Out of Ephraim was there a root of them against Amalek; after you, Benjamin, among your people; out of Machir came down governors…
Whether these men of Zebulun were poets, chroniclers, or only merchants' clerks, their occupation was distinctly different from that of their brethren, and the peculiar duties attaching to it may serve to illustrate those which belong to a corresponding class of men in our own day.
I. LITERATURE IS A FIELD OF HONOURABLE INDUSTRY. It is a foolish misnomer which characterises handicraftsmen as the only "working men." Men can and do work at least as hard with their brains as with their hands; and such work is not the most unworthy of honourable effort. We cannot make a greater mistake than to confine the epithet "manly" to the exercise of brute force, an exercise in which a Hercules would be out-matched by a gorilla. True manliness is the right development of all the noblest powers of a man, among which the intellectual must take a high place.
II. LITERATURE MAY BE MADE A SOURCE OF THE HIGHEST GOOD TO MANKIND. Writing is a means of expressing, preserving, and disseminating ideas. This means has been chosen by God for the promotion of religion, viz., in the Bible. Therefore it is foolish to despise literature as unpractical; it may be the most useful instrument for benefiting mankind. This should be remembered by those who have literary power, and should prevent them from wasting their talents on the selfish enjoyment of intellectual luxury. Literary ability is, like the gift of tongues, a Divine gift bestowed on men for the good of the whole world.
III. IN ORDER THAT LITERATURE MAY EFFECT THE GREATEST GOOD, IT MUST BE ENLISTED IN THE SERVICE OF GOD. They who "handle the pen of the writer" must be among those who "willingly offer themselves" to the service of the Lord. God claims our best for his work. Men who have literary gifts should understand that they are not at liberty to write simply for occupation, for amusement, for money, or for fame, but for the honour of God and the good of men. Such considerations should secure more conscientiousness in writing; the observance of the great literary duties of truthfulness, fairness, purity, and charity; and the pursuit of elevating themes.
IV. THEY WHO ARE CALLED TO LITERARY DUTIES MUST NOT FEEL THEMSELVES EXONERATED FROM MORE GENERAL OBLIGATIONS. The literary man must some times lay down the pen and draw the sword. The danger of sedentary and literary occupations is that they should lead to indolence and an unpractical habit of life. It will not do for any of us to live in the delicious seclusion of dream-land. There are stern tasks and serious burdens which all true men will have to encounter if the terrible realities of the world's wickedness and misery are to be faced as the claims of God and humanity demand of us. While the trumpet sounds to war it is treason for the men of Zebulun to linger behind in learned leisure; and while God calls his people to do battle for him against the ignorance and sin of the world, there is no excuse for the most gifted, the most fastidious, or the most occupied to shirk their share of the dangers and toils of hard warfare. - A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Out of Ephraim was there a root of them against Amalek; after thee, Benjamin, among thy people; out of Machir came down governors, and out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer.