The Doom of Meroz
Judges 5:23
Curse you Meroz, said the angel of the LORD, curse you bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the LORD…

I. THE SIN OF THE MEN OF MEROZ is described in very remarkable terms, although we have grown so familiar with them as scarce perhaps to notice their strange character: "They came not to the help of the Lord." Everywhere we read of the Lord's coming to the help of man; but man coming to the help of the Lord seems strange. The Lord employs instruments for the executing of His purposes, though He needs them not. The tribes of Israel were summoned to this war, and the inhabitants of Meroz declined the summons. Well; but God had entered into marriage covenant with Israel. The kingdom of Israel was His kingdom. The interests of Israel were His interests; and He had bound up with them the glory of His own name. Accordingly it is not now said of the men of Meroz that they came not to Deborah's help, nor to Barak's help, nor even to the help of Israel, but that "they came not to the help of the Lord."

1. A little more specifically, the sin of the men of Meroz had in it unbelief — criminal distrust of the word and promise and power of the living God. No doubt it was largely cowardice that led them to refuse their aid. But whence the cowardice? They did not believe that the Canaanites could be subdued. They would keep on good terms with the oppressors to save their own heads.

2. But besides criminal unbelief — that root and strength of all other iniquities — the sin of the men of Meroz had in it a vile preference of their own ease, and fancied present interest before the authority and honour and interest of the God of Israel.

3. And thus, further, their sin was nothing less than enmity, war, against the living God. Doubtless they would be fain to say, "What have we done so much against Him? we have but sat still in our quiet homes." Aye, and therein fought against Him. Oh, there is no possible medium between the love of the adorable God and the hatred of Him — between willing, active service rendered to God and hostility, war, against Him — "He that is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad."

4. It was to "the help of the Lord against the mighty" they refused to come — against the mighty. Had the enemy, that is to say, been a feeble, contemptible one in numbers and strength, they might have had some plausible pretext for leaving the struggle to others. But all was in reality at stake.

II. Notice THE JUDGMENT OF THE LORD AGAINST THE MEN OF MEROZ for this sin. I think there can be very little doubt that there must have been some special aggravation in the case of Meroz which has not been placed on record — perhaps its having been in the immediate neighbourhood of the field of action, together with some more emphatic treachery of dealing in its refusal of aid. Lessons:

1. First, a lesson of duty — very urgent duty. It will help to bring both the duty and the urgency of it better out if it is borne in mind that, from the fall of our race downwards, the Lord has had a controversy, so to speak — a quarrel in this fallen world — a war with mighty adversaries, Satan, sin, the world that lieth in the wicked one — His gracious purpose having all along been in that war to call a people out of the world for the glory of His own name — an innumerable multitude of all kindreds and peoples and tongues, to be "washed, and sanctified, and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."

2. Observe a second lesson of a different character, one of precious and varied encouragement to all such as are disposed humbly, yet resolutely and prayerfully, to offer themselves to the help of the Lord against the mighty. See, for example, how He will condescend to receive and welcome your aid (ver. 9). And see the grateful mention, if I might so speak with reverence, which God makes of particular services (ver. 14).

3. Once more, we have a lesson here of solemn warning — duty, encouragement, warning. For observe that it is by no means any and every kind of help and service that will suffice to separate us from the class, and save us from the curse, of the inhabitants of Meroz. A man may come, for example, with a help so stinted and grudging as to make it quite manifest that it is but the covering up of a desire to be let alone altogether. Or he may come with a help not so stinted in the simple amount of it, yet not offered to the Lord Himself, which is the hinge, you will carefully observe, of this whole matter, "they came not to the help of the Lord" — "Ye did it," or, "ye did it not, to Me." Assuredly, by how much the Lord has revealed His condescension and grace, in making offer to us of so marvellous a oneness of cause and interest and blessedness with Himself, by so much the more aggravated a judgment and doom must the contempt and rejection of that grace bring with it.

(C. J. Brown, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the LORD, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty.

WEB: 'Curse Meroz,' said the angel of Yahweh. 'Curse bitterly its inhabitants, because they didn't come to help Yahweh, to help Yahweh against the mighty.'

The Curse of Meroz (2)
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