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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 19

The Church Pulpit CommentaryChurch Pulpit Commentary

Verse 26

AN OLD-WORLD BEACON

‘But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.’

Genesis 19:26

This is the whole of the record. The offence consisted only in a look; and that a look directed towards a city which may have been her birthplace, and which contained many that were dear to her by relationship and by friendship. The vengeance taken was most signal and appalling. Here is a case in which there seems a want of proportion between the sin and its recompense. But the fact that our Lord uses the admonition ‘Remember Lot’s wife’ shows that a moral end was to be subserved by the Divine interference. Lot’s wife was meant to be an example to the men of every generation.

I. God’s moral government required the interference.—The punishment took its measure, not so much from the greatness of the sin, as from the nature of the lessons to be given.

II. Consider the sin committed by Lot’s wife.—She looked back; it may be she attempted to turn back. She, a rescued one, had no right to pause and grieve for such sinners as were left behind in Sodom. She was guilty of a positive act of disobedience, for the parting injunction of the angel had been ‘Look not behind thee.’

III. Her fate teaches a great lesson as to the duty of decision in religion.—Deliverance is conditional. If we flee as those who hear behind them the tramp of the destroyer, if we rush as those who see the daylight hastening away, we shall be saved; but if our heart is with the stuff, or the friends that remain behind in Sodom, then ‘Remember Lot’s wife.’ ‘No man having put his hand to the plough and looking back is fit for the kingdom of heaven.’

—Canon H. Melvill.

Illustrations

(1) ‘The moral lessons which this narrative suggests are of deepest interest and importance. The world in which we live presents to us the same attractions which the well-watered plains of Jordan presented to the eyes of Lot; and beguiled, like him, by its fair external aspect, we refuse to take heed of the wickedness in which it lies. Too readily those who profess to be “not of the world” adopt its customs, and become conformed to its spirit. Like Lot’s wife, they see no symptoms of its impending doom, and if when warned of the speedy advent of the Judge, and the dissolution which then awaits the earth and its inhabitants, they refrain from mocking openly with their lips, they say in their hearts, “My Lord delayeth His coming”; and having once put their hands to the plough, they look back with envious gaze upon the world.’

—Canon C. J. Elliott.

(2) ‘In the East, when men or women leave their house, they never look back, as “it would be very unfortunate.” Should a husband have left anything which his wife knows he will require, she will not call on him to turn or look back; but will either take the article herself, or send it by another. Should a man, on some great emergency, have to look back, he will not then proceed on the business he was about to transact. When a person goes along the road (especially in the evening), he will take great care not to look back, “because the evil spirits would assuredly seize him.” When they go on a journey they will not look behind, though the palankeen or bandy would be close upon them; they step a little on one side, and then look at you. Should a person have to leave the house of a friend after sunset, he will be advised in going home not to look back: “As much as possible keep your eyes closed; fear not.” Has a person made an offering to the evil spirits? he must take particular care, when he leaves the place, not to look back.’

Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Genesis 19". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/genesis-19.html. 1876.
 
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