From the Issacharites, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do: 200 chiefs with all their kinsmen at their command.
heads or leaders among them - they were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do."
I. THE GIVER OF WISDOM IS GOD. He is "the Father of lights." "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God." From him alone counsel and guidance proceed. By his Spirit he enlightens men. Hence the reasonableness and the importance of prayer.
II. THE MEANS OF GAINING WISDOM ARE WITHIN MEN'S REACH. NO doubt there are certain natural qualifications; yet these may either be left undeveloped, or may be cultivated. Observation, conversation with the learned, the wise, and the experienced, reading, practical conduct of affairs, - all these are means of acquiring wisdom, Nor must we overlook one potent agency - "Years, that bring the philosophic mind."
III. PRACTICAL LIFE IS THE GREAT SPHERE OF WISDOM. The text alludes to present necessities. Issachar had "understanding of the times." True wisdom does not lie in comprehending past states of society, so much as in realizing the characteristics and needs of our own days. The text alludes also to action. Historical and scientific and speculative knowledge are all good. But knowledge reduced to practice is wisdom. What Israel ought to do; this was what the wise men of this tribe were competent to decide. We may set aside all the explanations of this passage which represent the men of Issachar as versed in astronomy, chronology, or other studies. There can be no doubt the reference is to political sagacity, military promptness, and practical habits. These men recognized in David a faculty for ruling, strongly, justly, and religiously; and accordingly they were forward to give in their adhesion to the son of Jesse, to repair to Hebron, and take part in the election and installation of the new king.
1. Remember that we are made for action; knowledge is valuable as qualifying for practical life.
2. Wisdom, qualifying for the duties of our several stations, is within all men's reach.
3. Statesmen especially should make it their study to know what the nation ought to do. - T.
Men that had understanding of the times.Esther 1:13; Matthew 16:3; Luke 19:44). Next to our Bibles and our own hearts our Lord would have us study our own times.
I. THE TIMES REQUIRE OF US A BOLD AND UNFLINCHING MAINTENANCE OF THE ENTIRE TRUTH OF CHRISTIANITY, AND THE DIVINE AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE. Our lot is cast in an age of abounding unbelief, but when sceptics have said all they can, there are three broad facts which they have never explained away.
1. Jesus Christ Himself. How is it that there never has been one like Him, neither before nor after, since the beginning of historical times?
2. The Bible itself. How is it that this book stands entirely alone, for high views of God, true views of man, solemnity of thought, grandeur of doctrine, and purity of morality?
3. The effect which Christianity has produced on the world.
II. THE TIMES REQUIRE AT OUR HANDS DISTINCT AND DECIDED VIEWS OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE. The victories of Christianity, wherever they have been won, have been won by distinct doctrinal theology. Christianity without distinct doctrine is a powerless thing.
III. THE TIMES REQUIRE OF US AN AWAKENED AND LIVELIER SENSE OF THE UNSCRIPTURAL AND SOUL-RUINING CHARACTER OF ROMANISM.
IV. THE TIMES REQUIRE OF US A HIGHER STANDARD OF PERSONAL HOLINESS, AND AN INCREASED ATTENTION TO PRACTICAL RELIGION IN DAILY LIFE.
V. THE TIMES REQUIRE OF US MORE REGULAR AND STEADY PERSEVERANCE IN THE OLD WAYS OF GETTING GOOD FOR OUR SOULS.
1. Private prayer.
2. Private Bible-reading.
3. Private meditation and communion with Christ.Conclusion: Consider what the times require in reference —
1. To your own souls.
2. To the souls of others.
3. To the Church.
I. TO STATE SOME OF THE CHARACTERISTICS BY WHICH THE PRESENT TIMES APPEAR TO BE PROMINENTLY DISTINGUISHED.
1. Flagrant indulgence of iniquity on the part of ungodly men.
2. A heavy and extended pressure of national distress and perplexity.
3. A wide diffusion of the influence of knowledge and of freedom.
4. Extraordinary and delightful facilities for the dissemination of the gospel of Christ.
5. An awakened and an increasing concern among the people of the Saviour as to the progress and final triumphs of His cause.
II. THE DUTIES WHICH THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE PRESENT TIMES IMPOSE UPON PROFESSING CHRISTIANS.
1. Distinctly and always to recognise the providence of God.
2. To compare all that is apparent with the predictions of Divine truth.
3. To cultivate uncompromising decision in the exemplification of personal religion.
4. Diligently to labour in all the spheres of exertion by which they may advance the gospel of Christ.
5. To engage in fervent and continued prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
I. THERE SHOULD RE A RIGHT UNDERSTANDING OF OUR OWN TIMES. Our own times are —
1. Times of much evil from strong drink.
2. Times of much good.(1) A spirit of investigation has gone abroad and done splendid service. We are much indebted to physiologists, moral philosophers, political economists, and statisticians, for the light they have thrown on this subject.(2) Our times are times of agitation for the application of remedial measures.(3) There has also been a great reformation resulting from all this.
3. Times of much hopefulness.
II. A right understanding of our own times OUGHT TO LEAD TO PROPER ACTION. They understood the times, to know what Israel ought to do. Right action must —
1. Be directed by intelligence.
2. Be inspired by Christian philanthropy.
3. Be embodied in practical forms.
4. Be animated by a self-denying enthusiasm.
III. IN ORDER THAT THIS RIGHT ACTION MAY FULLY ACCOMPLISH ITS ENDS THERE ARE CERTAIN REQUIREMENTS.
1. Individualisation. God invites us one by one, saying to each of us, "Do the work I give thee to do."
2. Organisation. Combination multiplies force. In the moral world, one and one make a good deal more than two; they often make four, and three and three often make thirty.
(Dawson Burns, D. D.)
I. The grand capital characteristic feature of these times consists in THE GENERAL PREVALENCE OF NATIONAL INDIFFERENTISM OR NEGATIVE INFIDELITY. — a general want of faith on all subjects, whether moral, political, or religious.
II. THE DUTY OF THE CHURCH REQUIRES —
1. That she should maintain a clear and decided testimony on behalf of the great fundamental principles of Divine truth.
2. A determined effort to resuscitate the sinking power of principle, and also a vigorous and combined movement to repel the creeping invasions — the subtle but forceful and successful encroachments of error.
(Walter M'Gilvray.)Understanding the times: — Some of the chapters of this book look as though they were so many of the newspapers of the period, that had been preserved; and there would be no history like that of a collection of newspapers, supposing there had been such things, successively issued, day by day, by different parties, affording a general view of events and transactions. We have here a very minute account of the political, military, and religious position of things at this time. We find different persons resorting to David, in larger or lesser numbers, and welcomed as they came. And among the rest there came a number of persons peculiar and distinct in character from all others. Instead of being told of their physical strength and vigour, their prowess and skill in using swords and spears, their incomparableness in war, we are told that they were "men who had understanding of the times, and knew what Israel ought to do" — men of political intelligence and sagacity, who could look about and see into things, who could interpret the prediction written upon a circumstance, who could tell what was the line marked out by such and such an event. They were not antiquarian men, who could tell you of the past; nor dreaming, poetical, prophetic men, talking about the future; but men who understood their own times — men who felt the great realities that were stirring about them. It was a great matter to have this understanding; for the consequence of having it was, they deduced "what Israel ought to do" — the movements that should be made, the things that the nation should determine upon. The accession of these men to David was, perhaps, of greater value than that of the thousands of fighting men; for wisdom and valour strengthen more than weapons of war. The wise man is strong. And these men, as a consequence of their understanding, ruled; "their brethren were at their commandment"; they had influence; other men and other minds recognised them as regal men, for, after all, I suppose, in the long run, it will always come to that — those that ought to rule, because they can do it, ultimately will do it. It is a blessed thing for a people, and for the world, when those who rule understand things, and really know what ought to be done, and every other body is at their command; for after all, the world wants guiding and ruling, and it is willing to be guided when it has confidence in the wisdom of those who are doing it, and knows it is being governed well. Well, we live in very stirring times; it is a great blessing to the world — though the world does not think of it or believe it — that God has an Israel in the world; an Israel mighty with God in prayer. And this Israel that is in the world ought always to remember that it is in the world; that it has not got to heaven yet. It belongs to earth, and to the movements of nations, political convulsions, and all things that are going on around it. The Israel of God has relations to them all, and is to look at them through that blessed atmosphere — the light of God's truth, and God's love — in which it lives. Let us, then, endeavour to understand our times, that we may know "what Israel ought to do."
I. RELIGIOUS MEN NATURALLY LOOK —
1. At the religious movements.
2. At the national and political movements of the times.
II. WHAT ISRAEL OUGHT TO DO.
1. It is the privilege of the Church to be making intercession and prayer, that God may guide and superintend the movements of politicians and the masses of men.
2. They should observe the bearings upon the Church of all the movements of peoples and countries.
3. They should remember that all times, of all sorts are hastening us on to eternity. Let us not forget that while it is very proper for us to have certain relations to the times that are passing over us, the great business of all times is, to save our souls, to be at peace with God through Christ, and be prepared for the everlasting glory of heaven.
I. THAT OUR CONDUCT MUST OFTEN RE AFFECTED BY TIMES AND CIRCUMSTANCES OF WHATEVER NATURE.
II. HOW FAR IT MAY BE PROPERLY AFFECTED BY THEM IN THE CONCERNS OF RELIGION.
1. That we may attend to times, etc., is certain (example of Christ and apostles).
2. But how far is not easy to determine.
III. WHAT THERE IS IN THE TIMES, etc., OF THE PRESENT DAY TO AFFECT OUR CONDUCT. Application:
1. Guard against yielding to any corrupt bias.
2. The future judgment will be according to motives.
3. Seek for wisdom that is profitable to direct.
(C. Simeon, M. A.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
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