1 Chronicles 4:11-43
And Chelub the brother of Shuah begat Mehir, which was the father of Eshton.…
Reading lessons from this list of names, we gather -
I. THAT OBSCURITY IS BETTER THAN PROMINENCE FOR MOST OF US. In this long table we have one or two celebrated men, such as Caleb (ver. 15) and Othniei (ver. 13), but most of them are men of no repute. We only know their names and their relationship to those that preceded and followed them. It is a mere truism to say that the generality of men must spend their lives in obscurity, that it is only a few who can be conspicuous. But it is a truth worth treasuring, that lowliness of position is far better for most of us than elevation would he. But few men can bear distinction without spiritual deterioration. The graces which the Master most loves to see (and those which are most acceptable to man also) flourish in the quiet valley far better than on the lofty mountain. If God ordain prominence, "Be not high-minded, but fear." If obscurity be our portion, let us say with the psalmist, "Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty," etc. (Psalm 131:1). Let us not be envious of the exalted, but rather be thankful that we are not exposed to their peculiar perils.
"He that is down need fear no fall,
He that is low no pride."
II. THAT GOD PUTS HONOUR ON THE USEFUL ARTS. It is specially mentioned of some "that they were craftsmen;" of others that they were members of the" house of them that wrought fine linen" (ver. 21). It is significant enough that, in this brief recital, these two industries should have honourable mention. We should feel that when we cut and carve, when we spin and weave, when we are occupied in manufactures, when we are turning, by industry and knowledge, the materials around us into objects of service and of beauty, we are not only "making money," enriching our nation, gratifying human tastes, we are also fulfilling the will of God concerning us, we are doing that for which he placed us here; and we should engage in all useful arts as in his sight, serving him in all our labour.
III. THAT CONTENTED INDUSTRY IS BETTER THAN SUCCESSFUL VIOLENCE. Two instances are given at the close of the chapter (vers. 39-41, 42, 43) of appropriation by violence. The sons of Simeon took forcible possession of" fat pasture and good," where "the land was wide, and quiet, and peaceable;" they established themselves there by "utterly destroying" the inhabitants. Others of them (ver. 42) repeated the same deed of violence. Possibly they may have been justified in their act by commands which were binding, or by a permission which was sufficient. Probably they satisfied their own conscience, and wrought their work without compunction. But we read with far greater pleasure of the craftsmen who gave their name to the valley by their industry (ver. 14) and of those who "wrought fine linen" and of those engaged in simple agriculture (ver. 23), and thus gained a peaceful, houourable livelihood. Feats of arms are brilliant things in their way, but beneath the surface are heartrending injuries, and long after they are performed comes a series of sorrows. The industry and energy which work no injury to the conscience, and which carry benefit and comfort in their train, are immeasurably to be preferred to "the pomp and circumstance of war."
IV. THAT IT IS WISE TO CONSIDER OURSELVES IN THE LIGHT IN WHICH WE LOOK AT OTHERS. The chronicler remarks, shortly but significantly, "These are ancient things" (ver. 22). The events of his "modern" time are now very much more "ancient" to us than those old times of which he was writing were to his generation. We stand in the graveyard, and the sloping, timeworn tombstones speak to our hearts of the distant days in which once lived the generation beneath our feet. The day will come when we shall be separated by the same breadth of time from the living men that will then be walking where we sleep. We shall soon be nothing to the world but the people of a day that is passed.
1. How great is the folly of men who own no treasure but that of this transient time!
2. How true the wisdom of those whose portion no graveyard will hold, who in the far hereafter will live with God, and be rich with the wealth of Heaven (Revelation 2:15-17)! - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Chelub the brother of Shuah begat Mehir, which was the father of Eshton.