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And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the Lord: therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which slew some of them." (33) They feared the Lord, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence. (34)Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the Lord, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the Lord commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel. II Kings 17:25, 33-34
It is as needful to warn you against the false as to urge you to the true. Conversion, which is a divine change, is imitated, and the spurious palmed off as genuine. This answers the devil's purpose in several ways; it eases the conscience of the double-minded, adulterates the church, injures its testimony, and dishonors true religion.
I. THEIR FIRST ESTATE. "They feared not the Lord."
1. They had little or no religion of any sort.
II. THEIR SHAM CONVERSION. "They feared the Lord:"
2. They were not troubled about serving the true God.
3. Probably they even ridiculed Jehovah and his people.
4. But they were near a God-fearing people, and near to king Hezekiah, under whom there had been a great revival. Such influence creates a great deal of religiousness.
1. They were wrought upon by fear only,: the "lions" were their evangelists, and their teeth were cutting arguments.
2. They remained in ignorance of the character of Jehovah, and only wished to know "the manner of the god of the land." Outside religion is enough for many; they care not for God himself.
3. They were instructed by an unfaithful priest; one of those who had practiced calf-worship, and now failed to rebuke their love of false gods. Such persons have much to answer for.
4. They showed their conversion by outward observances, multiplying priests, and setting up altars on high places.
5. But their conversion was radically defective, for:
- There was no repentance.
- No expiatory sacrifice was offered on God's one altar.
- The false gods were not put away. "Every nation made gods of their own" (verse 29). While sin reigns grace is absent.
- They showed no love to God. They feared, but did not trust or love.
- They rendered no obedience to him. Even their worship was will-worship."They feared the Lord, and served their own gods": a very significant distinction.
- They did not abandon false trusts: they looked not to the Lord.
III. THEIR REAL STATE. "They fear not the Lord."
- The religious drunkard. See him weep! Hear him talk! He has a dread of God, but he serves Bacchus.
- The unchaste hypocrite, whose real worship goes to the vilest lusts, and yet he dreads to be found out.
- The pious Sabbath-breaker. Very devout, but serves out poison on Sundays, or prefers recreation to regeneration.
- The saintly skinflint. He has "a saving faith" in the worst sense.
- The slandering professor. Under pretense of greater holiness he abuses the righteous.
1. They own him not as God alone. The admission of other gods is apostasy from the true God. He will be all or nothing.
2. They do not really obey him; for else they would quit their idols, sins, and
3. He has no covenant with them. They ignore it altogether.
4. He has not wrought salvation for them.
5. They act so as to prove that they are not his. See the future history of these Samaritans in the book of Nehemiah, of which these are the items:
- They desire to unite with Israel for the sake of advantage;
- They become enemies when refused;
- They grow proud and judge the true Israel. They say they are better than "those who profess so much." They measure the corn of the sincere with the bushel of their own deceit.
In real conversion there must be
- Idol-breaking. Sin and self must be abandoned.
- Concentration. Our only God must be adored and served.
- Christ-trusting. His one sacrifice must be presented and relied upon.
- Full surrender. Our heart must yield to God and delight in his ways.
Charles Hadden Spurgeon
29. The Lesson of Uzza
And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets." (12) And David was afraid of God that day, saying, how shall I bring the ark of God home to me? (15:25) So David and the elders of Israel, and the captains over thousands, went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the house of Obed-edom with joy. I Chronicles 13:8, 12, 15:25
David loved his God and venerated the symbol of his presence. He desired to restore the Lord's appointed worship, and to place the ark where it should be, as the most sacred center of worship. But right things must be done in a right manner, or they will fail. In this case the failure was sad and signal, for Uzza died, and the ark turned aside to the house of Obed-edom.
I. THE FAILURE. First Text: 1 Chron. 13:8.
II. THE FEAR. Second Text: 1 Chron. 13:12.
- Here were multitudes, "David and all Israel," and yet the business came to naught. Crowds do not ensure blessing.
- Here was pomp singing, harps, trumpets, etc. yet it ended in mourning. Gorgeous ceremonial is no guarantee of grace.
