Barzillai the Great Man in Society
2 Samuel 19:31-41
And Barzillai the Gileadite came down from Rogelim, and went over Jordan with the king, to conduct him over Jordan.…

1. One feature in the Bible is that it represents members of every class of society, as not only belonging to, but actually working in God's Church. The great gathering of the people of God, which the Bible brings to notice, numbers kings, counsellors, captains, and honourable men, without distinction, as forming a part in God's great Church on earth. The jewels of God, when made up to form His crown, are of every hue and colour; not only the diamond reflecting the varied lustre of the saintly character, which dwelling apart from the world, realises itself as a denizen of heaven; but there also is the purple amethyst of earthly royalty; the pale sapphire of female loveliness; and the emerald, which borrows from the earth its hues, reminding us of the works of the creation of God.

2. Barzillai of Rogelim is one of a class of which many are mentioned in the Bible — great and rich men who served the Lord. Boaz, Caius, Joseph of Arimathea, and Barnabas are his companions. Boundless wealth and magnificence, mark at once his circumstance; unlimited hospitality is the leading feature of his conduct; loyalty, whose keen edge is only whetted by the adversity of the king whom he serves, marks his principles. He was one who had been used to feast under the song "of the singing men and singing women;" ease, courtesy, and independence marked his manner; and the marble which contained the dust of his fathers marked at the same time the last. earthly aim of Barzillai. There are some to whom the aristocracy of the tomb has a nobler lustre than the aristocracy of life; there are some who count it a higher honour that their dust should slumber with the dust of their ancestors than that they in life should repose in the palace of kings. It is among the leading features of those who are truly great in this world. Now these are the features of a great man, and suggest many lessons to the great among ourselves:

(1)  His exceeding great position is established;

(2)  His boundless hospitality.

(3)  His unswerving loyalty, and that shown especially in the king's adversity.

(4)  His uncompromising independence.

(5)  His carelessness about a court, or the luxuries of-life.

(6)  His suggesting a representative of himself to attend the king; and lastly, his feeling about his burial.

3. One duty of the great, rich man which we learn from the case of Barzillai is that of wide, enlarged hospitality. Means are a talent given to improve. But men frequently mistake the tenure of their wealth. The most minute description of the last day in the Bible is based on the claims of hospitality. It is a duty, and in exercising it a man fulfils one great rule and law of Christianity, exercises a distinct talent which God has given him, and fulfils one of those modes of employing his talents which God has left him.

4. Barzillai suggests another lesson: He entertained a king — in adversity. A persecuted outcast, king went by, and he threw his gates open to receive him. Those who are great in wealth and power too often seek the credit of those whose worldly position will cast honour on themselves by having them under their roof. The Christian and religious man of wealth and power is he who rather receives those whom the world frowns upon under his roof; and loves to lend his wealth to buy a share in the return of those on whom God's chastening hand is laid, than refuse the shelter which may bring discredit in the eyes of the world. Barzillai seems to have acted as he did without a conscious desire of worldly honour or human praise. It is not this office or that which makes a man great, it is the way in which a man occupies any office.

5. Barzillai desired burial with his father and mother. The punishment of kings of Israel was that they should not be buried by their fathers, and the first aim of Abraham was not the purchase of a dwelling-place but "the purchase of a burial place." The burial of our Blessed Lord stands as a prominent feature in the acts of His saving Life and Death, though it was where "no man had yet lain." His Sacred Body opened a new vault for the human race, and led the way to a new cave of Machpelah, beneath whose consecrated escutcheons all the Church desire burial. The burial "in sure and certain hope of a resurrection to eternal life." The burial under the motto, "Resurgam," and the escutcheon of the wing which bears the soul to heaven. So the associations of the grave became ennobled and sanctified. There the felled trees lie. There lies the record of the character with the finish which it had received at death; the penitent, the patient, the innocent, or the heavily-minded. Let those who stand in high places like him aim at an integrity and a stainless association with the past, and they Will do well. It is not the pomp of the funeral or the magnificence of the eulogy which sheds the lustre on the departed: but the epitaph of their tomb.

(E. Monro.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Barzillai the Gileadite came down from Rogelim, and went over Jordan with the king, to conduct him over Jordan.

WEB: Barzillai the Gileadite came down from Rogelim; and he went over the Jordan with the king, to conduct him over the Jordan.

Barzillai the Gileadite
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