Common Family Sorrows
1 Chronicles 7:21, 22
And Zabad his son, and Shuthelah his son, and Ezer, and Elead, whom the men of Gath that were born in that land slew…

In these verses is given a very touching episode, and yet it is a very commonplace incident that is narrated. A father gains the news that his sons have been attacked by foes and killed, and, as the poor father sits stricken with the great sorrow, his brethren, his relatives, come to mourn with him and to comfort him. Children are an anxiety and care, all through our relations with them, when "about us" in the frailties of their childhood, and when away from us in the wilfulnesses of their young manhood. Sick-scenes and death-scenes are familiar to most parents, and few human homes last long unbroken. Nor is the comforting of loving friends other than a commonplace and yet most gracious fact of our modern life. Still, the thrill of hand and tear-filled eye and sympathetic word bring relief and rest to burdened and bereaved hearts. Life repeats itself over and over again, and tells its tale of grief and loss concerning one family after another. So it was in the olden times. Ephraim mourns the loss of his children, and his brethren come to comfort him; and thus it is seen that family life becomes a moral training for us all; and as the experiences of sickness, sorrow, and loss go round to one after another, we all come under the great Father's sanctifying, and find out how "good it is even to be afflicted."

I. THE LOSS OF CHILDREN. Here especially the greater loss of their death rather than the toss by removal, which never quite quenches hope. Such loss comes at various stages, and we never know at which of their ages the stroke falls lightest. It comes in various ways, slowly or suddenly, and we never can tell which way seemed to crush us most. The reaper cuts the "bearded grain" and the "flowers;" beautiful infants fly away, bright childhood fades, and blooming youth is smitten; and all we can say about it we say after Jacob, "If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved." On this we may dwell somewhat more fully.

II. THE PARENTAL GRIEF AT THE LOSS OF CHILDREN. "Ephraim mourned many days." Such grief is well illustrated in David's wailing over Absalom, Elijah's friend's grief over her dead child, and the poor Nain widow going out to bury her only son. The Eastern thought about the children helps to explain the intensity of their grief. Easterns conceived of their own earthly existence as continued in their children - they had a kind of immortality in their children, and they pleased themselves with the idea that their descendants would reach higher dignity and place than they had done. So for their children to die was a plucking down of lofty imaginations, an uprooting of carefully raised hopes. And so it is in measure for us, as may be most tenderly illustrated in the case of the talented young Hallam, whose early death Tennyson deplores in his "In Memoriam."

III. THE FAMILY BONDS SANCTIFIED IN THE LOSS OF CHILDREN. Such points as these may be unfolded and illustrated. If rightly, piously borne, the death of children may be used:

1. To the producing of a hallowing tenderness of feeling on all the members.

2. To a solemnizing estimate of the relative interests of this brief life and the coming eternal one.

3. To the self-denying efforts of each member to comfort the others, often involving most precious lessons in self-restraint.

4. To the reknitting of the family bonds. One member of a home realized as being away in the heavenly brings wondrously near and makes affectingly real all that belongs to the "unseen and eternal." And in family griefs we are "comforted, in order that we may be able to comfort them that are in any affliction, through the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Zabad his son, and Shuthelah his son, and Ezer, and Elead, whom the men of Gath that were born in that land slew, because they came down to take away their cattle.

WEB: and Zabad his son, and Shuthelah his son, and Ezer, and Elead, whom the men of Gath who were born in the land killed, because they came down to take away their livestock.

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