Jeremiah Chapter Thirty-eight
Jeremiah is cast into a dungeon, from whence he is delivered by an Ethiopian. (1-13) He advises the king to surrender to the Chaldeans. (14-28)
Commentary on Jeremiah 38:1-13
(Read Jeremiah 38:1-13)
Jeremiah went on in his plain preaching. The princes went on in their malice. It is common for wicked people to look upon God's faithful ministers as enemies, because they show what enemies the wicked are to themselves while impenitent. Jeremiah was put into a dungeon. Many of God's faithful witnesses have been privately made away in prisons. Ebed-melech was an Ethiopian; yet he spoke to the king faithfully, These men have done ill in all they have done to Jeremiah. See how God can raise up friends for his people in distress. Orders were given for the prophet's release, and Ebed-melech saw him drawn up. Let this encourage us to appear boldly for God. Special notice is taken of his tenderness for Jeremiah. What do we behold in the different characters then, but the same we behold in the different characters now, that the Lord's children are conformed to his example, and the children of Satan to their master?
Commentary on Jeremiah 38:14-28
(Read Jeremiah 38:14-28)
Jeremiah was not forward to repeat the warnings, which seemed only to endanger his own life, and to add to the king's guilt, but asked whether he feared to do the will of God. The less men fear God, the more they fear men; often they dare not act according to their own judgments and consciences.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Jeremiah》
 Then Zedekiah the king said, Behold, he is in your hand: for the king is not he that can do any thing against you.
For the king — I see I am as it were no king. I can do nothing against you, you will do what you please.
 Then the king commanded Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, saying, Take from hence thirty men with thee, and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he die.
Thirty men — Probably the king commanded Ebed-melech to take thirty men to guard him against any opposition.
 And Zedekiah the king said unto Jeremiah, I am afraid of the Jews that are fallen to the Chaldeans, lest they deliver me into their hand, and they mock me.
Lest they — Lest the Chaldeans should deliver me into the hands of those Jews which have fallen to them.
 And, behold, all the women that are left in the king of Judah's house shall be brought forth to the king of Babylon's princes, and those women shall say, Thy friends have set thee on, and have prevailed against thee: thy feet are sunk in the mire, and they are turned away back.
The women — Thou that art afraid of the insultings of men, shalt fall under the insultings of the women.
Thy friends — For this thou mayest thank thy priests, and false prophets.
And they — Have forsaken thee, every one shifting for himself.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Jeremiah》
38 Chapter 38
The words that Jeremiah had spoken unto all the people.
Unpatriotic in appearance
Rays of hope had arisen in the clouded sky of the, nation. An Egyptian army was on its way to the city. Thus, it was believed, the Chaldeans would be compelled to raise the siege, which had been growing ever closer, so that first hunger and then starvation stared its inhabitants in the face. An escape from their horrible position seemed possible through an alliance with the Egyptian king. These hopes were dashed to the ground by the emphatic word of the prophet: This city shall assuredly be given into the hand of the army of the King of Babylon.” He even went beyond this, and urged desertion to the enemy: “He that abideth in the city shall die by the sword, the famine, and the pestilence; but he that goeth forth to the Chaldeans shall live.” All this seemed, not only unpatriotic, but treasonable. It has been well said, “No government conducting the defence of a besieged fortress could have tolerated Jeremiah for a moment. What would have been the fate of the French politician who should have urged the Parisians to desert to the Germans during the siege of 1870?” Jeremiah seemed a veritable Cassandra, and Cassandras, even if, as in this case, their warnings are but utterances of the inevitable, can only expect to be met with resentment and persecution. (W. Garret Horder.)
True patriotism is love of one’s native land. A good deal of modern “patriotism” is love of some one else’s land, coupled with an unchristian hatred of other countries. Sometimes people ask whether Christianity and genuine patriotism can go together. For a sincere Christian will love all mankind. Racial hatred is a crime in the eyes of Christ, who teaches us that “One is our master, and all of us are brethren,” and that we are to love our neighbour as ourself. A Christian can be a most sincere patriot, indeed the only true patriot. Christians are to love the whole world, as Jesus did. Yet, by natural association the soil of our fatherland is endeared to us by a thousand hallowed memories, which the soil of another land cannot recall. I think the limestone hills of Galilee, and the lap of the waters on the shores of Gennesaret were dearer to Christ than the seven hills of Rome, or the flow of the golden Tiber. Our Lord broke His heart over Jerusalem, the city of His love, as He saw “the doom from its worn sandals shake the dust against that land.” Christ was a patriot, and the thing that cut His heart most painfully was not so much the coming destruction of Jerusalem, as the national sin which caused that national ruin. So, too, a Christian patriot will love his country’s honour even more than its wealth and material greatness. He will value the good name of his fatherland, and the moral and intellectual elevation of his countrymen, far more than mere additions to its territory or additions to its wealth. And a true patriot will love his own land without hating other countries. The Christian must love other lands too, and seek their highest welfare. Charity begins at home: but it is a poor charity that ends at home. Love for other lands prompted the founders of missionary societies, which have been of such incalculable blessing to the civilisation of mankind. A true patriot will stand up for his fatherland; if others seek to enslave it he will make sacrifices for the home of his birth, as England did when the Spanish Armada threatened our liberty and our religion. But a Christian patriot will not do anything to cause hatred of another country. He will aim at making all the nations love one another. If he finds others trying to sow the seed of wicked hate, or if he sees his own land doing wrong, the Christian patriot will dare to speak the truth. When Lord Chatham urged England not to make war on the United States he was howled down by the bastard patriots of the day. But history stamps him as the true patriot, his opponents as the false ones. When John Bright spoke against the folly of the Crimean War he was made the butt of newspaper gibes, and nine-tenths of his countrymen laughed at him or sneered at him. But history shows that John Bright was right. He was the true patriot. The false patriot holds that you must never criticise your country’s dealings with other lands. Perhaps the hardest duty that ever falls on a man who loves his fatherland is to point out that his country is doing wrong. That heavy duty fell often to the lot of Jeremiah. The Jews had so long persisted in idolatry that God’s marvellous patience could bear with them no longer. After repeated warnings, all in vain, God told the people, by His prophet, that they would go into the land of bondage as a punishment for their sin. God also told Jeremiah to inform his fellow-countrymen that it was useless to struggle against the troops of Nebuchadnezzar. God had sent that monarch to chastise the rebellious Jews, to take them into captivity, and to bring ruin to the nation, because of its sin. This painful duty of urging the Jews not to resist, not to persist in a hopeless struggle, was heartbreaking to a true patriot like Jeremiah. The princes, who had no real faith in God, naturally thought Jeremiah’s action most unpatriotic. Disbelieving in God, disbelieving in religion, disbelieving in Jeremiah’s prophecies, no wonder they said, “This man seeketh not the welfare of the people, but their hurt,” Poor Jeremiah! The bastard patriots of Jerusalem sneered at him, called him a Little Palestiner, said he was in the pay of the Chaldeans. Poor Jeremiah! He had no love for the Chaldeans in preference to his own nation. Nay, he loved the Jews with all their sins more than the heathen Chaldeans, who were only instruments in God’s hands for punishing the guilty Jews. But he knew it was no use to resist. He knew that he had received a message from God. He knew he must deliver that message, though at the risk of his life. Like a brave hero and a true patriot he told his people of their folly, of their sins, and of their approaching doom. He met with the usual brickbat argument, brute force; he was put into a well, put into captivity, and ill-treated in various ways. But every word he spoke came true. And when the Chaldeans had utterly destroyed the city and crushed its inhabitants, the captain of the guard set Jeremiah free and said, “Will you return with me and find a comfortable home in Babylon?” Jeremiah was a true patriot, therefore he chose to share the sufferings of his people, though they had so grievously wronged him. The comfort and luxury of Babylon were rejected by the simple, honest patriot, who preferred to dwell in poverty among the people of the land. If