The Restoration of God's Banished Ones
2 Samuel 14:14
For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither does God respect any person…

These words occur in the course of a very wonderful piece of womanly pleading. With marvellous power, and with a woman's keen instinct where the heart is concerned, this otherwise unknown Tekoite pleads the cause of the ill-starred Absalom. Though Joab's was the mind that directed her, hers was the art which threw such a colour upon the cause she had to plead, that the king's soul was touched, and her suit was gained. It is not quite easy to see the force of the reasoning which links together these statements. Probably, instead of being logically connected, there is a gradation in thought, so that the closing phrase is the strongest, and intended to do the most effective work. The thing the woman wants is the restoration of the banished one; and she refers to the Divine clemency in order to provoke and to justify the human.

I. HIS BANISHED ONES; WHO ARE THEY? In a sense we are all banished ones, since for the present our relation to the Infinite Father is obscured; even those who have in them the stirrings of the spiritual sonship, though they may say, "Now are we the sons of God," must yet add, "it doth not yet appear what we shall be." And those who have not entered into the light and sweetness of that recognised sonship are very far, as one may say, from their true home. Time would fail, even to epitomise the story of God's banished ones. The wanderings of David; Elijah's flight into the wilderness; the captivity of the tribes; and the story of the prophets, all illustrate the truth of our text. They are not God-deserted even in the strange land. The story of the outcasts is ever interesting. Look at the scattered flock through the persecutions, now of the Jewish, now of the Romish authorities. Come down to more recent times and read the story of the Waldenses, the Huguenots, and the Scottish Covenanters. These men also knew how God devises "means that His banished ones be not expelled from Him." Take away their outward freedom of worship; drive these men into the wilderness; let their bodies be incarcerated in foul prisons, or given up to torture or death; the spirit finds its way to the secrecies of Divine love, and summers in its smile. Though outcast, they are not expelled from Him. But come yet nearer home; individual life even now illustrates the truth. Take the case, not at all an uncommon one, of the compelled retirement and withdrawal of any one from all that had before seemed helpful, even essential, to the religious life.

II. GO BACK TO THAT GARDEN-SCENE, TOLD US IN THE FIRST BOOK. When we come to that story, and hear how the man and woman were expelled the garden; if we were to read it thoughtlessly, we should say — How terrible a thing to lose so much; and now of course God is always angry. "So He drove out the man;" and he was banished, and, into whatever gardens he may have entered, he has not entered the garden of Eden since. All his life now is in some sense a groping after Eden. How strange — had we never read something like it out of our life-story and the story of men's lives from day to day — God seems to contrive against Himself. He banishes, "yet doth he devise means that His banished be not expelled from Him." One thing leads on to another; whither doth this banishment lead? Why, it leads to a thorn-covered earth; yes, but also to a thorn-crowned Saviour. It leads to much toil and bitterness of men's hearts, but it also leads to God's labour and Christ's travail of soul, of which He shall be satisfied. The way from Eden becomes (through God's devising) the way back to Eden; an Eden, we may say truly, where palms wave and laurels bloom, to wave over and deck the conqueror's brow.

III. THE VARIED AGENCIES BY WHICH THIS GOOD THOUGHT AND FEELING OF GOD ARE CONVEYED TO HIS BANISHED ONES, What do I mean by this? But that all the varied network of Christian endeavour is proof of the priesthood of the whole Church of God. And it is this priesthood that needs more clear manifesting. The interlacings of what we call Divine and human effort may be in a few simple words set forth. When we come much into contact with men, I mean with that which betrays their inner life, while we find much in them that pains and perplexes us, we do not fail to find repeated and startling proofs of the truths of the Bible, and especially of the truth I am trying to unfold. Well, although in these and countless ways we see proof of the exigency and earnestness of God's love, it is for those who are enlightened from the Light Divine to stretch forth the torch and give a meaning to the vague and unexpressed cravings of the human heart after God. Among the God-devised means are those ties of kinship, of common humanity, which, being sanctified by the love and illumined by the light of God, are only rightly directed under the guidance of Him who came to seek and to save that which is lost. Lost, yet His! "His banished," though their natures be sodden through with the cruel damps of their long wilderness banishment. His, not to be passed over by Him. O think of it in the light of your neglect of them, and your neglect of Him too. The King and the Father unite in this, the restoration of the banished ones.

(G. J. Procter.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him.

WEB: For we must die, and are as water split on the ground, which can't be gathered up again; neither does God take away life, but devises means, that he who is banished not be an outcast from him.

The Necessity of Death
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