And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother to the land of Seir, the country of Edom.…
I. JACOB'S PLAN.
1. How it originated.
(1) In the report he heard of Esau's approach at the head of four hundred men (ver. 6).
(2) His fear lest Esau might intend to carry out his old purpose of revenge (ver. 7; 27:42).
(3) His perplexity. Not having strength to resist such a force (ver. 7).
(4) His desire to save, if possible, the half of his property (ver. 8).
2. In what it consisted. In the division of his flocks and herds, &c., into two companies. It must have been a huge company at the first, for him to think, after the message he sent (vers. 4, 5), that his brother would imagine the half was all he had. He thought that one half, hearing the attack upon the other, might in the confusion escape while Esau was driving off his plunder.
3. The plan was well contrived. A little of the old Jacob is here planning and scheming.
4. How he wronged his brother by his unjust suspicions.
5. How he wronged God, by not in the first place seeking His guidance and help. His old method of taking the plan into his own hands. Still relying too much on human sagacity.
II. JACOB'S PRAYER.
1. Having made his plans, according to his own wisdom, then he asked God to bless him; and in the end found that his plans were all needless. Prayer at the first would have saved him much perplexity and fear.
2. When he did pray he displayed great humility of soul and dependence upon God.
(1) He approached God in His covenant relation as the God of Abraham.
(2) He reminds his Divine friend of his own obedience in obeying His call to return.
(3) He mentions the promise, "I will deal well with thee."(4) He protests his own great unworthiness.
(5) He gratefully acknowledges the good hand of God in so increasing his substance.
(6) He supplicates present help in his time of need.
(7) He reminds God of the covenant promise. Having presented this his prayer, he proceeds to select a present for his brother.
III. JACOB'S CONDUCT. All being ready, his company divided, the present prepared, Jacob sent the present forward in divisions, each drove with servants, and each servant with a message; one part of the message being that Jacob was himself about to follow the gift. The spirit of the gift conciliatory. Conciliation his avowed purpose (ver. 20). The present was designed to break down every feeling of revenge and anger supposed still to exist in the mind of Esau. Jacob himself would remain that night, which at one time he feared would be his last, with his company. Growing more confident as the night advanced, he arose and sent over his wives and children. Thus committed to the care of God all that he had. Learn:
1. That the fruit of past sins is sure to spring up in our way. Jacob cannot forget the evil he had done; nor return, after this long absence from home, without confronting its results.
2. That, prayer is the best means of meeting great difficulties. Our best plans ineffective without that blessing which prayer secures. Prayer puts the heart into the best condition for enduring trial.
(J. C. Gray.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom.