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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 18

The Church Pulpit CommentaryChurch Pulpit Commentary

Verses 17-18


‘And Moses’ father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee,’ etc.

Exodus 18:17-18

Various lessons may be gathered from the fact that Moses was wearing himself away by undue application to the duties of his office, and that by adopting Jethro’s suggestion and dividing the labour he was able to spare himself and nevertheless equally secure the administration of justice.

I. We see the goodness of God in His dealings with our race in the fact that labour may be so divided that man’s strength shall not be overpassed, but cannot be so divided that man’s strength shall be dispensed with.

II. It is a principle sufficiently evident in the infirmity of man that he cannot give himself incessantly to labour, whether bodily or mental, but must have seasons of repose. We shrink from the thought and the mention of suicide, but there are other modes of self-destruction than that of laying hands on one’s own person. There is the suicide of intemperance; there is also the suicide of overlabour. It is as much our duty to relax when we feel our strength overpassed, as to persevere while that strength is sufficient.

III. God has, with tender consideration, provided intervals of repose, and so made it a man’s own fault if he sink beneath excessive labour. What a beautiful ordinance is that of day and night! What a gracious appointment is that of Sunday! When the Sabbath is spent in the duties that belong to it, its influence gives fresh edge to the blunted human powers.

IV. Each one of us is apt to be engrossed with worldly things.—It is well that some Jethro, some rough man from the wilderness, perhaps some startling calamity, should approach us with the message, ‘The thing that thou doest is not good; thou wilt surely wear away.’

V. At last we must all wear away, but our comfort is that, though the outer man perish, the inner man shall be renewed day by day.

—Canon H. Melvill.


‘It is far better to set a thousand people to work than to do the work of a thousand people. The mistake of so many is that they love to engross all the work, thus depriving others of the privilege and blessedness of Christian activity. But after all the truest recipe to preserve us from wearing away is to acquire the art of casting our burdens on the Lord, and to believe that for every burden which He puts on us, there is grace sufficient and to spare in Himself, only waiting to be appropriated by a loving faith. Let us not seek our burden-bearers amongst men, how-ever good and wise; but in Him who daily beareth our burdens, and not them only, but ourselves.’

Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Exodus 18". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/exodus-18.html. 1876.
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