1 Chronicles 7:20-24
And the sons of Ephraim; Shuthelah, and Bered his son, and Tahath his son, and Eladah his son, and Tahath his son,…
We have, in brief, a story of family life which still has its interest and application to us in our domestic relations. We gather -
I. THAT GRIEVOUS AFFLICTION SOMETIMES FALLS ON A HUMAN HOME WITH OVERWHELMING SUDDENNESS. Several sons of one "house were slain in one day. Whichever party was the aggressor, and whether the Israelites were guilty or unfortunate, the blow fell with terrible effect on the elders of the family. Ephraim their father mourned many days" (ver. 22). "Misfortunes never come alone" is only a hasty and false generalization: they generally do come alone. It is far truer to say, "One by one our sorrows meet us." For usually God tempers our griefs by sending them singly and with more or less of interval as also of preparation. More often than not the evil which awaits us" casts its shadow before it," and we prepare our hearts for the coming trouble. But sometimes it is otherwise. Occasionally, awful, aggravated, multiplied sorrows surge around us, and all the waves and billows of distress go over us without forewarning; from the height of prosperity and joy we go down, in one bitter hour, to the dark depth of loss and woe. No man can tell what tragedy is at hand for himself and his house. The holiest, the most beloved of God, may be standing, at any moment, in immediate peril of an almost unendurable calamity.
II. THAT GOD HAS MERCIFUL COMPENSATIONS IN STORE FOE HIS STRICKEN CHILDREN. He wounds that he may heal; and that, as he heals, he may bless and save. It may be that he will send:
1. Human sympathy. Ephraim's "brethren came to comfort him." Though the sympathy of human hearts cannot "do" anything for us, as men of coarse minds say, it can and does introduce into our hearts a soothing balm which is very precious to sensitive and responsive souls. It is seldom wasted; it is generally appreciated, and is often most highly esteemed. Or God may provide:
2. That which replaces the loss. To the bereaved Ephraim he gave another child, whose name, Beriah, was pathetically suggestive of this sad breach, but whose presence in the home must have gone no small way to repair it. And now it often happens that, instead of the child that is taken, comes the infant who is sent to fill its parents' hearts as well as its mother's arms; or instead of the fortune that is lost the competency that is gained. Or God may send:
3. Some other compensating gift. From this stricken house he took away some parental love by the death of sons, but he gave a large measure of parental joy by the enterprising spirit of a daughter (ver. 24). It may be well for us that God should exchange one source of happiness for another. Long-continued enjoyment of one satisfaction often begets a false and guilty notion of independence, and even right of possession in the human heart. So God withdraws his gift which is ceasing to be a blessing; but he gives in place of it some other good which will work no evil to the soul.
4. Spiritual acquisition. When Ephraim was" mourning many days," his heart was tender, his mind docile, his soul receptive. Then, we may venture to say, he looked up to God with special earnestness, with filial submission, with peculiar devotion. Great sorrows, sweeping away earthly satisfactions and revealing our own helplessness, make the aid and arm of man seem but feebleness and cast us back on God. Then we hide in him; then we find that he is the Refuge and the Strength of his people, the true Dwelling-place of the human soul in all generations. In great and deep affliction, as at no other time, we
(1) see the meaning and feel the force of sacred truths;
(2) come into close fellowship with the Father, the Friend, the Comforter of the human spirit;
(3) realize the littleness of earthly life and the preciousness of the heritage which is beyond. Bereft of human wealth, we are "rich towards God." - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the sons of Ephraim; Shuthelah, and Bered his son, and Tahath his son, and Eladah his son, and Tahath his son,