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Thursday, July 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 31

Simeon's Horae HomileticaeHorae Homileticae

Verse 6


Exodus 31:6. In the hearts of all that are wise-hearted I have put wisdom.

WHEN the time is come for carrying into effect the purposes of God, difficulties, which appeared insurmountable, vanish, and “mountains become a plain.” The obstacles which opposed the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, were only augmented till the precise hour for its accomplishment arrived: but at the appointed hour, even “the self-same night,” they not only went out unmolested, but were actually thrust out by their oppressors. At the Red Sea, an interposition equally seasonable was vouchsafed to them; as was also a supply both of bread and water in the wilderness, in the hour of need. Those who looked only to second causes judged the various blessings unattainable: but, on all the occasions, God shewed that there was nothing impossible to him; and that whatever he had ordained, should not fail for want of means and instruments whereby to effect it. Having brought his people into the wilderness, he commanded a tabernacle to be reared, and to be furnished with a great diversity of vessels proper for his service. The most costly materials were to be used, and the most exquisite workmanship employed, in the structure of the whole. But where should all the materials be found? Behold! the Egyptians themselves had loaded the Israelites with them to an immense amount, no one throughout the whole land of Egypt refusing to an Israelite any thing that he required. Still, though gold and silver and precious stones and other things were found amongst them, and were granted by them with a liberal hand, who was there amongst the whole nation that could fashion them according to the model shewn to Moses in the mount? They had been so oppressed, that it would be in vain to look for persons sufficiently skilled in works of gold and jewellery and embroidery, to execute all that was required for the occasion. But was the work therefore delayed? No: God, by his Spirit, instructed two persons, Bezaleel and Aholiab, with a perfect knowledge of the whole work; and, under their superintendence, others were speedily qualified for executing every one the office assigned to him; so that the whole was finished within the short space of nine months. Every one performed his part aright, because “in the heart of all that were wise-hearted God had put wisdom.”
From this remarkable expression I shall take occasion to point out, in reference to “wisdom,”


Its only source—

The wisdom here spoken of, proceeds from God—
[Whatever difference may be occasioned in men by education, the original faculty of understanding is our Creator’s gift. Some, indeed, are born into the world destitute of any rational powers: if, therefore, we have been favoured with them, we are the more indebted to the goodness of our heavenly Father. It is probable that amongst the poor, or even amongst the uncivilized part of mankind, many possess by nature as much strength of intellect as the most learned philosopher; whilst, for want of the advantages of education, they have never been able to turn it to any good account. If. therefore, we have enjoyed the means and opportunities of cultivation which have been withheld from others, we must ascribe that also to God, who in this respect, also, has made us to differ. The Scriptures trace to this same source the wisdom manifested by the husbandman in ploughing his ground and threshing out the corn: “Doth the plowman plow all day to sow? doth he open the clods of his ground? His God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him …The fitches are beaten out with a staff, and the cummin with a rod. This also cometh forth from the Lord of Hosts, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working [Note: Isaiah 28:24-29.].” We wonder not, therefore, that the skill so suddenly given to Bezaleel, and to all who worked under him, is ascribed to God; for that was indeed truly miraculous. But the declaration which traces it to God, extends to every kind and every measure of wisdom; and consequently constrains us to give God the glory of every faculty we possess, and of all the improvement that we have made of it. We are not left in any respect to “sacrifice to our own drag, or to burn incense to our own net:” the whole honour must be given to God, and to God alone.]

But to the same source must we yet more eminently trace the attainment of spiritual wisdom—
[Of this, no measure whatever is born with man, or is natural to man. “He is born like a wild ass’s colt.” As for “the things of the Spirit of God, they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Nor is wisdom the product of mere human instruction: for “the world by wisdom knew not God.” The Apostles, when instructed in divine knowledge, traced the acquisition to the only true source: “We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we may know the things that are freely given to us of God.” Even the Messiah himself was instructed for the discharge of his office by the very same Spirit who wrought in Bezaleel for the forming of the tabernacle. Of Bezaleel it is said, “I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship:” and of Jesus it is said, “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and of might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord [Note: Isaiah 11:2-3.].” And the same Spirit will be given to us also, to enlighten our minds with saving knowledge: for St. Paul says, “I pray always for you, that God may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling [Note: Ephesians 1:17-18.].” To him, then, must every man look for wisdom: and from him shall every man receive it, who seeks it in a becoming way [Note: Proverbs 2:1-6.]. As Bezaleel and Aholiab were instructed at once how to perform all manner of work; and as the disciples of Christ, poor uneducated fishermen, were enabled at once to speak different kinds of tongues; so shall the Spirit impart to us also, according to our respective necessities, that we may both know and do all that God has required of us.]

