By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning on the top of his staff.
I. SEE JACOB, WHEN A-DYING, LEANING UPON THE TOP OF HIS STAFF. What a picture of human frailty! What an illustration of the touching words of the ninetieth psalm, that the very "strength " of old men " is labour and sorrow!" "The glory of young men is their strength"; but they have need to consider that in extreme age "the keepers of the house tremble," and even " the grasshopper is a burden." But we have more here than the patriarch's bodily frailty. He was worshipping; and he had studiously put his body, though in his feebleness it required no small effort to do so — into the best posture for that solemn work. In worship bodily attitude profiteth little. But it is not, therefore, a matter of absolute indifference. God is to be glorified in our bodies as well as in our spirits. The seraphim are represented as covering their faces and their feet with their wings when they adore in His presence.
II. SEE JACOB, WHEN A-DYING, WORSHIPPING. Men generally die as they live; and Jacob's death-bed exercise was in fine keeping with his life. He had his infirmities; but he was a man who, with all his infirmities, had ted a devout life, a life of worship. He raised his altar to God wherever he went; he breathed much of the atmosphere of that " better country," the ceaseless employ of which is worship; and now that he was on the verge of it, we behold him worshipping.
1. It doubtless included confession — humble self-denying, self-abasing confession. Some persons talk much of looking back from a death-bed on a well-spent life. The good man, in so far as he has differed from others, knows who made him to differ. But in the review of the past, Oh, how little he sees that he can contemplate with satisfaction; and how much to lay him in the dust, and to strip him of all confidence in the flesh!
2. It doubtless included thanksgiving. What grateful emotions must have fired his bosom, as he thought of all the way in which the Lord had led him, so signally fulfilling the promises made to him.
3. It doubtless included prayer, properly so called, that is, petition, supplication. He had yet to take the solemn step into eternity. And we may be sure that, in view of it, he implored dying grace, with all the importunity of "a prince with God."
III. SEE JACOB, WHEN A-DYING, BLESSING THE SONS OF JOSEPH. What is that to us? Much in many ways: in particular, it reads to u q one great lesson. It says to us, Be ye useful to the last. Be ambitious to do good, be ambitious to bless, not only living, but dying. And what opportunities of good-doing does a death-bed like Jacob's furnish? If it shall be our lot to be laid on such a death-bed; if we shall have the possession of our reason; if we shall have freedom from agonising pain; if we shall have the requisite strength of body; if we shall be surrounded by dear friends eager to catch every syllable that shall fall from our lips: — Oh, will it not be well that our words be words of blessing? Will it not be well that they hear them rising to the throne for a blessing on them; and directing, entreating, and charging them to walk in the way in which the blessing runs? Parting words, words uttered in death's parting, how peculiarly impressive and memorable they are, and what a blessing has often been in them!
IV. SEE JACOB, WHEN A-DYING, EXEMPLIFYING THE POWER OF FAITH. In all that we have now been looking at, we have been witnessing the working, the solace, the joy, the victory, of faith. And a great sight it is, to see faith not only enduring to the end, but supporting and cheering the heart when " the earthly house of this tabernacle" is falling, and triumphing in the last and solemn hour.
(W. Marshall, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.