The Secret of the Lord, Ps. 25.14

by Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor
FBC Spanish Fort
Spanish Fort, Ala.

 

Dr. Vance Havner (1901-1986) writes, “Years ago, I was with Dr. Paul Rees at his conference at Medicine Lake. I remember a wonderful illustration that he told of a bishop in India who was approached by a missionary. She said, ‘Bishop, I have sought a deeper experience with God all these years and I don’t have it. I have read books. I have read what to do and all the rules, but I am nowhere yet. Does God have favorites?’ The old bishop said, ‘No, my dear, God does not have favorites. But He has intimates.’”

Dr. Havner lamented, “Most men are strangers to God today. Some are acquainted with Him, but only a few are intimates—those who have made it their business to know Him.”[1] Dr. F. B. Meyer (1847-1929) exclaims, “What secrets God has to tell his own!”[2] Dr. A. W. Tozer (1897-1963) explains, “The saving power of the Word is reserved for whom it is intended. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him. The impenitent heart will find the Bible but a skeleton of facts without flesh or life or breath. Shakespeare may be enjoyed without penitence; we may understand Plato without believing a word he says; but penitence and humility along with faith and obedience are necessary to a right understanding of the Scriptures.”[3]

On “the pleasure of communion with God,” Rev. Matthew Henry (1662-1714) explains one of the promises of God, “That God will admit them into the secret of communion with himself (v. 14): The secret of the Lord is with those that fear him. They understand his word; for, if any man do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God, John 7:17. Those that receive the truth in the love of it, and experience the power of it, best understand the mystery of it. They know the meaning of his providence, and what God is doing with them, better than others. Shall I hide from Abraham the things that I do? Genesis 18:17. He call them not servants, but friends, as he called Abraham. They know by experience the blessings of the covenant and the pleasure of that fellowship which gracious souls have with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. This honour have all his saints.”[4]

Psalm 25:1-22 reads:

“To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me. Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause. Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, For they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; According to Your mercy remember me, For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord. Good and upright is the Lord; Therefore He teaches sinners in the way. The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies. For Your name’s sake, O Lord, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great. Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses. He himself shall dwell in prosperity, And his descendants shall inherit the earth. The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant. My eyes are ever toward the Lord, For He shall pluck my feet out of the net. Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me, For I am desolate and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have enlarged;
Bring me out of my distresses! Look on my affliction and my pain, And forgive all my sins. Consider my enemies, for they are many; And they hate me with cruel hatred. Keep my soul, and deliver me;Let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, For I wait for You. Redeem Israel, O God,Out of all their troubles!”

Dr. Peter C. Craigie (1938-1985) former academic vice president at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, writes, “The prayer is that of a person who has made the choice and is walking the road of the righteous; but the dispassionate wisdom has been transformed to passionate petition, for the right road is not an easy one on which to walk. … The essence of the road of the righteous is this: it is a road too difficult to walk without the companionship and friendship of God. … Ps 1 is a signpost which directs the wise to the choice of the right road; Ps 25 is a companion for use along the way.”[5]

Psalm 25:14 reads, “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him; And He will show them His covenant.” Allow me to share three things from our text.

I. First, there is a great reversal (Psalm 25:14a). “The secret of the Lord. . .”

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, reversal means, “a change to an opposite state, condition, decision, etc.”[6]Those mentioned in this verse enjoy the result of a great reversal from being a foe of the Lord to being His friend. From a message titled, “Songs from the Soul,” Dr. Geerhardus Vos (1862-1949) explains, “The ‘secret’ means the secret counsel, the homilia as one of the old translations has aptly rendered it. It is the intimate converse between friend and friend as known from human life where there is no reserve, but the thoughts and feelings of the heart are freely interchanged.”[7]

According to Dr. A. S. (Anthony Stocker) Aglen (1836-1908), author of Lessons in Old Testament History, (London: Arnold, 1898): The word translated “secret” means “sweet counsel” as in Psalm 55:14, “We took sweet counsel together, And walked to the house of God in the throng.”[8]   Those who are upright enjoy a private consultation with God. Proverbs 3:32 reads, “For the perverse person is an abomination to the Lord, But His secret counsel is with the upright.” Dr. John Henry Jowett (1864-1923), former pastor of Westminster Chapel in London, writes, “They are taken into intimate fellowship. To be made the depository of a rare secret is to be sealed as a friend.”[9]

II. Second, there is a godly reverence (Psalm 25:14b). “. . . is with those who fear Him. . .”
Dr. Stephen F. Olford (1918-2004) writes, “Without a reverential approach to eternal matters, the Bible is a closed book. David reminds us that ‘The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant’ (Psalm 25:14). This is true both in the spiritual and secular realms.”[10]Dr. Adrian Rogers, (1931-2005) explains, “If you would maintain the life of victory . . . you must be careful to practice reverence, careful reverence. Look in [Joshua 24] verse 14. ‘Now therefore fear the Lord….’ Fear the Lord. That’s the first thing he says. Fear the Lord. Do you know how you can lose your walk with God? Get casual, get careless, lose the awe, lose the respect, lose the fear of the Lord. Over and over and over again in the Bible we are admonished to fear God.”[11]

