Verse 9. For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. His burning ardour, like the flame of a candle, fed on his strength and consumed it. His heart, like a sharp sword, cut through the scabbard. Some men are eaten up with lechery, others with covetousness, and a third class with pride, but the master passion with our great leader was the glory of God, jealousy for his name, and love to the divine family. Zeal for God is so little understood by men of the world, that it always draws down opposition upon those who are inspired with it; they are sure to be accused of sinister motives, or of hypocrisy, or of being out of their senses. When zeal eats us up, ungodly men seek to eat us up too, and this was preeminently the case with our Lord, because his holy jealousy was preeminent. With more than a seraph's fire he glowed, and consumed himself with his fervour.
And the reproaches of them that reproached thee have fallen upon me. Those who habitually blaspheme God now curse me instead. I have become the butt for arrows intended for the Lord himself. Thus the Great Mediator was, in this respect, a substitute for God as well as for man, he bore the reproaches aimed at the one, as well as the sins committed by the other.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 9. For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. He who recollects that the Scriptures speak of a "peace which passeth understanding," and a "joy unspeakable and full of glory," will be more disposed to lament the low state of his own feeling, than to suspect the propriety of sentiments the most rational and scriptural, merely because they rise to a pitch that he has never reached. The Sacred Oracles afford no countenance to the supposition that devotional feelings are to the condemned as visionary and enthusiastic merely on account of their intenseness and elevation; provided they be of the right kind, and spring from legitimate sources, they never teach us to suspect they can be carried too far. David danced before the Lord with all his might, and when he was reproached for degrading himself in the eyes of his people by indulging in such transports, he replied, "If this be vile, I will yet make myself more vile." That the objects which interest the heart in religion are infinitely more durable and important than all others will not be disputed; and why should it be deemed irrational to be affected by them in a degree somewhat suitable to their value? Robert Hall. 1764-1831.
Verse 9. The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. Consider the examples of the saints of old, who have taken heaven by force. David broke his sleep for meditation. Psalms 119:148 . His violence for heaven was boiled up to zeal, Psalms 119:139 : "My zeal hath consumed me." And Paul did "reach forth (epekteinomenoz) unto those things which were before." The Greek word signifies to stretch out the neck, a metaphor taken from racers that strain every limb, and reach forward to lay hold upon the prize. We read of Anna, a prophetess ( Luke 2:37 ); "she departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day." How industrious was Calvin in the Lord's vineyard. When his friends persuaded him for his health's sake to remit a little of his labour, saith he, "Would you have the Lord find me idle when he comes?" Luther spent three hours a day in prayer. It is said of holy Bradford, preaching, reading, and prayer, was his whole life. I rejoice, said bishop Jewel, that my body is exhausted in the labours of my holy calling. How violent were the blessed martyrs! They wore their fetters as ornaments, they snatched up torments as crowns, and embraced the flames as cheerfully as Elijah did the fiery chariot that came to fetch him to heaven. Let racks, fires, pullies, and all manner of torments come, so I may win Christ, said Ignatius. These pious souls "resisted unto blood." How should this provoke our zeal! Write after these fair copies. Thomas Watson.
Verse 9. The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. Zeal in and for true religion is a praise worthy thing. Was David zealous? it may then become a royal spirit. Was Christ our Saviour zealous? it may become an heroical spirit. Albeit, zeal is out of grace with most men who sit still, and love to be at quiet rest; yet it is no disgrace to any generous spirit that is regenerate, to have the zeal of God's house to eat him up. It is a slander to call it folly. Was not zealous David wiser than his teachers, than his enemies, than the aged? Lukewarm men call it fury; God's Spirit names it a "live coal," that hath a most vehement flame. Why bears zeal the imputation of indiscretion, rashness, puritanism, or headiness? Was it David's rashness? It was fervency in religion. Was Christ indiscreet? The wisdom of his Father. Festus called Paul mad, with a loud voice ( Acts 26:24 ), when he spake but words of truth and soberness ( Acts 26:25 ). Christ's kinsmen thought that he was beside himself. Mark 3:21 . Was the judgment of such stolid men any disparagement to our Saviour's zeal? Nay, it is a commendation. To root out evil from, and to establish good in, the house of God is a good thing. Galatians 4:18 . Thomas Wilson, in "A Sermon preached before sundry of the Honourable House of Commons," entitled, "David's Zeal for Zion." 1641.
