Sermon 2071. Trembling at the Word of the Lord
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S DAY, FEBRUARY 24, 1889.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, MAY 1,1884.
"To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit and trembles at My Word." Isaiah 66:2.
PORTRAIT painting is a great art. Many pretend to it but the masters of the art are few. In the Word of God we have a galleryof portraits so accurate, so striking, that only the hand of the Lord could have drawn them. Most of us have been startledto see our own portrait there. The best of all is that at the bottom of each likeness we have the Lord's judgment upon thecharacter so that we are able to form an estimate of what our true condition is before the Lord. Here you have a man drawn-heis poor and of a contrite spirit and trembles at the Word of the Lord. Here, also, you have the Lord's estimate of him-"Tothis man will I look."
I hope to dwell chiefly upon the character described in the closing words, "And trembles at My Word." Support the text bythe fifth verse, "Hear the Word of the Lord, you that tremble at His Word." This trembling is, in God's esteem, an admirabletrait in their character. The glorious Jehovah from His Throne in Heaven speaks of those contrite ones who tremble at HisWord-and then the Prophet takes up the strain and cries, "Hear the Word of the Lord, you that tremble at His Word." It isa very great mercy that there are descriptions of saints given in the Word of God which go very low and reach the feeblestdegrees of Divine Grace and the saddest frames of mind.
We find the children of God sometimes upon very high places-their spiritual life is vigorous and their inward joy is abounding.When we give you descriptions of saints in that condition, many of the Little-Faiths at once cry out, "Alas, I know nothingof this! Would God it were so with me! But, indeed, it is not." They are greatly discouraged by those very things which shouldraise their spirits and stimulate their desires-for surely if one Believer is able to climb the Delectable Mountains, thereis all the more hope that another may do so.
Yet, we have to thank God that in His priceless Scripture, He has painted for us portraits of the Believer in his low estate.In the picture gallery of those saved by faith we find Rahab as well as Sarah and erring Samson as well as holy Samuel. Inthe Family Register of the Lord we have the names of Believers who were weak and sad and faulty. We have instances in theSacred Record of undoubtedly gracious men who were in very uncomfortable and undesirable conditions. Men are spoken of asthe Lord's people when their souls are sick, when Divine Grace is at a very low ebb and when joy is eclipsed.
God's people are in Scripture owned as such when it is winter with their spirits lie dormant like sap stagnant in the tree.The Lord acknowledges spiritual life in His own when there is small evidence of it, and when that evidence is confused. Themention in the Scriptures of small but sure evidences is cheering to many. I know many of God's people that have been greatlycomforted by the text, "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the Brethren." "Oh," they have said,"we do feel a love to all God's people, whoever they may be. And if that is evidence of Divine Grace, we have that evidence."
Apostles could say, "We know and we are quite sure about it, that we have passed from death unto life, because we love theBrethren." Therefore we also may be encouraged by our sense of love to the saints to enjoy the same assured confidence thatwe also have passed from death unto life. You may, some of you, think this an insecure ground of consolation. But I can bearwitness that it is, like the conies' hole among the rocks, a very useful shelter from the enemy.
That is a very choice evidence, too, where God speaks of those that think upon His name-"A book of remembrance was writtenbefore Him for them that feared the Lord and that thought upon His name." If our thoughts dwell lovingly
upon the name of the Lord, this is a saving sign. And yet how small a thing it seems! Thoughts are like straws but they showwhich way the wind blows. Surely the Lord's net of comfort has meshes small enough to hold the smallest fish.
That, again, is very comforting where the Lord says, "Your heart shall live that seek Him." Even seekers shall live. Thoughas yet they are rather seekers than possessors, they have the Lord's promise of eternal life. Though they are only pursuingand have become faint in the pursuit, yet the love which set them pursuing will keep them following on. That is a blessedWord, indeed-"Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." "I do call upon His name," says one, "I knowI do. I am crying to Him in prayer. I do wish to have His name named upon me. I choose Him to be my God and I dedicate myselfto Him. And if that is calling upon God's name, then, truly, I am a child of God."
