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We are now come to what was principally intended, the register of the
children of Israel, that distinguished people, that were to dwell alone, and not to be reckoned among the nations. Here is, 1. The names of the twelve sons of Israel, ver. 1, 2. And then, 2. An accomut of the tribe of Judah, which has the precedency, not so much for the sake of David, as for the sake of the Son of David, “ our Lord, who sprang out of Judah," Heb. vii. 14. (1.) The first descendants from Judah down to Jesse, ver. 3-12. (2.) The children of Jesse, ver. 13—17. (3.) The posterity of Hezron, not only through Ram, from whom David came, but Caleb, ver. 18-20. Segub, ver. 21-24. Jerahmeel, ver. 25-33. and so to ver. 41. and more by Caleb, ver. 42–49. with the family of Caleb, the son of Hur, ver. 50-55. The best exposition we can have of this and the following chapters, and which will give the clearest view of them. is those genealogical tables which were published with some of the first impressions of the last English bible about a hundred years ago. and continued for some time: and it is pity but they were revived in some of our latter editions; for they are of great use to those who diligently search the scriptures. They are said to be drawn up by that great master in scripture learning, Mr. Hugh Broughton. “We meet with them sometimes in old bibles,
VER. 12. " And Boaz begat Obed, and Obed begat Jesse."]-Boaz was of the tribe of Judah, and he was the son of a prince in Israel. It is remarkable that the tribe of Judab was the most praised and digoified of all the tribes, and that they were more distinct and careful in their genealogies than the rest of the tribes; which might arise from their expectation of the Messiah's springing from that tribe, according to the prophecy of Jacob, concerning the time of the coming of Shiloh, or the Messiah, Gen. xlix. 10.. which was exactly accomplished : “ Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David, of whom, (saith the apostle) concerning the flesb, Christ came, who is God over all blessed for evermore." And in this genealogy we find that Christ is near akin to us gentiles, according to the flesh, as well as to the Jews; for Boaz married Ruth, who was a gentile, from whom Christ came: on which account we may say that he is near akin to us, and by this near relation, the blessing of Abraham comes upon the gentiles; “ for he is not ashamed to call us brethren."
Of all the families of Israel, pone so illustrious as the family of David.
That is the family which was mentioned in the chapter before, ver. 15. Here we have a full account of it. (1.) David's sons, ver. 1-9. (2.) His successors in the throne as long as the kingdom continued, ver. 10--16. (3.) The remains of bis family in and after the captivity, ver. 17-24. From this family, “ as concerning the flesh" Christ came."
In this chapter we have, (1.) A farther account of the genealogies of the
tribe of Judah, the most numerous and most famous of all the tribes, The posterity of Shobal the son of Hur, ver. 1-4. Of Ashur the posthumous son of Hezron, who was mentioned chap. ii. 24. with something particular concerning Jabez, ver. 5-10. Of Chelub, and others, ver. 11-20. Of Sholah, ver. 21-23. (2.) An account of the posterity and cities of Simeon, their conquest of Gedor, and of the Amalekites in mount Seir, ver. 24–43.
VER. I." And Jabez was more honourable than his bre. thren.”]-That is, in bis actions, conduct, and behaviour, as the fruits of the fear of God in his soul. The children of God have an honourable name; called “kings and priests to God and the Lamb;" an honourable title : “ heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ;" an honourable inheritance; namely, “an inheritance wbich is incorruptible, indefiled, and that fadeth not away :" an honourable crown, called “a crown of glory,” and an “exceeding great and eternal weight of glory :" an honourable dwelling, namely, the house of God, which is the palace of the King of glory : in short, they have the honour to hold communion with Father, Son, and Spirit, with angels and saints, and they shall have the honour to live and reign with God and the Lamb, as beirs to all the blessedness in heaven for ever and ever.
Ver. 10. " And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed.”]-Observe the character that is given of God, that he was the God of Israel, because all the divine attributes are the elect's; every perfection in God displays itself in bringing about their salvation.
First. Love gave birth to the design, and runs through every part of it. Our predestination to immortal dignity and bonour, such as is proper to the sons of God, “is to the praise of the glory of free grace,” Eph. i. 5, 6. All the steps that God has taken in order to its accomplishment are fruits of the same infinite goodness. All his procedures towards these persons spring from, and are perfectly consistent with, his love to them. Hence the apostle John obe serves, that “ God is love," I John iv. 16. that is, to those who by bis Spirit know and believe their interest in divine favour.
Secondly. The wisdom of God hath as decply interested itself in promoting of the saints' happiness: his love and grace formed the resolution, and wisdom directed to all the means leading on to the execution. As only boundless grace could give rise to the stupendous decree of saving sinners, so infinite wisdom alone could surmount the difficulties attending it, and point out methods suitable to accomplish it. In our salvation sin is pardoned, and yet ponished; we escape the curse of the law notwithstanding its just menaces are suffered; we are delivered from the awful stroke of sin-avenging justice, and yet it loses nothing of its demands. We are wholly unable to obey the law, but yet we are justified by it, and pronounced perfectly righteous: all which is through the obedience and sufferings of Christ for us. This way of securing divine honour, in conjunction with our happiness, sufficiently evinces that infinite wisdom contrived our recovery. For this reason the apostle calls the gospel, which is a revelation hereof, “ the wisdom of God in a mystery; and the hidden wisdom that God ordained to our glory," I Cor. ii. 7.