From the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery we read, “The fear of God is distinct from the terror of him that is also a biblical motif (see FEAR). Encompassing and building on attitudes of awe and reverence, it is the proper and elemental response of a person to God. This religious fear of God is a major biblical image for the believer’s faith. In fact, there are well over a hundred references to the fear of God in the positive sense of faith and obedience. To ‘fear’ God or be ‘God-fearing’ is a stock biblical image for being a follower of God, sometimes in implied contrast to those who do not fear him. The very frequency of the references signals that the fear of God is central to biblical faith, and the relative absence of this ancient way of thinking in our culture should give us pause. . . . The fear of God is a fundamental quality of people who know and obey God.”[12]

Here are some of the references highlighting the fear of God. Psalm 31:19 reads, “Oh, how great is Your goodness, Which You have laid up for those who fear You, Which You have prepared for those who trust in You In the presence of the sons of men!” Psalm 33:18 reads, “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy.” Psalm 111:10 reads, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.” Psalm 115:13 reads, “He will bless those who fear the Lord, Both small and great.” Psalm 147:11 reads, “The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy.” Proverbs 1:7 reads, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Proverbs 19:23 reads, “The fear of the Lord leads to life, And he who has it will abide in satisfaction; He will not be visited with evil.”

III. Third, there is a glorious revelation (Psalm 25:14c). “. . . And He will show them His covenant.”
Dr. John Phillips (1927-2012) explains, “God’s covenant with Israel, of course, was contained on the tables of stone laid up within the ark. God’s covenant with us is likewise contained in His Word. Nobody can hope to have any real guidance unless willing to spend time with the Word of God, seeking out the great secrets of the Lord which are contained in Scripture. There is no situation we can face in life which is not covered by some specific word of God.”[13]

The Pulpit Commentary offers the following, “God favours those who fear him with secret and confidential communion (comp. Proverbs 3:32). He ‘comes unto them, and makes his abode with them’ (John 14:23), and ‘teaches them’ (John 14:26), and enlightens them, and leads them in his way, and learns them (ver. 5), and ‘seals their instruction’ (Job 33:16). And he will show them his covenant; i.e. make them see the full force of it, since his ‘commandment is exceeding broad’ (Psalm 119:96).”[14]

Dr. Geerhardus Vos further explains, “And the notion of the covenant here expresses the same idea: the covenant being conceived not as a formal contract for the specific purpose, but as a communion in which life touches life and intertwines with life so that the two become mutually assimilated. Evidently the Psalmists recognize in this private intercourse with God the highest function of religion–the only thing that will completely satisfy the child of God. And this becomes all the more touching if we remember how much there was in the old covenant, with its complex system of ceremonies, which necessitated a sort of indirect service of God; and remember further how even where a more direct approach unto God was permitted, this had to remain partial and to be exercised under restrictions because the fresh and living way into the Holy of Holies had not yet been opened up.”[15]

According to Dr. A. S. Aglen, the word translated “covenant” carries the idea that “His covenant to make them know. Communion enjoyed by the pious-the highest covenant privilege.”[16] The pious receive privileged information from God. In one of his homilies, Dr. C. Short explains, “Only those who live and walk with God know his will. (Ver. 14.) ‘The secret of the Lord’ is hidden from the eyes and hearts of the disobedient. God himself is hidden; but the secret of his love is further off still from their perceptions. God’s ‘covenant’ with man through Christ surpasses in glory all his former covenants with man.”[17]

Rev. Matthew Poole (1624-1679) writes, “The secret of the Lord; either, 1. His word and counsel, to direct and guide them in the right way, which he oft mentions here as a singular blessing, Ps 25:8-9, 12, to show them their duty in all conditions, and the way to their eternal salvation. And so this may seem to be explained by the following words, he will show them his covenant. And this, though it was revealed, yet might be called a secret, because of the many and deep mysteries in it, and because it is said to be hid from many of them to whom it was revealed, Mt 11:25; 2 Co 3:13-15; 4:3; and it is not to be understood to any purpose without the illumination of their minds by God’s Spirit, as is manifest from Ps 119:18-19, and many other places of Scripture. Or rather, 2. His love and favour, which is called his secret, Job 29:4; Pr 3:32, and that very fitly, because it is known to none but him that enjoyeth it, Pr 14:10; Re 2:17. Or his gracious and fatherly providence, which is here said to be with them; or, as it is in the Hebrew, towards them, taking care of them, and working for them; even then when God seems to frown upon them.