This precious passage has been a special stay to my own heart in time of great heaviness of spirit. I know I call upon thename of the Lord and I shall be saved. How often also have I said to myself, "One thing I know, that whereas I was blind,now I see!" To see even a ray of light is conclusive evidence that I am no longer blind. The eye that can see a solitary rayof light has clearer evidence of being restored, if possible, than if it lived in the flood of sunlight. For if it can seea single ray, then is sight not only there, but it is there in no small degree. The man who can trust Jesus when he is athis lowest in his own soul, is by no means a man of little faith, but rather is he a man of strong confidence.
Dear Friends, rejoice that the Lord, in infinite mercy, has deigned to utter the words of my text, since they serve as a mostcomfortable evidence to God's people. There is a song the Jubilee singers used to sing which begins, "Swing low, sweet chariot."I am sure I do not know what the singers mean by the expression. And so I give it a meaning of my own and say that I am rightglad when a promise swings so low that I can get into it. Surely a promise from God is a chariot lined with love, drawn upwardby winged steeds which bear our hearts aloft. And it is a mercy when it swings as low as this text-"To this man will I look,even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit and trembles at My Word."
"Trembles at My Word." This is the description to which I call your attention. Here are the elect men upon whom the Lord looksand with whom He dwells. They are not the chivalry of earth but the chosen of Heaven. They are not dancing but trembling.And yet they have more reason to be happy than those have who laugh away their days. Let us enquire concerning these chosenones. First-who are these people that tremble at the Lord's Word? Secondly, let us enquire, why do they tremble? From wherecomes their lowly spirit? Their humiliation before the Lord? Then, next, we will give a glance at a comparison here used andanswer the question-what does God compare them to? What does God say that He will do for them?
Let me read you the passage, "Thus says the Lord, The Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool: where is the housethat you build unto Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things has My hand made and all those things havebeen, says the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit and trembles at My Word."There you see that God prefers the Trembler to the Temple and makes to the contrite heart a larger promise than even to theconsecrated shrine of His glory. May the Holy Spirit bless these meditations!
I. Aid me with your prayers while I try to answer the question-WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE THAT TREMBLE
AT GOD'S WORD? I think I hear your hearts crying, "Oh, that we may be numbered among them!" Let me begin to answer the questionby telling you who they are not. They are not a proud people-they do not cry, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice?"They are humbly hearing. Hearing the Word of God and inwardly reverencing the heavenly monitor. They are no longer carelessand reckless, for the voice of the Lord has brought them to their bearings. They have bowed their heads before Jehovah andthey listen with rapt attention to everything that He may speak. They are like the child Samuel when he said, "Speak, Lord.For Your servant hears." They are teachable and lowly, and by no means belong to the school who correct the Infallible andjudge the unerring.
They are not a profane people, that is clear-they neither mock sin nor God's Word. It is a terrible sign of hardness of heartwhen a man can find no comic book so ready to his hand as Holy Scripture. Surely if men must play with words,
1 know not that they are always to be blamed. But they should find the word of man sufficient for their amusement and nottake Jehovah's Word to be their racket ball. Oh, it is ill with a man's soul, be sure of that, when he can treat the Wordof the Lord with lightness and regard it as no more than the word of Shakespeare or Spenser. Such are not the men that trembleat God's Word but very far from it.
They would not themselves care to be so described. In fact, they would scorn the idea of being afraid of the Book they despise.Some there are that are downright scoffers. They twist texts of Scripture. They pervert them to make mischief of
them. They will hold up even the blessed Christ of God to ridicule. And the Holy Spirit, although to speak ill of Him is afearful thing, yet even He has not been free from their profane utterances. No, the proud man and the profane man are as farasunder as the poles from the man that trembles at God's Word.
I must put down the careless in the same list and say of the Lord's tremblers they are not indifferent people. We have amongus a class who cause us great sorrow of heart. They are not likely to jest at God's Word, but yet it has no power over them.They do not scoff at it but they do not feed on it. They have too much thought and sense to become infidels. But yet theyoverlook the importance of the Truth which they accept. God's Book lies in their houses honored but unread. They do not muchtrouble to go and hear about its meaning. Or if through custom they become attendants at the House of God, they hear the Gospelbut it goes in one ear and out the other.
