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all the comfort and splendours of Pharaoh's court for poverty and contempt (Heb. xi. 24–27); and in the hope of this many of Christ's servants are working and waiting now.
O children, I can wish no better wish for you than that He who is Himself His people's exceeding great reward may be yours also (Gen. xv. 1); and that when the Saviour shall appear, and His
reward with Him (Rev. xxii. 12), you may obtain a share in it, and receive a full reward (2 John 8). May you here so run as to obtain it (1 Cor. ix. 24, 25). May the blessing pronounced on Ruth be true for each of you: “A full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust” (Ruth ii. 12). MERCY C. W.
LESSONS FOR SENIOR CLASSES.
THE VIRTUOUS WOMAN.
Proverbs xxxi. 10–31.
NOTES OF LESSON FOR A YOUNG WOMEN'S
THESE verses form in themselves a complete poem. In the original each verse begins with the consecutive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
Some of its details belong to other and simpler days; but all Scripture is written for our learning, and the principles which made the “virtuous” Hebrew matron are as effectual to form the character of every English woman. In its fulness it is the portraiture of a wife ; but this does not interfere with its usefulness as a study for women,
married or unmarried.
The matron who would answer to this picture must have the outline fully drawn in girlhood.
Vers. 10-12 serve to introduce the theme ; vers. 13-29 enter on the particulars ; ver. 30 points out the root of her varied excellencies; and ver. 31 tells of the full reward.
I. The tenth and two following verses.
“Who can find,” etc ? What implied ?--The rareness of the blessing.
The word “virtuous” has reference also to strength of character, and implies mental and moral energy or courage. Compare 2 Pet. i. 5. " The word in
cludes a great fear of God, which is so powerful as to endue one with courage to do well” (Patrick).
Women liable to a want of firmness of character. To what is the virtuous woman compared ?— The evident meaning that she is beyond all price.
Her husband's confidence in her (ver. 11). What supposed ?—Discretion. This perfect confidence could only have been won by uniform correctness and simplicity.
“No need of spoil,"_" so that he shall fall into no poverty" (Cranmer). Proverb,—"A man must ask his wife's leave to thrive."
The Hebrews at this period often obtained “spoil” in encounters with their heathen neighbours, and those who tarried at home sometimes shared and took part in the spoil.
“ No need;" industry left no temptation to such a doubtful course.
If in married life you would like this trust, you must first be worthy of it. In friendship it may be cultivated.
What a comfort to have for a friend one who may be safely trusted—one whom you may trust with your love, your confidence, your sorrows, and feel sure that these are safe. In friendship or in love, such a woman will do good and not evil all the days of her life.
II. From the thirteenth to the twentyninth verse.
We hope the teacher of our senior classes of girls will take great pains to get up this beautiful lesson, and do their best to render it effective when they teach it. We are much indebted to "Dora" for this and other contributions from her pen. She cannot “ trouble" us too often,-Editor,
It would occupy us too long to take up point by point in this description. We must group some of them together. Look at a few leading features.
1. Industry (vers. 13, 14, 17–19, 22, 24, 27).
Notice how full her hands are of varied and useful occupation. And yet she was what, in our day, we should call a lady. Mistakes often made on this subject. Uselessness no part of ladyhood. Girls will dread being known to do anything in domestic affairs, or for their livelihood.
The precise form of the industry pictured not needed, and would not be use
but the industry itself can never be superseded.
One great charm of such industry is suggested in ver. 13. Taught again with fuller sanctions in the New Testament (Col. iii. 23; Eph. vi. 7).
The seventeenth verse implies exercise and the effect of it. Muscular power increases by use.
Her great industry in domestic matters (ver. 27). If ever called to be mistresses, remember there is no kindness in letting a household go on without looking well to its ways. Two mistakesà fidgetty, restless inspection of those ways; and an easy letting things go on without interference.
2. Activity (vers. 15, 18).
Those who rule the house should beware of slothful habits. Early hours help all members of a family. Do not think it hard if they are insisted on.
