Theological Sketch Book
Why lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;…
The words of the text are taken from Isaiah 35:3, 4, and are addressed to the believing Hebrews as an admonition to comfort and encourage one another. The disheartened among them are compared to such as had been running in a race, or sustaining a protracted conflict till their knees began to tremble, and their hands to hang down: and in this condition, those who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak.
I. NOTICE THE RELIGIOUS STATE OF THOSE WHO ANSWER TO THE DESCRIPTION GIVES IN THE TEXT. Were we to compare Christians in general of the present day with those of the first ages, it would appear that they are grown weak and faint. We have but little of the zeal and activity which characterised the primitive Church. The description, however, is more particularly applicable to certain individual cases and characters amongst us, who need the compassion of their brethren, under their various difficulties and discouragements.
1. Some are ready to faint under difficulties and troubles of a worldly nature.
2. Some are discouraged through distrust, and groundless fears of future ills.
3. Others are distressed not only with the difficulties of life, but from being under the chastening hand of God.
4. Some are disheartened by repeated opposition from the enemies of religion.
5. Some are greatly discouraged by inward conflicts, arising from the evil propensities of their own hearts.
6. A departure from evangelical truth has weakened the strength of some by the way, and left them shorn of their dignity and glory.
7. The despondency of some good people arises no doubt from a natural gloominess in their constitution, which disposes them to dwell on the dark side of every subject rather than on the other.
II. THE DUTY OF CHRISTIANS TOWARDS ONE ANOTHER UNDER THESE DISCOURAGEMENTS. "Lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees."
1. In order to perform this duty aright, it is necessary to exercise much tenderness and forbearance towards those who are labouring under great discouragements. Let the strong bear the infirmities of the weak, remembering that they are a part of the mystical body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:21, 25). The compassionate tenderness of the great Shepherd of the flock is left as a pattern for our imitation (Isaiah 40:11; Matthew 12:20).
2. Another way in which our compassion may be exercised is to point out to one another the directions and consolations of the gospel, according as the case may require; and here the tongue of the learned is necessary to speak a word in season to him that is weary.
3. Let us be concerned to remove the stumbling-block out of the way, and so to "make straight paths for their feet."Let us learn from hence:
1. That all our difficulties and discouragements in the ways of God arise from ourselves, and from the evil that is in the world. His ways are ways of pleasantness, and all His paths are peace.
2. How lovely and how interesting is Christian society, whose object it is to strengthen and encourage each other in the way to heaven; and how wretchedly defective must it be, if it has not this tendency!
3. How essential to the Christian character are brotherly kindness, charity, and a disinterested but affectionate concern for the spiritual and everlasting welfare of our fellow-Christians!
(Theological Sketch Book.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;