- Here was energy: "they played before God with all their might." This was no dull and sleepy worship, but a bright, lively service, and yet the matter fell through.
- But there was no thought as to God's mind. David confessed, "we sought him not after the due order" (1 Chron. 15:13).
- There was very little spiritual feeling! More music than grace.
- The priests were not in their places, nor the Levites to carry the ark: oxen took the place of willing men. The worship was not sufficiently spiritual and humble.
- There was no sacrifice. This was a fatal flaw; for how can we serve the Lord apart from sacrifice?
- There was little reverence. We hear little of prayer, but we hear much of oxen, a cart, and the too familiar hand of Uzza.
- Now, even a David must keep his place, and the Lord's command must not be supplanted by will-worship. Therefore the Lord made a breach upon Uzza, and David was greatly afraid.
- May we not expect similar failures unless we are careful to act obediently, and serve the Lord with holy awe? Are all the observances and practices of our churches scriptural? Are not some of them purely will-worship?
III. THE JOY. Third Text: 1 Chron. 15:25.
- The terrible death of Uzza caused great fear. Thus the Lord slew Nadab and Abihu for offering strange fire; and the men of Beth-shemesh for looking into the ark. The Lord has said,"I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified" (Lev. 10:3).
- His own sense of wrong feeling caused this fear in David, for we read, "and David was displeased" (verse 11). We are too apt to be displeased with God because he is displeased with us.
- His own sense of unworthiness for such holy work made him cry, "How shall I bring the ark of God home to me?"
- His feeling that he failed in that which God expected of his servants created a holy fear. "Sanctify yourselves, that ye may bring up the ark of the Lord God" (1 Chron. 15:12).
- He meant well, but he had erred, and so he came to a pause; yet not for long. The ark of God remained with Obed-edom three months, but not more (verse 14).
- Some make the holiness of God and the strictness of his rule an excuse for wicked neglect.
- Others are overwhelmed with holy fear; and therefore pause a while, till they are better prepared for the holy service.
1. God blessed Obed-edom. Thus, may humble souls dwell with God and die not. Those houses which entertain the ark of the Lord shall be well rewarded.
2. Preparation was made and thought exercised by David and his people when a second time they set about moving the ark of the covenant. Read the whole of the chapter.
3. The mind of the Lord was considered: "And the children of the Levites bare the ark of God upon their shoulders, with the staves thereof, as Moses commanded, according to the word of the Lord" (verse 15).
4. The priests were in their places: "So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves." Men and methods must both be ruled by God (verse 14).
5. Sacrifices were offered: "And it came to pass, when God helped, the Levites that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, that they offered seven bullocks and seven rams" (verse 26). The great and perfect sacrifice must ever be to the front.
6. Now came the exceeding joy (verse 28).
- Do we draw near to God in all holy exercises after this careful, spiritual, reverent fashion?
- If so, we may safely exhibit our delight, and our hearts may dance before the Lord as king David did (verse 29).
When after long disuse ordinances come to be revived, it is too common
for even wise and good men to make some mistakes. Who would have thought that David should have made such a blunder as this, to carry the ark upon a cart (verse 7)? Because the Philistines so carried it, and a special providence drove the cart (1 Sam. 6:12), he thought they might do so too. But we must walk by rule, not by example, when it varies from the rule; no, not those examples that providence has owned. Matthew Henry
1. The matter and right manner of performing duties are, in the command of God, linked together. He will have his service well done as well as really done. We must serve God with a perfect heart and a willing mind, for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts. Masters on earth challenge to themselves a power to oblige their servants, not only to do their work, but to do it so-and-so; and though they do the thing itself, yet if not in the manner required, it cannot be accepted.
2. The doing of a duty in a wrong manner alters the nature of it, and makes it sin. Hence " the ploughing of the wicked is sin" (Prov. 21:4). Hence prayer is accounted a howling upon their beds (Hos. 7:14). Unworthy communicating is not counted as eating the Lord's supper (1 Cor. 11:20). If a house be built of never so strong timber and good stones, yet if it be not well founded, and rightly built, the inhabitant may curse the day he came under the roof of it.