Like the French king who was brought to London in great state and yet was only a prisoner to the Black Prince, so is the Biblebound in morocco and adorned with gilt but is kept in bonds. There is no practical regard to it, no weighing it, no consideringit, no meditating upon it, no applying it to the conscience and the daily life. Those cannot be said to tremble at God's Wordwho neglect the great salvation. They put far from them a consideration of the Law of the Most High and live as if they hadlicense given them to act as they please. O Friends, careless souls cannot be numbered with those that tremble at God's Word!
These were not a critical, skeptical people. They trembled at the Word and did not sit down on the throne of usurped infallibilityand call the Scriptures to their bar. There are men abroad nowadays-I grieve to say some of them in the ministry-who takethe Bible, not that it may judge them but that they may judge it. Their judgment weighs in its balances the wisdom of GodHimself. They talk exceeding proudly and their arrogance exalts itself. O Friends, I know not how you feel about the prevailingskepticism of the age but I am heart-sick of it! I shun the place where I am likely to hear the utterances of men who do nottremble at God's Word. I turn away from the multitude of books which advocate doubt and error.
The evil is too painful for me. If I could be content to be an Ishmaelite and have my hand against every man, I might seekthis company, for here I find every faculty of my being called to warfare. But as I love peace, it sickens and saddens meto meet with the enemies of my soul. If I knew that my mother's name would be defamed in certain company, I would keep outof it. If I knew that my father's character would be trailed in the mire, I would travel far not to hear a sound so offensive.I could wish to be deaf and blind rather than hear or read the modern falsehoods which, at this time, so often wound my spirit.
I feel more and more a tenderness for the Truth of God of the same sort as I would feel for the good name of my wife or mymother. I wish the modern revilers would have some compassion upon us old Believers to whom their talk is such torture. Theymight keep their doubts for home consumption. When a man was going to swear, a wise person bade him wait till he was furtheraway from the town so that nobody might hear him-it might cause grief to a Christian ear. When a man has anything to say againstthe eternal Truth of God, let him speak it to those who love to hear it-to his mates and admirers. But as for us, we are determinedwe will not be tortured by this kind of thing-we cannot endure it. And we will not remain among those who bespatter us withit.
"Oh but surely you are open to conviction?" they say. We are open to no conviction that shall be contrary to the Truth ofGod that has saved us from going down to the pit. We are open to no conviction that shall rob us of our eternal hope and ofour glorying in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. We do not deliberate, for we have decided. To be forever holding the Truthof God as though it might yet turn out to be a lie were to lose all the comfort of it. To be forever prepared to desert ourLord and Master to follow some brand new philosopher would be perpetual disloyalty. No, we have not come thus far at a guess.We have known our Lord and His Truth for these forty years and it is not maybe, or maybe not, with us now. We neither speculatenor hesitate. But we know whom we have believed and by His Grace we will cleave to Him in life and in death.
Those who tremble at God's Word are not presumptuous people who derive fictitious comfort from it. We meet at times with avainly confident man who puts behind his back every warning and threat and only appropriates to himself every promise, thoughthe promise is not made to him. Such a man steals the children's bread and without question dares to put into his felon mouthwhat God has reserved for His own. This thief knows nothing of trembling at God's Word- he takes much too much freedom withwhat the godly hardly dare to look upon. I will not say a word in favor of unbe-
lief-it is a dreadful sin. But I would say very much in honor of that holy caution, that sacred bashfulness, that godly reverencewhich treats holy things with deep humility and careful jealousy.
Some of God's dearest children are so afraid of presumption that they go too far the other way and hardly dare to be as confidentas they might. Some of the holiest people that I know are afraid to say what they might say. For they scarcely dare to callthemselves the children of God. On the other hand, I have heard others say what I fear they never ought to have said for theyhave boasted that they never had a doubt. I heard one minister of great experience, who believes in the doctrine of perfection,assert very plainly that he had lived in the midst of the Church of God for many years and that he had seen many persons whoclaimed to be perfect but he did not think that anyone agreed with them.