Thirdly. The power of God bas ever acted in favour of the elect. Such obstructions attended their salvation as omnipotence only could remove; and sacb adversaries are engaged against them as almighty power alone could conquer. They are naturally in such a state as requires the exertion of the same unlimited power to make them meet for glory : and the number, policy, and vigilance of their enemies, with their own weakness, make it necessary for them to expect all their protection from above. Their redemption was a work of divine power; hence Christ, as crucified, is said to be the power, as well as the “wisdom of God," I Cor. i. 24. Nor is this divine persection less apparent in their preservation to glory, “ who are kept by the power of God unto salvation,” i Peter i. 5.
Fourthly. Divine faithfulness stands engaged for the security of God's people. Many and full are the promises that refer to the salvation of Israel: all which inay be safely relied on, because of the cternal veracity of iheir infinitely great author, who it is absolutely impossible should ever fail of accomplishing what he has given his word to do for any. This the apostle improves as an encouragement to faith under sufferings for the gospel's sake; "If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful, he cannot deny himself,” 2 Tim. ii. 13. He is not mutable, as creatures: are, but is eternally above all “ variableness or shadow of turning," James i. 17. He never declines in his favour, nor sinks below his gracious engagements. Since therefore he designed, and has promised the complete happiness of his own, as appears in these words, “in hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie promised," 1 Tit. i. 2. it may be justly concluded, that "they shall be sanctified wholly, that their soul, body, and spirit, shall be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ ;” as the same apostle observes, « Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it,” 1 Thess. v. 23, 24.
Fifthly. The justice of God acts in favour of the elect, as well as ihe other divine perfections; that is an attribute which strikes a guilty creature, without hope of an interest in Christ, with the greatest terror ; it speaks nothing but eternal destruction to a sioner out of him, and therefore the consideration of it must be most awful, without a view of his satis. faction. But as its demands have been fully answered by Cbrist, the surety of his people, it concurs with goodness in promoting their salvation ; " mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other," Psalm lxxxv. 10. Since plenary satisfaction is made for the sins of the elect, this perfection in God stands engaged for their security. Justice to Christ their head, who suffered for them, requires their cternal felicity; and therefore this divine attribute, which cannot be thought of, by guilty creatures as such, without the greatest emotion, affords solid peace and tranquillity to those who are interested in Cbrist, because the honour of it is as much concerned in their happiness as the glory of rich grace.
Secondly. The request contained in Jabez's prayer : " that thou wouldest bless me indeed!" Prayer is the indispensible duty of believers. This is so evident, that I imagine I might be excused insisting on the proof of it,
however backward, through various causes, they may sometimes be to engage in it.
First. Personal and private prayer is a duty they are under obligation conscientiously to regard ; Jesus Christ exhorts to this : “ But thou when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father wbich is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly,” Matt. vi. 6. The variety of our wants, the multitude of our difficulties, the great number of our temptations, our own inability, and absolute dependence on God, should excite us to a constant attendance at the throne of grace. I am of opinion, we may best judge of the case of our souls by a readiness to draw nigh to God in secret prayer, or a backwardness to approach his presence in our closets. If a spiritual frame is maintained in us, we shall closely attend to this duty; but if we are lukewarm, we shall be ready to improve every trivial affair whiich may occur as an excuse for our neglect in this thing. This is as well our privilege as our duty. In prayer to God we may use the utmost freedom in complaints: we need have no check upon us, from an appre. hension that he will take advantage against us for, or upbraid us with those evils we complain of before him; this too frequently is the manner of poor guilty creatures towards one another, but it is not the manner of an infinitely gracious God; we therefore may unbosom our whole souls to him, and tell him of any or all vile lasts that distress and plague us : we may mention all our temptations, and freely confess how ready our corrupt nature is to yield to thein, or how far it may have so done, in any instances, to our unspeakable grief, without the least thought of being upbraided therewith hereafter. We also may be full as free in our petitions: as God “is able to do exceedingly abund. antly above all that we ask or think,” Eph. iii. 20. He allows us to entreat for whatever is needful to our spiritual support, relief, and consolation. Since we have this liberty of access to the throne of grace, and may use such freedom in our addresses to our heavenly Father, how base are our hearts, which frequently tempt us to decline the practice of this important duty, and the improvement of so inestimable a privilege.
Secondly. Family prayer should be constantly attended to. The worship of God ought to be maintained in all the families of the saints. That family in which solemn and joint prayer is wholly neglected, is far from being such as it