those false patriots, who cried him down, had had a chance of the ease and comfort offered to Jeremiah, how they would have jumped at it! They would have preferred Babylon’s fleshpots to Palestine’s poverty and want. But Jeremiah chose to share his people’s abject poverty and utter wretchedness. The intense, broken-hearted patriotism of Jeremiah stands out for all time in the magnificent Lamentations that he wrote, with his pen dipped into his heart’s own blood. They are the saddest writings in the world. And what made the Jews’ ruin so intensely sorrowful to Jeremiah was the fact that it was so richly deserved. Therein was the sting. And he knew that there could be no improvement in their lot till their lives became better. He is the ideal of a patriot. Some false teachers have been and are trying to breathe into England a spirit of defiance to other lands, and an unbounded lust for territorial extension of our Empire. These teachers are attempting to stir up racial hatred. A very recent author declares that Germany must be blotted out by England, because she is our great rival in trade. As readers of history we know the curse of the racial hatred that existed between England and France in the time of the first Napoleon. And as Christians we know how fiendish is the advice to cut the throat of a neighbouring nation because she is a commercial rival. Christians do not advocate doing away at once with all soldiers and sailors. Like policemen, they are necessary at present. And we know that our sailors and soldiers will always do their duty bravely. The Christian Church protests against this modern bastard patriotism, which is much the same as piracy, against this glorification of brute force, against this reversion to savageism, against this contempt for all that is gentle, spiritual, Christ-like. Such principles work--
1. Mischief in the social and political world;
2. Mischief in the realm of literature, and all that leads to the higher development of man;
3. Mischief to religion.
These principles work mischief in the social and political world. At the end of last century and the beginning of this, how deplorable was the condition of the workers of this land. Why? Because of our incessant and unnecessary wars with France. These principles of false patriotism work much evil in the realm of literature, and all that leads to the higher development of man. The “patriotism” which means lust for other people’s land, and hatred of other nations, may produce a “Soldiers’ Chorus,” but it will produce no Tennyson, no Shakespeare. Since the German Empire became cursed with militarism it has produced no great writers. The essence of the highest literature is to be cosmopolitan for all the world. The Republic of Athens was a commercial, a scientific, an artistic city. The kingdom of Sparta was military to the highest degree. Military Sparta has left us no literature. Civic Athens has left us a literature which even to-day is a wonder of the world. That is natural. The habitual practice of blind obedience, necessary for the soldier, is the greatest foe to thought, and prevents men from learning how to form judgments and pass opinions. Militarism must be for the masses of the soldiery unintellectual. Our literature during the last few years has in some respects deteriorated sadly. One of the aspects of its decadence is its excessive glorifying of the military spirit. Swarms of books for boys have been published the last twenty years, and they are very largely glorifications of physical force. That is a reversion to the savage. The principles of this false patriotism work deadly mischief to religion. This spurious patriotism is not love of one’s country so much as love of more country. It is hatred of other men’s patriotism. It cannot understand that foreigners may and ought to love their fatherland even as we do ours. Such teachings lead to bitter hatred instead of love. Racial hatred is as ungodly as it is idiotic. Nelson used to say to his sailors, “Fear God, honour the king, and hate a Frenchman as you hate the devil.” How could they fear God if they hated God’s children? Every Frenchman was as much loved by God as every Englishman was loved. The business of the Christian Church is to spread love and not hate, to tone down animosities, not to stimulate them. Though the student of history sees how insane and utterly unnecessary most wars have been, war may sometimes be a stern necessity. But the glorification of war is earthly and unchristian. The only argument for militarism worth anything is that it develops pluck. Well, so did gladiator fights. Shall we reintroduce them? Pluck may be learned on the football-field as well as on the field of slaughter, where the animal passions of savageism are let loose. If we are Christians we will turn away from this bastard patriotism which ends in hate of other lands. We will love our country dearly. If occasion comes, we must make great sacrifices for her. But we will ever preach the gospel of love against the badspel of hate. We will preach the superiority of intellectual pursuits to the pursuit of war. We will preach the blessedness of elevating mankind to the spiritual rather than drag humanity down to the animal. (F. W. Aveling, M. A.)
For the king is not he that can do anything against you.
