You shall come to your grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn comes in in his season.
We have here a characteristic Old Testament picture of the completed life of the aged servant of God. He is rewarded for his fidelity, not merely by having nature as a minister of his prosperity during his active days, but by having his time prolonged to a ripe old age, and his whole career rounded and finished so that at last he is taken up like a shock of corn to God's harvest home.
I. LET US CONSIDER THE IDEA OF A COMPLETE LIFE,
1. The truth of the Old Testament idea. The Jews were no pessimists. They were far from the sickly Buddhist dream of Nirvana. With them life was sweet, and long life a blessing. Was not this a true and healthy conception? Life is a gift of God; it is a source of great natural joy; it is a precious talent, offering rich opportunities for service. It is good to live. Though it may please God to pluck the bud before it has opened, or to remove the blossom before it has matured the fruit, we should feel that there is a great blessing in his sparing a life for full, ripe fruit-bearing.
2. The supplement of New Testament revelation. The gospel has enlarged the scope and value of life. It has shown us that no human life can be complete in a brief earthly existence. It has promised life eternal for the fulness of being and of service. Now we can see that life is good and blessed indeed.
II. LET US OBSERVE THE BLESSEDNESS OF A RIPE LIFE. Old age is compared to a shock of corn. We have "first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear." This full corn ripens into the gold of harvest. In the perfect old age we see the corn come to maturity. It has attained all that it can attain. The discipline of life is for the maturing of souls. Old men should be richer in grace than young men, and a certain mellowness should mark the character of the aged Christian. Unfortunately, this is not always seen. Sometimes the beauty and enthusiasm of youth give place to a chill and narrow formalism. Instead of ripening, the soul withers. Instead of rich juices, it has the vinegar of cynicism. This is distinctly wrong. It points to a life's mistake and failure. But the possibility of so unfortunate an issue bids us all be on our guard against it. It warns us to avoid the danger, and it urges us to use the grace of God so that we may ripen and grow mellow.
III. LET US ANTICIPATE THE HARVEST INGATHERING OF A COMPLETE AND RIPE LIFE. The shock of corn is gathered in. This is necessary to preserve it; for if it were left on the field it would not in the dank autumn. An earthly immortality would be no blessing. But God calls his aged servants out of the world in which their service is complete and which can no longer minister to their further ripening. Yet the ingathering is not the end. The wheat is not heaped up to be burnt, but stored in the granary for food and for seed. God gathers his servants home in safety, sheltered from all storms and frosts of winter. Then the true purpose of their lives begins to be seen. All the rest was but the preparation for the harvest; and the harvest itself was only undertaken in view of future usefulness. The old man has not finished his life when he lays down his grey head to die. Then he is about to begin to live; then the largest fruitfulness of his soul's experience is about to be utilized. The harvest icy is the joy of the future. Souls are gathered home to God that they may minister to life and blessedness in ages yet unseen. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season.