« הקודםהמשך »
fortunately. The joy of victory and glory would not have been alloyed with the greatest calamity that could befal the house of the conqueror.
SAMSON MARRIED TO A PHILISTINE.-Judges xiv.
Samson goes down to Timnath. Accidental. He saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. Accidental. He loved her. What is strange in this ? But he desires his parents to get her for him in marriage. Samson, this is wrong. Hast thou forgotten the commandment of the Giver of all thy strength and glory ? His parents remonstrate : Samson is obstinate. The Philistine wife he must have. « Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me, for she pleaseth me well.” Nothing could divert him from his purpose. The problem is solved in the next verse. The whole was providential, though effected through the sin of Samson and his parents.
“ But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the Lord that he sought an occasion against the Philistines.” God designed by the hand of Samson to punish the Philistines, and this is the way in which his Providence chose to bring it about. May we not also in this affair behold an emblem of the calling of the Gentiles ?
Taking this fact for a key, we may open much of the Providence that we behold with our own eyes. How many events owe their origin to circumstances equally casual and trivial as the love of Samson for a Philistine woman! Things that are accidental and unimportant in our view, may be the wise arrangement of Providence to lead to the most important consequences.
AWFUL WICKEDNESS OF THE BENJAMITES,
The fact here recorded by the pen of inspiration is one of those by which Providence shows the guilt and depravity of human nature, even in his own people. Had the grossness of crime been found only in the most unenlightened of the heathens, some plausibility would have been given to the apologists of human nature. But here is an instance of the most awful wickedness, even in one of the favoured tribes of Israel. The seed of Israel are by this proved to be by nature nothing better than the seed of Cain. All are equally, by nature, the children of wrath. By what a chain of seemingly fortuitous events is the event here recorded brought about ? Had any one of the links been taken away, the event would not have happened, and Benjamin's depravity would not have been manifested. The marriage of the Levite to this particular woman; the character of the woman herself, and her misconduct ; the relative situation of the district where the Levite lived, with respect both to the habitation of the father of his wife, and the country of the Benjamites: the Levite's resolution to bring back his wife, and not to abandon her, -these, and other things, are all necessary links in the chain of Providence by which this event took place. The Levite on several days purposes to set out, yet is prevailed on to remain. At last, though he rose early to depart, he was prevailed on to stay till evening. Why did he not either go in the morning, or remain this day also ? Her father is his benefactor, and presses him to stay that night also, and set out early next morning. But he is obstinate. Now he will go. No importunity can move him. If he was in haste to return, why did he not go sooner? If he was not in haste, why did he not patiently stay till morning ?
What folly was it to set out, even in the most civilized country, at an hour which obliged him to lodge by the way ? Go, he will go. “ But the man would not tarry that night, but he rose up and departed."
It was late when they came to Jebus, and his servant advised him to turn in and lodge there. No, he will not lodge in a city of strangers ; he will go to Gibeah to his brother Benjamin. To Gibeah of Benjamin they did go, and there they found no hospitality except from one of another tribe. Instead of the children of Abraham, they found the children of Belial. Had it not been for the hospitality of an old Ephrathite, they must have lodged in the streets. In this way the sin of Sodom was brought home to the Benjamites, and the people of Gibeah committed a crime which certainly never was exceeded by the most profligate of the heathen nations.
HISTORY OF RUTH.
This whole history is a chain of providential events. It is delightful, it is instructive to trace the connection of the links. One of the ancestors of the Messiah is to come out of Moab; and by the process related in the book of Ruth, the thing is effected. The redemption of the inheritance is typical, and in Providence it happened that, by this redemption, Ruth must be adopted into Israel, and become the wife of Boaz. The Gentiles are here shown to be fellow-heirs with the children of Abraham. “ Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance." _Ruth iv. 5.
To bring this Gentile wife to Boaz, and place her among the ancestors of Christ, a famine sent Elimelech and his family to the land of Moab, his son was married to a Moabitess,—this son dies, Naomi, Elimelech's sister, 'returns to her country, -a most extraordinary attachment incites Ruth to follow her, and a chain of providential events makes her the wife of one of the ancestors of Jesus.
Ruth finds favour with Boaz. He is a near kinsman; but not the nearest kinsman. Another has the previous right of redemption. Why does he not redeem ? He is willing to redeem. Why then does he not redeem? Providence so ordered it. He was not able to redeem without marring his own inheritance; and this his caution did not dispose him to risk. The right, then, is given over to Boaz. But why was Boaz able to redeem ? Why was he willing to redeem ? Why was he so long an unmarried man? Why was he disposed to marry this poor stranger ? All things work together to fulfil the purposes of the Most High.
THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL ASK A KING.—1 Sam. viii. 5.
It was a sin in Israel to seek a king : it was of the Lord that they sought a king. By asking a king they virtually rejected God as their king: yet the king of Israel is eminently a type of the King Messiah. God, then, can bring about his purposes by the free actions of sinful men. Saul, in the divine sovereignty, is to be made king of Israel; and to bring this about, the sons of Samuel are not like their father. They are corrupt in judging, and they take bribes of the people. In consequence, Israel asks a king, and God commands Samuel to give them a king. Had Samuel's sons been like himself, the people would not have asked a king: Why, then, did not Providence prevent this occasion of sin to his people? Why did his Providence lay this stumbling-block before them ? If he de