Witnesses for God Converted in Youth (Synopsis of Come Ye’ Children – Chapter 17)

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Although this chapter touches on those who come to faith early in life, Spurgeon’s principle point in this chapter is that God is forever sovereign and always has a plan.  This chapter is based on the story of Elijah and Obadiah recorded in the book of 1 Kings and lays the foundation for the following chapter’s discussion of Obadiah’s early piety.

In 1 Kings 18, we read the story of Elijah and Obadiah.  Obadiah was in charge of the household of Ahab, the King of Israel.  When Ahab’s wife Jezebel ordered that all the prophets of the Lord be killed in order to expedite that worship of Baal, Obadiah hid a hundred of the prophets of the Lord in caves around the country  He watched over them and sustained them with bread and water.  As Obadiah was walking through the land, he came across the great prophet Elijah who summoned him to go tell King Ahab the Elijah was there to meet him.  Obadiah was understandably nervous about this request of Elijah was an enemy of the King.

Spurgeon notes that Obadiah was a quiet man of God who feared the Lord and still worked in the court of the King which was hostile to the God of Israel.  On the other hand, Elijah was a very outspoken and public prophet of the Lord.  In Spurgeon’s opinion, Elijah did not think very highly of Obadiah.  Spurgeon postulates:

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Childhood and the Holy Scriptures (Synopsis of Come Ye’ Children – Chapter 16)

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In this chapter, Spurgeon employs the example of Paul and Timothy to draw some conclusions about children and the Bible.  He begins by recounting the method how Paul taught Timothy the gospel.  He taught him the lessons of the Bible verbally by teaching him sound doctrine.  As importantly, he taught him experientially by allowing Timothy to see Paul live out his Christian faith in everyday life.  As Spurgeon explains,

“We cannot force truth upon men, but we can make our own teaching clear and decided, and make our lives consistent therewith. Truth and holiness are the surest antidotes to error and unrighteousness.”

As teachers of children, it is of the utmost importance that we lead lives consistent with what we teach.  If our kids see us outside of the classroom setting violating the very standards that we teach them on Sunday morning, they will never follow those standards again.  We are supposed to shine the light of Jesus on them by imitating hm.  Teaching the Word of God is as much about living it as it is about speaking it.

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King David’s Two Encouragements to Parents and Teachers (Synopsis of Come Ye’ Children – Chapter 15)

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Lest we should ever start to feel like our work with kids is pointless, in this short chapter, Spurgeon offers two words of encouragement to both parents and teachers for dealing with kids.  The two examples are found in the lives of David and Jesus.

Encouragement #1 – Working with Children is a Noble Endeavor

David was renowned King of Israel and author of numerous psalms.  Appointed by God in his early years, David replaced Saul and led the nation of Israel for 40 years.  Jesus was, and is, the Son of God who came to earth in human form to die on the cross to pay the price for our sins so that we could be reconcile to God forever.  One thing they shared in common was a desire to teach children.

David said:

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“Come, Ye Children” – The Psalmist’s Invitation (Synopsis of Come Ye’ Children – Chapter 14)

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David and the Children

In Chapter 14, Spurgeon exegetes the verse in Psalm 34 that serves as the title for this book:

“Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.” [Psalms 34:11 ESV]

NOTE: Spurgeon’s book was, of course, based on the wording of the King James Version of the Bible which is slightly different than the ESV Version.]

Spurgeon notes that this Psalm was written by David following the change in his behavior in front of Abimelech.  In those events, which are related in 1 Samuel 21:10-15, David pretended to be insane before the King of Gath in order to escape from him.  Spurgeon points out that, only after David had lowered himself to pretending to be a drooling madman subjected to the scorn of children did he finally discover his duty. Spurgeon explains:

“In after days, when David sang songs of praise to Jehovah, recollecting how he had become the laughing-stock of little children, he seemed to say, “Ah! by my folly before the children in the streets, I have lowered myself in the estimation of generations that shall live after me; now I will endeavour to undo the mischief,—”Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord.'”

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“Come, Ye Children” – Three Admonitions (Synopsis of Come Ye’ Children – Chapter 13)

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In this chapter, Spurgeon offers three admonitions of particular importance to those who work with kids.  These admonitions are based on the following verse which provides the title of the book:

“Come, Ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD. [Psalms 34:11 KJV]”

Admonition #1 – Recollect Whom You Are Teaching

Even when working with kids, perhaps especially when we are working with kids, we need to remember to respect our audience.  By respect, Spurgeon does not mean that you give people special treatment because of their status or position.  Instead, he means that we must remember that we are working with people who have souls, and we should not waste their time filling their heads with things that are not worth hearing.

Spurgeon argues that those who teach kids are in a position of greater responsibility than even those who would teach adults.  Those who minister to adults minister to people who are, at least theoretically, capable of making their own judgments and their own decisions about what they are and are not going to do.  When you teach children, they have no other option. They cannot choose, on their own, to go find a different teacher or a different church.  Accordingly, we must be all the more careful about what we teach them.  As Spurgeon explains,

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Model Lesson for Teachers (Synopsis of Come Ye’ Children – Chapter 12)

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In this chapter, Spurgeons offers 5 lessons for Children’s Ministry teachers on teaching kids about morality.  Spurgeon utilizes Psalm 34 as the basis for these lessons and begins the chapter with the following verse:

Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. [Psalms 34:13-14 ESV]

In order for kids to understand the holiness of God, we must teach them about morality.  However, we must be clear in our teaching that leading a moral life is not the way to salvation.  Instead, Children must be made to understand that Christ and Christ alone is the means unto our salvation.  Once salvation through the blood of Christ is obtained, only then does God gives us a thirst for moral living.  In Spurgeon’s words:

“I have always found that the gospel produces the best morality in all the world.”

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