trial. Not, indeed, one that is secure against all vicissitudes of wavering and distrust, any more than a strong physical constitution can be exempt from occasional attacks of disease. But in the will absolutely submitted to the Divine, vigorously exerted in the cause of right, may be found a confidence - short, indeed, of perfect assurance, yet "for the purposes of a pious life much more useful." - J.
I. THE CHARACTER DESCRIBED AS NEEDING THE SAVIOUR'S GRACE. "Him that is weary." This description includes a very large class. All may not ascribe their weariness to the same cause, nor may all be sensible of their weariness to the same extent. Yet all are weary.
The Lord God hath given Me the tongue of the learned.Isaiah 49:1-6. He describes —
1. The close, intimate, and continuous communion with God through which He has learned the ministry of comfort by the Divine word, and His own complete self-surrender to the voice that guides Him (vers. 4, 5).
2. His acceptance of the persecution and obloquy which He had to encounter in the discharge of His commission (ver. 6).
3. His unwavering confidence in the help of Jehovah, and the victory of His righteous cause, and the discomfiture of all His enemies (vers. 7-9). Vers. 10, 11 are an appendix to the preceding description, drawing lessons for the encouragement of believers (ver, 10) or the warning of unbelievers (ver. 11). Although the word "Servant" never occurs in this passage, its resemblance to the three other "Servant-passages" makes it certain that the speaker is none other than the ideal character who comes before us in Isaiah 42:1-4; Isaiah 49:1-6, and Isaiah 52:13; 53:15. The passage, indeed, forms an almost indispensable link of connection between the first two and the last of these.
(Prof. J. Skinner, D.D.)
1. Not in the world of sense only do you complain of weariness. It is impossible for the unrenewed heart to find rest even in things that are Spiritual. Heaven itself would to such a one cease to be heaven. What a weariness do you find in the religion of Jesus Christ! Of prayer, of public worship, of hearing sermons, of religious conversation, of the service and work of the Lord you say, "What a weariness!"
2. The description, certainly, includes those who are truly anxious about the salvation of their souls.
3. The Lord's weary ones include His own quickened people, who feel the burden of the body of sin, and are cast down because of their difficulties.
4. The assaults of the adversary, too, contribute not a little to the sense of weariness, which often prostrate a child of God.
5. Add to these the numerous and varied trials and afflictions which beset his pathway to heaven, and you have in outline the picture of his case.
II. CHRIST'S QUALIFICATIONS TO MEET THE CASE OF SUCH.
1. His participation of our nature. Absolute Godhead could not of itself have conveyed to us sinners one word of sympathy or comfort. Neither could the angels do it. They are total strangers to the weariness to which sinful children of men are heirs. But, the man Christ Jesus becomes a partaker of the very nature whose burdens He sought to relieve. "Forasmuch as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, He also took part in the same."
2. As He thus took upon Him our nature, so He also endured our sinless though humbling infirmities.
3. In addition to all this, the Lord God had given Him the tongue of the learned in another sense. I refer to the communication of the Divine Spirit (Isaiah 61:1). Never was there a tongue like Christ's — so learned, so skilled, so practised, and so experienced. "Never man spake like this man."
4. The purpose for which this tongue of the learned was given Him is thus described — "That He should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary."
(1) (2) (3) 5. But when Christ speaks to the weary, it is not to the outward ear merely, but to the heart — with almighty power. And the result is rest. III. THE REST WHICH JESUS IMPARTS, when He speaks the word in season. 1. We are seeking rest by nature everywhere, and in everything but in Jesus. We seek it in the outward world, in the moral world, in the religious world — and we find it not. We seek it in conviction, in ordinances, in doing the works of the law — and still it evades us. We go from place to place, and from means to means, and still the burden presses, and we find no rest. No, and never will, until it is sought and found in Jesus. 2. Yet, in the case of a tried believer, the rest that Jesus imparts does not always imply the removal of the burden from which the sense of weariness proceeds. The burden is permitted to remain, and yet rest is experienced. Wonderful indeed! How is it explained? That burden takes us to Jesus. He pours strength into our souls, life into our spirits, and love into our hearts, and so we find rest. It is also matter of much practical importance, that you take heed not to anticipate or forestall His promised grace. For every possible emergency in which you can be placed, the fulness of Christ and the supplies of the Covenant are provided. But that provision is only meted out as the necessity for which it was intended occurs. 3. There is an hour approaching — the last great crisis of human life — when, we shall all, more than ever, need Him who hath the "tongue of the learned." It will be of all seasons the most trying and solemn — the season that separates the soul from the body, and ushers the immortal spirit into eternity. Is it not our highest wisdom to know this Saviour now? (C. Ross M. A.)
(2) (3) 5. But when Christ speaks to the weary, it is not to the outward ear merely, but to the heart — with almighty power. And the result is rest. III. THE REST WHICH JESUS IMPARTS, when He speaks the word in season. 1. We are seeking rest by nature everywhere, and in everything but in Jesus. We seek it in the outward world, in the moral world, in the religious world — and we find it not. We seek it in conviction, in ordinances, in doing the works of the law — and still it evades us. We go from place to place, and from means to means, and still the burden presses, and we find no rest. No, and never will, until it is sought and found in Jesus. 2. Yet, in the case of a tried believer, the rest that Jesus imparts does not always imply the removal of the burden from which the sense of weariness proceeds. The burden is permitted to remain, and yet rest is experienced. Wonderful indeed! How is it explained? That burden takes us to Jesus. He pours strength into our souls, life into our spirits, and love into our hearts, and so we find rest. It is also matter of much practical importance, that you take heed not to anticipate or forestall His promised grace. For every possible emergency in which you can be placed, the fulness of Christ and the supplies of the Covenant are provided. But that provision is only meted out as the necessity for which it was intended occurs. 3. There is an hour approaching — the last great crisis of human life — when, we shall all, more than ever, need Him who hath the "tongue of the learned." It will be of all seasons the most trying and solemn — the season that separates the soul from the body, and ushers the immortal spirit into eternity. Is it not our highest wisdom to know this Saviour now? (C. Ross M. A.)
(3) 5. But when Christ speaks to the weary, it is not to the outward ear merely, but to the heart — with almighty power. And the result is rest. III. THE REST WHICH JESUS IMPARTS, when He speaks the word in season. 1. We are seeking rest by nature everywhere, and in everything but in Jesus. We seek it in the outward world, in the moral world, in the religious world — and we find it not. We seek it in conviction, in ordinances, in doing the works of the law — and still it evades us. We go from place to place, and from means to means, and still the burden presses, and we find no rest. No, and never will, until it is sought and found in Jesus. 2. Yet, in the case of a tried believer, the rest that Jesus imparts does not always imply the removal of the burden from which the sense of weariness proceeds. The burden is permitted to remain, and yet rest is experienced. Wonderful indeed! How is it explained? That burden takes us to Jesus. He pours strength into our souls, life into our spirits, and love into our hearts, and so we find rest. It is also matter of much practical importance, that you take heed not to anticipate or forestall His promised grace. For every possible emergency in which you can be placed, the fulness of Christ and the supplies of the Covenant are provided. But that provision is only meted out as the necessity for which it was intended occurs. 3. There is an hour approaching — the last great crisis of human life — when, we shall all, more than ever, need Him who hath the "tongue of the learned." It will be of all seasons the most trying and solemn — the season that separates the soul from the body, and ushers the immortal spirit into eternity. Is it not our highest wisdom to know this Saviour now? (C. Ross M. A.)
III. THE REST WHICH JESUS IMPARTS, when He speaks the word in season.
(C. Ross M. A.)
II. Though the gift itself is Divine, IT IS TO BE EXERCISED SEASONABLY. It is not enough to speak the right word, it must be spoken at the right moment.
(J. Parker, D.D.)I. CONSIDER THE STATE AND CHARACTER OF THOSE THAT ARE WEARY.
