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Leviticus 19:9-34 - Homilies By W. Clarkson


We gather from these verse—

I. THAT THE FEAR OF GOD WILL SURELY LEAD TO THE LOVE OF MAN . That piety which begins and ends in acts of devotion is one that may be reasonably suspected: it is not of the scriptural order. True piety is in consulting the will of the heavenly Father ( Matthew 7:21 ), and his will is that we should love and be kind to one another ( Ephesians 4:32 ). Philanthropy is a word which may not have its synonym in the Old Testament, but the Hebrew legislator was not ignorant of the idea, and the Hebrew people were not left without incitement to the thing itself. Hence these injunctions to leave some corn in the corners of their fields, and the scattered ears for the reaping and gleaning of the poor ( Leviticus 19:9 ); to leave also some clusters of grapes which had been overlooked for needy hands to pluck ( Leviticus 19:10 ); to take no advantage of the weaker members of their society, the deaf and the blind ( Leviticus 19:14 ); and to show kindness to the stranger ( Leviticus 19:34 ).


There is something particularly striking in the commandment that they were to refrain from cursing the deaf. Even though there might be no danger of giving positive pain and exciting resentment, yet they were not to direct harsh words against any one of their more unfortunate brethren. This legislation for the weak and the necessitous presents a very pleasant aspect of the Law. It also reminds us of some truths which come home to ourselves. We may observe:

1 . That power is apt to be tyrannical. The history of nations, tribes, individuals, is the history of assertion and assumption. The strong have ever shown themselves ready to take advantage of the weak. Hence the oppression and cruelty which darken the pages of human history.

2 . That God would have us be just to one another. In most cases, if not in all, we can take no credit for our superior strength, and build no claim on it. In many cases, if not in most, we can impute no blame to others for their weakness: the unfortunate are not necessarily the undeserving, and we have no right to make them suffer.

3 . But beyond this, God would have us be specially kind to the necessitous because they are reedy. Here are these statutes in respect of the poor, the afflicted, and the stranger. The devotional Scriptures speak more fully of this sacred duty ( Psalms 41:1 , Psalms 41:2 ; 62:13; Psalms 112:9 , etc.). The prophets utter their voice still more forcibly ( Isaiah 58:6-8 ; Ezekiel 18:7 ; Nehemiah 5:10-12 ; Jeremiah 22:16 ; Amos 4:1 , etc.). Our Lord has, with strongest emphasis, commended to us considerateness toward the weak and helpless ( Matthew 10:42 ; Matthew 18:6 , Matthew 18:10 , Matthew 18:14 ; Matthew 25:34-40 , etc.). His apostles spoke and wrote in the same strain ( Romans 12:15 ; 1 Corinthians 12:26 , etc.). But that which, above everything, should lead us to be considerate toward the poorer and weaker members of our community is the thought that to do so is so truly and emphatically Divine. God himself has ever been acting on this gracious principle. He interposed to save the children of Israel because they were weak and afflicted. Again and again he stretched out his arm of deliverance, saving them from the strong and the mighty of the earth. On this Divine principle he deals with us all. He "knows our frame, and remembers that we are dust." "Like as a father pities his children, so he pities them that fear him." Our Saviour dealt with exquisite considerateness in all his relations to his undiscerning and unappreciative disciples; and now he is dealing with gracious forbearance toward us in all the weakness, poverty, shortcoming of our service. We are never so much like our merciful Master as when we speak and act considerately toward those who are poorer, weaker, and more helpless than ourselves.—C.

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