I. THE DEVOTED LOVE OF CHRIST'S FAITHFUL SERVANTS TO HIMSELF.
1. They show sincere and practical regard to his every wish. They do not need explicit commands in detail, still less accompanying threatenings. Enough if they can ascertain what he desires; and their love for him and converse with him enable them to know his wishes without definite verbal revelations or laws. A large portion of the life of many modern Christians, especially in the departments of Christian zeal and benevolence, is founded on no express command, but springs from love and sympathy - from that participation of the Spirit of Christ which produces intuitive discernment of his will, and that devoted attachment which prompts to the gratification of his every wish.
2. They are ready to encounter danger in his service. The work of Christ makes at times great demands on love, zeal, and courage. It cannot be done without hazard; but his true-hearted friends are prepared to endure the toil and brave the peril. Not a few in our own day may be described as "men that have hazarded their lives for the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 15:26). This spirit of Christian heroism is not confined to the more hardy races, but among' the softer tribes of Polynesia and India, the knowledge, of Christ has produced a similar courage. Converted natives offer themselves for service in the most dangerous fields of missionary enterprise; and when some fall at the hand of savages, or through attacks of deadly diseases, others eagerly press forward to take the vacant places. The language of St. Paul is still the language of faithful Christians, "None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself," etc.; "I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die... for the Name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 20:24; Acts 21:13).
3. They are sometimes moved to extraordinary manifestations of their regard. Like the three heroes whose exploit is here recorded. Like Mary in her lavish anointing of her Lord (John 12:3). Warm love prompts to generous deeds and gifts. There is need of these in the service of Christ; and if ardent love to him were more common, they would be more frequent. Love should, however, submit to the guidance of wisdom, lest it become wasteful or injurious. Our Lord will accept mistaken offerings, but it is well that the offerings should themselves be such as he can approve. One safeguard against mistake is the remembrance that he desires no display of love which is fantastic or useless, no self-denial or daring which answers no proportionate end in the advancement of his kingdom and the promotion of the good either of our own souls or of our fellow men. There is abundant room for all possible generosity, self-denial, and bravery in the practical service of Christ and man; to expend these in fruitless ways is to expose our works to condemnation, however good and acceptable may be our motives. We are to serve God with our reason as well as our feelings.
II. THE REASONABLENESS AND RIGHTNESS OF SUCH LOVE. Because of:
1. His self-sacrificing love for them. "The love of Christ constraineth us" (2 Corinthians 5:14) is their sufficient answer to any who allege that they are "beside themselves" (2 Corinthians 5:13). His love requires and justifies the utmost consecration to him of heart and life.
2. His injunctions. He claims from all who follow him that they should love him more than their nearest relations more than their own life (Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:26), and that, in serving him, they should be fearless of death (Luke 12:4).
3. His example. Of love to the Father, and complete devotedness to his will and glory (John 14:31; John 4:34; Matthew 26:39, 42; John 12:27, 28).
4. The effects of such love. In purifying and ennobling the character of those who cherish it, and promoting through them the well being of mankind. It is love for all excellence, stimulates to its pursuit and greatly aids its attainment. It is the inspiration and support of the highest and most persistent benevolence; for he who is loved is the Incarnation of Divine holiness and love, and the great Friend and Benefactor of the human race, and the return he asks for his love to us is not a barren, sentimental devotion, but practical obedience (John 14:15, 21, 23), and especially a fruitful love to our brethren (John 15:12-14; 1 John 3:16-18), whom he teaches us to regard as being himself (Matthew 25:35-45). Love to Jesus Christ has been, and still is, the strongest motive-power in the world in favour of all godliness and goodness.
5. Its rewards. Love to Christ is not mercenary, and makes no stipulation for recompense. It is its own reward. Yet in the midst of a cold and unbelieving world it needs all supports. These are to be found in the assurance of the approval and affection of Christ himself, and of the Father (John 14:21, 23; John 16:27), and the prospect of sharing the glory and joy of Christ forever (John 17:24; 2 Timothy 4:8; Matthew 19:29; James 1:12; James 2:5). On the other hand, to be destitute of love to Christ is to be lost (1 Corinthians 16:22). - G.W.
Nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out before the Lord.2 Samuel 5:3, 17.)
I. THE SACREDNESS OF LIFE. To the Hebrew the blood was the vital principle (Genesis 4:4.) Hence it was not to be eaten. Even the blood of a hunted animal or bird was to be reverently covered with dust (Leviticus 17:13.) Because of its sacredness it was used in the temple worship in acts of consecration (Exodus 29:20), and in acts of propitiation (Leviticus 4:6), and in its Divine sacredness, as flowing from the Incarnate Word, it was poured out for, that "full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world." So, too, the solemn act of David expressed the fact that life is a sacred thing.
1. With what mysteries is it linked, and mankind has ever associated the mysterious with the sacred. In what manner did life, in its most rudimentary form, enter into a world that till then had been lifeless? How wondrous is the chain of life — each following link made of more precious material arid more "curiously wrought" — that runs up from its first appearing to man, to the angels, and to the Eternal!
2. How strangely is life interwoven with life, husband and wife, child and parent, brother and brother, friend and friend. Weakness is linked to strength, and folly to wisdom; while the weakness that is wise is helped by and vet delivers the strength that is foolish. "No man liveth to himself" in the economy of God.
3. What possibilities lie undeveloped in life. The child that slumbers in its cradle may be a Croesus, a Raphael, a Napoleon, a Shakespeare, a Luther. Even when life's first stages may seem to justify a forecast of the future, what possibilities remain to us in virtue of diligence, application, fortitude, or through that overruling of things which we name fortune.
4. The everlastingness of its issues makes life sacred. The character it fashions lasts. Any chord once made to vibrate — be it of feeling or thought, or word, or act, or influence — may vibrate for ever. Death far from ending rather reveals life's issues.
5. Yet in the fact that the Son of God took to Himself a human nature, lived a human life in its varied stages as babe and boy, as youth and man, has life obtained its weightiest and indelible sanctity.
II. WHAT IS GAINED BY LIFE'S RISK PARTAKES OF LIFE'S SANCTITY. Unharmed the three returned bearing with them a draught of water for which their king and captain had longed. It was the Balaclava of Israelitish history — an act of fruitless bravery, a blunder only possible to heroes — though less fatal in its consequences. Had a warrior been lost then regret for the foolish wish might have prompted the libation. But though no evil had overtaken them the "jeopardy" had made the water bleed-like and sacred, and lie "poured it out unto the Lord."
1. Things necessary when purchased by life's risk partake of this sacredness. Every life sacrificed in the service of mankind makes man a debtor, and sets the seal of sanctity upon the survivors. The substitute for the conscript who dies upon the battlefield, the fireman who perishes at his task, the lifeboatman who falls a victim to the raging sea, the physician and nurse who die saving the patient, should make these whom they ransom at so great a cost feel that every breath they draw is no common but a most sacred thing.
2. But things of convenience, hardly of necessity, are purchased at the same cost, and obtain a like sanctity. Our boasted and elaborate civilisation is costly in lives. To some it gives comfort and days, for others it shortens the span of existence. And the civilisation which lengthens life is largely dispensible; life without these blessings would be possible, though far less enjoyable. Men could still live in wattled huts and warm themselves with a wood or turf fire. There need be no coal fire, no steam engine, no railway travelling, no great engineering works such as we are accustomed to. Yet, how many and terrible are the disasters to life and limb, which have given us these advantages, and to our nation so much of her wealth. Very costly are many of the comforts and conveniences of our modern civilisation. The cutlery which, bright and sharp, lies upon our dining table, has meant a reduction of the years of life to the grinders who gave it edge. In many of the chemical and mechanical processes which furnish us the conveniences of modern life there is a similar sacrifice of the health and life of the workers. We should shrink from doing without these things; deprived of them men would question if life be worth living; but in the use of things purchased at such a cost let us remember that cost; it would give an earnestness to much of the morally relaxed life we live, could we see these things bedabbled with the blood that procured them.
3. Still more must we feel our responsibility when whims are gratified by the risk of life. That water from the well by the gate was not a necessity; it was the gratification of a sentiment; And it was the sense that life had been jeoparded for a sentiment that made David treat it as he did.
