Micah 2 - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Bible Comments
  • Micah 2:7 open_in_new

    DISCOURSE: 1204

    Micah 2:7. Do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?

    GREAT and bitter prejudices are often entertained against the word of God; as though its only tendency was to pervert the judgments of men, and to disturb their repose. Hence, when the word is faithfully administered, many are offended at it; and say, as it were, to the messengers of heaven, “Prophesy not unto us right things; prophesy unto us smooth things; prophesy deceits.” But the real reason of their disgust is, that they will not part with those sins which the word condemns, or practise those duties which the word enjoins: “they love darkness rather than light: they hate the light, and will not come to it, lest their deeds should be reproved [Note: John 3:19-20.].” If they were willing to renounce their sins, they would find the word precious and delightful to them; for it is as full of consolation to the upright, as it is of terror to the hypocritical. To this effect God speaks in the passage before us. He represents the people as saying to the prophets, “Prophesy not.” Then addressing himself to them, he asks, Whether the messages which he sent them proceeded from any want of love and mercy in himself; or whether they did not arise solely from their obstinacy in sin? “O thou that art named the House of Jacob, is the Spirit of the Lord straitened? are these his doings?” Then he appeals to them, whether his word would not be a source of unspeakable comfort to them, if they would turn to him aright? “Do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?”

    We propose to shew,

    I. Who they are whom the word benefits—

    Certain it is, that all are not benefited by the word. When it was dispensed by Him who “spake as never man spake,” many made no other use of it than to cavil at it, and to form it into a ground of accusation against him. And when St. Paul laboured at Ephesus for three months successively to establish the truth, many were only hardened the more in their prejudices and infidelity [Note: Acts 19:8-9.]. While in every age it has been “to some a savour of life unto life, it has proved to others a savour of death unto death [Note: 2 Corinthians 2:16.].” Those who alone are benefited by it, are “the people who walk uprightly,” or, in other words,

    1. The unprejudiced—

    [If we come to the word of God with prejudices against any of the doctrines which it is supposed to contain, it is scarcely probable that we should receive any material good from it: for as soon as the truths which we hate are brought to light, we shall set ourselves against them, and exert all our endeavours to invalidate their force. The plainest and most fundamental doctrines of our religion are very commonly treated in this way. Men like not to hear of the depravity of the heart, the insufficiency of our best works to recommend us to God, the necessity of divine influences, and the impossibility of being saved without an entire dependence on the merits of Christ, and an unreserved surrender of ourselves to his service. But if, instead of reprobating these things as enthusiasm, we would lay our minds open to conviction, and submit to receive instruction from God, we should find a reality in these things which we never imagined, and an importance which we were not aware of. God has promised that “the meek he will guide in judgment, the meek he will teach his way [Note: Psalms 25:9.].”]

    2. The diligent—

    [Nothing is to be attained without diligence, in spiritual any more than in temporal concerns. If we read a portion of the Scripture in a superficial way, or hear it explained to us without ever reflecting on what we have heard, we cannot expect to get any good unto our souls. Our Lord has illustrated this by a man sowing seed by the way-side. Can any one doubt whether the birds will come and take it away? Thus will Satan take the word out of our hearts, if it be not harrowed in by meditation and prayer [Note: Matthew 13:4; Matthew 13:19.]. Our Lord directs us to “search the Scriptures:” and St. Luke tells us, that saving benefit accrued to the Bereans from their diligence in this respect; “they were more noble than those of Thessalonica, because they searched the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so:” and then he adds, “Therefore many of them believed [Note: Acts 17:11-12.].” This indeed is agreeable to the established order of things throughout the world: for God has ordained, that while “the soul of the sluggard desireth and hath nothing, the soul of the diligent shall be made fat [Note: Proverbs 13:4.].”]

    3. The humble—

    [Pride and self-sufficiency are insurmountable obstacles to religious instruction. If the knowledge of divine truth were to be acquired merely by mental application, then indeed we might become proficients in it, notwithstanding our dependence were on our own exertions. But we are blind, and must have “the eyes of our understanding enlightened,” before we can comprehend the mysterious truths of God: consequently, if we have not humility to pray for the teaching of the Holy Spirit, we must remain in darkness, with respect to the spiritual import of the word, however carefully we may investigate its literal meaning [Note: 1 Corinthians 2:10-14. See also Proverbs 2:1-6.]. We must pray with David, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law [Note: Psalms 119:18.] period;” We must confess ourselves fools, if we would be truly wise [Note: 1 Corinthians 3:18.]. When we are willing to learn with the docility of little children, then, and then only, shall “the things that are hid from the wise and prudent be revealed unto us [Note: Matthew 11:25.].”]

    4. The obedient—

    [We must have a disposition, yea, a determination, through grace, to obey the word, if we would receive any substantial good from it. If we have any secret lust which we will not part with, it is in vain to hope that the word, whether read or preached, can ever profit us. Our bosom sin will necessarily warp our judgment, and dispose us to reject whatever militates against the indulgence of it. Being determined not to obey its dictates, we shall be always ready to dispute its meaning or deny its authority. Hence our Lord lays so great a stress upon an obedient frame of mind: “If any man will do my will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God [Note: John 7:17.].” It is self-evident, that if a man be visited by the most skilful physician in the universe, he can derive no benefit from his prescriptions, unless he follow them. So it is in vain that the Scripture shews us infallibly the way to heaven, if we will not forsake that path that leadeth to destruction.]

