Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Book of Ruth - Chapter 2:12-13
Geneva Bible Translation Ed. 1599

12 The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust. 13 Then she said, Let me find favor in thy sight, my lord: for thou hast comforted me, and spoken comfortably unto thy maid, though I be not like to one of thy maids.

It has been fully shown me all that thou hast done unto thy mother-in-law. Note, Those that do well ought to have the praise of it. But that which especially he commended her for was that she had left her own country, and had become a proselyte to the Jewish religion; for so the Chaldee expounds it: "Thou hast come to be proselyted, and to dwell among a people whom thou knowest not.’’ Those that leave all, to embrace the true religion, are worthy of double honour.  He prayed for her (verse 12): The Lord recompense thy work. Her strong affection to the commonwealth of Israel, to which she was by birth an alien, was such a work of the divine grace in her as would certainly be crowned with a full reward by him under whose wings she had come to trust. Note, Those that by faith come under the wings of the divine grace, and have a full complacency and confidence in that grace, may be sure of a full recompence of reward for their so doing. From this expression, the Jews describe a proselyte to be one that is gathered under the wings of the divine majesty. Ruth received his favours with a great deal of humility and gratitude, and conducted herself with as much propriety in her place as he did himself in his. She paid all possible respect to him, and gave him honour, according to the usage of the country (verse 10): She fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground. Note, Good breeding is a great ornament to religion; and we must render honour to whom honour is due. She humbly owned herself unworthy of his favours: "I am a stranger (verse 10) and not like one of thy handmaids (verse 13), not so well dressed nor so well taught, not so neat nor so handy.’’ Note, It well becomes us all to think meanly of ourselves, and to take notice of that in ourselves which is diminishing, esteeming others better than ourselves. She gratefully acknowledged his kindness to her; though it was no great expense to him, nor much more than what he was obliged to by the divine law, yet she magnifies and admires it: Why have I found grace in thy eyes? verse 10. She begs the continuance of his good-will: Let me find favour in they sight (verse 13), and owns that what he had said had been a cordial to her: Thou hast comforted me, for that thou hast spoken friendly to me. Those that are great, and in high places, know not how much good they may do to their inferiors with a kind look or by speaking friendly to them. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Afternoon/Evening Reflection  

Meekness makes us fit for a day of persecution. If tribulation and affliction arise because of the word —which is no foreign supposition—the meek and quiet spirit is armed for it, so as to preserve its peace and purity at such a time, which are our two great concerns, that we may neither torment ourselves with a base fear, nor pollute ourselves with a base compliance. We are accustomed to say, we "will give any thing for a quiet life;" I say, any thing for a quiet conscience, which will be best secured under the shield of a meek and quiet spirit, which doth not "render railing for railing," nor aggravate the threatened trouble, nor represent it to itself in its most formidable colors, but has learned to put a but upon the power of the most enraged enemies; they can but kill the body; and to witness the most righteous testimony with meekness and fear, like our Master, who, "when he suffered, threatened not, but committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously." Suffering saints—as the suffering Jesus—are compared to sheep dumb before the shearer, nay, dumb before the butcher. The meek and quiet Christian, if duly called to it, can tamely part, not only with the wool, but with the blood; not only with the estate, but with the life, and even then rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Angry, froward people, in a day of rebuke, are apt to pull crosses upon themselves by needless provocations; or to murmur and complain, and fly in the face of instruments, and give unbecoming language, contrary to the laws of our holy religion and the example of our Master, and so get more hurt than good by their suffering  Whenever we have the honor to be persecuted for righteousness' sake, our great care must be to glorify God and to adorn our profession, which is done most effectually by meekness and mildness, under the hardest censures and the most cruel usage; so manifesting that we are indeed under the power and influence of that holy religion for which we think it worth our while to suffer.

The Book of Ruth - Chapter 1
Geneva Bible Translation Ed. 1599

This is a very long read, take your time, and read it carefully. There is much to learn as it speaks to us in many ways. 

1 In the time that the Judges ruled, there was a dearth in the land, and a man of Bethlehem Judah went for to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. 2 And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife, Naomi, and the names of his two sons, Mahlon, and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem Judah: and when they came into the land of Moab, they continued there. 3 Then Elimelech the husband of Naomi died, and she remained with her two sons, 4 Which took them wives of the Moabites: the one’s name was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years. 5 And Mahlon and Chilion dieth also both twain: so the woman was left, destitute of her two sons, and of her husband. 6  Then she arose with her daughters-in-law, and returned from the country of Moab: for she had heard say in the country of Moab, that the Lord had visited his people, and given them bread. 7 Wherefore she departed out of the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her, and they went on their way to return unto the land of Judah. 8 Then Naomi said unto her two daughters-in-law, Go, return each of you unto her own mother’s house: the Lord show favor unto you, as ye have done with the dead, and with me. 9 The Lord grant you, that you may find rest, either of you in the house of her husband. And when she kissed them, they lift up their voice and wept. 10 And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people. 11 But Naomi said, Turn again my daughters: for what cause will ye go with me? are there any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? 12 Turn again my daughters: go your way: for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, and if I had an husband this night: yea, and if I had borne sons, 13 Would ye tarry for them, till they were of age? would ye be deferred for them from taking of husbands? nay my daughters: for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me. 14 Then they lift up their voice and wept again, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth abode still with her. 15 And Naomi said, Behold, thy sister-in-law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister-in-law. 16 And Ruth answered, Entreat me not to leave thee, nor to depart from thee: for whither thou goest, I will go: and where thou dwellest, I will dwell: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. 17  Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me and more also, if ought but death depart thee and me. 18  When she saw that she was steadfastly minded to go with her, she left speaking unto her. 19 So they went both until they came to Bethlehem: and when they were come to Bethlehem, it was noised of them through all the city, and they said, Is not this Naomi? 20 And she answered them, Call me not Naomi, but call me Mara: for the Almighty hath given me much bitterness. 21 I went out full, and the Lord hath caused me to return empty: why call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath humbled me, and the Almighty hath brought me unto adversity? 22 So Naomi returned and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her, when she came out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.

Study notes

The good affection Naomi bore to the land of Israel, verse 6. Though she could not stay in it while the famine lasted, she would not stay out of it when the famine ceased. Though the country of Moab had afforded her shelter and supply in a time of need, yet she did not intend it should be her rest for ever; no land should be that but the holy land, in which the sanctuary of God was, of which he had said, This is my rest for ever. God, at last, returned in mercy to his people; for, though he contend long, he will not contend always. As the judgment of oppression, under which they often groaned in the time of the judges, still came to an end, after a while, when God had raised them up a deliverer, so here the judgment of famine: At length God graciously visited his people in giving them bread. Plenty is God’s gift, and it is his visitation which by bread, the staff of life, holds our souls in life. Though this mercy be the more striking when it comes after famine, yet if we have constantly enjoyed it, and never knew what famine meant, we are not to think it the less valuable. Naomi then returned, in duty to her people. She had often enquired of their state, what harvests they had and how the markets went, and still the tidings were discouraging; but like the prophet’s servant, who, having looked seven times and seen no sign of rain, at length discerned a cloud no bigger than a man’s hand, which soon overspread the heavens, so Naomi at last has good news brought her of plenty in Bethlehem, and then she can think of no other than returning thither again. Hew new alliances in the country of Moab could not make her forget her relation to the land of Israel. Note, Though there be a reason for our being in bad places, yet, when the reason ceases, we must by no means continue in them. Forced absence from God’s ordinances, and forced presence with wicked people, are great afflictions; but when the force ceases, and such a situation is continued of choice, then it becomes a great sin. It should seem she began to think of returning immediately upon the death of her two sons. Because she looked upon that affliction to be a judgment upon her family for lingering in the country of Moab; and hearing this to be the voice of the rod, and of him that appointed it, she obeys and returns. Had she returned upon the death of her husband, perhaps she might have saved the life of her sons; but, when God judgeth he will overcome, and, if one affliction prevail not to awaken us to a sight and sense of sin and duty, another shall. When death comes into a family it ought to be improved for the reforming of what is amiss in the family: when relations are taken away from us we are put upon enquiry whether, in some instance or other, we are not out of the way of our duty, that we may return to it. God calls our sins to remembrance, when he slays a son, 1 Kings 17:18 . And, if he thus hedge up our way with thorns, it is that he may oblige us to say, We will go and return to our first husband, as Naomi here to her country, Hosea 2:7. Because the land of Moab had now become a melancholy place to her. It is with little pleasure that she can breathe in that air in which her husband and sons had expired, or go on that ground in which they lay buried out of her sight, but not out of her thoughts; now she will go to Canaan again. Thus God takes away from us the comforts we stay ourselves too much upon and solace ourselves too much in, here in the land of our sojourning, that we may think more of our home in the other world, and by faith and hope may hasten towards it. Earth is embittered to us, that heaven may be endeared. The good affection which her daughters-in-law, and one of them especially, bore to her, and her generous return of their good affection. They were both so kind as to accompany her, some part of the way at least, when she returned towards the land of Judah. Her two daughters-in-law did not go about to persuade her to continue in the land of Moab, but, if she was resolved to go home, would pay her all possible civility and respect at parting; and this was one instance of it: they would bring her on her way, at least to the utmost limits of their country, and help her to carry her luggage as far as they went, for it does not appear that she had any servant to attend her, verse 7. By this we see both that Naomi, as became an Israelite, had been very kind and obliging to them and had won their love, in which she is an example to all mothers-in-law, and that Orpah and Ruth had a just sense of her kindness, for they were willing to return it thus far. It was a sign they had dwelt together in unity, though those were dead by whom the relation between them came. Though they retained an affection for the gods of Moab (verse 15), and Naomi was still faithful to the God of Israel, yet that was no hindrance to either side from love and kindness, and all the good offices that the relation required. Mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law are too often at variance (Matthew 10:35 ), and therefore it is the more commendable if they live in love; let all who sustain this relation aim at the praise of doing so. When they had gone a little way with her Naomi, with a great deal of affection, urged them to go back (verses 8-9): Return each to her mother’s house. When they were dislodged by a sad providence from the house of their husbands it was a mercy to them that they had their parents yet living, that they had their houses to go to, where they might be welcome and easy, and were not turned out to the wide world. Naomi suggests that their own mothers would be more agreeable to them than a mother-in-law, especially when their own mothers had houses and their mother-in-law was not sure she had a place to lay her head in which she could call her own. She dismisses them, with commendation. This is a debt owing to those who have conducted themselves well in any relation, they ought to have the praise of it: You have dealt kindly with the dead and with me, that is, "You were good wives to your husbands that are gone, and have been good daughters to me, and not wanting to your duty in either relation.’’ Note, When we and our relations are parting, by death or otherwise, it is very comfortable if we have both their testimony and the testimony of our own consciences for us that while we were together we carefully endeavoured to do our duty in the relation. This will help to allay the bitterness of parting; and, while we are together, we should labour so to conduct ourselves as that when we part we may not have cause to reflect with regret upon our miscarriages in the relation.With prayer. It is very proper for friends, when they part, to part with prayer. She sends them home with her blessing; and the blessing of a mother-in-law is not to be slighted. In this blessing she twice mentions the name Jehovah, Israel’s God, and the only true God, that she might direct her daughters to look up to him as the only fountain of all good. To him she prays in general that he would recompense to them the kindness they had shown to her and hers. It may be expected and prayed for in faith that God will deal kindly with those that have dealt kindly with their relations. He that watereth shall be watered also himself. And, in particular, that they might be happy in marrying again: The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Note; It is very fit that, according to the apostle’s direction (1 Timothy 5:14 ), the younger women, and he speaks there of young widows, should marry, bear children, and guide the house. And it is a pity that those who have approved themselves good wives should not again be blessed with good husbands, especially those that, like these widows, have no children. The married state is a state of rest, such rest as this world affords, rest in the house of a husband, more than can be expected in the house of a mother or a mother-in-law. This rest is God’s gift. If any content and satisfaction be found in our outward condition, God must be acknowledged in it. There are those that are unequally yoked, that find little rest even in the house of a husband. Their affliction ought to make those the more thankful to whom the relation is comfortable. Yet let God be the rest of the soul, and no perfect rest thought of on this side heaven. She dismissed them with great affection: She kissed them, wished she had somewhat better to give them, but silver and gold she had none. However, this parting kiss shall be the seal of such a true friendship as (though she never see them more) she will, while she lives, retain the pleasing remembrance of. If relations must part, let them thus part in love, that they may (if they never meet again in this world) meet in the world of everlasting love. The two young widows could not think of parting with their good mother-in-law, so much had the good conversation of that pious Israelite won upon them. They not only lifted up their voice and wept, as loth to part, but they professed a resolution to adhere to her (verse 10): "Surely we will return with thee unto thy people, and take our lot with thee.’’ It is a rare instance of affection to a mother-in-law and an evidence that they had, for her sake, conceived a good opinion of the people of Israel. Even Orpah, who afterwards went back to her gods, now seemed resolved to go forward with Naomi. The sad ceremony of parting, and the tears shed on that occasion, drew from her this protestation, but it did not hold. Strong passions, without a settled judgment, commonly produce weak resolutions. Naomi sets herself to dissuade them from going along with her, verses 11-13. Naomi urges her afflicted condition. If she had had any sons in Canaan, or any near kinsmen, whom she could have expected to marry the widows, to raise up seed to those that were gone, and to redeem the mortgaged estate of the family, it might have been some encouragement to them to hope for a comfortable settlement at Bethlehem. But she had no sons, nor could she think of any near kinsman likely to do the kinsman’s part, and therefore argues that she was never likely to have any sons to be husbands for them, for she was too old to have a husband; it became here age to think of dying and going out of the world, not of marrying and beginning the world again. Or, if she had a husband, she could not expect to have children, nor, if she had sons, could she think that these young widows would stay unmarried till her sons that should yet be born would grow up to be marriageable. Yet this was not all: she could not only not propose to herself to marry them like themselves, but she knew not how to maintain them like themselves. The greatest grievance of that poor condition to which she was reduced was that she was not in a capacity to do for them as she would: It grieveth me more for your sakes than for my own that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me. Observe;  She judges herself chiefly aimed at in the affliction, that God’s quarrel was principally with her: "The hand of the Lord has gone out against me. I am the sinner; it is with me that God has a controversy; it is with me that he is contending; I take it to myself.’’ This well becomes us when we are under affliction; though many others share in the trouble, yet we must hear the voice of the rod as if it spoke only against us and to us, not billeting the rebukes of it at other people’s houses, but taking them to ourselves.  She laments most the trouble that redounded to them from it. She was the sinner, but they were the sufferers: It grieveth me much for your sakes. A gracious generous spirit can better bear its own burden than it can bear to see it a grievance to others, or others in any way drawn into trouble by it. Naomi could more easily want herself than see her daughters want. "Therefore turn again, my daughters, for, alas! I am in no capacity to do you any kindness.’’ But, did Naomi do well thus to discourage her daughters from going with her, when, by taking them with her, she might save them from the idolatry of Moab and bring them to the faith and worship of the God of Israel? Naomi, no doubt, desired to do so. But, if they did come with her, she would not have them to come upon her account. Those that take upon them a profession of religion only in complaisance to their relations, to oblige their friends, or for the sake of company, will be converts of small value and of short continuance.  If they did come with her, she would have them to make it their deliberate choice, and to sit down first and count the cost, as it concerns those to do that may take up a profession of religion. It is good for us to be told the worst. Our Saviour took this course with him who, in the heat of zeal, spoke that bold word, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. "Come, come,’’ says Christ, "canst thou fare as I fare? The Son of man has not where to lay his head; know this, and then consider whether thou canst find in thy heart to take thy lot with him,’’ Matthew 8:19-20 . Thus Naomi deals with her daughters-in-law. Thoughts ripened into resolves by serious consideration are likely to be kept always in the imagination of the heart, whereas what is soon ripe is soon rotten. Orpah was easily persuaded to yield to her own corrupt inclination, and to go back to her country, her kindred, and her father’s house, now when she stood fair for an effectual call from it. They both lifted up their voice and wept again (verse 14), being much affected with the tender things that Naomi had said. But it had a different effect upon them: to Orpah it was a savour of death unto death; the representation Naomi had made of the inconveniences they must count upon if they went forward to Canaan sent her back to the country of Moab, and served her as an excuse for her apostasy; but, on the contrary, it strengthened Ruth’s resolution, and her good affection to Naomi, with whose wisdom and goodness she was never so charmed as she was upon this occasion; thus to her it was a savour of life unto life.  Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, that is, took an affectionate leave of her, bade her farewell for ever, without any purpose to follow her hereafter, as he that said he would follow Christ when he had buried his father or bidden those farewell that were at home. Orpah’s kiss showed she had an affection for Naomi and was loth to part from her; yet she did not love her well enough to leave her country for her sake. Thus many have a value and affection for Christ, and yet come short of salvation by him, because they cannot find in their hearts to forsake other things for him. They love him and yet leave him, because they do not love him enough, but love other things better. Thus the young man that went away from Christ went away sorrowful, Matthew 19:22 . But,  Ruth clave unto her. Whether, when she came from home, she was resolved to go forward with her or no does not appear; perhaps she was before determined what to do, out of a sincere affection for the God of Israel and to his law, of which, by the good instructions of Naomi, she had some knowledge  Naomi persuades Ruth to go back, urging, as a further inducement, her sister’s example (verse 15): Thy sister-in-law has gone back to her people, and therefore of course gone back to her gods; for, whatever she might do while she lived with her mother-in-law, it would be next to impossible for her to show any respect to the God of Israel when she went to live among the worshippers of Chemosh. Those that forsake the communion of saints, and return to the people of Moab, will certainly break off their communion with God, and embrace the idols of Moab. Now, return thou after thy sister, that is, "If ever thou wilt return, return now. This is the greatest trial of thy constancy; stand this trial, and thou art mine for ever.’’ Such offences as that of Orpah’s revolt must needs come, that those who are perfect and sincere may be made manifest, as Ruth was upon this occasion. Ruth puts an end to the debate by a most solemn profession of her immovable resolution never to forsake her, nor to return to her own country and her old relations again, verses 16-17.  Nothing could be said more fine, more brave, than this. She seems to have had another spirit, and another speech, now that her sister had gone, and it is an instance of the grace of God inclining the soul to the resolute choice of the better part. Draw me thus, and we will run after thee. Her mother’s dissuasions made her the more resolute; as when Joshua said to the people, You cannot serve the Lord, they said it with the more vehemence, Nay, but we will.  She begs of her mother-in-law to say no more against her going: "Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee; for all thy entreaties now cannot shake that resolution which thy instructions formerly have wrought in me, and therefore let me hear no more of them.’’ Note, It is a great vexation and uneasiness to those that are resolved for God and religion to be tempted and solicited to alter their resolution. Those that would not think of it would not hear of it. Entreat me not. The margin reads it, Be not against me. Note, We are to reckon those against us, and really our enemies, that would hinder us in our way to the heavenly Canaan. Our relations they may be, but they cannot be our friends, that would dissuade us from and discourage us in the service of God and the work of religion.  She is very particular in her resolution to cleave to her and never to forsake her; and she speaks the language of one resolved for God and heaven. She is so in love, not with her mother’s beauty, or riches, or gaiety (all these were withered and gone), but with her wisdom, and virtue, and grace, which remained with her, even in her present poor and melancholy condition, that she resolves to cleave to her. First, She will travel with her: Whither thou goest I will go, though to a country I never saw and in a low and ill opinion of which I have been trained up; though far from my own country, yet with thee every road shall be pleasant. Secondly, She will dwell with her: "Where thou lodgest I will lodge, though it be in a cottage, nay, though it be no better a lodging than Jacob had when he had the stones for his pillow. Where thou settest up thy staff I will set up mine, be it where it may.’’ Thirdly, She will twist interest with her: Thy people shall be my people. From Naomi’s character she concludes certainly that the great nation was a wise and an understanding people. She judges of them all by her good mother, who, wherever she went, was a credit to her country (as all those should study to be who profess relation to the better country, that is, the heavenly), and therefore she will think herself happy if she may be reckoned one of them. "Thy people shall be mine to associate with, to be conformable to, and to be concerned for.’’ Fourthly, She will join in religion with her. Thus she determined to be hers usque ad aras—to the very altars: "Thy God shall be my God, and farewell to all the gods of Moab, which are vanity and a lie. I will adore the God of Israel, the only living and true God, trust in him alone, serve him, and in every thing be ruled by him;’’ this is to take the Lord for our God. Fifthly, She will gladly die in the same bed: Where thou diest will I die. She takes it for granted they must both die, and that in all probability Naomi, as the elder, would die first, and resolves to continue in the same house, if it might be, till her days also were fulfilled, intimating likewise a desire to partake of her happiness in death; she wishes to die in the same place, in token of her dying after the same manner. "Let me die the death of righteous Naomi, and let my last end be like hers.’’ Sixthly, She will desire to be buried in the same grave, and to lay her bones by hers: There will I be buried, not desiring to have so much as her dead body carried back to the country of Moab, in token of any remaining kindness for it; but, Naomi and she having joined souls, she desires they may mingle dust, in hopes of rising together, and being together for ever in the other world.  She backs her resolution to adhere to Naomi with a solemn oath: The Lord do so to me, and more also (which was an ancient form of imprecation), if aught but death part thee and me. An oath for confirmation was an end of this strife, and would leave a lasting obligation upon her never to forsake that good way she was now making choice of. First, It is implied that death would separate between them for a time. She could promise to die and be buried in the same place, but not at the same time; it might so happen that she might die first, and this would part them. Note, Death parts those whom nothing else will part. A dying hour is a parting hour, and should be so thought of by us and prepared for. Secondly, It is resolved that nothing else should part them; not any kindness from her own family and people, nor any hope of preferment among them, not any unkindness from Israel, nor the fear of poverty and disgrace among them. "No, I will never leave thee.’’ Now, this is a pattern of a resolute convert to God and religion. Thus must we be at a point.  We must take the Lord for our God. "This God is my God for ever and ever; I have avouched him for mine.’’  When we take God for our God we must take his people for our people in all conditions; though they be a poor despised people, yet, if they be his, they must be ours.  Having cast in our lot among them, we must be willing to take our lot with them and to fare as they fare. We must submit to the same yoke and draw in it faithfully, take up the same cross and carry it cheerfully, go where God will have us to go, though it should be into banishment, and lodge where he will have us to lodge, though it be in a prison, die where he will have us die, and lay our bones in the graves of the upright, who enter into peace and rest in their beds, though they be but the graves of the common people.  We must resolve to continue and persevere, and herein our adherence to Christ must be closer than that of Ruth to Naomi. She resolved that nothing but death should separate them; but we must resolve that death itself shall not separate us from our duty to Christ, (Romans 8:37-39) and then we may be sure that death itself shall not separate us from our happiness in Christ.  We must bind our souls with a bond never to break these pious resolutions, and swear unto the Lord that we will cleave to him. Fast bind, fast find. He that means honestly does not startle at assurances. Naomi is hereby silenced (verse 18): When she saw that Ruth was stedfastly minded to go with her (which was the very thing she aimed at in all that she had said, to make her of a stedfast mind in going with her), when she saw that she had gained her point, she was well satisfied, and left off speaking to her. She could desire no more than that solemn protestation which Ruth had just now made. See the power of resolution, how it puts temptation to silence. Those that are unresolved, and go in religious ways without a stedfast mind, tempt the tempter, and stand like a door half open, which invites a thief; but resolution shuts and bolts the door, resists the devil, and forces him to flee. (James 4:7) The Chaldee paraphrase thus relates the debate between Naomi and Ruth:—Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, for I will be a proselyte. Naomi said, We are commanded to keep sabbaths and good days, on which we may not travel above 2000 cubits —a sabbath-day’s journey. Well, said Ruth, whither thou goest I will go. Naomi said, We are commanded not to tarry all night with Gentiles. Well, said Ruth, where thou lodgest I will lodge. Naomi said, We are commanded to keep 613 precepts. Well, said Ruth, whatever thy people keep I will keep, for they shall be my people. Naomi said, We are forbidden to worship any strange god. Well, said Ruth, thy God shall be my God. Naomi said, We have four sorts of deaths for malefactors, stoning, burning, strangling, and slaying with the sword. Well, said Ruth, where thou diest I will die. We have, said Naomi, houses of sepulchre. And there, said Ruth, will I be buried.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

