And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai,…
Many a clouted shoe, many a ragged garment has been paraded before the eyes of men during the three thousand years that have passed since the jaded asses of Gibeon entered the camp at Gilgal. Let me name some shams to be avoided.
1. Beware first of the shams of social life. Let us rather put up with the blame of being blunt and uncivil than feel that we are constantly begirt and bedizened with shams as deceitful as were the clouted shoes and the ragged raiment of these men of Gibeon.
2. Let me urge you also to beware of the shams of trade and commerce. And I do not limit these to what may be found in the shop and the market-place. I extend the warning to every professional pursuit. There are shams in them all. It has grown into a proverb, that "there are tricks in all trades"; and the proverb is more pointed because it is so true. Be poor men all your lives rather than richer ones, if riches can only be won by practices as disreputable as were the clouted shoes and the ragged raiment of the deputies of Gibeon.
3. And let us beware, above all, of the shams of religion. The most loathsome of all hypocrisy is that which assumes the garb of religion. The man who dares to assume this that he may further his own selfish ends joins himself to Ananias and Sapphira, and is not afraid to sin against the Holy Ghost. Oh! in whatever else we are hypocrites, let it not be in assuming the language and demeanour of followers of Christ while our hearts are far from Him and rebelling against Him! for this is worse an hundredfold than the clouted shoes and the ragged raiment of the Gibeonites. And of these representative shams that I have named, and of all others, it is to be remembered that one day will declare them. But though I have drawn these lessons from the words of the text, as spoken of those who wore the clouted shoes and the ragged raiment, to effect a dishonest treaty, and to give colour to a lying tale, yet the words occurred to my mind as descriptive of those by whom the clouted shoes and ragged raiment are not assumed from choice, but worn from the grim necessity that they have no other. And it is concerning this class of our communities, and our duty towards them, that I wish now to speak. It is a humbling fact that amid the civilisation and wealth of our land, of which we are so proud, there are hundreds and thousands of poor, neglected waifs — men, women, and children — who are homeless and unsheltered. Of the children, at any rate, we must say that by some cruel misfortune they are degraded to a sphere immeasurably below their birthright as children of immortality. They are more sinned against than sinning. If they are called by the opprobrious name of "human vermin," whose fault is it that they are such? If they have been declared to be "attired in the unalterable livery of scoundreldom," whose fault is it that this new and terrible representative class has been suffered to grow up in our midst in monster proportions? If they have been called by a more truthful title, the "Arabs of the streets," "their hand against every man," must it not be confessed that it is because every man's hand has so long been against them? It is our bounden duty to inquire something into the producing causes of this great mass of human sorrow, and misery, and want, and sin; let us try to do so. Of course there is a certain amount of this utter poverty for which the idleness and laziness of the people themselves must be blamed. It is true now as when Solomon said it, that "drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags." But what can we say for those homeless children who are striving to earn an honest penny by gathering holly, by holding horses, and so on? Their homelessness and raggedness has come down to them; they are born with it; their only heritage one of woe! I trace it to two causes: first, improvidence; and second, extravagance, especially in the two articles of dress and drink. But since rags and tatters are already the heritage of many thousands of children, from the improvidence and drunkenness of their parents, we must do something more than aim at removing the producing causes; we must help those hapless ones who are already in rags. I know that we shrink from doing so. This is one of the penalties of abject misery. But this feeling of aversion, though common, is unchristian! Our Lord never shrank from contact with the poorest, and filthiest, and most ragged and loathsome leper. And so it becomes us, who profess to follow in His steps, to seek to gather in even the most ragged outcast on our streets and lanes.
(J. E. Clarke, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai,