And Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, Did not you hate me, and expel me out of my father's house?…
I. THE VALUE OF A TRUE FRIEND IS SEEN IN THE TIME OF ADVERSITY. Jephthah was hated by the elders of Israel in prosperous times, but when trouble came he was discovered to be their best friend. The wise man will endeavour to cultivate the friendship of the good and great. It is foolish to let valued friends pass away from us through negligence or slight offence. There are few forms of earthly riches more valuable than that of a treasury of friendships. We may be careless of this in circumstances of ease; but if so, trouble will reveal our mistake. Christ is a Friend who sticketh closer than a brother, too often neglected in prosperity, but found to be the one needed Helper in the hour of darkness (Isaiah 32:2).
II. THE BEST FRIEND IS NOT ALWAYS THE MOST POPULAR. He may be poor, unpretending, eccentric, or dull It is foolish to choose our friends by the superficial attractions of social amusement. The boon companion may prove a shallow friend. Sterling qualities of fidelity, self-denying devotion, etc. are not always accompanied by brilliant conversational gifts and such other pleasing characteristics as shine in festive scenes. Christ, the best of friends, was despised and rejected of men. It may be that the very excellency of the friend is the cause of his unpopularity. He will not lend himself to low pursuits, and so is considered morose; he refuses to flatter our weakness, - perhaps bravely and disinterestedly rebukes our faults, - and is therefore thought censorious and offensive; he aims at raising us to what is worthy of our efforts, and is voted "a bore." The time of trouble will destroy this unjust estimate, but it would be more wise and generous in us to value our friends at all times for their best qualities, even though the sobriety of them may appear dull.
III. THE TRUE FRIEND WILL NOT REFUSE HELP IN NEED, ALTHOUGH HE MAY HAVE RECEIVED UNWORTHY TREATMENT IN PROSPEROUS TIMES. Jephthah naturally reproaches the elders of Israel, but he is too noble to refuse to come to their help. True friendship is generous, unselfish, and forgiving. It does not stand "on its rights," "on its dignity." It is more concerned with the welfare of those in whom it is interested than with their deserts. The patriot will not let his country suffer because he is personally piqued at the conduct of its leaders. The Christian should learn not to injure the cause of Christ through the pride and offence which the wrong conduct of responsible persons in the Church may excite. Israel is larger than the elders of Israel. The Church is greater than her doctors and ministers. Jephthah is a type of Christ, who does not refuse to help us though we have rejected him in the past. - A.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, Did not ye hate me, and expel me out of my father's house? and why are ye come unto me now when ye are in distress?