A Thankful Remembrance of God’s Holiness

Psalm 97:12; Psalm 30:4,5

Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness…Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Holiness is an attribute which inspires the deepest awe, and demands a reverent mind; but still―give thanks at the remembrance of it. “Holy, holy, holy!” is the song of seraphim and cherubim, Isaiah 6:3; let us join it not dolefully, as though we trembled at the holiness of God, but cheerfully, as humbly rejoicing in it.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): But why should you give thanks at the “remembrance” that God is holy?

SAMUEL CHANDLER (1693-1766): The holiness of God here refers particularly to his truth and faithfulness to His promises, which argues the rectitude and sanctity of His nature.

C. H. SPURGEON: Give thanks at the remembrance of the whole of Him, for that is His holiness―His wholeness, the entire, perfect character of God―the harmony of all His attributes, the superlative wholeness of His character.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): His holiness is essential to Him, and in which He is glorious; and which appears in all His ways and works of providence and grace, and both in the redemption and sanctification of His people; and besides this, there is the holiness of Christ, which is imputed to His saints, and the sanctification of the Spirit, which is wrought in them; and at the remembrance of each of these it highly becomes them to give thanks to the Lord, since hereby they are made meet to be partakers of his kingdom and glory.

THOMAS CHALMERS (1780-1847): We should further be grateful because of this essential attribute in the Godhead; for it is in virtue of His holiness that evil cannot dwell with Him, and that the world will at length be delivered, and this conclusively, from the wickedness and malice and vile sensualities by which it is now so disquieted and deformed.

ADAM CLARKE: He who can give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness, is one who loves holiness; who hates sin, and who longs to be saved from it.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): It is a matter of joy to the saints that God is a holy God; for then they hope He will make them holy―more holy. None of all God’s perfections carries in it more terror to the wicked, nor more comfort to the godly, than His holiness. It is a good sign that we are in some measure partakers of His holiness if we can heartily rejoice and give thanks at the remembrance of it…Sinners tremble, but saints rejoice, at the remembrance of God’s holiness.

SIR RICHARD BAKER (1568-1644): But now that it is to sing of God’s “holiness”what should profane voices do in the concert? None but “saints” are fit to sing of “holiness,” and specially of God’s holiness.

MATTHEW HENRY: His saints in heaven sing to Him; why should not those on earth be doing the same work, as well as they can, in concert with them?

C. H. SPURGEON: If all others fail to praise the Lord, the godly must not. To them God is peculiarly revealed, and by them He should be specially adored.

MATTHEW HENRY: They have experienced him to be a God gracious and merciful; and therefore let them sing to Him. We have found His frowns very short. Though we have deserved that they should be everlasting, and that He should be angry with us till He had consumed us, and should never be reconciled, yet “His anger endureth but for a moment.” When we offend Him He is angry; but, as He is slow to anger and not soon provoked, so when He is angry, upon our repentance and humiliation His anger is soon turned away, and He is willing to be at peace with us. If He hide His face from His own children, and suspend the tokens of His favour, it is but in a little wrath, and for a small moment; but He will “gather them with everlasting kindness,” Isaiah 54:7,8. If “weeping endureth for a night,” and it be a wearisome night, yet as sure as the light of the morning returns after the darkness of the night, so sure will joy and comfort return in a short time, in due time, to the people of God; for the covenant of grace is as firm as the covenant of the day.

C. H. SPURGEON: Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord,” Philippians 3:1. “Finally,” says Paul, as if this was the end of his epistle, the conclusion of all his teaching. But never do it finally―never come to an end of it. Rejoice in the Lord, and yet again rejoice, and yet again rejoice; and as long as you live, rejoice in the Lord.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN (1826-1910): There is plenty of gladness amongst professing Christians, but a good many of them would resent the question, is your gladness “in the Lord”?

ROBERT HAWKER (1753-1827): Reader! do not fail to remark the vast difference, between rejoicing in the Lord, and taking confidence in the flesh.

HENRY GROVE (1683-1738): Our rejoicing in the Lord denotes our taking a very sincere and cordial pleasure in whatever relates to the ever-blessed God, particularly His existence, perfections, and providence; the discoveries of His will to us, especially in His Word; the interest we have in Him, and the relations wherein we stand to Him; His continual protection, guidance and influence; His gracious intercourse with us in the duties of religious worship; and, finally, the hope He has given us of fulness of joy, in His beatific and most glorious presence above.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN: The true source of true joy lies in our union with Jesus. To be in Him is the condition of every good.

MATTHEW HENRY: Let all the streams of comfort, which flow to us in the channel of Christ’s kingdom, lead us to the fountain, and oblige us to rejoice in the Lord. All the lines of joy must meet in Him as in the centre…It is the character and temper of sincere Christians to rejoice in Christ Jesus. The more we take of the comfort of our religion the more closely we shall cleave to it: the more we rejoice in Christ the more willing we shall be to do and suffer for Him, and the less danger we shalt be in of being drawn away from Him. The “joy of the Lord is our strength,” Nehemiah 8:10.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say rejoice,” Philippians 4:4. No duty almost more pressed in both Testaments than this of rejoicing in the Lord.


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Lesson 1 From the Life of Lot: Lot’s Worldly Choices

Genesis 13:10-13

And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.

Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): The various steps in the downward course of Lot are plainly marked out. First, he “lifted up his eyes and beheld.” Second, he “chose all the plain of Jordan.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): Lot’s choice was a terrible mistake.

A. W. PINK: Lot was still attached to “Egypt” in heart―To the worldly eye of Lot all the plain appeared “well watered, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt;” but to the holy eye of Jehovah the cities of the plain were peopled by those who were “wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly before the Lord,” which shows us what God’s eyes dwelt upon.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Such were the companions Lot must have in the fruitful land he had chosen.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN (1826-1910): But Lot evidently never thought about that. He knew it, though, and ought to have thought about it. It was his sin that he was guided in his choice only by considerations of temporal advantage.

A. W. PINK: Third, he “separated” himself from Abram.

D. L. MOODY: Lot was one of those characters who are easily influenced―and I think, perhaps, that is just the key to his character…So long as he stayed with Abram he got on very well. His mistake was in leaving him. Some men all through life have to be bolstered up by others. When they are at home, home has an influence over them; or while they are among their relatives or friends they stand well, but when they are away, and trial and temptation come, and the world comes in like a flood upon them, they are carried away.

A. W. PINK: Fourth, he “dwelt in the cities of the plain.” Fifth, he “pitched his tent toward Sodom.”

D. L. MOODY: Lot was probably like a great many men around us. He was careless; he was covetous…I imagine him saying, “Now, if I take these well-watered plains, I can accumulate wealth very fast. I know Sodom is a very wicked place, but I will not go to Sodom.” He at first did not intend to go into Sodom; but when a man begins to pitch his tent toward Sodom, and to look at it, it will not be long before he will be inside it. His heart will be there, and by and by his heart will take him down to Sodom.

A. W. PINK: Sixth, he “dwelt in Sodom,” Genesis 14:12.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): There was poor Lot living over in Sodom, just as a great many professed Christians are doing today. I hope they are God’s people, but I cannot make them out. They like worldly amusements and they like worldly talk—they are like Lot in Sodom.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): No doubt, Lot thought he was doing well for himself and his family, when he moved to Sodom.

D. L. MOODY: And he was perhaps a very prominent candidate for political honours, and they all desired to show him respect because he was wealthy. Perhaps he owned the very best corner lots in Sodom; and if they had the custom of putting their names on buildings as they do now, you would have found ‘Lot’ on a great many of the finest buildings in Sodom―that is what the world calls prosperity.

C. H. MACKINTOSH: He has evidently made progress. He has “got on in the world.” Looked at from a worldly point of view, his course has been a successful one.

D. L. MOODY: Yes, getting on amazingly well. And if he was a judge, ‘Judge Lot’ would have sounded well, would it not?

A. W. PINK: Finally, we see him an alderman of Sodom, seated in its “gate,” Genesis 19:1; and his daughters wedded to men of Sodom, Genesis 19:14.

C. H. MACKINTOSH: Sitting in the gate—a prominent, influential post.

D. L. MOODY: He was a man of immense influence. That is what they would have told you down in Sodom. There was not a man in the whole city who had more influence than Lot. He was one of those men ‘who had not religion enough,’ as the world says, ‘to make him unpopular.’ But, look! Though everything was moving on well, when he had been there twenty years, this wise man, this influential man, had not won a convert. These worldly Christians don’t get many converts—note that.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): We know the arguments that have been put forward.  We have been told that we have to make the Church attractive to the man outside, and the idea is to become as much like him as we can.

D. L. MOODY: These men who are so very influential seldom get many converts to Christ. The world goes stumbling over them.

H. A. IRONSIDE (1876-1951): Look at Lot. He spent years in Sodom building up a great reputation and even became a judge, but he had no business being there. We read, “That righteous man, dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds,” 2 Peter 2:8. Abram’s soul was not daily thus distressed. Why? Because he was not there at all.

D. L. MOODY: The world thought that Abram had made a great mistake; he stayed out there on the plains with his tent and altar, and if he had come to Sodom when Lot did, he too might have had a high position.

A. W. PINK: Notice how, in His faithfulness and grace, God had given Lot a very definite warning. From Genesis 14:1-24, we learn that in the battle between the four kings with the five, “they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.”

C. H. SPURGEON: Then, by the intervention of Abram, he was delivered from the captivity which threatened him and brought back again. This was a solemn warning, and you would have thought that Lot would have said, “I will go back to Abram’s way of living.”

A. W. PINK: Nevertheless, this experience failed to teach Lot the evil of being associated with the world, but he recovered his freedom and his property, only to return unto Sodom.

D. L. MOODY: There was another of Lot’s mistakes―returning to the city after such a warning.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN: We shall see, in subsequent sections, how far Lot’s own moral character suffered from his choice.


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The True Character of War

Isaiah 9:5

Every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): War is ever a cruel thing.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): The noise of war drowns the voice of laws.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): And we know with how many miseries war is replete; for when once men begin to take up arms, the gate is opened to robberies and rapines, burnings, slaughters, debaucheries, and all violence.

JOHN TRAPP: War is as a fire, that feedeth upon the people, Isaiah 9:19―there is in war no measure or satiety of blood. The Greek word for war, signifies ‘much blood.’ The Hebrew word מלחמה, signifies the ‘devouring and eating of men, as they eat bread.’ The Latin  Bellum, a belluis, signifies destruction from wild beasts…War is the slaughter house of mankind, and the hell of this present world. It hews itself a way through a wood of men, and lays “heaps upon heaps,” as Samson did, Judges 15:16, not with “a jaw-bone of an ass,” and one after another, but in a minute of time, and by the mouth of a murdering piece.

C. H. SPURGEON: A man of war is glad of weapons which may fly where he cannot.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): Against the flying ball no valour avails; the soldier is dead, ere he sees the means of his destruction. If Adam had seen in a vision the horrible instruments his children were to invent, he would have died of grief.

THOMAS COKE (1747-1814): We see at this day, when the art of war is brought to so high a pitch of perfection, how much money, labour, and blood it costs.

C. H. SPURGEON: Long have I held that war is an enormous crime. Long have I regarded all battles as but murder on a large scale…War is, in itself, so great an evil that there are many other evils necessarily connected with it.

MARTIN LUTHER: War is one of the greatest plagues that can afflict humanity; it destroys religion, it destroys states, it destroys families. Any scourge, in fact, is preferable to it. Famine and pestilence become as nothing in comparison with it.

ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER (1772-1851): The moral effects of war are also most deplorable.

JOHN CALVIN: In war all humanity and equity is buried.

C. H. SPURGEON: When a man is at war, he is not in the habit of sprinkling his adversaries with rosewater…There have been brilliant exceptions to the general rule, but war is usually as deceitful as it is bloody, and the words of diplomatists are a mass of lies. It seems impossible that men should deliberate about peace and war without straightway forgetting the meaning of words and the bonds of honesty! War still seems to be a piece of business in which truth would be out of place—it is a matter so accursed that falsehood is most at home there—and righteousness quits the plain.

JOHN CALVIN: War is pleasant to those who never tried it.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): It is an easy thing to speak of the war in the East—perhaps to plan an attack upon the enemy―but it is quite a different thing to be in the heat of the conflict. One may read of the sad effects of war, and may agree that they are indeed dreadful; but when the enemy is at one own’s door, plundering his goods, firing his home, slaying his dear ones, he is far more sensible of the miseries of war than ever he was―or could be―previously.

