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J U D G E S.

CCLXI.

TH

ADONI-BEZEK'S PUNISHMENT. Judg. i. 6, 7, But Adoni-bezek fled; and they pursued after

him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes. And Adoni-bezek said, Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table : as I have done, so God hath requited me. THERE are times and seasons afforded us for

the performance of our duty, which, if they be once lost, can never afterwards be recovered. It was thus with the Israelites in the invasion of Canaan : if they had followed up their successes with becoming zeal, their difficulties would have been comparatively light: but at no time did they advance with that ardour which they should have manifested in such a cause. Joshua had reproved them for their indolence“, and quickened them in some degree ; but still, after his death, and fifteen years after their first invasion of Canaan, no one of the tribes had complete possession of the lot assigned them. The Israelites had increased, and now wanted the whole of their inheritance: but the Canaanites had increased also, and, possessing still their strong-holds, were able to cope with Israel in battle. Now therefore the different tribes found the bitter consequences of their past indifference; and, as it should seem, were afraid to resume a warfare with such potent enemies. However, after having consulted God, Judah, by divine direction, took the lead, and, in conjunction

a Josh. xviii. 3.

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with the tribe of Simeon, renewed the conflict with the Canaanites. God gave them success, and delivered into their hand Adoni-bezek, one of the most powerful of the kings of Canaan. Him they treated with great severity: and their conduct towards him forms the subject of our present consideration. We shall consider, I. The particular dispensation here recorded The conduct of this king had been most cruel

[What occasions he had had for waging war against seventy kings, we know not: ambition never wants a pretext for its bloody projects: but to insult over their misfortunes in such a manner as to maim their persons, and compel them, like dogs, to gather up scraps from under his table for their subsistence, argued a degree of cruelty, which one could scarcely have conceived to exist in a rational being. One might suppose it possible that some particular provocation might have caused him to offer such an indignity to a single individual; but when such conduct was pursued towards so many vanquished kings, it manifestly proceeded only from his barbarous and brutal disposition. But here we are constrained to acknowledge, how empty is human greatness; how uncertain the continuance of those honours in which men so vainly pride themselves; and how often it happens that pre-eminence in station leads only to a sad pre-eminence in distress and misery. Nor can we forbear to notice, what desolation and trouble one ambitious tyrant may produce in the earth.

Whilst we see the dispositions of this man exhibited in such awful colours, let us not suppose that we ourselves are altogether exempt from them. The truth is, that the dispositions themselves are common to every child of man, though they have not attained in all the same maturity, or brought forth in all such visible and deadly fruits. We cannot but have seen that children feel a pleasure in vexing and tyrannizing over those who are weaker than themselves; and, as we grow up in life, a fondness for manifesting superiority and exercising despotic sway increases: and, in proportion as our opportunities for displaying these hateful qualities are enlarged, our evil tendencies become augmented and confirmed. How conspicuous is this in the great men of the earth, who can spread desolation over whole provinces without remorse, and invade, as we have seen, even neutral and friendly kingdoms for no other end than to gratify their own insatiable ambition!]

But he in his turn was made to feel the judgments which he had so wantonly inflicted upon others

[It was a law in Israel, that magistrates should punish offenders in a way of just retribution: and doubtless it was by the direction of God, the righteous Governor of the universe, that the Israelites on this occasion maimed the body of their captive king. To insult over him indeed, as he had insulted over others, would have been inconsistent with those gracious affections, which Israel, as the Lord's people, were bound to exercise. In that part therefore the sentence was relaxed : but, as far as the law required, they “ meted to him the measure which he had meted out to others." This brought his sin to his remembrance, and compelled him to acknowledge the equity of Jehovah, who in his righteous providence had so requited him: As I have done, so God hath requited me." And though a feeling mind cannot but regret that such a judgment should be executed on a fallen prince, yet in this case we are constrained to acquiesce in it, and even to feel a secret satisfaction, in seeing that the evils which he had so cruelly inflicted upon others were at last brought home to himself.]

