And he said, Leave us not, I pray you; for as much as you know how we are to encamp in the wilderness…
Moses has failed in appealing to Hobab by a regard for his own best interests, but he has a second arrow in his quiver. He will touch Hobab's sense of friendship, his manliness, anything that was chivalrous in him; he will put him on his honour to render just the one service he was able to render. Note -
I. THE SERVICES WHICH THE WORLD CAN RENDER TO THE CHURCH. We may fairly assume, considering Judges 1:16, that Hobab went with Moses after all (Matthew 21:29). He will help Moses the man, when he cares nothing for Moses the prophet of God. There may be a certain sense of duty even when there is none of sin and spiritual need, a certain power to help, even though the highest power be utterly lacking. The peculiar strength of the Church is in God; when it does spiritual work with spiritual instruments; but the world may also be tributary in its own way. The wealth of the world is not a spiritual thing, but it has been helpful to the Church. Men of the world have neither the Christ-like love nor the self-denial to initiate enterprises, which, nevertheless, they will generously support. In person they will do nothing; in purse they will do much. The printer who cares nothing for Christ, who to-day prints the scoffs and quibbles of an atheist, or some frivolous fiction, may to-morrow print a Bible, or a precious biography of some departed saint. Places of worship have been built by men who had no religion in them. Fishers' boats ferried Jesus across the lake of Galilee; trading ships took Paul on his missionary journey; and soldiers of Caesar conveyed him to Rome, where for so long a time he had panted to preach the gospel.
II. THE HOLD WHICH THE CHURCH KEEPS ON THIS WORLD. Hobab said very bluntly he would not go with Moses; but he had not thought of all the considerations that might be brought to bear upon him. The grasp of Moses was firmer than he thought. Let no worldly man despise what he deems the dreams and delusions of the Christian. They may have a greater power on him in the end than at present he has any conception of. Human friendships and old associations are part of the bait with which Christ furnishes his fishers of men. Those who will not read the Scriptures for salvation, and who laugh at the schemes of doctrine draw,, from them yet find in the same Scriptures too much of poetry and interest to be slightingly passed by. What a strange thing, too, to hear men, even in all their vehement denials of the supernatural, extolling Jesus of Nazareth, admiring his spirit, and recommending his ethics. However they try, they cannot get away from him. "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me." We must not despair of unbelievers, even after many refusals (Luke 13:6-9). In connection with Moses and Hobab, a reference-to Tennyson's 'In Memoriam,' 63, "Dost thou look back on what hath been?" etc., may be found homiletically helpful. - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: And he said, Leave us not, I pray thee; forasmuch as thou knowest how we are to encamp in the wilderness, and thou mayest be to us instead of eyes.