During the bitter tribulations which followed upon the various idolatrous backslidings of Israel, we can imagine the feelings of godly men in the nation as being very similar to those expressed in Psalms 80.
In ancient times thou wast Israel’s leader, and even yet thou dwellest above the ark, in the tabernacle of Shiloh; therefore be pleased to display thy power on behalf of thy people.
The prayer mentions the names of the tribes, even as the Highpriest bore them on his breast for a memorial. O, may God save and bless every section of his one church, and not our own tribe alone.
All will be right if we are right. A turn of character is better than a turn of circumstances. Turn us, and then turn our captivity.
Sorrow was both their meat and drink. Would the Lord never end their miseries? This is mighty pleading.
When the wicked find mirth in our miseries, and amusement in our amazement, the Lord will hear and deliver us.
This is a repetition, but not a vain one, for it was the chief blessing pleaded for.
Thus the bringing of the nation into Canaan is poetically described, and pathetically dwelt upon. Past favours make present sorrows very bitter, when we know that the change is caused by our sin.
The state was without order or defence, and the most ferocious enemies devastated the land. What woes were concentrated in this! Only those who know what it is to see invaders in their fields and homesteads can even imagine Israel’s low estate.
All that was needed was a visit from God, and his anointing upon the judge appointed to deliver. Barak, and Gideon, and Jephthah wen nothing without God, but if the Lord appeared they would be fruitful branches.
This was the great need of Israel—a leader bold and brave, anointed of the Lord to save. Jesus is our great Leader, and he has the might of Jehovah within him. In a minor sense such were the various judges of the tribes. Man sins alone, but he cannot escape from the consequence of sin without help. O, how much do we all need deliverance from on high.
Impressed by gratitude, they hoped to be faithful for the future.
Bad as their case was, conversion wrought by God’s grace would ensure them salvation. It is so with each of us. Let us keep this closing prayer upon our heart and lips for many a day to come.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ.”
We have now reached the shortest of the historical books, which contains the sweet rustic story of Ruth. Her history is no doubt recorded in the Scriptures because she was one of the ancestors of our Lord Jesus. He who came to save the Gentiles was pleased so to arrange the order of his genealogy, that a foreigner from a heathen land should be one of his progenitors.
They had escaped the famine, but other troubles overtook them. In every land trial will be our lot.
A las, poor soul! The darts of death wounded her terribly! Yet the Lord did not leave her alone in her widowhood; he prepared a loving heart to yield her sympathy.
This was glad news, and it came to her in a good and pious form. No idle gossip would have reported the affair in so holy a shape. Perhaps, however, this was Naomi’s way of interpreting the happy event; and it was a most proper one. We ought always to trace good gifts to the giver. Our bread, whether it be temporal or spiritual, comes from the Lord.
And then she reminded them that she had no more sons to become their husbands, and urged them to go back to their own nation, adding,—
The aged matron acted wisely in testing the young women. Many say they will join the Lords people who have not thought of the trials of true religion: they had better count the cost.
How like these two women are to certain opposite characters we have met with: one, like Orpah, is pleased with religion, and would fain follow the Lord Jesus, but gives it all up because of difficulty or trial; but the other, like Ruth, being really converted, holds on through fair and foul, and perseveres unto the end.
Thus she joined the Lord’s people, and never did she regret it. Those who cast in their lot with Jesus may have to rough it for awhile; but a fair portion surely lies before them.
She was only too glad to have her for a life-companion. The people of God are glad to welcome sincere souls into their fellowship.