Joel 1
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
The literary style of this book deserves the consideration of every student of Scripture. With the exception of Isaiah and (as some think) of Habakkuk, Joel surpasses all his brethren in sublimity. His pictures of the disasters following upon sin are marvellously vivid, and his promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit was still living in the memory of the Jews when Peter, on the day of Pentecost, declared that its fulfilment had come. The first half of the book describes the Divine judgments which were at hand, and the second half (beginning with the eighteenth verse of ch. 2.) unfolds the promise of Divine favour. Its readers pass from darkness to light, from grief to joy, from estrangement to reconciliation; and in this book, as in experience, the transition hinges on the penitential prayer to which it was the prophet's mission to summon the people. We know scarcely more of Joel than the fact that he was the son of Pethuel. But the meaning of his name - "Jehovah is God" - was suggestive; for it was none other than the cry of the people on Carmel, when fire came down from heaven in answer to Elijah's prayer, and would therefore serve as a reminder to his auditors of their solemn acknowledgment of Jehovah's supremacy and claims.

I. THE PREPARATION WHICH JOEL RECEIVED FOR WORK is described in the single phrase, "The word of the Lord came to Joel." This was the one fact necessary to authenticate his message. If God was speaking through him, then - whoever he might be - the world was bound to listen to him; his word was a declaration from the Unseen. There is now a general forgetfulness of the possibility of such revelation. It is accepted by some as an axiom that the God who created the world and set it going cannot interfere further with his own handiwork; that if he exists at all, he lives at an infinite remove from mundane affairs, as did the god of Epicurus. If we speak of works done which cannot at present be accounted for by the laws we have deduced from observed ordinary phenomena, and urge that men have had glimpses of an outlying sphere of energy which surrounds what is visible, we are regarded as credulous enthusiasts. But in an earlier age there were men whom scientists would be the first to condemn, who, having never seen a comet blazing in the sky, nor heard of such a phenomenon, would have laughed to scorn its possibility. Yet the world now not only believes in the existence of comets, but has found out the law of their return, and has assigned them their own places in the planetary system with which once they appeared to have nothing in common. Is it not possible that the same process will take place in regard to what we now call supernatural? There are psychical phenomena still awaiting explanation which have convinced us that we have influence over each other, apart from physical contact; and if one human spirit can affect another, surely it is not incredible that the Father of spirits was able to touch the springs of thought and feeling in those ancient prophets. Indeed, this was not peculiar to them; it is an experience of to-day among the devout and prayerful, who obey the command of their Lord, "What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light."

II. THE OBSCURITY OF WORK with which Joel was content. His was the spirit of John the Baptist, who was willing to remain only the "voice" of God. The world little thinks how much it owes to its silent workers in literature, in politics, and in religion. Many are living in quiet homes, or in poor lodgings, whose names are never heard, whose duties are not suspected, who by their pens are leading the nation in ways of righteousness. God's most faithful servants are sometimes personally obscure. Some are patiently plodding away at monotonous work, and bear in the spirit of their Master many an injustice and cruel slight. Others in business stretch out the helping hand to weaker brethren who, but for such timely aid, would sink in a vortex of ruin. And ministering angels still venture into haunts of vice to seek and to save those who are lost. The Father who seeth in secret will hereafter bestow some of the highest places in his kingdom on those who all their life long have been without honour or applause.

III. THE INFLUENCE OF JOEL'S WORK it would not be easy to over-estimate. Several of the later prophets were indebted to him for suggestive thoughts and phrases. Peter quotes his prophecy about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit; and John, in his Book of the Revelation, makes use of his image of the locusts. It is thus that God builds the temple of truth. We see its stately proportions and exclaim, "Behold what manner of stones and what buildings are here!" but how often we forget the quarries from which the stones were dug. and the workmen who did the first rough work of shaping them for the Master's use! It is not so with God. We often admire the hero who, in advocacy of the truth, compels the world to listen; but the germs of his character may be traced to the nurture of a gentle mother, whose character and teaching, with God's blessing, made her son what he is. He is the living witness of the issues flowing from her obscure work.

IV. THE COURAGE AND HOPEFULNESS which Joel showed in his work. All was dark around him, and he knew things would be darker still before the sunshine came. He was living in a kingdom which, after the revolt of the ten tribes, was about equal in area to the county of Suffolk, and even with the addition of the district belonging to Benjamin was not so large as Yorkshire. Yet he boldly looks forward to a time when that kingdom would be the centre of light to the world. We talk of the "materialism of the old dispensation;" but here is faith in spiritual force which may put us all to shame. We ought not to be unduly discouraged by statistics which compare the numbers of Christians with the numbers of heathens. We should reflect that on the side of Christ are the leading nations of the world - not those falling into decay, but those which are planting the future empires which will rule the future. Yet, with all our thankfulness for this, our confidence must be not in it, but in him who can and will work through these peoples till all the kingdoms of the world become the kingdoms of our God. - A.R.

The word of the Lord that came to Joel the son of Pethuel. Hear this, etc. These verses lead us to look upon some aspects of that terrible national calamity which was the great burden of the prophet's ministry. We learn from the passage -

I. THAT THIS CALAMITY WAS DIVINELY REVEALED AT FIRST TO THE HIND OF ONE MAN. "The word of the Lord that came to Joel the son of Pethueh" No one knew at first what a sad calamity was coming on the country but Jehovah himself. No sage, seer, or priest knew anything of it. The Eternal selects one man to whom to impart the intelligence, and that one man seems to have been so undistinguished and obscure, that history takes scarcely any notice of him. Such a fact as this suggests:

1. The distinguishing faculty of man. Of all the creatures on earth, man alone can receive communications kern heaven. Man alone can take in a "word" from the Lord. We know not how the word came unto him. The great Father of spirits has many ways of striking his thoughts into the souls of his children. Sometimes by awakening a train of suggestions, sometimes by articulate utterances, sometimes by dreams at night and visions in the day. He has divers ways. Souls are ever accessible to him.

2. The manifest sovereignty of God. Why did he select Joel more than any other man? There is no proof that he was greater or holier than many others in his country. No reason can be assigned for the selection but the grand reason that explains the creation of the universe. It was after the counsel of his own will - according to his good pleasure.

II. THAT THIS CALAMITY WAS UNPRECEDENTED IN HISTORY. "Hear ye this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. Hath this been in your days, or even in the clays of your fathers? ' He means to say that such a disastrous event the oldest man amongst them had never seen, nor had they learnt from the histories of the past of anything equal to its terrific character. Terrible judgments had fallen on Judah before; but this, according to Joel, was the greatest of all. Observe:

1. That no Divine judgments have been so great as to preclude the possibility of greater. The penal resources of the righteous Judge are unbounded. The most tremendous thunderbolts that he has thrown upon the world are only as atoms compared with the massive mountains he might hurl. Great as your afflictions have been, they can be greater.

2. That the greater the sins of a people, the greater the judgments to be expected. It is probable that Judah's sins were greater at this time than they had ever been before, and that, consequently, severer penalties were to come. Eternal justice requires that the sufferings of individuals and communities should be in proportion to the number and aggravation of their sins. Take care, sinner; in every sin you commit you are treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath.

III. THAT THIS CALAMITY WAS SO TREMENDOUS AS TO COMMAND THE ATTENTION OF ALL GENERATIONS. "Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation." The terrible events of God's judicial providence have a bearing beyond the men in whose history they occur. These that occur in one age and land demand the study of men in all ages and lands. They are not confined to individuals, they have a bearing on the race; not confined to men, they embrace humanity even to remotest times. Hence the importance of history. Truthful history is the Bible written by Providence to the world. But why should such an event as this be transmitted to posterity?

1. Because it shows that God rules the world. It is not controlled by chance or necessity; it is under the control of One who is not only All-mighty and All-wise, but All-just, who will not at all clear the guilty.

2. Because it shows that God takes cognizance of the world's sin, and abhors it. These facts will be of interest and importance to the generations that are unborn, even to the end of time.

