|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:12-17 A burden of affliction is apt to make the Christian's hands hang down, and his knees grow feeble, to dispirit him and discourage him; but against this he must strive, that he may better run his spiritual race and course. Faith and patience enable believers to follow peace and holiness, as a man follows his calling constantly, diligently, and with pleasure. Peace with men, of all sects and parties, will be favourable to our pursuit of holiness. But peace and holiness go together; there can be not right peace without holiness. Where persons fail of having the true grace of God, corruption will prevail and break forth; beware lest any unmortified lust in the heart, which seems to be dead, should spring up, to trouble and disturb the whole body. Falling away from Christ is the fruit of preferring the delights of the flesh, to the blessing of God, and the heavenly inheritance, as Esau did. But sinners will not always have such mean thoughts of the Divine blessing and inheritance as they now have. It agrees with the profane man's disposition, to desire the blessing, yet to despise the means whereby the blessing is to be gained. But God will neither sever the means from the blessing, nor join the blessing with the satisfying of man's lusts. God's mercy and blessing were never sought carefully and not obtained.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For ye know how that afterwards,.... After he had had his pottage; after he had sold his birthright for it, and the blessing with it; after his father had blessed Jacob: this the apostle relates to the Hebrews, as a thing well known to them; they having read the books of Moses, and being conversant with them, in which the whole history of this affair is recorded:
how that when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected; by his father, who refused to give him the blessing, but confirmed what he had given to Jacob; and also by God, he being the object of his hatred; concerning whom he had said, even before his birth, the elder shall serve the younger, Romans 9:11,
for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears, Genesis 27:34 though he was very solicitous for the blessing, and shed many tears to obtain it, yet he had no true repentance for his sin in soiling the birthright. Tears are not an infallible sign of repentance: men may be more concerned for the loss and mischief that come by sin, than for the evil that is in it; and such repentance is not sincere; it does not spring from love to God, or a concern for his glory; nor does it bring forth proper fruits: or rather, the sense of the words is, that notwithstanding all his solicitude, importunity, and tears, he found no place of repentance in his father Isaac; he could not prevail upon him to change his mind; to revoke the blessing he had bestowed on Jacob, and confer it on him, Genesis 27:33 for he plainly saw it was the mind of God, that the blessing should be where it was; whose counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure. This latter seems to be the better interpretation of the words, though the former agrees with the Targum on Job 15:20
"all the days of Esau the ungodly, they expected that he would have repented, but he repented not.''
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
17. afterwards—Greek, "even afterward." He despised his birthright, accordingly also he was despised and rejected when he wished to have the blessing. As in the believer's case, so in the unbeliever's, there is an "afterwards" coming, when the believer shall look on his past griefs, and the unbeliever on his past joys, in a very different light from that in which they were respectively viewed at the time. Compare "Nevertheless afterward," &c. Heb 12:11, with the "afterward" here.
when he would—when he wished to have. "He that will not when he may, when he will, shall have nay" (Pr 1:24-30; Lu 13:34, 35; 19:42).
he was rejected—not as to every blessing, but only that which would have followed the primogeniture.
he found no place of repentance—The cause is here put for the effect, "repentance" for the object which Esau aimed at in his so-called repentance, namely, the change of his father's determination to give the chief blessing to Jacob. Had he sought real repentance with tears he would have found it (Mt 7:7). But he did not find it because this was not what he sought. What proves his tears were not those of one seeking true repentance is, immediately after he was foiled in his desire, he resolved to murder Jacob! He shed tears, not for his sin, but for his suffering the penalty of his sin. His were tears of vain regret and remorse, not of repentance. "Before, he might have had the blessing without tears; afterwards, no matter how many tears he shed, he was rejected. Let us use the time" (Lu 18:27)! [Bengel]. Alford explains "repentance" here, a chance, by repenting, to repair (that is, to regain the lost blessing). I agree with him that the translation, instead of "repentance," "no place for changing HIS FATHER'S mind," is forced; though doubtless this is what was the true aim of the "repentance" which he sought. The language is framed to apply to profane despisers who wilfully cast away grace and seek repentance (that is, not real; but escape from the penalty of their sin), but in vain. Compare "afterward," Mt 25:11, 12. Tears are no proof of real repentance (1Sa 24:16, 17; contrast Ps 56:8).
it—the blessing, which was the real object of Esau, though ostensibly seeking "repentance."
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