And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk…
I. First of all, THE REFERENCE TO JACOB'S FOREFATHERS: he says, "God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk." How various must be the thoughts suggested to all our minds by that same expression — "God, before whom my fathers did walk!" How many of us can say that it was the God of Abraham before whom our fathers did walk? How many must be constrained to say that it was the "god of this world .... before whom their fathers did walk!" It is an awful question which we read in the prophet, "Your fathers, where are they?" How solemnly it recalls the history of our own youth! How solemnly it bids us ask, "Were those we loved in the flesh in Christ, or were they out of Christ? "But I stay not to dwell upon that: it is clear that the feelings which were in the mind of the patriarch were those of joy and gratitude; he knew who was "the God of his fathers"; he knew that their God was his God. In the expression, therefore, "God, before whom my fathers did walk," he doubtless had reference to the sovereign grace of God, which had called Abraham from the midst of an idolatrous nation, to be " the father of the faithful" — to be he in whose "seed all the families of the earth should be blessed." His mind, therefore, was filled with lone to that God who had made Abraham "to differ," and who had so mercifully kept Abraham, even to the end.
II. But, secondly, let us speak of THE ACKNOWLEDGMENT WHICH IS HERE GIVEN OF JACOB'S EXPERIENCE when he says, "the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, the Angel which redeemed me from all evil." He appears here, I think, to refer to God's providential care of him, as well as to the spiritual mercies vouchsafed to him, when he says, "the God who fed me all my life long." For he would refer to His support in his early days at home. He would refer also to the manifest way in which God's presence was vouchsafed to him at the time he was in the family of Laban; and even perhaps now he was referring also to the mysterious manner in which God had been pleased to allow his son — his beloved son Joseph — to be taken from him for a times when he was constrained to exclaim, "All these things are against me." But now, having been taught of God the reason of the Lord's dealings; having seen how good was brought out of evil; having perceived that the Lord had sent Joseph before him, so that he might be the instrument in the Lord's hand of feeding him in the time of want and famine, he says, "the God which fed me all my life long unto this day." But I apprehend that, grateful as the patriarch must have felt for these temporal mercies, his feelings upon this point were very far less intense than they were for those spiritual mercies which God had so graciously vouchsafed to him; for we see him also saying, "the Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads." "The Angel who redeemed." And who was this Angel whose blessing he was invoking? Had it not been the Angel of the covenant, the very expression made use of by the patriarch must have been the language of blasphemy; but, instead of that, we know that it was the Angel of the covenant, even the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; and from that we gather what the nature of those spiritual mercies are to which the patriarch more especially alludes: "The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads."
III. But, thirdly, we must remark upon THE BLESSING WHICH IS INVOKED: the patriarch says, "bless the lads." He doubtless desired that there should be daily food provided for them; he doubtless desired that God's care should constantly watch over them; but there was something far greater than this he desired for them. He desired the full blessings of God's redeeming love, so that he might be able to feel that that Angel which had "redeemed him from all evil" would also redeem those children which were before him, and that they might have all that comfortable experience which he himself enjoyed. And what could be the groundwork of such anticipations existing in the aged patriarch's breast? Think you, he considered that they would merit these blessings at the hands of God, while he disclaimed all merit himself? There were no feelings of this kind in his breast, for he had been taught of God; but he knew what God he had to deal with; he felt that he had to deal with a covenant-keeping God, and he was assured that all those blessings which he besought were covenant mercies in Christ Jesus.
(H. M. Villiers, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day,