    The character of the persons whom the word of God benefits, being ascertained, let us inquire into,


    The good which it does them—

    But who can estimate this aright? Who can enumerate the benefits resulting from the sacred oracles when thus studied, and thus received? We must content ourselves with mentioning only a few of those blessings which will flow from the word:

    1. It will teach us—

    [The inspired volume cannot fail of conveying information to every man that peruses it, whatever be the state and disposition of his mind. But there is instruction which none but those who “have an honest and good heart [Note: Luke 8:15.]” can receive; and in comparison of which all other knowledge is only as dross and dung. An insight into the deceitfulness and depravity of the heart; a discovery of the glory and excellency of Christ; a view of the devices of Satan, and of the way in which alone he can be successfully opposed; a sight of the beauty of holiness, and of all those glorious privileges that belong to the children of God, are among those invaluable acquisitions which will reward the labours of the humble inquirer.]

    2. It will comfort us—

    [They who disregard the Holy Scriptures, are often so overwhelmed with their troubles, as to seek refuge in death from the calamities of life. But the person who “draws water from those wells of salvation,” finds in them an inexhaustible fund of consolation. He perceives that his trials are all appointed by infinite wisdom; that his Lord and Master drank of the very same cup before him; that tribulation is the way in which all the saints must walk toward the promised land; and that the storms which seem to menace his very life, shall only waft him to his desired haven. All the wonders of redemption also furnish him with additional grounds of consolation; and every promise is like the balm of Gilead to his wounded spirit. Such was the benefit which David experienced from the word in his trials [Note: Psalms 119:92.]; and such shall be experienced by all who “make it their delight and their counsellor.”]

    3. It will sanctify us—

    [The word of God is that which is made the means of our regeneration; and the same is useful for the carrying on of the good work within us. The Apostles were purified in an eminent degree: and our Lord ascribes their sanctification to that as its proper cause; “Now ye are clean, through the word that I have spoken unto you [Note: John 15:3.].” And St. Paul tells us, that Christ still makes use of it for that end: “He gave himself for the Church, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word [Note: Ephesians 5:25-26.].” Indeed its natural tendency is to effect this, because it points out to us our sins; it makes us to see the guilt and danger in which they involve us; it directs our eyes to Him who will give us the victory over them; and it assures us, that, after we have vanquished all our spiritual enemies, we shall be partakers of endless glory and felicity. Having the precepts for our guide, and the promises for our encouragement, we shall “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness, both of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God [Note: 2 Corinthians 7:1.].”]

    4. It will save us—

    [The word makes us not only wise, but “wise unto saltion.” In this view St. Paul told the Corinthians that “he had preached the Gospel to them; and that they had received it, and were standing in it; by which also,” says he, “ye are saved [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:1-2.].” And O! how many myriads now in heaven can attest its efficacy in this respect! How must they say, ‘That word taught me, when ignorant; quickened me, when dead; comforted me, when afflicted; strengthened me, when weak; and enabled me eventually to overcome all my enemies!’ And thus shall all of you say in due season, provided you “walk uprightly” in a diligent study of the sacred oracles, and in an humble obedience to the will of God.]

    In improving this subject, we shall,

    Guard it against misconstruction—

    [It is possible that the foregoing statement may be misunderstood: we would therefore suggest some brief hints, by way of explanation.
    First then, it is not the word that does the good; but the Holy Spirit, by the word. If the word itself wrought any thing, its operation would be uniform and universal, or, at least, in a much greater degree than it now is, and people would be benefited by it in proportion to the strength and clearness of their intellect. But the reverse of this is nearer the truth: for the poor and weak receive the Gospel, while the wise and noble reject it [Note: 1 Corinthians 1:28-30.]. And daily experience proves, that the word then only comes with power, when it comes in the Holy Ghost [Note: 1 Thessalonians 1:5.].

    Next, it is not the knowledge of the word that benefits us, but the knowledge of Christ in the word. We might be able to repeat the whole Bible, and yet perish at last. Christ must be known by us; and that, not speculatively, but experimentally: for “there is no other name given under heaven whereby we can be saved, but the name of Jesus Christ [Note: Acts 4:12.].”

    Lastly, our “uprightness” is not the meritorious cause of the good we receive, but the qualification necessary for the reception and enjoyment of what is good. Nor is this a trifling distinction; for if we be not careful to disclaim all idea of merit, we shall make void the grace of the Gospel, and deprive ourselves of all the benefits to be obtained by it [Note: Romans 4:14.]

    2. Enforce it in a way of appeal to your consciences—

    [The text is an appeal, an appeal of God to the consciences of his enemies. We therefore boldly appeal to you, and defy any man living to answer in the negative; “Do not God’s words do good to him that walketh uprightly?”

    Judge ye, who have despised the word: look at those of your acquaintance who have obeyed the word; compare their lives with what you remember them to have been, or with what yours are at this present time; and say, whether the word have not done them good? — — —
    But ye, after all, are very incompetent judges: we therefore appeal rather to those who have received the benefit. Ye know what ye have received: say then, whether ye would exchange it for all that the world can give you? Reflect on the good ye have obtained; the pardon, the peace, the strength, the holiness, the glory; and say, whether it do not exceed the powers of the first archangel to compute its worth? — — —
    But we need not dwell on this: it admits not of any doubt: all that is requisite is, that you press forward for the attainment of more good. Let the ungodly world say, that the word has done you harm; but regard them not. Only let your growth in every thing that is amiable and praise-worthy confirm the truth in our text, and justify the appeal which God himself has made.]