JOHN TRAPP: War is uncertain, and oft mischievous to both sides―and the best cause hath not always the best success.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): War is a tragedy which commonly destroys the stage it is acted on…Many a war is ill ended which was well begun.

JOHN TRAPP: War is easily taken up, saith the wise historian, but not so easily laid down again; neither is the beginning and the end of a war in any one man’s power.

MATTHEW HENRY: When war is once begun it often lasts long; the sword, once drawn, does not quickly find the way into the scabbard again; nay, some, when they draw the sword throw away the scabbard, for they “delight in war,” Psalm 68:30. So deplorable are the desolations of war that the blessings of peace cannot but be very desirable.

MARTIN LUTHER: We read of the Emperor Octavian, that he did not wish to make war, however just his cause might be, unless there were sure indications of greater benefit than harm, or at least that the harm would not be intolerable, and said: “War is like fishing with a golden net; the loss risked is always greater than the catch can be.”

C. H. SPURGEON: Among those who read their Bibles, the allowance of defensive war may, perhaps, still be a question. But any other sort of war must certainly be condemned by the man who is a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. We shall say nothing, however, or but very little, concerning the criminality of those ambitious and unscrupulous persons who hurry nations into war without cause.

ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER: That nation which, without sufficient reason, commences a war, or provokes a war, has an awful responsibility resting on it; and so also, when a war is in progress, that nation which refuses to make peace, or insist on unreasonable conditions, is guilty of all the blood which may be shed, and all the misery produced.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Greed, avarice, national pride, the desire to possess, to become great and greater than everyone else.  These are the things that ever cause wars.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): Doubtless the passions of men are the immediate sources from whence the calamities of war arise: and men are strictly amenable, both to God and their fellow-creatures, for the evils, which, by their undue exercise of those passions, they inflict upon the world―but we are apt to look only to second causes, instead of acknowledging, as we ought, the First Great Cause.

GEORGE LAWSON (1749-1820): We should remember that the sword of war is the sword of the Lord: that He musters the hosts of battle—that when mighty conquerors go forth they are the instruments of His Providence for accomplishing those overturnings which for wise ends He determined before any of us were born. With the same disposition we should read or hear the accounts which we receive daily of those events which are now happening in the world. Let us not forget that all men and their actions are under the superintendence of One who never errs. “I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things,” Isaiah 45:7.

CHARLES SIMEON: War is one of God’s “four sore judgments,” wherewith he visiteth a guilty land, Ezekiel 14:21―one of those judgments with which God punishes the sins of men.

ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER: War is a fearful calamity and a heavy judgment from God on any nation, whether it be entered on for sufficient, or insufficient reasons.

THOMAS FULLER (1608-1661): Woes may come from peace; but they must come from war.


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Enoch’s Translation from Earth to Heaven

Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5,6

Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): Enoch was the first who was translated into the Kingdom of God without death.

JOHN OWEN (1616-1683): Enoch was the principal patriarch in the world, and besides, a great prophet and preacher. The eyes of all men about were upon him. How God “took him” is not declared.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): It must have been witnessed by someone of undoubted credibility; else the effect of it would have been lost.

JOHN OWEN: Whether there was any visible sign of it, as there was unto Elisha in the taking up of Elijah is uncertain. But doubtless, upon the disappearing of so great a person from the world, there was great inquiry after him. So when Elijah was taken up into heaven, though there was a visible sign of it, and his divine rapture was evident, yet the sons of the prophets, because of the rarity of the thing, would search whether he were not let down again on some mountain, or in some valley; “and they sought three days, and found him not,” 2 Kings 2:16,17. The apostle seems to intimate some such thing in the old world upon the disappearance of Enoch: they made great search after him, but “he was not found.”

CHARLES SIMEON: From its being said, that “he was not found,” it is evident that, as in Elijah’s case also, a search was made for him—this may refer to some search made by his friends, or rather by his enemies—he was a bold and faithful witness for God, and doubtless incensed many against him; and God took him from a persecuting and ungodly world, who probably enough were seeking to destroy him on account of his pungent admonitions.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): God hid Enoch from them, not under heaven, but in heaven. God took him body and soul to Himself in the heavenly paradise.

CHARLES SIMEON: While Enoch was in the body, he could not endure the full splendour of the divine glory.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Obviously, Enoch’s body was changed in some manner that we can’t understand.

JOHN OWEN: It was of the whole person, as unto state and condition that “Enoch was translated;” his whole person―soul and body―was taken out of one condition, and placed in another. Such a translation without a dissolution of the person is possible; for as it was afterwards actually made in Elijah, so the apostle intimates the desirable glory of it, 2 Corinthians 5:4― “We groan, not that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.” Unto this translation there is a change required, such as they shall have who will be found alive at the coming of Christ: “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,” 1 Corinthians 15:51―they must be made incorrupt, powerful, glorious, spiritual, 1 Corinthians 15:42-44. So was it with the body of Enoch, by the power of God who translated him; his body was made in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, incorrupt, spiritual, immortal, meet for the blessed habitation above. So was Enoch translated.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Enoch was taken out of the world by an unusual mode, and was received by the Lord in a miraculous manner.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): And in the very act God changed his body into a spiritual, powerful, glorious, and incorruptible one; as all ours who are true believers shall be at last, 1 Corinthians 15:51, 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Our vile bodies shall be changed and conformed to Christ’s most glorious body, in beauty, agility, impassibility, and other angelical perfections, Philippians 3:21.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Incidentally, it shows us the importance of the doctrine of the resurrection of the body, and that we must never surrender that. We don’t merely go on as spirits, the whole man is to be saved; the body is to be redeemed, as well as the soul and spirit.

JOHN CALVIN: The translation of Enoch took place to be as a visible representation of a blessed resurrection.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): He could not bear testimony to the resurrection, for he did not die—however that may be, there was some special rapture, some distinct taking up of this choice one to the Throne of the Most High.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): That is the prophetical significance; but there is a spiritual meaning and practical application also, and this is what we so much desire to make clear—Enoch’s translation to heaven was a miracle, and that which is spiritually symbolized is a supernatural experience. The whole Christian life, from start to finish, is a supernatural thing…As it is impossible to please God without faith, and as Enoch received testimony that he did please God, then he must have had faith—a justifying and sanctifying faith.

JOHN OWEN: This the apostle affirms of Enoch in the last place: “For before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” These words are an entrance into the proof of the apostle’s assertion, namely, that it was “by faith Enoch was translated”—for before that translation he had that testimony. For it is said of him, that “he walked with God three hundred years,” Genesis 5:22—after which he was translated. “Walking with God” in Moses, the Apostle renders by “pleasing God,for this alone is well-pleasing to him: His pleasure, His delight is in them that fear Him, that walk before Him.

C. H. SPURGEON: You cannot please God unless you have faith in Him…This is evidently the Apostle’s interpretation of his walking with God, and it is a most correct one, for the Lord will not walk with a man in whom He has no pleasure. Can two walk together, except they are agreed? If men walk contrary to God, He will not walk with them, but contrary to them. Walking together implies amity, friendship, intimacy, love—and these cannot exist between God and the soul unless the man is acceptable unto the Lord.

D. L. MOODY: Enoch walked with God. And when he was translated, he changed his place, but not his company. One day the cord that bound him to earth and time snapped asunder. God said unto him, “Come up hither,” and up he went to walk with Him in glory. God liked his company so well that He called His servant home. Andrew Bonar has said that Enoch took a long walk one day, and has not got back yet. With one bound he leaped the river of death, and walked the crystal pavement of heaven.


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Two Swords

Luke 22:35-38: John 18:1-6, 10, 11

And [Jesus] said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.

And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords.

And he said unto them, It is enough…

When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples. Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.

Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground…

Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): I must here confess that the matter about the swords appears to me very obscure. I am afraid I do not understand it, and I know of none who does.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Some think it is spoken ironically: “Two swords among twelve men! you are bravely armed indeed when our enemies are now coming out against us in great multitudes, and every one with a sword!”

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): A smile must have passed over the Saviour’s face as He saw how they had misunderstood Him! He did not mean that they should literally carry swords, but that they should now have to go through an alien world and to meet with no friends or helpers…He could never have thought of their fighting that He might not be delivered unto the Jews, since for that purpose two swords were simply ridiculous! They had missed His meaning, which was simply to warn them of the changed circumstances of His cause—but they caught at the words which He had used and exhibited their two swords.

THOMAS GOODWIN (1600-1679): Some interpreters hence observe that it is lawful to wear defensive weapons. There is the clearest evidence for it here, for they did not only wear swords, but Christ bids them, if they had no swords, to sell their garments and buy swords. And when Peter had done this mischievous act, in drawing his sword and striking the high priest’s servant, Christ did not bid him fling it away, but only to put it up again into its place.

H. A. IRONSIDE (1876-1951): He said unto them, “It is enough”―that is, no more talk about that. He was not speaking about actual defense.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Our Lord, seeing their dullness of understanding, dismisses the subject. The disciples took His words about the swords literally, but He was talking figuratively. If they could not see His meaning now, they would later. At present, He said “enough” and for wise reasons would say no more.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): Our Saviour doth doubtless speak in a figure.

HUGH  LATIMER (1483-1555): In this world God hath “two swords;” the one is a temporal sword, the other a spiritual. The temporal sword resteth in the hands of kings, magistrates, and rulers, under Him; whereunto all subjects be subject, as well the clergy as the laity, and punishable for any offence, Romans 13:1-4.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): God has appointed magistrates as his vicegerents in the world, and has put the sword into their hands “for the punishment of evildoers, and the support of them that do well,” Romans 13:4; and if they should forbear “to execute wrath” upon those who violate the laws, they would themselves be guilty of a dereliction of their public duty.

HUGH  LATIMER: The spiritual sword is hands of ministers and preachers; whereunto all kings, magistrates, and rulers, ought to be obedient; that is, to hear and follow, so along as the ministers sit in Christ’s chair; that is, speaking out of Christ’s book. The king correcteth transgressors with the temporal sword; yea, and the preacher also, if he be an offender. But the preacher cannot correct the king, if he be a transgressor of God’s Word, with the temporal sword; but he must correct and reprove him with the spiritual sword; fearing no man, and setting God only before his eyes, under whom he is a minister, to supplant and root up all vice and mischief by God’s Word; whereunto all men ought to be obedient.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): The church’s weapons are not carnal, but spiritual; not the sword of the civil magistrate, but “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God,” Ephesians 6:17; Christ’s kingdom, being not of this world, is not supported and defended by worldly means, or carnal weapons.

MATTHEW HENRY: Christ’s ministers, though they are His soldiers, do not “war after the flesh,” 2 Corinthians 10:3,4… The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit, the only offensive weapon in all the Christian armoury; and we may say of it as David said of Goliath’s sword, “None is like that” in our spiritual conflicts.

JOHN GILL: The sword of the Spirit is sharper than a “twoedged sword,” and is said to come out of the mouth of Christ (Revelation 19:13-15), with which He pierces into and cuts the hearts of men…One of its edges is the law, which sharply reproves and menaces for sin, threatening with curses, condemnation, and death; and which, in the Spirit’s hand, cuts deep into the hearts of men, lays open the corruption of their nature, and the swarms of sin which are in them; it causes pain and grief, working wrath in the conscience; it wounds and kills, and is therefore called the letter that kills, 2 Corinthians 3:6. The other edge is the Gospel, which cuts in pieces the best of men; all their works of righteousness, which it removes from their justification and salvation; and all their wisdom, holiness, freewill power, and creature abilities.

MATTHEW HENRY: Peter must put up his sword, for it was the sword of the Spirit that was to be committed to him―weapons of warfare not carnal, yet mighty. When Christ with a word felled the aggressors, he showed Peter how he should be armed with a word, “quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword,” Hebrews 4:12―and with that, not long after this, Peter laid Ananias and Sapphira dead at his feet, Acts 5:1-10.

ADAM CLARKE: He uses no sword but the sword of the Spirit.

HUGH  LATIMER: God will have the faith defended, not by man’s power, but by His Word only, by the which He hath evermore defended it, and that by a way far above man’s power or reason, as all the stories of the Bible make mention.


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Our Lord Jesus Christ’s Rule for Christian Fasting

Matthew 6:16-18

Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

ANDREW FULLER (1754-1815): Fasting is supposed to be the ordinary practice of the godly. Christ does not make light of it, but merely cautions them against its abuses.

LANCELOT ANDREWES (1555-1626): When ye fast.” I say first, this very “when” shows Christ’s liking of it, that there is a time allowed for it, else He would allow it no “when”―no time at all; this “when” is a presupposing, at least, for can any man fancy that Christ would presuppose aught that were not required of us by God?

SAMUEL MILLER (1769-1850): There is no precept in the Word of God which enjoins the observance of a particular number of fast days in each year. It is to be considered as an occasional, or perhaps, more properly speaking, a special duty, which, like seasons of special prayer, ought to be regulated, as to its frequency and manner of observance, by the circumstances in which we are placed.

ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER (1772-1851): Some Christians neglect it altogether, under the false notion that literal fasting is not enjoined, but only penitence and abstaining from sin.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): This is a mistake; there is no such term in the Bible as ‘fasting from sin;’ the very idea is ridiculous and absurd, as if sin were a part of our daily food.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Let us define what fasting is.

SAMUEL MILLER: Fasting is abstinence from food.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Fasting is a religious abstinence, whereby we forbear the use of all earthly comforts in the time set apart for this duty—a forbearing of food, whether meat or drink, Esther 4:16; Jonah 3:7. From this the whole action is called a fast, which imports not a sober use of food—for this we are at all times bound to observe—but a total abstinence, if necessity of nature through some debility and infirmity doth not require otherwise.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): It is an act of self-denial, and mortification of the flesh―a means to curb the flesh and the desires of it, and to make us more lively in religious exercises, as fulness of bread is apt to make us drowsy.

HUDSON TAYLOR (1832-1905): Self-denial surely means something far greater than some slight and insignificant lessening of our self-indulgences!

ADAM CLARKE: At present it is but little used; a strong proof that self-denial is wearing out of fashion.

MATTHEW HENRY: Christ does not direct to abate anything of the reality of the fast; He does not say, “take a little meat, or a little drink, or a little cordial;” no, “let the body suffer, but lay aside the show and appearance of it―while thou deniest thyself thy bodily refreshments, do so as that it may not be taken notice of.”

JOHN CALVIN: Fasting is a subordinate aid, which is pleasing to God no farther than as it aids the earnestness and fervency of prayer.

HUDSON TAYLOR: In Shansi I found Chinese Christians who were accustomed to spend time in fasting and prayer. They recognized that this fasting, which so many dislike, requires faith in God, since it makes one feel weak and poorly, is really a Divinely appointed means of grace. Perhaps the greatest hindrance to our work is our own imagined strength; and in fasting we learn what poor, weak creatures we are, dependent on a meal of meat for the little strength which we are so apt to lean upon.

ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER: There are, however, degrees of fasting, both as to the time of abstinence from food, and whether the abstinence be total or partial. The Ninevites, when brought to repentance by the preaching of Jonah, tasted neither bread nor water for three whole days. This was a severe fast. Daniel fasted three full weeks; but this was not a total abstinence, for he says, “I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth,” Daniel 10:2,3.

HENRY SCUDDER (died 1659): The Scripture hath not determined how long a continued fast should be kept. We have examples that some have fasted a longer time, as three days, some a shorter, but none less than one day.

SAMUEL MILLER: The frequency with which every individual Christian ought to fast, and the extent to which he ought to carry his abstinence on each occasion, are questions concerning which no definite rule can be laid down. The Word of God prescribes no precise law as to either of these points.

HENRY SCUDDER: Let it be as shall best suit your occasions. As for the Lord’s day, though it cannot be denied but that if the present necessity require, you may fast upon that day―yet because the Sabbath is a day of Christian cheerfulness, and fasting is somewhat of the nature of a free-will offering, I think you will do best to set such a day apart to yourself for fasting, which is more your own, and not the Lord’s day.

MATTHEW HENRY: Christ does not tell us how often we must fast; circumstances vary, and wisdom is profitable therein to direct; the Spirit in the Word has left that to the Spirit in the heart. But take this for a rule: whenever you undertake this duty, study to approve yourselves to God, and not to recommend yourselves to the good opinion of men.

SAMUEL MILLER: Let pagans, Mohammedans, and nominal Christians flatter themselves with the dream that the mere physical observance of abstinence, independent of the state of the soul, will recommend them to God. But let us remember that the character and exercises of the inner man are everything here.

JOHN CALVIN: Fasting is not simply, or by itself, approved by God, but on account of the end designed by it…We must hold by this rule, that the duties of men are to be judged according as they are directed to a proper and lawful end―a holy and lawful fast has three ends in view. We use it either to mortify and subdue the flesh, that it may not be wanton, or to prepare better for prayer and holy meditation; or to give evidence of humbling ourselves before God, when we would confess our guilt before Him.

MATTHEW HENRY: Fasting is the humbling of the soul, Psalm 35:13―that is the inside of the duty; let that therefore be thy principal care, and as to the outside of it, covet not to let it be seen. If we be sincere in our solemn fasts, and humble, and trust God’s omniscience for our witness, and His goodness for our reward, we shall find both that He did see in secret, and will reward openly.


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God’s Sifting & Testing of Gideon’s Troops

Judges 7:1-6

Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.

And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.

And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go. So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink.

And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): The army consisted of thirty-two thousand men, a small army in comparison with what the Midianites had now brought into the field; Gideon was ready to think them too few, but God comes to him, and tells him they are too many.

G. CAMPBELL MORGAN (1863-1945): By divine direction, the first work Gideon was called on to do was to sift the army…The first test imposed was a proclamation that all who were faint-hearted and afraid should depart.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN (1826-1910): Why were the “fearful” dismissed?

WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): Fear is not faith.

MATTHEW HENRY: Fearful faint-hearted people are not fit to be employed for God; and, among those that are enlisted under the banner of Christ, there are more such than we think there are.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN: Fear is contagious; and in undisciplined armies like Gideon’s, panic, once started, spreads swiftly and becomes frenzied confusion. The same thing is true in the work of the Church today. Who that has had much to do with guiding its operations has not groaned over the dead weight of the timid and sluggish souls, who always see difficulties and never the way to get over them? And who that has had to lead a company of Christian men has not often been ready to wish that he could sound out Gideon’s proclamation, and bid the “fearful and afraid” take away the chilling encumbrance of their presence, and leave him with thinned ranks of trusty men? Cowardice, dressed up as cautious prudence, weakens the efficiency of every regiment in Christ’s army.

