The Debt of Honor

Michael Beck

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We are called to give honor to whom honor is due. We are to honor others in the area where they are worthy of honor.

Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. (Romans 13:7)

We are to honor all men (1 Pet. 2:17;) but there is a special and specific honor that children owe to their parents; parents owe to their children; spouses owe to each other; the creation owes to its Creator; and a people owe to their God.

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. (Exodus 20:12)

… For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. (2 Corinthians 12:14)

Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. (1 Corinthians 7:3)

due > Gr. verb > opheiloought 15, owe 7, be bound 2, be (one’s) duty 2, be a debtor 1, be guilty 1, be indebted 1

benevolence > Gr. noun > eunoia – KJV – benevolence 1, good will 1 > kindness, well-disposed, agreeable, friendly

Israel owed God a special honor, not only because of what He had done for them, but because of who He was to them.

Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments:
And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. (Exodus 6:6,7)

The Lord expected Israel to know how blessed they were to be His people.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. (Psalm 33:12)

God reminded the people that He was a holy God, unlike any of the so-called gods of the nations. They were also to know that they were a holy people, who were special and different from any other people.

For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. (Deuteronomy 7:6)

For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth. (Deuteronomy 14:2)

God separated His people from all the nations, and brought them into the covenant bond, where He would be their Mighty God (El) and they would be His obedient people.

And the LORD hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments; And to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honour; and that thou mayest be an holy people unto the LORD thy God, as he hath spoken. (Deuteronomy 26:18,19)

And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine. (Leviticus 20:26)

God treated Israel differently than He treated any other nation. They had a special and exclusive intimacy with Him. They were given access to Him which no other people had; He communicated with them as He did with no other nation.

For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? (Deuteronomy 4:7,8)

He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel.
He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD. (Psalm 147:19,20)

With greater privilege comes greater responsibility.

What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. (Romans 3:1,2)

advantage > Gr. adjective – perissos > more, something further, surpassing, above and beyond, unusual, extraordinary

… For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:48)

God marveled at the lack of honor He was shown by His own people.

A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? (Malachi 1:6)

O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away. (Hosea 6:4)

goodness > Heb. noun – checed > KJV – mercy 149, kindness 40, lovingkindness 30, goodness 12, kindly 5, merciful 4, favour 3

Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee? (Deuteronomy 32:6)

God not only called Himself their Father, but their Husband.

For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. (Isaiah 54:5)

God wanted His people to honor Him, not only through their obedience to His commands, but through their turning to Him in trouble. He wanted them to call on Him, (and none other,) so that they would glorify Him as their Rescuer.

Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God … Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:
And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. (Psalm 50:7,14,15)

In His love toward them, God wanted to be His people’s Provider and Protector. He wanted to be to them what no other was. But instead of looking to Him, with an adulterous heart, they looked to other nations and their gods.

Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine.
So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley:
And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee. (Hosea 3:1-3)

Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:
That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! (Isaiah 30:1,2)

God waited for His people to call upon Him, so He could be gracious to Him and they could recognize Him for who He was.

And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.
For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee. (Isaiah 30:18,19)

God wants us to glory in Him.
We do so when we let Him be our everyday source of strength (i.e., our “arm every morning”); and our rescuer in the worst of days.

O LORD, be gracious unto us; we have waited for thee: be thou their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble. (Isa 33:2)

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.