Zedekiah weakened and ruined through fear of man
Zedekiah was one of those unfortunate characters, frequent in history, like our own Charles I. and Louis XVI. of France, who find themselves at the head of affairs during a great crisis, without having the strength of character to enable them to do what they know to be right, and whose infirmity becomes moral guilt. The princes of his court had him completely under their influence (Jeremiah 38:5). “The king is not he that can do anything against you.” This view of his character is the key to Jeremiah 38:17. The king had some sympathy with the imprisoned prophet. He had also a desire to hear the Word of the Lord; but he was afraid of the princes. He did not dare openly to show his sympathy, openly to declare his reverence for the Divine message; so he had a secret interview with him. Jeremiah’s address to the king may be divided into three parts--
He declared that the King of Babylon should be victorious; he also declared his own innocence of any design against king or people, and compared his own conduct with that of the prophets who, to please the people, had spoken smooth things unto them; and he asked for some alleviation of his treatment.
Ebed-melech the Ethiopian.
Ebed-melech the Ethiopian
A slave from the Soudan, an eunuch in the household of Zedekiah, King of Judah, is by the side of the great Jeremiah, a humble servant yet an efficient protector. The slave and the prophet in our thought abide together.
I. the circumstances which brought the two together and caused the strange conjunction. The prophet is cast into a dungeon, deep and loathsome. Into the slime of its unfloored depths he sinks, and there he lies. Left to die and rot in the dungeon’s mud! No. One man’s voice is raised, one man’s hand works. But no son of Israel is he; only a slave of the royal household, a heathen from a far-off land, with a black skin but a pure heart.
II. The deliverer. What his own name was we know not, for among the royal servants he was known only as Ebed-melech, “the king’s slave.” Whether he was of the original Hamitic or of the invading Semitic stock we cannot conjecture, save that, from his position, there is an inherent probability that he was of the former. We are at liberty, then, to conceive of him as a black, though probably not a negro, torn from his home, either as a boy or youth, to meet the demands of the market at Meroe; and then, in the way of traffic, passed on through Egypt, till at last he passed into the palace of the King of Judah. We can next conceive of him, by the exercise of the qualities of intelligence, fidelity, and prudence, promoted to the important post of superintendent of the royal harem. He would thus come into contact with Jeremiah, who, as “the last of the prophet statesmen of Judah” (as he has been called), had for many years compelled for himself a place in the councils of the nation The simple nature of the Ethiopian, uncorrupted by the vices of palace life, would recognise the moral and spiritual elevation of the prophet, and would yield a homage and a love of which the heartless courtiers Who despised him were incapable. His position brought him into frequent intercourse with the king; perhaps gave him a free access to his presence. None could know better than he his weaknesses and his vices; hut he would also know, as most could not, that in his debased mind were certain possibilities of justice and generosity to which an appeal might be made. Hopeful or hopeless, the brave heathen resolves that appeal there shall he. And after a right honest and straightforward fashion he sets him to his task. Well done, slave! Bravely spoken, Soudanee! Was there another man in all Jerusalem man enough to have done thy work! I trow not. But it is an ill turn thou hast done for thyself! Where is thy prudence, man? Who is this Jeremiah for whom thou art pleading? The lost and almost the last advocate of a lost cause. Who are “these men whom thou art arraigning? The magnates of the realm, in whose hands the king is but a feeble, though it may be a well-meaning puppet. What supports canst thou expect to secure? None, unless it be the secret friendship of a few frightened men, whose favour is nought. What enemies canst thou not fail to make? The princes of Judah, whose frown may be death. But “fear not, thou king’s slave! Chariots and horsemen are upon the hills round about thee. There is an unseen Friend whose favour is life; and there is an immortal Church to call thee blessed.” The king’s better nature is roused by the appeal. Rising for the moment above the unkingly fear of his nobles, he exercises his royal prerogative, and commissions Ebed-melech, to take a sufficient force and release the prophet from the dungeon. Speedily, tenderly, and joyfully it is done. The forethought displayed, the various precautions to secure the exhausted victim from further danger or discomfort, are minutely and gratefully detailed.