Verse 9. Zeal, reproaches. Grace never rises to so great a height as it does in times of persecution. Suffering times are a Christian's harvest times. Let me instance in that grace of zeal: I remember Moulin speaking of the French Protestants, saith, "When Papists hurt us for reading the Scriptures, we burn with zeal to be reading of them; but now persecution is over, our Bibles are like old almanacs," etc. All the reproaches, frowns, threatenings, oppositions, and persecutions that a Christian meets with in a way of holiness, do but raise his zeal and courage to a greater height. Michal's scoffing at David did but inflame and raise his zeal: "If this be to be vile, I will be more vile," 2 Samuel 6:20-22 . Look, as fire in the winter burns the hotter, by an antiperistasij because of the coldness of the air; so in the winter of affliction and persecution, that divine fire, the zeal of a Christian, burns so much the hotter, and flames forth so much the more vehemently and strongly. In times of greatest affliction and persecution for holiness' sake, a Christian hath, first, a good captain to lead and encourage him; secondly, a righteous cause to prompt and embolden him; thirdly, a gracious God to relieve and succour him; fourthly, a glorious heaven to receive and reward him; and, certainly, these things cannot but mightily raise him and inflame him under the greatest opposition and persecution. These things will keep him from fearing, fawning, fainting, sinking, or flying in a stormy day; yea, these things will make his face like the face of an adamant, as God's promised to make Ezekiel's. Ezekiel 3:7-9 , and Job 41:24 . Now an adamant is the hardest of stones, it is harder than a flint, yea, it is harder than the nether millstone. The naturalists (Pliny) observe, that the hardness of this stone is unspeakable: the fire cannot burn it, nor so much as heat it through, nor the hammer cannot break it, nor the water cannot dissolve it, and, therefore, the Greeks call it an adamant from its untameableness; and in all storms the adamant shrinks not, it shrinks not, it fears not, it changeth not its hue; let the times be what they will, the adamant is still the same. In times of persecution, a good cause, a good God, and a good conscience will make a Christian like an adamant, it will make him invincible and unchangeable. When one desired to know what kind of man Basil was, there was presented to him in a dream, saith the history, a pillar of fire with this motto, Talis est Basilius, Basil is such a one, he is all on a light fire for God. Persecutions will but set a Christian all on a light fire for God. Thomas Brooks.
Verse 9. Eaten me up. The verb means, not only "to eat up, to devour," but "to corrode, or consume," by separating the parts from each another, as fire. And the radical import of the Hebrew word for zeal seems to be "to eat into, corrode, as fire." The word, says Parkhurst, is in the Hebrew Bible generally applied to the fervent or ardent affections of the human frame; the effects of which are well known to be ever like those of fire, corroding and consuming. And, accordingly, the poets, both ancient and modern, abound with descriptions of these ardent and consuming affections, taken from fire and its effects. Richard Mant.
Verse 9. Eaten me up. He who is zealous in his religion, or ardent in his attachments, is said to be eaten up. "Old Muttoo has determined to leave his home for ever; he is to walk barefoot to the Ganges for the salvation of his soul: his zeal has eaten him up." J. Roberts' Oriental Illustrations.
Verse 9. The reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me. We should, if it were possible, labour to wipe off all the reproach of Christ, and take it upon ourselves that we might rather be spit upon and contemned than Christ. It was a brave speech of Ambrose, "he wished it would please God to turn all the adversaries from the church upon himself, and let them satisfy their thirst with his blood:" this is a true Christian heart. And, therefore, if it be for our sakes, and we have anything in the business by which Christ is reproached, we should be willing rather to sacrifice ourselves, than that Christ should be reproached; and as Jonah, when he knew that the tempest rose for his sake, says he, "Cast me into the sea;" and so Nazianzen, when contention rose about him, says he, "Cast me into the sea, let me lose my place, rather than the name of Christ should suffer for me." Jeremiah Burroughs.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- A grievous trial.
- An honourable reason for it: for Christ's sake.
- Consoling supports under it.
- The object of zeal: thy house; thy Zion; thy
- The degree of zeal: hath eaten me up. Our Lord was
consumed by his own zeal. So Paul: And I if I be
offered up, etc.
- The manifestation of zeal: The reproaches, etc.; of
thy justice; of thy law; of thy moral government; of
thy lovingkindness. "Who himself bare our sins,"
etc. G. R.