If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, surely by now you would have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my affliction and the toil of my hands, and last night He rendered judgment."
1. The Almighty God appears seasonably to stop the rage of cruel oppressors against His saints.
I. THE EVIL OF DISSIMULATION. Hatred and wrong the fruits of crafty ways. Family dissensions where the things of this world uppermost. Separations which are made in the spirit of dependence on God rend no true bond, but rather strengthen affection.
II. THE FORBEARANCE OF GOD. No justification of Laban, much imperfection in Jacob; yet the shield of Divine patience and mercy thrown over the man who vowed the vow of service, in whom his grace would yet be abundantly revealed. Laban's action controlled by God. He forbad the evil design. He stilleth the enemy and the avenger. "Take thou heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad" (ver. 29). "Touch not mine anointed," &c. When we are doing God's work and walking towards his chosen end we may leave it with him to speak with those who would hinder or harm us. - R.
Laban said to Jacob, What hast thou done, that thou hast stolen away unawares to me, and carried away my daughters, ....?I. LABAN'S EXPOSTULATION WITH JACOB.
1. There was, apparently, cause for just complaint.
(1) (2) 2. But this complaint was, really, the disguise of Laban's own evil nature. II. JACOB'S DEFENCE. 1. He challenges proof of his dishonesty. 2. He appeals to many years of faithful and honest service. (T. H. Leale.)
(2) 2. But this complaint was, really, the disguise of Laban's own evil nature. II. JACOB'S DEFENCE. 1. He challenges proof of his dishonesty. 2. He appeals to many years of faithful and honest service. (T. H. Leale.)
2. But this complaint was, really, the disguise of Laban's own evil nature.
II. JACOB'S DEFENCE.
1. He challenges proof of his dishonesty.
2. He appeals to many years of faithful and honest service.
(T. H. Leale.)
2. Wicked men of might join to themselves their allies, to help on their furious revenges.
3. Injustice and cruelty will spur souls on to the persecution of the innocent many days.
4. Envy and revenge will not give over pursuing the innocent until they overtake their prey (ver. 23).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
I. THE FLIGHT of Jacob from Laban.
1. Cause.(1) Jealousy of Jacob's prosperity amongst Laban's family (ver. 1).(2) Jacob had himself been not very kindly treated by Laban (ver. 7).(3) Command of God that he should return (ver. 13). Added to this, Rachael and Leah, also, were willing to depart, as feeling that they were not so welcome at home as formerly (vers. 14, 15);(4) and yet could not go away openly. Laban would have hindered him, or have prevented his carrying away the whole of his property (ver. 42).
2. Time. Sheepshearing. So important a duty that Laban must himself superintend it. He goes some distance from home. While Laban is absent, Jacob steals away. Collects his flocks and herds, servants and substance, and sets out over the desert which he had traversed some twenty-one years before with only his staff in his hand.
II. THE PURSUIT. Of Laban after Jacob. Laban did not hear of Jacob's flight till three days had passed. This part of the journey Jacob would naturally travel with all speed. So large a caravan could not march without leaving the plain track behind. Laban in pursuit for seven days, i.e., until ten days after Jacob had started. Reaching the mountains of Gilead and their defiles, and not overtaken; Jacob might think the pursuit had not been undertaken, or if so, then abandoned. Evening of tenth day Laban and his band approach. Too exhausted by the march to bring matters to an issue at once. The two camps retired to rest. Night settles down on the hills of Gilead, and watch fires, &c. Probably it was this night that Laban had a wonderful vision, in which he was warned respecting his treatment of Jacob. From the nature of the vision it is plain how murderous his intentions were.
III. THE PARTING. Of Jacob and Laban.
1. The controversy between Laban and Jacob. Laban's charge against Jacob. Going by stealth. Leading his daughters as captives (comp. vers. 14, 15 with 26). Pretence of great affection (vers. 27, 28). Assertion of power. Acknowledgment of Divine interference. Charge of stealing the idols.
2. Jacob's reply. Tells the truth (ver. 31), but not all the truth (comp. vers. 1-16). Repudiates, sternly and prompt]y, the charge of carrying off the images.
3. The search for the idols, which are not found.
4. They set up a memorial pillar, and so part at Mizpah. The two camps remaining there another night, and travelling, east and west, early in the morning, to meet no more. Learn:
I. Be thankful for the domestic relations of life, and that ours do not demand our flight from home and kindred.
II. Jacob bore cruel usage for twenty years, and even then did not prepare for flight till God had given him the command.
III. The vision sent to Laban shows that God would have family meetings peaceably conducted, and those who have had unkind thoughts, He would have them lay them aside.
IV. Christ Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is the Great Reconciler.
(J. C. Gray.)
2. Night apparitions in dreams God can make to terrify wicked enemies from their purposes.
3. God warns envious spirits, that they look to themselves, if they oppress His saints.
4. God curbs the spirits of wicked men sometimes, and charges them not to speak an evil word to His people (ver. 24).
(G Hughes, B. D.)1. It is no harm for the wicked to overtake the righteous, while they are curbed by God.
