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Bible Commentaries

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker
Leviticus 19



Verse 9-10

"Handfuls of Purpose"

For All Gleaners

"And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap tht corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger; I am the Lord your God."Leviticus 19:9-10

Here is a marvellous distinction of classes. That distinction is carefully preserved throughout the whole record of Scripture. At first sight, it is not only a marvellous but an incredible thing that one man should be rich and another poor.—Poverty is more than a merely incidental condition of life.—There is a moral mystery about poverty, relating alike to the poor man and to the rich man.—It may seem heartless to speak in this way, and it would be heartless but for the consistent record of time and testimony of experience.—Here is a distinct recognition of the right of property.—We read of "thy field," and "thy vineyard," and "thy harvest."—Yet though property is distinctly recognised, beneficence is also made matter of law. The command is "thou shalt not" in every case. This shows that the harvest is God"s before it is man"s, and that it is only man"s that it may be used according to the law of God.—Something was to be left in the field and in the vineyard for the poor and stranger.—The poor and stranger are ministers of God, when rightly viewed.—They are not to be used as butts or objects of scorning and contempt; but as opportunities for the exercise, not of sentimental, but of lawful and divinely-regulated charity.—Nor are the poor and the stranger to consider themselves as ill-used on account of their position. There is a poverty that is wealth. Only the mean in spirit, or the imperfectly trained, or the ridiculously vain, can object to receive the assistance or the comfort of the stronger classes of society.—If some men are poor and strangers, they must remember that they are exempt from many of the responsibilities which attach to higher station.—Besides, riches and poverty are simply relative terms.—What is wealth to one man is poverty to another; and what is poverty to one man is wealth to another. There is no line at which contentment is absolutely and certainly reached, and apart from which contentment is an impossibility.—It is a profound mistake to imagine that the rich are exempt from pain, sorrow, loss, and that there is no serpent in their paradise.—Nor must the rich man imagine that he is exceedingly good and generous because he leaves something for the gleaner, or because here and there he has left a grape upon the vine. He is bound to do this. It is one of the divine taxations of property. What is left may be comparatively small as to its bulk and value, but the very fact of its being left establishes a divine claim and begins what may, under proper conditions, develop into a splendid scheme of social philanthropy. To be compelled to think about the poor even to the extent of leaving a few gleanings in the field or a grape or two in the vineyard is a part of human education which can hardly be too highly valued.—In various ways God draws the attention of rich men to the presence and the need of the poor; and he is indeed a man who has wasted his larger opportunities who has not eaten his own bread with fuller content and tenderer piety because of his endeavours to elevate the lot of the poor.—All these doctrines may be abused, or misunderstood, or even turned into ridicule; nevertheless, the wise in heart will so use them as to minister to the solid development of the best forms of character.—The Bible is the book of the poor.—From no other book in the world could so many injunctions be culled as bearing upon the rich in relation to the claims of poverty.—These grand philanthropic lines running from end to end of the Bible will always secure for the Bible a place in the highest thinking and best affections of all lands.

Verse 36

"Handfuls of Purpose"

For All Gleaners

"Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have."Leviticus 19:36

A book which talks in this language is a book which ought to be carefully preserved by the people.—The Bible is not a sentimental book, dealing with abstract emotion, or confining itself to metaphysical mysteries.—It has its deep places which cannot be plombed, and its great heights which dazzle the most daring eye, but again and again it comes upon the common ground and insists that everything between man and man shall be done healthily, honestly, and lovingly.—A religion that examines the balances and weights is a religion that may be trusted to attach a true value to praise and prayer.—This is the strength of Biblical doctrine.—Many a man would be glad to accept the metaphysical mysteries of the Bible if he could escape its practical criticism.—There would be no difficulty in making theologians if they could be allowed to do as they liked with the common practices of daily life.—The Bible will not allow of any trifling with right and wrong, and therefore it is the terror of the bad Prayer of Manasseh , and not likely to be a favourite in any circle whose worship is bounded by compromise or calculation.—Just balances and just weights can only come out of a just creed.—For a man to adjust his balances and his weights for fear of the penalty of the law is by no means to be honest. His care simply implies that he is afraid of punishment, otherwise he would gladly avail himself of the wages of unrighteousness.—All these strict moral demands on the part of the Bible should make the acceptance of the spiritual mysteries, and even of miracles the more easy.—We need not begin with the miracles, and because we cannot understand them reject the morality; we should begin at the other end, saying thankfully: A book which is so true, upright, and wholly just in all its views of social relations is a book which will not trifle with Proverbs -founder mysteries and more distant truths, and though we cannot now understand these we will begin, by the grace of God, at all accessible and practical points.—The just balances were not to be used only as amongst the children of Israel themselves. The Israelites were to be just to all men. When Christian nations are just to Pagan people, the Pagan people may begin to inquire the more carefully into the religion of such honest nations.—We may astound men by our metaphysics; we can only conciliate them by our temper and conduct.—Whilst it is well to reject the doctrine of works as between ourselves and God as constituting in any sense a ground of justification, we should cultivate that doctrine as between man and man and prove the reality of our faith by the genuine goodness of our actions.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Leviticus 19:4". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. 1885-95.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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