II. SHOW, FROM THE CHARACTER AND PERSON OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, THAT HE IS A SEASONABLE AND ALL-SUFFICIENT SAVIOUR TO THOSE WHO ARE WEARY. The excellency and glory of Christ may not only be perceived by viewing Him in the whole of His mediatorial character; but, also, by fixing on specific parts of it, and showing that there is a Divine suitability to all the exigencies of ruined men.
1. He can give rest to the mind of the man who is wearied with his researches after human wisdom.
2. He can give rest to those who are oppressed under a sense of guilt.
3. He can speak a word in season to those who have wearied themselves in attempting to establish their own righteousness.
4. He can give rest to those who have wearied themselves in vainly trying to overcome their corruptions in their own strength.
5. He can speak a word in season to those who are weary with the weight of affliction and trouble.
6. He can give rest to those who are oppressed and wearied with the cares of this world.
7. Christ can speak a word in season to those who are weary of living in this world. None of the children of men can enjoy rest, or real peace of mind, but through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
(J. Matheson.)Acts 20:27). The first passage is spoken by the Messiah, the second by St. Paul. The one looks forward, the other backward. The one speaks of a preparation and fitness for a work yet to be done; the other is a thankful record of a mission already faithfully accomplished.
I. IN THE FIRST PASSAGE YOU HAVE THE CHIEF MINISTER OF THE CHURCH ANTICIPATING HIS WORK OF TEACHING AND ANNOUNCING HIS FITNESS FOR THE WORK.
1. Observe the gift with which He claims to be endowed as one element of special fitness for His ministry. Speech was the chief instrument employed by Christ for conveying truth to the minds of men. The dispensation under which we live, so emphatically designated the dispensation of the Spirit, was ushered in by two miracles, both of which related to the tongue The Holy Spirit Himself appeared resting upon each one in the form of cloven tongues as of fire. A second miracle was wrought on the uneducated Galilean apostles, enabling them, without learning, to speak intelligently in the dialects of all the nationalities present, so that every man heard them speak in his own language. And why, at the very founding of Christianity, was this twofold miracle wrought in relation to the tongue, if not to indicate that the Holy Spirit purposed to employ speech as the chief instrument in the regeneration of mankind?
2. The purpose for which this gift of speech is to be employed. "To speak a word in season to him that is weary."(1) You will have to speak to men. suffering, from mental weariness — men who have long searched for truth and failed to find it. See that ye be well furnished with the Spirit, who has promised to guide you into all truth, and who also will help you to guide others into all truth.(2) You will have others wearied in body, through excessive labour or sore affliction. You may tell them of the illustrious Sufferer of Calvary who, though innocent, suffered for our sins; was in all points tempted like as we are; and who, therefore, is able to succour all those who are tempted.(3) You will have others wearied in heart, by reason of bereavement. Imitating the Great Teacher in the bereaved family of Bethany, you must direct the thought of the sorrowful to the resurrection power of Christ, when the mortal shall put on immortality, and the corruptible shall put on incorruption.(4) Others will come to you weary of the vicissitudes, disappointments and reverses of life. With the Master, you may speak to them of the lily, the sparrow, the grass, the flower of the field; how your Heavenly Father careth for these, but how much more He will care for those who have faith in and love towards Him, even to the numbering of every hair on the whitening brow.(5) Others will come with weary consciences, burdened with sin, fearing the wrath to come, carrying with them, it may be, the dread secret of undiscovered and unconfessed crime. Take solemn heed that the word you speak is a word in season. Do not heal lightly the wounds thus made by the Spirit. Do not attempt to soothe the agony by minifying the guilt, or lessening the condemnation, or diminishing the penalty. Do what the Spirit does. Take of the things of Christ and show them unto the penitent; show them in their preciousness, their efficacy, and their all-sufficiency.(6) Others may come to you weary of inbred sin. Open your ear to hear what the Lord your God will say unto you; humbly wait with an upward look to your Great Teacher, and He will give you the tongue of the learned.
3. This learning claimed by the Redeemer is set forth as progressive. "He wakeneth Me morning by morning. He wakeneth mine ear that I may hear as disciples do." If our Lord found it necessary to place Himself in the position of a pupil to receive daily instruction from the Divine Father, how much greater need is there for you who are His ministers? You cannot learn in one lesson all that the Holy Spirit has to communicate. Cultivate a sensibility of soul, a readiness to hear the softest, gentlest tone of God, whether in nature, in providence, in history, in the inspired word, or in the deep secrets of your own heart.
II. THE NOBLE TESTIMONY OF THE NOBLEST APOSTLE AT THE CLOSE OF HIS MINISTRY AT EPHESUS.
Homilist.I. THE WEARY WORLD. It is not one man that is weary, the generation is weary, the world is weary. All sinners are weary. Wearied with fruitless efforts after happiness. There is the ennui yawn, and the groan of depression heard everywhere.
II. THE REFRESHING MINISTRY. "The Lord God hath given me," etc.
1. The relief comes by speech. No physical, legislative, or ceremonial means will do; it must be by the living voice, charged with sympathy, truth, light.
2. The effective speech comes from God. "The Lord God hath given Me the tongue of the learned." No man can speak the soul-refreshing thing unless God inspires and teaches him.
3. The speech that comes from God is a "word in season." It is exactly suited to the mood of the souls addressed.
(Homilist.)Matthew 11:28-30): —
I. We may name WOUNDED AFFECTIONS as a very frequent cause of weariness. We do not know, until the blow comes, how heavily we have been leaning on the staff of friendly sympathy. Breaking beneath our weight, it leaves us tottering and weary. But amidst all our heart-troubles the voice of the Saviour is heard saying, "Rest! Come unto Me and I will give you rest."
II. THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF OUR DESIRES is another common antecedent of lassitude. All of us are furnished with larger appetites than we have ability or opportunity for satisfying. Pleasure! Money! Power! Reputation! How seldom do men know when they have enough of that which they most desire. So, as the material of sensuous enjoyment becomes exhausted, the sense of emptiness becomes more painful. But in this mood, too, we are met by the Divine Saviour: "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest." For Christ would fill the soul with the only object of desire that cannot disappear in its grasp: with the Eternal Himself.
III. VACANCY OF MIND AND THE SENSE OF MONOTONY is another common cause of weariness. "Nature abhors a vacuum," as the old philosophers said. The mind cannot endure its own emptiness. It is so constituted that it must have change and variety of impressions and ideas; otherwise it turns upon itself, and its fine mechanism is worn down with useless friction. But He who comes to reveal the Father meets us, too, in this mood of self-weariness. It is His message to tell us of a new self which it is the will of God to impart to us; a new heart in which it may please God to dwell, and with which He can hold fellowship. The man who yields himself to the Spirit, and is born of the Spirit, need no longer be disgusted with himself, having found his nature anew in God.
IV. But the load of A GUILTY CONSCIENCE is even more fatiguing than that of a vacant mind. Need it be pointed out how profoundly Christ meets this guilty dejection of the human heart?
V. Quite a different cause of weariness is to be found in THE BURDEN OF EARNEST THOUGHT AND NOBLE ENDEAVOUR. For the Christian, it is enough that his Saviour has "suffered in the flesh" — has borne "the weary weight of all this unintelligible world" in uncomplaining meekness. He is to "arm himself likewise with the same mind."
(E. Johnson, M.A.)I. GOD'S HIGHEST GIFTS HAVE THEIR DEFINITE END AND PURPOSE. In Nature, for instance, nothing has been created in vain. And so it ought to be in human life, that world of feeling and desire within the breast of man. You see that the prophet looked upon the tongue of the learned as a gift from God, holding it in trust, where many would have counted it as their own. And he saw it was a gift for very plain and apparent purposes — for men are stewards, and not owners of all that is bestowed upon them. This splendid administrative genius of the Anglo-Saxon race, dominant and even imperious, but only because it has seen into the heart of purposes working themselves out in the midst of the ages, the wealth it has acquired, the influence it commands, has this no meaning in the economy of nations? You only need the touch of Christ to consecrate it and turn it into right channels, and the whole world is blessed thereby. "We that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak."
II. THIS DEFINITE PURPOSE IS A VERY SIMPLE ONE, AND POSSIBLY AT FIRST SIGHT INSUFFICIENT. Ambition would say so, and ambition is as natural to the human heart as desire itself. We ask great things, we would be great things, we would do them. It must be confessed, however, that no sin of man has been more constant and apparent than that which has made men look down upon these lowly uses belonging unto lofty gifts. A proud reserve has been considered in all ages as appropriate to commanding talents. The statesman's wisdom, the orator's art, the poet's fire, what are they side by side with all that wondrous wealth lavished upon simple fishermen in Galilee, and carried into the home of Lazarus, and spent among the humble poor. Between the highest born among men and the humblest service henceforward there can be no disparity. "If I, then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet," He said to His disciples, "ye ought also to wash one another's feet." And as with individuals, so with nations. God gives special gifts for His own purposes.
III. THIS PURPOSE IS A VERY URGENT AND APPROPRIATE ONE. After all, the end is not beneath the means. It needs the tongue of the learned to speak a word in season to him that is weary, that word fitly spoken which dries the tear from the eye, and banishes sorrow from the heart. To do away with pain and assuage grief, is not that a noble, a Divine thing? And will you see how Christianity has been doing this in lower and yet very important directions, permeating society by its subtle influences for good? And more when you understand Isaiah's words in their true and spiritual significance, what a field of usefulness unfolds itself! For the great burdens of mankind are not physical, but mental and spiritual.
(W. Baxendale.)I. THE EDUCATION OF THE DIVINE SERVANT. We must notice the difference between the authorized version and the new. In the one, "the Lord God hath given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know." In the other, "of them that are taught" — or, as the margin reads, "of disciples." The thought being that the Lord Jesus in His human life was a pupil in the school of human pain, under the tutelage of His Father.
1. His education was by God Himself.
2. It was various. He passed through each class in the school of weariness.
3. It was constant. "Morning by morning" the Father woke Him.
4. It dealt with the season for administering comfort. "That I should know how to speak a word in season." There are times when the nervous system is so overstrained that it cannot bear even the softest words. It is best then to be silent. A caress, a touch, or the stillness that breathes an atmosphere of calm, will then most quickly soothe and heal. This delicacy of perception can only be acquired in the school of suffering.
5. It embraced the method. "That I should know how." The manner is as important as the season. A message of good-will may be uttered with so little sympathy, and in tones so gruff and grating, that it will repel. The touch of the comforter must be that of the nurse on the fractured bone — of the mother with the frightened child.
II. HIS RESOLUTION. From the first, Jesus knew that He must die. The Lord God poured the full story into His opened ear. With all other men, death is the close of their life; with Christ it was the object. We die because we were born; Christ was born that He might die. On one occasion, towards the close of His earthly career, when the fingers on the dial-plate were pointing to the near fulfilment of the time, we are told He set His face steadfastly to go to Jerusalem. What heroism was here! Men sometimes speak of Christ as if He were effeminate and weak, remarkable only for passive virtues. But such conceptions are refuted by the indomitable resolution which set its face like a flint, and knew that it would not be ashamed. Note the voluntariness of Christ's surrender. The martyr dies because he cannot help it; Christ dies because He chose. It has been thought that the opened ear refers to something more than the pushing back of the flowing Oriental locks in order to utter the secret of coming sorrow. It is supposed to have some reference to the ancient Jewish custom of boring the ear of the slave to the doorpost of the master's house. Under this metaphor it is held that our Lord chose with keen sympathy the service of the Father, and elected all that it might involve, because He loved Him and would not go out free. The images may be combined. Be it only remembered that He knew and chose all that would come upon Him, and that the fetters which bound Him to the Cross were those of undying love to us and of burning passion for the Father's glory.
III. HIS VINDICATION. "He is near that justifieth Me." These are words upon which Jesus may have stayed Himself through those long hours of trial. They said that He was the Friend of publicans and sinners. God has justified Him by showing that if He associates with such, it is to make them martyrs and saints. They said that He was mad. God has justified Him by making His teaching the illumination of the noblest and wisest of the race. They said He had a devil. God has justified Him by giving Him power to cast out the devil and hind him with a mighty chain. They said that He blasphemed when He called Himself the Son of God. God has justified Him by raising Him to the right hand of power, so that He will come in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. They said that He would destroy the temple and the commonwealth of Israel. God has justified Him in shedding the influence of the Hebrew people through all the nations of the world, and making their literature, their history, their conceptions dominant.
IV. HIS APPEAL (ver. 16). To obey the Lord's servant is equivalent to fearing the Lord. He who does the one must do the other. What is this but to proclaim His Deity?
(F. B. Meyer, B.A.)
(E. Mellor, D. D.)
(E. Mellor, D. D.)
I. There is — to begin at the lowest door of all — the physical one, THE WEARINESS WHICH COMES TO US FROM BODILY TOIL, or from toil which, whether bodily or not, tells upon the body by wasting for the time its energies. So far as such toil is rendered necessary by the very fundamental conditions of our existence, the weariness which ensues upon it is a Divine appointment, and the most benign provision has been made for meeting and banishing it. You need no word in season for such weariness as this. There is something better than a word for you. There is night with its soothing darkness. There is your bed with its repose; and there is sleep, ''Nature's soft nurse, that doth knit the ravelled sleeve of care, and steep your senses in forgetfulness." And there is not merely the night, but the Sabbath. But there is also a weariness which has the nature of a chastisement, because it is produced by excessive and needless toil. While labour is a Divine thing in just measure, yet, when it becomes care, worry, vexation, hot and insatiable ambition, greed, it becomes criminal, and draws after it sooner or later grim consequences, the thought of which ought to make men pause. You cannot run both quickly and long. What is the word in season for such cases as these? The word may not be pleasant, for the words in season which God utters to us are often like thunderclaps to startle us, or like a firm grip of the hand which seems to say, "Stop, or you are undone." But surely the word in season to many is: Release your strain, moderate your speed, economize your energies, stop up the leak through which your health is trickling already, and may soon be rushing like a stream; what shall it profit you if you gain the whole world, and lose your life?
II. Some men are WEARY WITH PLEASURE. There is no decree of God more stern or more inflexible than that which has determined that misery shall be the constant companion of the man that seeks pleasure. He may be a swift runner, but pleasure runs more swiftly still. Let us accept it as a moral axiom which has no exception, that the fulfilment of duty is the condition of happiness in this world. The word in season, therefore, for those who are weary in pleasure is this: Revise and reverse your whole judgment as to what you are and as to your relation to God, and this world, and the world which is to come.
III. Some men are WEARY WITH WELL-DOING WHICH SEEMS TO COME TO SO POOR AN END. This is so common a tendency that we are warned against it, "Be not weary in well-doing, for in due season ye shall reap if ye faint not." "Be ye steadfast, unmovable," etc. Men who are working for God in this world have doubtless a heavy task in hand. The soil is uncongenial. It is beaten hard with sin and evil habit; and the ploughshare enters it with difficulty, and with difficulty makes its way. Take any sphere of benevolence you like, whether the lower one of sympathy with the common sufferings of man, or the higher one of concern for their spiritual necessities and sorrows and dangers, and the labour is no holiday play. Well-doing appears so often like building in a quagmire. We sow good seed, and then the enemy sows tares. We root up one evil, and another springs up in its stead. Well-doing in the shape of teaching would not be so wearying if the children were not so listless, so rude, so dull, so forgetful, so disappointing. Well-doing in the shape of charity would not be so wearying if there were not so much of ingratitude and imposture. What is the word in season to those who are weary in such good work? Such as these: Think, before you withdraw from what appears to be unfruitful labour, that God still holds on His Divine purpose, and is kind to the unthankful and the evil; think that He is good and doeth good continually, and that, were He to grow weary in well-doing, He would plunge the world into desolation in a moment. Think, too, that if you grow weary, all others may grow weary too, and that then the world will be left to itself: ignorance, vice, crime, wretchedness spreading with every hour, until the earth will be little better than a suburb of hell itself. Think, to, that in well-doing you do find some results, though they may not be equal to your hope, and that the results, though unseen, may still be there, and will appear some day, and be reaped by another's hand. And be sure of this, that nothing good is ever lost.
IV. There are those who ARE WEARY OF THE STRIFE WITH SIN. This is emphatically the battle of life and the battle for life. What is the word in season to him who is thus weary? This — that Christ has already vanquished your most powerful foe, and will make you more than conqueror.
V. There is one word more in season for those who ARE WEARY IN SIN, BUT NOT YET WEARY OF IT. Would to God they were weary of it! for to feel it to be a burden and a woe is the first step to deliverance.
(E. Mellor, D. D.)
I. YOU MAY BE WEARY WITH THE PARTICULAR BURDEN WHICH WEIGHTS YOUR LIFE. Every one of us has a special burden of our own. The Christian philosophy of burden-bearing is to take things as we find them and make the best of them; not like a vicious horse to kick against the "splinter hoard," or set up our back rebelliously. Directly we submit to the yoke, and say Thy will he done, our burden becomes lighter. The Divine Word teaches that your life has a Divine purpose.
II. Perhaps, your soul is WEARY BECAUSE OF THE UNKINDNESS OF YOUR FRIENDS. Let your only aim be to please God and do your duty; and then, though the action of friends may grieve you, it shall neither hinder your work nor give you a weary soul.
III. But another may say that his weary soul is caused by HIS SIN. When you behold Jesus on the Cross you will see what He suffered for sin; and when you behold Him risen from the dead, you will see the power at your hand to enable you to flee from every temptation.
IV. Some of you may have weary souls, because YOUR LIFE IS VERY BITTER. But in heaven your sorrow and sighing, like that of the apostle John, shall flee away.
(W.Birch.)I. Are there any WEARY WORKLINGS here? The soul of man once found its rest in God. Weary, was a word unknown in the language of Eden; for Jehovah was then the spirit's home. Its affections reposed upon the all-sufficient God. He was a Friend of whose company the soul could never tire, and in whose service it never could grow weary. But now that the soul has taken leave of God, it has never found another rest like Him. Till it comes to live on God Himself, the hungry soul of man never will be satisfied. Ye worldlings, who wander joyless through a godless world, with weary feet and withered hearts, seeking rest and finding none, come to Jesus, and He will give you rest.
II. Are there any WEARY WITH THE BURDEN OF UNPARDONED GUILT? You remember when Christian had panted up the hill, and came in sight of the Cross, how his burden fell off and rolled away down into the sepulchre; and you remember how he wondered that the sight of a cross should instantly relieve him of his load. Come to Christ upon the Cross, and you will understand the pilgrim's wonder; for your burden will, in like manner, fall off and disappear.
III. Are there any WEARIED WITH THE GREATNESS OF THEIR WAY? You have been long seeking salvation. Suppose that one of those winter evenings you went down into the country on a visit to a friend. It is a dark night when the stage coach stops; the conductor steps down, opens the door, and lets you out. He tells you that your friend's house is hard by, and if the night were a little clearer, you would see it just over the way. "'Tis but a step, you cannot miss it." However, you contrive to miss it. Your guide springs up into the box — the long train of lamp light is lost in misty gloom, and the distant rumble of the wheels is drowned in the rush of the tempest. You are left alone. The directions you received were quite correct, and if you followed them implicitly, you could not go wrong. But you have a theory of the matter in your own mind. "What did he mean by saying, that it was just a step? He cannot live so very near the highway." You pass the gate, and plod away up the hill, till at last you become impatient — for there are no symptoms of a dwelling here. You turn aside into this lane, and you climb over that stile, till weary with splashing through miry stubble fields, and all drenched with driving rain, you find yourself, after many a weary round, precisely where you started. Half dead with fatigue and vexation, you lift the latch of a cottage-door, and ask if they know where such-a-one resides. And a little child undertakes to guide you. He opens a wicket, and points to the long lines of light gleaming through a easement a few paces distant. "Do you see the lights in yon window? Well, that is it; knock, and they'll open the door." In such a homely instance, you all know what it is to be weary in the greatness of your way — to spend your strength in a long circuit, when a single step might have sufficed. But are you sure that it is not in some such way, that you "labour and find no rest," whilst there is but a step betwixt you and Christ? That is the wisest and happiest course which the sinner can take — to go at once to the Saviour.
