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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 21

The Church Pulpit CommentaryChurch Pulpit Commentary

Verse 5


‘The servant shall plainly say, I love my Master … I will not go out free.’

Exodus 21:5

John Wesley said truly that slavery is the sum of all the villainies. And yet servitude in an old Hebrew household must often have been a very happy experience. You recollect the picture of it, painted in this chapter. The seventh year, the year of release, has come. The serf may go out from bondage to freedom, but he protests with all the strength of his nature that he does not intend to do so; he means to serve his master to the end of his life. And the master, in token of this perpetual attachment of the slave to the home, nails his bondsman’s ear to the door-post. That is a window opened for you and me into the generosity and kindliness that must have been the rule in many a Jewish homestead. Is it not a parable of spiritual experience?… You love your Master. You cannot imagine a mode of life more joyous and free. What are some of the chains that bind you to the Lord Jesus Christ?

I. There is the Chain of Gratitude. Yours is the love of men and women for a Master who has paid, at the cost of His own life the ten thousand talents of your debt. You know where you met Him first. It was at the place, somewhat ascending, where stands a cross, and where, a little below the cross, there is a sepulchre. It was there He cast His spell about you. It was there you entered His household, and, because you entered it there, you intend to remain in it for ever.

II. There is another chain, the Chain of Reverent Admiration. You love your Master because He is the peerless Master, and, therefore, you will not go out free from His house. Where shall we find His like? If we leave His service, there is no other Prince or King who may be compared with Him; none so tender, none so wise, none so pure and spotless. The best rule for life is the rule that is embodied in a life. That is what Jesus Christ has given us. He goes in front of us along the road we are to walk. He has left us ‘an example, that we should follow His steps.’

III. The third chain is the Chain of Sympathy. We love our Master because we are devoted to the same purposes as those for which He lives. For the labour of Jesus Christ is not finished, now that He has gone into the heavenly places. What is His sorrow to-day? It is the sorrow that men and women and children should be ignorant of Him. What is His labour? It is the labour, by this agency and that other, to make them acquainted with His grace. What is His joy? It is the joy of seeing them gathered, from the east and west and south and north, within that city whose walls are Salvation and whose gates are Praise. And the same sorrow animates us, and the same labour prompts us to put forth our energies, and the same joy fills us with gladness.

IV. The final chain, the most marvellous in some respects of any, is the Chain of Union. We love our Master, we will not go out free, because the very life of our Master is throbbing and pulsating within ourselves. We are in the region of mysticism now, but it is the most glorious and most blessed mysticism. We do not simply listen to the teaching of Christ, as to a prophet, and go away and seek in our own wisdom and strength to translate this teaching into our life and work. There is something far better than that. Christ comes into us and abides in us. We begin to think the thoughts of Christ, because He is in our innermost soul. ‘Abide in Me, and I in you.’ Let me count it my pride and joy to be a bond-slave of the Lord! Not for six years shall my service be, and a glad release on the seventh; but gladly for all years, and release to be counted the most terrible of disasters. My ear to Thy door post, O Thou Most High!


(1)‘My Lord hath met my longing

With word of golden tone,

That I shall serve for ever

Himself, Himself alone.

“Shall serve Him,”—and “for ever!”

Oh hope most sure, most fair!

The perfect love outpouring,

In perfect service there!’

(2)‘I cannot leave my Master;

His love has pierced my heart;

He binds me to Himself with love;

He will not let me part.

I love, I love my Master:

To Him alone I cling,

For there is none like Jesus,

My Saviour, Friend, and King.

I love, I love my Master:

I will not go out free!

He says His saints shall serve Him,

And that my heaven shall be.’

Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Exodus 21". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/exodus-21.html. 1876.
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