Let us now turn our attention from the particular dispensation, to, II. The insight which it gives us into God's moral

government“ God is still known by the judgments which he executeth”

[God has not relinquished the government of the earth : he orders and overrules every thing now as much as ever; and in his former dispensations we behold a perfect exhibition of the government which he still administers. Still, as formerly, does he requite the wickedness of men; sometimes on the offenders themselves, as when he smote Uzziah with leprosye; and sometimes on others upon their account; as when he slew seventy thousand of the people, to punish the sin which David had committed in numbering his subjects. Sometimes he inflicts the judgment immediately, as on Herod who was eaten up with wormse; and sometimes after a long season, as on the sons of Saul for their father's cruelty to the Gibeonites many years before?. Sometimes his judgments are sent as a prelude to those heavier judgments that shall be inflicted in the eternal world, as in the case of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram 8; and sometimes after the offenders themselves have been forgiven, as was experienced by David in his family, and by Manasseh,

b Lev. xxiv. 19, 20.
e Acts xii. 23.
h 2 Sam. xii. 13, 14.

c 2 Chron. xxvi. 19.
f 2 Sam. xxi. 1,6,9.

d 2 Sam. xxiv. 15, 17.
& Numb. xvi. 24–35.

with the tribe of Simeon, renewed the conflict with the Canaanites. God gave them success, and delivered into their hand Adoni-bezek, one of the most powerful of the kings of Canaan. Him they treated with great severity : and their conduct towards him forms the subject of our present consideration. We shall consider, I. The particular dispensation here recorded— The conduct of this king had been most cruel

[What occasions he had had for waging war against seventy kings, we know not: ambition never wants a pretext for its bloody projects: but to insult over their misfortunes in such a manner as to maim their persons, and compel them, like dogs, to gather up scraps from under his table for their subsistence, argued a degree of cruelty, which one could scarcely have conceived to exist in a rational being. One might suppose it possible that some particular provocation might have caused him to offer such an indignity to a single individual; but when such conduct was pursued towards so many vanquished kings, it manifestly proceeded only from his barbarous and brutal disposition. But here we are constrained to acknowledge, how empty is human greatness; how uncertain the continuance of those honours in which men so vainly pride themselves; and how often it happens that pre-eminence in station leads only to a sad pre-eminence in distress and misery. Nor can we forbear to notice, what desolation and trouble one ambitious tyrant may produce in the earth.

Whilst we see the dispositions of this man exhibited in such awful colours, let us not suppose that we ourselves are altogether exempt from them. The truth is, that the dispositions themselves are common to every child of man, though they have not attained in all the same maturity, or brought forth in all such visible and deadly fruits. We cannot but have seen that children feel a pleasure in vexing and tyrannizing over those who are weaker than themselves; and, as we grow up in life, a fondness for manifesting superiority and exercising despotic sway increases: and, in proportion as our opportunities for displaying these hateful qualities are enlarged, our evil tendencies become augmented and confirmed. How conspicuous is this in the great men of the earth, who can spread desolation over whole provinces without remorse, and invade, as we have seen, even neutral and friendly kingdoms for no other end than to gratify their own insatiable ambition!]

But he in his turn was made to feel the judgments which he had so wantonly inflicted upon others

[It was a law in Israel, that magistrates should punish offenders in a way of just retribution b: and doubtless it was by the direction of God, the righteous Governor of the universe, that the Israelites on this occasion maimed the body of their captive king. To insult over him indeed, as he had insulted over others, would have been inconsistent with those gracious affections, which Israel, as the Lord's people, were bound to exercise. In that part therefore the sentence was relaxed : but, as far as the law required, they “ meted to him the measure which he had meted out to others.” This brought his sin to his remembrance, and compelled him to acknowledge the equity of Jehovah, who in his righteous providence had so requited him: “ As I have done, so God hath requited me.” And though a feeling mind cannot but regret that such a judgment should be executed on a fallen prince, yet in this case we are constrained to acquiesce in it, and even to feel a secret satisfaction, in seeing that the evils which he had so cruelly inflicted upon others were at last brought home to himself.]

Let us now turn our attention from the particular dispensation, to, II. The insight which it gives us into God's moral

government“ God is still known by the judgments which he executeth”

[God has not relinquished the government of the earth: he orders and overrules every thing now as much as ever; and in his former dispensations we behold a perfect exhibition of the government which he still administers. Still, as formerly, does he requite the wickedness of men; sometimes on the offenders themselves, as when he smote Uzziah with leprosyo; and sometimes on others upon their account ; as when he slew seventy thousand of the people, to punish the sin which David had committed in numbering his subjectsd. Sometimes he inflicts the judgment immediately, as on Herod who was eaten up with wormse; and sometimes after a long season, as on the sons of Saul for their father's cruelty to the Gibeonites many years before?. Sometimes his judgments are sent as a prelude to those heavier judgments that shall be inflicted in the eternal world, as in the case of Korah, Dathan, and Abirams; and sometimes after the offenders themselves have been forgiven, as was experienced by David in his family", and by Manasseh,

b Lev. xxiv. 19, 20.
e Acts xü. 23.
h 2 Sam. xii. 13, 14.

C 2 Chron. xxvi. 19.
f 2 Sam. xxi. 1,6,9.

d 2 Sam. xxiv. 15, 17.
8 Numb. xvi. 24–35.

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