HORATIUS BONAR (1808-1889): There is needed not only natural courage in order to face natural danger or difficulty; there is, in our own day, a still greater need of moral boldness, in order to neutralize the fear of man, the dread of public opinion, that god of our idolatry in this last age, which boasts of superior enlightenment.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN: The first test had sifted out the brave and willing…One lesson we may learn from this thinning of the ranks; namely, that we need not be anxious to count heads when we are sure that we are doing His work, nor even be afraid of being in a minority.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Twenty-two thousand accepted that permission [to depart] and left their general with ten thousand.

G. CAMPBELL MORGAN: And still the number was too great, because the quality of the men making up the ten thousand lacked something of vital importance.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): Gideon was ordered to bring them down to a stream, and to separate those who lapped like a dog, from those who bowed down to drink like cattle.

J. R. MILLER (1840-1912): It seemed to make the smallest difference in the world whether a soldier drank by bowing down with his face in the water, or by lapping up the water with his hand as he stood: yet it was a difference that settled the question of fitness or unfitness for the great work before the army.

CHARLES SIMEON: Those who in a more temperate and self-denying way took up water in their hands and lapped it, as a dog lappeth, were to be the chosen band.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): The season of the year being hot, and the generality of the soldiers weary, and thirsty, and faint, they would most probably bow down upon their knees, that they might more fully refresh themselves by a liberal draught, as indeed they did; and it could be expected that there would be but few, who either could or would deny themselves in this matter.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN: The two ways of drinking clearly indicated a difference in the men. Those who glued their lips to the stream and swilled till they were full, were plainly more self-indulgent, less engrossed with their work, less patient of fatigue and thirst, than those who caught up enough in their curved palms to moisten their lips without stopping in their stride or breaking rank.

JOHANNES PISCATOR (1546-1625): This was a sign of strength of body and temperance of mind, as the other posture was of weakness and greediness.

G. CAMPBELL MORGAN: Men who bent down to get a drink of water were not sufficiently alive to the danger. An ambush might surprise them. Men who stooped and caught the water in their hands and lapped it were watchers as well as fighters.

WILLIAM KELLY (1821-1906): It proved whether they were wholly set on the one object—the one mission; or whether they could be distracted from it for a moment in order to take natural refreshment. This was the meaning of the test of the water.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN: The great lesson taught here is that self-restraint in the use of the world’s goods is essential to all true Christian warfare. There are two ways of looking at and partaking of these. We may either ‘drink for strength’ or ‘for drunkenness.’ Life is to some men, first a place for strenuous endeavour, and only secondly a place of refreshment. Such think of duty first and of water afterwards. To them, all the innocent joys and pleasures of the natural life are as brooks by the way, of which Christ’s soldier should drink, mainly that he may be re-invigorated for conflict. There are others whose conception of life is a scene of enjoyment, for which work is unfortunately a necessary but disagreeable preliminary…The water lapped up in the palm, as the soldier marches, is sweeter than the abundant draughts swilled down by self-indulgence.

GIOVANNI DIODATI (1576-1649): Those are fit to follow the Lord, who for zeal to His service, do but taste the pleasures of the world as they pass along, without staying with them, [using them] only for necessity, and not for any constant delight they take in them.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): Here then we have another great moral quality which must ever characterize those who will act for God and for His people in an evil day. They must not only have confidence in God, but they must also be prepared to surrender self.


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A Reality Check on Islamic Peace, Tolerance & Love

1 John 4:7, 8, 16, 20

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love…And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

JOHN ANGELL JAMES (1785-1869): In what page of the Koran will you find—in all those pretended revelations from heaven, of which Gabriel is said to have been the bearer, where is there such a description of Deity as this—“God is love!” or such a sentiment as that which arises out of it, “he who dwells in love, dwells in God, and God in him?” So far from recognizing this principle, Islamism condemns and forbids it.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Mohammed’s laws run thus―‘Avenge yourselves of your enemies; marry as many wives as you can maintain; kill the infidels, etc.’

JOHN ANGELL JAMES: It enjoins almsgiving, it is true, and gives it a high place among its virtues—but this is not the same as love, and may be often carried to a great extent without a particle of the nature of love. This system of imposture, abounding as it does with minute and ridiculous ceremonies, and a slavish regard to absurd ritual observances, enforces, by the authority of its founder, the most ferocious and blood-thirsty hatred, to all who do not receive it in the exercise of implicit faith. Wars against all infidels are not only enjoined in many passages of the Koran—but are declared to be in a high degree meritorious in the sight of God.

H. A. IRONSIDE (1876-1951): Mohammed promised his fanatical followers a place in Paradise if they died for the faith in conflict with the “infidels” who rejected his teachings.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Mohammed presents himself before those whom he claims as disciples, and says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am neither meek, nor lowly in heart; I will have no patience with you; there is my creed, or there is the scimitar—death or conversion, whichever you please.”

JOHN TRAPP: But we have not so learned Christ.

JOHN OWEN (1616-1683): Christ doth not gather men by force or violence, or drive them together into the profession of the truth with the sword, as Mohammed.

C. H. SPURGEON: Although Christ hath a right to demand man’s love and man’s faith, yet He comes not into the world to demand it with fire and sword. His might is under persuasion; His strength is quiet forbearance, and patient endurance; His mightiest force is the sweet attraction of compassion and love. He knoweth nothing of the ferocious hosts of Mohammed; He bids none of us draw our sword to propagate the faith, but saith, “Put up thy sword into its scabbard; they that take the sword shall perish by the sword.”

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): Mohammed’s Koran is such a great spirit of lies that it leaves almost nothing of Christian truth remaining, so how could it have any other result than that it should become a great and mighty murderer, with both lies and murders under the show of truth and righteousness―where the spirit of lies is, there is also the spirit of murder.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): With what rage are they seized, when the question relates to the defense of the reveries of their prophet Mohammed, for whom they gladly both shed their blood and part with their life.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): The love of God prompts none of them.