III. Thoughts which such an incident arouses in the mind. It would be easy to descant upon the moral lessons which the incident teaches, to make Ebed-melech the peg on which to hang edifying reflections. He might easily be made into a lay figure to do duty for the showing off of such thoughts as these: that God uses instruments selected from among the lowly as well as the lofty; that the faithful discharge of the offices of commonest humanity is noted, approved of, and will finally be owned by the God of providence; that in most unlikely places, among most unlikely classes, God’s servants, His because servants of righteousness and humanity, are to be found; that He has His “hidden ones” where the eye of man suspects not; and that the faith that God desires to see in men is that trust in Him and that supreme homage to the claims of charity and truth which will cause them to do right, and leave the issues to work themselves out as they may in subjection to His will. But I do not desire the man to he lost in the meditations. I want us to see men under the influence of motives that may he ours, to enter into the human feeling, to sympathise with the human surrender, and to behold in these that which God loves to behold in His creature-children. Jehovah says, “Thy life shall be for a prey unto thee, because thou hast put thy trust in Me.” A thought of comfort, quickening, and strength is here suggested; those who do right, follow charity, work humanely--not because these things will pay, but because they are what they are, leaving consequences to come as come they may--these are trusting God, these are His worshippers, even though they have never learned His name. (G. M. Grant, B. D.)
Deliverance from an unwonted quarter
Strange, too, was the quarter from which deliverance came to the prophet. Not from the company of priests to which he belonged; not from that of the prophets of which he was the greatest member of that age; not even from his “brethren according to the flesh,” but from an alien to the commonwealth of Israel--an Ethiopian, a son of the despised Ham. It is very curious and beautiful to find these Scriptures--Jewish though they be--studded over with bright examples of goodness from the nations around. One of its noblest prophecies is from the mouth of Balaam the Midianite. Deliverance came to its greatest prophet (so far as action goes) from “Zarephath, which belongeth to Sidon,” from “a woman that was a widow.” What Thomas Carlyle called the grandest thing in all literature is from Job, who probably was not of the seed of Abraham. And when we come to the New Testament, in a Roman soldier Christ found faith nobler than that of any in Israel, and in a Samaritan woman He found His first missionary. The Jew might stand aloof in proud isolation, but the Book he reverenced called “nothing common or unclean.” (The Quiver.)
Ebed-melech, the model of kindness
I. It is easy to show kindness. Some things are very hard to do. We know for how many years the Government of England, of our own country, and of other nations, have been trying to find the way to the North Pole. How much money has been spent, and how many valuable lives have been test in these attempts! And vet they have never succeeded. Getting to the North Pole is a very hard thing to do. Some things can only be done by those who have plenty of money. But it is very different with the work of showing kindness. There is nothing hard about this. We do not need much money to do it. The poor can show kindness, as well as the rich. Ebed-melech was a poor coloured man--the slave of King Zedekiah; yet he managed to show real kindness to the prophet Jeremiah. He wag the means of saving his life.
II. Kindness is useful. Ebed-melech’s kindness was useful to Jeremiah, because it saved his life. He lived for years after this, and was the means of doing a great deal of good to the people of Israel who were living then. Jeremiah has been useful to the Church of God, ever since that day, by the prophecies which he wrote. And a large portion of those prophecies was written after the day in which Ebed-melech saved his life. And this shows us how great the usefulness was of Ebed-melech’s kindness. And in learning to show kindness to others, there is no telling how much good we may do.
III. Kindness is profitable. God sent word to Ebed-melech, by Jeremiah, that when Jerusalem should be taken by the Assyrians, He would put it into their hearts to show kindness to him by sparing his life. And so it came to pass. (R. Newton, D. D.)
Put now these old cast clouts and rotten rags under thine arm-holes under the cords.
Gentleness in doing good
I. The example of Ebed-melech should be followed by those who wish to show real kindness to the poor. When “poverty cometh as an armed man” (Proverbs 6:11), blighting hope, and bringing wretchedness in his train, a heart must be harder than stone, which is not moved with compassion. To show kindness to the needy, at the right time, and in the best way, should be the study of those who would be followers of Jesus. Experience has shown that it is generally far better to put people in the way of getting employment, than to make them feel their dependence by directly relieving their wants.
