Jeremiah 9:23
This is what the LORD says: "Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, nor the strong man in his strength, nor the wealthy man in his riches.
The Knowledge of God the Only Real Glory of ManA.F. Muir Jeremiah 9:22-24
A Prohibited and a Sanctioned GloryW. R. Percival.Jeremiah 9:23-24
Aims of LifeH. W. Beecher.Jeremiah 9:23-24
Baseless PrideJeremiah 9:23-24
Duty of a Prosperous NationN. Emmons, D. D.Jeremiah 9:23-24
Earthly Riches UnavailingJeremiah 9:23-24
Exultation of Heart and Life According to the Will of GodD. Young Jeremiah 9:23, 24
False and True GloryJ. Tillotson, D. D.Jeremiah 9:23-24
False and True GloryingR. Hall, M. A.Jeremiah 9:23-24
False and True Grounds of GloryingE. Cooper, M. A.Jeremiah 9:23-24
False and True Grounds of GloryingStephen Jenner, M. A.Jeremiah 9:23-24
GloryingJ. Parker, D. D.Jeremiah 9:23-24
He that Glorieth, Let Him Glory in the LordR. Macellar.Jeremiah 9:23-24
How to Learn About GodH. W. Beecher.Jeremiah 9:23-24
Human Glorying CorrectedJ. P. Lange.Jeremiah 9:23-24
Knowing God -- the Greatest GoodJeremiah 9:23-24
Of False GloryingDavid Johnston, D. D.Jeremiah 9:23-24
On the Grounds of PrideW. L. Brown, D. D.Jeremiah 9:23-24
On the Insufficiency of Human Wisdom, Power, and RichesE. Edwards.Jeremiah 9:23-24
On the Unreasonableness and Folly of Glorying in the Possession of External Privileges and AdvantagesW. Duff, M. A.Jeremiah 9:23-24
Pride of Worldly GreatnessT. Seeker.Jeremiah 9:23-24
Rich in Grace Rather than in GoodsJeremiah 9:23-24
The Chief GoodJ. Waite Jeremiah 9:23, 24
The Gospel the Only Security for Eminent and Abiding National ProsperityHomiletic monthlyJeremiah 9:23-24
The Knowledge of GodJ. P. Gledstone.Jeremiah 9:23-24
The Pride of KnowledgeH. W. Beecher.Jeremiah 9:23-24
The True Ground of GloryingJ. Macgregor, M. A.Jeremiah 9:23-24
True and False ComplacenciesE. Johnson, M. A.Jeremiah 9:23-24
What Do I Glory InJ. H. Jowett, M. A.Jeremiah 9:23-24
Whereof to GloryS. Conway Jeremiah 9:23-26

Introduction. Cannot understand these prophecies without a knowledge of the history of the times. This is true of all prophecies, and especially of these. Therefore we will glance at such history as we proceed. Note -


1. That of the wise man in his wisdom. The statesmen of Jeremiah's days had been thus glorying. They had prided themselves in their political sagacity. For many years they had formed alliances, now with one power and now with another. And they seemed to have managed well, for, for nearly a whole century, Judah had been, though so weak a power and so valuable a prize, left unattacked. Therefore no wonder that the wise men gloried in their wisdom. But now political trouble was beginning again. Egypt had become a great power, and was warring against Assyria. In this war the king Josiah sided with Assyria, and was slain in the battle of Megiddo. Thus they were without their king, and compelled to ally themselves with Egypt and to share in her fortunes, which to the eye of the prophet were the reverse of bright. Great troubles were drawing near, and it is in view of them that Jeremiah says, "Let not the wise man," etc.

2. The strong in their strength. The army of Judah was large, their fortress of Jerusalem was all but impregnable, but Jeremiah saw that all this would not avail. Their utter overthrow was fast hastening on. The great Babylonian power which had absorbed the Assyrian should accomplish this. Hence the word, "Let not the strong man," etc.

3. The rich in their riches. The long continuance of peace had enabled the nation to accumulate vast wealth. But this only made them yet more an object of desire to their approaching invaders. Their wealth was their wee.

4. The children of Abraham in the covenant, of which circumcision was the sign (Vers. 25, 26). From the time of Hezekiah's reformation until the time when Jeremiah wrote, Judah and Jerusalem had professed the ancient faith. The temple service had gone on, the sacrifices offered, etc. There had been a short, sad interval during Manasseh's reign. But so far as profession went they had been worshippers of God. And of late years Josiah's reformation had led to still louder profession. And in this profession we know they trusted very implicitly (cf. Jeremiah 7.). But it had not preserved them from the Divine displeasure in days gone by, nor in the present, nor would it in days to come. For beneath all this profession the moral and spiritual condition of the nation was most evil. Even in Hezekiah's day Isaiah had told the people that, in spite of all their profession, "he whose head was rock," etc. (cf. Isaiah 1.). And that this was so was shown by the readiness with which they followed Manasseh in his idolatries, and joined in the persecution of the faithful servants of God. And when Manasseh repented, and there was again an external profession, it was scarcely any better. But the monstrous conduct of Amon, who "sinned more and more," made the people desire the old ways. Hence, when Josiah came to the throne, they were prepared for his reforms. But again it was only a change of custom, not of character; outward, but not inward. Jeremiah sought to help forward a true reformation, for it was indeed needed (see his description of the moral condition of the people, Vers. 2-8 in this chapter). Hence it was that he told them their circumcision was no better than uncircumcision. Apply all this to our-solves:

(1) As a nation. We have all these several advantages above named: wise statesmen, great strength, vast wealth, universal religious profession; but all these, apart from moral and spiritual worth, will go for nothing. It is "righteousness," and that alone, that "exalteth a nation."

(2) As individuals. We are not to despise any of these things. They are God's good gifts; but they will not save us. We may not glory in them as a sure safeguard.

II. WHEREOF WE MAY AND SHOULD GLORY. (Cf. Ver. 24.) This means that them should be:

1. Intellectual apprehension of the truth in regard to God. His character is shown:

(1) In his exercise of loving-kindness. It is well to be open-eyed to the many and varied proofs of this - in creation, providence, redemption, grace. And it is well to be able to trace these proofs and to show that God is good.

(2) In his exercising judgment. He has given proofs of this also, and that is but a partial and therefore most misleading theology that shuts out of view the sterner aspects of the Divine Father. As in Christ we see most of all how God exercises loving-kindness, so too in him we may see the sure warnings of his judgment. "If they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" "If the righteous scarcely be saved, where," etc.?

(3) In his exercise of righteousness. How full the proofs of this also! How manifest in Christ, his teachings, life, death, his Spirit's work now, etc.! Now, it is most desirable to understand all this, for the mind to grasp these sure truths. Too much of the religiousness of the day is weak, flaccid, unstable, because there is wanting knowledge and understanding in the truth. We are apt to be satisfied with an emotional religion, with the play of feeling and the outgoing of the affections. But for all this to be reliable we must understand as well as feel.

2. In that he "knoweth" as well as understandeth. This is more than to understand. For "to know" continually means, in Bible language, to approve, to be in sympathy with, to delight in, etc. (cf. "I will not know a wicked person; The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous; This is life eternal, to know thee the only" etc.). And so here to know God is to have moral sympathy, personal experience, inward approval and delight in regard to God. He who thus understandeth and knoweth God hath "whereof to glory." The prophet desired that his people might have this glorying, for this would save them, whilst all the other things in which they gloried but left them to perish. Appeal to all who profess religion and who instruct others, Can you thus glory? Do you understand? Better still, Do you know God in his loving-kindness, judgment, righteousness? ? C.

Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom.
An idea in this text to which we assign special prominence is this — There is at least so much similarity between the nature of God and the nature of man, that both can take delight in the same thing. The spirit of the text is saying, Take delight in loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness, because I take delight in them; learn the Divinity of your origin, and the possible splendour of your destiny, from the fact that you have it in your power to join Me in loving mercy, righteousness, and judgment. God addresses three divisions of the human family — the wise, the powerful, the wealthy. And is there any other class which may not be placed in one of these categories? Each class is sitting at the feet of its chosen idol — science, arms, wealth; all clad in robes of royalty, if not of godhead. In the hand of each idol is the sceptre of a venerated mastery, and the temple of each shakes with the thunder of heathenish worship. Such is the picture. Now to these temples God comes, and, with the majesty of omnipotence, the authority of infinite wisdom, and the benignity of all-sustaining fatherhood, says, "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches." "Glory!" That is a word which is pregnant with meaning; and it can be better explained by paraphrase than by etymology. Let not man "glory" in wisdom, might, and wealth, so as to be absorbed in their pursuit, so as to make a god of either of them, so as to regard them as the ultimate good, so as to commit to either his present happiness and endless destiny. "Wisdom!" That, too, is a word fraught with large significance. The "wisdom" referred to is not that which cometh from above — beautiful with celestial hues, and instinct with celestial life: it is a "wisdom" which is destitute of the moral element; the "wisdom" of an inquisitive, prying, restless intellect; that eyeless and nerveless "wisdom" by which the world "knew not God," and which, when looked at from above, is "foolishness"; the "wisdom" which is all brain and no heart; the "wisdom" of knowledge, not of character; the "wisdom" which dazzles man, but which, when alone, is offensive to God. One substantial reason for not glorying in the kind of wisdom which we have attempted to depict, is the necessary littleness of man's vastest acquisitions. Science is a race after God; but can the Infinite ever be overtaken? Science, perhaps, never got so close to God as when she bound the capitals of the world together with bands of lightning, and flashed the wisdom and eloquence of parliaments from continent to continent. High day of triumph that; she was within hand reach of the veiled Potentate — one step more, and she would be face to face with the King — was it not so? What was there between science and God in that moment of sublimest victory? Nothing, nothing, but — Infinity! "There is no searching of His understanding." Another point will show the folly of glorying in the kind of wisdom we have delineated, namely, the widest knowledge involves but partial rulership. You say you have found a law operating in the universe. Be it so: can you suspend or reverse the Divine appointment? Have you an arm like God? or can you thunder with a voice like Him? The argument is this, — however extensive may be our knowledge, knowledge can only help us to obey; it never can confer aught but the most limited rulership; and even that sovereignty is the dominion not of lord, but of servant, the rulership which is founded in humility and obedience — the rulership whose seat is beneath the shadow of the Great Throne. Is man, then, without an object in which to glory? It is as natural for man to glory as it is natural for him to breathe; and God, who so ordered his nature, has indicated the true theme of glorying: "But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me." Here let us rejoin the earnest student of science, supposing now that, in addition to his being ardently scientific, he is intelligently devout. He goes to work as before; the flame of his enthusiasm is not diminished by a single spark; his hammer and his telescope are still precious to him, but now, instead of being in pursuit of cold, abstract, inexorable laws, he is in search of the wise and mighty and benevolent Lawgiver; in legislation he finds a Legislator, and in the Legislator he finds a Father. What we want, then, is personal knowledge of a Person: we would know not only the works, but the Author, for they are mutually explanatory. Know the man if you would understand his actions; know God if you would comprehend nature, providence, or grace. The devout student says he finds God's footprints everywhere; he says they are on the rocks, across the heavens, on the heaving wave, and on the flying wind; to him, therefore, keeping company with science is only another way of "walking with God." The text, however, goes still farther; it relates not only to personality, but to character: the Deist pauses at the former, the Christian advances to the latter. "Let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth." The idea would admit of some such expression as this: Any knowledge of God, the Creator and Legislator of the physical creation, should be regarded as merely preparatory, or subordinate to an apprehension of God as the Moral Governor: that if you know God as Creator only, you can hardly be said to know Him at all; that if you tremble at His power without knowing His mercy, you are a pagan; if you seek to please Him as a God of intelligence, without recognising Him as a God of purity and justice and love, you are ignorant of Him, and your ignorance is crime. Let him that glorieth, even glorieth in God, glory in knowing God as a moral Being, as the righteous Judge, as the loving Father. There must not be adoration of mere power; we must not be satisfied with utterances of amazement at His majesty, wisdom, and dominion; we must go farther, get nearer, see deeper; we must know God morally, we must feel the pulsations of His heart — His heart! — that dread sanctuary of righteousness, that semi-eternal fount of love. The whole subject, then, may be comprehended in four points.

1. God brands all false glorying. Upon the head of wisdom, power, and wealth, He writes, "Let no man glory in these." There is a wisdom which is folly; there is a power which is helplessness; there is a wealth which is poverty. God warns us of these things, so that if our boasted wisdom answer us not when we are on the Carmel of solemn encounter between light and darkness, we may not have God to blame.

2. God has revealed the proper ground of glorying. That ground is knowledge of God, not only as Creator and Monarch, but as Judge and Saviour and Father. Reason, groping her way through the thickening mysteries of creation, may exclaim, "There is a God"; but faith alone can see the Father smiling through the King. It will be in vain to say, "Lord, Lord," if we cannot add, "Saviour-Friend"

3. God, having declared moral excellence to be the true object of glorying, has revealed how moral excellence may be attained. Is it objected that there is no mention of Jesus Christ in the text? We answer, that loving kindness, righteousness, and judgment are impossibilities apart from Christ; they are only so many names to us, until Jesus exemplifies them in His life, and makes them accessible to us by His death and resurrection. Do we require the sun to be labelled ere we confess that he shines in the heavens?

4. God has revealed the objects in which He glories Himself. "For in these things I delight, saith the Lord." Let it be propounded as a problem, "In what will the Supreme Mind most delight?" and let it be supposed that an answer is possible, it might be concluded that the attainment of that answer would forever determine the aspirations, the resolutions, and the ambition of the world. We might consider that every other object would be infinitely beneath the pursuits, and infinitely unworthy of the affections of man. At all events, this must be true, that they who glory in the objects which delight Jehovah must be drinking at pure and perennial streams.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

What does a man glory in? At what point does his life leave the plane of indifference and rise into a boast? What is it that provides for him the river of his most exquisite delights? The answer to these questions is fruitfully significant. If we catch a man in his gloryings we take him at his height. Some men's gloryings are to be found on a purely carnal level; they are sought and proclaimed on the plane of the brute. Other men's gloryings are found in spiritual realities, among the things of the Eternal. Unworthy glorying is the minister of stagnancy, paralysis, and death. Worthy glorying is the minister of progress, liberty, and life. Let us look at the unworthy gloryings. "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom." That is a very surprising negative. I did not expect that "wisdom" would be banned from the circle of a legitimate boast. Is there not an apparent contradiction between the counsel of the prophet and other counsellors of the Old Testament Scriptures? "Get wisdom." "Fools despise wisdom." "A wise son maketh a glad father." We know, too, how our poets have spoken of the beautiful thing called wisdom. "Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers"; blossom comes, but the fruitage lingers! The wisdom here admired is a ripe and matured product, the ultimate issue of a prolonged process. It is not in this sense that the prophet uses the word; he employs it with quite another content. It is the wisdom of the mere philosopher; the product of speculation and theory; a wisdom devoid of reverence, and detached from practical life. Life can be divided into watertight compartments, having no relationship one with the other. We can separate our opinions from our principles, our theories from our practice. Love of the fine arts can be divorced from the practice of a pure life. Our artistic wisdom can be imprisoned as it were in an iron-bound division, and separated from our moral activities. The musically wise can be the morally discordant. The possession of musical technique does not necessarily make an agreeable man. The wisdom of music can be divorced from the other parts of a man's life just as the music room in a hydropathic establishment is shut off from the kitchen. A man can be skilled in the decrees of counsel and in traditional lore, and yet he may be morally and spiritually corrupt. The wisdom of a theologian can be a wisdom without influence upon morals. A man may preach like a seraph and live like a brute. "Let not the mighty man glory in his might." This is a reference to mere animal strength. It includes a bald athleticism in the individual, and a bald materialism in the State. But surely strength is good? Athletic strength and skill are very admirable. But here, again, the prophet is referring to strength which is devoid of reverence, and therefore strength which is detached from service. All right use of strength begins with a deep reverence for it. So it is also with the material might of the State. A sword may be good if it be reverently regarded. "The sword of Gideon"; that is always a curse! "The sword of the Lord and Gideon"; that is an instrument of benediction! "Let not the rich man glory in his riches." Do not let us relegate this warning to a few millionaires. A man with a small income may regard his money as irreverently as the man with an overflowing abundance. The prophet refers to the spirit in which possessions are esteemed. He refers to riches held without reverence, and therefore not exercised in wise philanthropy. Possessions used irreverently are used blindly, and therefore without a true humanity. But how people do glory in bare and graceless wealth! It is a false confidence. "But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord." How far are we away from the brutal, the material, and the merely opinionative! Here is glorying which centres itself in the unseen, and fixes itself upon the Lord. "Understandeth." The relationship is reasonable and intelligent. God wants no blind discipleship. We are to be all alert in our fellowship with the Almighty. We are to worship Him with all our "mind." "In malice be ye children, but in understanding be men." "Understandeth and knoweth Me." That is a profound term, suggestive of certainty and assurance. It has about it the flavour of the familiar friend. We are to intelligently use our minds to discover the thought and will of God, then we are to act upon the will, and in our obedience a deep communion will be established. This, then, is the line of individual progress. We begin in exploration; we use our understanding in discerning the mind of God. Then we pass to experiment, and we put to the proof the findings of the mind. From experiment we shall attain unto experience; our findings will be revealed as truth; our knowledge will mature unto wisdom. "Then shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord." What does God want us to know about Him? "That I am the Lord which exercise loving kindness." We sometimes say concerning a distinguished man whose presence we have met, "I rather feared him, but his first words made me feel at home." And here is the first word of the Almighty, and the word is not "law" or "statute," but "loving kindness"! Not only kindness, for kindness may be mechanical and devoid of feeling, but "loving kindness"! A dainty dish is served by affection. What else does He want me to be sure about? "That I am the Lord that exercise loving kindness and judgment." Do not let us interpret judgment as doom. Judgment is vindication; it is suggestive of sure sequence. When I plant mignonette, and mignonette comes in its season, the sequence is indicative of judgment. Judgment is the opposite of caprice and chance. The Lord is a God of judgment, and all my sowings will be vindicated. All these deeper issues are in the hands of God. The Lord is a God of judgment, and of righteousness. This word is only confirmatory of the preceding word. Judgment is proceeding and the Vindicator is righteous. He cannot be bribed, He is not of uncertain temper. "He changeth not."

(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)

I. THE UNREASONABLENESS AND FOLLY BOTH OF INDIVIDUALS AND OF COMMUNITIES GLORYING IN THE POSSESSION OF EXTERNAL PRIVILEGES AND ADVANTAGES. In fact, there is no passion in our nature which so effectually defeats its own end, or so completely mars the accomplishment of its object, as that of pride. Wherever respect is impudently claimed, even where there is real merit at the bottom, it is always reluctantly conferred. Our pride and self-love in turn take the alarm, and are hurt by the boldness of the claim. Competitors and rivals, envious of the merit, feel a malignant pleasure in disappointing the expectations of such candidates for fame. And as most men have a tincture of envy in their composition, it commonly happens that very few regret the disappointment. To obtain real, and, in general, unenvied praise, merit, however transcendent, must not be glaringly displayed, but in some measure exhibited under a veil; at least, it must be so judiciously and delicately shaded, as to moderate its lustre.

II. THE KNOWLEDGE AND PRACTICE OF THE DUTIES OF RELIGION AND VIRTUE, WHILE THEY ARE THE ONLY TRUE FOUNDATION OF SELF-ESTEEM AND REAL GLORY, ARE LIKEWISE, CONSIDERED IN A NATIONAL VIEW, THE ONLY JUST OBJECTS OF PUBLIC RESPECT AND CONFIDENCE. Great intellectual endowments, and the performances to which they give birth, can only be regarded, when abstractly considered without respect to their application, as splendid monuments of human genius; when applied to bad purposes, they justly become the objects of our detestation; but the qualities of the heart, incorruptible integrity, for instance, disinterested benevolence, exalted generosity, and tender pity, irresistibly command the esteem, and conciliate the affection of all who have either seen or heard of such virtues being exemplified.

(W. Duff, M. A.)

Men think too much of themselves on one account or another — either on account of some external condition, or on account of some internal traits and qualities. Now, it is not to be understood from this declaration of the prophet, that a man shall take no thought of, and have no pleasure in, external relations. There is pleasure to be derived from them but there are a thousand secondary things in this life which we are very glad to have, and which we are glad to be known to have, though we do not put our heart chiefly on them. It is a pleasant thing for an artist to have vigorous health; but that is not his power. It is a pleasant thing for a poet to be a musician; but that is not what he glories in. It is a pleasant thing to an orator that he is rich; but there is something that he glories in besides riches. Wealth alone affords a very small compensation of glory. Knowledge is often regarded as the chief and characteristic reason why a man should think much of himself; but here we are commanded not to glory in "knowledge." There is great excellence in knowledge; but knowledge is relative. Mathematics will exist after we are dead and gone; but knowledge of spiritual elements, knowledge of the highest realm, knowledge of right and wrong, knowledge of character, knowledge of truth — these are all related to our present condition, and are so far affected by our limitations that the apostle explicitly declares that the time will come when the universe will be revealed to us, and when our notions in respect to it will have to be changed as much as the notions of a child have to be changed when he comes to manhood. Our wisdom in this world is so partial that we cannot afford to stand on that. And when you consider what have been regarded as the treasures of knowledge, the folly of it is still greater. Many a man might just as well have been a grammar or a lexicon, dry and dusty, as the man of knowledge that he is, so useless is he. And yet men are oftentimes proud that they know so many things, without any consideration of their use. Go out and see what men know who know something. Men that have useful knowledge, and the most of it, are the men that usually are the most humble, and are conscious of the mere segment of the vast circle of the knowledge of the universe that they possess. Knowledge is a good thing; but a man is a better thing. A man in his essential nature and destiny is larger than any special element or development in this life. Therefore, let not a man glory in his "knowledge." Especially let him not glory in it in such a way as to separate himself from his fellows, and look down upon them. While it may be supposed that these views, derived from the face of Scripture, are applicable to our modern condition, it is very probable that the glorying spoken of by the prophet was that which constituted a peculiarity in the East. In Egypt, and afterwards in many Oriental kingdoms, knowledge was the prerogative of the priesthood. Those who had knowledge became a privileged class, and received honour and respect; and naturally they plumed themselves on it, as men plume themselves on titles today. "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom." In other words, let not a man because he belongs to the learned class have contempt for those who have not the privileges that he has. There are multitudes of men who have not very much to boast of in the way of kindness and humility and gentleness, but who are proud of their culture. "Neither let the mighty man glory in his might." That is, let no man glory in the attributes of strength. In the time of the athlete; in the time of the warrior; in the time when men, being head and shoulders in their stature above all others, as Saul was, gloried in their stature; in the time when men boasted, as David did, of running through a troop, and leaping over a wall; in the time when expertness and skill were in the ascendant; in the time when men were trained to all forms of physical strength and prowess — in such a time men would naturally come to make their reputation stand on these things; and the tendency to do so has not perished yet. Men glory in the fact that they are tall and symmetrical. They glory in their personal beauty. They glory in their grace. They glory in their walking and their dancing. They glory in their riding. These things are not absolutely foolish, although the men who engage in them may be. It is not to be denied that they may be useful, and that they may reflect some credit upon those who practise them. But what if nothing else can be said of a man except that he rides well? The horse is better than he! Low down, indeed, is the man who pivots himself on these inferior and often contemptible qualities. "Let not the rich man glory in his riches." We may as well shut up the Bible, then. That is too much! Yet a man has a right to glory in his riches, provided the way of his glorying is through his own integrity as well as skill. Such are the competitions of business, such are the difficulties of developing, amassing, maintaining and rightly using wealth, that a man who organises it organises a campaign, and is a general; and when a man of simplicity and honesty has come out from the haunts of poverty, and has, by his own indomitable purpose, and industry, and honourable dealing, and truthfulness, accumulated property, about no dollar of which you can say to him, "You stole it"; when a man by integrity has built up a fortune, it is a testimony better than any diploma. It tells what he has been. The true grounds of glorying are given in the next clause of the text: "Let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me." The knowledge of God — a knowledge of those supreme qualities or attributes which belong to the higher nature, a knowledge of the great elements which constitute God — this may be gloried in; but men have gloried in their knowledge of gods that were contemptible. There was not a decent god in all antiquity, such that if a man were like it he could respect himself. The passions of men were the basis of their character. Therefore it is not enough that you glory in a god. "Let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving. kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord." It is as if He had said, I am the Lord that exerciseth loving kindness without any regard to return, and without any limitation. I am continually developing, through the ages, the good and the bad, the just and the unjust. I am a God of lenity, of goodness, of kindness; but the kindness is not merely superficial — it is kindness springing out from the heart of God" That is the glory of God: and who would not-be-known as glorying in it? Now, knowing this, being penetrated with a sense of having such a God, of living in communion with Him, of beholding Him by the inward sight — having this ideal of life constitutes a knowledge that exalts, strengthens, and purifies men. But take the qualities that make the true man, as set forth in Scripture — the man in Christ Jesus. How many men can glory in themselves because they have conformed their lives to these qualities? If a man, being a mineralogist, has a finer crystal than anybody else, he rather glories in it, and says, "You ought to see mine." If a man is a gardener, and has finer roses than anybody else, he glories in them. He may go to his neighbour's garden, and praise the flowers that he sees there; but he says, "I should like to have you come over and see my roses"; and he shows them with pride. Nobody shuts his own garden gate when he goes to see his neighbour's garden. He carries his own with him. Men glory in such outward things; but how many glory in those diamonds, those sapphires, those precious stones which all the world recognise as the finest graces of the soul? How many men glory because they have the true, universal, Christian benevolence of love? Have you in yourself any ideal? Are you aiming for character, for condition, or for reputation — which is the poorest of them all? It is worth a man's while to be able to answer to himself the question, "What am I living for?" What is it that incites me? Is it vanity? Is it the animal instincts? Is it the external conditions of life? Or, is it the internal elements of manhood, that take hold upon God and heaven?

(H. W. Beecher.)


1. "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom." Men may be wise in their own conceit, — they may be wise and prudent in the opinion of others, — their measures and counsels may be, apparently, wisely devised; yet God can and frequently does frustrate their counsels, and turn the wisdom of man into foolishness.

2. "Neither let the mighty man glory in his might." What is man, the strongest man, but dust, turned into dust, crushed by the mighty power of God, as a moth is crushed between the fingers? Just consider upon how little the life of the strongest man depends, — on so trifling a thing as the respiration of a little air; that being stopped, he dies. Nor is the combined power of the many, able to stand at all against the will and the power of God.

3. "Let not the rich man glory in his riches." To hear men talk of their thousands, and to observe them pursuing wealth, one might suppose that riches bestowed every happiness and produced every safety. Yet ask the rich man if he is happy; and he will answer, if he honestly answer, "No." Is he free from the fear of evil? can he bribe death and prolong his short life? can he redeem his soul from hell?