2. Providence may bring enemies near to His saints, and yet keep mischief far off from them.
3. God can cause the righteous to pitch near their oppressors, and yet secure them (ver. 25).
(G. Hughes, B. D. .)1. The worst dealers are most apt to question others for their doings though good.
2. Violence questions innocency for escaping from its heart, though God call it.
3. The interrogatories of oppression pretend captivity of daughters, when they go freely (ver. 26).
4. Unreasonable oppressors require a reason of the innocent's escape, where there needs none to be rendered; it being apparent.
5. Injurious men are displeased when the righteous escape without their knowledge.
6. Hypocritical violence may pretend a free dismission of the righteous, which it never meant. Laban's music (ver. 27).
7. Unnatural fathers are apt to question others as causes of their unnaturalness to children.
8. Wicked and foolish men are very forward to charge the innocent with doing wickedly (ver. 28).
(G. Hughes, B. D. .)
1.It is the property of wicked oppressors to boast of their strength, which is more than they have.
2. Wicked injurious men boast that they can do mischief against the righteous (Psalm 52:1).
3. The hand of the wicked is ready to oppress the innocent, if God hinder not.
4. Wicked oppressors complain that God hinders them in their cruel designs.
5. The ungodly will not learn to own God, though they find Him too mighty for them.
6. Fear of self-destruction keeps oppressors from destroying saints.
7. God worshipped in truth by His, is stronger than God falsified by the wicked.
8. God maketh the wicked enemy confess His sovereignty sometimes against their will (Deuteronomy 31; Deuteronomy 32:29).
(G. Hughes, B. D. .)1. Plain and ready answers become the saints against the charges of the wicked.
2. Just fear of violence is a just ground of the saints escaping it, under God's call.
3. God's call and saints' fear of dangers from men may well consist together.
4. Violent rapture of wives and children by cruel men may make the saints afraid of, and fly from it (ver. 31).
5. Holy souls abhor idols, and much more the covering of them.
6. Innocency is not afraid to put itself upon trial of life.
7. Plain honest hearts dare put themselves upon the search and judgment of their enemies.
8. Good fathers of families would have all with them innocent its themselves.
9. Good men may be too confident of the goodness of such as are under them.
10. Ignorance of other's hearts and actions makes men so rash and confident of them (ver. 32).
(G. Hughes, B. D. .)1. False accusers of the saints are willing to turn every stone, to make good their charge upon them (ver. 33).
2. God in His wisdom useth the sins of one creature to frustrate the sin of others (ver. 31).
3. Sin once committed putteth souls upon more sin to conceal it.
4. Hypocrisy and lying is the way that sinners use to cover stealing.
5. God may bear with the iniquity of some to clear the innocency of others.
6. Such as seek occasion against the saints, God so orders, that they find it not (ver. 35).
(G. Hughes, B. D. .)I. THE RETRIBUTIONS THAT MARKED THE LIFE OF JACOB.
1. Jacob had sought by fraud, position and possession in his father's house. He is now an exile from his father's house — an outcast and a wanderer.
2. He who had defrauded Esau, is now himself defrauded by Laban.
3. He who had deceived his father was afterwards himself deceived by his sons.
4. Another form of retribution that awaited Jacob, was the having to encounter and deal with the brother whom he had so cruelly and foully wronged.
II. THE DISCIPLINARY CHARACTER OF THE RETRIBUTIONS THAT MARKED THE LIFE OF JACOB. We are slow to learn the lessons of a godly life by precept. God therefore teaches us them by experience. Jacob's character did certainly advance under the discipline.
1. At Haran he applied himself at once to honest industry, instead of having recourse to artifice and cunning.
2. A spirit of magnanimity marked many of his dealings with his uncle, contrasting favourably with his earlier indications of self-seeking.
(W. Roberts.)I. THE RELIGIOUS CONSISTENCY OF JACOB.
1. His trials. And among these we should rank, as of the first importance, that he had been compelled by circumstances to dwell beyond the range of true piety, and to sojourn in an idolatrous land, and with an idolatrous family. Another of the trials to which Jacob was exposed, was the footing on which he stood in the family of Laban. The whole period had been to him a time of affliction; and, but for the favour of his God, this lengthened service, hard as it was, would have terminated in poverty. "Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely thou hadst sent me away now empty." Jacob had no reason to expect such treatment as this from a cousin and a father-in-law. A third trial which Jacob had to endure was, to a feeling mind, peculiarly severe. His attachment to Rachel appears to have been sincere and ardent. He could not, then, but feel deeply the deception that was practised upon him. Among Jacob's trials we must enumerate also many of the scenes of domestic life.
