And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried to the LORD because of the Midianites,…
The answer to prayer begins in reproof. An anonymous messenger is sent, a prophet probably from amongst the Israelites themselves. In such a season of distress and seclusion they would become strangers even to themselves. No biography is given of the prophet. He is raised for the occasion. His message is simple. But it is the utterance of the people's own national and individual conscience. He is a "voice crying in the wilderness," and saying, "Repent!"
I. THERE IS ENCOURAGEMENT EVEN IN GOD'S CHIDINGS. For -
1. They are better than absolute and final silence.
2. They are meant to bring us back to him, and not to drive us away.
3. His severity is to prepare us for his gentleness.
II. IT IS OFTEN AS NECESSARY AND PROFITABLE TO BE IMPRESSED WITH WHAT WE ALREADY KNOW AS TO RECEIVE NEW TRUTH. Revelation is not primarily intended to satisfy intellectual cravings, but to stimulate and enrich the moral nature. A sermon may be a mere exhortation, an impressive resume of acknowledged truth, and yet more valuable than if it were full of theological discoveries. Knowledge of God becomes religious and living when it is realized and acted upon. In this connection notice -
1. How impressive the personality of the prophet.
2. The heightening of the conscience of sin by contrast with remembered and recited mercies.
3. The tone and style of the discourse. It was short, direct, spoken to the conscience. Its chief message and its sting is in the conclusion. No word of comfort is uttered. The people are left with their consciousness of sin. But this in itself is a gracious work, and preparatory for everything that is good. Thorough repentance is the condition of deep and lasting piety. - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD because of the Midianites,