Exodus 5



                        THE FIRST APPEAL OF MOSES TO PHARAOH




vs. 1-5 – “And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus

saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto

me in the wilderness”.  The rationale of the demand is given in ch. 8:26. The

Israelites could not offer their proper sacrificial animals in the presence of the

Egyptians without the risk of provoking a burst of religious animosity, since among

the animals would necessarily be some which all, or many, of the Egyptians regarded

as sacred, and under no circumstances to be killed.  The fanaticism of the Egyptians

on such occasions led to wars, tumults, and massacres. (See Plutarch, ‘De Isid. et

Osir.,’ § 44.) To avoid this danger the “feast” must be held beyond the bounds of

Egypt — in the adjacent “wilderness.”  And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD,

that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will

I let Israel go.  Either Pharaoh is actually ignorant, or he pretends to be. The

former is possible, since Jehovah was a name but little employed, until the return

of Moses to Egypt. The latter, however, is more probable. That I should obey his

voice. Why am I to obey his voice? What is your Jehovah to me? What authority has

he over me? He is, at best, your god, not mine. I know not Jehovah. I acknowledge

him not. He is not within the range of my Pantheon. Neither will I let Israel go, i.e.

 nor even, if he were, would I consent to such a request as this from him.” The

Pharaohs assumed to be themselves gods, on a par with the national gods, and not

bound to obey them.  And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us:

let us go, we pray thee, three days’ journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the

LORD our God; lest He fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword”.  Moses

and Aaron are not abashed by a single refusal. They expostulate, and urge fresh

reasons why Pharaoh should accede to their request.  Their God, they say, has met

with them — made, that is. a special revelation of Himself to them — an idea quite familiar

to the king, and which he could not pretend to misunderstand and He has laid

on them an express command.  They are to go a three days’ journey into the desert

to be quite clear of interruption from the Egyptians. Will not Pharaoh allow them to

obey the order? If they do not obey it, their God will be angry, and will punish them, either

by sending a pestilence among them, or causing an invader to fall upon them with the

sword.  “And the king of Egypt said  unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses

and Aaron, let the people from their works?  get you unto your burdens.  And

Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them

rest from their burdens”.   With these words the first interview between the

Israelite leaders and the Egyptian monarch ends.  Having secured the adhesion of the

Israelitish people, Moses and Aaron sought an interview with the Egyptian monarch

who was now in possession of the throne. According to the bulk of modern authorities,

and according to our own views of Egyptian history, this was Menephthah, the son and

successor of Rameses II. Menephthah was a weak prince, whom events had favored,

and who had been thus led to have an exalted opinion of himself. A great invasion of

Egypt had occurred at the beginning of his reign, which had been met and completely

repulsed, not by his own skill or valor, but by the skill and valor of his generals. Menephthah

himself had pointedly avoided incurring any danger. He claimed to be in direct communication

with the Egyptian gods, who revealed themselves to him in visions, and pleaded a distinct

command of Phthah as preventing him from putting himself at the head of his army. Still, he

counted as his own all the successes gained by his generals, and was as vainglorious and

arrogant as if he had himself performed prodigies of valour Such was the temper of the

king before whom we believe that Moses and Aaron appeared. There would be no

difficulty in any Egyptian subject, who had a prayer to make or a petition to present,

obtaining an audience of the monarch, for it was an accepted principle of the administration

that the kings were to hear all complaints, and admit to their presence all classes of the




      HIS SERVANTS REBUFFED.  Encouraged by their success with the elders

      and with the people (ch. 4:29-31), Moses and Aaron would step boldly into

      the presence of Pharaoh. It was, no doubt, known that they represented the

            feelings of an entire nation, a nation moreover of whom the Egyptians had

            begun to be afraid (ch. 1:9-10). The courtiers would treat them, at any rate,

            with outward politeness and respect. They knew also that God was on their

            side, and would ultimately, if not at the first, give them success. Under these      

            circumstances they made their request boldly and with much plainness (vs. 1

            and 3). But they were met with the most complete antagonism. Pharaoh was in

            his own eves not only the greatest king upon the face of the earth, but an actual

            god. If we are right in supposing him to be Menephthah, he was the son of a

            king who had set up his own image to be worshipped side by side with those of            

            Ammon, Phthah, and Horus, three of the greatest Egyptian deities. He viewed

            the demand made of him as preposterous, and had probably not the slightest

            belief in the power of Jehovah to do him harm. Who was Jehovah? and

            what had he to fear from him? A god — if he was a god — who had not

            been able to prevent his people from becoming a nation of slaves. He

            therefore treated the petition of Moses with absolute contempt. And so it

            has ever been, and will ever be, with the great of the earth. They are so

            exalted above their fellows, that they think “no harm can happen unto

            them.” They do not set themselves to inquire what is really God’s will, but

            determinately carry out their own will in their own way. Even when they

            do not openly blaspheme, like this Pharaoh, and Sennacherib (II Kings

            18:29-35), and Herod Antipas (Luke 23:11), they ignore God, reject

            the just demands of His ministers, refuse to be guided by their advice. Thus

            His servants are ever being rebuffed. They ask that slavery should

            everywhere cease, and are told that in some places it is a necessity. They

            plead against the licensing of vice, and are bidden not to interfere with

            sanitary arrangements. They ask for laws to restrain intoxication, and are

            denounced as seeking to lessen the national revenue. They cry for the

            abolition of vivisection, and are held up to ridicule as sickly sentimentalists.

            All this is to be expected, and should not discourage them. Let them, like

            Moses and Aaron, continually repeat their demands; urge them, in season

            and out of season. They may be sure that they will triumph at last. “The

            Lord is on their side; they need not fear what flesh can do against them”.

            (Psalm 118:6)






vs. 6-9 – “And Pharaoh commanded the same day (Pharaoh lost not time) the

taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying, Ye shall no more give the

people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for

themselves.  And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall

lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof: for they be idle” -  There was

so much ground for the charge as this — that hitherto, their forced labors had not

occupied the whole of their time. They had been able, apparently, to cultivate their

own plots of ground (Deuteronomy 11:10), to raise crops of cucumbers, melons,

leeks, onions, and garlic (Numbers 11:5), to catch fish (ibid.), and attend public

meetings (ch. 4:30-31).  They had, in fact, had time which they could call their own.

Now this was to be so no more. The Pharaoh, however, misrepresents and

exaggerates, speaking as if their forced labors had been a mere nothing, and mere

want of occupation had led them to raise the cry — “Let us go and sacrifice.”   It

would have been far nearer the truth to say, that the severity and continuousness of

their labors had made the notion of festival time, during which they would cease

from their toils, generally popular – “therefore they cry, saying, Let us go

and sacrifice to our God.  Let there more work be laid upon the men” - Rather, 

as in the margin, “Let the work be heavy upon the men.”  Let the tasks set them be

such as to occupy all their time, and not leave them any spare moments in which

they may be tempted to listen to mischievous talkers, (like Moses and Aaron) who

flatter them with vain (literally, lying, words. Pharaoh, no doubt, imagined that the

hopes raised by the two brothers were vain and illusive. He was utterly blind as to

the course which events were about to take –  “that they may labor therein; and

let them not regard vain words”.  Rulers are not always content simply to refuse

inconvenient demands. Sometimes they set to work with much ingenuity and worldly

wisdom to prevent their repetition. This is especially the case where they entertain a

fear of their petitioners. The Pharaoh now is not content to let things take their course,

but devises a plan by which he hopes to crush altogether the aspirations of the Hebrew

people, and secure himself against the recurrence of any such appeal as that which had

been made to him by Moses and Aaron. The Israelites had recently been employed

chiefly in brick-making.  They had had to dig the clay and temper it, to mix it with

straw, and mould it into the form of bricks; but the straw had been supplied to them.

The king determined that this should be no longer done; the Israelites should find the

straw for themselves. It has been estimated that by this change their labor was “more

than doubled.” (Canon Cook.)   It was a not unreasonable expectation that under this

system popular meetings would cease (v. 9); and that Moses and Aaron, not being

backed up by the voice of the people, would discontinue their agitation.




