The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.
THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): What is true zeal?
J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): A zealous man in religion is a man of one thing. He only sees one thing, he cares for one thing, he is swallowed up in one thing; and that one thing is to please God.
THOMAS MANTON: Zeal is ferventis amoris gradus―“a higher degree of love;” it is the fervour of divine charity. My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy word, Psalm 119:139. It was no small zeal that David had, but a consuming zeal―Why was David so much wasted, pined, consumed, and troubled? Because they “have forgotten thy word;” the contempt of God, and the offence of God sat nearest his heart.
GEORGE HORNE (1730-1792): “Zeal” is a high degree of love; and when the object of that love is ill treated, it venteth itself in a mixture of grief and indignation which are sufficient to wear and “consume” the heart…But never could the verse be uttered with such fulness of truth and propriety by any one as by the Son of God, who had such a sense of His Father’s glory, and of man’s sin, as no person else ever had. And, accordingly, when His zeal had exerted itself in purging the temple, St. John tells us, “his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up,” John 2:17.
WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Love goes over armed with zeal; this is the dagger she draws against all the opposers of truth. Qui non zelat, non amat—he that is not zealous doth not love. Now right zeal acts like fire—to its utmost power, yet ever keeping its place and sphere. If it be confined to the breast of a private Christian, whence it may not flame forth in punishing truth’s enemies, then it burns inwardly the more for being pent up, and preys, like a fire in his bones, upon the Christian’s own spirits, consuming them, yea, eating him up for grief to see truth trodden under foot of error or profaneness, and he not able to help it up.
JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): True Christian zeal is a heavenly gentle flame: it shines and warms, but knows not to destroy: it is the spirit of Christ, infused with a sense of His love into the heart: it is a generous philanthropy and benevolence, which, like the light of the sun, diffuses itself to every object, and longs to be the instrument of good, if possible, to the whole race of mankind. A sense of the worth of souls, the importance of unseen things, and the awful condition of unawakened sinners, makes it earnest and importunate; but this it shows not by bitterness and constraint, but by an unwearied perseverance in attempting to overcome evil with good. It returns blessings for curses, prayers for ill treatment, and, though often reviled and affronted, cannot be discouraged from renewed efforts to make others partakers of the happiness itself possesses. It knows how to express a becoming indignation against the errors and follies of men, but towards their persons it is all gentleness and compassion; it weeps―and would, if possible, weep tears of blood―over those who will not be persuaded.
THOMAS MANTON: The apostle [Paul], when he had zealously declaimed against the false teachers, he falls a-weeping, Philippians 3:18.
THOMAS MCCRIE (1797-1875): Amidst all the professions of zeal that we hear, how rarely, among any class of Christians, does the low state of religion in the Church draw a tear from the eye, or a sob from the heart!
THOMAS MANTON: This is, to be sure, most agreeable to Christ’s pattern. He wept over Jerusalem that stood in a state of enmity to Him, Luke 19:41; and when He was angry with the unbelief of his countrymen, at the same time he was grieved at the hardness of their hearts, Mark 3:5. In Christ’s anger there was more of compassion than of passion…Zeal, which is a high degree of love, vents itself by a mixture of grief and anger.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): We want to have Christ’s zeal, but we must balance it with His prudence and discretion; we must seek to have Christ’s love to God, and we must feel His love to men, His forgiveness of injury, His gentleness of speech, His incorruptible truthfulness, His meekness and His lowliness, His utter unselfishness, His entire consecration to His Father’s business.
JOHN NEWTON: The zealous Christian is strictly observant of his own failings, candid and tender to the faults of others; he knows what allowances are due to the frailty of human nature and the temptations of the present state, and willingly makes all the allowances possible; and though he dare not call evil good, and cannot but judge according to the rule of the Scripture, yet he will conceal the infirmities of men as much as he can, will not speak of them without just cause, much less will he aggravate the case, or boast himself over them.
WILLIAM JAY: In our Lord we see the finest moral harmony arising from the perfect union of diverse feelings and affections. His zeal was not without discretion; His prudence was not without fervour. His authority dignified His condescension; His kindness softened and endeared His power. His compassion was not without censure; His censure was not without pity. He distinguished between the sin and the sinner, and at once display His displeasure and His distress. “He looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts.” So should it be with us.
C. H. SPURGEON: Study His example, and as you look at the lovely traits of His character, His gentleness, and yet His boldness, His consecration to our cause and His zeal for the glory of God, you will find as you value His excellencies they will exercise a curative power over you. You will be ashamed to be selfish, you will be ashamed to be idle, you will be ashamed to be proud when you see what Jesus was. Study Him, and you will grow like Him.