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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

1 Chronicles 20

Verses 1-8

Great Giants and Small

1 Chronicles 20:4-8

You tremble when you read the names of these giants. There is no need to tremble; a deadlier giant is aiming at your heart today. The heroics have changed as to apparatus and nomenclature and environment, and all that sort of vanishing vapour; the great fight goes on, the tremendous rush of armies, Philistine and Israelite still meet face to face. I. What giants have you been fighting? You have got through the first crude lot. I know it; so have we all. But it was a mere mob of blackguards; the hostility itself was vulgar, coarse, contemptible. The mischief is, lest having got through that mob of scoundrelism and villainy detestable and palpable, we think that therefore the fighting is done. The fighting never ends until the body is in the grave or is laid out on its last bed. You have killed the giant of Falsehood, you would not for the world be thought to be a liar; long ago you killed the giant Untruth, the black-faced giant Lies. But it does not therefore follow that you are now a true man, that you have escaped the lap and the shame of another falsehood, deeper, subtler, deadlier. Take care! You have overthrown the giant Dishonesty, there is no thief in your family. Take care! oh, take care! Thou shalt not steal ' That commandment have I kept from my youth up'; and in the King's name I stop thee and bid thee be less fluent.

II. Not until we distinguish between crime and sin can we make any real progress in Gospel studies. Have you fought down and conquered the giant of Ingratitude? Who thinks about the spiritual sins? Who is not horrified by crime and draws its garments round it in attestation of its shocked refinement? There may be more sin in ingratitude than in some murders. The murder may have been done in hot blood, in haste, to be repented of evermore, through ages eternal to be regretted and deplored as a lasting bruise of the soul. Ingratitude is slow, mean, deliberate, calculating, cruel; ingratitude may proceed by system, it means the most horrible of all neglect, it means death that swallows up the soul in some black pool. The giant of ingratitude takes a great deal of fighting.

III. The danger does not lie always along what may be called the line of giants. There are more difficult forces to contend with than the visibly and measurably gigantic. There is not a giant to fight every one of us, but there is a foe that every soul must know and confront and be thrown by or must overthrow.

Are you fully aware that there are many assailants and enemies who are not giants by name, but are giants in influence, in obstinacy of purpose, in a cruel determination to ruin your soul?

We have often been told of the insect in certain countries that eats away all the woodwork of the door and leaves nothing but a coat of paint, so that going to the door and endeavouring to open it, it tails to pieces under the slightest pressure. That is translated into the life of today and into the life of every day. The paint is right, the externalism is beyond criticism, all seems to be well; but take care, for the white ant has eaten up all the interior character, and nothing is left but some flakes of paint. You have read the wonderful travels of Livingstone; the great missionary traveller tells of the tsetze fly; it is a stinging winged insect. There is the noble ox, a symbol of things strong and massive; Livingstone says that the tsetze fly will light upon that ox, puncture the shining skin of the unsuspecting and undefended beast, and tomorrow and the next day and the next, and a week hence and that noble quadruped will have sunk upon the ground a mass of putrid flesh. These are the giants we have to fear, when morally defined and understood. We are not called upon to fight with fire and water and great hordes and rabbles of enemies and shocking vulgarities of incarnation, but we are called upon to fight the tsetze fly, the stinging insect that punctures the character, and little by little the poison penetrates the whole tissue and outgo of the character, and he who may have been a prince in the house of God is there a foul carcase on the roadside that no dog would attempt to devour. How are the mighty fallen! how is the fine gold become dim!

Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. I. p. 198.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 20". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/1-chronicles-20.html. 1910.