       UNSPARING.  Scripture contains abundant portraitures, not only of good,

      but also of bad men, the Holy Spirit seeming to be as desirous of arousing our   

      indignation against vice as our sympathy with virtue. Portraits are given us, as    

      more effectual than precepts or general descriptions, appealing as they do to

      our feelings and imagination rather than to our intellect. The dramatic

            exhibition of a Pharaoh, an Ahab, a Sennacherib, a Judas Iscariot, is

            calculated at once to strike the soul and to remain indelibly impressed upon

            it. Here we have the portrait of a tyrant, characterized especially by three



ü      Craft or cleverness - Pharaoh’s craft is shown, first in the skilful way

      in which he “turns the tables” upon Moses and Aaron, stopping their     

      mouths with the charge that they are “letting the people from their          

      labours,” and “endamaging the king.” (See Ezra 4:13.) Secondly, it is    

      shown in the rapidity and ingenuity of his thought — “More work must

      be laid upon the Israelites — let them be given no straw.” Thirdly, it is   

      shown further on in his attempts to secure the return of the Israelites by

      the detention of their children (ch. 10:10) or of their cattle (ibid. 24).


ü      Energy - Pharaoh’s energy appears in the immediate steps that he took

      to carry his plan out by giving orders for the withholding of the straw     

      without any diminution in the tale of bricks, “the same day” (v. 6).


ü      Mercilessness. His mercilessness is seen, first, in his refusing a very

      moderate request (v. 1-2); secondly, in his meeting the demand for a

      relaxation of labor by an addition to it; thirdly and especially, in his

      making such an addition as was impossible of performance, and

      involved a continued series of punishments (vs. 14-21). Pharaoh did

      not perhaps know the exact amount of misery which he was inflicting;

      but he was reckless in respect to it — he did not care what it might

      cost; the sighs and the groans of a whole nation were as nothing to him;

      and he adds insult to injury by the reproach (vs. 8 and 17) — “Ye are

      idle, ye are idle.”


  • BRICKS WITHOUT STRAW.  (v. 7) - The requirement of “bricks without

      strawis not always made by a tyrannical king. All employers of labor who

      expect certain results without allowing sufficient time for them, and then complain

      that the work is scamped, are guilty of it. So is the father who

      expects his son to turn out a great scholar, without giving him the necessary

      books and the necessary instruction to make him one. So is the mistress who    

      scolds her cook for not sending up a first-rate dinner, yet grudges every penny

      for the kitchen expenses. There are congregations which demand perpetual       

      sermons of a high quality, yet do not either provide their pastors with sufficient  

      money to buy books, or allow them sufficient leisure time for reading them.

      There are incumbents who act similarly by their curates, mercantile men who,

            mutatis mutandis, act so by their clerks, officials of all kinds who so treat

            their subordinates. The demand for bricks without straw is, unfortunately,

            far too common a demand. Let this note be set against it, that it is

            Pharaonic and tyrannical.


  • VAIN WORDS. (v. 9 ) - There can be no doubt that “vain words” are

      unworthy of attention, deserve contempt, are foolish, unjustifiable. But what

      are “vain words’?  What is the test whereby we are to know whether words

      are vain or not?  Simply, the issue of them. Pharaoh thought that the promises

      of deliverance wherewith Moses and Aaron had excited the people were “vain

            words.” Sennacherib described similarly the words of trust and confidence

            in God uttered by Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:20). The Athenians thought the same

            of Paul’s words concerning the resurrection (Acts 17:32).  But we know that,

            in none of these cases, were the words uttered “vain.” The event justified or

            will justify them. When words then are uttered by any grave authority,

            especially if they are uttered in the name of God, we should hesitate to call

            them “vain.” We should await the end. Full often, what the scoffer has called   

            vain words” turn out “words of truth and soberness” – (Acts 26:25) –

            words which tell with terrible force against those who have despised and

            rejected them — words which to have heard and despised is condemnation in

            the sight of the Almighty!





vs. 10-14 – “And the taskmasters of the people went out, and their officers, and

they spake to the people, saying, Thus saith Pharaoh, I will not give you straw.

Go ye, get you straw where ye can find it” - Straw was not valued in Egypt.

Reaping was effected either by gathering the ears, or by cutting the stalks of the corn

at a short distance below the heads; and the straw was then left almost entirely upon

the ground. Grass was so plentiful that it was not required for fodder, and there was

no employment of it as litter in farmyards. Thus abundance of straw could be gathered

in the cornfields after harvest; and as there were many harvests, some sort of straw

was probably obtainable in the Delta at almost all seasons of the year. To collect it,

however, and chop it small, as required in brick-making, consumed much time, and

left too little for the actual making of the bricks.  yet not ought of your work shall

be diminished.  So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of

Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw.  And the taskmasters hasted them” –

The Egyptian overseers, armed with rods, went about among the toiling Israelites

continually, and “hasted them” by dealing out blows freely on all who made any pause

in their work. The unceasing toil lasted from morning to night; yet still the required

tale could not be produced; and consequently the native officers, whose business it

was to produce the “tale,” were punished by the bastinado at the close of the day not

giving in the proper amount – “saying, Fulfil your works, your daily tasks, as when

there was straw.  And the officers of the children of Israel, which Pharaoh’s

taskmasters had set over them, were beaten, and demanded,  Wherefore have ye

not fulfilled your task in making brick both yesterday and to day, as heretofore?” 

The command of Pharaoh gone forth — no straw was to be provided for the Israelites,

they were themselves to gather straw. The taskmasters could not soften the edict; they

could only promulgate it (vs.10-11).  And the Israelites could only choose between

rebelling and endeavoring to obey. To rebel seemed hopeless; Moses and Aaron

did not advise rebellion, and so the attempt was made to carry out Pharaoh’s

behest (v. 12). But experience proved that obedience to it was impossible. Though

the people did their best, and the native officers set over them did their best, and

the Egyptian taskmasters hurried them on as much as possible (v. 13), the result

was that the tale of bricks fell short.  Then, according to a barbarous practice said

to be even now not unknown in Egypt (Kalisch), the native officers who Had not

delivered in the appointed “tale of bricks” were bastinadoed, (whipped) suffering

agonies for no fault of their own (v. 16), but because the people Had been set an

impossible task.



      PRAISEWORTHY.  The Egyptian taskmasters seem to have carried out

      their monarch’s orders to the full, if not with inward satisfaction, at any rate       

      without visible repugnance. They published abroad the orders given without

      in any way softening them (vs. 10-11), harassed the Israeli people all day long

      by “hasting them” (v.13), and bastinadoed the Israelite officers at night

            (v.14). How different their conduct from that of the midwives, when another     

            Pharaoh sought to make them the instruments of his cruelty! Weak women

            defied the tyrant and disobeyed his commands. Strong sturdy men were

            content to be his slavish tools and accomplices. But so it is often. Out of         

            weakness God perfects strength.” (Hebrews 11:34) - He “makes the weak          

            things of the world to confound the strong” (I Corinthians 1:27) - And the   

            consequence is, that the weak, who show themselves strong, obtain His

            approval and the enduring praise of men, like the midwives; while the strong,

            who show themselves weak, are condemned by him, and covered with

            everlasting obloquy, like these taskmasters.





vs. 15-19 – “Then the officers of the children of Israel came and cried unto

Pharaoh, saying, Wherefore dealest thou thus with thy servants?  There is no

straw given unto thy servants, and they say to us, Make brick: and, behold, thy

servants are beaten; but the fault is in thine own people. But he said, Ye are idle,

ye are idle: therefore ye say, Let us go and do sacrifice to the LORD.  Go

therefore now, and work; for there shall no straw be given you, yet shall ye

deliver the tale of bricks.  And the officers of the children of Israel did see that

they were in evil case, after it was said, Ye shall not minish ought from your

bricks of your daily task.”  Smarting under the sense of injustice, the Israelite

officers “came and cried to Pharaoh” (v. 15), supposing that he could not have

intended such manifest unfairness and cruelty. They were conscious to themselves

of having done their utmost, and of having failed simply because the thing required

was impossible. Surely the king would understand this, if they pointed it out, and

would either allow straw as before, or diminish the number of the bricks. But the

king had no desire for justice, and did not even pretend to it. He asked for no

particulars, ordered no inquiry into the ground of complaint; but turned upon the

complainants with the cuckoo cry — “Idle, idle yourselves — else ye had no time

to come here; go, work — go, work.” Then the officers felt that they were indeed

in evil case” (v.19) — the king was determined not to do justice — no hope

remained — they must be beaten again and again, until they died of the punishment




            Pharaoh when he first gave the order to withhold straw (v. 7), may not

            have known the amount of misery he was causing. He may have meant no

            more than to give the people full occupation, and so prevent such

            gatherings as that from which Moses and Aaron had come (ch. 4:29-31),

            when they appeared before him with their demands. He may not have realized

            to himself the idea that he was setting his bondsmen an impossible task. But

            now this fact was brought home to him, and he was asked, as a matter of

            simple justice, either to let straw be furnished as before, or to allow some          

            diminution in the number of the bricks. It can scarcely be doubted that he

            knew and felt the demand made to be just.  There were the officers before him          

            with the wheals upon their backs.  Would they have incurred the severe        

            punishment, could they by any possibility have avoided it? Pharaoh must have   

            known that they would not.  But he would not relent. As he had begun, he

            would continue. He had been more cruel than he meant; but he did not care —

            it was only Hebrews and bondsmen who had suffered; what mattered their       

            agonies? So he dismisses the complainants with jeers and scoffs: “Ye are idle,

             ye are hypocrites; go, work.” So bad men almost always go on from bad to

            worse by a “facile descent;” severity deepens into cruelty, unkindness into         

            injustice, religious indifference into impiety.  Stop, then, the beginnings of  

            wrong-doing. Principiis obsta. Crush the nascent germs of vice in thy heart, O man! 

            Master them, or they will master thee!



      NOT ALWAYS DESERVED.  (v. 16) -  Thy servants are beaten; but the

      fault is in thine own people.” Punishment often visits the wrong back. Kings

      commit injuries or follies, and their subjects suffer. Employers are greedy of

      gain, and their “hands” must work overtime, go without sleep, trench on the    

      Sunday rest. Wholesale tradesmen adulterate goods, and retail traders are

      blamed and lose custom.  Justice itself is often at fault, and punishes the

      wrong person — sometimes by a mere mistake, as when the wrong man is

      hanged for a murder; but sometimes also through a defect in the law itself

      which judges have to administer; as when Christians were delivered to the

      wild beasts for not sacrificing to the divinity of the emperor, or Protestants

      were burnt at the stake for denying transubstantiation. It is not to be assumed

      that the law is always right. The law of any country at any time is only the          

      expression of the will of those who are in authority at the time, and has no

      more divinity or sacredness about it than they have. Those who transgress the

      law will, of course, be punished for it; but that fact proves nothing as to their     

      good or ill-desert. The greatest benefactors of mankind have had to set human

            law at defiance, and to endure its penalties. Their answer to the authorities

            who persecute them might constantly be, “Thy servants are beaten, but the

            fault is in thine own people.”  (Thanks be unto God, that in the Judgment

            there will be no such nonsense, but that each will be judged righteously –

            CY – 2010)





vs. 20-21 – “And they met Moses and Aaron, who stood in the way, as they came

forth from Pharaoh:  And they said unto them, The LORD look upon you, and judge;

because ye have made our savor to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh,

and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us.”  That is

to say, “ye have armed them with a weapon wherewith we expect that they will take

our lives.” Either they will beat us to death — and death is a not infrequent result of

a repeated employment of the bastinado — or when they find that punishment

unavailing they will execute us as traitors. On the use of the bastinado as a punishment

in Egypt, see Chabas, ‘Melanges Egyptologiques,’ 3me serie, vol. 1. pp. 100-6.

(Bastinadoing is like a “modern caning” – beaten with a stick – CY – 2010) On

quitting the presence of Pharaoh, the officers of the Israelites, burning with the

sense of the injustice done them, and deeply apprehensive with respect to their own future,

found Moses and Aaron waiting in the precincts of the court to know the

result of their application.  It need cause no surprise that they poured out their pent-up

indignation upon them. Were not Moses and Aaron the sole cause of the existing

state of things? Did not the extreme affliction of the people, did not their own

sufferings in the past, did not their apprehended sufferings in the future, originate

wholly in the seductive words which the two brothers had addressed to them at the

assembly of the people? (ch. 4:29-31).  Accordingly, they denounced, yea, almost

cursed  their officious would-be deliverers (v. 21). “The Lord look upon you, and judge”

between you and us, whether the blame of this whole matter does not lie

upon you, its initiators — you have made us to be abhorred in the sight of Pharaoh,

and of the Egyptians generally you have brought us into danger of our lives — the

Lord judge you!”



            LESS THAN ENEMIES.  (v. 21) - Moses and Aaron had borne the reproaches         

            and scoffs of Pharaoh (vs. 4-8) without flinching. It was natural that an enemy   

            should revile them.  Pharaoh might tax them with idleness and insincerity in        

            religion, if he pleased. The stab did not penetrate very deep, nor cause a very   

            grievous smart. But when their brethren turned upon them and uttered

            reproaches, it was different. Then the wound went to the heart; the pain was

            bitter, scarce endurable. It made them misdoubt themselves. Had they really

            not acted for the best? Had they been self-seeking, or vainglorious, or reckless,

            or even injudicious? Such thoughts will always occur even to the best men,

            if on their plans seeming to have miscarried their friends reproach them.

            The best men best know their own frailty, and how easy it is for man to

            mar God’s work by his own imperfections. It requires a very brave soul to

            bear up against the reproaches of friends, especially when there seems to

            be a ground for them. The more careful therefore should friends be not to

            reproach God’s servants causelessly, or unless they can point out where

            they have been wrong. Actions are not to be always judged by their results,

            or, at any rate, not by their immediate results. Moses and Aaron had done

            quite right; they had obeyed God; they were bound to act as they had

            acted. It had not pleased God to give success to their efforts as yet. The

            officers should have had patience, should have prayed to God for relief, but

            should have forborne from reproaching the innocent.





vs. 22-23 – “And Moses returned unto the LORD” - We are not to understand that

Moses had forsaken God and now “returned” to Him but simply that in his trouble he

had recourse to God, took his sorrow to the Throne of Grace, and poured it out before

the Almighty -  A good example truly, and one which Christians in all their trials

would do well to follow. (Trust in Him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart

before Him:  God is a refuge for us.  Selah” - Psalm 62:8) and said, LORD,

wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me? 

For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people;

neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.”  The promised deliverance (ch. 3:8,20)

had not yet come, there was no sign of it – the people were suffereing under a more

cruel bondage than ever. The words, no doubt, are bold. They have been said to

approach to irreverence.” But there are parallels to them, which have never been

regarded as irreverent, in the Psalms: e.g. “O God, why hast thou cast us off for

ever? Why does thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture?” (Psalm

74:1) “How long wilt thou hide thyself? Where are thy former lovingkindnesses?

Wherefore hast thou made all men for nought?” (Psalm 89:46-9), and the like.

Kalisch seems right in saying that “the desponding complaint of Moses was not the

result of disbelief or doubt, but the effort of a pious soul struggling after a deeper

penetration into the mysteries of the Almighty.” The two brothers made no

reply to the words of the officers. Perhaps their hearts were too full for speech;

perhaps they knew not what to say. Whatever faith they had, it did no doubt seem a

hard thing that their interference, Divinely ordered as it was, should have produced

as yet nothing but an aggravation of their misery to the Israelite people. They could

not understand the course of the Divine action. God had warned them not to expect

success at once (chps. 3:19; 4:21); but he had said nothing of evil consequences

following upon their first efforts. Thus we can well understand that the two

brothers (and especially Moses, the more impetuous of them) were bitterly grieved

and disappointed. They felt their cup of sorrow to be full — the reproaches of the

officers made it overflow. Hence the bitterness of the complaint with which this

chapter terminates, and which introduces the long series of precious promise,

contained in the opening section of ch. 6.




            When our hopes are disappointed, when matters fall out otherwise than as

            we wish, when our enemies resist us, and our friends load us with reproach,

            how sweet to have a safe refuge whither we may betake ourselves, even the    

            bosom of our most loving God!  “Truly God is good to Israel.” (Psalm

            73:1)  His hand may be slack, “as men count slackness;” (II Peter 3:9) but

            it is not crippled or paralysed — it is always “mighty to save.” (Isaiah 63:1)   

            Worldlings take their difficulties and their troubles to counselors whom they       

            deem wise, or to friends whom they regard as powerful, or to subordinates

            whom they think to be crafty, but never to God. The religious soul’s first

            instinct in deep trouble is to seek solitude, to fly from man, and to pour out

            all its grief before the Lord. It will even venture, like Moses, to expostulate —

            to ask to be shown the reason why God has disappointed it and troubled it —

            to demand “Why is thy wrath so hot?”  and “When wilt thou comfort me?”

            (Psalm 119:82)  It does not doubt but that in the end all will be right, that

            God will do as He has promised; but it wants to be sustained, upheld,

            comforted as to the intermediate time — to be assured that God “has not

            forgotten to be gracious” (Psalm 77:9) - that He is still nigh at hand, that

            He “will not leave it nor forsake it.” (Hebrews 13:5)



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