 Afternoon/Evening Reflection  

Meekness makes us fit for any condition, according as the wise God shall please to dispose of us. Those who, through grace, are enabled to compose and quiet themselves, are fit to live in this world, where we meet with so much every day to discompose and disquiet us. In general, whether the outward condition be prosperous or adverse, whether the world smile or frown upon us, a meek and quiet spirit is neither lifted up with the one nor cast down with the other, but is still in the same poise: in prosperity humble and condescending, the estate rising, but the mind not rising with it; in adversity encouraged and cheered—cast down, but not in despair. St. Paul, who had learned in every estate "to be content, knew how to be abased, and knew how to abound; everywhere, and in all things, he was instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need." Changes without made none within. It is a temper which, as far as it has the ascendant in the soul, makes every burden light, by bringing the mind to the condition, when the condition is not in every thing brought to the mind. Prosperity and adversity have each of them their particular temptation to peevishness and frowardness; the former by making men imperious, the latter by making them impatient. Against the assaults of each of these temptations the grace of meekness will stand upon the guard. Being to pass through this world "by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report," that is, through a great variety of conditions and of treatment, we have need of that long-suffering and kindness and love unfeigned which will be "the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left." Meekness and quietness will fortify the soul on each hand, and suit it to the several entertainments which the world gives us; like a skilful pilot that, from which point of the compass soever the wind blows, will shift his sails accordingly, and knows either how to get forward and weather his point with it, or to lie by without damage. It is the continual happiness of a quiet temper to make the best of that which is.

 Short Sunday Sermon - Our Daily Bread

“Give us this day our daily bread”
The Gospel According to Matthew Chapter 6:11

It goes without saying that these verse in what we now call the Lord’s prayer, conveys to us that we ask our Creator to provide and attend to our daily needs in so far as providing nourishment for our bodies. Yet I sense a deeper meaning. Remember in Matthew 4:4, our Savior is quoting from the Book of Deuteronomy 8:3, wherein it says that man lives by the very words of God that proceeds from the mouth of the Father. When we ask for bread, let us be mindful that we also need to feed the spirit as well. 

John Wesley writes and explains it this way;

Give us - O Father (for we claim nothing of right, but only of thy free mercy) this day - (for we take no thought for the morrow) our daily bread - All things needful for our souls and bodies: not only the meat that perisheth, but the sacramental bread, and thy grace, the food which endureth to everlasting life.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

When there appears in people a pious zeal for any good work it is best to strike while the iron is hot, for such zeal is apt to cool quickly if the prosecution of the work be delayed. Let it never be said that we left that good work to be done to-morrow which we could as well have done to-day.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Afternoon/Evening Reflection 

Meekness makes us fit for any relation into which God in his providence may call us. Those who are quiet themselves, cannot but be easy to all that are about them; and the nearer any are to us in relation and converse, the more desirable it is that we should be easy to them. Relations are various, as superiors, inferiors, and equals; he that is of a meek and quiet spirit is fitted for any of them. Moses was forty years a courtier in Egypt, forty years a servant in Midian, and forty years a king in Jeshurun; and his meekness qualified him for each of these posts, and still he held fast his integrity. There are various duties requisite, according as the relation is, and various graces to be exercised; but this of meekness is the golden thread that must run through all. If man be a sociable creature, the more he has of humanity, the more fit he is for society. Meekness would greatly help to preserve the wisdom and due authority of superiors, the obedience and due subjection of inferiors, and the love and mutual kindness of equals. A calm and quiet spirit receives the comfort of the relation most thankfully, studies the duty of the relation most carefully, and bears the inconvenience of the relation—for there is no unmixed comfort under the sun—most cheerfully and easily. I have heard of a married couple, who, though they were both naturally of a hasty temper, yet lived very comfortably in that relation by observing an agreement made between themselves, "never both to be angry together:" an excellent law of meekness, which, if faithfully obeyed, would prevent many of those breaches among relations which occasion so much guilt and grief, and are seldom healed without a scar. It was part of the good advice given by a pious and ingenious father to his children newly entered into the conjugal relation. And thus one wise, both happy. But where wrath and anger are indulged, all relations are imbittered; those that should be helps, become as thorns in our eyes and goads in our sides.Two indeed are better than one, and yet it is better to dwell alone in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry relation, who is like "a continual dropping in a very rainy day." (Proverbs 21:19; 27:15)

Today’s Reading
The Book of Judges Chapter 19 in it’s entirety 

Study notes are the closing comments on this chapter and are provided by Matthew Henry.

We have here the three great rules by which those that sit in council ought to go in every arduous affair. (1.) Let every man retire into himself, and weigh the matter impartially and fully in his own thoughts, and seriously and calmly consider it, without prejudice on either side, before he speaks upon it. (2.) Let them freely talk it over, and every man take advice of his friend, know his opinion and his reasons, and weigh them. (3.) Then let every man speak his mind, and give his vote according to his conscience. In the multitude of such counselors there is safety.

Note also that in the above chapter it reflects the passages of Lot and the city of Sodom. However in the this case there are no angels that are involved. The victim in this passage has no authority to call down the fires of Heaven to punish the evil doers. Hence his appeal to the tribes of Israel for justice.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Special Christmas Day Study
The Book of Isaiah Chapter 9:6
GNV Translation Ed. 1599

6 For unto us a child is born, and unto us a Son is given: and the government is upon his shoulder, and he shall call his name, Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The prince of peace.

Study notes

Three things are here promised, and they all point ultimately at the grace of the gospel, which the saints then were to comfort themselves with the hopes of in every cloudy and dark day, as we now are to comfort ourselves in time of trouble with the hopes of Christ’s second coming, though that be now, as his first coming then was, a thing at a great distance. The mercy likewise which God has in store for his church in the latter days may be a support to those that are mourning with her for her present calamities. We have here the promise, Of a glorious light, which shall so qualify, and by degrees dispel, the dimness, that it shall not be as it sometimes has been. In the worst of times God’s people have a nevertheless to comfort themselves with, something to allay and balance their troubles; they are persecuted, but not forsaken (2 Corinthians 4:9), sorrowful yet always rejoicing, (2 Corinthians 6:10). And it is matter of comfort to us, when things are at the darkest, that he who forms the light and creates the darkness (Chronicles 45:7) has appointed to both their bounds and set the one over against the other, Genesis 4:4 . He can say, "Hitherto the dimness shall go, so long it shall last, and no further, no longer.  God tries what less judgments will do with a people before he brings greater; but if a light affliction do not do its work with us, to humble and reform us, we must expect to be afflicted more grievously; for when God judges he will overcome. There was dimness of anguish in Galilee of the Gentiles, both in respect of ignorance (they did not speak according to the law and the testimony, and then there was no light in them, (Chronicles 8:20 ) and in respect of trouble, and the desperate posture of their outward affairs. But that dimness which threatened (Chronicles 8:22) shall not prevail to such a degree; for (verse 2) the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. 

When the gospel comes to any place, to any soul, light comes, a great light, a shining light, which will shine more and more. It should be welcome to us, as light is to those that sit in darkness, and we should readily entertain it, both because if is of such sovereign use to us and because it brings its own evidence with it. Truly this light is sweet. This is very applicable to the times of gospel light, spoken of (verse 2). Then God multiplied the nation, the gospel Israel. "And to him’’ (so the Masorites read it) "thou hast magnified the joy, to every one that receives the light.’’ The following words favour this reading: "They joy before thee; they come before thee in holy ordinances with great joy’; their mirth is not like that of Israel under their vines and fig-trees (thou hast not increased that joy), but it is in the favour of God and in the tokens of his grace.’’ Note that The gospel, when it comes in its light and power, brings joy along with it, and those who receive it aright do therein rejoice, yea, and will rejoice; therefor the conversion of the nations is prophesied of by this. It is holy joy: They joy before thee; they rejoice in spirit (as Christ did in the Gospel according to Luke  10:21 ), and that is before God. In the eye of the world they are always as sorrowful, and yet, in God’s sight, always rejoicing. It is great joy; it is according to the joy in harvest, when those who sowed in tears, and have with long patience waited for the precious fruits of the earth, reap in joy. The gospel brings with it plenty and victory; but those that would have the joy of it must first expect to go through a hard work, as the husbandman before he has the joy of harvest. 

See the dignity he is advanced to, and the name he has above every name. He shall be called (and therefore we are sure he is and shall be) Wonderful, Counsellor, etc. His people shall know him and worship him by these names; and, as one that fully answers them, they shall submit to him and depend upon him. He is wonderful, counsellor. Justly is he called wonderful, for he is both God and man. His love is the wonder of angels and glorified saints; in his birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension, he was wonderful. A constant series of wonders attended him, and, without controversy, great was the mystery of godliness concerning him. He is the counsellor, for he was intimately acquainted with the counsels of God from eternity, and he gives counsel to the children of men, in which he consults our welfare. It is by him that God has given us counsel, Psalm 16:7 ; Revelations 3:18 . He is the wisdom of the Father, and is made of God to us wisdom. Some join these together: He is the wonderful counsellor, a wonder or miracle of a counsellor; in this, as in other things, he has the pre-eminence; none teaches like him. He is the mighty God—God, the mighty One. As he has wisdom, so he has strength, to go through with his undertaking: he is able to save to the utmost; and such is the work of the Mediator that no less a power than that of the mighty God could accomplish it. He is the everlasting Father, or the Father of eternity; he is God, one with the Father, who is from everlasting to everlasting. He is the author of everlasting life and happiness to them, and so is the Father of a blessed eternity to them. He is the Father of the world to come (so the Septuagint reads it), the father of the gospel-state, which is put in subjection to him, not to the angels, Hebrews 2:5 . He was, from eternity, Father of the great work of redemption: his heart was upon it; it was the product of his wisdom as the counsellor, of his love as the everlasting Father. He is the prince of peace. As a King, he preserves the peace, commands peace, nay, he creates peace, in his kingdom. He is our peace, and it is his peace that both keeps the hearts of his people and rules in them. He is not only a peaceable prince, and his reign peaceable, but he is the author and giver of all good, all that peace which is the present and future bliss of his subjects.
Matthew Henry Commentary on the Book of Isaiah Chapter 9:1-6 (Edited by RPW Sr.)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Book of Judges Chapter 18:1, 5-6

1 In those days there was no king in Israel, and at the same time the tribe of Dan sought them an inheritance to dwell in: for unto that time all their inheritance had not fallen unto them among the tribes of Israel. (a)  
5 Again they said unto him, Ask counsel now of God, that we may know whether the way which we go, shall be prosperous. 6 And the Priest said unto them, Go in peace: for the Lord guideth your way which ye go.

(a) Note that in the previous chapter, Micah, turns to idolatry. Herein then we find that even the smallest of the turning away from our Creator can and usually does lead us and others to follow, until like the old cartoon of a snowball gathering size and momentum it crashes down upon a town, as if it were an avalanche. The smallest of sparks can ignite the greatest of conflagrations. I would add here that also in the previous chapter we find Micah and his mother not of the highest caliber of character, in so far as each seem to be the exact opposite of how one should be living in the site of God. So by the end of the next chapter, he is left with basically nothing as the Danites have taken all from him; his graven images, his priest, and much of his own possessions. 

Notes of interest

Before the Lord - That is, your design is under the eye of God; that is, under his care, protection and direction. This answer he either feigns to gratify their humour; or, did indeed receive from the devil, who transformed himself into an angel of light, and in God's name gave him answers, and those not sometimes very true, which God suffered for the trial of his people. But it is observable, his answer was, as the devil's oracles usually were, ambiguous, and such as might have been interpreted either way. - John Wesley

After he had consulted the oracle, or had asked counsel by the ephod and teraphim; either of his own head, or by a voice he had heard, which Satan might be permitted of God to deliver, he very roundly told them that they might proceed on in their journey with their minds quite easy, and with full assurance of success. - John Gill

How idolatry crept into the family of Micah we read in the preceding chapter, how it was translated thence into the tribe of Dan we have an account in this chapter, and how it gained a settlement in a city of note; for how great a matter does a little fire kindle.  - Matthew Henry

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

 Afternoon/Evening Reflection 

Meekness  is a very desirable thing to stand complete in all the will of God, Col. 4:12, to be fitted and furnished for every good work, to be made ready, a people prepared for the Lord. A living principle of grace is the best preparation for the whole will of God. Grace is establishing to the heart, it is the root of the matter, and a good foundation for the time to come. This grace of meekness is particularly a good preparation for what lies before us in this world.  It makes us fit for any duty. It puts the soul in frame, and keeps it so for all religious exercises. There was no noise of axes and hammers in the building of the temple: those are most fit for temple service that are most quiet and composed. The work of God is best done when it is done without noise. Meekness qualifies and disposes us to hear and receive the word: when malice and envy are laid aside, and we are like new-born babes for innocence and inoffensiveness, then we are most fit to receive the sincere milk of the word, and are most likely to grow thereby. Meekness prepares the soil of the heart for the seed of the word, as the husbandman opens and breaks the clods of his ground, and makes plain the face thereof, and then casts in "the principal wheat and the appointed barley." Christ's ministers are fishers of men, but we seldom fish successfully in these troubled waters. The voice that Eliphaz heard was ushered in with a profound silence, and in slumberings upon the bed—a quiet place and posture. God "opens the ears of men, and sealeth their instructions."  