II. A lesson for those who are anxious to rescue perishing sinners from going down to the pit. Harsh words are quite out of place, even to the most depraved; and we can hardly claim to be disciples of Him who will not “break the bruised reed,” nor “quench the smoking flax” (Isaiah 42:3), if we venture to speak them. It is far better to lower the silken cords of Divine love, and the soft cushions of the promises, and to address words of encouragement to those who are groping in darkness. “He that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30). The word “winneth” is the important one. It suggests something besides labour and painstaking. Winning implies gentleness, and a sincere interest in the souls of others. No one will be made better by scolding, or sarcasm; but he who will imitate Ebed-melech, in his thoughtful tenderness, will be successful in his work.
III. The example of Ebed-melech deserves to be remembered by those who would bring others into the fold of Christ’s Church. Very little is ever accomplished for the Master by harsh and uncharitable controversy. (J. N. Norton, D. D.)
The captive rescued
Here we see tenderness and compassion. There is much in doing a kind action in a kind way. A charity may be so given as to wound the recipient; and a good deed, accompanied by kind words, is like a gem set in pure gold. Let us ever be careful that when we try to help others, we do our task with tenderness to the feelings and prejudices of those we would aid. But the events of old times were full of foreshadowings of the great central fact of the world’s redemption.
1. In Ebed-melech, therefore, we may behold a type of One who comes forth from the palace of the Great King to loose the captive’s chains. Our Saviour stoops down to help us. The cords of His love and compassion lift us up, and restore us to that “service which is perfect liberty.”
2. But again, in this narrative there is a very good illustration of the too often forgotten truth that in man’s redemption he has his own part to do. If it was Ebed-melech who let down the cords, yet Jeremiah had to fix them under his arms to such a position that he might safely be drawn up. “Work out your own salvation” is the plain direction of the apostle.
3. Again, there seems to be a lesson of instruction in this point--that the rags and castaway fragments of garments were made useful in the way of making easier the deliverance of Jeremiah, things which were worthless in themselves used for a good and excellent purpose. So many things, at which men scoff, saying, “How can they save souls?” are, by God’s blessing, made of use.
4. Lastly, let us take Ebed-melech for an example. Can we not strive to rescue some soul! Cannot we, like the thirty servants of the king, aid in letting down the cords, or protect those who are doing so? We may at least lower down the cords of prayer and entreaty. (W. Hardman, LL. D.)
Ropes and rags
The story is an illustration of the way God saves men. Jeremiah’s danger and deliverance were very real. In that dungeon he is, indeed, in “an horrible pit.” No hope of escape. No light, no firm standing, every prospect of death, and in no long time either. Would to God that we preachers could see the real danger to which sinners are exposed! Jeremiah was delivered, brought up out of the miry clay. But the prophet’s salvation was only a feeble picture of what God’s grace does for those who take hold on Jesus. He remained in the courts of the prison. “Whom the Son makes free are free indeed.” We who rest in Jesus may walk about the courts of the King’s palace.
I. Mark you, help always comes from above. Jeremiah found it so. It was useless to try to climb out of the dungeon, it was only to fall deeper into the mire. “Salvation is of the Lord.” You cannot save yourself. The effort will only exhaust you. Cry unto the Lord. Say, “O Lord, deliver my soul.” He is sure to hear your cry. Ebed-melech is only a very poor picture of Jesus. The Saviour does more than send down a rope. He comes Himself and lifts us up. Although Ebed-melech may be a very poor type of Jesus Christ, he is a very good picture of the style in which one man may help another.
II. He had sympathy. Now, sympathy is the mother of help.
III. Ebed-melech did not allow difficulty to deter him. Some men can work hard so long as there are no difficulties; opposition to them is like a hill on a jibbing horse; they must stop now: they “did not look for this sort of thing, you know.” Just so, the eunuch found it was not easy--it never is--to undo wrong. “A stout heart to a stiff brae,” is common sense as well as right. If you mean to help others, you will have to pull hard against the stream.
