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there, corroborating the truth here without fearing that we shall „come into collision with science theories." In some such sense as Tennyson's talking oak
“ Tho' what he whisper'd, under Heaven
None else could understand,
A babbler in the land.” We may go forth treading on earth's soft carpet of grass, and fern, and flower, and hear it say, in response to our footsteps, “ God made me beautiful.” We may hear the leaves of the woods uttering forth the same message. We may see it written on every cloud, and emblazoned on the blue canopy of space. It may be to you and to me the grand chorus sung by creation in perfect harmony and response, “He hath made everything beautiful in its time." And in the midst of wood and on mountain top, and in leafy lane and glen, we may experience the impossibility of the Psalmist to flee from the presence of Jehovah, and say —
“Lo! God is here, let us adore,
And own how dreadful is this place ;
J. G. R.
BRIEF EXPOSITION SUNDAY-SCHOOL INTERNATIONAL LESSONS
SUBJECT—RUTH AND NAOMI,
Lesson_Ruth i. 14—22. Golden Text-ver, 16. INTRODUCTION.—The Book of Ruth is very important, as lifting up the veil and giving a beautiful glimpse of private Jewish life during a time of great social and political disturbance, and showing that all virtue and gentleness had not fled from the land. It records incidents in the lives of very notable and worthy characters. Boaz, the model of a wealthy landowner who fears God, is diligent in business, friendly to his servants, courteous to the poor, hospitable to the stranger, and in his own course realises the blessedness of the righteous man of the first Psalm. Ruth, representing touching devotion to a husband's memory and to an aged adopted parent, and manifesting in a special degree womanly virtues of meekness, modesty, and industry, arising out of a fervent and resolute choice of the God of Israel as her chosen Lord. Naomi, a pious, faithful Jewish woman, such as ornamented the race in all periods of the nation's history, and such as were often the salt of the nation in times of degeneracy. Orpah, a woman of lower type and more selfish considerations, and hence unworthy of a place amongst the saints of God. The Book is very important also as giving the lineage of King David during the troubled period of the Judges, and hence supplying otherwise lost links in the lineage of the future Christ.
EXPOSITION. 1–13. “Ruled.” Written a considerable period after history transpired. Famine. Probably caused by one of frequent hostile invasions. Marriages with Moabitish women not forbidden till time of Nehemiah. The daughters. in-law accompanied Naomi as act of courtesy to borders of Israel. The law requiring a brother to marry his brother's widow prevailed commonly amongst the nations of the East and from the days of the Patriarchs.
14. Kissed.--Usual Oriental salutation, intimated no special affection. Clave unto her. Manifesting tender and self-sacrificing love.
15. Regretful tone as to Orpah. Return thou. Probably said to try Ruth's faithfulness.
16, 17. Naomi's entreaty brought out Ruth's clear and settled resolution to leave the country and gods of the heathen, and identify herself with the true God. So the apparent reluctance of Jesus drew out the victorious faith of Syrophenician woman. Ruth's decision showed intense affection for Naomi, and intelligent decision for the Lord. Such imprecations common, as see 2 Sam, iii. 9; 1 Sam. xiv. 14; 1 Kings ii. 23.
18. Literally, “She strengthened herself to go with her,” manifested clear and immovable decision,
19. They said. The pronoun is feminine. The women of the town probably gathered in great numbers to observe two lonely women passing through the streets. Naomi probably a woman of distinction in former days.
20. Naomi, Mara. Names more significant then than now. Naomi means pleasant, or sweet. Mara, bitter (Exod. xv. 23). Almighty: Name almost peculiar to early books of Scripture, as though the sense of Divine Power had deeply impressed the national heart.
21. Went out full, &c. Strange contrast in experience. By such discipline characters are formed and great virtues made possible. Hath testified, &c. Naomi looked at trial as a manifestation of Divine anger, and as punishment for her sins. This the Jewish idea of suffering. For the Christian idea, see Heb. xii. 5, &c.
22. Ruth was thus commonly spoken of amongst the people, chapter ii. 6. Her foreign birth, fidelity to her husband's memory, filial devotion to Naomi, and womanly piety, won for her undying affection amongst the simple rustics of Bethlehem.
LESSONS. (1) The strange contrasts in human experience. Naomi so rich in early days, so desolate in later life.
(2) The foolishness of being satisfied with secondary aims in life. Orpah went back to her idols and heathen kindred, and is lost to sight from henceforth.
(3) The blessedness of religious decision. Every blessing, both temporal and spiritual, that she could enjoy came to Ruth, and especially she was honoured in becoming an ancestress of our blessed Lord Jesus.
