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James Comper Gray.

The Biblical museum : a collection of notes, explanatory, homiletic, and illustrative, on the Holy Scriptures, especially designed for the use of ministers, Bible students, and Sunday school teachers (Volume 10) online

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or scoff have changed their minds before they went home, like
one which finds when he doth not seek. 6

6—9. (6) heap . . field, i.e. the ruins would be gathered
into heaps in the same manner as in cleaning a vineyard, or as
our farmers gather up the stones when they clean a field. a
valley, below Samaria, wh. stood on a hill, discover, i.e. lay
bare the very foundations. (7) hires, riches of the idol-shrines.
gathered, etc., the strongest Scripture figure for covetous
wickedness. (8) wail, etc., i.e. in anticipation of the desolation
I will at once assume the garb, etc., of the mourner, dragons,
etc., Le. xi. 16 ; Job xxx. 29. (9) incurable, nothing can now
heal it, or stay the threatened corruption.

Samaria. — On the morning of the third day after our de-
parture from Jerusalem we left Shechem— the Shechem of the
Old Testament, but bearing in the New Testament the name of
Sychar. "We started early in the morning on our way to another
city of still greater celebrity, the ancient city of Samaria. Our
tents had been pitched on a beautiful plain at the foot of Mount
G-erizim. Before the light of the morning sun had reached them
they were once more struck, our Syrian horses were saddled, and
we went down at once into a deep valley. Through this valley,
which greatly attracted our attention in consequence of its
various enchantments, there flows a bright and musical stream.
It scatters richness in its path. The trees and shrubs which
spring up around it are such as are common in these regions —
pomegranates, almonds, olives, mulberries, the fig tree, the vine,
the orange, the oleander. The valley, in its great fertility,
seemed to be loaded everywhere with the yellow richness of its
fruits, and the varied hues of its flowers. The stars gradually
retired from the sky. The golden sunbeams crept silently among
the dewy branches. I listened to the voice of the rocky stream.
The song of the morning birds answered to the song of the
waters. Nature rejoiced and put on her ornaments at the sound
of these sweet voices.*

10—12. (10) Gath, see 2 Sa. i. 20.° Aphrah, poss. Ophrah,
Jos. xviii. 23. roll . . dust, the sign of deepest sorrow. (11)
Saphir, a village among the hills of Judah. Zaanan, poss.
the Zenan of Jos. xv. 37 : site unknown. Beth-ezel, unknown.
Poss. the Azel near Jerus., Zee. xiv. 5. (12) Maroth, also un-
known, waited, better, sickened.



Cap. 1. 13-16.]



MIC AH.



189



some eight or nine
country contrasting



Samaria {continued). — Proceeding thus
miles in a northern direction through i

strongly in the whole distance with the barren mountains and
plains which are to be found in many other parts of Palestine,
we came to the city of Samaria. This city, situated on the side
of a lofty but gently sloping hill, with broad and deep valleys
around it. was once the residence of the kings of Israel, after the
revolt of the ten tribes against the kings of the house of David.
Of the great wealth and splendour of Samaria, at different
periods of its history, I suppose there can be no reasonable
doubt. It is said in the Book of Kings that Ahab built a palace
of ivory in Samaria ; and prophetic denunciations, called forth
by the luxury and oppressions of the Samaritans, are found in
the Book of the Prophet Amos. " I will smite the winter house
with the summer house ; and the houses of ivory shall perish ;
and the great houses shall have an end, saith the Lord.'* These
expressions indicate with some distinctness the magnificence of
the city of Samaria at an early period. It had its vicissitudes ;
but its wealth and splendour remained for many years. After
the conquest of Palestine by the Romans, and during their
authority here, Samaria was selected as a place of viceregal
residence, and was enriched and beautified by works of art.
Herod the Great once resided here ; and expending upon it all
the vast resources of his genius and tyrannical power, he gave it
the proud name of Sebaste, in honour of Augustus Caesar.
Christianity also, at a later period, left the impress of its piety
and genius. Ascending the eastern brow of the Samaritan
mount, one of the objects that first met our view was the lofty
remains of a Christian church, said to have been built over the
body of John the Baptist. Standing afterwards upon the
western brow, at a mixes distance from this church, where the
beauties of nature eclipsed those of art, 1 cast my eye along the
valleys of Sharon towards the distant Caasarea and the waters of
the Mediterranean. The valleys and the waters live ; but cities
perish, leaving a sad memorial. All around us the dust was
literally sown with columns : 6ome prostrate at full length on
the ground ; some partially buried and projecting from the side
of the hill ; some standing erect in rows and at stated intervals,
but without capitals, like wounded and mutilated soldiers on the
field of i-attle ; some leaning towards the ground, as if they
were borne down with hearts of sorrow, and were mourning the
loss of their former greatness. They reminded me of those
newly -cleared fields, where the old stumps remain — the rough
and ancient masters of the soil — refusing with stubbornness to
be removed, and projecting raggedly and mournfully from the
earth, in all diversities of position.*

