As the first-fruits of his entire self-devotion to the Lord; as the only sacrifice he could render in his affliction; and as an acknowledgment of his answered prayer for quickening grace, behold this faithful servant of God presenting the free-will offerings of his mouth for acceptance. Such he knew to be an acceptable service. For the sacrifices of the Old Testament were not only typical of the One sacrifice for sin, but of the spiritual worship of the people of God. To those who are interested in the atonement of Jesus, there needs "no more sacrifice for sin." That which is now required of us, and in which we would delight, is to "take with us words, and turn to Him, and say unto Him—Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously; so will we render the calves of our lips."
No offering but a free-will offering is accepted. Such was the service under the law: such must it be under the gospel. Yet neither can this offering be accepted, until the offerer himself has found acceptance with his God. "The Lord had respect," first to the person of "Abel," then "to his offering." But if our persons are covered with the robe of acceptance—if the "offering up of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" has "perfected" us before God: however defiled our services may be, however mixed with infirmity, and in every way most unworthy; even a God of ineffable holiness "beholds no iniquity" in them. No offering is so pure as to obtain acceptance in any other way; no offering so sinful as to fail of acceptance in this way. Most abundant, indeed, and satisfactory is the provision made in heaven for the continual and everlasting acceptance of our polluted and distracted services, "Another angel came, and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it, with the prayers of all saints, upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand." With such a High Priest and Intercessor, not only is unworthiness dismissed, but boldness and assurance of faith is encouraged.
But, as we remarked, it was a free-will offering that we here presented—the overflowings of a heart filled with love. No constraint was necessary. Prayer was delightful. He was not forced upon his knees. Let me seek fellowship with Him in presenting my free offering before my God. Does not He love it? Does not His free love to me deserve it? Did not my beloved Savior give a free-will offering of delight and of joy? And shall not His free-flowing love be my pattern and my principle? Shall His offering be free for me, and mine, be reluctant for Him? Shall He be ready with His blood for me, and I be backward with my mouth for Him? O my God, work Your own Almighty work—make me not only living, but "willing in the day of Your power." Let the stream flow in the full tide of affectionate devotedness. Blessed Jesus! I would be Yours, and none other's. I would tell the world, that I am captivated by Your love, and consecrated to Your service. Oh, let me "rejoice for that I offered willingly." Great grace is it, that He is willing to accept my service. For what have I to offer, that is not already "his own?" But let me not forget to supplicate for further instruction—'Teach me Your judgments, that I may be directed to present a purer offering; that by more distinct and accurate knowledge of Your ways, my love may be enlarged, and my obedience more entire, until I "stand perfect and complete in all the will of God."'
"Accept, I beseech you, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD." The living praise the living God, and therefore the quickened one presents his sacrifice. He offers prayer, praise, confession, and testimony: these, presented with his voice in the presence of an audience, were the tribute of his mouth unto Jehovah. He trembles lest these should be so ill uttered as to displease the Lord, and therefore he implores acceptance. He pleads that the homage of his mouth was cheerfully and spontaneously rendered: all his utterances were freewill offerings. There can be no value in extorted confessions: God's revenues are not derived from forced taxation, but from freewill donation. There can be no acceptance where there is no willingness; there is no work of free grace where there is no fruit of freewill Acceptance is a favor to be sought from the Lord with all earnestness, for without it our offerings are worse than useless. What a wonder of grace that the Lord will accept anything of such unworthy ones as we are!
"And teach me your judgments." When we render unto the Lord our best, we become all the more concerned to do better. When we know that the Lord has accepted us, we then desire to be further instructed, that we may be still more acceptable. After quickening we need teaching: life without light, or zeal without knowledge, would be but half a blessing. These repeated cries for teaching show the humility of the man of God, and also discover to us our own need of similar instruction. Our judgment needs educating until it knows, agrees with, and acts upon, the judgments of the Lord. Those judgments are not always so clear as to be seen at once; we need to be taught in them until we admire their wisdom and adore their goodness as soon as ever we perceive them.