2 Samuel 1:20
Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice…
Tell it not in Gath, etc. A poetical deprecation; for already had it been told among the Philistines, and triumphed over; and yet would be. The language expresses David's sorrow at the joy of the Philistines, and its cause. The words have often been used to express the concern of good men when Christians give occasion to the enemies of Christ's kingdom to rejoice.
I. THE OCCASIONS OF SUCH JOY.
1. In general, the misfortunes of the Church, whatever hinders its advancement or causes reversal.
2. In particular, the inconsistencies of professing Christians. It is amazing how men will gloat over the occasional lapses of Christians into sins which they are themselves habitually committing. Still it is a serious enhancement of the guilt of such lapses that they cause "the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme" (2 Samuel 12:14).
3. Contentions and divisions among Christians. When these are rife, the world is apt to exclaim in scorn, "See how these Christians love one another!"
4. Failures in their work.
II. THE CAUSES OF SUCH JOY.
1. Hatred of God and goodness. To "rejoice in iniquity" is a sure sign of this; and to rejoice in the enfeebling of the power which most of all tends to its subjugation - the power of Christian life and teaching - is scarcely less so. It is a diabolical joy.
2. The encouragement in sin which is derived from the faults of good men. Sinners feel as if justified in their own sins when Christians fall into them; their guilty consciences are relieved. As if sin in themselves were less sinful because practised by those who profess to have renounced it; or as if the Law of God, Which condemns the Christian's occasional sins, did not at least equally condemn the habitual sins of others. Rather should they remember that the knowledge of the evil of sin by which they condemn others is to their own condemnation (Romans 2:1, 3). They ought, therefore, to take warning instead of indulging satisfaction.
III. HOW CHRISTIANS SHOULD BE AFFECTED BY IT.
1. They should be careful not needlessly to publish that which will produce it. "Tell it not," etc. Not needlessly; for ofttimes secrecy is impossible, sometimes it would be injurious. We must not deny facts, nor palliate sin, to prevent the triumph of enemies. But we ought not to eagerly announce to the world the occurrences which tend to our humiliation and their exultation.
(1) For the sake of those who would exult. That they may not add to their sins by their unholy joy, nor become more hardened in them.
(2) Lest we should put stumbling blocks in the way of feeble Christians; or
(3) discourage our brethren in their conflicts with evil; or
(4) lessen the power of the testimony of the Church on the side of Christ and holiness.
2. They should be still more careful so to live as to give no occasion for such exultation. "That by well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men" (1 Peter 2:15).
3. They should in no degree imitate it. Which they do when they rejoice at any scandal which arises in another Church that they regard as a rival, or at failure on its part in efforts to do good. Christian love "rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth," and will be grieved at sin wherever it may be found, and at the failure of Christian work by whomsoever it may be done. - G.W.
Parallel VersesKJV: Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.