“A portion,”—rather of work* than good. Arrangement of time for us, or by ourselves, a great help to the right use of it. Only we must make our plans bend, when necessary, to the will and comfort of others. They should be made of india rubber, not of iron.
3. Benevolence (ver. 20).
An industrious and active woman without this ready sympathy would become hard. She saves that she may
4. Forethought (vers. 16, 21, 22, 25).
"She considereth.” How apt some people are to buy a thing without con
sidering Is it worth the purchase ? Do I really want it? Will it be of abiding use?
Again (ver. 21), why not afraid ? Observe marginal reading. She remembered winter would come, and made preparation in the summer for it.
How many young women in service forget this ! A small sum placed in the savings bank yearly, from early youth, would soon accumulate, and would make a store either to help to furnish a home, or for sickness or old age. Look forward, and do not have to run for covering when the snow is come.
The twenty-second verse speaks of ornamental dress. All ornaments in the way of dress not sinful; but the true limits of it are difficult to define, and very easy to transgress. We may get a hint however here. This woman has first provided all the necessaries of life for her family (ver. 15); she has contributed for the relief of the poor (ver. 20); she has seen to all comfortable clothing (ver. 21) before she thinks of ornamental attire.
And then notice its characteristics, "strength and honour.” Any fashion or form of dress that is not modest is not honour. · Nothing is beautiful in pure eyes that offends in the slightest degree the law of moral light.” Any dress for which a woman goes into debt is neither strength nor honour. Emphatically it is weakness and dishonour.
Is honour your clothing, or do you think clothing your honour ?
5. Discretion and kindness (vers. 24, 26).
“ She openeth her mouth,”—a test of character. Many seem“ virtuous” till they open their mouths and folly drops out instead of wisdom. What a comfort it must be to a husband to have no misgivings when his wife begins to speak !
Married or single, we may cultivate this grace. If we would speak wisdom, we must ask wisdom (Jas. i. 5).
“ The law of kindness," not kind. words occasionally, but with the evenness of a natural law.
Then the temper must be controlled.
* Septuagint reading, “works."
None who yield to hasty or sullen temper have within them the law of kindness. Knowledge may be power in men, but gentleness is power in women.
III. Thirtieth verse.
Here obedience is traced up to faith. “ Favour is deceitful”-earthly favour : "beauty vain,” but not to be despised ; like every gift of God it was originally good. It may be used for Him, may increase influence ; but vain to depend upon, vain if alone, vain because passing away.
“But a woman that feareth the Lord” (Ps. cxi. 10; Prov. xiv. 26). Her works flowed like a stream, but the fountain which fed it was her heart's trust in God. Those who believe, who fear the Lord with holy childlike fear, will invariably obey.
“Righteousness,” personal righteousness is the fruit of faith.
IV. The thirty-fifth verse.
Connect with vers. 28, 29. A continuation of the praise, or a prayer on her behalf. Not saved for our doings; we shall nevertheless “ eat of the fruit” of them. Compare Matt. xxv. 21 ; Gal. vi. 7-9; Heb. vi. 10; Rev. xiv. 13.
Take care that you begin on a right foundation. “ The fear of the Lord,” the Old Testament phrase for all that is implied in living faith, is the only solid ground on which to build the graces which form the lovely character of the “ virtuous woman."
trary to the express command of God given by Joshua: Josh. vi. 26.)
More than five hundred years had elapsed since that awful curse had been pronounced ; until the reign of wicked Ahab none had dared to risk the vengeance of Him who had declared Himself to be “a great God, a mighty and a terrible” (Deut. x. 17). Now, however, Hiel the Bethelite arises to make the daring venture.
Had he any excuse for disobeying God's command ?—No; it was boldly, deliberately, and defiantly done. He was not even a heathen who knew not the word of the Lord : the man's name, signifying “ God liveth," proves that he had been brought up in the fear of the Most High-born too in the town of Bethel, the house of God. (Gen. xxviii. 19.) Certainly no excuse of ignorance can be brought forward for him. But what terrible judgment overtook Hiel ? -(Abiram, his first-born, died.)