SUBJECT-A PRAYING MOTHER, Lesson-1 Sam. i. 21–28; ü. 1-3. Golden Text-Sam, i. 27. GENERAL INTRODUCTION. — The two Books of Samuel, which were formerly one, have also the title of the "First and Second Book of Kings,” because along with the succeeding Books of Kings they were meant to give us the history of the monarchy in Israel. They are called the “Books of Samuel " because they tell us so much about Samuel, and they tell us so much about him because (1) he was a connecting link between the rule of the Judges and the rule of the Kings (see Judges xxi. 25; 1 Sam. vii. 15–17, viii. 446); and because (2) he was the means of introducing, though unwillingly, the kingly rule in Israel; he also anointed the first two kings. These Books of Samuel
are really a continuation of the Book of Judges, for they give us an account of the remaining judges of Israel down to the election of Saul. Although we know they are a true part of “Scripture given by inspiration of God,” we do not know with certainty who was the actual historian. They were probably compiled from records or memoirs originally written by Samuel. The First Book comprises a period of about 115 years. Samuel was born 1,165 years before Christ, and lived nearly 95 years.
THE NARRATIVE. - The teacher should here try to present a vivid account, without going into too much detail, of how, in the days when the Judges ruled and “every man did that which was right in his own eyes," there was a pious man, not without faults in the arrangement of his household, whose name was Elkanah, and whose wife Hannah was one day found in the “temple,” or sanctuary, at Shiloh, deeply bowed in silent prayer; (read i. 9—18, and let the story speak by its own pathos). The prayer of Hannah was heard. Soon afterwards her son Samuel was born, and the lesson for the day begins by telling us how the father and mother of Samuel prepared for the fulfilment of their vows with regard to the birth and training of their son. The word Samuel means “ asked or heard of God,” “God answered," and by its significance is a perpetual witness of Hannah's prayerful spirit, and of the faithfulnessof God as the answerer of prayer.
EXPOSITION. 21. The man Elkanah. Elkanah means one whom God created or possessed.” He was a Levite (1 Sam. i. 1 ; 1 Chron. xxvii. 34). And all his house. Referring to Peninnah and her children (ver. 2). Went up to offer, &c. (see ver. 3). Although a Levite he could not personally offer the sacrifice. He had to present it through the priests—the sons of Eli. And his vow. He had joined in spirit with the vow of Hannah (ver. 11), and was now ready with his thank-offering.
22. But Hannah went not up. Only males were obliged to go (Ex. xxiii. 17), though pious women often went. Her gift would not be ready until the child was weaned (which was at three years of age), and then she would fulfil her vow by presenting Samuel himself as a perpetual offering to the Lord. To appear before the Lord refers to his dedication to the divine service as expressed in verse 11, and 2 Sam. ii, 11-18. There abide for: ever; that is, “ all the days of his life.”
23. Her husband said. Mark his kind tone, his love for Hannah, the happy harmony and trust of husband and wife. A beautiful family picture. Good parents train good children. Remember that Samuel had a pious and affectionate father as well as a loving and devout mother. The Lord establish his Word; i.e. preserve the child alive and enable us to fulfil our entire
24. With three bullocks, &c. The customary offerings prescribed by the law (Numb. xv. 8-9), but in greater abundance. The ho se of the Lord in Shiloh (see Joshua xviii. 1). The child was young-in his fourth year. “A Hebrew child at that age would be fit for some ministry," and he would be partly in the care of the women who served at the door of the tabernacle.
25. They slew a bullock. They had brought three bullocks—two for the usual burnt and thank-offerings, and the other as a burnt sacrifice in connection with Samuel's dedication to God (compare Ex. xxix. 18, and Numb. xv. 8). This burnt sacrifice, being entirely consumed on the altar, was a symbol of the entire consecration of Samuel to God.
26. As thy soul liveth, &c. As sure as thou art a living man, “I am the woman,' &c.
27-28. The mother could point to Samuel as the embodiment of answered prayer. There is a beautiful play of words on the meaning of Samuel's name, showing the simplicity of the woman's faith and the sincerity of her previous vow. The word “lent" may mislead. Translate : “For this boy I have prayed ; and the Lord gave me my asking, which I asked of Him. And now I, in return, devote him the asked one unto the Lord; as long as he liveth he is the VOL. LXXXVI.
asked one unto the Lord.” The child received from God shall be a lifelong offering to God.
28. He (Elkanah) worshipped the Lord there; and (ii. 1) Hannah prayed. Observe how father and mother both joined in praise and worship. They are of one mind in religious service, and in the purpose to bring up their child for God.
ii. 1–3. See how Hannah in this beautiful song rises to a prophetic strain, blends prayer with thanksgiving, and ascribes to God all the glory of her deliverance, and of her son's future greatness.,
LESSONS. (1) We should bring all our troubles to God, as Hannah brought hers,
(2) We should devote all that God gives us to His service, as Hannah surrendered her son to God.
(3) The child of pious parents should be thankful for their prayers and godly care; and the child of ungodly parents should rejoice that God will accept even him. “Of such is the kingdom of heaven."
“When Samuel was young, he first knew the Lord ;
SUBJECT THE CHILD SAMUEL. Lesson—1 Samuel ii. 1—19. Golden Text-ver. 9. INTRODUCTION.-In contrast with the youthful piety of Samuel here revealed, the previous chapter tells us of the abominable wickedness of Eli's sons ; of Eli's feeble remonstrance with them; their refusal to hearken to his advice ; and of the Divine warning to Eli concerning the downfall of his family, and the slaughter of his two song- "sons of Belial," or vileness, who knew not the Lord. On the other band, we are told how "Samuel did minister unto the Lord, and was in favour both with the Lord and also with men ; ” how his mother, as he could not, at that age, render much valuable service in the tabernacle, undertook the expense and the making of his clothes (“She made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year"); and how rich a Divine blessing rested upon Elkanah and his wife, in contrast with the curse which came upon Eli for bis sinful indulgence toward his profligate sons.
EXPOSITION. 1. The child Samuel-now about twelve years of age, Ministered-performed minor duties in the tabernacle, such as waiting upon Eli, putting out the light of the lamps at dawn, and opening the doors for morning worshippers. In doing humble duties well, he was preparing himself for greater-in “ apprenticeship.” to his future work for God. Precious—rare, and therefore valuable. There were few revelations; there was no open vision-no publicly recognised prophet as the medium of communication with God. Hence this account of Samuel's call to the prophetic office.
2. Eli was laid down in his place-in one of the apartments made for him and the other priests near or around the tabernacle.
3. Samuel slept in an adjoining apartment, ready for attendance on Eli, whose failing sight and growing infirmities required Samuel to be always at hand. The lamp of God was the seven-branched candlestick fed with holy oil and kept burning till sunrise (Lev. xxiv. 2–4; 2 Chron. xiii. 2). The Temple means the sacred enclosure, the tabernacle or sanctuary; not a solid structure like that of Solomon's day. The Ark of God. See Exodus xxv. 10–16.
4-6. “ The stillness of the night-the sudden voice—the child-like misconception-the venerable Eli—the contrast between the terrible doom and the gentle creature who has to announce it-give to this portion of the narrative a
universal interest.” (Dean Stanley.) Picture the thrilling scene, and dwell upon the ready, cheerful response of Samuel, his habit of obedience, his simplicity, his childlike faith, his submission to Eli's rule.
7. Samuel did not yet know the Lord—did not know Him as One that made special revelations of His will.
8, 9. At first Eli must have thought the boy had been dreaming ; but at the third call—a sacred number— began to feel there was something supernatural--a message from God.
10. The Lord came, and stood, and called. At first a voice only from between the Cherubim ; now &
(ver. 15) advancing, an appearance in some awful sacred form, which, after all, inspired no painful dread in Samuel's innocent, trusting soul.
11. Ears . . . shall tingle. It shall have a piercing, astounding effect, as if it continued to resound in their ears.
12. For things spoken, see ii. 27—36. When I begin, &c. I will finish the work of retribution.
13, 14. Eli's house or family should finally be deposed from the priesthood; neither sacrifice nor offering could now avert the Divine wrath against the unrestrained iniquity of his “house."
15—18. Samuel feared to show Eli the vision, or revelation, because he knew it would trouble the old man's heart, and he feared to pain him; but Samuel was perfectly truthful, and when questioned he told the whole truth, every whit; and such was Eli's keen sense of sin, of God's righteousness and love, that with a wonderful resignation he bowed his head and breathed the submissive prayer : “ It is the Lord : let Him do what seemeth Him good.”
19. See ii. 26. Did let none of His words fall to the ground. Every prediction was fulfilled, and Samuel's fame and veracity as a prophet were established to all Israel.
LESSONS. (1) Children can “minister unto the Lord” in'simple things, as Samuel did. They can love and help the servants of God, as Samuel helped Eli. There is room and work for them in the Divine service. "A little child shall lead them.”
(2) Observe the complete submission of Samuel to Eli, his tender regard for Eli's feelings, his truthfulness and candour. He tells him all, and tells him kindly.
(3) There are many voices calling. God has a message for us—a message of mercy, of faithful warning; a message summoning us to His service. He is waiting to communicate with us. Let our response be, “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.”
REVIEW OF THE QUARTER'S Lessons. Golden Text.-“Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord.”—Psalm cvii. 43.
Our subjects have taken us through some of the main scenes in the Books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and the opening incidents of Samuel's interesting career.
The Book of Joshua records the history of the Israelites for twenty-five or thirty years, and exhibits striking proofs of God's fidelity to Joshua as the successor of Moses, his forbearance towards the children of Israel, his severity in judging the wicked people of Canaan, and the triumphant settlement of Israel in the promised land.
The Book of Judges records the history of the Israelites under thirteen or fourteen judges, or rulers under God, raised up as circumstances required, and specially endowed with courage, wisdom, and victorious power. It shows us the idolatry and inconstancy of the children of Israel, their consequent calamities, and the gracious interposition of God on their behalf. The touching episode of Ruth and Naomi, and the story of Samuel's birth and early religious