Prayer is another duty which meekness disposes us rightly and acceptably to perform. We do not lift up pure hands in prayer, if they be not "without wrath." Prayers made in wrath are written in gall, and can never be pleasing to, or prevailing with the God of love and peace. Our rule is, "First go and be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." And if we do not take this method, though we seek God in a due ordinance, we do not seek him in the due order. The Lord's day is a day of rest, and none are fit for it but those who are in a quiet frame, whose souls have entered into that present sabbatism which the gospel has provided for the people of God. The Lord's supper is the gospel-feast of unleavened bread, which must be kept, not with the old leaven of wrath and malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened read of sincerity and truth.  God made a gracious visit to Abraham, and after that the strife between him and Lot was over, in which he had discovered so much mildness and humility. The more carefully we preserve the communion of saints, the fatter we are for communion with God. It is observable, that the sacrifices which God appointed under the law, were not ravenous beasts and birds of prey, but calves and kids and lambs and turtle-doves and young pigeons, all of them emblems of meekness and gentleness and inoffensiveness; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. This quietness of spirit contributes very much to the constant steadiness and regularity of a religious conversation. Hot and eager spirits, that are ready to take fire at every thing, are usually very inconstant in their profession, and of great inconsistency with themselves: like a man in an ague-fit, sometimes burning with heat, and sometimes shivering with cold; or like those that gallop in the beginning of their journey, and tire before the end of it; whereas the meek and quiet Christian is still the same, and by keeping to a constant rate, makes progress. If you would have one foot of the compass go even round the circumference, you must be sure to keep the other fixed and quiet in the centre, for your strength is to sit still.

The Book of Judges Chapter 17:6

6 In those days there was no King in Israel, but every man did that which was good in his own eyes.

Such is what we see today in our days. 

The word king being used largely for a supreme magistrate. God raised up judges to rule and deliver the people, when he saw fit; and at other times for their sins he suffered them to be without them, and such a time this was; and therefore they ran into that idolatry, from which the judges usually kept them; as appears by that solemn and oft - repeated passage in this book, that after the death of such or such a judge, the people forsook the Lord, and turned to idols. His own eyes - That is, not what pleased God, but what best suited his own fancy. Which accounts for the idolatry of Micah, there being no supreme magistrate to take cognizance of his sin, and restrain him from it, or punish him for it according to the law of God. Then they soon did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord. When they were without a king to keep good order among them, God’s house was forsaken, his priests were neglected, and all went to ruin among them. See what a mercy government is, and what reason there is that not only prayers and intercessions, but giving of thanks, should be made for kings and all in authority, 1 Timothy 2:1-2 . Nothing contributes more, under God, to the support of religion in the world, than the due administration of those two great ordinances, magistracy and ministry.

Monday, December 22, 2014

 Afternoon/Evening Reflection 

The peace of the meek man is not only sweet but safe and secure; as far as he acts under the law of meekness, it is above the reach of the assaults of those that wish ill to it. He that abides quietly   under "the shadow of the Almighty" shall surely be delivered "from the snare of the fowler." Psalm 124: 7, Proverbs 6:5. (a)The greatest provocations that men can give would not hurt us if we did not, by our inordinate and foolish concern, come too near them. We may therefore thank ourselves if we be damaged. He that has learned with meekness and quietness to forgive injuries and pass them by, has found the best and surest way of baffling and defeating them; nay, it is a kind of innocent revenge. It was an evidence that Saul was actuated by another spirit, in that, when children of Belial despised him and brought him no presents—hoping by that contempt to give a shock to his infant government —he "held his peace," and so neither his soul nor his crown received any disturbance. Shimei, when he cursed David, intended thereby to pour vinegar into his wounds, and to add affliction to the afflicted; but David, by his meekness, preserved his peace, and Shimei's design was frustrated. "So let him curse;" alas, poor creature, he hurts himself more than David, who, while he keeps his heart from being tinder to those sparks, is no more prejudiced by them than the moon is by the foolish cur that barks at it. The meek man's prayer is that of David, "Lead me to the rock that is higher than I," Psalm 61:2; and there I can, as Mr. Norris expresses it, —smile to see The shafts of fortune all drop short of me. The meek man is like a ship that rides at anchor—is moved, but not removed: the storm moves it—the meek man is not a stock or stone under provocation—but does not remove it from its port. It is a grace that, in reference to the temptations of affront and injur —as faith in reference to temptation in general—quenches the fiery darts of the wicked: it is an armor of proof against the spiteful and envenomed arrows of provocation, and is an impregnable wall, to secure the peace of the soul, where no thief can break through to steal; while the angry man lays all his comforts at the mercy of every wasp that will strike at him. So that, upon the whole, it appears that the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit is as easy as it is comely.

(a) The fowler or hunter represented here is a reference to Satan. Who is a great deceiver and seeks to ensnare all that stray from the path, or refuse to tread upon it. 

Today’s reading; 
The Book of Judges Chapter 16 

Editor’s notation - We learn of Samson’s downfall via his eyes, it is later onward that we read of how that particular sense is taken away from him. ( read also Matthew 18:9, Mark 9:47)

Satan ruins men by rocking them asleep, flattering them into a good opinion of their own safety, and so bringing them to mind nothing and fear nothing, and then he robs them of their strength and honour and leads them captive at his will. When we sleep our spiritual enemies do not. Many have lost the favourable presence of God and are not aware of it; they have provoked God to withdraw from them, but are not sensible of their loss, nor ever complain of it. Their souls languish and grow weak, their gifts wither, every thing goes cross with them; and yet they impute not this to the right cause: they are not aware that God has departed from them, nor are they in any care to reconcile themselves to him or to recover his favour. When God has departed we cannot do as at other times.  Those that have thrown themselves out of God’s protection become an easy prey to their enemies. If we sleep in the lap of our lusts, we shall certainly wake in the hands of the same.  The devil does thus by sinners, blinds the minds of those who believe not, and so enslaves them, and secures them in his interests.  How are sinners brought to desolation in a moment! They are lifted up in pride and mirth, that their fall may be the more dreadful. Let us never envy the mirth of wicked people, but infer from this instance that their triumphing is short and their joy but for a moment. (see Psalm 37:1-2). Nothing fills the measure of the iniquity of any person or people faster than mocking and misusing the servants of God, yea, though it is by their own folly that they are brought low. Those know not what they do, nor whom they affront, that make sport with a good man. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Book of Judges Chapter 13:6, 11, 18
Geneva Bible Translation Ed. 1599

6 Then the wife came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and the fashion of him was like the fashion of the Angel of God exceedingly fearful, but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name,
11 And Manoah arose and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto him, Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman? and he said, Yea.
18 And the Angel of the Lord said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, which is secret?

