And he said, Let me go, for the day breaks. And he said, I will not let you go, except you bless me.
Events drive Jacob's mind back on the past, which has been a series of wrestlings with his nearest neighbour, the gain of which has been wealth, but the loss that, in most important senses, he is "left alone." Jacob is one of those men who, wild among their fellows, are tame and best when "alone." The world contemns the man who is crafty as one of its own children when among men, but afterwards goes to the prayer-meeting. The world, however, would not be better pleased with him if he did not go, and the man, in that case, very likely would be a wilder man. There are three way-side prayer-meetings in Jacob's journeyings so far. Where God tells him that "the world has been too much with him" of late — Bethel, Mahanaim, Jabbok. Jacob is redeemed from the world by the prayer — meeting. How do we use the opportunities which God gives when He throws open to us the hallowed gates of the lonely hour? Do we enter with thanksgiving and betake ourselves to prayer, "the flight of the lonely man to the only God"? "There wrestled," &c. Again and again the heavenly world enters into controversy with Jacob, and breaks the spell of this world. At Bethel he saw angels, at Mahanaim he met angels, but at Jabbok one of them stayed to minister to the man who wrestled with the old self and needed help. "I can do all things through Christ, that strengtheneth me." When we make a vow, we lay hold on the angel of the covenant. If we forget our vow, we let the angel go. A little shell-fish can cling to the rock, despite the Atlantic, because of a tiny vacuum in the shell. Our emptiness is our strength with God. Jacob in the world is "somebody," but at the prayer-meeting "nobody" but broken, sinewless Jacob. Our wrestling must be with "pleading, not with contradiction." He blessed him there. The blessing, in brief, was the power to look at the world and himself from a cleaner heart through a cleaner eye. The place was Penuel, the face of God, and he was Israel, a prince, from that time. No religious meeting or exercise will have done us good unless it exalt us, and make the world- wife, children, home, friends, business — look lovelier and more sacred.
(T. M. Rees.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.