The Tribe of BENJAMIN
Henry Law, 1858
"About Benjamin he said: "Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders." Deut. 33:12
Benjamin! Thoughts of love are quickly kindled by the very name. Affection folded Benjamin in its embrace. He closed the line of Jacob's sons, and thus no younger rival moved him from his fondled place. He was endeared, too, as the expiring Rachel's child. She died, when he began to live. Thus, all the feelings, which have softest sway, enshrined him eminently in his father's heart.
When then this tribe appears, our minds anticipate much tender favor. And it is so. A designation of endearment is adjoined—"Of Benjamin he said, The beloved of the Lord."
Reader, here pause. A wondrous truth refuses to be put aside. Give it glad welcome. Listen fully to its cheering tale. Imbibe the precious draught of its delight. Let its sweet fragrance perfume all your hours. The truth is this. The name pertains to every member of God's family—"Beloved of the Lord." Each child of God is loved, as a Benjamin, in heaven's palace.
What! loved of God! Love is the soul of feeling. It is the blazing of the heart in warmth. It is a current of resistless strength. It places a dear object above self. It is intense desire for fellowship. It weeps, and joys, and thrives, in unison with anther's sorrow and delight. It is the strongest impulse of the breast. It holds the rudder of the life. It is the principle, which many waters cannot quench, neither can floods drown it. Song 8:7.
Is there such feeling in the realms of light towards inhabitants of earth? Yes, truly. Each of the heaven-born seed is loved with perfect love by the Triune Jehovah.
The FATHER loves—and writes His loved ones in the book of life—and chooses them to be the spouse, and crown, and glory of His Son—and sends His Christ to buy them out of ruin's grasp—to cleanse their filth in efficacious blood—to fit them to dwell, as partners of His throne.
JESUS so loves, that He puts on our flesh, and takes the place of the condemned, and bears in His own body all the just penalties of sin, and undergoes the uttermost of wrath, and drinks the very dregs of anguish. Attend Him through His painful walk on earth—approach the garden-mysteries—stand by the shameful cross mark all the signs of infinite distress—hear the deep groans wrung from His agonized mind. The language of these sufferings reveals, how much, how truly, and how constantly He loved. Next raise the eye of faith, and see Him now at God's right hand. Whence those incessant prayers—those mighty pleadings—that watchful eye—those outstretched hands—that life devoted to one cause? His present acts repeat, that He still loves.
The SPIRIT loves. It must be so. This feeling draws Him to a sinner's heart. He ever finds that spot all ice—all death—all enmity to God. But still He enters in, and works a saving change. He exerts renovating might. He creates new life, and light, and holy powers. He discloses the activity, the vileness, and the end of sin. He thus stirs up the trembler to flee unto redeeming arms. He gives him faith to take the title-deeds of heaven. He leaves not, nor forsakes, until grace expands into full glory. Such is the Spirit's work. And is not every part a manifest display of love?
Thus God is love. He never was, and never will be, but one ocean of eternal love. The truth, then, is most clear. Each real believer ever was, and ever will be a Benjamin. His is the title, "Beloved of the Lord."
Believer, ponder the value of this fact. Its preciousness exceeds worlds upon worlds of treasure. Our present scene is full of change, of coldness, and of hate. Friends die, or kindly feeling withers. A frown may freeze, where smiles were used to cheer. But here is our solace. We look above. Heaven's love knows no eclipse. In that unfailing brightness we forget surrounding gloom. Here, too, we find a mighty magnet drawing us to holiness. We must love Him, who so loves us. We cannot love God, and not desire to please Him. Hence His pure law becomes our true delight. The slavish chains fall off, and willing service is our joyful walk. Sense of God's love thus cheers and sanctifies.
Through this prelude we approach the BLESSING assigned to Benjamin. It proves, that God's love is a vast treasure of gracious gifts. It shows a threefold front. It strikes a triple cord. It brings the pledge of safety, constant shelter, and fellowship with God.
1. Safety. "The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him." Survey the picture. It is lovely in repose. We seem to see a child without one care seated securely by a parent's side. No anxious fears disturb. Undoubting trust spreads its calm influence. A Father, strong and watchful, is at hand. An arm is ready to defend. The happy son knows it, and confides.
The image tenderly depicts the true believer's blessed state. He sits in peace beside his God. Faith's wings have borne him upwards. His heart and thoughts have settled in a tranquil realm. The restless wanderings of former days are past. There was a time, when he was tossed about on stormy waves. He wandered hopelessly in search of peace. But now he rests in God. His home is by his Father's side. "The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him."