IV. THAT THIS CALAMITY WAS INFLICTED BY THE MOST INSIGNIFICANT OF GOD'S CREATURES. "That which the palmer-worm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the canker-worm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpillar eaten." There is no authority for the opinion that the creatures here mentioned were symbols of hostile armies who were about to invade Judah. The locust belongs to the genus of insects known amongst entomologists as gryllii, which include the different species, from the common grasshopper to the devouring locusts of the East. The creatures, therefore, mentioned in the verse seem to be from different species of locusts rather than from different kinds of insects. And the words may be paraphrased, "That which one swarm of locusts hath left, a second swarm hath eaten; and that which the second swarm hath left, a third swarm hath eaten; and that which the third left, a fourth swarm hath eaten." To punish sinners, God does not require to hurl thunderbolts from his throne, or flash lightnings, or despatch Gabriels from his heavens. No; he can make insects do it. He can kill men by a moth. He can smite a nation by a gust of wind. He can perform his purposes by an army of locusts as easily as by a hierarchy of angels. - D.T.

The generations of mankind succeed one another upon the face of the earth; but they are not disconnected, isolated, independent. Each receives from those who have gone before, and communicates to those who shall come after. Hence the continuity of human history; hence the life of humanity.

I. TRADITION ALONE IS AN INSUFFICIENT BASIS FOE RELIGION. It is well known that oral tradition is liable to corruption. Inaccuracy creeps in, and the truth is distorted, by the weakness of memory, the liveliness of imagination, the power of prejudice. Hence the importance of a "book-revelation," which has been often but unjustly reviled. The Scriptures are a standard by which correctness of belief may be tested, by which ignorance may be instructed, and errors avoided. There were traditions in the apostolic age which originated in misunderstanding, and which were corrected by the evangelists.


1. Memories of Divine goodness and interposition are thus preserved. The Passover may be adduced as an example. The children of a Hebrew family asked, when partaking of the Paschal meal, "What mean ye by this feast?" and an opportunity was thus given for the father to relate the story of Israel's emancipation from the bondage of Egypt.

2. Instances of Divine displeasure and wrath following upon human sin were thus handed down. Joel alluded especially in this passage to such purposes as these: Calamities came upon the land; the people were sorely chastened; and the prophet enjoins upon the old to communicate, to their posterity - to their children's children - the awful events by which Jehovah signalized his indignation with national unfaithfulness and disobedience.

3. Piety was thus promoted. One generation would learn from another what are the Divine laws, what the principles and methods of the Divine government. In this manner the fear of the Lord, and confidence in his faithfulness, would evidently be promoted and perpetuated. - T.

This solemn appeal to those who are designated and denounced as drunkards is fraught with implicit lessons of wisdom and faithfulness for all devout readers of God's Word.

I. IT IMPLIES THE PREVALENCE OF SPIRITUAL SLUMBER. Such is the state of those who are immersed in the cares and the enjoyments of this earthly life, who are deaf to the thunder of the Law and to the promises of the gospel, who are blind to the visions of judgment or of grace that are passing before their closed eyes.

II. IT DENOUNCES SPIRITUAL SLUMBER AS SIN AND FOLLY. The body needs sleep and repose; but the soul should never be insensible and indifferent to Divine and eternal realities. Such a state is one of indifference to the presence and to the revelation of him who has the first claim upon the hearts he has framed. Slumber such as this is fast deepening into death.

III. IT CALLS FOR REPENTANCE AND NEWNESS OF LIFE. There is implied a power to respond to the Divine summons. And certainly the first thing for the sinner to do is to shake off sloth and indifference, to look about him, to listen to the voice that speaks from heaven, to catch the welcome accents of the gospel, which is the message of God to the souls of men. Blessed be God, this is the appeal: "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light!" - T.

Awake, ye drunkards, and weep I and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine! for it is cut off from your mouth. The words imply that the wine used in Judah was of an intoxicating character, that men in that country used it to an inebriating extent, and that such men should humble themselves in deep penitence on account of the great calamity that was coming upon the land. A more contemptible character, a more injurious member of the human family, exists not upon earth than a drunkard. Drunkenness is the chief curse of England to-day. Despite the earnest and praiseworthy efforts of temperance reformers, establishments for creating and supplying the intoxicating beverage are increasing in size and multiplying in number on all hands. The beer-house has become one of the most influential estates of the realm. A few years ago there were only three estates - the throne, Parliament, and the Church. Not long since journalism was added to the number, and now we must add the beer-house. This beer-house bids fair to control the House of Commons, sport with Cabinets, and even to govern the nation. The prophet here thunders in the ears of the drunkards of his country. Why should these drunkards now weep?

I. BECAUSE THEY WERE TO BE DEPRIVED OF THE BLESSING THEY PRIZED THE MOST. What does the drunkard value most? The intoxicating cup. For this he will sell his country, his self-respect, his health, his wife, his children, his all. By the intoxicating cup you can buy him over to any cause. But these drunkards in Judah were to lose that. Joel says, "For it is cut off from your mouth." The locusts were to destroy the vine, and there would be no grapes, and therefore no wine. God will sooner or later take from every sinner that which he values most, that which he esteems his greatest pleasure or enjoyment. He will take power from the ambitious, wealth from the miser, pleasure from the voluptuary, the intoxicating cup from the drunkard.

II. BECAUSE THEY WERE TO LOSE THE BLESSING THEY HAD ABUSED, God will not have his gifts abused. He who abuses his blessings shall inevitably lose them. He dried up the vine now in Judah because men had abused it. And! am disposed to think it would be a blessed thing for England, ay, and a blessed thing for drunkards, were all the spirit-distilleries, all the breweries, all the beer-houses, dried up as this vine now was. I scarcely know which is the worse, the drunkard or the drunkard-makers.

CONCLUSION. "Awake, ye drunkards!" Awake from your sottish stupidity! Reflect upon what you are, and what a self-ruinous course you are pursuing. Awake! You are sleeping on the bosom of a volcanic hill about to burst and engulf you. "And weep." Because of the blessings you have abused, because of the injuries you have inflicted upon your own natures as well as others; weep because of the sins you have committed against yourself, society, and God. "Howl, all ye drinkers of wine!" Ah! if you were aware of your true situation, you would howl indeed - howl out your soul in confession and prayer.

"O thou invisible spirit of wine,
If thou hast no name to be known by, let
Us call thee devil."

(Shakespeare.) D.T.

The old covenant was one especially characterized by human ministrations and external observances and solemnities. Apart from priests and sacrifices its purposes could not have been accomplished, and its witness to the world would have been unintelligible and vain. No wonder that to the Hebrew mind no prospect was more terrible than the cessation of public worship, of public offerings, of sacerdotal services. In the spiritual economy under which we live, the case is somewhat different. Yet no enlightened mind can contemplate without concern, without dismay, a state of society in which religious offices should be suppressed and religious ministrations silenced.




The description given by the prophet of the devastation and misery caused by the horrible plague of locusts is so graphic and so frightful, that the very strong language in which the effect produced upon the inhabitants of the land is portrayed cannot be deemed exaggerated. The husbandmen are covered with shame, and joy is withered in all hearts.

I. JOY IS NATURAL TO MAN, AND IS THE APPOINTMENT OF A BENEVOLENT CREATOR. It is occasioned by the plentiful produce of the earth, by the possession of health and by circumstances of comfort, by the solace of human affection. Joy is a motive to activity, and diffuses itself from heart to heart, and raises the tone of society. A joyless life man was not designed to leach

II. THE VISITATION OF CALAMITY MAY WITHER JOY. It is a plant of great beauty, but also of great delicacy. Exposed to the fierce winds of adversity, this fair plant withers and decays. Such is the constitution of the world, and such the changeable. ness of life, that this event does sometimes occur, as in the circumstances described in this passage by the Prophet Joel.

III. EVEN THE WITHERING OF JOY MAY BE SANCTIFIED AND OVERRULED FOR GOOD BY TRUE RELIGION. It may lead the afflicted to seek consolation and happiness in a higher than any earthly source. Especially does the gospel of Christ, by revealing unto us as our Saviour "a Man of sorrows," teach us that there are joys of benevolence and self-sacrifice which are preferable to all delights of sense, to all enrichments of worldly prosperity. - T.