Study notes
Man of God - A prophet, or sacred person, sent with a message from God. Terrible - Or, venerable, awful, full of Majesty. Secret - Hidden from mortal men: or, wonderful, such as thou canst not comprehend: my nature and essence, (which is often signified by name in scripture) is incomprehensible. This shews, that this was the angel of the covenant, the Son of God. - John Wesley

He appeared in an human form, and therefore she calls him a man; and by his mien and deportment, and the message he brought, she concluded he was a man of God, that is, a prophet; by which name such persons went in those days; and so the Targum calls him a prophet of the Lord: but it is a mere conceit of Ben Gersom that it was Phinehas, who in all probability was not living; besides what is after related shows that this was a divine Person, and no other than the Son of God: for though she might never have seen an angel, yet it being a common notion that angels were very illustrious, of a beautiful form and of a shining countenance, and very majestic, she compares the man she saw to one; for by being "very terrible", is not meant that he was frightful, and struck her with horror, but venerable and majestic, which filled her with admiration. And [His name] was not to be known; as his nature and essence as a divine Person, which may be meant by his name, is what passes knowledge, is infinite and incomprehensible; see ( Proverbs 30:4 ) or "wonderful" (See John Gill on Isaiah 9:6), which is one of the names of Christ, and fitly agrees with him, who is wonderful in his person, as God and man; in his incarnation, in his offices and relations, in his love to his people, and in all he is unto them, and has done for them. - John Gill

Editor’s notation;
The Hebrew word for“wonderful”, (Strong’s Concordance), is  pala' paw-law' a primitive root; properly, perhaps to separate, i.e. distinguish (literally or figuratively); by implication, to be (causatively, make) great, difficult, wonderful:--accomplish, (arise...too, be too) hard, hidden, things too high, (be, do, do a, shew) marvelous(-ly, -els, things, work), miracles, perform, separate, make singular, (be, great, make) wonderful(-ers, -ly, things, works), wondrous (things, works, -ly).

The report which Manoah’s wife, in a transport of joy, brings in all haste to her husband, of this surprising message verses 6-7The glad tidings were brought her when she was alone, perhaps religiously employed in meditation or prayer; but she could not, she would not, conceal them from her husband, but gives him an account, of the messenger. It was a man of God, His countenance she could describe; it was very awful: he had such a majesty in his looks, such a sparkling eye, such a shining face, so powerfully commanding reverence and respect, that according to the idea she had of an angel he had the very countenance of one. But his name she can give no account of, nor to what tribe or city of Israel he belonged, for he did not think fit to tell her, and, for her part, the very sight of him struck such an awe upon her that she durst not ask him. She was abundantly satisfied that he was a servant of God; his person and message she thought carried their own evidence along with them, and she enquired no further.  We have here [also] an account of a second visit which the angel of God made to Manoah and his wife. Manoah earnestly prayed for it, verse 8. He was not incredulous of the story his wife told him; he knew she was a virtuous woman, and therefore the heart of her husband did safely trust in her; he knew she would not go about to impose upon him, much less was he, as Josephus unworthily represents him, jealous of his wife’s conversation with this stranger; but he takes it for granted that this child of promise shall in due time be given them, and speaks without hesitation of the child that shall be born. There was not found so great faith, no, not in Zechariah, a priest, then in waiting at the altar of the Lord, and to whom the angel himself appeared, as was in this honest Danite. Things hidden from the wise and prudent, who value themselves upon the niceness of their enquiries, are often revealed unto babes, who know how to prize God’s gifts and to take God’s word. Blessed are those that have not seen and yet, as Manoah here, have believed. 
He therefore prays to God to send the same blessed messenger again, to give them further instructions concerning the management of this Nazarite, fearing lest his wife’s joy for the promise might have made her forget some part of the precept, in which he was desirous to be fully informed, and lie under no mistake: "Lord, let the man of God come again unto us, for we desire to be better acquainted with him.’’ Note, Those that have heard from heaven cannot but wish to hear more thence, again and again to meet with the man of God. Observe, He does not go or send his servants abroad, to find out this man of God, but seeks him upon his knees, prays to God to send him, and, thus seeking, finds him. Would we have God’s messengers, the ministers of his gospel, to bring a word proper for us, and for our instruction? (Entreat the Lord to send them to us, to teach us, Romans 15:30) God graciously granted it: God hearkened to the voice of Manoah, v. 9. Note, God will not fail some way or other to guide those by his counsel that are sincerely desirous to know their duty, and apply themselves to him to teach them, Psalm 25:8-9. The angel appears the second time also to the wife, when she is sitting alone, probably tending the flocks, or otherwise well employed in the field where she has retired. Solitude is often a good opportunity of communion with God; good people have thought themselves never less alone than when alone, if God be with them. hose that would meet with God must attend where he is pleased to manifest himself. "Oh,’’ says she, overjoyed, "my dear love, thy prayers are answered—yonder is the man of God, come to make us another visit—he that came the other day,’’ or, as some read it, this day, for other is not in the original, and it is probable enough that both these visits were on the same day, and at the same place, and that the second time she sat expecting him. The man of God is very willing she should call her husband, John 4:16 . Those that have an acquaintance with the things of God themselves should invite others to the same acquaintance, John 1:45-46. Now let thy words come to pass; this was the language, not only of his desire, but of his faith, like that of the blessed Virgin, Luke 1:38 . "Be it according to thy word. Lord, I lay hold on what thou hast said, and depend upon it; let it come to pass.’’

Of what further passed between Manoah and the angel at this interview. It was in kindness to him that while the angel was with him it was concealed from him that he was an angel; for, had he known it, it would have been such a terror to him that he durst not have conversed with him as he did (verse 16): He knew not that he was an angel. So Christ was in the world, and the world knew him not. Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself. We could not bear the sight of the divine glory unveiled. God having determined to speak to us by men like ourselves, prophets and ministers, even when he spoke by his angels, or by his Son, they appeared in the likeness of men, and were taken but for men of God. Now,1. The angel declined to accept his treat, and appointed him to turn it into a sacrifice. Manoah, being desirous to show some token of respect and gratitude to this venerable stranger who had brought them these glad tidings, begged he would take some refreshment with him (verse 15): We will soon make ready a kid for thee. Those that welcome the message will be kind to the messengers for his sake that sends them, 1 Thessalonians 5:13 . But the angel told him (verse 16) he would not eat of his bread, any more than he would of Gideon’s, but, as there, directed him to offer it to God, Chronicles 6:20-21. Angels need not meat nor drink; but the glorifying of God is their meat and drink, and it was Christ’s, John 4:34 . And we in some measure do the will of God as they do it if, though we cannot live without meat and drink, yet we eat and drink to the glory of God, and so turn even our common meals into sacrifices.2. The angel declined telling him his name, and would not so far gratify his curiosity. Manoah desired to know his name (verse 17), and of what tribe he was, not as if he doubted the truth of his message, but that they might return his visit, and be better acquainted with him (it is good to increase and improve our acquaintance with good men and good ministers); and he has a further design: "That when thy sayings come to pass, we may do thee honour, celebrate thee as a true prophet, and recommend others to thee for divine instructions,—that we may call the child that shall be born after thy name, and so do thee honour,—or that we may send thee a present, honouring one whom God has honoured.’’ But the angel denies his request with something of a check to his curiosity (verse 18): Why askest thou thus after my name? Jacob himself could not prevail for this favour, Genesis 32:29 . Note, We have not what we ask when we ask we know not what. Manoah’s request was honestly meant and yet was denied. God told Moses his name (Exodus3:13-14 ), because there was a particular occasion for his knowing it, but here there was no occasion. What Manoah asked for instruction in his duty he was readily told (verses 12-13), but what he asked to gratify his curiosity was denied. God has in his word given us full directions concerning our duty, but never designed to answer all the enquiries of a speculative head. He gives him a reason for his refusal: It is secret. - Matthew Henry

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Book of Judges Chapter 12:1-4
Geneva Bible Translation Ed. 1599

1 And the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and went Northward, and said unto Jephthah, Wherefore wentest thou to fight against the children of Ammon, and didst not call us to go with thee? we will therefore burn thine house upon thee with fire. 2 And Jephthah said unto them, I and my people were at great strife with the children of Ammon, and when I called you, ye delivered me not out of their hands. 3 So when I saw that ye delivered me not, I put my life in mine hands, and went upon the children of Ammon: so the Lord delivered them into mine hands. Wherefore then are ye come upon me now to fight against me? 4 Then Jephthah gathered all the men of Gilead, and fought with Ephraim: and the men of Gilead smote Ephraim, because they said, Ye Gileadites are runagates of Ephraim among the Ephraimites, and among the Manassites.

