How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up!…
How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up! All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border, etc. Man is essentially a dependent being. The ineradicable and ever-operative sense of his dependence urges him to lean his being on some object for rest and safety. His sin is that he puts his confidence on objects unworthy and unsafe. "Some trust in chariots, some in horses; etc. The Edomites, it is suggested here, trusted to the insecure. Here we have God in retriubution destroying the grounds of the sinner's confidence.
I. DID THEY TRUST TO THEIR MATERIAL DEFENCES: THESE WERE WORTHLESS. "How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up!" The reference is to the hiding places to which they resorted in eases of danger. The country of the Edomites was pre-eminently favourable for such concealment and shelter. The cities of Edom consisted of houses mostly cut in the rocks. "The great feature of the mountains of Edom is the mass of red bald-headed sandstone rocks, intersected, not by valleys, but by deep seams. In the heart of these rocks, itself invisible, lies Petra" (Stanley). "Petra is unique. The whole Edomite country, from Eleutheropolis to Petra and Selah, hath small habitations (habitatiunculae) in caves. And on account of the oppressive heat of the sun, as being a southern province, hath underground cottages. Hence the aborigines whom Edom expelled were called Horites, i.e. dwellers in caves" Nations may trust to their material defences, their armies, navies, fortifications; but they are as stubble to the ruing fire when justice begins its work. Individuals may trust to their wealth, to material science and medical skill, to preserve their bodily lives; but when justice sends forth its emissary, death, what are these defences? Nothing, less than nothing, vanity.
II. DID THEY TRUST TO THEM PLEDGED CONFEDERATES: THESE WERE WORTHLESS. "All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; they that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee: there is none understanding in him." Those confederates were probably Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Zidon, with whom the Edomites joined in resisting Nebuchadnezzar; but these failed them, probably turned against them; and even their friends who were at peace with them and ate their bread deceived them in their hour of trial. "To no quarter could the Idumeans look for aid. Their allies, their neighbours, their very dependants, so far from assisting them, would act treacherously towards them, and employ every means, both of an open and covert nature, to effect their ruin." How often it happens, that when men get into adverse circumstances, their old allies, professed friends, those who have often partaken of their hospitality, not only fail them, but turn against them! "Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm" (Jeremiah 17:5). He that trusteth even to his firmest friends leaneth on a broken reed.
III. DID THEY TRUST TO THE WISDOM OF THEIR GREAT MEN: THIS WAS WORTHLESS "Shall I not in that day, saith the Lord, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau?" "The Idumeans confided not only in the natural strength of their country, but in the superiority of their intellectual talent. That they excelled in the arts and sciences is abundantly proved by the numerous traces of them in the Book of Job, which was undoubtedly written in their country. They were indeed proverbial for their philosophy, for the cultivation of which their intercourse with Babylon and Egypt was exceedingly favourable, as were likewise their means of acquiring information from the numerous caravans whose route lay through their country, thus forming a chain of communication between Europe and India" (Henderson). Yet what is the wisdom of man to trust in? "He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." The wisdom of the wise is but foolishness; it is a miserable thing to trust in. Trust not in human wisdom; not in the wisdom of statesmen, scientists, ecclesiastics, theologians.
IV. DID THEY TRUST TO THE POWER OF THEIR MIGHTY MEN: THIS WAS WORTHLESS. "And thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the cud that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter." Delitzsch renders this, "And thy heroes despair, O Teman." Teman was the proper name of the southern portion of Idumea, called so after Tema, a grandson of Esau. Men trust in their heroes. At the banquets of public societies, companies, corporations, how does this confidence come out in the inflated cant of the speakers on the occasion, in relation to the army or the navy! A false confidence this also! God, by a breath of pestilence, can wither all the armies of Europe in an instant.
CONCLUSION. There is nothing in which the sinner trusts, nothing in matter or mind, in force or skill, that can stand for one instant before the retributive stroke of justice. Though some trust in chariots and some in horses, let us trust in the Name of the Lord. Men who trust in anything short of God are like the man who in a thunderstorm takes shelter under a tree, whose tall branches attract and receive the shock of the lightning which scorches him to ashes. - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up!