4. It is not only folly to glory in or boast of wisdom, strength, and riches; but it is also sinful; it is idolatry; it is setting aside the Lord God as our strength and our portion.

II. THE COMMAND IN THE TEXT. "But let him that glorieth, glory in this," etc. That man alone is truly wise in whose heart the knowledge of the Lord is treasured up; and who reduces that knowledge to practice; and that man alone is truly blessed who so far understands and knows the Lord, as to put his trust at all times in the Lord God of Israel. This knowledge and understanding of the Lord God in all His adorable perfections, as revealed in His holy Word, and as He is reconciled in Christ Jesus, are of immensely greater value than all the wisdom, and all the power, and all the riches which this world can bestow.

1. The Lord exerciseth loving kindness in the earth. They who through faith in Christ have Jehovah for their Father, — their portion, — have all that can satisfy an immortal soul throughout eternity. Of His loving kindness they have experience; and their experience teaches them that God's "loving kindness is better than life," and therefore their lips praise Him.

2. The Lord also exerciseth judgment in the earth. While He delights in visiting the humble soul, and the penitent soul, and the believing soul, with tokens of His loving kindness, He also visits the impenitent, the unbelieving, the proud, with His sore judgments: and sometimes in this world He makes them lasting monuments of His awful justice.

3. The Lord also exerciseth righteousness in the earth. For the exercise of righteousness, the Lord's omniscience, hatred of sin, love of holiness, power, and faithfulness, fully qualify Him.Conclusion —

1. To those who trust and glory in human wisdom, strength, and riches. Know we not that "the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God"? and "that power belongeth unto God"?

2. To those who in some measure know the Lord and glory in Him. Your knowledge is still but small and imperfect: for, "how little a portion is heard of Him! but the thunder of His power who can understand?" Still, enough of Him and of His ways may be known here for every necessary purpose. Walk "as children of light." Seek also an increase of light by studying the Word of God; by earnest and diligent prayer, that the Spirit of truth may open your mind to behold, to comprehend more and more, the truths which are revealed in that Word.

(E. Edwards.)


1. High birth is one of those external circumstances which give rise to pride. Ever since civil society has existed, a certain respect for antiquity of descent has been maintained. But if we reflect on the origin of this deference we shall find that, so far from affording a foundation for pride, it suggests many reasons for its exclusion. Do you, proud man! look back with complacency on the illustrious merits of your ancestors? Show yourself worthy of them, by imitating their virtues, and disgrace not the name you bear by a conduct unbecoming a man. Nothing can be conceived more inconsistent than to exult in illustrious ancestry, and to do what must disgrace it; than to mention, with ostentation, the distinguished merits of progenitors, and to exhibit a melancholy contrast to them in character. After all, what is high birth? Does it bestow a nature different from that of the rest of mankind? Has not the man of ancient line human blood in his veins? Does he not experience hunger and thirst? Is he not subject to disease, to accidents, and to death; and must not his body moulder in the grave, as well as that of the beggar?

2. Perhaps the proud man is invested with a title. Remember, however, that this is an appellation of honour, and not of disgrace, and the greatest disgrace any person can incur, is the assumption of sentiments unworthy of human nature. Have you obtained your distinction by your own merit? Continue to deserve and adorn it by your exertions for the common welfare, and by a behaviour which indicates that you consider yourself as a member of society. Has your title been transmitted to you from your ancestors? I say to you, as I said to the man proud of his birth: beware lest their honours be tarnished by your contemptible enjoyment of them!

3. Some are proud of office. Were offices instituted for the general benefit, or for the private gratification of the individuals to whom they are severally assigned? This question the proud man himself will not venture to decide in favour of his own pretensions. With what appearance of justice, then, can the man, who is intrusted with the common interest, pretend to look, with a contemptuous eye, on any honest member of the community?

4. Riches, affording a more substantial and productive possession than either birth, titles, or public office, may seem to lay a better foundation for pride. The man who enjoys them is in some measure independent of others, and may command their services when he pleases. He may, therefore, have some ground for treating them with disdain. I must confess that persons who possess an opulent fortune, as well as those who are placed in the higher stations of society, have many opportunities of observing the servile obsequiousness of mankind, and may, therefore, be tempted to despise them. But this is not, in strict propriety of speech, that contempt of others which arises from external circumstances alone. It is a contempt of contemptible qualities. Are you, in reality, proud of your wealth? Show me what title that wealth gives you to deprive your fellow men of their just portion of respect!

5. Corporeal advantages constitute the subjects of that pride with which many are infected. They value themselves on their strength, or on their beauty. Let the strongest man consider that the horse or the ox is still his superior in point of corporeal vigour; that his individual power is of little avail against the united force of his fellow men, whom he affects to brave; and that a fever will make him weaker than the child in the nurse's arms. When a man exults in the elegance of his person, although this folly be not uncommon, especially in youth, nothing can be conceived more ridiculous. But this source of pride is more frequent among the daughters of Eve, who seem sometimes to consider personal attractions as the chief distinction of character. Let her, whose pride centres in her beauty, consider what her figure will be in the grave!

6. Sensible of the utter insignificance of external advantages of any kind, as a ground of exultation, there are Who value themselves exclusively on their genius, their erudition, their wit, or even on their religion. Such persons are most ready to laugh at the fool who is proud of any. thing but mind. The prophet, however, was of opinion, that even wisdom itself is no subject of glory. By the term wisdom, in the text, he understands those mental qualities which attract the admiration of the world. By converting thy abilities into sources of vain-glory, thou displayest thy ignorance of their end, contractest their utility, by limiting them to thy own narrow sphere instead of diffusing their salutary influence through the wide circle of humanity, and subvertest thy own importance by relinquishing the honourable distinction of a necessary part of the great community of mankind. Dost thou boast of thy genius and thy knowledge, abstracted from mildness and benevolence? Reflect that the most miserable and odious being in the universe is also possessed of abilities infinitely superior to those of the most sagacious of the sons of men!

7. Religious pride is, if possible, still more odious and absurd than that just now mentioned. It is a combination of shocking inconsistencies. It unites confession of sin with self-righteousness, humility before God with insolence towards men, supplication for mercy with the assumption of merit, the prospect of heaven with the temper of hell.

II. THE ONLY SOLID FOUNDATION OF SELF-ESTEEM. He who understandeth God has his soul impressed with all that is grand and sublime, is capable of contemplating Deity, and beholds every terrestrial object sink in comparison. He that "knoweth" God is acquainted with infinite perfection, and has acquired the conception, though still obscure and faint, of unerring wisdom, of consummate rectitude, of inexhaustible beneficence, of irresistible power, of all that can exalt, astonish, and delight the soul These attributes, brought to his view by frequent adoration, he must admire, and love, and imitate. This is the true dignity of human nature, restored, by grace, to that state from which it had been degraded by sin, nay, raised to higher capacities and expectations than were granted to primitive innocence. The more we aspire after this excellence, the more ambitious of this exaltation we become, the more is our nature improved and our happiness increased and extended. This is the glory of a Christian, of an immortal soul, of an expectant of heaven, of a blessed spirit!

(W. L. Brown, D. D.)

Such is the weakness of our nature, that if Providence hath conferred upon us any remarkable quality, either of body or mind, we are apt to boast ourselves because of it. In our more serious moments we must condemn such vanity; but pride is so natural to man, that we find it difficult to subdue.

I. THE NATURAL OR ACQUIRED ENDOWMENTS OF THE MIND. A great genius, fine parts, and shining talents, are strong temptations to glorying. When a man is conscious that his understanding is more enlightened, his judgment sounder, his invention finer, his knowledge more extensive than that of the rest of mankind, he is in great danger of indulging a little vanity. Yet, still, there is no foundation for boasting. If those accomplishments are natural they are the gift of God, and call Him their Author. If they are acquired we owe them in a great measure to the attention and labour of others, who have contributed to improve them. What a poor figure would the greatest genius have made without books and a master! Like the diamond in the mine, it must have remained in its natural state, rough and unpolished. It is education and letters which enable men to make a figure in life. Besides, is it not Providence which places us in superior circumstances, and enables us to prosecute sciences and arts? After all, what is the so-much-boasted wisdom of the wise? Is it not at best, only a less degree of folly? How shallow is their understanding and how circumscribed their knowledge! Let me add, how liable is the greatest genius and the finest scholar to have his faculties deranged! A fall from a horse, a tile from a house, a fever in the brain, will impair the judgment and disturb the reason of the greatest philosopher.

II. THE SUPERIOR QUALITIES OF THE BODY. A fine face and an elegant figure are engaging things, and mankind have held them in a certain degree of admiration. Hence the possessors of those properties have sometimes become proud and vain. But what is beauty? A piece of polished earth, a finer species of clay, regularly adjusted by the great Creator! Those upon whom He hath bestowed it had no hand in the workmanship, and contributed nothing to finish it. Instead of being puffed up more than others, they should be more humble, because they are greater debtors to Providence. How little reason such have to be vain, we have many striking examples; an inveterate jaundice, a malignant fever, a rapid consumption, will spoil the finest complexion and impair the stoutest constitution. It were well if the fairest of this world's children would aspire after something more durable than looks and dress; even to have the image of God drawn upon the heart, and the life of Christ formed within them.

III. THE MORE ELEVATED CIRCUMSTANCES OF OUR LOT. It is no doubt natural to prefer independence and ease, to straits and toil. Who does not wish to live in plenty, rather than in penury? Yet what is an immense quantity of gold and silver? It is no better than dust, a little more refined, upon which men have agreed to put a certain value. If it is hoarded up it is no better than stone or sand. If it is wasted and spent it is no longer ours, but the property of another; and how quickly riches change masters, we have every day striking examples. Riches are intrusted to men as stewards, and they are accountable for the use which they make of them. If they employ them for the honour of God and for the benefit of their fellow creatures, they are a valuable talent, and shall receive an ample recompense; but if they minister to pride and vanity, to profusion and luxury, to avarice and oppression, they are to be accounted a curse. Honours and titles are no better foundation for glory than opulence. If they have been transmitted by our ancestors, we have derived them from them; if they have been conferred, directly, by the king, we are indebted to him; and we are under greater obligations for such an act of favour. At best, what are they but an empty name? They may procure a person precedence, and a little more respect; but they can contribute nothing to his dignity of character. Again, the voice of fame is a bewitching thing, and numbers have been strangely captivated with it. Hence they have courted it with the greatest servility, and by the lowest means. There is nothing so humbling to which they have not submitted, to gain this empty sound. Have not some sacrificed the principles of honour, of conscience, of integrity, to obtain applause? And what is so precarious and uncertain as the breath of a multitude? It is fickle as the wind, and variable as the weather.

IV. THE RELIGIOUS ACQUIREMENTS WHICH WE MAY HAVE ATTAINED. It is the voice of reason, and the language of Scripture, "that every good and perfect gift cometh down from above, from the Father of lights." "In us dwelleth no good thing!" On the contrary, "we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." If then a good work has been begun in us, it hath been imparted to us by the Spirit of God, "the fruit of which is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." Are your understandings more enlightened, your wills more submissive, your affections more spiritual, your morals more pure, you owe it to a Divine influence. There cannot be a stronger evidence that we are entire strangers to grace, than that of thinking of ourselves above what we ought to think. The very nature of grace is to give all the glory to God. The more of it we receive, the more self-denied will we become. The obvious conclusion from this subject is, "that pride was never made for man." It originated in hell, and is the offspring of guilt. Let us tear it from our bosoms as the most unwarrantable and unchristian disposition which we can possibly cherish.

(David Johnston, D. D.)


1. Those which to the natural man seem most desirable — wisdom, strength, riches.

2. Those in which these Jews inclined presumptuously to boast — external, carnal advantages.


1. That which he esteems as his highest blessing and honour.

2. God sets before us the best objects of glorying.

(1)"Me"; both "understood" and "known."

(2)The qualities in which God delights.Mercy, or loving kindness, as opposed to their vaunted strength. Judgment, and righteousness, as opposed to their oppression of the weak and distressed.

(J. P. Lange.)


1. Glorying in wisdom is the glorification of self; therefore forbidden. The mind that knows and the subjects known are both from God.

2. Glorying in strength is forbidden as self-glorification. History shows God's repudiation of this boast: in destruction of Sennacherib's army, decline and fall of empires founded on mere force, etc.

3. Glorying in wealth is forbidden as self-glorification. Sad to behold a spirit entombed in a mausoleum of gold and silver.

II. THE GLORYING WHICH IS DIVINELY SANCTIONED. To glory is an instinct in man; is right, therefore, where the object is worthy of him. God here presents Himself. There is a gradation set before us:

1. Understanding God. Early education calls this into exercise; events of life afford it discipline; profound, spiritual verities may be by it examined.

2. Knowing God. This is more than "understanding" Him. Eternity will reveal new deeps of God's eternal love and being.

3. In the understanding and knowledge of God, the spirit of man glories, and may glory forever. God glories in our glorying in Him.

(W. R. Percival.)


1. Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom. Neither in the largeness and compass of his knowledge and understanding, nor in his skill and dexterity in the contrivance and conduct of human affairs.(1) Because the highest pitch of human knowledge and wisdom is very imperfect.(2) Because when knowledge and wisdom are with much difficulty in any competent measure attained, how easily are they lost.

2. Neither let the mighty man glory in his might.(1) If we understand it of the natural strength of men's bodies, how little reason is there to glory in that, in which so many of the creatures below us do by so many degrees excel us!(2) Or, if by might we understand military force and power, how little likewise is that to be gloried in, considering the uncertain events of war, and how very often and remarkably the providence of God doth interpose to cast the victory on the unlikely side!

3. Let not the rich man glory in his riches.(1) Riches are things without us — the accidental ornaments of our fortune.(2) At the best, they are uncertain.(3) Many men have an evil eye upon a good estate; so that instead of being the means of our happiness, it may prove the occasion of our ruin.


1. The wisest and surest reasonings in religion are grounded upon the unquestionable perfections of the Divine nature. Divine revelation itself does suppose these for its foundation, and can signify nothing to us unless these be first known and believed: for unless we be first firmly persuaded of the providence of God, and of His particular care of mankind, why should we suppose that He makes any revelation of His will to us? Unless it be first naturally known that God is a God of truth, what ground is there for the belief of His Word?

2. The nature of God is the true idea and pattern of perfection and happiness; and therefore nothing but our conformity to it can make us happy. He who is the Author and fountain of happiness cannot convey it to us by any other way than by planting in us such dispositions of mind as are in truth a kind of participation of the Divine nature; and by enduing us with such qualities as are the necessary materials of happiness: and a man may as soon be well without health as happy without goodness.

(J. Tillotson, D. D.)


1. The wisdom here meant is not heavenly, but earthly wisdom; that penetration and sagacity which many naturally possess, and some to a considerable degree; or that knowledge of various kinds about the things of this world, which they acquire by study and experience. Why should not the man who has wisdom, glory in it? Because all such glorying is vain; because he has at last no real foundation for glorying; because, after all, his wisdom cannot secure success, and may prove in the end, and if gloried in certainly will prove, to have been foolishness. It is the Lord who gives success, and whose counsel alone will stand.

2. By might we may understand either strength or power; strength of body, or the power of rank, station, or influence. There is no real ground for confidence in these things. As "there is no king saved by the multitude of his host"; so "a mighty man is not delivered by much strength." The mightiest empires have been suddenly overthrown, and the most powerful monarchs destroyed in a moment.

3. How continually do we see people trusting in their wealth, and boasting themselves in the multitude of their riches! But how vain is such confidence! It is like leaning on a broken reed.


1. The knowledge of God, here meant, is a knowledge of Him in His true character and perfections. It is a knowledge of Him as being at once a merciful Father and a righteous Judge; a just God, and yet a Saviour; abounding in mercy, love, and truth; and at the same time hating iniquity, and who will by no means clear the guilty. The knowledge spoken of in the text is an inward, heartfelt, experimental knowledge of Him. It is such a belief of Him in our hearts, as leads us to fear and love Him, to rely on and confide in Him. It is a knowledge founded on trial and experience.

2. They who know the Lord, in the manner that has been described, have a sure ground of glorying. They glory in that which will never fail, deceive, or disappoint them.

(E. Cooper, M. A.)


1. Bodily strength inspires the idea of great actions in its possessors, and frequently makes them arrogant and proud. It induces them to assume what does not belong to them, to violate the properties of life, and to carry about with them a spirit of defiance and insult in their intercourse with their fellow creatures.

2. Worldly wisdom inspires confidence more than that which is attached to the grosser qualities of the human frame; and no men are more in danger of being wise in their own eyes than those who possess this quality.

3. Nothing is so calculated to fill men with insufferable pride as the possession of extraordinary riches. It produces a semblance of homage or respect — it commands the services of mankind — it levies a contribution on all nature and society, and gives to those who possess it a sort of universal empire; and it is not at all to be wondered at that these minds are more tempted by pride and glory than those who seek to be distinguished by worldly wisdom.


1. Neither separately taken, nor in their combined form, will they ever teach their possessors their true use; but they frequently turn to hurt, not only to society at large, but to their own possessors.

2. These things are utterly incapable, either separately or combined, of supplying some of the most pressing wants, and avoiding some of the most obvious evils to which our nature is exposed.

3. They are of a very transient duration and possession.


1. True religion will teach us the proper regulation and employment of all these endowments.

2. There is a perpetuity and pledge of future and eternal felicity in the religion of Jesus Christ; not only that which produces present tranquillity and peace, but that which furnishes the pledge of an enduring and eternal happiness.

(R. Hall, M. A.)

Homiletic monthly.
The Jewish nation had come to rely on their wealth, power, and political wisdom.


1. Reason has been appealed to, but its impotence in the conflict with passion, ignorance, and irreligion is demonstrated on every page of history.

2. Education has been relied upon, but knowledge and virtue are not inseparable. Philosophy, culture, the arts, did not save Rome or Greece from ruin.

3. The efforts of philosophy to reform and elevate mankind have proved signal failures in the past.

4. National wealth is thought to be the perfection of prosperity. But in all ages and lands it has proved the most active and powerful cause of national corruption.

5. Nor is military genius and prowess any safer ground of confidence than wealth, as the history of nations illustrates with solemn and awful significance.

6. Political wisdom, statesmanship, the boast and confidence of nations, is inadequate to secure and perpetuate national prosperity.

7. Our boasted free institutions, bought and maintained at immense sacrifices, and the envy of the nations, are not a guarantee of the future.

II. THERE IS EFFICACY IN THE GOSPEL OF THE GRACE OF GOD, AND NOWHERE ELSE, TO SECURE EMINENT AND ABIDING NATIONAL PROSPERITY. It was devised and bestowed upon mankind for this purpose; and in its principles, provisions, institutions, and moral tendencies, it is eminently adapted to elevate, purify, and bless nations as well as individual man. The proofs of its power to do this are not wanting. See the effect of Christianity on the laws and institutions of the old Roman Empire — on the social and political life of Germany at the Reformation — on our own history and destiny as a nation by means of our Pilgrim Fathers — on the condition of the Sandwich Islands, and in South Africa among the Hottentots. Hence patriotism demands of the Christian Church today earnest prayer and the faithful application of the Gospel.

(Homiletic monthly.)


1. All these things are the gifts of God, and have neither power nor potency without Him.

2. They are all of uncertain continuance. As no man can call them into existence, so no man can command their stay.

3. It ought to moderate our tendency to glory in riches, to remember by what huckstering practices, by what base, material means they are usually got.

4. Further, wisdom, power, and riches are all things which we must leave at death, even if they do not before leave us.


1. The knowledge of God affords a just ground for glorying, first, because God Himself, the object of it, surpasses all created excellencies. He combines in Himself in a transcendent degree whatever is deep in wisdom, whatever is majestic in might, whatever is rich in goodness.

2. This knowledge of God as being actually all that to His believing people which they can need is worthy of being gloried in, as distinguished from human wisdom, might, or riches, because it places man's confidence on an unshaken basis; and because, moreover, it is a kind of knowledge which elevates while it humbles the mind, satisfies its desires while it invites the exercise of all its powers; fills it with pure, noble, enduring excellence, expires not, but only becomes perfected at death, and fits the soul for the permanent occupations and enjoyments of the eternal state.

(Stephen Jenner, M. A.)


1. It is a false complacency when men prefer a lower to a higher species of good, when they prefer the material to the moral, the external to the internal possessions. If a man makes the culture of his soul the supreme concern of life, a due regard to riches will not injure him, because they become, in that case, a means to a worthy end. But if, ignoring his inward life, he fixes all his trust, and finds his treasure in something external, the passion for riches must lead in the end to the corruption of his character.

2. There is the preference of the physical or natural to the spiritual attributes of being. What is force without conscience? What is will without righteousness? What is might without mercy? It is like the blind fury of the earthquake, the hurricane, or the avalanche, inspiring terror, wonder, and pity, but no true joy to the rational part of the man.

3. There is the preference of the intellectual to the spiritual. While the pursuit of wisdom is of all the noblest to which we can devote ourselves, provided it be inspired by religion, it is, perhaps, of all the most disappointing if that inspiration be wanting. Of what profit this weariness of the flesh, this aching brow, these nightly vigils, this impaired health? How bitterly have such men, from Ecclesiastes downwards, turned in satire upon the wisdom they had spent a lifetime in acquiring. But it is not wisdom, it is the untrue spirit in which wisdom has been pursued, that deserves the satire. Had they from the first yielded up their souls to intercourse with the Father of Lights, had they cultivated wisdom as a gift and emanation from Himself, to be used in the service of His creatures, these disappointments might have been avoided.

II. WHAT, THEN, IS THE TRUE SOURCE OF THE SOUL'S COMPLACENCY? It is to be found in the knowledge of the eternal God.

1. We believe in His just and merciful administration of the world's affairs. He exercises loving kindness, justice, and right in the earth.

2. We believe in the essential goodness of God. "In these things I delight," saith Jehovah. He governs the world in right and in love, because He is in Himself a righteous and a loving Being. Nowhere does the righteousness of God more impress the conscience, fill the soul with a deeper awe, than at the foot of that cross, where He was made sin for us Who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. And nowhere do the beams of the eternal mercy break forth more brightly from the parting sky than above that cross. There the grace that pardons sin, that justifies the sinner, that plucks up the love of sin by the roots, that pours the balm of celestial hope and peace into our wounds, the grace that deeply humbles, yet nobly exalts us, is ever revealed.

(E. Johnson, M. A.)


1. It is to rejoice in their own national prosperity because it is their own, and superior to that of other nations.

2. A people rejoice in themselves when they ascribe their national prosperity to their own self-sufficiency.


1. It is to understand and know that God is the Governor of the world.

2. For a nation in prosperity to rejoice in God implies rejoicing, not only that He governs the world, but that He displays His great and amiable perfections in governing it.(1) There is reason to rejoice in the judgment or wisdom God displays in the government of the world.(2) There is reason to rejoice in the moral rectitude and perfect righteousness which God displays in the government of the world.(3) There is reason to rejoice in the perfect benevolence which God displays in the government of the world. He is continually doing as much good as His wisdom, His justice, His power, and His goodness enable Him to do.


1. Because God has given them all their national prosperity.

2. Because He only, in His governing goodness, can promote and preserve their prosperity.Application —

1. We have seen what it is for a people, in prosperity, to rejoice in themselves, and to rejoice in God, and that these two kinds of rejoicing are entirely opposite to each other. The one is right and the other is wrong; the one is pleasing and the other displeasing to God.

2. Have we not reason to fear that our national prosperity will be followed with national calamities and desolating judgments?

(N. Emmons, D. D.)

As that is a rebellious heart in which sin is allowed to reign, so that is not a very enlarged heart which the world can fill. Alas. what will it profit us to sail before the pleasing gales of prosperity, if we be afterwards overset by the gusts of vanity? Your bags of gold should be ballast in your vessel to keep her always steady, instead of being topsails to your masts to make your vessel giddy. Give me that distinguished person, who is rather pressed down under the weight of all his honours, than puffed up with the blast thereof. It has been observed by those who are experienced in the sport of angling, that the smallest fishes bite the fastest. Oh, how few great men do we find so much as nibbling at the Gospel hook!

(T. Seeker.)

Many a man is proud of his estate or business — of the economy, order, and exact adjustment of part to part, which mark its management, who ought, to be very much ashamed of the neglected state of his conscience and heart. Many a woman is proud of her diamonds, who cares little for the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. It is his conscience and heart, not his estate or business, it is her spirit, not her diamonds, which he and she will carry into the eternal world with them; and if God will only induce them to cultivate spirit, and conscience, and heart, by taking their diamonds and possessions away from them, is it not most merciful of Him to take these away, and so quicken them unto life eternal?

The passage assumes that it is right to glory, and the tendency of our nature is to glory in one thing or another. The heart of man cannot remain empty. If you don't fill it with one thing, it will fill itself with another. If you don't tell man of the true God to worship, he will worship a false one.


1. Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom.(1) Primarily, the reference is to the wisdom of statesmen, to political sagacity, and forethought. These are not to be gloried in, as the only way of escaping from political difficulties, or averting impending disaster and coming judgments. Political sagacity is not a thing always to be trusted. It does not always bring peace with honour. It may be another name for ambition — for the power of outwitting your neighbour, and, under some pretence or other, invading another's country, and destroying his liberty. It may have its root near low cunning, cheating, and chicanery. Let us rest assured that in all schemes of political sagacity, whatever their seeming success for a while, unless they are founded on principles of justice and righteousness, disaster and ruin will ensue. For God — who ruleth all the worlds — will do right; and He has said that, while righteousness alone exalteth a nation, sin is the reproach of any people.(2) The text refers, secondarily, to glorying in wisdom of all kinds — the wisdom of the student, the scholar, the philosopher. Men are more apt to be proud of mental gifts and intellectual acquirements than of any other thing. There is an innate splendour, an imperial dignity, about them which does not attach to such worldly possessions as riches, gold, silver, jewellery. The man of great wisdom and intellectual gifts may be inclined from his elevated place, from his eyrie heights, to look with pity, with contempt, on the traffickers in small things — the trader, the handler of tools — while he himself is occupied with thoughts big as the infinite, vast as immensity, and long as the ages. And yet his pride may be checked by the thought of his utter dependence for his thinking power on the Divine hand. No gift comes more directly from the hand of God than mental power. A little clot of blood will paralyse the active brain, and fling reason from its throne. Then, how small after all is the sum of his knowledge and his vaunted wisdom. How men now laugh at the astrology, the chemistry, and the physical theories of other days! And so, as truth is infinite and knowledge advancing, the thought that the time will come when our philosophies shall have passed, when succeeding generations will wonder that we ever believed them, when they shall look on our advances in knowledge and wisdom as the groping of children in the darkness, and estimate our present savants and scientific men as the merest sciolists and drivellers, this thought may well clothe us with humility. Besides, unaided human wisdom could not find out God. Men tried the problem long, but it became the darker and deeper. Didn't Paul find the ignorance of the most enlightened nation on earth registered in the public square when he said — "Whom, therefore, you ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you"?

