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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

1 Kings 4

Verses 1-34

The Bunch of Hyssop

1 Kings 4:33

These words imply that the hyssop must have been a weak and insignificant plant. And it must have been weak and insignificant because of its contrast with the cedar. And yet it played a by no means trivial part in the Old Testament Church. It was with 'a bunch of hyssop' the Passover blood was sprinkled 'on the two side-posts and on the lintels of the houses'.

I. Faith in Christ is a confession of helplessness. There was no particular virtue in the hyssop. It formed a link between the Israelite and the Blood of the Lamb. Perhaps Divine wisdom selected this frail object from the kingdom of nature to illustrate a truth in the kingdom of grace. Faith, like the hyssop, is only a 'means' or medium. Something that lies between the supply and the need, the salvation and the danger, the Saviour and the sinner. So when we speak of faith as a means by which the blessings of Christ's redemption become ours, we do not imply that faith saves us. We are saved by faith, but not with it; it is a means, not an end.

II. So the hyssop teaches us a needful lesson concerning faith. If our faith is weak, can it be strengthened, for 'according to your faith be it done unto you?' Shall we pray, 'Lord, increase our faith'? Let us not forget the circumstances which give rise to this prayer. It was offered by the disciples when they felt the difficulty of forgiving their enemy 'till seventy times seven'. It does not refer to that salvation, which comes by faith. Shall we then pray, 'Lord, increase our faith,' if we have not yet received His salvation and fear our faith is weak? Remember the words 'the hyssop that springeth out of the wall,' for it teaches us the secret of faith and the strength of faith.

III. Do we desire a strong faith? Then let us be occupied with our Saviour and not with thoughts of faith. It is not profitable to worry over our faith and be constantly diagnosing it. Faith grows strong through the knowledge of Christ. As we read and think of His love and power faith springs up. Trust and obey and you will never have cause to mourn over a languid faith. How can you doubt His power or feebly trust Him when that favour is being daily manifested in your life? Faith is the means whereby we are united to Him and become 'partakers of Christ' the link between our weakness and His power. Why did God choose one of the smallest and weakest of plants more than any other plant of the field which could serve as an emblem of faith? Can we not suggest an answer in its commonness and accessibility?

Lloyd Morris, Christian World Pulpit, Vol. LXXIV. p. 139.

Reference. IV. 33. S. Gregory, How to Steer a Ship, p. 68.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 Kings 4". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/1-kings-4.html. 1910.