“A Word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”
While journeying through Samaria our Savior comes to Jacob’s well. The disciples have gone for meat. Seeing . a woman at the well about to draw water, Jesus asks a drink at her hands. She stands aghast at such a request, for, seeing he is a Jew, she knows it to be an unusual thing for one of that race to ask anything of a Samaritan. Thus she reminds him, but he replies, “If thou kuowest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him and he would have given thee living water.” Thus begins a remarkable conversation between our Lord and this adulterous woman. In it he reveals himself to her as the Christ, the Messiah which was to come. At the close the woman runs away joyfully to her companions exclaiming. “Come, see a man which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ!” Yes, this poor, miserable woman has seen the Savior, and knows that he it is who speaks to her. His words to her are “fitly spoken.”
Shifting the scene, we behold the gate of the temple, Beautiful, at Jerusalem. Hither come a number of men bearing one whom they lay at the entrance. This man has been lame from his birth, and never able to walk a step, and is placed here daily to receive alms of those who pass by. Peter and John, two disciples of the Lord, approach him. He begs an alms of them. They have none, but say, “Look upon us,” and then follow these remarkable words, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” Immediately he is healed, leaps up and goes with them into the temple, leaping and praising, not the disciples, but God. Their words were “fitly spoken.”
Let us glance at one more scene. Before us is the road leading out of Jerusalem toward Damascus. Down it came a company of men headed by Saul of Tarsus. Look at him. He has left Jerusalem with letters admitting him into Damascus. One of the most remarkable men of his day, he is skilled in the law of his fathers and in the wisdom of the east. Dominating him is a fierce hatred of the followers of Christ. The purpose of his journey to Damascus is to persecute this people, and to bring them captives to Jerusalem. He verily believes he is doing God’s service, and breathing out slaughters and threatenings against the disciples of the Lord, goes forward. Suddenly a dazzling light from heaven shines round about him. He falls to the earth, and to him a voice speaks, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me!” Astonished, he cries, “Who art thou, Lord?” “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.” Humbled, ashamed and groveling in the dust, this once haughty man implores, “What wilt thou have me to do!” “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” In Damascus we find him preaching the gospel he hated to the very ones he had intended to persecute. What has wrought this wondrous change! “A word fitly spoken.”
In these instances which I have cited, Christ either directly or through his servants has given the fitly spoken word. “The gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” It is the tidings of that salvation which God has wrought for his people in his Son Jesus Christ. These tidings may be spoken directly to us by God himself, in our sleeping or in our waking hours, while at work or at rest, while reading or while in meditation. It may come through an earthen vessel such as all of God’s servants are, but not necessarily so. Most emphatically the preaching of the word is not essential to give one a knowledge of Christ or his salvation. But no matter in what way it comes, the gospel of Christ is a “word fitly spoken.” In it is embraced the doctrine of God, that doctrine which Moses declares shall drop as the rain and distill as the dew upon the tender herb and upon the grass. “Upon the tender herb,” which is a conscience made tender by the application of the law. To such a one the tidings of salvation are certainly words fitly spoken. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” &c. This word is Christ, the word “fitly spoken.” It is “fitly spoken “because peculiarly adapted or fitted to the needs and conditions of those to whom it is declared. In your lost condition, who found you! In your blindness, who restored your sight! In your sin-sickness, who healed you! In your darkness, who brought the light! The answer is one word, Christ. That word revealed with power is our salvation from all the wretched conditions that befall us. Then is it not a word spoken with fitness! I do not hesitate to say that no other word under heaven is ever “fitly spoken “but the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
But how is the gospel like “apples of gold in pictures of silver!” A picture all one color would be a barren monotony. Picture a wide expanse of ocean in a dead calm, with not a sail or a ruffle to mar its peacefulness. What weary, monotonous waste it is! Just so would be a picture of silver. It may be valuable, but it certainly is not beautiful. One color never yet made a beautiful picture. But what a change is wrought when “apples of gold “are painted in it! How it sparkles in its lustre, and how clearly the yellowness of the gold stands forth displayed on a background of silver. Black will appear blacker if placed next to white. So will gold appear brighter when placed in contrast with silver. This picture of apples of gold in silver is a picture which typifies the lives of the saints. Take out of your experience the seasons of rejoicing you have had when in the Savior’s presence, and what have you left! Only sorrow, pain, affliction, darkness and tribulations of every description. This, dear child of God, is the background of silver. The “apples of gold “are the high and bright places in your experience when you have been drawn away from the world for a time and have rested alone in the arms of the dear Redeemer. They are seasons of rejoicing and gladness you have had when the word spoken in your heart lifted you out of the horrible pit and set you upon a rock, and put a new song in your mouth, even praise to our God. “Apples” implies sweetness. Truly these are sweet times. They are also a fruit. So are these happy days the fruit or the result of many days in darkness and tribulation. Without these “apples of gold,” these “words fitly spoken,” our lives would be but as trees without fruit. With them the lives of the saints are pictures beautiful, rich and rare.
H. H. LEFFERTS.
22 N. Fourth St., Camden, N. J.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 69, No. 18.
SEPTEMBER 15, 1901.