The Seaman's Return
Deuteronomy 33:19
They shall call the people to the mountain; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness…

I. THEIR PRIVILEGE. To "suck the abundance of the sea" is a metonymical expression, signifying as much as to be enriched with the wares and merchandise imported by sea to them. The sea, like an indulgent mother, embraces those that live upon it in her bosom, and with full flowing breasts nourisheth them, and feeds them as a mother doth the infant that sucks and depends for its livelihood upon her breasts. And these breasts do not only afford those that hang upon them the necessaries of life, bread, raiment, etc., but the riches, ornaments, and delights of life also. This was the blessing of the tribe of Zebulun, whose cities and villages were commodiously situated upon the seashore for merchandise (Joshua 19:11).

II. THEIR DUTY to which these mercies and privileges obliged them: "They shall call the people to the mountain," etc. By the "mountain," we are here to understand the temple, which Moses, by the spirit of prophecy, foresaw to be upon Mount Sion and Mount Moriah; which two were as the shoulders that supported it (ver. 12). Here was the worship of God; the sacrifices were here offered up to Him. And hither Zebulun, in the sense of God's mercies to them, should call the people, i.e. say some, their own people, their families, and neighbours; or as others, the strangers that were among them for traffic; saying, as Isaiah 2:3. And here they shall "offer the sacrifices of righteousness." By which we are to understand their thank offerings for the mercies they had received of the Lord.

1. The nature of the duty needs opening; for few understand what it is. Alas! it is another manner of thing than a customary, formal, cold God be thanked. Now, if we search into the nature of this duty, we shall find that whoever undertakes this angelic work, must —

(1) Be a heedful observer of the mercies he receives. This is fundamental to the duty. Where no observations of mercies have been made, no praises for them can be returned.

(2) Particularly consider them in their natures, degrees, seasons, and manner of conveyance; there is much of God's glory and our comfort lost for want of this (Psalm 111:2). And indeed, there is no employment in all the world that yields more pleasure to a gracious soul than the anatomising of providence doth.

(3) Duly estimate and value his mercies. It is impossible that man can be thankful for mercies he little esteems.

(4) Faithfully record His mercies, else God cannot have His due praise for them (Psalm 103:2). Forgotten mercies bear no fruit: a bad memory in this case makes a barren heart and life.

(5) Be suitably affected with the mercies he receives. It is not a speculative, but an affectionate remembrance that becomes us: then God hath His glory, when the sense of His mercies melts our hearts into holy joy, love, and admiration.

(6) Order his conversation suitably to the engagements that his mercies have put him under. When we have said all, it is the life of the thankful that is the very life of thankfulness. Obedience and service are the only real manifestations of gratitude.

2. The grounds and reasons of this duty; why you are obliged after the reception of mercies to such a thankful return of praises.

(1) God requires and expects it. As great landlords oblige their tenants to a homage and service, when they make over their estates to them, and reserve a quit rent to themselves, which they value at a high rate; so God, when He bestows deliverances of mercies upon us, still reserves an acknowledgement to Himself: and this is dear to Him, He will not endure to be defrauded of it; much less that it be given to another.

(2) You are under manifold engagements to render it to the. Lord. Common ingenuity obliges to a due acknowledgment of favours freely received; and unthankfulness on that score is the odium of mankind. The examples of the very heathens will condemn you. They praised their gods, which yet were no gods, when they received any deliverance (Judges 16:24). Many of you have formally and expressly obliged your souls to it, by solemn vows and promises in the day of your distress: and yet will you deal perfidiously with God(3) Your ingratitude is the ready way to deprive you of the mercies yon have, and to withhold from you the mercies you might have in your future distresses and wants.Use

1. Is it your unquestionable duty to return praises upon every receipt of mercies? Then, in the first place, bear your shame and just reproof for your manifest unthankfulness. Mourn heartily for thy unkindness to thy best friend, "The God that hath done thee good all thy life long, and deserves other returns from thee than these."

2. It calls upon you all to be thankful for your mercies. once wished for a voice like thunder, that all men might hear him. O that I could so call you to this duty, that some of you might effectually hear God's call in this exhortation!Argument

1. How freely have all your mercies streamed to you from the Fountain of grace! There was nothing in you to engage it.

2. How seasonably your mercies have been bestowed upon you in the very point of extremity and danger I

3. How special and distinguishing have some of your mercies been! God hath not dealt with everyone as He hath with you.

4. Did not your mercies find you under great guilt? Surely such mercies have a constraining power in them, upon all sensible souls.

5. To conclude; if all the goodness of God which hath passed before your eyes does indeed prevail upon you to love the Lord, and fear to offend Him; if it really constrains you to give up yourselves, and all you have, to be His; then all this is but the beginning of mercies, and you shall see yet greater things than these. God hath more mercies yet behind, and those of a higher kind and more excellent nature than these temporal mercies are. Happy souls, if these deliverances do in any measure prove introductive to the great salvation.

( John Flavel..)

Parallel Verses
KJV: They shall call the people unto the mountain; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness: for they shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand.

WEB: They shall call the peoples to the mountain. There they will offer sacrifices of righteousness, for they shall draw out the abundance of the seas, the hidden treasures of the sand."

Zebulun and Issachar
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