IV. Ebed-melech teaches us to spare the feelings of those we help. He lowered down the old rags and clouts he had gathered, and bade the prophet put them under his armpits, so as not to have them cut by the ropes. The rope of deliverance should not cut the flesh of those we save. This is not always thought of. We may wound men in helping them, and they may like the remedy less than the disease. We should think of the feelings, as well as the wants of those we help. Shall we not imitate Him of whom it is said, “He will not break the bruised reed”? When we take the rope, let us not forget the old rags as well.
V. Among the practical lessons of this story, there is the great truth that one man may set others going. Ebed-melech went to the king for help, and he gave him thirty helpers. In the thirteenth verse, we read, “So they drew up Jeremiah.” How many times this happen! Robert Raikes had no idea how many wheels his would set in motion. Muller of Bristol has many imitators, and thousands of orphans are fed and clothed that he will never know of. If you will only begin, others will follow you. Do not wait for others to start with you; be content to go alone. It was David Livingstone that set Stanley and Cameron to work, and the end of that lonely traveller’s work will be seen when “a highway shall be there, and the ransomed of the Lord shall return with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads, and sorrow and sighing shall nee away”; but if Livingstone had waited for others, he would have died, in comfort, it may be, but could not have had a grave in Westminster Abbey, nor have set in motion the plans which are sure to issue in Africa’s deliverance.
VI. Let, us learn the value of despised and cast-off things. The prudent chamberlain had seen “under the treasury the old cast clouts, and old rotten rags.” No one else saw any value in them, but he put them to a good use. What a number of things are cast aside, like these old rags! Do you see yonder woman in such dismay? She has been upstairs looking at some old dresses, and finds that the moth has been there before her, and they are useless. Would it not have been better to have given them to her poor relations, or to that widow who has such difficulty to find clothes for her little ones? Have you not old magazines that would gladden the heart of some of those intelligent paupers who never get any lively reading, or save from ennui some convalescent in the hospital? Look and see what you have “under the treasury.” (T. Champness.)
The tenderness of Ebed-melech
Negro though he was, Ebed-melech was a gentleman. He is not so bent on delivering the prophet that he cares not how it is done. He will not bruise the prophet’s skin in saving the prophet’s life. These old cast clouts and rotten rags do not present a very savoury picture; but the feeling that prompted their use is both pleasant and thoughtful. Many a good deed is spoilt by the manner of its doing. Some people pride themselves upon their roughness; they think it a sign of manliness. Their idea of manliness wants revision. Do such ever think of the meaning of the very name they claim--gentleman? Do such realise that it is not only manlike, but Godlike, to be gentle! Did not one of the psalmists exclaim, “Thy gentleness hath made me great”? Ebed-melech’s deliverance of the prophet from the mire was a great deed, but the tenderness with which it was done makes it many times greater. (The Quiver.)
I am afraid of the Jews.
I remember very well, when I first went out to Australia, that one fine evening a little bird was seen to be following the ship, evidently a land-bird driven out to sea. When the little thing got tired it tried to alight on some portion of the rigging, though it seemed afraid to do so. On one occasion the captain stretched forth his hand and tried to take hold of the little bird, but it eluded his grasp and went back far away into the darkness of the night, falling upon the waves without the hope of rescue. (T. Spurgeon.)
Obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the Lord.
I remember, years ago, entering the bed-chamber of an eminent saint, one autumn morning, whose diminishing candles told how long he had been feeding on the Word of God. I asked him what had been the subject of his study. He said he had been engaged since four o’clock in discovering all the Lord’s positive commandments, that he might be sure that he was not wittingly neglecting any one of them. It is very sad to find how many in the present day are neglecting to observe to do the Lord’s precepts--concerning His ordinances, concerning the laying-up of money, the evangelisation of the world, and the manifestation of perfect love. They know the Lord’s will, and do it not. They appear to think that they are absolved from that “observing to do,” which was so characteristic of Deuteronomy. As though love were not more inexorable than law! (F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
──《The Biblical Illustrator》