3. Duties not performed according to the right order are but the half of the service we owe to God, and the worst half too. Thomas Boston
Charles Hadden Spurgeon
30. A King Sent in Love
Then Huram the king of Tyre answered in writing, which he sent to Solomon, Because the Lord hath loved his people, he hath made thee king over them. II Chronicles 2:11
Such was the character of Solomon, that even Huram could see that he was a blessing to the people over whom he ruled. Be it ours to bless others, whatever our station may be. May it be observed concerning us that, because the Lord loved the family he made us heads of it, friends to it, or servants in it; and so forth.
Even a heathen could trace great blessings to God's love; what heathens those are who do not speak of the Lord's goodness, but talk of "chance" and "good luck"!
It is a great blessing when communications between rulers savor of a pious courtesy, as these between Solomon and Huram.
This verse may well be applied to our Lord Jesus. May the Holy Spirit bless our meditation thereon.
I. THE LOVE OF GOD HAS MADE JESUS OUR KING.
1. It is not, then, a burden to be under law to Christ: his commandments are not grievous (1 John 5:3).
2. Jesus did not need us for subjects, but we needed to be under the rule and headship of Jesus. It is for our guidance, comfort, honor, growth, success, peace, and safety.
3. It brings us great happiness to obey our Prince. His laws are simply indications of where our felicity lies.
4. The personal character of our King is such that it is a great blessing to his subjects to have him as their Monarch.
- So wise: therefore able to judge and to direct.
- So powerful: therefore able to enrich and to defend.
- So gracious: therefore laying himself out to benefit us all.
- So holy: therefore elevating and purifying his people. In this Solomon failed, but Jesus succeeded.
5. His relationship to us makes it a great blessing to have him for our King. We are not under the tyranny of a stranger; but to us is fulfilled the word of the prophet: "Their nobles shall,be of themselves, and their governor shall proceed from the midst of them" (Jer. 30:21).
The Lord Jesus is, to all of us who are believers:
It is a delight to obey him in all things who has blessed us in all things.
II. THE LOVE OF GOD HAS MADE US THE SUBJECTS OF JESUS.
1. We see this in the choice which the Lord has made of us.
We were like Israel:
- Our Brother. Therefore it is no bondage to follow him.
- Our Redeemer. Therefore it is joy to own his property in us.
- Our Husband. Who would not do the bidding of one so loving?
2. We see this in his subduing us.
- Insignificant in rank, power, or wisdom.
- Erring, and continually apt to revolt from our King.
- Poor, and therefore unable to pay him any great revenue.
- Feeble, and therefore no help to him in his grand designs.
- Fickle, and consequently a wretched people to rule and lead.
- We began with rebellion, but our Prince conquered us, and brought us
under happy subjection because of his great love.
3. We see this in the healthy order he maintains. It is good for us to be under so wise a rule. Love gives rebels a powerful, gracious, and forbearing ruler. A firm hand and a loving heart will tame the unruly, and be a boon to them.
III. OUR LOVE TO GOD MAKES THE REIGN OF JESUS BLESSED TO US.
1. It makes his courts our delight.
4. We see this in the peace which he creates: the quiet within and without: in the heart and in the church (1 Kings 4:24).
5. We see this in the plenty which he scatters. "And the king made silver and gold at Jerusalem as plenteous as stones, and cedar trees made he as the sycamore trees that are in the vale for abundance" (2 Chron. 1:15). Far greater are the riches of grace which the reign of Jesus brings to us.
6. We see this in the honor he puts upon us, making us all to be kings and priests with him (Rev. 1:5-6).
2. It makes his service our recreation.
3. It makes his revenue our riches.
4. It makes his glory our honor .
5. It makes his cross our crown.
6. It makes himself our heaven.
- Lord, bless thy people, by keeping them loyal and obedient.
- Lord, bless rebellious ones, by bringing them to bow before so gracious and wise a Prince.
- Lord, we now bless thee for exalting Jesus, to be a Prince and a Savior to us. May his Spirit rest upon us!
Charles Hadden Spurgeon