13—16. (13) Lachish, 2 Ki. xviii. 13, 14. beginning, etc.,
or '■ the first place in the kingdom of Judah to adopt idolatry of
the northern kingdom." (14) Moresheth-gath, a place
belonging to, or near, the Philistine Gath. Achzib, Jos. xv.
•44. lie, lit. a deceptive brook that dries up and disappoints the
thirsty wayfarer. (15) Mareshah, Jos. xv. 44. Adullam,
2 Chr. xi. *7. (16) bald, addressed to Judah. poll thee, or
shave thy hair, eagle, better, vulture, wh. is distinguished for
its bald head.

Samaria (continued). — Art, genius, power, have been here :



and his tears to
the gaze ol
enemies." — Spk.
Com.

p. 8. " Or, « os-
triches.' It is
attirmed by tra-
vellers of good
credit, that
ustriches make a
fearful, screech-
ing, lamentable
noise. ' During
the lonesome
part of the night,
they often make
a very doleful
and hideous
noise. I have
often heard them
groan, as if they
were in the
greatest agonies:
an action beauti
fully alluded to
by the Prophet
Micah.' (Shaw.)"
—Binder.

A. man that
comes hungry to
his meal, feeds
heartily on the
meat set before
him, not regard-
ing the metal
or form of the
platter wherein
it is served ; who,
afterwards when
his stomach is
satisfied, begins
to play with the
dish, or to read
sentences on his
trencher.

b Prof. Upham.



"Mr. Bruce hai
given us an ac-
count of an
eagle, known in
Ethiopia only
by the name
nisser, eagle ; but
by him called the
golden eagle ; by
the vulgar, abou
duch'n, father
long-bennl, from
the tuft of hail



190



MIC AH,



[Cap. ii. 1-3.



under his chin. |
He is a very large I
bird. ' A forked |
brush of strong j
hair, divided at [
the point into \
two, proceeded
from the cavity j
of his lower jaw, i
at the beginning
of his throat. He j
had the smallest j
eye I ever re-
member to have i
seen in a large I
bird, the aperture
being scarcely
half an inch. The
crown of his head
was bare or bald,
bo was the front
where the billand
skull joined.'
This is the bird
alluded to by the
Prophet."— Bur-
der.

a Prof. Vpham.



a " Might, not
right, is what
regulates their
conduct." - Fa us-
set.

"The only cause
why you forget
so fast as you
hear, and of all
the sermons
which you have
heard, have
scarce the sub-
stance of one
in your hearts,
to comfort or
counsel you when
you have need, is
because you went
from sermon to
dinner, and never
thought any
more of the
matter; as
though it were
enough to hear ;
like sieves, which
hold water no



idolatry with its abominations, wealth with its luxurious refine-
ments, art with its creative and adjustive eye, tyranny with its
kings, the just and purifying dispensation of the Old Testament
with the denunciations of its Elijah and Elisha, and the peace,
forgiveness, and purity of the New with its early and humble
teachers. The weary foot of the Son of God, the Teacher from
another world, the man unknown, has left its pleasure on these
hills and valleys. He came from the Jordan to Jerusalem, and
from Jerusalem to Galilee ; and He " must needs go through
Samaria." The glory of Samaria has departed. Not, perhaps,
in the absolute sense of the term ; for something still remains.
Beauty with diminished brightness lingers even here. But still
the physical change is great. The rock, from which ancient
fertility once sprung up, is now laid bare ; and the flower refuses
to grow upon the rocks. The moral change is greater — a change
which is seen in other parts of the East, but is peculiarly painful
when witnessed in this land. The heart of the Christian saddens
and sinks within him when he names it. The name of Mahomet
is substituted for that of Christ ; and the precepts of the Koran,
in this part of Palestine, as well as in other parts, have taken
the place of the sublime doctrines and precepts of the Gospel.
But it cannot be so always. I cannot think with those who
shake their heads and speak discouragingly. Hope is, in some
sense, the lifespring of the soul, and is the last thing to be
allowed to die. And I may perhaps add that the hope is always
defective which is less expansive than love. The empire of love
is the universe — it lives and acts where there is anything to be
saved or benefited — and it is the nature of love to carry hope in
its bosom."



CHAP TEE THE SECOND.

1—3. (1) devise, intimating deliberate design in the out-
working of evil, power . . hand, Ge. xxxi. 2*9 ; Pr. iii. 29 .«
(2) covet fields, etc., Is. v. 8. oppress, etc., i.e. defraud him
both of his liberty and his property. (3) family, or race,
remove . . necks, the coming evil is'likened to a yoke fixed on
a beast's neck, time is evil, being characterised by moral evil
it must be visited with evil consequences.

Consequence of besetting sins.— Just as certainly as a single
match may explode a whole magazine, or lay a town in ashes —
just as surely as a single leak may sink the proudest vessel that
ever marched the seas— so one solitary sin, if suffered to invade
and rule the heart, will destroy the piety of the holiest saint.
If other illustrations of this principle were needed, we have
them unhappily in abundance. Look at Solomon. How devout
and holy before his " heart went after strange women I" How
shameless a libertine thereafter ! Look at Judas, the Balaam of
the New Testament. So corrupted and accursed did he become,
through the sin of greed, that he could sell his Redeemer for
thirty pieces of silver. Look at Demas. Nay, look not so far
away ; look around you, at those whom you know as having once
run well, but also, alas ! as having been utterly overthrown by
some besetting sin. One was overcome by the sin of intern-.



Cap. ii. 4-9.]



MIC AH.



191



perance. Another fell Y\e Demas. When you first knew him,
he was an humble-minded, devoted, zealous Christian ; but God
greatly prospered him in business, and he was not proof against
" the deceitf ulness of riches." His love of money increased in
the ratio of his increasing possessions, and ate away his piety as
doth a canker. Young women also you have known, bidding
fair for honourable distinction in the ranks of Christian de-
votedness, who afterwards yielded to the seductions of worldly
pleasures as they solicited them in the voluptuous dan^e or the
drama ; who, like other moths, were blinded with the blaze, and
at last came forth with the wings of their spiritual life all
scorched and shrivelled, if indeed through the mercy of God they
did not perish in the flames,'

4—6. (4) shall one take, i.e. one of your enemies. In a
mocking and derisive spirit they would take up your own lamen-
tations, lament, etc., Heb. naha. nehi, nihyah, a repetition
representing the continuous and monotonous wail. a " Shall wail
a wail of woe."* changed the portion, or removed His
people from their inheritance, turning, etc., i.e. turning us
into captivity, He has given our fields to our enemies. (5) cast
a cord, for measuring the allotments. (6) prophesy, Ileb.
"drop not your words," comp. De. xxxii. 2. to them, i.e. to the
godless people, take shame, better, remove from them the
disgrace of going into captivity. d

A parable. — The stones from the wall said, we come from the
mountains far away, from the sides of the craggy hills. Fire
and water worked on us for ages, but only made us crags.
Human hands have made us into a dwelling where the children
of your immortal race are born, and suffer, and rejoice, and find
rest and the view of infinite wisdom ; the small things may be as
important in their place, as necessary for instrumentally accom-
plishing Goi's pleasure, as the great. It is a small thing in itself
that Lord Mounteagle is vHted by some stirrings of conscience
and affection ; but is the instrument in God s hand of frustrating
the Gunpowder Plot — of saving the British King, Lords, and
Commons from destruction — of preserving the British empire for
its lofty part in Providence as the bulwark of Protestant Chris-
tendom. What thing is in itself more small and (to our appre-
hension) accidental than the cackling of a goose ? And yet that
is the instrument in God's hand of rousing Titus Manlius at mid-
night to discover that the Gauls are stealing into the citadel, and
so of saving Rome from perishing in her infancy, and preserving
her for those mighty destinies, in reference to the whole world
and Church, which God's purpose had assigned to her — which
His Word has prescribed for her — as the empress city, the queen
of the nations.'

7—9. (7) straitened, or shortened, Is. lix. 1 ; Zee. iv. 6.
good . . uprightly ? implying that if God's words were of a
threatening character it must be bee. the people were not walk-
ing uprightly. (8) of late, Heb. yesterday. There is a poss.
reference to the recent invasion of Judah by Pekah." The fig.
of the v. is taken from the acts of the highway robber, robe . .
garment, both the outer and inner coats. 4 (9) women, etc..
2 Chr. xxviii. 8. my glory, the temporal blessings wh. were
the sign of God's favour and covenant.



longer than they
are in a river.
What a shame is
this, to remem-
ber every clause
in your lease, and
every point in
your father's
will ; nay, to re-
member an old
tale so long as
you live, though
it be long since
you heard it, and
the lessons which
ye hear now, will
be gone within
this hour, that
you may ask,
what hath stolen
my sermon from
me?"— He nr if
Smith.

b T. Akroyd.
a Fausset.
b Pusey.

c Jos. xiv. 1, 5;
Ju. i. 3 ; see also
De. xxxii. 8, i).

d " The meaning
is prob. : — (The
oppressors) say to
them that pro-
phesy, Prophesy
not : (but) they
will go on pro-
phesying ; (yet)
it is not for the
sake of these men,
whose shame
shall not depart,
that they shall
prophesy."— Spk.
Com.

e Alacg regor'B
" Christian Doc-
trine."



a2Chr.xviii.5,8.
b " The words im-
port that the Is-
raelites invaded
their country-
men of Judasa,
who had given
them no provo-
cation, and were
willing t) live
peaceabJy with



192



MICAR.



[Cap. ii. 10, 11.



them ; and in a
violent manner
stripped them of
all their sub-
stance, even to
their wearing ap-
parel." — Lovcth.

v. 7. B. Beddowe,
viii. 133.

«• With women
worth the being
won, the softest
lover ever best
s u c c e eds." —
Shirley.

" But what, alas I
are woman's
vows ? Fit to be
written but on
air, or on the
stream that
swiftly flows." —
Cicero.

c Matthew Arnold.



a " Sinoe such are
your doings, my
sentence on you
is irrevocable,
however distaste-
ful to you: ye who
have cast out
others from their
homes and pos-
sessions, must
arise, depart, and
be cast out of
your own, for this
is not your rest."
— Fausset.

Le. xviii. 25, 28,

29.

* Or, "walking in
wind and false-
hood."

v. 10. Dr. J. Donne,
iv. 135 ; J. Mason,
309, 335 ; F.
W rang ham, i.
401 ; Dr. J. dim-
ming, Voices of
Night, 68.

• J. Foote.



Woman looks for worth in men. —

She smiles and smiles, and will not sigh,
While we for hopeless passion die ;
Yet she could love, those eyes declare,
Were but men nobler than they are.

Eagerly once her gracious ken

Was turn'd upon the sons of men ;

But light the serious visage grew —

She look'd and smiled and saw them through.

Our petty souls, our strutting wits,
Our labour'd puny passion-fits —
Ah, may she scorn them still, till we
Scorn them as bitterly as she 1

Yet oh, that Fate would let her see
One of some worthier race than we —
One for whose sake she once might prove
How deeply she who scorns can love.

His eyes be like the starry lights —
His voice like sounds of summer nights—
In all his lovely mien let pierce
The magic of the universe.

And she to him will reach her hand,
And gazing in his eyes will stand,
And know her friend, and weep for glee,
And cry — Long, long I've look'd for thee !

Then will she weep — with smiles, till then,
Coldly she mocks the sons of men.
Till then her lovely eyes maintain
Their gay, unwavering, deep disdain.*

10, 11. (10) arise . . depart, into captivity, not yonr
rest, it can be no secure resting-place for you in your wilfulness
and wickedness. As a sin-stricken land it is under Divine judg-
ments." (11) spirit 6 and falsehood, or, in a lying spirit,
prophesy . . drink , promising you abundance of self-indulgent
things. These are the Prophets whom the people would approve
and accept.

The world not our rest (v. 10). — I. Why we can never have our
rest in this world. 1. Because our continuance on earth is short
and uncertain ; 2. Our life on earth has many changes, dis-
appointments, and sorrows ; 3. It is not a satisfying portion for
the soul ; 4. The prevalence of sin. II. The exhortation, " Arise
ye, and depart." 1. In the spirit of your minds : 2. In the
tenor of your conduct. Apply : — (1) Congratulate those who
have ceased to seek rest in this world ; (2) Warn those who are
still seeking rest on earth ; (3) Some who have lost their former
rest have not found another/ — A call to depart (v. 10). — I. The
unhappiness that belongs to human life lessened — 1. By igno-
rance ; 2. By insensibility ; 3. By prosperity ; 4. By employ-
ment ; 5. By friendship ; 6. By religion. II. What are the
causes of the unhappiness of life. 1. The infinite disproportion
between our desires and our power : 2. The weakness of our
judgment continually making mistakes ; 3. One evil destroys the
pleasure of almost all the good for a time ; 4. Almost every



Cap. iii. 1-4.]



MIC AH



193



good has its peculiar kindred evil ; 5. Whatever good is given
only excites the infinite wish for more ; 6. The hazardous un-
certainty of everything future : 7. Sin is the mighty evil that
destroys and transforms everything ; 8. The soul is not at home
here. III. What is to be done 1 IV. Arise ye, and depart."*

No rest on earth — The prairie on fire. — One night, ages ago, a
fire broke out in an American wilderness. A spark dropped on
dry leaves, the lighted leaves flew before the wind, the flames
raced along the grass, and glanced from tree to tree, till all the
forest was ablaze, and night was turned into a terrible day.
Certain Indians, driven out of their hunting-grounds by the red
storm, fled for their lives : hour after hour they ran, until, half
dead with fatigue, they reached a noble river ; they forded it,
and after scaling the opposite bank, their chief struck his tent-
pole into the ground, threw himself on the cool turf, and cried,
11 Alabama ! " — " Here we may rest ! " But that chief was no
prophet. The land was claimed by hostile tribes. The fugitives
reached no resting-place there ; they were soon beset by foes
more relentless than the elements : having escaped the fury of
the fire, they perished from the cruelty of man, and where they
looked for the still delight of a home, found but the quiet of a
grave. Let this tradition serve as a parable. Earth has no
Alabama for the soul. "Arise, depart; for this is not your
rest."'

12, 13. (12) assemble, again, after the objects of the cap-
tivity have been accomplished in you. sheep of Bozrah, a
district famous for its rich pastures.* 1 great noise, comp. the
bleating of a large flock. 6 (13) breaker, the leader who shall
break down every obstacle in the way of their return. We may
assume a full reference to the Messiah, but poss. a first reference
to Cyrus, who, by the taking of Bab., broke down the great
obstacle in the way of the Jews' return. Lord . . them, Is. Hi.
12.