The afflictions which befell Judah are represented as producing a deep impression upon the whole nation, and as justifying the calling of a general fast.

I. THOSE WHO FAST. This is an exercise which cannot be performed vicariously.

1. All the inhabitants of the land take part in it.

2. The elders of the people, as representatives and leaders, are especially summoned to attend.

II. THE TOKENS OF FASTING. Mere abstinence from food or from delicacies is not religious fasting. Humiliation and contrition are the essentials. Yet these may express themselves in renunciation of ordinary pursuits, refusal of ordinary pleasures, the assumption of mourning garments, the refusal of wonted repose and comfort.

III. THE RELIGIOUS ASPECTS OF FASTING. There must be acknowledgment of sin before God, with confession and contrition. The Lord's house must be sought. The confession must be general and public. The cry of prayer must be heard in the sanctuary. Such a fast will not be observed in vain. It will prepare the way for the day of reconciliation, and for the feast of gladness. - T.

In this chapter the prophet gives a graphic description of the devastation of the land of Judah by swarms of locusts. After eating all the green leaves and succulent parts of the trees, they destroyed even the bark (ver. 7), so that the effects of this awful visitation would last, not for a single season, but for years. God sent this pest, as he sends other troubles, in order to arouse the sensuous and careless people to thought and to contrition. The withdrawal of earthly blessings often tends to turn men's thoughts to those that are heavenly. Losses and griefs of every kind may bring a man or a nation to penitence, and this is one of their designs, But while this chapter primarily refers to a physical plague, any one who reads between the lines can see here suggestions of spiritual desolation, symbolized by the visitation of locusts. The vine was a well-known emblem of God's people, and as such was used by our Lord (John 15.); and the desolation of it, caused by locusts, fitly sets forth that condition of the Church which is brought about by its numberless enemies. When fruit-bearing has ceased, and life is enfeebled, and God's paradise becomes a wilderness, there is need for the penitential prayer called for in our text, Ecclesiastical history reveals to us periods when the Church seemed thus to lie under a curse; and in our own day there is enough of spiritual barrenness to call for heart-searching and earnest supplication. It only needs that God should send showers of blessing, and then even the wilderness shall rejoice and blossom like the rose. The subject suggested by our text is religious reformation, and some of its characteristics which are here hinted at demand consideration.

I. THE ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF GOD'S CLAIMS. The priests were to take the lead in this act of national repentance. Insensibility to the presence and the power of the Most High was being removed by signs and wonders which even the most carnally minded would understand. Now they were summoned to a true turning to him in prayer. They were not called upon merely to "appoint" a fast, but to "sanctify" a fast. In other words, they were to hallow their abstinence by an acknowledgment of God; they were to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance. Fasting is never acceptable in itself, but only when it is employed as a sacrifice unto God. Depriving one's self of food or of pleasures may be practised for the good of one's health or for the sake of winning notoriety, and when it is so there is no moral or religious worth about it.

II. THE PRACTICE OF SELF-RESTRAINT. "Fasting" is a word which ought to have given to it the widest signification. Generally used to denote abstinence from food, it may be as fairly applied to any refusal of indulgence to animal appetite, however innocent such indulgence, under other circumstances, may be. The keeping of a fast in mere deference to a social custom or to ecclesiastical ordinance is of no great value. But true fasting is inculcated by our Lord himself, though he personally refused to keep the ecclesiastical fasts of his own day. The restraint of appetite, the curbing of the animal nature, is essential to the doing of great works for him. Of the lunatic boy Jesus said to his disciples, "This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." This has its application to indulgence in strong drink. Total abstinence has a part to play as well as prayer in driving out the demon of drunkenness. Such fasting would do much to remove a curse which is as terrible as was the devastation of the land of Judah by locusts.

