Genesis 31

* Jacob departs secretly. (1-21) Laban pursues Jacob. (23-35)

Jacob's complaint of Laban's conduct. (36-42) Their covenant at

Galeed. (43-55)

1-21 The affairs of these families are related very minutely,

while (what are called) the great events of states and kingdoms

at that period, are not mentioned. The Bible teaches people the

common duties of life, how to serve God, how to enjoy the

blessings he bestows, and to do good in the various stations and

duties of life. Selfish men consider themselves robbed of all

that goes past them, and covetousness will even swallow up

natural affection. Men's overvaluing worldly wealth is that

error which is the root of covetousness, envy, and all evil. The

men of the world stand in each other's way, and every one seems

to be taking away from the rest; hence discontent, envy, and

discord. But there are possessions that will suffice for all;

happy they who seek them in the first place. In all our removals

we should have respect to the command and promise of God. If He

be with us, we need not fear. The perils which surround us are

so many, that nothing else can really encourage our hearts. To

remember favoured seasons of communion with God, is very

refreshing when in difficulties; and we should often recollect

our vows, that we fail not to fulfil them.
22-35 God can put a bridle in the mouth of wicked men, to

restrain their malice, though he do not change their hearts.

Though they have no love to God's people, they will pretend to

it, and try to make a merit of necessity. Foolish Laban! to call

those things his gods which could be stolen! Enemies may steal

our goods, but not our God. Here Laban lays to Jacob's charge

things that he knew not. Those who commit their cause to God,

are not forbidden to plead it themselves with meekness and fear.

When we read of Rachel's stealing her father's images, what a

scene of iniquity opens! The family of Nahor, who left the

idolatrous Chaldees; is this family itself become idolatrous? It

is even so. The truth seems to be, that they were like some in

after-times, who sware by the Lord and by Malcham, #Zep 1:5|;

and like others in our times, who wish to serve both God and

mammon. Great numbers will acknowledge the true God in words,

but their hearts and houses are the abodes of spiritual

idolatry. When a man gives himself up to covetousness, like

Laban, the world is his god; and he has only to reside among

gross idolaters in order to become one, or at least a favourer

of their abominations.
36-42 If Jacob were willingly consumed with heat in the day,

and frost by night, to become the son-in-law of Laban, what

should we refuse to endure, to become the sons of God? Jacob

speaks of God as the God of his father; he thought himself

unworthy to be regarded, but was beloved for his father's sake.

He calls him the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac; for

Abraham was dead, and gone to that world where perfect love

casts out fear; but Isaac was yet alive, sanctifying the Lord in

his heart, as his fear and his dread.
43-55 Laban could neither justify himself nor condemn Jacob,

therefore desires to hear no more of that matter. He is not

willing to own himself in fault, as he ought to have done. But

he proposes a covenant of friendship between them, to which

Jacob readily agrees. A heap of stones was raised, to keep up

the memory of the event, writing being then not known or little

used. A sacrifice of peace offerings was offered. Peace with God

puts true comfort into our peace with our friends. They did eat

bread together, partaking of the feast upon the sacrifice. In

ancient times covenants of friendship were ratified by the

parties eating and drinking together. God is judge between

contending parties, and he will judge righteously; whoever do

wrong, it is at their peril. They gave a new name to the place,

The heap of witness. After this angry parley, they part friends.

God is often better to us than our fears, and overrules the

spirits of men in our favour, beyond what we could have

expected; for it is not in vain to trust in him
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