When David came to Mahanaim, he was met by Shobi son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, Machir son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim.
Genesis 32:1) on his way back to the promised land, and just before his interview with Esau, about whose present disposition towards him he was doubtful. In our text also we read of veritable angels (messengers) of God, though human, coming to the same place to succour and encourage another of his servants when in circumstances of great difficulty. David had with him a large company of friends and subjects, who remained faithful while so many were faithless; but their very number was an embarrassment, and they arrived in the neighbourhood "hungry, and weary, and thirsty." Very welcome, therefore, were the supplies which these chieftains brought for their relief, and which the historian enumerates with so much evident pleasure. They thus cheered the heart of David, contributed very materially to his final victory over his rebellious son and subjects, and obtained for themselves a good name. In the Christian warfare against error and sin there is room and need for this kind of service. The progress of the spiritual cause depends no little on the material aids. As soldiers must eat and drink in order that they may fight, so Christian ministers and missionaries, however spiritual and holy and disinterested, cannot preach and teach unless they are fed and clothed, and their work facilitated by various appliances which are only to be obtained and maintained by money or money's worth. It is only in exceptional cases that competent labourers are able to support themselves by the Labour of their hands or from their private fortunes. Hence the absolute necessity that Christians should furnish material supplies, and the certainty that the progress of the Christian cause in the world will be greatly hindered if, through indifference or avarice, such supplies are scantily furnished. In our time the duty of furnishing them more abundantly needs to be pressed on the attention of the disciples of Christ with much urgency. The world is almost everywhere open to the missionary; devoted men and women offer themselves, ready to go anywhere to make Christ known; but in many instances they cannot be sent forth for want of the means of sending and sustaining them. That the ability of Christ's servants in this direction is being employed to the utmost is incredible in view of the lavish expenditure of many of them on worldly display and luxury. The disposition is wanting; and this in part because a conviction has not yet been awakened in their hearts of the necessity and worth of pecuniary supplies, and the imperative duty and high honour of furnishing them. Such a conviction may be promoted by due attention to the following considerations.
I. THE OBLIGATIONS OF ALL CHRISTIANS IN RESPECT TO THE PROMOTION OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD IN THE WORLD ARE THE SAME. The character, the toils, the serf denying endurance of hardships and privations, of many missionaries and other ministers of the gospel, awaken admiration and applause. But, amongst those who applaud, the feeling is often wanting that they are themselves as really and truly bound to devoted service of Christ as the men whom they admire.
1. Objects of the same Divine love, redeemed by the same precious blood, called by the same grace, partakers of the same privileges and hopes, they ought to cherish a like ardent love to Christ, and with a like zeal seek to fulfil the purposes for which he lived and died.
3. They are equally bound to love their fellow men, and seek their good to the utmost of their power.
II. THE NECESSITY OF MATERIAL SUPPLIES AFFORDS TO ALL THE OPPORTUNITY OF BEING PARTNERS WITH THE NOBLEST WORKERS IN SUSTAINING AND EXTENDING THE KINGDOM OF GOD. The good women who ministered to our Lord of their substance (Luke 8:2, 3) became thus partakers in his work. The Philippians who showed hospitality to St. Paul when amongst them (Acts 16:15), or sent gifts to him afterwards (Philippians 4:14-16), are recognized by him as having "fellowship" (partnership) with him, "in furtherance of the gospel" (Philippians 1:5, 7, Revised Version). St. Joha describes those who were hospitable to evangelists as their "fellow helpers to the truth" (3 John 1:8). In like manner, all who subscribe of their money towards the support of Christian ministries and missions, have the honour of being fellow workers with those who give the ablest personal service. This was recognized by the lad who hastened to a missionary meeting, and being asked the reason of his eagerness, replied, "I have a share in the concern." Bible, missionary, and other societies have, by awakening such thoughts and feelings, done much to enlarge and elevate the minds of the myriads of their supporters in every part of Christendom.
III. GIVING EXERCISES THE SAME CHRISTIAN VIRTUES AS PERSONAL SERVICE. For right and sufficient contribution of substance, as for right preaching and teaching, are required:
1. Faith and love.
Indeed, all Christian principles and affections are brought into play in the course of earnest service of either kind. Both are processes of education of the Christian soul, by which the lessons of Christ are more thoroughly learnt.
IV. IT IS EQUALLY ACCEPTABLE TO GOD. St. Paul calls the present he had received from the Philippians "an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God" (Philippians 4:18; see also Hebrews 13:16). Right motives are, of course, presupposed; but, when these are present, both kinds of service are equally acceptable. "He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward" (Matthew 10:41).
V. IT SHALL OBTAIN A SIMILAR RECOMPENSE. In:
1. The Consciousness of Divine approval.
2. The pleasure of serving Christ.
3. The joy of doing the highest and most enduring good to men.
4. The rewards of the last day.
The expressed approval of Christ. Admission to "the joy of the Lord" (Matthew 25:21, 23). Participation with Christ and the saints in the joy of final and complete victory over the powers of evil. Every true hearted sharer in the work and conflict shall share in the gladness of the triumph, when not only the sower and the reaper (John 4:36), but those who have furnished them with needful support, shall "rejoice together." Finally, we must not think of workers and givers as two distinct classes of persons, having no part in each other's functions. All Christians can and ought to render personal service as well as contributions. There is need and room for all to labour as well as give. In maintaining Church life, in teaching the ignorant, in seeking and saving the lost, in comforting the sorrowful, etc., there is scope for the talents of all. No one can by his gifts purchase freedom from such services. We must give account of every talent committed to us. - G.W.
When David was come to Mahanaim.Genesis 32:27, 29): — Let us go even unto Mahanaim and see these great sights. .First, let us go with Jacob and see the two camps of angels, and then with- David to observe his troops of friends.
I. GOD HAS A MULTITUDE OF SERVANTS, AND ALL THESE ARE ON THE SIDE OF BELIEVERS. The great army of the Lord of hosts consists largely of unseen agents, of forces that are not discernible except in vision or by the eye of faith. Jacob saw two squadrons of these invisible forces, which are on the side of righteous men.
1. We know that a guard of angels always surrounds every believer. Ministering spirits are abroad, protecting the princes of the blood royal. They cannot be discerned by any of our senses, but they are perceptible by faith, and they have been made perceptible to holy men of old in vision.
2. All these agents work in order, for it is God's host, and the host is made up of beings which march or fly, according to the order of command. "Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path."
3. All punctual to the Divine command. Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.
4. All engaged personally to attend upon Jacob.
5. Those forces, though in themselves invisible to the natural senses, are manifest to faith at certain times. Our Mahanaims occur at much the same time as that in which Jacob beheld this great sight. Jacob was entering upon a more separated life. He was leaving Laban and the school of all those tricks of bargaining and bartering which belong to the ungodly world.
6. Again, the reason why the angels met Jacob at that time was, doubtless, because he was surrounded with great cares.
7. Again, the Lord's host appeared when Jacob felt a great dread. His brother Esau was coming to meet him armed to the teeth, and, as he feared, thirsty for his blood. In times when our danger is greatest, if we are real believers, we shall be specially under the Divine protection, and we shall know that it, is so.
8. And, once again, when you and I, like Jacob, shall be near Jordan, when we shall just be passing into the better land. then is the time when we may expect to come to Mahanaim.
9. There is no doubt whatever that they are sent for a purpose.
10. Mahanaim was granted to Jacob, not only to refresh his memory, but to lift him out of the ordinary low level of his life.
II. If such a special vision be granted to us let us keep it in memory. Jacob called the name of that place Mahanaim.
II. This brings me to my second text; FOR ANGELS DID NOT MEET DAVID, BUT LIVING CREATURES OF ANOTHER NATURE MET HIM, who answered the purpose of David quite as well as angels would have done.
1. Who is yonder prominent friend? He speaks like a foreigner. He is an Ammonite. What is his name? Shobi. the son of Nahash, of Rabbah, of the children of Ammon. I have heard of those people: they were enemies, were they not — cruel enemies to Israel? That man Nahash, you recollect his name; this is one of his sons. Yes! God can turn enemies into friends when His servants require succour. Those that belong to a race that is opposed to Israel can, if God will it, turn to be their helpers. The Lord found an advocate for his Son Jesus in Pilate's house — the governor's wife suffered many things in a dream because of him. He can find a friend for his servants in their persecutor's own family, even as he raised up Obadiah to hide the prophets and feed them in a cave: the chamberlain to Ahab himself was the protector of the saints, and with meat from Ahab's table were they fed.
2. Here comes another person we have heard of before, Machir of Lodebar. That is the large farmer who took care of Mephibosheth. He seems to have been a truly loyal man, who stuck to royal families, even when their fortunes were adverse. As he had been faithful to the house of Saul so was he to David.
3. Here comes Barzillai, an old man of fourscore, and as the historian tells us, "a very great man." His enormous wealth was all at the disposal of David and his followers, and "he provided the king of sustenance while he lay at Mahanaim." This old nobleman was certainly as useful to David as the angels were to Jacob, and he and his coadjutors were truly a part of God's forces. The armies of God are varied: he has not one troop alone, but many. On this occasion Mahanaim well deserved its name, because the help that came to David from these different persons came in a most noble way, as though it came by angels. I infer from this that if at any time a servant of God is marching onward in his Master's work, and he needs assistance of any sort, he need not trouble about it, but rest in the Lord, for succour and help will surely come, if not from the angels above, yet from the church below. Conclusion: While I have shown you God's invisible agents, and God's visible agents, I want to call to your mind that in either case, and in both cases, the host is the host of God: that is to say, the true strength and safety of the believer is his God. The presence of God with believers is more certain and constant than the presence of angels or holy men. God hath said it — "Certainly I will be with thee." He hath said again, "I will not leave thee, nor forsake thee." When you are engaged in Christ's service you have a special promise to back you up — "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature; and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. If, then, God is pleased to grant us help by secondary causes, as we know He does — for to many of us He sends many and many a friend to help in his good work — then we must take care to see God in these friends and helpers. When you have no helpers, see all helpers in God: when you have many helpers, then you must see God in all your helpers. Herein is wisdom.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
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