JOHN ANGELL JAMES: How completely Islamism has filled its votaries with the most ferocious bigotry and the most merciless intolerance, is known by universal testimony. They everywhere pour insulting contempt upon all who are not Muslims, and feel a savage delight in adding cruelty to insult. “The infidel dogs” is a common appellation applied to Christians.

C. H. SPURGEON: A late traveler tells us that he had a Muslim guide through Palestine and whenever they came to a village that was very dirty, poor and inhabited by professed Christians, he always said, “These are not Muslims, they are Netza,” or, “Nazarenes,” throwing all the spite he possibly could into the word, as if he could not have uttered a more contemptuous term.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa, where the Gospel was once known, have been for many ages involved in Mohammedan darkness.

JOHN ANGELL JAMES: The spirit of the system is everywhere visible in the absolute despotism of the governments of those countries in which it prevails. Where it is found, the arts and the sciences do not flourish, and liberty withers in its shade. The flaming scimitar of the Sultan is its patron and defense; it was propagated by the sword—it is supported by the bow-string, and it is essentially and unalterably cruel.

MARTIN LUTHER: No one can openly confess Christ or preach or teach against Mohammed. What kind of freedom of belief is it when no one is allowed to preach or confess Christ?

PHILIP MAURO (1859-1952): In Islam we have a movement energized by prodigious spiritual powers of evil, a Satanic caricature of the Kingdom of God, being led by a false prophet and based upon a false Bible―the Koran―and seeking to gain the sovereignty of the world.

JOHN ANGELL JAMES: Such is Islamism—a curse to the world, a mystery in the divine government, a dreadful obstacle to the spread of Christianity, and the reverse of all that is holy and beneficent in the glorious gospel of the blessed God.

JOHN CALVIN: There is no knowledge of God where there is no love.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets,” Matthew 22:37-40. The love of our neighbour springs from the love of God as its source; it is found in the love of God as its principle, pattern, and end; and the love of God is found in the love of our neighbour, as its effect, representation, and infallible mark. This love of our neighbour is a love of equity, charity, succour, and benevolence. We owe to our neighbour what we have a right to expect from him.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN (1826-1910): “And who is my neighbour?” The relation intended by the word is as wide as humanity.

JOHN CALVIN: Christ presents to us, in a summary view, the way and manner of fulfilling this precept, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”―for when Christ said, “Love your enemies,” He at the same time confirmed His own doctrine by saying, “That ye might be the children of God,” Matthew 5:44,45.

ADAM CLARKE: Hear this, ye murderous Mohammedans!―He that loveth not, as already described, knoweth not God.


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A Fool’s Claim: There! See? The Bible Does Contradict Itself!

Proverbs 26:4,5

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.

Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Wise men have need to be directed how to deal with fools; and they have never more need of wisdom than in dealing with such, to know when to keep silence and when to speak, for there may be a time for both.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): Great wisdom is required as to when, as well as what to speak.

THOMAS COKE (1747-1814): To “answer,” and “not to answer,” is a consistent, and may, for aught critics know, be a very wise direction. Had the advice been given simply, and without circumstance, to answer the fool, and not to answer him, a critic, who had reverence for the text, would satisfy himself in supposing that the different directions referred to doing a thing “in and out of season.” But when to the general advice about answering, this circumstance is added, “according to his folly,” that interpretation is excluded; and a difficulty indeed arises―a difficulty which has made those who have no reverence for the text, accuse it of absurdity and contradiction. But now to each direction reasons are subjoined, why a fool should, and why he should not be answered; reasons which, when set together and compared, are at first sight sufficient to make a critic suspect that all the contradiction lies in his own incumbered ideas.

JOHN ANGELL JAMES (1785-1869): But suppose that reason should meet with palpable contradictions in the Word of God?

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): The fault is in our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): God’s Word does not contradict itself…Each of these passages may be given its full force without there being any conflict between them.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): How can these contrary rules be reconciled, answer him not, and answer him?

CHARLES BRIDGES: Apparently contradictory statements are in fact only balancing truths; each correcting its opposite, and, like the antagonal muscles, contributing to the strength and completeness of the frame…We are forbidden, and yet commanded, to answer a fool. One rule decides—Answer him not; the other—Answer him. The reason, however, attached to each rule, explains the apparent contradiction. Both together are a wise directory for the treatment of the fool, according to the difference of character, time, or circumstances.

THOMAS COKE: The reason given why a fool should not be answered according to his folly is, lest hethe answerer―“should be like unto him.” The cause assigned for forbidding to answer, therefore plainly insinuates that the defender of religion should not imitate the insulter of it in his modes of disputation, which may be comprized in sophistry, buffoonery and scurrility.

MATTHEW HENRY: In some cases a wise man will not set his wit to that of a fool so far as to answer him according to his folly―“If he boast of himself, do not answer him by boasting of thyself. If he rail and talk passionately, do not thou rail and talk passionately too. If he tell one great lie, do not thou tell another to match it. If he calumniate thy friends, do not thou calumniate his. If he banter, do not answer him in his own language, lest thou be like him, even thou, who knowest better things, who hast more sense, and hast been better taught.”

CHARLES BRIDGES: Suppose a ‘free-thinker’ or scoffer at religion, showing the desperate “folly of his heart by making a mock at sin,” Proverbs 14:9, by witty and profane jestings, or specious arguments against the Word or ways of God. Generally speaking, it would be better to follow Hezekiah’s command concerning Rabshakeh’s blasphemy—“Answer him not,” 2 Kings 18:36. Jeremiah thus turned away in silence from the folly of the false prophets, Jeremiah 28:11.

MATTHEW POOLE: Answer him not, when he is incorrigible, or when he is inflamed with passion or wine, or when it is not necessary, nor likely to do him good.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): When either he curseth thee, or cryeth out upon thee for giving him due correction, pass such a one by in silence, as not worthy the answering. “Lest thou also be like unto him”―as hot and as headlong as he; for a little thing kindles us, and we are apt to think that we have reason to be mad, if evil entreated; to talk as fast for ourselves as he doth against us, and to give him as good as he brings; so that at length there will be never a wiser of the two, and people will say so. Hezekiah would not answer Rabshakeh, nor Jeremiah answer Hananiah; nor our Saviour his adversaries, Matthew 26:32; John 19:9; He reviled not his revilers, He threatened not, 1 Peter 2:23.