Yes; stricken by the hand of Him whom his father had defied, the little
was removed-removed, may be, from “the evil to come," but nevertheless torn away from that home of which till now he had been the pride and joy. Did Hiel take warning ?-(No.)
From the boldness of defiance, or the madness of folly, or wilful blindness, we know not, all we are told is that “ the foundations of the city were laid,”. afterwards “the gates " " set up.” Hiel will not receive the warning, and repent, and turn to the Lord : on he goes ; stone after stone is laid upon the walls; and we can imagine that the man looked upon his work with something akin to pride, though with muttered imprecations at the presentiments of evil which would arise to dim his airy visions and shatter his ill-founded hopes. Yes ; those hopes were shattered, and shattered speedily; ere the impious work was quite completed, the builder's youngest son, Segub, died, “ according to the word of the Lord."
Surely now Hiel would repent, would see his madness, and confess“ the Lord He is the God." Whether it was so or not we cannot tell : the facts of the case are given to us, and we must hope to
1 Kings xvi. 34. “In his days.” To whom do these words refer ?-(Ahab.)
Yes. Ahab was now king of Israel ; in the previous verse we have a fearful account of his reign. " Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him." Can we wonder then that he allowed one of his subjects to sin openly, unreproved, against the Lord ? How did Hiel sin ?-(He rebuilt Jericho.)
But how was that sin?-(It was con
known, except by Him who knoweth all men, than to have earned notoriety at the cost he did.
Hiel set up the gates of the city in' the blood of his son. The gates of a heavenly city, even the New Jerusalem, have been opened to us by the blood of the Son of God-His “ well-beloved," His "
only-begotten” Son; that city, "whose builder and maker is God," into which “ there shall in nowise enter anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a lie, but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life” (Rev. xxi. 27); into which God Himself shall shut His people, and from which “ they shall go no more out."
“ One genera
draw right conclusions from them. Very much, however, can we learn from the verse before us, which comprises the history of three individuals. What is the one great lesson taught us from this sin of Hiel, and its speedy retribution ?That the Lord “will not call back His words” (Isa. xxxi. 2); that what He says He is able to, and will, perform. What is said in Psalm lxii. 11?
We are sometimes too apt to lull the guilty conscience to rest with the thonght “God is merciful,” forgetting that He has declared Himself that“ the soul that sinneth it shall die," and that He will " by no means clear the guilty."
God's word is unchangeable. tion passeth away, and another generation cometh ;' but the word of the Lord remaineth for ever. “ Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (Matt. xxiv. 35).
This thought is a warning to the careless; but how much comfort it brings to those who can say with David, “ Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”
Hiel resisted God, openly defied Him; in spite of the premonitory warning in the death of his first-born, he persisted in his work of wickedness. Do our consciences acquit us of any resemblance to him? Has God spoken to us by “ the earthquake" of some terrible judgment, by" the fire ” of some bitter and heavy affliction, or by“ the still small voice” of His own word and Spirit, calling us as
weary and heavy laden,” to come and "find rest” for our souls ? and have we listened to that voice? Or, like Hiel, have we hardened our hearts, and stiffened our necks, saying "How doth God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?” (Ps. Ixxiii. 11.) This question should be taken home to the heart; for before God each one must answer it for himself.
If love of fame actuated Hiel in his desire to rebuild Jericho, he met with what he wished. His name has been handed down to posterity ; but how? as one who openly defied the Lord, and was overwhelmed in the curse which he had ridiculed. Surely better far would it have been for him to live and die un
THE ADVOCATE. “He shall stand at the right hand of the poor, to save him from those that condemu his soul” (marg. “from the judges of his soul.”)-Ps. cix, 31. THE verse which we have chosen for our lesson this afternoon contains much precious doctrine, the consideration of which, with God's blessing, may bring profit and comfort to our souls.
How often we pass precious gems in the mine of truth, without perceiving their beauty and excellence! We constantly need, when reading the Bible, to offer up the prayer of the psalmist, “ Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.” Without this spiritual enlightenment we are blind—“having eyes, but seeing not."