2. Glorying in might is prohibited.(1) Military prowess. Other nations might, if they pleased, glory in their vast armaments, but Israel was not allowed to do so. Her strength was in the Lord. Their armaments didn't preserve those nations. Assyria is overthrown, her glory is gone, and Egypt is this day in the hands of strangers. Have the nations of Europe nothing to learn here? Napoleon I, at the head of his legions, made the world stand in awe of him. He overthrew Austria at Austerlitz, and then sprang upon the Prussian army, and smashed its power at Jena. But he in turn is worsted at Waterloo, and we see him gnawing his heart on a rock at the equator. Napoleon III, little more than twenty years ago, considered himself the arbiter of the peace of Europe. He gloried in his might. In overweening pride he attacked Germany. She turned upon him in righteous indignation, pulled the imperial crown from his head, and sent him an exile to another land. Our military prowess and scientific frontiers, our naval strength and greatness, will do little for us, if God's arm be lifted up in anger against us. Why, not long ago, the storm seized our guard ship Ajax, one of our most powerful ironclads, and made a play thing of her at the Mull of Cantyre; and more recently the Bay of Biscay grew angry with the Serpent warship, and flung her a shipwrecked thing on the Spanish shore.(2) The prohibition refers also to the individual. How apt are we, in days of health and strength, when life is a joy, and the movement of our limbs a music, to put the day of sickness far from us, to fancy that the clear eye will never be dimmed, the strong arm never be palsied, and the heart, now so warm, will continue to beat and throb with unfailing vigour. We may see the sick, the frail, and the weak around, but we are inclined to look upon them as a class different from ourselves. Is there not a secret glorying in all this? How foolish is this! For who can do battle with the King of terrors?

3. Then you are not to glory in riches. Nothing is more contemptible than that a man should be proud simply because he happens to have a good account at his banker's, or a great deal of money in his purse. Why, any man, however worthless, who makes a happy hit may have that — a gambler on the Stock Exchange or a pawnbroker. How uncertain are riches as a possession! How many homes have we seen made desolate! How many households broken up and families scattered during recent years! I am not insisting on the uselessness of money. I am not inveighing against the possession of wealth. I am only cautioning you against making it the source of your happiness, or the ground of your glorying; for it cannot satisfy the deepest needs of the human heart. Didn't Queen Elizabeth, on her deathbed, say — "I would give ten thousand pounds for an hour of life"? Let not the rich man glory in his riches.

II. AN EXACT DIRECTION. "Let him that glorieth," etc. Here is the subject of glorying. Understanding God, and knowing Him practically, so as to love Him and walk in His ways. To understand Him is now possible, for He has made known His ways to men. His whole dealings with His people are a revelation of Himself. To know God is now possible; for He hath revealed Himself in the person of His own dear Son, who is the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of His person. We may understand and know Him as thus revealed; and if we do, we may glory. If you rejoice in any other, after kindling a few sparks, you will lie down in sorrow; but if you glory in knowing God, that is a thing which, stretching into eternity, casts a shadow over the brightest sublunary splendours, and remains an everlasting possession.

(J. Macgregor, M. A.)

There is a French proverb to the effect that to do sway with one thing you must put another in its place. Men must glory in one thing or other, and so it is not enough that we be told what not to glory in, but we must also be told what we are to glory in. We need a word, "Thou shalt not"; but to give that word force, and make it last, we need another word, "Thou shalt do this."

I. THE FALSE GLORYING WHICH WE ARE WARNED AGAINST. Glorying here means far more than mere coarse, outward strut and brag. We are all ready enough to blame that, if not to laugh at it. There may be a far deeper, stronger pride, and glorying, which is quiet and calm and hidden. Indeed, if you think of it, the worst sort of pride is not what is shown by outward braveries. The man who parades his finery, and is so anxious to strike us with astonishment and awe, shows so much concern for our opinion, and is so set upon making an impression on us, that we cannot help feeling flattered: his huge effort to stand high in our eyes, and stir our astonishment, must be complimentary. And even when he walks with his chin in the air, or prances proudly past us, or looks down loftily from a great height, we must see in all that proof that he thinks a good deal about us, and is by no means indifferent to the impression he is making. Whereas, a really prouder man, haughtier and more scornful, might be far too careless of us, or our judgment, to take any trouble about us: might scorn to make us feel how high he was, and care nothing whether we appreciated his greatness or no: heeds us no more than he does the birds that fly over his head, or peer at him from the hedges, and would as soon think of showing off before them as of standing on his dignity before common folk like you and me.

1. Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom.(1) No doubt the chief thought in Jeremiah's mind is political wisdom, cunning devices of the statesman. At first sight it seems a cheap bargain to snatch the near profit and risk the anger of God. But in the end such wisdom turns to folly. God's wisdom will last longest. The wisest thing in the end is always found to be the right, duty, obedience. And here is something which puts all men on a level; makes the simple equal to the genius. The differences between mere human smartness and sagacity only reach a very little way. It is so very little of the future that the best can foresee: and how precarious it all is! Whereas, righteousness and duty never change and never fail, and the wisdom of doing God's will must show itself sooner or later.(2) Pride of intellect. This is the most tempting of all kinds of pride, and the most stubborn. Often you could pay no greater compliment, and give no greater pleasure to a talented, clever, wise thinker, than to warn him against glorying too much in his intellectual superiority. There is no reaching these men. Raised aloft on a high pillar of self-sufficiency and self-satisfaction, happy and snug in the consciousness of their culture, cleverness, criticalness, they look down on all the world at their feet. In God's sight what a farce this must be!

2. "Might." "Some trust in horses and some in chariots." The might of Israel was the presence and protection of God. What a shame for them to sink into dependence on arms and armies! Here, again, we must seek to apply the warning to our individual case. The apostle John speaks of the "pride of life" as one of the lusts of the world to be overcome. And, perhaps, there is nothing in which men more readily glory than in this hold of life. You may be too superstitious, actually, to boast about it, and may remember dimly the terrible suddenness of change, the chances of death, the risks of sickness, too much for you positively to glory aloud. But yet it is amazing how complacently, when we are in health and strength, we can look on the feeble and ailing, as if they belonged to a set apart from us; as if there was a class of people who were to be sickly and fragile whom we might pity, but to which we did not belong. This quiet, complacent self-satisfaction is really glorying in our strength. And the foolishness of this is seen herein, that there cannot in all the world be anything so certain to happen as the utter collapse of that glory in the case of every man and woman alive.

3. "Riches." "Money answereth all things," and is a very likely thing to glory in. It is the readiest power and easiest to enjoy, and therefore handiest for use. And though there is scarcely anything more senseless than purse pride, or haughtiness of heart on account of wealth, still nothing is more natural than trust in the power of the purse. Against this danger comes the prophet's warning, calling us to remember how insecure is all wealth, and, therefore, all glory in wealth. How precarious our peace if wealth be its basis. Is not the history of our day full of desolate stories of swift and sudden disasters? But, besides, even though no such chance befall, how helpless riches are to heal the wounds and woes of life!

II. RIGHT GLORYING. The cure of the false is by putting the true in its place. We have good news — a glory to tell of as blissful as the world's fairy tale, and with this charm of charms, that it is all true, and sure, and everlasting,

1. "Knoweth Me." How it leaps to the highest height at once! We have been too long lingering about the cisterns, the broken cisterns. And now, in a bound, we go to the wellspring of living waters, God Himself. There is no rest for you till you get there, till God is your portion. What a glad thing it is we can get that I that we all are offered it!

2. But observe what it is that is known about God particularly. The historical meaning, the thought in Jeremiah's mind, is this — that, instead of fretting, and fighting, and scheming, and sinning to hold their own among the rival nations, they should rather fall back on God the Ruler of all things, comfort themselves in calling on Him, glory in this that they know He is the Ruler among the nations, and will guide for good those who seek and serve Him. "This is life eternal to know Thee." As a man seeking goodly pearls, sells all to get the one; as a man finding the treasure in the field, sells all else to get that field; so, having got this knowledge, the charm is gone from all else. The bare knowledge of the fact at once disenchants of all else. Think of a poor beggar begging alms, and, gathering them carefully in a wallet, keeping them safe, suddenly told of plenty and wealth come home I How the news, once known and believed, would make him fling away his wretched scraps, secure now of abundance of comforts.

3. "Let him glory." It is not a mere saying, that it is a blessed thing should a man chance to do it, or be able to do it, but it is a counsel and command to do it. Do not keep propping up your peace with false trusts and props, but cast yourself on God.

(R. Macellar.)

Have you ever seen a boy blow up a bladder? It has not grown — it is puffed up! It has become big, but it is filled with wind, as a pin will demonstrate. Now, the apostle says, knowledge blows a man up, and makes him look big, so he seems to himself to be large. Love is the only thing that builds him up. The one swells him out, so that he appears greater than he really is. The other develops him by actual increase. The one bloats and the other builds him. The apostle's declaration is, that the mere realm of ideas, the simple sphere of knowledge, tends to produce among men immense flabation, and a sense of importance, while love, the Spirit of Christ, is the thing which augments men, enlarges them, strengthens them, with foundations downward and a superstructure upward.