And, on the other hand, he had known intimately certain other persons whom he thought to be as nearly perfect as men couldbe but in every case they had been the first to disown all notion of personal perfection and mourned their own conscious imperfection.That is my observation, also. I distrust the men who publish their own perfection-I do not believe one of them but think lessof them than I care to say. Deformity talks of its beauty, while true beauty mourns its deformity. I gaze with loving sympathyupon those known to me whom I liken to dew-laden lilies-they are so heavy with the dew of Heaven that they bow low till theyalmost touch the ground. It may need a trained eye to see the beauty of lowliness but assuredly for a chaste loveliness nothingcan exceed it.
The lily of the valley has a charm about it that is not to be found in flowers which lift their glorious colors aloft. Giveme such lilies, for I believe that among them Jesus lives and that He loves right well the men that are of a broken and acontrite spirit, that tremble at His Word. There is too much brass and too little gold about the perfection of the presentday. It has a brazen forehead and has a way of sitting by the roadside-a way which in old times belonged not to true purity.I had rather tremble at God's Word than testify to my own excellence. We have had enough of witnesses to them-selves-let usnow have some witnesses for God.
I have largely told you what these tremblers are not. And I must now tell you a little of what these people are. They arepeople who do believe that there is a Word of God. There are plenty of persons who profess and call themselves Christiansand yet do not believe that this sacred Book is the very Word of God. Say that it is inspired and they answer, "So is theKoran and so are the Vedas." They talk after this fashion-"This is the religious book of the ancient Hebrew nation. A veryrespectable book it is, but infallible, certainly not-the very Word of God, certainly not."
Well, then, we distinctly part company with such talkers. We can have no sort of fellowship with them in any measure or degreewith regard to the things of God. They are to us as heathen men and publicans. If we are to come under the head of those thattremble at God's Word, we must believe that there is a Word of the Lord to tremble at, as we do most assuredly believe, letothers talk as they may.
They are a people who are acquainted with God's Word. You cannot tremble, in the sense here meant, at a voice you have neverheard or at a book you have never opened. There is nothing sacred in so much paper, ink and binding- nothing in the fashionof a volume to make you tremble-you must hear the Lord speak and know what He says to you. When, like the ancient king, youhave found the Word of God and read its holy laws, then you will tremble. When you are astonished to find how much you havebroken the Law and how short you have fallen even of the full enjoyment of the Gospel-then you tremble. An intelligent appreciationof the Word of God can alone make a man tremble at it. And the more he understands it, the more cause for trembling will hesee in it.
Yes, and the more he enjoys it, the more will he tremble. The highest joy which it yields to mortal men is attended with areverent awe and a holy trembling before God. If the Believer went beyond the enjoyment of the literal Word and saw the IncarnateWord Himself in all the splendor of His Person, he would tremble still more. For what did John say- "When I saw Him I fellat His feet as dead." A sight of the Incarnate Word would create even a greater trembling than the full understanding of theWord as it is written and revealed. Yet such trembling is a sign of Divine Grace and by no means to be censured.
But what does this trembling mean? Believe me, it does not mean a slavish fear. They that tremble at God's Word at the firstmay do so, because the Word threatens them with death. But afterwards, as they advance and grow in Divine Grace and becomefamiliar with the God of Love and enter into the secret of His Covenant, they tremble for a very different reason. They tremblebecause they have a holy reverence of God and consequently of that Word in which resides so much of the power and majestyof the Most High. These are the men of whom we are going to speak at this time-these
are they that reverence the Word, who would not have a syllable of it touched, who regard it as being Divine after its measureand therefore sacred as the skirts of Deity.
What God has spoken bears a portion of His majesty about it and we acknowledge that majesty. I say that these choice spiritsare a people that all their lives long continue to tremble at the Word of the Lord. George Fox, the famous founder of theSociety of Friends, was called a "Quaker" for no other reason than this-that often, when the Spirit of God was upon him andhe spoke the Word with power, he would quake from head to foot beneath the burden of the message. It is an honorable title.No man need be ashamed to quake when Moses said, "I exceedingly fear and quake."
In the Presence of God a man may well tremble. Surely he is worse than the devil if he does not. For the devils believe andtremble. Demons go the length of that. And he that knows God and has any sense of His infinite power and inconceivable purityand justice must tremble before Him. I believe George Fox not only quaked, himself, but he made others quake. And if we trembleat God's Word we shall make others tremble. True power, when it rests upon us, will discover our own weakness but it willnot itself be hindered.
II. I have described these tremblers so far as my scant knowledge and brief time will allow-the time has now come to enquire,WHY DO THEY TREMBLE? I have been trenching upon this field of enquiry already. They do not tremble because they are goingto be lost. Those who are going to be lost are pretty generally free from trembling-"there are no bands in their death. Buttheir strength is firm." I would, my hardened Hearer, that you did tremble. And because you do not tremble for yourself Itremble for you. Oh, that you judged yourself, that you might not be judged! I would that you condemned yourself, that Godmight acquit you. I would that you were horribly afraid. For then the great cause for fear would be over. See how the textblesses all the contrite and the trembling. And, when you have seen it, seek to be among them.
God's people tremble, first, because of His exceeding majesty. Note what became of Ezekiel, of Daniel, of Habakkuk, of Johnthe beloved, when they had visions of God. No man could see God's face and live. There must always be some sort of cloud between.Through the veil of Christ's manhood we see God and live. But God absolutely is beyond all creature understanding-the sightis far too much for us. Even a glimpse of His garments is something overwhelming! They that have seen God at any time havetrembled at Him and at His Word. For the Word of the Lord is full of majesty.
There is a Divine royalty about every sentence of Scripture which the true Believer feels and recognizes, and therefore tremblesbefore it. They tremble at the searching power of God's Word. Do you ever come into this place and sit down in the pew andsay, "Lord, grant that Your Word may search me and try me, that I may not be deceived"? Certain people must always have sweetsand comforts. But God's wise children do not wish for these in undue measure. Daily bread we ask for, not daily sugar. WiseBelievers pray that the Word of the Lord may prove to be quick and powerful and a dis-cerner of the thoughts and intents oftheir hearts. That it may do with them what the butcher does with the animal when he cuts it down the middle and lays thevery entrails open to inspection-yes, cleaves the mid-bone and lets the very marrow be seen.
That is what God's Word has done for you and me, I am sure. And when it has done so, we have trembled. I can personally bearwitness to the way in which the solemn Word of the Lord makes my whole soul to tremble to its center. The Word of the Lordhas cut very close, sometimes, with many of you and made you cry, "Am I saved or not?" The man that did never tremble beforethe Lord does not know Him. It is very easy to take the matter of your soul's salvation for granted and yet to be mistaken.It is infinitely better to ask your way twenty times than miss your road home. And I do not blame the man, who with holy anxietysays, "Is it so, or is it not so? for I want to know and to be sure." O Beloved, I am not sorry that you tremble before therefining fire of sacred Truth. I should be much distressed if you did not.
God's searching Word makes man tremble-so does the Word when it is in the form of a threat. Believe me, dear Friends, theWord of God about the doom of sinners is very dreadful. Hence, there are some that try to pare them down and cut the solemnmeaning out of them. And then they say, "I could not rest comfortably if I believed the orthodox doctrine about the ruin ofman." Most true, but what right have we to rest comfortably? What grounds or reason can there be why we ever should have acomfortable thought with regard to the doom of those who refuse the Savior? If with that dreadful doom before us which HolyScripture threatens to ungodly men we do grow far too indifferent, to what will the Church of God come when it has torn outthe doctrine from the Bible and given it up?
Why, sinners will be more hardened and professors more trifling. He who seeks comfort at the expense of Truth will be a foolfor his pains. Blessed in the end will that man be who can endure the Word of the Lord, when it is all thunder and flamingfire-and does not rebel against it, but bows before it. If it makes you tremble, it was meant to make you tremble. One said,after he had heard Massillon, "What an eloquent sermon. How gloriously he preached!" Massillon replied, "Then he did not understandme. Another sermon has been thrown away." If a sermon concerning the future punishment of sin does not make the hearer tremble,it is clear that it is not of God. For Hell is not a thing to talk about without trembling. My inmost desire is to feel moreand more the overwhelming power of Jehovah's judgment against sin so that I may preach with all the deeper solemnity the dangerof the impenitent and with tears and trembling may beseech them to be reconciled.
