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Charles Spurgeon's "Morning & Evening"
Devotional: January 23rd
“The Lord is my helper.”
Jacob reached the house of Laban, and there married his two wives, Leah and Rachel. After toiling hard for Laban for years, he felt a longing to see his father’s face again. Besides, he felt that Laban had treated him badly, and that it was time to separate and become his own master. He therefore stole away with his family and his goods, but was hotly pursued by Laban, who evidently intended him no good. The night before Laban overtook Jacob the Lord visited him in a dream, and warned him against doing Jacob any violence, or attempting to entice him back to Haran. This was a very gracious interposition, and the patriarch had abundant cause to bless the Lord for it. Laban was thus providentially restrained from doing mischief. However, he accused Jacob of having stolen his images: Jacob did not know that Rachel had concealed them, and when Laban could not find them, the patriarch upbraided him for bringing such a groundless charge against him.
Laban was a great boaster, but a miserable churl. He claimed credit for leaving Jacob unharmed, but the patriarch saw through his pretences, and knew that he had only been harmless because the Lord had laid an embargo upon him.
He made a merit of necessity, and so, by the good hand of the Lord, what might have been a fearful slaughter ended in a friendly compact. The Lord can make the wrath of men to praise him, and restrain it when he pleases. This event reminds us of one of David’s grateful songs.
In all times of danger from men our wisest course is to fly to the Lord our helper. He has ways and means for delivering us which we know not of. He can either turn our enemies into friends, or else so check all their efforts that they shall do us no real injury. Blessed are those men whose trust in the Lord never wavers.
Israel, a name divinely blest,
May rise secure, securely rest;
Thy holy Guardian’s wakeful eyes
Admit no slumber, nor surprise.
Should earth and hell with malice burn,
Still thou shalt go, and still return,
Safe in the Lord; his heavenly care
Defends thy life from every snare.
“I give myself unto prayer.”
Genesis 32:6-13 , Genesis 32:21-31
No sooner had Jacob escaped from Laban than he was plunged into another trial, for he had to face his injured brother Esau. We shall see how the Lord again preserved his servant.
Men of faith are yet men of common sense. We are to use our wits as well as our prayers. Grace does not make men stupid. This is a master argument, “and thou saidst.” It is real prayer when we plead the promise, and hold the Lord to his word.
Solitude is the fit helper of devotion. Company distracts us, but alone we enter into the very soul of prayer. Prayer must become an agony, a wrestling, if we mean to prevail.
He who shrank one sinew could have crushed Jacob’s whole body: if we overcome the Lord in prayer, it is because he lends us strength, and condescends to be conquered.
This was bravely spoken. Those who thus plead must win the day.
One night spent in prayer ennobled Jacob. How few of us have ever tried to win a princes rank in this way. How much might we gain if we would wrestle for it. When Jacob overcame the angel he virtually disarmed Esau. He who has power with God will surely prevail with men.
He did not gratify his curiosity, but he did better, he enriched him with a divine blessing.
Peniel or the face of God
And who would not be content to halt if he might win what Israel won?
Lord, I cannot let thee go,
Till a blessing thou bestow;
Do not turn away thy face,
Mine’s an urgent pressing case.
No I must maintain my hold,
‘Tis thy goodness makes me bold;
I can no denial take,
When I plead for Jesu’s sake,
the Fifth Week after Easter
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