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the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14
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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 24

The Church Pulpit CommentaryChurch Pulpit Commentary

Verse 10

FIDELITY

‘All the goods of his master were in his hand.’

Genesis 24:10

Eliezer would have constantly before him the example of Abraham’s fidelity to his divine Master, and that would be a pattern and an encouragement to him. Observe how the example of fidelity to conscience, truth, God, set by one in a household may operate on the minds and conduct of others. Note—

I. The relation of Eliezer.—A servant, only a servant! A subordinate position in the great man’s household. Visitors would take little note of him. How much of the comfort, and economy, and success of home life, depends on those who serve. Like master, like man. Whatever others might think, Abraham knew the value of his good servant, Eliezer. Trusted him—trusted him, not in small matters only, but in great and confidential concerns. The servant’s joy on being trusted by his employer. A master’s confidence gives to the servant dignity of character. He tries to prove himself worthy of trust. Trust begets trust. Dr. Arnold’s scholars at Rugby said they could not deceive the doctor because he trusted them so. Show that there is a sense in which we are all servants. There is some principle or person to whom me owe fidelity. Conscience has a claim upon us, so has the Bible, so has God. Do we try to render ourselves worthy of trust? We have all of us to give account.

II. How Eliezer sought to be faithful.—He gets a clear understanding of the work to be done into his mind; promises his master that he will faithfully discharge his duty; makes the result a matter of earnest prayer; does not lean to his own understanding, yet was a man of experience and years. Past successes did not make him confident.

Note, he prayed to God as the God of his master. Probable reason of this. Did not pray for success for his own sake, that he might stand higher in his master’s favour, but for his master’s sake.

Note, a good servant will depend on Providence, in answer to prayer, for his success.

III. How he proved the sincerity of his prayer.—The spirit in which he prayed was the spirit in which he worked. He did not pray and leave his work. There was a spirit of self-denial. He did not mention himself in his prayer, so he forgot his bodily needs till his message was delivered. ‘I will not eat till I have told my errand.’ The first thing in fidelity is to forget self, the next is to seek help of God, and the third is to act in harmony with that spirit of piety and unselfishness. He then proceeds to the delivery of the message; speaks in glowing terms of the riches of his master; does his best for his master, behind his master’s back; he adorned Rebecca with jewels, and so sought to win her heart for his master’s son. Picture him striving to be faithful, and to carry his point. Not an easy one, to induce a loving daughter to leave her home, and commit herself to his—a stranger’s—guidance.

IV. How he succeeded in his mission.—He produced his arguments, and those who heard him weighed their import. No doubt their minds were influenced by the apparent piety of the man. He kept to his point, and he carried his point. Even if he had not succeeded, he would have done his duty. There would have been satisfaction even then. Bring out the fact that we do wrong when we praise only success, and that the honest and faithful effort deserves our commendation. There is a great deal of unsuccessful fidelity in the world; the fidelity that meets with only reproaches. Many servants are disheartened by non-success, but they have a Master in heaven who knows all.

V. Eliezer’s lesson for us.—Some of us may be servants literally. They are not overlooked in the Bible. Accounts of many such; some good, some bad. Moses, Jesus, all were servants. Some were faithful in their house, some unfaithful. Fidelity in service is a thing that at any rate the Heavenly Master can see, and appreciate. Picture the servant, the apprentice, etc., doing his duty when no earthly eye rests upon him; his motives and conduct misunderstood by fellow-servants,—but there is one who sees and knows all. There was an eye that followed Gehazi when he went after Naaman for the silver. There is an eye that constantly follows us in all our ways and works. Pray for the spirit of fidelity.

Illustration

(1) ‘In one of Mrs. Gaskell’s stories, an old servant is made to say: “There is a right and wrong way of setting about everything; and to my thinking, the right way is to take up a thing heartily, if it is only making a bed. Why, deary me! making a bed may be done after a Christian fashion, I take it, or else what’s to come of such as me in heaven, who’ve had little time enough on earth for clapping ourselves down on our knees for set prayers. Just try,” she continued, “for a day, to think of all the odd jobs as to be done well and truly in God’s sight, not just slurred over anyhow, and you’ll go through them twice as cheerfully.” ’

(2) ‘The diligent use of the likeliest means may be termed being in the way of success in whatever we have to do. Abraham’s servant is an illustration of this. The man has an important commission to do for his master; but how he was to do it was left entirely to himself. It certainly does make one feel how noble a man a servant may be, how perfect an equality there may be in principle, to see the way in which he accomplished his work. He made it his own; he evidently believed that God helped those who helped themselves. In appealing to heaven’s judgment in such a matter, he was rational to the backbone; for so he read the successful result: “I being in the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren.” There is such a thing as being in the way of success.’

Verse 58

‘FORGET THINE OWN PEOPLE!’

‘And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go.’

Genesis 24:58

Many Christians believe the great end and aim of life is that they may obtain salvation. But God never created us merely that we might be saved. Had that been His object. He would have answered His purpose best by placing us beyond the reach of moral evil. God calls us to prepare for the bridal union of eternity. In one sense we are united to Christ now, because His Spirit dwells in us. But by the long discipline of life our will is subjugated and brought into conformity with the Divine will, so that God’s will and man’s will become identified; and out of the two there is made one in the bridal union of eternity.

I. What is the first condition of discipleship if we are called to be the Bride of the Lamb? We are called to leave all and follow Christ. Rebekah knew nothing of Isaac, except what Eliezer told her; she had to judge of his position and wealth by the steward’s testimony. It seemed a great deal to ask, that she should leave home and friends and give herself over to a stranger. Yet she went, and she never regretted her choice.

II. A great deal had to be given up by Rebekah, and a great deal will have to be given up by us. She had to leave her nearest and dearest friends; we may have to make no less real a sacrifice.

III. As Eliezer encouraged Rebekah by giving her the jewels from Isaac, so God encourages us by the promises in His word.

IV. No time was lost in starting. Laban suggested a delay of ten days, but Eliezer said, ‘Hinder me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way.’ Rebekah was no stranger to woman’s weakness, but she would not risk delay, and when the question is put, the answer is decisive, ‘I will go.’

—Canon Hay Aitken.

Illustration

‘Decision of character is essential to all noble life. There are innumerable failures and innumerable evils attendant upon its absence. They who lack moral strength are open to all manner of evil inducements and temptations. The fierce conflicts of the flesh can only be maintained through resoluteness. To hesitate is to be lost. Will you go to the scene of appointed duty? is a Divine question often asked. Will you go to the sacred assembly of the good? Will you join yourself to God’s people? Will you be a Christian, indeed, one who can be depended upon to hold up and to defend the sacred banner, and to maintain resolute fidelity even unto death? If you hesitate—if you are half-hearted; if you feel afraid, you cannot be His faithful soldier and servant; you cannot win the crown of life. Decision—earnest, thorough, complete—is the essential condition of victory.’

Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Genesis 24". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/genesis-24.html. 1876.
 
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