(J. Hamilton, D.D.)
1. Physical weariness — of the slave on the march; of the toiler in the sweating den; of the seamstress working far into the night by the wasting taper; of the mother worn with watching her sick child.
2. Mental weariness — when the fancy can no longer summon at will images of beauty; and the intellect refuses to follow another argument, master another page, or cast up another column.
3. Heart weariness — waiting in vain for the word so long expected but unspoken; for the returning step of the prodigal; for the long-delayed letter.
4. The weariness of the inner conflict of striving day by day against the selfishness and waywardness of the soul on which prolonged resistance makes so slight an impression.
5. The weariness of the Christian worker, worn by the perpetual chafe of human sorrow, sin, and need.
(F. B. Meyer, B.A.)
(F. Delitzsch, D.D.)
He wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned
I. The closed ears of God s scholars. "He openeth mine ear. In the earlier description of Israel, associated with Isaiah's call to the prophetic office (a passage more frequently quoted in the New Testament than any other words of the Old), the ear is said to be "heavy," and the heart "gross," and the eyes "closed." Alas! this is the sorrowful condition not only of Israel but of humanity.
II. The closed ears Divinely opened. "He openeth." The ear is too heavy for the word itself to penetrate tilt He who breathed it comes. By Him it is opened, at a time of spiritual crisis oftentimes, but even then the scholar of God is too often deaf to his Teacher's voice. His ears need to be often opened anew. "Morning by morning." We must all be day scholars in the school of God. And we learn "as the scholars." The double meaning of this word "scholar" suits the meaning of the passage admirably. A "scholar" is one who is learning his alphabet, and a "scholar" is also one that knows much more than his fellow-men, and can teach them with the "tongue of the scholar." But there must be learning before teaching, and if we are scholars in God's school we shall know "more than the ancients." What then are His lessons?
1. The first lesson God teaches is a lesson of obedience (ver. 5).
2. The second lesson God teaches is a lesson in patience (ver. 6). Morning by morning the Divine voice calls us to suffer as well as to do.
3. The third lesson God teaches is a lesson in boldness (ver. 7). Flint-like are the true scholars of God. Omnipotence is on their side and they know it.
4. The fourth lesson God teaches is a lesson in service (ver. 4). The ear is opened that the tongue may be loosed to speak for Him who opened it. Every scholar must be a teacher. Look at the application of the text to Jesus Christ. Isaiah was His favourite book, and this text doubtless was often in His mind, as it was once upon His lips.(1) Do we learn obedience? He also "learned obedience by the things that He suffered," so that it was "His meat" to do the will of God always, and in Him only was the ideal attitude of obedience realized. "Lo I come: I delight to do Thy will, O My God."(2) Do we painfully learn the lesson of patience? Let us "consider Him who endured the contradiction of sinners."(3) Do we gain something of His boldness? It was when the persecutors of the earliest disciples marvelled the boldness which they showed that "they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus," for at His feet they had learned this manly virtue.(4) Do we attempt service? How did God's holy Servant fulfil His consoling mission by speaking words in season to the weary? And the old lesson is also the new, "Have faith in God." The "faith" of the New Testament is the "trust" of the Old.
(H. C. Leonard, M.A.)Isaiah 50:4) when he said that his best thoughts always came to him unawares, like birds pecking at his windows, and saying, "Here we are!"
(C. S. Robinson, D.D.)
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
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