Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 24, 1962


Harold F. Savely

"For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up." — Psa. 69:9 Zeal is a characteristic quality which manifests itself by ardor in the pursuit of a thing; active interest, enthusiasm, and fervor. The word originally applied to uncompromising partisans. Extreme right-wing reactionary members of the Pharisee religion were called "Zealots." They were bitterly antagonistic to the Romans and extremely enthusiastic for the Jews' religion.

The apostle Simon once belonged to this sect. (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13) Paul referred to himself as having in time past been zealous of the traditions of the fathers in the Jews' religion, and had been known as a bitter persecutor of the church which he thought at the time to have been imposturous. (Gal. 1:14; Phil 3:6)

Israel's sweet singer, perplexed, pursued and persecuted, broke into melodic psalm, "The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up." His faith and interest in the Lord's cause was great and deep. God's "house," not limited to the material temple, represented the whole of God's government. His zeal for that house, said he, "hath eaten me up." A true and godly spirit had devoured his heart, as it were, and had assimilated the same into the very substance which had eaten it. Great had been his sorrow upon seeing the house of God made spoil of, and God's Holy Name dishonored. In his grief, he penitently bemoaned the mischief being done to the house, only in return to receive from his enemies other things to suffer for his righteousness. Being a sympathetic part of the Lord's great house, his fiery zeal fusioned his heart into the cause which he supported. Jesus later entered and cleansed the Jewish temple which barterers had profaned. In righteous indignation he left no quarters for material merchandisers, but leveled them beneath the earth's crust on par with thieving varmints in their den. His righteous actions also recalled to his disciples' memories, "The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up." (John 2:7)

As Christians, we too are to emulate that earnest desire and burning zeal for the cause of which we are a part. The prime purpose for which we were begotten to become the sons of God was in order that we be zealous of good works. (Titus 2:14) Know, however, that works can be described only as good "which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Eph. 2:8-10) It is not enough merely to do. We must do good. There is but one criterion under heaven sufficient to judge between what is good or evil, and that is the word of God.

The modern craze and cry is, "Let's do! without forethought as to what good may really be. The zeal of the house should eat each of us up, manifesting itself in a twofold way: (1) We should earnestly desire a temple cleansing. (2) After the cleansing, unless seven other spirits return to make it a worse place, we should fill it with good works according to God's ordination. Negative preaching, however needful, is not sufficient. Positive preaching is also greatly needed along with positive doing. A lack of the latter may well become our greatest danger in the future.

Others zealously affected the Galatian Christians, but not well. Paul admonished toward a correct state of positive affectation. He specified that they be zealously affected in any good thing (Gal. 4:17, 18) Any church not engaged in positive good will soon become a promoter for that described as "not well." Paul made boast of the Corinthians' having allowed their zeal to provoke very many. (2 Cor. 9:2) Great good which the Colossians did also provoked a great zeal toward themselves from Epaphras. (Col. 4: 12, 13)

May we allow our zeal, our burning desire, to lead us to be, and do, more good. Let our ardor in sacrifice and service provoke our fellows toward a greater eternal harvest. Forbid that our attitude toward "the issues" in a negative fashion become the last voice as to our soundness, but let the word positively sound out from us in both defense of the gospel in older established places, and in the establishing of countless new congregations.

— Dimmitt, Texas