In the works to which this consummate wisdom was to be applied, we may see,


Its most appropriate use—

For the formation of the tabernacle was this wisdom given—
[For that work it was indispensably necessary: for the things which were to be formed had never been seen before; no, nor any thing like them: and for such sacred vessels the most exquisite skill was required. Had even angels been employed in the formation of this structure, their utmost abilities would have been well employed.]
And have not we a similar use for the wisdom bestowed on us?
[Behold “the tabernacle of David which is broken down!” does not that need to be reared again [Note: Amo 9:11-12 with Acts 15:16-17.] ? Are not the whole race of mankind to be formed as “vessels of honour meet for their Master’s use?” But who can discharge this office? If St. Paul, with all his endowments, was constrained to ask, “Who is sufficient for these things [Note: 2 Corinthians 2:16.] ?” how much more must we? For, who amongst us has such an insight into the deep mysteries of the Gospel, as to be fully assured that he shall in no respect deviate from “the pattern shewn” to Prophets and Apostles “in the mount?” Or who shall undertake to fashion the rude materials of the human heart after the perfect image of our God? Who that knows any thing of Jewish prejudice or Gentile superstition, shall attempt to cope with them in his own strength, or hope to reduce them to the obedience of faith? Verily the Preacher of the Gospel needs to be endued with wisdom from above, with wisdom too of no ordinary measure, for the work to which he is called: and all the talents that the most distinguished philosopher can possess, will find ample scope for exercise in this great work. In comparison of rearing a tabernacle for the Lord, what is there under heaven that deserves a thought? If the forming of the shadows of divine truth was a just employment of supernatural skill, doubtless an exhibition of the substance may profitably engage all the talents that were ever confided to mortal man.]

To all, then, I would say,

Acknowledge God in all the talents you possess—

[Not only Bezaleel and Aholiab, but all who were employed in the different departments of the work, were taught of God. So, whatever furniture we have for the constructing of God’s spiritual tabernacle, we have received it from the same heavenly source, and must ascribe the glory of it altogether to our God. Let this be borne in mind, and none will envy those who are endowed with richer talents than themselves, or despise those who are called to occupy a humbler post. The eye in the natural body vaunts not itself above the hand, nor the hand above the foot; but each is satisfied with executing the work for which it is fitted and ordained: so let it be with us; every one doing what God has called him to, and every one seeking the glory of God in all that lie performs.]


Improve your talents for the end for which they have been committed to you—

[At the formation of the tabernacle, every one engaged, according to his ability, to expedite the work. Men, women, rulers, all accounted it their honour to be employed for God [Note: Exodus 35:21; Exodus 35:24-27.]: and “so,” we are told, “it became one tabernacle [Note: Exodus 36:13.].” And who can say what the effect would be, if all, men, women, and rulers, engaged heartily in the work of God, and laboured to advance his glory in the world? Beloved Brethren, let us not sit down in despair, because the work is too great and arduous. God can fit us for it, however ignorant we be; and can bless us in it, however unequal we may be for the task assigned us. Only let it be said of every one amongst us, “He has done what he could,” and we shall yet see glorious days amongst us; and God will rear his tabernacle, and glorify himself, as in the days of old.

But, for this end, it is necessary that you “stir up your hearts;” for, by nature, they are sadly averse to it. Nor need we fear that any exertions of ours will exceed the demand for them. The materials for the tabernacle, and the work, were soon supplied, when a whole nation were willing and active in the cause: but there is no fear that we shall have to bid you to cease either from your offerings or your labours [Note: Exodus 36:5-7.]. The whole world is the tabernacle which you are to rear; and every soul within it is a vessel you are to form for God’s honour. Go on then, all of you, both in your individual and collective capacity, without intermission and without weariness: so shall the work proceed to the honour of our God, and a rich recompence be treasured up for your own souls.]

Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Exodus 31". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/shh/exodus-31.html. 1832.
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