III. There are two directions in which these words have THEIR BEARING UPON MODERN LIFE.
1. Employment means employment of life, the hiring of blood. To say a man employs so many "hands" is to mention the least important of the powers he gets a claim upon. He employs lives, hearts, characters; souls that must live for ever, destinies that never become spent. But these lives must be regarded as sacred things, and every employer should bear with him the solemn sense of responsibility. If he feels as David felt, "Is it not the blood of those men who jeoparded their lives?" he will give in respect of those who serve him every care for life and for health. Such a man would never send men to sea in an unworthy ship, or to work with deficient apparatus, or expose them to the peril of a risky boiler. Neither should the moral perils of employees be forgotten. No man can justly retain as foreman a man of good ability but bad morals. No clerk should be asked to pen a letter that goes against his moral convictions; no traveller should be permitted to feel he must get orders by means which are not "as the noonday clear," The wealth that comes from ruined health, lost lives, seared consciences, damned souls, "is it not the blood of these men?"
2. Perhaps it is well to remember that most persons are the employers of those who afford amusement. The stern Puritan days are largely past, and the average Christian man does not refrain from public spectacles on the high principle that "the world passeth away and the fashion thereof." But dare men believing in the Bible countenance amusements involving the risk of life; did not the early church bring to an end the cruel sport of the Roman amphitheatre? should not such sports as to-day involve the health and lives of those who afford others pleasure be discountenanced, and by moral influence suppressed by the followers of Christ. When we see in the coveted water from the well that is by the gate, in the gratification we have or craved, the whim we have indulged, the needless convenience we have thoughtlessly enjoyed — "the blood of men who have jeoparded their lives" — then will a solemn sense of life's sacredness steal upon us, and we shall pray, "Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God."
(J. T. L. Maggs, B. A.)
(H. Macmillan, D. D.)
PeopleAbialbon, Abiel, Abiezer, Abishai, Adino, Agee, Ahasbai, Ahiam, Ahithophel, Anathoth, Ariel, Asahel, Azmaveth, Baanah, Bani, Benaiah, Benjamin, Benjaminites, David, Dodai, Dodo, Eleazar, Elhanan, Eliahba, Eliam, Elika, Eliphelet, Gareb, Heldai, Heleb, Helez, Hezrai, Hezro, Hiddai, Igal, Ikkesh, Ira, Ithai, Ittai, Jacob, Jashen, Jehoiada, Jesse, Joab, Jonathan, Maharai, Mebunnai, Naharai, Nahari, Nathan, Paarai, Ribai, Shammah, Sharar, Sibbecai, Uriah, Zalmon, Zelek, Zeruiah
PlacesAdullam, Anathoth, Bahurim, Beeroth, Bethlehem, Carmel, Gaash, Gath, Gibeah, Gilo, Harod, Jerusalem, Kabzeel, Lehi, Maacah, Moab, Netophah, Pirathon, Tekoa, Valley of Rephaim, Zobah
TopicsAbishai, Abi'shai, Beside, Brandished, Brother, Chief, Death, Famous, Got, Hundred, Joab, Jo'ab, Killed, Lifted, Lifting, Raised, Slew, Spear, Swung, Thirty, Wielded, Won, Wounded, Zeruiah, Zeru'iah
Outline1. David, in his last words, professes his faith in God's promises
6. The different state of the wicked
8. A catalogue of David's mighty men
Dictionary of Bible Themes2 Samuel 23:8-21
LibraryThe Dying King's Last vision and Psalm
'Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, 2. The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and His word was in my tongue. 3. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. 4. And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
A Libation to Jehovah
The Royal Jubilee
David's Dying Song
Covenanting Sanctioned by the Divine Example.
The Christian's Book
Thoughts Upon the Appearance of Christ the Sun of Righteousness, or the Beatifick vision.
The Truth of God
Covenanting According to the Purposes of God.
The Work of the Holy Spirit in Prophets and Apostles.
The Blessings of Noah Upon Shem and Japheth. (Gen. Ix. 18-27. )
The Deity of the Holy Spirit.
How is Christ, as the Life, to be Applied by a Soul that Misseth God's Favour and Countenance.
Thoughts Upon the Mystery of the Trinity.
The Covenant of Grace
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