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Bible Commentaries

Parker's The People's Bible

Numbers 18

Verse 20

"Handfuls of Purpose"

For All Gleaners

"I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel." Numbers 18:20 .

The reference is to Aaron and the priesthood. The priests were not to be landed proprietors, or in any sense a territorial aristocracy. Aaron had his position in spiritual enlightenment and spiritual honour. "Man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." This spiritual allotment is symbolical. The idea is that the last result of education will be comparative contempt for all material things. Material things must of course be owned and governed and turned to good uses; still whatever is material is of necessity temporary; and that which is temporary should never engross the attention of men who are immaterial. He lives the great life who lives in thought, high feeling, and beneficence. The expression of high intellectual passion is marked by the truest disregard of all things related to time and space. The Son of man had not where to lay his head; yet he had bread to eat that the world knew not of. He who lives this inner life does not see when drought cometh, neither can famine threaten his strength. No matter what inheritance a man has, it is only valuable in so far as it is made the means of helping spiritual culture. "Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked." How ennobling the thought that we may have our inheritance in God! This is the distinct promise of the text, and it applies not only to priests but to all who live and move and have their being in God. The humblest Christian can say, "The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot." Even in the midst of distresses of the acutest kind, the prophet was enabled to exclaim, "The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him." This text will, as to its spirit and sublimest meaning, be addressed to the Christian in the hour and article of death, and the soul, answering the promise in the spirit of thankfulness and assurance, will exclaim, "My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever."

Verse 27

"Handfuls of Purpose"

For All Gleaners

"And this your heave offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn of the threshingfloor, and as the fulness of the winepress." Numbers 18:27 .

Thus does love magnify all human offerings. Love does not content itself with the letter, or with weights and measures; it looks at spiritual intention, and according to the purity and scope of that intention is its recognition. The two mites were valuable beyond gold because of the motive which prompted the gift. The cup of cold water is to be regarded as a cup of choice wine. The purpose of David to build the temple was accepted as if the temple had been actually built. Not the work of the hand which may be imperfect, but the purpose of the heart is recognised and accepted by the loving God. Interpret all the service of life in the light of this method, and see how the first may become last and the last may become first. Work is not to be estimated by mere bulk, but by the motive which constrained its performance. What is easy to one man may be difficult to another; it is easy to some men to give, to serve, and to pray; all these signs may be performed without their being spiritual miracles. He who has great ideas concerning the kingdom of Christ, but who cannot carry them out for want of strength or opportunity, will be accounted to have done the very things which he intended. Our life is what we most solemnly mean it to be. If any man can accept this suggestion as warranting release from toil and sacrifice, he is not entitled to the comfort and inspiration of this holy doctrine. The divine magnifying of our acts is never meant to discourage our efforts, but rather to increase and ennoble them. Many who are not now recognised as great workers may in the end be honoured with bright crowns.

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Bibliographical Information
Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Numbers 18". Parker's The People's Bible. 1885-95.