James Smith, 1860
"Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them. So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name." Malachi 3:16
How much depends on the right use of the tongue.
It is either our glory — or our shame.
It is always doing good — or evil.
It is always pleasing — or displeasing God.
What great good we would do — if the tongue was always rightly employed.
How much evil we do — because it is not under restraint.
The tongue will be pretty much the indicator the heart, for "out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." The gift of speech was conferred on us, that we may do good to others; and by the Lord's people it has often been so employed, even in dark and dreary times. Among the Jews it was so in the days of Malachi, as we read, "Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them. So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name."
Mark, THE PERIOD. "Then," when wickedness was rampant, and God threatened to come near to judgment. When God was robbed of his rights, and the people were cursed with a curse. When religion was despised, God's ordinances neglected, and the people refused to return unto him. When a selfish, mercenary spirit was indulged, and the tithes and offerings were withheld. When religious services were wearisome as burdens or as tasks, and the lame and blind were offered in sacrifice to God.
O what times these were, when anything was thought good enough for God, and what was given to his cause was considered to be lost! The sun had gone down over the prophets, a dark night of ignorance, superstition, and sin was set in, and God's glory was lost sight of. Priests and people were alike corrupt, the prophecies were neglected, and the law was forgotten. The ordinances were changed, and the temple was deserted. Yet then, the Lord had a remnant — a few witnesses for God were still to be found.
THE PEOPLE. "Then those who feared the Lord."
Those who realized his presence, had faith in his word, and were
concerned for his honor — and there were a few of such. They . . .
reverenced his authority,
loved his name, and
desired above all things else to please him.
Such are . . .
precious in his sight,
near to his heart, and
always under his eye.
"They meditate upon his name." His glorious perfections, divine attributes, and wonderful character — engaged their meditations. They thought of how his name was dishonored, when it ought to have been hallowed, and treated with the greatest reverence. They were grieved for the dishonor done to it, and humbled before God on account of it. They feared the Lord, and meditated upon his name — but this was not all, observe,
THEIR EMPLOYMENT. "They spoke often one to another." They were friendly, familiar, and met together in a social manner. They spoke of others, their fellow-countrymen — how they dishonored God. They spoke of God — how he was insulted, and how patient, long-suffering, and merciful he was. They spoke of themselves — of God's grace to them, of God's work in them, and of his care over them. These were precious themes, needing not so much the learned tongue, as the experienced heart, to speak of them.
They, no doubt, told . . .
of their convictions and consolations,
of their cares and comforts,
of their difficulties and deliverances,
of their temptations and triumphs.
They spoke . . .
of Satan's opposition to them,
of the plague of the heart within them, and
of the glowing prospects opening before them.
O how much have Christians to talk of to each other!
How should they speak . . .
of what God is to them,
of what Christ has done for them, and
of what the Holy Spirit has wrought within them.
They may talk . . .
of their doubts and darkness,
of their fears and forebodings,
of their faith and hope,
of their conflicts and comforts,
of their joy and peace.
They can tell each other . . .
of answers to prayer,
of promises applied,
of the witness within,
of the foretastes of glory,
of trouble and sorrow,
of bright evidences and distressing doubts.
Such conversation does good, and pleases God; hence,
GOD'S APPROVAL. "The Lord listened and heard them. So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name." The Lord was present, as he always is whenever, and wherever his people meet together. He listened to their conversation, as one pleased and interested. He highly approved of what he heard, as calculated to do good, and to bring glory to his name. He had the conversation recorded, as if it was too good to be forgotten, as he intended to refer to it, and make use of it, another day. He made a most gracious promise, saying, "They shall be mine, in the day when I make up my jewels! I will spare them, as a man spares his own son that serves him!"
See, beloved, whom God approves. Those . . .
who fear him,
who meditate on him, and
meet together to talk of him.
God loves us to think of him, he loves us to talk of
him to each other, to speak well of his name. See then, how believers
should act. They should know each other, and meet together to talk of
God and godliness. O how seldom is this the case! When we meet, we talk
of ministers, polities, the weather, the crops, the news — all sorts of
things — but there is very little talk . . .
of the beauty of Christ,
of the privileges of saints on earth,
of the joy of saints in Heaven.
If our conversation was more spiritual, more scriptural — God would be pleased with us, and would add his blessing to our meetings. See what believers so acting, may expect. God will hearken and hear, he will have a register made, and record the conversation of his people. Alas! That this is so seldom the case. What we say is not worth remembering, much less writing down! Indeed, the sooner much of it is forgotten, the better. Even a short memory may be a mercy, for who would wish to remember all he hears — all he hears even from the Lord's people.
Reader, do you fear God? Is he the object of your faith, love, and worship? Do you meditate upon his name, and think upon it often, devoutly, and with fervor? Do you meet with the Lord's people, and when you meet, do you talk over what you think of him, and what you know of him? Do you talk of what he is to you, what he has done for you, and what he is working in you?
Lord, give us grace, that we may abundantly utter the memory of your great goodness, and tell of all your wondrous works! O for the grace of Christian conversation, that we may speak to the honor of God, the edification of believers, and the conversion of souls! Lord, forgive and forget, what you have heard us say that has been wrong, and enable us in future so to speak to one another, as to ensure your approval.