Study notes
The unreasonable displeasure of the men of Ephraim against Jephthah, because he had not called them in to his assistance against the Ammonites, that they might share in the triumphs and spoils, (verse 1) Pride was at the bottom of the quarrel. Only by that comes contention. Proud men think all the honours lost that go beside themselves, and then who can stand before envy? The Ephraimites had the same quarrel with Gideon (Chronicles 8:1 ), who was of Manasseh on their side Jordan, as Jephthah was of Manasseh on the other side Jordan. Ephraim and Manasseh were nearer akin than any other of the tribes, being both the sons of Joseph, and yet they were more jealous one of another than any other of the tribes. Jacob having crossed hands, and given Ephraim the preference, looking as far forward as the kingdom of the ten tribes, which Ephraim was the head of, after the revolt from the house of David, that tribe, not content with that honour in the promise, was displeased if Manasseh had any honour done it in the mean time. It is a pity that kindred or relationship, which should be an inducement to love and peace, should be ever an occasion (as it often proves) of strife and discord. A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, and contentions among brethren are as the bars of a castle. The anger of the Ephraimites at Jephthah was causeless and unjust. Why didst thou not call us to go with thee? For a good reason. Because it was the men of Gilead that had made him their captain, not the men of Ephraim, so that he had no authority to call them. Had his attempt miscarried for want of their help, they might justly have blamed him for not desiring it. But when the work was done, and done effectually, the Ammonites being subdued and Israel delivered, there was no harm done, though their hands were not employed in it. It was cruel and outrageous. They get together in a tumultuous manner, pass over Jordan as far as Mizpeh in Gilead, where Jephthah lived, and no less will satisfy their fury but they will burn his house and him in it. Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce. Those resentments that have the least reason for them have commonly the most rage in them. Jephthah was now a conqueror over the common enemies of Israel, and they should have come to congratulate him, and return him the thanks of their tribe for the good services he had done; but we must not think it strange if we receive ill from those from whom we deserve well. Jephthah was now a mourner for the calamity of his family upon his daughter’s account, and they should have come to condole with him and comfort him; but barbarous men take a pleasure in adding affliction to the afflicted. In this world, the end of one trouble often proves the beginning of another. 
Matthew Henry -  Theologian - 1662-1714

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Book of Judges Chapter 10:6, 14, 16
Geneva Bible Translation Ed. 1599

6 And the children of Israel wrought wickedness again in the sight of the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtoreth, and the gods of Aram, and the gods of Sidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the Lord and served not him.
14 Go, and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen: let them save you in the time of your tribulation.
16 Then they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the Lord: and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.

The patience of the Lord is long suffering. Indeed, He is slow to anger and quick to forgive. Yet there are times when it is we that turn our faces away from Him, that He allows us to wallow in the misery of our own making. We are reminded here of the parable of the weary judge in the Gospel of Luke 18:5-8, of the judge who is entreated by the widow continuously to take action in a matter. The lesson learned here is two fold; remain steadfast in your belief and serving of God, and secondly God does hear, and will take action on your behalf, should you falter, yet return to him, confess, and put away your sin.

Study notes
They were so dreadfully sunk into idolatry, that they had wholly forsaken the Lord and his worship at the tabernacle, and made no pretensions to it, but entirely neglected it. They grew worse and worse, and so ripened themselves for ruin. Before they worshiped God and idols together, now they forsake God, and wholly cleave to idols. They had not been forced to worship those gods by their oppressors; but had freely chosen them before Him. 
Gill and Wesley (Ed. by RPW Sr.)

While those two judges, Tola and Jair, presided in the affairs of Israel, things went well, but afterwards,I. Israel returned to their idolatry, that sin which did most easily beset them (verse 6): They did evil again in the sight of the Lord, from whom they were unaccountably bent to backslide, as a foolish people and unwise. If they did it in compliment to the neighbouring nations, and to ingratiate themselves with them, justly were they disappointed; for those nations which by their wicked arts they sought to make their friends by the righteous judgments of God became their enemies and oppressors. In quo quis peccat, in eo punitur—Wherein a person offends, therein he shall be punished. They did not so much as admit the God of Israel to be one of those many deities they worshipped, but quite cast him off: They forsook the Lord, and served not him at all. Those that think to serve both God and Mammon will soon come entirely to forsake God, and to serve Mammon only. If God have not all the heart, he will soon have none of it. God renewed his judgments upon them, bringing them under the power of oppressing enemies. Had they fallen into the hands of the Lord immediately, they might have found that his mercies were great; but God let them fall into the hands of man, whose tender mercies are cruel.  Yet later onward we read  that they made a humble confession to God in their distress, verse 10. Now they own themselves guilty, like a malefactor upon the rack, and promise reformation, like a child under the rod. They not only complain of the distress, but acknowledge it is their own sin that has brought them into the distress; therefore God is righteous, and they have no reason to repine. They confess their omissions, for in them their sin began.  It was kind that God took notice of their cry, and did not turn a deaf ear to it and send them no answer at all; it was kind likewise that when they began to repent he sent them such a message as was proper to increase their repentance, that they might be qualified and prepared for deliverance. True penitents dare and will refer themselves to God to correct them as he thinks fit, knowing that their sin is highly malignant in its deserts, and that God is not rigorous or extreme in his demands. They supplicate for God’s mercy: Deliver us only, we pray thee, this day, from this enemy. They acknowledge what they deserved, yet pray to God not to deal with them according to their deserts. Note, We must submit to God’s justice with a hope in his mercy. They knew it was to no purpose to go to the gods whom they had served, and therefore returned to the God whom they had slighted. This is true repentance not only for sin, but from sin.V. God’s gracious return in mercy to them, which is expressed here very tenderly (verse 16): His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel. Not that there is any grief in God (he has infinite joy and happiness in himself, which cannot be broken in upon by either the sins or the miseries of his creatures), nor that there is any change in God: he is in one mind, and who can turn him? But his goodness is his glory. By it he proclaims his name, and magnifies it above all names; and, as he is pleased to put himself into the relation of a father to his people that are in covenant with him, so he is pleased to represent his goodness to them by the compassions of a father towards his children; for, as he is the Father of lights, so he is the Father of mercies. As the disobedience and misery of a child are a grief to a tender father, and make him feel very sensibly from his natural affection, so the provocations of God’s people are a grief to him (Psalm 95:10 ), he is broken with their whorish heart (Ezekiel 6:9 ); their troubles also are a grief to him; so he is pleased to speak when he is pleased to appear for the deliverance of his people, changing his way and method of proceeding, as tender parents when they begin to relent towards their children with whom they have been displeased. Such are the tender mercies of our God, and so far is he from having any pleasure in the death of sinners. 
Matthew Henry - Theologian - 1662 - 1714 (Ed. RPW Sr.)