Observe in the verse before us to-day the different parties mentioned:-1. The accusers, or judges ; 2. The accused the poor and needy; 3. The Advocateour Lord.
The accusers, or judges-Satan, conscience, justice. First appears Satan, master of the opportunity : “now is his hour and the power of darkness ; ” doubts, fears, the terrors of despair are his present weapons, and he huris them with steady hand at the hapless accused. Conscience next loudly tells over the victim's sins: as the dark list is un
rolled before his eyes he trembles, but and they are exemplified in the fact that can deny no item on the fearful list. we are spared to be present here to-day, Justice now appears, demanding full to praise His holy name, and to read · satisfaction for its broken law; its His holy word. We will first consider claims are righteous, and cannot be put power. aside.
This is a sovereign attribute of Deity. What has “the poor” to offer out of God is omnipotent, all-powerful. We his spiritual poverty to meet its require- find this frequently alluded to in the ments? How answer all these “judges Bible; see Gen. xviii. 14; 1 Chron. xxix. of his soul”? He stands condemned 12; Job v. 9; Job xxvi. 14. How is by all, having nothing to plead--utterly God's power shown ?-(By His works.) helpless and hopeless, without excuse. Yes; pre-eminently by creation. The
Is his case then a hopeless one? Ah, wonderful mechanism of the human no! There stands One at his right hand body itself (far more marvellous than any who will save " the poor.”
invention of man), does it not proclaim The Advocate. “ If any man sin," a Divine origin? While thinking of etc. (1 John ii. 1.) Hear His answer to this subject, we can but exclaim with Satan in the case of one of His own David, “I am fearfully and wonderfully tried ones: " The Lord rebuke thee, made (Ps. cxxxix. 14). Not only the Satan : is not this a brand plucked out body, but the mind of man is a proof of of the fire?” (Zech. iii. 2.)
66 Thou Divine power. Weakened and depraved hast desired to have him, but I have as it now is by sin, we cannot form a prayed for him.”
just estimate of its real excellence. To the conscience of “the poor" He Again, the world in which we live prosays, “ Behold, I have caused thine claims the potency of its great Architect; iniquity to pass from thee, and I will “He hath made the earth by His clothe thee with change of raiment” power (Jer. x. 12). And the starry (Zech. iii. 4). Justice is silenced, by heavens, surely they “ declare the glory seeing all her demands fully satisfied in of God:" it is the hand of Omnipothe work and person of the Advocate tence that hath placed those wondrous (2 Cor. v. 21).
far-off lights in the surrounding firma“ Reason not with me,” said a Chris- ment (Gen. i. 16), and still regulates tian after a severe conflict with Satan; and governs them. The world and all “I am but a poor weak woman; if thou it contains, the heavens and all they bast anything to say, say it to my contain, are mighty proofs of the power Christ: He is my Advocate, my Strength, of Jehovah. and my Redeemer: He will plead for me." You all know the saying, “Know
My young friends, have you yet com- ledge is power;" if we apply it as a mitted your case to the “one Mediator truth, it affords another instance of the between God and man”? or do you mightiness of God. Many passages in vainly hope to stand on your own merits the Bible speak of the Divine wisdom. before a holy God? Do not attempt to We read that “His understanding is add to the finished work of Jesus, but infinite” (Ps. cxlvii. 6), and beyond rest your soul wholly on His merits : human comprehension (Ps. cix. 6); " there is therefore now no condemna- and St. Paul tells us that in Him“ are tion to them who are in Christ Jesus." hid all the treasures of wisdom and
HOPE. knowledge” (Col. ii. 3). Job too (xxxvi.
4) speaks of the “perfect” knowledge
of Jehovah. POWER AND MERCY.
We might mention several other “ Power belongeth unto God; also unto
proofs of the Divine omnipotence, but Thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy.”--Ps. Ixii. we will only dwell upon one more, that 11, 12.
evidenced in the Person of our Lord WHAT two attributes of God are here Jesus Christ. What was the real feelspoken of ?—(Power and mercy.) Yes; ing (or magnet,” as it has been