"Far be it!" Joab declared. "Far be it from me to swallow up or destroy!
I. PEACEABLENESS. This Christian virtue is very frequently inculcated in the Scriptures, especially the New Testament.
1. Its nature. It consists in a disposition to live in harmony and friendliness with all. It shows itself by courtesy and kindness; by avoidance of contention and quarrels; by carefulness not to give just or needless provocation to others; by meek endurance of provocation and even injustice from others; by readiness to give and receive explanation and apology; by quiet, unobtrusive performance of one's own duties, and abstinence from intermeddling with other people's business; by overlooking small offences, and readiness to forgive greater.
2. Its sources. In some it is a natural disposition. As a Christian virtue it springs from:
(1) Christian love - love to Christian brethren as such, and love to all. This prompts those in whom it reigns to seek the happiness of others, and to put the most charitable construction on their conduct. It also subdues the irascible dispositions, and the selfishness which so readily leads to alienation and contention.
(2) Christian humility. "By pride cometh contention" (Proverbs 13:10). The proud exaggerate their own claims, expect too much from others, resent slight offence, insist on unreasonable reparation. But the humble avoid, without effort, such occasions of strife. Thus love and humility promote peace; and all the influences and motives which produce and foster the former are equally favourable to the latter.
3. Its benefits.
(1) To the peaceable themselves. It is itself happiness. It secures the good will of others, the enjoyment of which is happiness. It is a frame of mind favourable to the cultivation and growth of all Christian virtues; and to all those devout exercises by which these are nourished and the favour of God realized.
(2) To society. The absence of the annoyance and discomfort which the contentious occasion. The enjoyment of quietness and rest. The peaceable are also peacemakers, and promote a pacific disposition in others. If all men were peaceable, wars, small and great alike, would cease.
II. FAITHFULNESS. "Faithful," on the lips of the wise woman, probably meant "loyal" to the king. It might well include also uprightness in general. "We are a people not only peaceful, but (as the word is) reliable, trustworthy. We are honest, just, steadily occupied with a faithful discharge of our duties, at once to God, to each other, and to the state." Fidelity must be associated with peaceableness to form a noble Christian character; fidelity to Christ and God, to conscience and conviction, to truth and duty, to promises and engagements; fidelity to those to whom we are variously related in family, social, ecclesiastical, and national life. This gives strength to the character, as gentleness and peacefulness give beauty. The two qualities are not incompatible, but mutually helpful. A peaceful spirit prevents fidelity from becoming harsh, censorious, meddlesome, fierce. Fidelity prevents peacefulness from becoming an immoral weakness, which disregards justice and truth, is ever making unworthy Compromises, and would rather sacrifice the highest principles than run the risk of arousing the passions of men by asserting and defending them. Only "the wisdom that is from above," which "is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without variance, without hypocrisy" (James 3:17, Revised Version); in other words, the teaching of the Holy Spirit, - can enable us to give to each of these virtues, peacefulness and faithfulness, its due place. - G.W.
They shall surely ask counsel at Abel.
I. THE ABEL OF EXPERIENCE. There is an Abel, a venerable city, called Experience; why not go down to the Abel of experience, take counsel there: and so settle the matter? Experience ought to go for something. Experience is man's account of life. He tells you where he has been, what he has done, how he has conducted himself, and what results have accrued from the policies and the processes which he has adopted. We ought to hear that man. We always think there is a shorter cut than he took. Every age think it could work the programme better than Solomon worked it. For a long period this must go on, but the day will come when experience will go for something, when grey hairs will be taken as the symbols of philosophy, when the wrinkled face will itself be a title to be heard on all the practical questions and issues of life.
II. THE ABEL OF TIME. Why not go to another aspect of this same experience, another corner of this same Abel, and consult Time? Why not admit Time to our counsels? Why leap at new theories? Why bristle up when the unpronouncable name of some lager-beer drinker is associated with some new mare's nest in the realm of letters and theology? How many theories have come and gone! Where are they? Gone with the lager-beer! When men come to you with new theories, you should say, We must test these, or see them tested by long time. The Cross — the weird, grim, ghastly Cross — is nineteen centuries old, and it lifts itself up to-day the symbol of universal life. As for these theories and inventions of yours, it is only right that we should see how they bear the stress and the sifting of time. In old time our fathers were wont to come to the Abel of the Bible; venerable men would say, To the law and to the testimony! Perhaps they had too narrow a way of referring to the scriptures; they might make too much of a chapter and a verse, they might not sufficiently compare Scripture with Scripture and get their souls into the very genius of Divine revelation as to speak Biblically rather than textually: but their principle was right. They said, We know nothing of God but what is revealed, we know nothing of the future but what is written in the Book, we know nothing about sin and about redemption except what we are told by the revelation of God, as we believe it to be: therefore let us go to:
III. THE ABEL OF THE BIBLE, take counsel, and so end the matter. I am here to say in my own name, as the result of my own searching and experience, that I can get no answers to the greatest problems of mind and time equal in largeness, in precision, in hopefulness, to the answers that are given in the Bible. There are other answers, but I have found none that can stretch themselves with ease and dignity over the whole space of necessity.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
(J. Parker, D. D.).
PeopleAbel, Abiathar, Abishai, Absalom, Adoram, Ahilud, Amasa, Benaiah, Berites, Bichri, Bichrites, Cherethites, Dan, David, Gibeon, Ira, Jehoiada, Jehoshaphat, Jesse, Joab, Kerethites, Maacah, Pelethites, Sheva, Zadok
PlacesAbel-beth-maacah, Gibeon, Jerusalem, Jordan River
TopicsAnswereth, Answering, Cause, Death, Destroy, Destruction, Joab, Jo'ab, Replied, Swallow
Outline1. By occasion of the quarrel, Sheba rebels in Israel
3. David's ten concubines are put in confinement for life
4. Amasa, made captain over Judah, is slain by Joab
14. Joab pursues Sheba to Abel
16. A wise woman saves the city by Sheba's head
23. David's officers
Dictionary of Bible Themes2 Samuel 20:1-22
LibraryAppendix 2 Extracts from the Babylon Talmud
Massecheth Berachoth, or Tractate on Benedictions  Mishnah--From what time is the "Shema" said in the evening? From the hour that the priests entered to eat of their therumah  until the end of the first night watch.  These are the words of Rabbi Eliezer. But the sages say: Till midnight. Rabban Gamaliel says: Until the column of the morning (the dawn) rises. It happened, that his sons came back from a banquet. They said to him: "We have not said the Shema.'" He said to them, "If the column …
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life
The Sixth Commandment
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