2. We come to notice Jacob's errors.
3. But we turn now to a more gratifying subject of consideration, when we notice, the personal piety of Jacob — the influence which, during twenty years of trial, his principles had upon his personal character.(1) With reference to his sobriety, excepting the error of polygamy, which was indirectly sanctioned, there is nothing on record against him. He was not guilty of any of that violence which had filled. the earth, or of those vices which were too general all around him.(2) With reference to the righteousness of his dealings with his fellow-men, he was zealous in the service of his master, moderate beyond measure in his requirements, and faithful in his engagements. He could appeal to Rachel and to Leah, "Ye know that, with all my power, I have served your father." And he had their testimony, and even that of Laban, to the faithfulness of his service.(3) Of his godliness there can be no question. It is manifest that he dwelt with God, and God with him. His habits were those of piety and communion with God; and even the language of Leah and of Rachel show that, by his influence, they were led to cultivate the same spirit. We are told that they prayed, and that God hearkened to them. "The God of my fathers hath been with me, God suffered him not to hurt me." "God hath taken away the cattle of your father, and given them to me." And again, "Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely thou hadst sent me away now empty." "God hath seen my affliction, and the labour of mine hands, and rebuked thee yesternight." And this view of Jacob's devotional habits is confirmed by the testimony of the sacred writer, that God really was with him.
II. But before we draw a practical conclusion from these things, there is another point on which we shall do well for a moment to delay. IT IS THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD TO HIS SERVANT. God had made a covenant with Jacob by promise; and when Jacob journeyed onward from Bethel, the promise of Divine favour rested upon him. Jacob was pious, because God was gracious. Jacob persevered, because God was faithful. His God had promised "to be with him, and to keep him in all places whither he should go"; and not one word failed of all that the Lord had spoken to him of. The secret agency of God's providence availed for his protection, and for his correction in righteousness. From this period, then, of the Patriarch's life, let us learn the wisdom of confiding ourselves to the care of the Almighty God. "He careth for us." You, then, who are only entering upon the world, or are now struggling with its cares and its temptations — who feel how difficult it is to walk humbly, circumspectly, and without offence — let the twenty years of Jacob's hard service teach you a useful lesson. The path of probity and rectitude is the path of honour, happiness, and success. It is not man, but God that you serve, and He will not forget you. At the same time this history will administer to you a salutary caution. You must not expect deliverance precisely when you wish it, nor in the way most satisfactory to yourself. Clouds may gather when you look for sunshine. Look to the covenant of His grace, and lean upon it, for "it shall not be moved"; and determine, that by His grace you will faithfully fulfil all the relative duties of life, however painful and distressing.
(E. Craig.)1. Faithfulness in good servants makes them undergo day and night labours for the good of their rulers.
2. Heat and cold consumptions with restless nights will grace incline to endure to honour God in service.
3. Such faithful service is a testimony against the wrongs and injustice of cruel masters (ver. 40).
4. Unwearied doth grace make souls to be in the service to which they are called by God.
5. Faithfulness will not let a soul to take wages or receive good gratis.
6. The best service may be repaid with hardest measure from griping masters.
7. Good service will rise in judgment against the hard dealings of evil rulers (ver. 41).
8. Where man is injurious God Himself will plead for righteous servants.
9. The true God is known to be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
10. Propriety in God and fear of Him is the best way of knowing God.
11. It is the design of wicked men to undo those in this world whom God doth own and will prosper in it.
12. God takes special notice of the sufferings and faithful doings of His servants towards wicked men.
13. God rebukes the envious and malicious spirit of cruel men against His righteous servants.
14. God's approbation of His own and reprehension of the wicked is a full defence against false charges or criminations (ver. 42).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
(M. Dods, D. D.)
PeopleAram, Isaac, Jacob, Laban, Leah, Nahor, Rachel
PlacesCanaan, Euphrates River, Galeed, Gilead, Jegar-sahadutha, Mizpah, Paddan-aram
TopicsAffliction, Empty, Empty-handed, Except, Fear, Hadst, Handed, Hands, Hardship, Isaac, Judged, Judgment, Kept, Labor, Labour, Nothing, Rebuked, Rendered, Reproveth, Surely, Toil, Troubles, Unless, Wouldest, Yesternight
Outline1. Jacob, displeased with the envy of Laban and his sons, departs secretly.
19. Rachel steals her father's household gods.
22. Laban pursues after him, and complains of the wrong.
34. Rachel's plan to hide the images.
36. Jacob's complaint of Laban.
43. The covenant of Laban and Jacob at Galeed.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesGenesis 31:42
1245 God of the fathers
5095 Jacob, life
5685 fathers, responsibilities
LibraryGen. xxxi. 11
Of no less importance and significance is the passage Gen. xxxi. 11 seq. According to ver. 11, the Angel of God, [Hebrew: mlaK halhiM] appears toJacob in a dream. In ver. 13, the same person calls himself the God of Bethel, with reference to the event recorded in chap. xxviii. 11-22. It cannot be supposed that in chap xxviii. the mediation of a common angel took place, who, however, had not been expressly mentioned; for Jehovah is there contrasted with the angels. In ver. 12, we read: "And behold …
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament
Appendix xvi. On the Jewish views About Demons' and the Demonised,' Together with Some Notes on the Intercourse Between Jews and Jewish Christians in the First Centuries.
How the Rude in Sacred Learning, and those who are Learned but not Humble, are to be Admonished.
Epistle Xlix. To Anastasius, Bishop of Antioch .
The Great Shepherd
And He had Also this Favour Granted Him. ...
A Treatise of the Fear of God;
Meditations for the Morning.
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