By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
1. Think what a moral mixture the human heart may hold, what a mass of contradictions it is! Rahab, loyal lover to her kindred, traitor to her king, gifted with insight above her fellow-citizens, yet exposing herself to the scorn of man, possessed of a crude faith, yet selling her honour for gain l Surely the warp of heaven and the woof of hell were never woven together more strangely. Surely there never was such a peculiar character thrown off from the loom of life. But no, such contradictions are common, and that may be one of the reasons why her name is left on record. How many men do you know who are of perfectly simple moral character, who act from one motive, who are dominated by a single passion, whose conduct, under given circumstances, you can infallibly calculate? How many saints do you know who bear on them no traces of sin? How many sinners who show signs of nothing else? The best have their weak points: the worst retain some features of good.
2. Observe how independent religion may be of morality, how strong a hold faith in God may have in those on whom righteousness have a most imperfect grasp. Rahab's faith still held; while of her morals the less said the better. This is the perplexity of the present time, that so many men are honestly and ardently in love with goodness, and are yet able to do without God; and the converse, that a man may have faith in God and yet be wicked. Religion and righteousness are two different things, though ultimately one. They satisfy different needs of our nature. We may seek God for shelter. A man finds the world crumbling beneath his feet and he hides himself in the Eternal; or he is oppressed by the meagreness of his range of vision, and he flees to Him in whom there is no darkness at all; or he is crushed by pain, or he seeks help from Him who bears the cares of the world, and who can bring peace in the midst of sorrows. But morality! That is the soul's working day and loins must be girded. Rest here means idleness, apathy, death, Moral progress must be struggled for; advance in purity implies a hotly-contested race. Religion brings rest; morality means toil. The noble, impassive soul, strong in affection but weak of will, makes much of religious help and consolation. He is not dishonest, but the ideal has never dawned on him of religion and morality clothed in double raiment, offering at the altar, body, soul and spirit.
3. Notice the power of even a rudimentary faith. In Rahab's case, a little religion went a long way. As some one says, faith is the one before the ciphers on the cheque presented at the bank of heaven. It is the beginning of all virtues. It may be crude at first, but it cannot continue so; for it brings the Spirit of God into the heart. The harlot Rahab, by her crude faith, stepped forth from the ranks of heathendom; and so the most disgraced child of man can be rescued from his sin, through faith in God.
(A. Martin, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.