The breaker is before (v. 13). — I. Since Christ has gone before
us things are not as they would have been had He not passed
that way. II. Every foe is conquered. III. The power of hurt-
ful things is destroyed. IV. We have but to march on and take
the prey.«

CHAPTER THE THIRD.

1 — 4:. (1) heads . . princes, official rulers, magistrates. Those
who should be examples to the people. (2) pluck . . bones,
robbing those who come to the judgment-seat, instead of doing
them justice* (3) eat, etc., the Prophet likens their cruel out-
rages to cannibal feasting. 6 (4) then, i.e. in the time of God's
judgment, see ch. ii. 3. not hear, bee. they will only cry in
pain, not in penitence.

The old French regime. — One of the greatest abuses of the
French Government, previous to the Revolution, was to be found
in the administration of justice, which, from the reign of
Louis XII., was really bought and sold. When the sale of an
office took place, the purchaser petitioned the crown for a grant
of it : and when that grant was signed, he paid, besides the prire
which the vendor was to receive for it. a sum of money into tlte
royal treasury. The amount of that sum varied from one

VOL. X. O.T. W



d J. Foster.



As the needle in
a compass trem-
bles till it settles
in the north
point, so the
heart of a sinner
can get no rust
but in Christ.



e Stanford,



a 2 Ki. iii. 4.

b " He says men,
in order that the
comparison of
Israel to a flock
may be better
understood." —
Wordsworth.

t>i>.12,13. J.GIas,
iii. 241 ; E. Ers-
tine, iii. 434.

c C. H. Spurgeon.



a " Who exercise
all manner of
cruelty upon
their inferiors, as
if they were so
many butchers
cutting moat for
the shambles." —

Lnirlh.



6Comp.Eze.xxiT.
3—5.



194



MICAH.



[Cap.iii.5-7.



The Princess
Elizabeth,
daughter of
Charles I., was
found i lead one
day, with her
ha 1 1 ailing on
the Bible, and
the Bible open
at the words,
"Come unto Me
all ye that labour
and are heavy
laden, and I will
give you rest."
Her monument
in Newport
church consists
of a female figure
reclining her
head on a marble
book, 'with the
above text en-
graved on the
book.



e Percy Anec,
« Spi. Com.

b 1 Sa. ii. 16.

c "Calamities
shall prcsson you
so overwhelming
as to compel you
to cease pretend-
ing to divine."—
Fausset.

d Le. xiii. 45;
E'/.e. xxiv. 17. 22.
" They shall be so
a- liana wl of them-

- not to
dare to open their
mouths or boast
of the name of
prophet." — Cul-
riii.

" My aim in every
sermon is a stout
and lusty call to
sinners, to
quicken the
saints, and to be
made a universal
blessing to all."
^■Aoic'cnid Hill.



thousand to two thousand French crowns. A worse feature in
the French administration of justice was the epices, or presents
made by the parties in a cause to the judges before whom it was
tried. To secure the judges the proportion which the suitors
were to contribute towards the expense of justice, it was provided,
by an ordinance of St. Louis, that, at the commencement of a
suit, each party should deposit in court the amount of one-tenth
part of the property in dispute ; that the tenth deposited by the
unsuccessful party should be paid over to the judges on their
passing sentence ; and that the tenth of the successful party
should then be returned to him. This was varied by subsequent
ordinances : insensibly it became a custom for the successful
party to wait on the judges, after sentence was passed, and, as an
acknowledgment of their attention to the cause, to present them
with a box of sweetmeats, which were then called epices. or
spices. By degrees this custom became a legal perquisite of the
judges ; and it was converted into a present of money, and
required by the judges before the cause came to a hearing : Kan



Online LibraryJames Comper GrayThe Biblical museum : a collection of notes, explanatory, homiletic, and illustrative, on the Holy Scriptures, especially designed for the use of ministers, Bible students, and Sunday school teachers (Volume 10) → online text (page 31 of 64)