III. THE CULTIVATION OF RELIGIOUS FELLOWSHIP. The "solemn assembly" which was to be summoned was a religious gathering of the people. Their national unity was greatly fostered by the annual feasts, which brought the nation together in one place. The sin of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, was this - that he erected calves at Bethel and Dan, not only leading the people to idolatry, but breaking up their national unity. It was largely a political manaeuvre on his part, fur he could not have established a separate kingdom of Israel if all continued to go up to the same temple at Jerusalem. Under the Christian dispensation we are exhorted not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. When we meet for worship, the faith and prayer of one raise the faith and prayer of another. Separate embers die out, but gathered together they blaze. Public worship will be wonderfully revived in a real religious reformation.

IV. THE RECOGNITION OF SPECIAL RESPONSIBILITY. "The elders" were to be summoned. Through them Moses first made his appeal to the enslaved Israelites. They were the witnesses of the first flowing of water from the rock. Their offerings represented the dedication of the whole congregation of the people. Longer experience and official status gave them privileges, with accompanying responsibilities. Leaders of men now in society, in literature, in political life, have peculiar responsibilities, and are summoned by true prophets to lead the people to repentance and to righteousness. The Elector Frederick understood this in Luther's day, but he needed a lowly born Luther to inspire him first. Here we may fairly appeal to the eldest in a family, to the captain of the school, to the leading merchants, to influential writers, etc., to be the first to return to the Lord, and henceforth to lead others in his service.

V. THE GENERAL ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF SIN. "All the inhabitants of the land" were called upon to repent. They could not serve God by proxy. The service of the elders and of the priests would not relieve them of responsibility. Each had to repent of his own sin and, for himself, return to the Lord. No better meeting-place can be found for all classes and conditions of men than the Church. There the rich and the poor meet together, remembering that the Lord is the Maker of them all. The recognition of the Divine Fatherhood must precede the realization of the human brotherhood.

VI. THE PRESENTATION OF EARNEST PRAYER. Those who "cry unto the Lord" are not satisfied with listless and formal petitions. Sobs and sighs are sometimes the sweetest music to the Hearer of prayer. These precede the blessedness of pardon in the history of each believer. The Church, too, must know what it is to present strong supplications, with crying and tears, and then she shall be endued with power from on high. The prayer of Pentecost must precede the benediction of Pentecost. - A.R.

This phrase is peculiarly Joel's, and it is apparently used by him in different senses. Of these we notice three.

I. THE DAY OF THE LORD IS A DAY OF CALAMITY AND RETRIBUTION. This is plain from its further designation as a day of destruction, and from the prefatory exclamation "Alas]" with which it is introduced. Superstition, no doubt, has often misinterpreted the calamities of human life; yet it would be insensibility and spiritual blindness not to recognize the presence of God in the day of adversity. Such a day is the Lord's, as reminding us of the Lord's Kingship over creation, and as summoning us to sincere repentance towards God.

II. THE DAY OF THE LORD IS A DAY OF JUDGMENT. The retribution of the present is an earnest of the day of recompense to all mankind, when the Judge of all shall summon all nations to his bar.

III. THE DAY OF THE LORD IS TO HIS PEOPLE THE DAY OF SPIRITUAL AND IMPERISHABLE BLESSING. SO the Apostle Peter interprets the language of the Prophet Joel. The outpouring of spiritual blessing, the effecting of spiritual deliverance, the fulfilling of the purposes of infinite mercy, shall all come about in that promised and expected day. - T.

Whether actually and literally by a plague of locusts, or by a hostile incursion such as a plague of this kind might well typify, Judah was overrun, afflicted, and cursed. The picture is one of unrelieved gloom and misery.

I. THE PUNITIVE JUDGMENTS OF GOD REACH MEN THROUGH THE CROPS OF THE FIELD, AND THE HERDS AND FLOCKS OF THE PASTURE. The necessaries of life, the constituents of wealth, are in the hand of God. He rules not only in heaven but upon earth. It may be doubted whether we are at liberty confidently to attribute to Divine displeasure the sufferings which befall nations in the way of disaster and famine; but in this passage this interpretation is given upon prophetic authority.

II. SUCH JUDGMENTS ARE INTENDED TO SUMMON THOSE AFFLICTED WITH THEM TO CONTRITION AND REPENTANCE. It may be that only by some such means can the hard heart be broken, and brought to true humiliation and penitence.

III. SUCH JUDGMENTS SHOULD LEAD MEN TO SEEK THEIR HIGHEST GOOD, NOT IN PERISHABLE POSSESSIONS, BUT IN SPIRITUAL ENRICHMENT. To many men poverty, losses, worldly ruin, have been the means of the highest happiness. Well is it if, losing the gifts, we find the Giver; losing the streams, we find the Fountain. The soul may learn to cry, "Thou art my Portion, O my God!" - T.

When Scripture depicts human misery and destitution, it does not leave the matter, as though there were nothing further to say. Always a way of escape is pointed out; always a gleam of light is let in upon the darkness; always a remedy is offered for the disease whose symptoms are described.

I. THE CRY TO WHICH TROUBLE LEADS IS A CRY OF CONFESSION. God has not afflicted the greatest sufferer beyond his deserts. The distressed soul gives utterance to the acknowledgment, Against thee, thee only, have I sinned.

II. THE CRY WHICH TROUBLE PROMPTS IS A CRY OF HELPLESSNESS. The soul may have called upon others, and in vain. There is no answer, no deliverance, when help is sought from man. Perhaps the soul addresses itself last to the Helper who should have been sought first, before all

III. THE CRY WHICH TROUBLE PROMPTS IS A CRY OF FAITH. God has said, "Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee." The promise is remembered, acted upon, and pleaded. Believing the Divine assurance, the afflicted lifts up his eyes unto the hills whence cometh help.

IV. THE CRY WHICH TROUBLE PROMPTS IS A CRY WHICH IS HEARD AND ANSWERED. God delights to hear the suppliant's entreaty, the sinner's confession, the earnest petition of interceding friends. Such cries come up into the ear of God. The sacrifice is accepted; the sin is forgiven; the grace is accorded; the chastisement is removed; the blessing is bestowed. - T.

O Lord, to thee will I cry, etc. In the verses extending from the sixth to the eighteenth, the prophet described with great vividness and force the attributes of these "locusts" and the terrible devastations they would effect, and he called upon various members of the community to attend to the calamity. The old men and the young people, the drunkards and the farmers, the priests and the laity, all are summoned to reflection, penitence, and reform. Here he cries out to the Lord himself on account of the calamity, which he describes with remarkable force. "The fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field." It is a question whether the fire and flame are to be taken literally as burning the grass, which often happens in extreme heat, or whether they are used figuratively. The reference, I think, is to the burning heat in drought which consumes the meadows, scorches the trees, and dries up the water-brooks. Our subject is the influence of national calamities on the minds of the good. The effect on Joel was to excite him to prayer, to compel him to lay the case before the Lord. Having called the attention of all classes of the community to the terrible judgements, he turns his soul in a devout supplication to Almighty God.

I. THIS WAS RIGHT. "In everything by prayer and supplication we should make known our wants to God." Prayer is right:

1. God requires it. "For all these things will I be inquired of;" "Ask, and ye shall receive," etc.

2. Christ engaged in it. He prayed, prayed often, prayed earnestly, prayed "without ceasing." He is our Example.

II. THIS WAS WISE. Who else could remove the calamity and restore the ruin? None. All men were utterly helpless. When all earthly resources fail, where else can we go but to him who originates all that is good, and controls all that is evil? True prayer is always wise, because

(1) it seeks the highest good;

(2) by the best means.

III. THIS WAS NATURAL. "The beasts of the field cry also unto thee." "The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God." "What better," says an old author, "are they than beasts, who never cry to God but for corn and wine, and complain of nothing but the wants of sense?"

CONCLUSION. It is well when our trials lead us in prayer to God. The greatest calamities are termed the greatest blessings when they act thus. Hail the tempests, if they drive our bark into the quiet haven of prayer. "There's a power which man can wield, When mortal aid is vain, That eye, that arm, that love, to reach, That listening ear to gain: That power is prayer, which sears on high, And feeds on bliss beyond the sky." ? D.T.

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