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Charles Spurgeon's "Morning & Evening"
Devotional: April 6th
“I have given Him for a leader and commander to the people.”
Judges 11:5-10 , Judges 11:12-21 , Judges 11:23-28
We should mind whom we slight, for upon those very persons we may come to be dependent.
Judges 11:9 , Judges 11:10
Jephthah asked no more than had been publicly promised, and was naturally his due. So when the Lord Jesus saves us from our sins, it is but just that he should reign over us.
Israel might not wantonly make war with Ammon, therefore Jephthah tries first an appeal to reason. Let us follow peace with all men.
This was a mere pretence, but diplomacy abounds with falsehoods. The Ammonites had lost the territory in war with the Amorites, and when Israel captured it from the Amorites, it became theirs.
To try once more what argument would do, he stated the facts of the case:
He argued upon their own grounds, and would have convinced them had they been capable of justice.
Judges 11:25 , Judges 11:26
Undisputed possession for three hundred years was certainly a good title enough. It was rather late to revive a dormant claim.
He did well to make his appeal to heaven. When right is on our side, we may fearlessly leave results with God. If we have done all we can to make peace, and men will not act justly, the sin must rest with them.
Lord, for the glory of thy name,
Vouchsafe me now the victory;
Weakness itself, thou knowest I am,
And cannot share the praise with thee:
Because I now can nothing do,
Jesus, do all the work alone,
And bring my soul triumphant through,
To wave its palm before thy throne.
What power against a worm can stand
Arm’d with Jehovah’s sword?
For all who bow to Christ’s command
Are champions of the Lord.
Arm’d with his word and Spirit’s might
We shall the battle gain,
And sin, that tempting Midianite,
Shall be for ever slain.
Father, though late, I turn to thee,
With all my idols part;
O let my helpless misery
Affect thy pitying heart.
Grieved at thine ancient people’s woe,
Be grieved again at mine;
And force my sins to let me go,
Redeem’d by blood divine.
He who saves us shall be king,
Let him but deliverance bring.
God the Lord our witness be,
He who saves, our king shall be.
Jesus saves us, he shall reign;
Lord, do not the throne disdain;
Since to save us thou hast died,
Thou shalt reign, and none beside.
E’en in my holiest hours,
My folly I reveal,
I lack a balance for my powers,
A bridle for my zeal.
Great Spirit teach me how,
When all my soul is flame,
To guard the purport of my vow,
Lest I be put to shame.
If unto God I speak
And pledge the solemn vow,
Thy heavenly guidance I will seek,
My gentle teacher, thou.
He subdued the powers of hell,
In the fight he stood alone;
All his foes before him fell,
By his single arm o’erthrown.
His the battle, his the toil;
His the honours of the day;
His the glory and the spoil;
Jesus bears them all way.
Now proclaim His deeds afar,
Fill the world with his renown:
His alone the victor’s car;
His the everlasting crown!
I can do all things, or can bear
All sufferings, if my Lord be there;
Sweet pleasures mingle with the pains,
While his left hand my head sustains.
But if the Lord be once withdrawn,
And we attempt the work alone;
When new temptations spring and rise,
We find how great our weakness is.
So Samson, when his hair was lost,
Met the Philistines to his cost;
Shook his vain limbs with sad surprise,
Made feeble fight, and lost his eyes.
So Samson Israel’s foes o’erthrew,
More than in life by death he slew;
But when our greater Samson fell,
He vanquish’d sin, and death, and hell.
Compass’d with foes, he bow’d his head;
For mercy, not for vengeance pled,
And groaned his last expiring groan,
And pull’d th’ infernal kingdom down.
O Lord, our carnal mind control,
And make us pure within;
Train thou each passion of our soul
To hate the thought of sin.
Be ours the blessed lot of those
Who every evil flee;
Whose spirits chaste, as virgins pure,
In all things follow thee.
“Let not thine heart be hasty.”
Brave man as he was, he needed a divine preparation for his work, and God graciously vouchsafed it to him. When the Spirit of the Lord comes upon a man, it makes him far other than he was before; it elevates, guides, inspires, and strengthens. He who has the Spirit will find his arms upheld, and his strength rendered sufficient for accomplishing the most arduous enterprises. May this same Spirit, in a more gracious manner, rest upon us.
This was, doubtless, the warm outburst of an earnest heart, but there was a great want of caution in it. If we vow at all, we should think long and well of what we are about to do, and then express our resolve in the plainest terms. It is most unwise for a Christian man to bring himself into bondage by rash pledges and incautious declarations. Jephthah’s case should be a warning to us.
Judges 11:32 , Judges 11:33
Joyfully did the hero return to his home, but alas, how marred was his triumph. His rash vow had become a pit for him.
Yet it had been far belter to break a wrong vow than to keep it. His mistake lay in uttering a vow which might possibly bring about such terrible consequences. He swore that he would offer up for a burnt offering whatsoever came forth of his doors to meet him. Half-instructed as he was, he may have thought that so bold a promise would be acceptable to Jehovah, and now in semi-heathenish fear, he feels he must stand to his word.
It was bravely spoken. Grandly did the hero’s daughter yield herself to die, or to remain unmarried, content so long as her country was free.
Judges 11:39 , Judges 11:40
Let us hope that her father did not actually sacrifice her: if he did, it was an act most abhorrent in the sight of God. Her submission to her doom was touchingly beautiful; let us hope that the vow was capable of a softer construction, and that she lived a celibate life, consecrated to the Lord. Many expressions in the chapter encourage that hope; at the same time it is sufficiently doubtful, to lead us to repeat our warning against every rash vow. Pause, hot spirit! Consider! Reckon all the consequences, and ere thou open thy mouth unto the Lord, make sure that what thou art covenanting to do is really for his glory, and within the lawful compass of thy power.
the Second Week of Advent
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