And Caleb said, He that smites Kirjathsepher, and takes it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife.…
Achsah had something of her father's spirit in her - ambitious, vigorous, resolute, quick to seize the present opportunity. Having so lately won his own suit Caleb could scarcely deny her her's. Through the simple, Oriental form of this narrative we see the working of deep and universal principles of human life. Let us regard it as suggestive of that restless craving of our nature which can find satisfaction only in the realisation of the higher good.
I. NATURE'S CRAVING. Achsah covets a prize that is as yet beyond her reach. "Give me a blessing. Thou hast given me a south (dry, barren) land; give me also springs of water." How expressive is this of that yearning of the heart by virtue of which it cannot rest content with present possessions, but is ever reaching forth towards something more, a richer inheritance, a completer blessing, the perfect filling up of its capacity, the sense of absolute blessedness.
1. There is an appetite in the soul of man which is not only insatiable but often becomes more intense the more it is fed with finite gratifications. What is the meaning of life's restless toil and endeavour, and the perpetual craving for some new form of excitement in the giddy round and dance of pleasure? It simply shows what power there is in earthly good to awaken hopes and longings that it cannot gratify, to quicken an appetite that it cannot appease. It is not enlargement of possession, the conquering of fair kingdoms either of knowledge, or wealth, or social distinction, or means of enjoyment, that can bring contentment to the soul. This will only feed its discontent unless other conditions are supplied. Man has that within him which spurns all his attempts to satisfy it thus. It is the mark of his essential greatness that he is conscious of a hunger which no earth-grown food can satisfy, a thirst which earthly streams cannot slake, "an aching void the world can never fill." Study the facts of your own consciousness. The day dreams of your imagination and your heart have never been realised. Many a pleasant prospect has proved like the mirage of the desert. Many a fondly cherished purpose has been like a river that loses itself in the sand. Many a stay in which you trusted has been but as a reed that breaks and wounds the hand that leans upon it. The world has not satisfied you. Your fellow creatures have not satisfied you. You have least of all been satisfied from yourself. Amid the happiest arrangement of circumstances you dream of one that is better. Rich as your earthly inheritance may be, there are times when it seems dry and barren to you, and, like Achsah, you crave for something more,
2. When this appetite lifts itself up consciously to the higher level, fixes itself upon the spiritual good, it is the evidence of a new Divine life in the soul. We come here to an altogether peculiar and distinctive element of feeling. The mere experience of the unsatisfactoriness of all other kinds of good does not of itself prepare men to seek after the joys of faith. God said to His sense bound people in the prophetic age, "Thou art wearied in the greatness of thy way, yet saidst thou not. There is no hope" (Isaiah 57:10). Their vain carnal life disappointed them, but they did not repent of it. They were wearied in it, disgusted with it, and still they clung to it. They hoped on notwithstanding the blighting and withering of all their hopes. How true to human nature and human experience in every age! The carnal appetite will never resolve itself into the spiritual. They are essentially different things, and point to essentially different causes. The long series of life's disappointments may be gathered up at last into one sad, deep sigh of conscious emptiness and weariness - "All is vanity," etc. But does it necessarily assume the form and tone of an upward yearning for "the things that are above"? Nay, there is no saving virtue in the mere groans of a discontented heart. One dare not place much confidence even in deathbed confessions of the vanity of the world. The attraction earthwards may have ceased, but perhaps there is no attraction heavenwards to take its place. The lights of earth may be growing dim, but there is no soul-captivating view of brightening lights that shine along the eternal shore; natural desire fails, but there is no longing for the pure satisfactions of a higher and a better sphere. So that it is a momentous revolution in the spiritual history of a man, happen when it will, when he first begins distinctly to reach forth towards the heavenly and Divine. He becomes a "new creature" when there is thus awakened within him the aspiration of a pure and holy life that he has never known before. The appetite of his being has taken a new direction, assumed an altogether new character. He hungers for the "bread of life," and thirsts for the "river of the water of life" - "hungers after righteousness," and "thirsts for the living God."
II. ITS TRUE SATISFACTION. Achsah's request is immediately granted. She receives from her father a completed "blessing" - the richer land added to the poorer to supplement its deficiency.
1. God is ever ready to respond to every pure aspiration of our nature. He who "opens His hand and satisfies the wants of every living thing" will never disregard the cry of His suppliant children. Every true spiritual desire of which we are conscious contains in itself the pledge of its own fulfilment.
2. Christ is God's answer to the soul's deepest craving. In Him is the fulness of all satisfying good. "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:14). In Him we find the rest of absolute contentment.
3. The joy of the higher, life that Christ gives deepens and purifies every natural joy. As the "upper springs" feed the "nether," so when He has conferred on us the Diviner good we discern a richer meaning and worth in the inferior good.
"Our heart is at the secret source
Of every precious thing." All that is naturally fair and pleasant upon earth becomes invested with a new charm, and in that which before seemed barren and profitless there are opened to us unexpected fountains of delight.
"We thirst for springs of heavenly life,
And here all day they rise." W.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjathsepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife.