1 Samuel 6:13
And they of Bethshemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley: and they lifted up their eyes, and saw the ark…
It was in the time of harvest that the ark was restored to Israel. Whilst the cornfields of the Philistines were wasted by an extraordinary plague, the valley of Beth-shemesh was covered with golden grain, and the men of that city were busily occupied in gathering it in (Ruth 1:6). But at the sight of the sacred symbol they left their secular occupation, gathered around it with great joy, and spent the day in "offering burnt offerings and sacrificing sacrifices to the Lord" (ver. 15). We may regard the harvest as representing material blessings, which are more richly bestowed at this season of the year than any other; the ark as representing spiritual blessings: "the law which came by Moses," and "the grace and truth which came by Jesus Christ;" the throne of grace, and the mercy and grace which are there obtained. And the fact just mentioned suggests a comparison between the former and the latter. Both come from the.same hand; but spiritual are superior to material blessings, inasmuch as they -
I. REVEAL MORE OF THE DIVINE GOODNESS. Consider them -
1. In the principle from which they proceed. The one class of benefits from benevolence in general; the other from benevolence in the form of mercy. "According to his mercy he saved us" (Titus 3:5).
2. In the mode by which they are communicated. The operation of the laws of nature (Genesis 8:22; Jeremiah 5:21); the gift and sacrifice of his only begotten Son. "Through Jesus Christ."
3. In the nearness with which the great Benefactor comes to us. "Thou visitest the earth" (Psalm 65:9); but "blessed is the man whom thou choosest and causest to approach unto thee" (Psalm 65:4), in that closer fellowship which those who are reconciled in Christ enjoy, and whose hearts are the temple of thine abode, the habitation of thy Spirit. "Revelation is the voluntary approximation of the infinite Being to the ways and thoughts of finite humanity; and until this step has been taken by Almighty grace, how should man have a warrant for loving him with all his mind, and heart, and strength?" (A.H. Hallam).
II. INVOLVE MORE VALUABLE GOOD.
1. The one pertains to the body, the other to the soul.
2. The one to man considered simply as a creature, needing support; the other as a sinner, needing forgiveness, renewal, salvation.
3. The one pertains to time, the other to eternity; "bread that perisheth," "bread that endureth to everlasting life" (John 6:27, 51); "that good part which cannot be taken away" (Luke 10:42).
III. PRODUCE MORE EXALTED JOY. "Rejoiced." "The joy in harvest" (Isaiah 9:3).
1. In its relation to God. The one is felt less and the other more directly in him. The difference is very much the same as that which exists between the joy felt at receiving a present from a friend at a distance, and that of seeing his face and holding personal intercourse with him. And what are all the harvests which the earth ever produced compared with one smile of the Father's countenance, one whisper of Divine love? (Psalm 4:6, 7).
2. In its influence on the heart; elevating, purifying, enlarging, strengthening, satisfying it.
3. In its power over circumstances. The joy of our harvest may be speedily turned into sorrow by bereavement (ver. 19) and other afflictions; but the joy which is felt in God is independent of outward circumstances, lifts the soul above them (Habakkuk 3:17, 18), lives in death, and is perfected in heavenly bliss.
IV. INCITE TO MORE COMPLETE CONSECRATION.
1. With respect to the Giver. His bestowment of "fruitful seasons, filling our heart with food and gladness," incites to some return to him (Exodus 23:14-17); but his bestowment of mercy and grace, to the "whole burnt offering" of the man himself (Romans 12:1).
2. With respect to our fellow men. The one incites to the giving of "those things which are necessary for the body" (Exodus 23:11); the other incites (and effectually constrains) to the giving of what is good for the whole man, body and soul; to self-sacrifice, and the "peace offerings" of brotherly kindness, and of charity toward all men.
3. The whole course of life; not in one or two acts merely, but in a continued service of love to be completed in eternity. Conclusion. -
1. If God has bestowed upon you temporal good, rejoice not in it so much as in spiritual.
2. If he has withheld it, rejoice in the higher good which is yours.
3. "Seek first the kingdom of God," etc. (Matthew 6:33). - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: And they of Bethshemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley: and they lifted up their eyes, and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it.