Often—instead of being quickened in the way—I am fainting under the pressure of unbelief. What then is my resource? Only the word of promise. Lord! seal—establish Your word to Your servant—devoted as I am—as I would be—to Your fear. If "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom"—a "treasure"—a "strong confidence" "a fountain of life"—how wise—how rich—how safe—how happy—is he who "is devoted to" it! "Blessed" indeed is he—with the favor of his God, the secret of His love, the teaching of His grace, and the mercy of His covenant. The promises of the Old Testament are generally connected with the fear of God, as in the New Testament they are linked with faith. But in truth, so identified are these two principles in their operation, that the faith, by which we apprehend the forgiveness of God, and the privileges of His kingdom, issues in a godly, reverential, filial fear. To be devoted to this fear, completes the character of a servant of God—the highest honor in the universe—the substantial joy of heaven itself. It is an obedience of choice, of reverence, and of love. "Joining himself to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord—to be His servant." 'Yes, gracious Lord, I had rather be bound than loosed.' I only wish to be loosed from the bonds of sin, that I might be bound to You forever. My heart is treacherous; lay Your own bonds upon me. "O Lord, truly I am Your servant: You have loosed my bonds;" I am "devoted to Your fear." Is this my desire, my mind, my determination, my character? Then let me plead my title to an interest in the promises of the word—rich and free, "exceeding great and precious,"—all mine, "yes and amen in Christ Jesus;" let me plead, that every word may be "established" in my victory over sin, advancing knowledge of Christ, experience of His love, conformity to His image, and, finally, in my preservation in Him unto eternal life.
But how far has the fear of God operated with me as a safeguard from sin, and an habitual rule of conduct? David's confidence in the promises of God, far from lessening his jealousy over himself, only made him more "devoted to the fear" of God. And if my assurance be well grounded, it will ever be accompanied with holy fear; the influence will be known by "standing more in awe of God's word;" having a more steady abhorrence of sin, and a dread of "grieving the Holy Spirit of God." Thus this filial fear produces a holy confidence; while confidence serves to strengthen fear: and their mutual influence quickens devotedness to the work of the Lord.
It is interesting to remark, that the Christian privilege of assurance is not confined to the New Testament dispensation. David's pleading to have the "word of his God established unto him," was grounded upon the tried foundations of faith. And this direct act of faith, as it regards God in Christ, His engagements and His promises, cannot be too confident. The promises are made to the whole Church, that we might each look for our part and interest in them. God loves to have His own seal and hand-writing brought before Him. "Put Me in remembrance"—He says: "let us plead together." "He cannot deny Himself."
Very cheering is it to mark, how the Lord establishes His word in our own experience. Every day He is fulfilling some promise, and a word made good at one time encourages our confidence for another. The word performed in part is an earnest of the whole, assuring us of the time, when we shall acknowledge His faithfulness, "who performs all things for us." Thus, as the word is eternally established on the foundation of the Divine engagements, its certainty is sealed to our own conviction. Our confidence is established, that if He has spoken a word, He may be trusted for that word.
This, then, is the exercise and the power of faith. I bring wants. I bring Your word of promise. Establish Your word to Your servant. You have bought me with a precious price; You have made me Yours: You have subdued my heart to Yourself, so that it is now "devoted to Your fear." Whatever, therefore, Your covenant has provided for my sanctification, my humiliation, my chastisement, my present and everlasting consolation, "Establish this word:" let it be fulfilled in me; for I am "Your servant, devoted to Your fear."
"Establish your word unto your servant." Make me sure of your sure word: make it sure to me, and make me sure of it. If we possess the spirit of service, and yet are troubled with skeptical thoughts, we cannot do better than pray to be established in the truth. Times will arise when every doctrine and promise seems to be shaken, and our mind gets no rest: then we must appeal to God for establishment in the faith; for he would have all his servants to be well instructed and confirmed in his word. But we must mind that we are the Lord's servants, for else we shall not long be sound in his truth. Practical holiness is a great help towards doctrinal certainty: if we are God's servants he will confirm his word in our experience. "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine"; and so know it as to be fully assured of it. Atheism in the heart is a horrible plague to a God-fearing man, it brings more torment with it than can well be described; and nothing but a visitation of grace can settle the soul after it has been violently assailed thereby. Vanity or falsehood is bad for the eyes, but it is even worse when it defiles the understanding and casts a doubt upon the word of the living God.
"Who is devoted to your fear" or simply—"to your fear." That is, make good your word to godly fear wherever it exists; strengthen the whole body of reverent men. Establish your word, not only to me, but to all the godly ones under the sun. Or, again, it may mean—"Establish your word to your fear," namely, that men may be led to fear you; since a sure faith in the divine promise is the fountain and foundation of godly fear. Men will never worship a God in whom they do not believe. More faith will lead to more godly fear. We cannot look for the fulfillment of promises in our experience unless we live under the influence of the fear of the Lord: establishment in grace is the result of holy watchfulness and prayerful energy. We shall never be rooted and grounded in our belief unless we daily practice what we profess to believe. Full assurance is the reward of obedience. Answers to prayer are given to those whose hearts answer to the Lord's command. If we are devoted to God's fear we shall be delivered from all other fear. He has no fear as to the truth of the word who is filled with fear of the Author of the word. Scepticism is both the parent and the child of impiety; but strong faith both begets piety and is begotten of it We commend this whole verse to any devout man whose tendency is to scepticism: it will be an admirable prayer for use in seasons of unusually strong misgivings.
There is here an argumentative prayer. As good Bishop Cowper says, "He who has received of the Lord grace to fear him, may be bold to seek any necessary good thing from him; because the fear of God has annexed to it the promise of all other blessings."