And these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel.
Between two stages of the history of the covenant family stands the genealogy of Esau's descendants. The text suggests a contrast between their course and that of the family of Jacob. On the death of Isaac Esau departed from Canaan with family and possessions (cf. Genesis 27:40). The desert and the valleys of Seir were more attractive than quietness of Canaan. Prosperity, such as he cared for, attended him. Among his family we read of dukes, or heads of tribes, and of kings. And what of the line of promise? - kings foretold to them (Genesis 17:6; Genesis 35:11). Yet while kings were reigning in Edom, Israelites were slaves in Egypt or wanderers in the desert. Is God slack to fulfill his word? (1 Peter 3:4). This is often a trial to believers (Psalm 73:3). But God's promises are sure, though the time may seem long. The fulfillment of promises of great blessings has almost always been slow, as we count it. Abraham waited long (Genesis 12:2). It was long ere the kingdom of Israel arose; far longer ere the promise of a Savior fulfilled (Genesis 3:15; Galatians 4:4); and still we wait for the Lord's return. The same truth appears in nature. Great and precious things are of slow growth (cf. Mark 4:5). Doctrinal lessons: -
1. Delay serves for the trial and strengthening of faith. Faith grows by enduring trial. Mark how often the faith of eminent saints has been tried. Without faith we cannot please God; for faith believes God's truth and love, and embraces his will. Unbelief charges God with untruth (Genesis 3:4; 1 John 5:10). Even in believers a leaven of unbelief may be at work. Trials are sent to cause faith to develop into other graces (James 1:3).
2. What springs up quietly is apt to fade quickly (cf. Exodus 3:11 with Haggai 1:2). Danger lest what seems to be faith be merely feeling.
3. The time that seems so long is not mere delay, but preparation. While the seed lies in the earth a process is going on, though unseen, without which the perfect plant could not be formed. Compare the expression, "the fullness of time" (Galatians 4:4), and the way in which all previous history prepared the way for the coming of Christ. These lessons apply equally to God's dealings with the world and with individuals. Practical lessons: -
1. Encouragement if disheartened by slow progress of Christ's kingdom: much labor among the heathen with little apparent result; or many efforts at home, yet ungodliness not checked. We have promises (Isaiah 55:11; 1 Corinthians 15:58). In his own time God will make them good.
2. In like manner if our own striving for personal holiness, or for good of others, seems to have little success. We require the training of disappointment to check pride (2 Corinthians 12:7), and God will see to the result (Galatians 6:9).
3. To bear in mind that we are but instruments in the Lord's hand (1 Corinthians 3:6). Every work to be performed "looking unto Jesus" (2 Corinthians 12:10). - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel.