Listen and give heed. Do not be arrogant, for the LORD has spoken.
I. SOME OF THE REASONS FOR THIS EXHORTATION, "Be not proud."
1. The main reason which the prophet here urges is its antagonism to the Word of God. Now, such antagonism cannot but be, for:
(1) The Word of God despises what men most esteem.
(a) Their own moral worth. How high men's estimate of this! how low that of the Word of God!
(b) Their own capacities. Man deems himself capable of self-support, self-deliverance, and self-salvation. The Word of God tells him he is utterly dependent on God for all things, be he who he may.
(c) The world - its maxims, honors, wealth, etc.
(2) It esteems what men most despise.
(a) Such qualities of mind as meekness, forgiveness of injuries, humility, indifference to the world, great regard to the unseen and the spiritual.
(b) Persons who have nothing but moral excellence to recommend them, be they poor, obscure, and despicable in the world's esteem.
(c) Courses of life which may involve "the loss of all things," so only as we "may be accepted of him."
2. Its other terrible fruits. Some of these are given in the verses following. It will not suffer men to give glory to God; it leads men into deadly peril (Ver. 16). It causes deep distress to those who care for their souls; it will end in their utter ruin (Ver. 17).
II. How OBEDIENCE MAY BE RENDERED TO IT. Probably there is nothing but that threefold work of the Holy Spirit of which our Lord speaks which will ensure such obedience. Pride is too deeply rooted in the hearts of men to yield to any lesser force but:
1. The conviction of sin - destroying all man's self-complacency.
2. Of righteousness - filling him at the same time with admiration of the righteousness of Christ, with despair of attainment of it, but with joy that, though he cannot have it in himself, he yet has it by virtue of his faith in Christ.
3. Of judgment - destroying the supremacy of the world over his mind, and so delivering him from the temptation to its pride. This work of the Holy Spirit lays the axe at the root of the tree, and ere long hews it down. Let, then, this Holy Spirit be sought in all sincerity, and let his guidance be ever followed; so shall "the mind of Christ" be increasingly formed in us, and we shall learn of him who was "meek and lowly in heart," and so find rest in our Souls. - C.
I. HOW SHOULD WE ATTEND TO IT?
Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: for the Lord hath spoken.I. THERE IS A REVELATION. "For the Lord hath spoken."
1. The voice which we are bidden to hear is a Divine voice, it is the voice of Him that made the heavens and the earth, whose creatures we are.
2. It is a word most clear and plain, for Jehovah hath spoken. He might have taught us only by the works of His hands, in which the invisible things of God, even His eternal power and Godhead are clearly seen. What is all creation but a hieroglyphic scroll, in which the Lord has written out His character as Creator and Provider? But since He knew that we were dim of sight and dull of comprehension, the Lord has gone beyond the symbols and hieroglyphs, and used articulate speech such as a man useth with his fellow: Jehovah hath spoken!
3. Moreover, I gather from the expression in the text that the revelation made to us by the Lord is an unchangeable and abiding word. It is not today that Jehovah is speaking, but Jehovah hath spoken: His voice by the prophets and apostles is silent now, for He hath revealed all truth which is needful for salvation.
4. This revelation is preeminently a condescending and cheering word. The very fact that the great God speaks to us by His Son indicates that mercy, tenderness, love, hope, grace, are the burden of His utterance.
II. Since there is a revelation, IT SHOULD BE SUITABLY RECEIVED.
1. If Jehovah hath spoken, then all attention should be given; yea, double attention, even as the text hath it, "Hear ye, and give ear." Hear, and hear again: incline your ear, hearken diligently, surrender your soul to the teaching of the Lord God; and be not satisfied till yea have heard His teaching, have heard it with your whole being, and have felt the force of its every truth. "Hear ye," because the word comes with power, and "give ear," because you willingly receive it.
2. Then it is added, as if by way of directing us how suitably to hear this revelation — "Give glory to Jehovah your God."(1) Glorify the Lord by accepting whatsoever He saith unto thee as being infallibly true. In all its length and breadth, whatsoever the Lord saith we believe; and we desire to know neither less nor more than He has spoken.(2) We must receive the word, however, in a hearty and honest manner so as to act upon it. We must therefore repent of the sin which the Lord condemns, and turn from the way which He abhors; we must loathe the vice which He forbids us, and seek after the virtue which He commands.(3) But we must go further than repentance and the acceptance of the truth as truth, we must further reverence the gracious voice of God when He bids us believe on Christ and live. He has couched that message of love in so blessed a form that he who does not accept it must be wantonly malicious against God and against his own soul.
III. PRIDE IN THE HUMAN HEART PREVENTS SUCH A RECEPTION.
1. In some it is the pride of intellect. They do not wish to be treated like children. Things that are despised, hath God chosen, and things that are not, to bring to naught the things that are: that no flesh may glory in His presence. Oh, let none of us be so proud as to lift up ourselves in opposition to that which Jehovah hath spoken!
2. In some others it is the pride of self-esteem. It is a dreadful thing that men should think it better to go to hell in a dignified way than to go to heaven by the narrow road of a childlike faith in the Redeemer. Those who will not stoop even to receive Christ Himself and the blessings of eternal life deserve to perish. God save us from such folly!
3. Some have a pride of self-righteousness. They say "we see," and therefore their eyes are not opened: they cry "we are clean," and therefore they are not washed from their iniquity.
4. In some, too, it is the pride of self-love. They cannot deny their lusts.
5. The pride of self-will also works its share of ruin among men. The unrenewed heart virtually says — "I shall not mind these commands. Why should I be tied hand and foot, and ruled, and governed? I intend to be a free thinker and a free liver, and I will not submit myself."
IV. HENCE THERE COMES AN EARNEST WARNING. "Give glory to the Lord your God, before He cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains." Listen, thou who hast rejected God and His Christ till now. Thou art already out of the way, among the dark mountains. There is a King's highway of faith, and thou hast refused it; thou hast turned aside to the right hand or to the left, according to thine own imagination. Being out of the way of safety, thou art in the path of danger even now. Though the sunlight shines about thee, and the flowers spring up profusely under thy feet, yet thou art in danger, for there is no safety out of the King's road. If thou wilt still pursue thy headlong career, and choose a path for thyself, I pray thee remember that darkness is lowering around thee. The day is far spent! Around thy soul there are hanging mists and glooms already, and these will thicken into the night-damps of bewilderment. Thinking but not believing, thou wilt soon think thyself into a horror of great darkness. Refusing to hear what Jehovah has spoken, thou wilt follow other voices, which shall allure thee into an Egyptian night of confusion. Upon whom wilt thou call in the day of thy calamity, and who will succour thee? Then thy thoughts will dissolve into vanity, and thy spirit shall melt into dismay. "Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will make thee a terror to thyself, and to all thy friends." Thou shalt grope after comfort as blind men grope for the wall, and because thou hast rejected the Lord and His truth, He also will reject thee and leave thee to thine own devices. Meanwhile, there shall overcloud thee a darkness bred of thine own sin and wilfulness. Thou shalt lose the brightness of thine intellect, the sharp clearness of thy thought shall depart from thee, professing thyself to be wise thou shalt become a fool. Thou shalt be in an all-surrounding, penetrating blackness. Hence comes the solemnity of this warning, "Give glory to the Lord your God, before He cause darkness." For after that darkness there comes a stumbling, as saith the text, "before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains." There must be difficulties in every man's way, even if it be a way of his own devising; but to the man that will not accept the light of God, these difficulties must necessarily be dark mountains with sheer abysses, pathless crags, and impenetrable ravines. He has refused the path which wisdom has cast up, and he is justly doomed to stumble where there is no way. Beware of encountering mysteries without guidance and faith, for you will stumble either into folly or superstition, and only rise to stumble again. Those who stumble at Christ's Cross are like to stumble into hell. There are also dark mountains of another kind which will block the way of the wanderer mountains of dismay, of remorse, of despair.
V. THERE REMAINS FOR THE FRIENDS OF THE IMPENITENT BUT ONE RESORT. Like our Lord in later times, the prophet beheld the city and wept over it: he could do no less, he could do no more. Alas, his sorrow would be unavailing, his grief was hopeless. Observe that the prophet did not expect to obtain sympathy in this sorrow of his. He says, "My soul shall weep in secret places for your pride." He would get quite alone, hide himself away, and become a recluse. Alas, that so few even now care for the souls of men! This also puts a pungent salt into the tears of the godly, that the weeping can do no good, since the people refuse the one and only remedy. Jehovah has spoken, and if they will not hear Him they must die in their sins.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
1. With reverence.
2. In faith.
3. Diligently, earnestly.
5. Intending to be governed by it.
II. THERE IS HERE AN IMPLIED NEGLECT.
1. Men are filled with other things.
2. They do not know its worth.
3. They do not apprehend the bearing it may have on their well-being.
4. They are not willing to submit to its teachings.
III. WHY SHOULD WE ATTEND?
1. The dignity and glory of the Lord.
2. His wisdom and knowledge.
3. His beneficence, interest, and love.
4. He speaks to us of matters in which we have the deepest interest.Learn —
1. To read the Bible regularly.
2. To treasure it in the heart.
3. To honour it in your life.
Be not proud.I. DIFFERENT KINDS OF PRIDE.
1. Race pride — pride in ancestors.
2. Face pride — pride in outward appearance.
3. Place pride — pride in social position.
4. Grace pride — pride in godliness.
II. THE WARNING. Be not proud —
1. Because we have nothing to be proud of.
2. Because it is abhorrent to God.
3. Because it is unlike Christ.
4. Because it is ruinous.Apply —
(1) (2) (3) (J. Bolton.)