A. W. PINK: The Lord Jesus has expressly bidden us, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you,” Matthew 7:6. That command is designed to bridle the restless energy of the flesh.

CHARLES BRIDGES: But what may be at one time our duty to restrain, at another time, and under different circumstances, it may be no less our duty to do. Silence may sometimes be mistaken for defeat. Unanswered words may be deemed unanswerable, and the fool become arrogant, more and more “wise in his own conceit.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): He is to be answered when there is any hope of doing him good, or of doing good to others; or of preventing ill impressions being made upon others by what he has said; when the glory of God, the good of the church, and the cause of truth, require it; and when he would otherwise glory and triumph, as if his words were unanswerable―“lest he be wise in his own conceit,” which fools are apt to be, when no answer is given them, imagining it arises from the strength of their arguments.

JOHN TRAPP: Cast in somewhat that may sting him, and stop his mouth. Stone him with soft words but hard arguments, as Christ dealt with Pilate, John 19:8-11, lest he look upon himself as a conqueror, and be held so by the hearers. In fine, when a fool is among such as himself, answer him, lest he seem wise. If he be among wise men, answer him not, and they will regard rather thy seasonable silence than his passionate prattle.

MATTHEW HENRY: See here the noble security of the scripture-style, which seems to contradict itself, but really does not.

CHARLES BRIDGES: Oh! for wisdom to govern the tongue; to discover “the time to keep silence, and the time to speak,” Ecclesiates 3:7; most of all to suggest the “word fitly spoken,” (Proverbs 15:23; 25:11) for effective reproof! How instructive is the pattern of our great Master! His silences and His answers were equally worthy of Himself.

A. W. PINK: Once more, in Proverbs 30:5 we read, “Every word of God is pure.” There is no admixture of error in God’s Word. In it there are no mistakes, no contradictions, no blemishes.


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Faith & Hope in Troublous Times

1 Kings 19:4-9

[Elijah] went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.

And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.

And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God. And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?

And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): The question God puts to the prophet it, What doest thou here, Elijah? This is a reproof, for his fleeing hither. “What brings thee so far from home? Dost thou flee from Jezebel? Couldst thou not depend upon almighty power for thy protection?”

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): When the Lord interrogated him, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” he thought of nothing but his own services, and the sins of others: yea, when the question was repeated, he returned the same answer. How strange that he should not, on the repetition of the question especially, suspect himself, and acknowledge that he had come thither without any call or direction from his God!

MATTHEW HENRY: Lay the emphasis upon the pronoun thou. “What thou! So great a man, so great a prophet, so famed for resolution.”

CHARLES SIMEON: It is justly said of him, and most probably in reference to these very events, that “Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are,” James 5:17. In this part of his history we behold, his unbelieving fear. On former occasions he had shewn great fortitude: he had just before dared to accuse Ahab to his face as “the troubler of Israel;” and to confront alone all the worshippers of Baal with four hundred and fifty of his prophets at their head: he had also put all those prophets to death, and then had accompanied Ahab to Jezreel: but now his faith failed him, and he doubted whether his God could protect him from the rage of Jezebel.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): The best of men are only men at best…Is any reader of this paper disposed to be cast down and discouraged, because he loves Christ, and tries to serve Him, but finds himself almost entirely alone? Does your heart sometimes fail you, and your hands hang down, and your knees wax faint, because you so seldom meet any one whom you can pray with, and praise with, and read with, and talk with about Christ, and open your heart to without fear? Do you ever mourn in secret for want of company? Well, you are only drinking the cup which many have drunk before you. Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Joseph, and Moses, and Samuel, and David, and the prophets, and Paul, and John, and the Apostles were all people who stood very much alone.  Do you expect to fare better than them?―Alas! there have always been many like you!

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Take a man like Jeremiah. All the false prophets were against him. There is a man who had to stand alone! Poor Jeremiah—how he hated and disliked it! He did not like being unpopular, he did not like standing on his own, and being ridiculed and laughed at, and spat upon, as it were; but he had the truth of God, and so he endured it all. He decided at times to say nothing, but the Word was like a fire in his bones, and he had to go on speaking it. Obloquy and abuse were heaped upon him, but it did not matter; he was God’s spokesman and God’s representative. Similarly Moses had to stand alone when he came down from the Mount where he had met God. To stand in isolation from one’s fellows, but with God, is the great doctrine of the Old Testament in many ways. And it is emphasized in the New Testament also.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): It is the easiest thing in the world to believe as everybody else believes, but the difficulty is to believe a thing alone, when no one else thinks as you think—to be the solitary champion of a righteous cause, when the enemy mustereth his thousands to the battle.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Was it not like that at the Protestant Reformation? What hope had that one man, Martin Luther, just an unknown monk?

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): I had utterly despaired had not Christ been Head of the Church―Every man must do things alone; he must do his own believing, he must do his own dying.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Faith and hope are the two poles on which all the Christian’s noble enterprises turn.

THOMAS COKE (1747-1814): We are apt to be discouraged under want of success, as if the sufficiency of the power was of ourselves, and not of God.

MATTHEW HENRY: Despair of success hinders many a good enterprise. No one is willing to venture alone, forgetting that those are not alone who have God with them.

J. C. RYLE: Stand fast, both in public and in private, even if you stand alone. But you will not stand alone.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): We may depend upon it, that if we are on God’s side, God is on our side.

J. R. MILLER (1840-1912): There is an experience of Luther’s which is suggestive.

MARTIN LUTHER: At one time I was sorely vexed and tried by my own sinfulness, by the wickedness of the world, and by the dangers that beset the church. One morning I saw my wife dressed in mourning. Surprised, I asked her who had died.

“Do you not know?” she replied; “God is dead.”

“How can you talk such nonsense?” I said, “How can God die?”

“Is that really true?”

“Of course,” I said, not perceiving her aim. “How can you doubt it?”

“Yet,” she said, “though you do not doubt that, you are so helpless and discouraged.”

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): Hope is never ill when faith is well.

J. R. MILLER: Things were not as bad as Elijah thought.

CHARLES SIMEON: Elijah supposed himself to be the only one in Israel that maintained a regard for God; but God informed him that there were no less than seven thousand persons who had not yielded to the prevailing idolatry.


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