He that knows the Lord aright also trembles with fear lest he should break God's Law. He sees what a perfect Law it is, andhow spiritual it is-how it overlaps the whole of human life-and the man cries, "It is high. I cannot attain unto it. O myGod, help me, I pray You." He views the Law with reverence. He admires with a sacred fear. He trembles at God's Word, notbecause he dislikes it but because he cannot bear to be so far off from compliance with its righteous demands. He sees theLaw fulfilled in Christ, and there is his peace. But yet the peace is mingled with deepest awe.
"Oh," says one, "if he trembles like that, it shows he does not know the love of God." It shows that he does know it. Haveyou heard of the boy whose father was exceedingly fond of him? He was asked by some other boys to go and rob an orchard withthem but he said, "No, I will not go." They replied, "Your father won't scold you, nor beat you. You may safely come." Tothis he answered, "What? Do you think because my father loves me, that therefore I will grieve him? No, I love him and I loveto do what he wishes me to do. Because he loves me I fear to vex him." That is like the child of God. The more he knows ofGod's love, the more he trembles at the thought of offending the Most High.
We, also, tremble lest we should miss the promises when they are spread out before us, sparkling like priceless gems. We hearof some who "could not enter in because of unbelief." And we are taken with trembling lest we should be like they. We tremblelest there should be any passage of Scripture or doctrine of Revelation that we are not able to believe- we pray for DivineGrace that we may never stagger at anything in the Word. We tremble lest we should misbelieve. And tremble more-if you areas I am-lest we should mistake and misinterpret the Word.
I believe Martin Luther would have faced the infernal Fiend, himself, without a fear. And yet we have his own confession thathis knees often knocked together when he stood up to preach. He trembled lest he should not be faithful to God's Word. Angelshave a holy fear of God and well may you and I tremble when engaged in His service. To preach the whole Truth is an awfulcharge. It was as much as even the Son of man could do to fully discharge His mission here below. You and I, who are ambassadorsfor God, must not trifle-we must tremble at God's Word.
III. Now we have got through the description of these trembling ones and we have shown why they so exceedingly
fear and quake. Our third question was to be, WHAT DOES GOD COMPARE THEM TO? Hearken, for here is a thing
to be noted and thought upon.
The Lord compares the tremblers at His Word to a temple. "Where is the house that you build unto Me? And where is the placeof My rest? To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit and trembles at My Word." They areHis temple. And to the Jews the temple was something very wonderful. There stood the holy and beautiful house, the joy ofthe whole earth. Lined with strong wood and overlaid with pure gold and its hewn stones put together without hammer or axe.To the Israelite's mind there never was such a building as this. Yet the glorious Jehovah speaks lightly of the temple andsays, "Where is the house that you build unto Me? And where is the place of My rest? To this man will I look, even to himthat is poor and of a contrite spirit and trembles at My Word."
So then, a man that trembles at God's Word is God's temple. And he is emphatically so. He is so beyond the sense in whichthe house of Solomon was thus honored. His heart is full of worship. His trembling is, in itself, worship. As the angels veiltheir faces in the presence of the Lord, so do good and true men veil theirs, trembling all the while, as they worship Himthat lives forever. As the temple, even to the posts of the doors, moved at the presence of the God of the whole earth, sodoes every part of our manhood become awe-stricken when He that dwells between the cherubim shines forth within our spirit.Well may we tremble to whom the Infinite draws near! The ungodly in their brutishness may be free from the fear of God, butthe man worships with fear and trembling to whom Divine Grace has given a holy sensitiveness.
Note that the Lord does not merely compare us with the temple but He prefers us to the temple. And further, He prefers useven to the great temple of the universe not made with human hands, which He Himself sets so much above the house that Solomonbuilt. The Lord says, "The Heaven is My Throne and the earth is My footstool." And yet He seems to say, "All this is not Myrest, nor the place of My abode. But with this man will I dwell, even with him that trembles at My Word." The Lord prefersthe trembling spirit not only to the golden house below but to the heavenly house above!
The Lord speaks of Heaven as His Throne. And what is the trembler at God's Word but God's Throne? God is evidently enthronedwithin Him. Under a sense of the Divine Presence, the stupendous weight of Deity has crushed the man and made him tremblein every part of his nature. It is the glory of the Revelation which causes the sinking of heart, the shrinking of the soul.As for the earth, it is Jehovah's footstool. But so is this lowly, trembling man. He is willing to be God's footstool, willingto be as the dust beneath God's feet. Who is there among you, my Beloved in the Lord, that would not feel highly honored ifhe might be permitted to be as the footstool of the Infinite Majesty?