(2) (3) (J. Bolton.)
(3) (J. Bolton.)
I. PRIDE BRINGS WITH IT UNHAPPINESS. The fable says, that there was a tortoise once, that was very unhappy because he could not fly. He used to look up and see the eagles and other birds spreading out their wings and floating through the air. He said to himself, "Oh, if I only had wings, as those birds have, so that I could rise up into the air, and sail about there as they do, how happy I should be!" One day, he called to an eagle, and offered him a great reward if he would only teach him how to fly. The eagle said — "Well, I'll try what I can do. You get on my back, and I'll carry you up into the air, and we'll see what can be done." So the tortoise got on the back of the eagle. Then the eagle spread out his wings and began to soar aloft. He went up, and up, and up, till he had reached a great height. Then he said to the tortoise: "Now, get ready. I'm going to throw you off, and you must try your hand at flying." So the eagle threw him off; and he went down, down, down, till at last he fell upon a hard rock and was dashed to pieces. Now here you see, it was the pride of the tortoise which made him so unhappy, because he couldn't fly. And it was trying to gratify his pride which cost him his life.
II. PRIDE BRINGS WITH IT TROUBLE. We never can set ourselves against any of God's laws without getting into trouble. Two masons were engaged in building a brick wall in front of a high house. One of them was older and more experienced than his companion. The younger one, whose name was Ben, placed a brick in the wall which was thicker at one end than at the other. His companion noticed it, and said — "Ben, if I were you I wouldn't leave that brick there. It's not straight, and will be likely to injure the wall by making it untrue." "Pooh!" said Ben, "what difference will such a trifle as that make? You are too particular." "My mother used to teach me," said his friend, "that truth is truth; and that ever so little an untruth is a lie, and that a lie is no trifle." Now Ben's pride was offended by what his friend had said to him. So he straightened himself up, and said in an angry tone — "Well, I guess I understand my business as well as you do. I am sure that brick won't do any harm." His friend said nothing more to him. They both went quietly on with their work, laying one brick after another, and carrying the wall up higher, till the close of the day. Next morning they went back to go on with their work again. But when they got there they found the wall all in ruins. The explanation of it was this: that uneven brick had given it a little slant. As the wall got up higher, the slant increased, till at last, in the middle of the night, it tumbled over and fell down to the ground. And here we see the trouble which this young man brought on himself by his pride. If he had only learned to mind this Bible warning against it, that wall would not have fallen down, and he would have been saved the trouble of building it up again.
III. PRIDE BRINGS WITH IT LOSS. The apostle tells us that "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble." So if we give way to pride, we are in a position in which God is resisting us, and then it is certain, that we can expect nothing but loss in everything that we do. When we begin to love and serve God, He says to each of us, "from this day will I bless thee." And are told that "the blessing of the Lord maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow." The way in which God's blessing makes His people rich is in the peace, joy, happiness He gives them; the sense of His favour and protection which they have in this world, and the hope of sharing His presence and glory forever in heaven. But if we give way to pride we cannot love and serve God; and then we must lose His blessing — the greatest loss we can ever meet with in this world.
(R. Newton, D. D.)I. WHAT IS IT WHICH STOPS PEOPLE FROM HEARING THE VOICE OF GOD?
1. One form of pride is shame. Many kept from Christ because ashamed to come and give themselves up to Him. For fear of the paltry scorn, the momentary ridicule, the soul will risk eternity!
2. There is the pride of respectability and social position. Hold apart from religion, because in the one way all must go without distinction. Yet what can justify in a lost sinner any high and vain thoughts of self?
3. There is the pride that conceals a wound. God's Word has stricken the heart; healing and joy could be had if we humbly go to God, yet hide the grief and unrest within, from man and Heaven.
4. There is the pride of self-righteousness. What say when before the Throne — that you were too good to accept the Gospel?
II. HUMAN PRIDE MUST EFFECTUALLY BE BROKEN DOWN.
1. When pride humbled and man crushed, God speaks. What say? "Give glory to the Lord your God." "Your" God still, though turned back on Him and grieved Him.
2. The contrite soul cannot realise its inability to glorify God. Broken down, powerless, self-despairing, cast yourself on His salvation.
3. There is a desperate alternative: that you "will not hear." By and by your feet will "stumble on the dark mountains." The day of disease will come; life will grow dim; the thin grandeur of a fading world will begin to pass away; all around the gloom will thicken, and on a dying world "gross darkness" of unrelieved despair will cover you. Then the last moment arrives; one terrified "look for light," but in vain; the soul is "carried away into captivity."
(W. H. M. H. Aitken, M. A.)
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