He will show them his covenant, or, and he will make them to know (for the infinitive is here thought to be put for the future tense of the indicative, as it is Ec 3:14-15, 18; Ho 9:13; 12:3) his covenant, i.e. he will make them clearly to understand it, both its duties or conditions, and its blessings or privileges; neither of which ungodly men rightly understand. Or, he will make them to know it by experience, or by God’s making it good to them; as, on the contrary, God threatens to make ungodly men to know his breach of promise, Nu 14:34. Or, as it is in the margin of our Bibles, and his covenant (is, i.e. he hath engaged himself by his promise or covenant) to make them know it, to wit, his secret, i.e. that he will manifest either his word or his favour to them.”[18]

Conclusion
“The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; and He will show them His covenant” (Psalm 25:15). Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe explains, “When you walk with God, He speaks to you through His Word and tells you what you need to know and to do. Christians are more than just servants who do His will; we’re also His friends who know His plans (John 15:14-15).”[19]

Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.  No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.  You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you” (John 15:14-16). Dr. Wiersbe also explains, “John 15:15-16 summarize for us what it means to be a friend of the King of kings. It is a humbling experience, for He chose us and we did not choose Him. We must keep this in mind lest we become proud and presumptuous. It means that we keep our ears open and listen to what He says to us. ‘Hast thou heard the secret of God?’ (Job 15:8) . . . We must be attentive and alert.”[20]

Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) warns, “Be not too fast, dear friends, in telling everybody about the secret of the Lord, or about your inward experience. When you meet with anyone who can appreciate these things, then make a point of glorifying God by your testimony; but when you are talking with a mere formalist, or a cunning hypocrite, it is better, as soon as you perceive that he is trusting to what he finds in himself, to show him the falsehood of his own supposed righteousness, than to say much concerning what the Lord has done for you. Beware of disobeying the command of our Lord concerning casting pearls before swine, lest they turn again, and rend you. When you talk of walking humbly with God, they will at once begin to laugh at you.”[21]
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[1]Vance Havner, On This Rock I Stand: And Other Messages, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1981), 68.

[2]F. B. Meyer, Psalms: A Study of the 150 Psalms, 36. Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

[3]The Best of A. W. Tozer: Book One, comp. Warren W. Wiersbe, (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread Publishers, 1978, 2000), 166, © 1978, 2000 by Zur Ltd.. Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

[4]Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, 325. Database © 2014 WORDsearch.

[5]Peter C. Craigie, Psalms 1–50, Word Biblical Commentary, (Waco, Tex.: Word Books, 1983), 222.

[6]Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “reversal,” Accessed: 07/07/14, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reversal .

[7]Geerhardus Vos, Grace and Glory: Sermons Preached in the Chapel of Princeton Theological Seminary, (Grand Rapids, MI: The Reformed Press, 1922), 60. “Songs from the Soul,” (Psalm 25:14), preached October 15, 1902, Accessed: 07/07/14, http://www.kerux.com/doc/0301A1.asp .

[8]Anthony Stocker Aglen, Old Testament Commentary For English Readers, Psalms – ed. C. J. Ellicott, 1884, Accessed: 07/07/14, http://archive.org/stream/oldtestamentcomm04elli#page/123/mode/1up .

[9]The Biblical Illustrator, ed. Joseph S. Exell, Psalms, Database © 2012 WORDsearch Corp.

[10]Stephen F. Olford, Expository Preaching Outlines – Volume 3, First Quarter, Week Two: The Law of Knowledge – Two, “The Law of Knowledge” Sermon Notes, (Proverbs 1:1-7).

[11]Adrian Rogers, The Adrian Rogers Legacy Collection – Sermons, “How to Maintain the Life of Victory,” Sermon Notes, (Joshua 24:11-16).

[12]Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, gen. eds. Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, and Tremper Longman, III, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998), 277-278.

[13]John Phillips, Exploring Psalms, Volume One: An Expository Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1988), 192. Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.

[14]The Pulpit Commentary, Psalms, by G. Rawlinson, E.R. Conder, and W. Clarkson, eds. H.D.M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, Database © 2012 WORDsearch Corp.

[15]Vos, Grace, 60-61.

[16]Anthony Stocker Aglen, Old Testament Commentary For English Readers, Psalms – ed. C. J. Ellicott, 1884, Accessed: 07/07/14, http://archive.org/stream/oldtestamentcomm04elli#page/123/mode/1up .

[17]The Pulpit Commentary, Psalms, by G. Rawlinson, E.R. Conder, and W. Clarkson, eds. H.D.M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, Database © 2012 WORDsearch Corp.

[18]Matthew Poole, Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible. Database © 2013 WORDsearch.

[19]Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – Old Testament, Pentateuch. Be Basic, Genesis 1-11, Genesis 6:14-22, 45, Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

[20]Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament, Volume 1, 358, Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

[21]C. H. Spurgeon, Pictures from Pilgrim’s Progress: Commentary on Portions of John Bunyan’s Immortal Allegory, (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1903), 107. © 1973 by Pilgrim Publications. Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

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