It is too high a place for us! To lie as a doormat at His temple gate for the poorest of His saints to wipe his shoes upon,is an honor greater than we deserve-we feel it to be so. At any rate, I speak for myself. When God is near me I feel as ifit were an honor to be the servant of the least of His poor people. "I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God,than dwell in the tents of wickedness." Yet, look! The Lord makes His Throne and footstool out of the heart and conscienceof the man that trembles at His Word. It is a sublime comparison-you are the temples of God and something more. The more youstudy these verses the more you will be astonished.
And what does God say He will do? He says, "To this man will I look"-look first with approval. The Lord seems to say, "I willnot look on proud Pharisees. I will not look on the presumptuous. But I will look at the lowly trembling penitent. I willfix My eye upon him. He shall be countenanced by Me. I will lift up the light of My countenance upon him. He is right withMe and I will show Myself gracious to him." It is right that the creature should tremble at the Creator-right that the sinnershould tremble before his Judge. It is right that a child should give due honor to his august Father-therefore will the Lordlook upon such a one with approval. Sweetly does Miss Steele pray in her song-
"Low at Your feet my soul would lie, Here safety dwells and peace Divine; Still let me live beneath Your eye, For life, eternallife is Yours."
The text means, next, that He will look upon him with care. You know how we use the expression, "I will look to Him"? Thuswill God look to the man that trembles at His Word. You that can stand alone may look to yourselves. But he that tremblesshall have God to look to him. When you are afraid, cry, "Hold You me up and I shall be safe," and your tottering footstepsshall be firmer than a giant's tread. When you grow so sell-satisfied that as the young man you can run without weariness,you shall both be weary and fall. Oh, trust not in yourselves but tremble before the Lord and He will look to you and seethat no evil shall come near unto you!-
"With sacred a we pronounce His name, Whom words nor thoughts can reach, A contrite heart shall please Him more Than noblestforms of speech."
The look of the Lord shall mean a third thing, namely, delight. We had a part of that in the term approbation-it is marvelousthat God should take delight in the man that trembles at His Word. The Lord has no such pleasure in the careless and carnallysecure. He that goes tramping through his Christian career as if he were somebody and all were safe is no favorite of Heaven.The man who takes things easily and self-confidently, with a kind of happy-go-lucky feeling that all must end well with him-hehas no consideration from God. Have you seen the fine professor who has despised the tender in heart? Mark that man, for theend of that man will be a crash-"great shall be the fall thereof."
Have you heard the boastful preacher, self-sufficient as to his own knowledge and eloquence? Mark that man also- for his endis confusion. But watch that trembling one, whose only hope is in Christ, whose only strength is in the Lord-he shall be sustained.Watch the one who never pounces upon a privilege as if it were his by right of merit, but humbly accepts it as a gift to theunworthy-he is the man that shall stand in the evil day. He that goes through life fearing is the man who has nothing to fear."Happy is the man that fears always," says the Word of the Lord. He that is
afraid of falling under trial and cries, "Lead me not into temptation but deliver me from evil"-he shall be kept from sin.
But he who rashly rushes into temptation shall fall by it. He who watches by day as well as by night, puts on his armor whenthere seems no war, and carries his sword always drawn-even when there is no enemy visible-oh, that is the man who shall copewith the deadly enemy of souls! The Holy Spirit is in him and the Lord has regard unto him. He shall not fall by the handof the enemy. Though oftentimes he trembles, he shall be safe at last. Glory shall thus be given to God that helped him. Theself-confident would not have glorified God if he had succeeded, for he would have thrown up his cap inside the gates of Heaven,and magnified his own name.
As for this man, he doffs his crown. "Non nobis, Domine," he cries, when he enters Heaven. "Not unto us, not unto us," isstill his cry. Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His blood. Unto Him that kept us from falling and preservedus to His kingdom and glory, unto Him shall be all honor. Every man who this day trembles at God's Word says "Amen" to this.God bless you, my Beloved. The Lord Himself look to you and dwell with you! Amen.