(H. W. Beecher.)

I have read of one who did not fear what he did, nor what he suffered, so that he might get riches; "For," said he, "men do not ask how good one is, or how gracious one is, but how rich one is." Oh, sirs, the day is coming, when God will ask how rich your souls are; not how rich you are in money, or in jewels, or in land, or in goods, but how rich you are in grace; which should provoke your souls to strive, in face of all discouragements, to be spiritually rich.

( Thomas Brooks.)

There are three things that earthly riches can never do; they can never satisfy Divine justice, they can never pacify Divine wrath, nor can they ever quiet a guilty conscience. And till these things are done man is undone.

( Thomas Brooks.)

Twelve days before his death, little thinking it to be so near, Coleridge wrote to his godchild a remarkable letter, in which the following sentences occur — "I declare unto you, with the experience that more than threescore years can give, that health is a great blessing, competence obtained by industry is a great blessing, and to have kind, faithful, loving friends and relatives is a great blessing; but that the greatest of all blessings, as it is the ennobling of all privileges, is to be indeed a Christian."

Let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me.
So much emphasis is laid upon knowledge by the writers of Scripture, from its earliest to its latest books, that we might almost say that knowledge is religion. Indeed, the Master Himself did say as much (John 17:3). Yet religious know. ledge is not religion. That may be possessed by him who is ignorant of God, and lives without Him. Nevertheless, religious knowledge may be the foundation of religion — the material from which the Spirit draws the living fire of faith and love. A knowledge of the facts of the Gospel history is of infinite moment, because they so clearly, so impressively, so attractively show forth the hidden nature and unspeakable name of the Eternal. Their importance is evidenced by the fact that the whole of the epistles are devoted to an exposition of the purposes and meanings which are infolded in them. Yet we may master all these things intellectually, and not possess the knowledge of God — the know. ledge to which the Scriptures attach such great importance, the knowledge which is eternal life. Clearly there is a knowledge within knowledge. So vitally necessary is the inner illumination, that one man may possess but little knowledge of the facts through which God has revealed Himself, and yet may know Him; and another may have an exhaustive knowledge of the facts, and not know Him at all. It is not religious knowledge that saves, but knowledge of God — knowledge of His mind, which is deeper than anything coming from His mind; knowledge of His heart, as heart only can know heart, by an instinct, a sympathy, an appreciation. Here we see the infinite worth of the life of Christ as manifesting God; because the Spirit that was in Him appeared in forms which we can best appreciate, and which are best adapted to impress our minds and hearts. We show ourselves to each other in a thousand ways, consciously and unconsciously, in the tone and manner in which we speak to a child, or give instructions to a servant, or address our equals; in the way in which we cherish or sacrifice our comforts; in the presence or absence of proofs of loving thoughtfulness. So read, the life of our blessed Lord and Master was continually giving some evidence of what God is, and was shedding light all along the pathway of men; into every dark valley and gloomy forest; upon every mystery and sorrow and care. We have "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." But let us try and still further unfold the method by which men come to the knowledge of God. The beloved disciple says: "The Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life." Now, in what way is that understanding given? Partly by the historic Christ, partly by the Christ within. The one operation or manifestation of Christ must never exclude the other. To be with Christ is to acquire the power to know Him. To live in the Gospels is to understand Him who is their central figure, their Divine glory. Christ is the Light without; He also opens the eyes to see. He is the supreme revelation of God given for us to know; He also creates the spiritual understanding which apprehends the truth and glory and divinity of the revelation. Not by logic, then, do we attain to the knowledge of God, but by spiritual perception, by faith. And this knowledge of God is not a comprehension, but an apprehension, of Him, a seizing hold of Him by our spiritual sense, in response to the hold with which He has seized us.

(J. P. Gledstone.)

The knowledge of God is not a thing which can be fixed in the beginning, except in words; in its very nature, the knowledge of God among men must, to a large extent, be progressive; and it must follow the development of the race itself. There has been, and there is recognised in the Word of God from beginning to end, a steady progress in the disclosure of the Divine nature; and we see that in the thoughts respecting God among men there has been a gradual augmentation of the conception of the Divine character, arising from the process which I have already delineated. It is true that in the Bible there is much sublime portraiture representing the character of God; but, after all, no man knows God until he has personally found Him out in such a way as that he feels that God has touched him. No man can say, "I know God as a living God." except so far as he has interpreted Him out of his own living consciousness. Now, suppose you say of God, "He is just, true, righteous, pure, benevolent, lovely." Those qualities being enumerated, there will probably be a thousand different conceptions of the personality which they go to make up. What are the circumstances which will make this difference in your conceptions of the Divine nature? I will explain. Some there are who are far more sensible to physical qualities than others. The sublimity of power is to their thought one of the chief Divine attributes. God is omnipotent. That idea touches them. He is omniscient. Their eyes sparkle when they think of that. He is omnipresent. They have a sense of that. He is majestic. He has wondrous power. According to their conception He is God of all the earth. None can resist His might. That is your sense of God. If you only have such a God, you are satisfied. Another person wants a scientific God. He says, "I perceive that there is a law of light, a law of heat, a law of electricity; I see that everything is fashioned by law; and my idea of God is that He must be supreme in science; that there are to be found in Him all those qualities which science is interpreting to me." His God will be just, generous, faithful; but He will be just, generous, faithful after the fashion of some Agassiz, or some Cuvier, or some Faraday. Another man conceives of God from the domestic side, It is the mother nature that he thinks of — the nature that is full of gentleness; full of kindness; full of sympathy; full of sweetness; full of elevated tastes and relishes; full of songs; full of all manner of joy-producing qualities. Another, who is an artist, will feel after the God of the rainbow — a God of beauty. So every person will be dependent upon the most sensitive parts of his own soul for his interpretation of God. What is it that makes one flower blue and another scarlet? No flower reflects all the light. If a flower is purple it absorbs a part and reflects the rest. If it is blue it absorbs some of the parts and reflects others. The same is true if it is red. And as it is with the colours of flowers, so it is with our conception of God. What you are susceptible of, and what you are sensitive to, in the Divine nature, largely determines what your conception of God is. Each individual puts emphasis on that part of the character of God which his own mind is best fitted to grasp. For instance, God is said to be a God of justice, of truth, and of benevolence. Now, which of those elements is first? Which governs the others? If God is first sternly just, and then suffers and is kind, that is one sort of God. If He is first loving, and then in the service of love is stern, and severe even, that is another kind of God. I hold that the emphasis which you put upon the Divine attributes determines the character of God in your mind; and when you say, "I hold that God is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, just, good, true, faithful, benevolent," you have said what this man says, what that man says, and what I say. We are all agreed, then, are we? Oh, no! If I could take a Daguerrean picture of the conception which each one forms of God, it would be found that one puts more emphasis on justice than love, and that another puts more emphasis on love than on justice. It would be found that one emphasises one attribute, and another its opposite; and that the conception which each one forms of the Divine character depends upon the quality which he emphasises most. The next question which you would naturally propound to me is, "Since these are the ways in which God is conceived of by men, how shall each fashion in himself the living God?" I call the Bible a picture gallery. It is an historical record which is open to all; but it behoves us each to have some conception which we call our God, our Father's God, the living God. I know of no other way than that which has been practised by the race from the beginning. I know of no other way than for you, in filling out the catalogue which the Word of God gives you of the elements of the Divine nature, to employ the actual perceptions and experiences of this life, in order to kindle before your mind those qualities which otherwise would be abstract to you. Suppose, then, that you have built up in your mind, by some such process as this, a personal God — a God of your own — who fills the heaven with the best things you can conceive of, to which you are perpetually adding from the stores of your daily experience? for it seems to me that God is a name which becomes more and more by reason of the things which you add to it. Every element, every combination of elements, every development which carries with it a sweeter inspiration than it has been your wont to experience, you put inside of that name and you call it God. You are forever gathering up the choicest and most beautiful phases of human life; and with these you build your God. And then you have a living God adapted to your consciousness and personality. Now, let me ask you — for I come back to my text, whether it is not a good text to stand on? "Thus saith the Lord, let not the wise man glory in his wisdom." Why, he is a savant! He is a philosopher! He is world-renowned. He is bathed in people's observation. Does not a man rejoice in that? A great many do. Neither let the mighty man glory in his might." A great many men do rejoice in their might. "Let not the rich man glory in his riches." If that were obeyed it would upset New York in twenty-four hours. Now and then we are brought to the edge of the great invisible realm, and then we are made to feel that we need something besides wisdom, something besides might, and something besides riches. When a man lies sick in his house, feeling that all the world is going away from him, what can riches do for him? It can be of but little service to him then. When a man is fifty years of age, and he has large estates, and a high reputation as a citizen, if he is going to leave the world, what can his wealth do for him? If he knows that he is going fast toward the great invisible sphere, does he not need something to hold him up when the visible shall have broken down in this life? The great emergencies of your life make it needful that you should have something stronger than wealth, wiser than philosophy, sweeter than human love, mightier than time and nature: you need God. For when flesh and heart fail, then He is the strength of our soul, and our salvation forever.

(H. W. Beecher.)

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