This seat is safety. For think, how high it is upraised! It is with God. What foe can now assail? Satan's darts are very many, and impelled with mighty force. His arms, too, have exceeding skill. But these are heights above his reach. The arrows from his strongest bow have but restricted wings. The shafts fly not to those lofty seats, where God's dear children cluster. They dwell in safety, for they dwell by Him.
A tender voice is ever heard, "Fear not, you worm Jacob, and you men of Israel—I will help you, says the Lord, and your Redeemer the holy one of Israel." Is. 41:14. Again it sounds, "I give unto them eternal life—and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, who gave them to Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand." John 10:28, 29. Each tranquil Benjamin may realize, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" Rom. 8:31. They dwell in safety by Him.
2. Constant shelter. This is a sweet phase of safety, and this is thus graphically promised—"The Lord shall cover him all the day long." The warrior is sheltered, whom a broad shield surrounds. The sword may deal fierce blows—the spear may roughly thrust—all weapons may attack. But the assaults touch not. He stands unhurt. The inhabitants of a well-built house are protected. The hurricane may rage. The hail may beat. The rain may pour down floods. But the roof spreads a sheltering defense. The strife of elements is warded off. So when the feathered mother spreads her sheltering wings, the hawk may soar above—the gathering clouds may menace—but the downy refuge covers. The young birds nestle free from harm.
Thus for each Benjamin a constant refuge is provided. He needs it. No warrior is more sorely pressed. The whole artillery of hell seeks his destruction. No traveler is more exposed. Satan outside—the world around—a treacherous heart within—assail his path. No infant bird is more beset with perils. A preying beak is ever ready to devour.
But he defies this multitudinous array. How is it? Is he not weak in self. Yes. His strength is feebler than a bruised reed. Alone he cannot face one single foe—much less the myriads of earth and hell. Here is his shelter—"The Lord shall cover him all the day long."
It would have been abundant favor to have given some shield—or to have raised some roof—or to have spread some wing. But mercy provides more for Benjamin. The Lord Himself is the constant covering. The Lord, whose arms are infinite, ever hides him in Himself. "Our life is hidden with Christ in God." Who, then, can injure? "All the day long" the enemy may watch. "All the day long" the shelter protects.
But the believer is more than sheltered from these perils. He is, moreover, covered from the condemning eye of God. His life must always be a mass of sin. What hateful filth defiles him! But this may all be buried from God's sight. O my soul, ever realize the covering robe, which Jesus wrought and offers. It is righteousness—perfect—spotless—divine. This He delights to cast around you. Adorned with this, you fearlessly may meet Jehovah's scrutiny. No blemish can be found. This imputed beauty makes you fairer than angelic purity. Put on by faith this precious mantle, and then sing aloud, "Blessed is he, whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered." Ps. 32:1.
3. Fellowship with God. Benjamin's lot has this especial blessing. "He shall dwell between his shoulders." The shoulders are the borders—the outward coasts—the confines of the land. Thus, "they shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines toward the west." Is. 11:14. Here, then, it is pledged, that Benjamin's land shall just contain God's earthly courts. What the Lord says shall surely be. Therefore in appointed time the Temple, that hallowed structure, rose on the mount, which skirted this tribe's line. Such is the literal fulfillment. This promise, then, in its first sense, assigns the position of the consecrated house.
But the grand import of this word is spiritual. The Temple is the symbol of a present God. In it true worshipers drew near. In it God met the souls, which sought Him. The pledge, then, of this dwelling in Benjamin's domain promises access to God. It pictures prayer ascending—answers returned—constant communion. And is it not the saint's delight to have this heavenly union! This is his constant feast—he dwells in God, and God in him—he is one with God, and God with him.
This fellowship is based in Christ. He is the connecting link. He is the Mediator. He has a divine hand, which touches God. He has a human hand, which man may touch. Thus He unites the holy Father and the holy flock. This communion is very paradise. It is the foretaste of heaven. It passes beyond the veil, and penetrates the inner sanctuary. Faith, leaning on Christ's arm, lives in this happiness. With filial confidence it brings each trial—trouble—sorrow—need—affliction—doubt—distress, to a Father's ear. And God is near to cheer—to bless—to wipe the weeping eye—to soothe the wounded heart—to raise the drooping spirit—to send the pilgrim singing on his way. As the Temple was in the lot of Benjamin, so God is in the midst of Zion's sons. "He shall dwell between his shoulders."
Reader, do not you long to be an heir of Benjamin's large portion? Do you not feel, that it must be the crown of bliss to be thus safe—thus covered—thus free to heavenly communion! This becomes yours, when you are one with Christ. Is such your case? If not, why linger in peril, an unsheltered outcast? Draw near in faith. Wrestle in prayer. Invite Him to come in. He will not hesitate, and His entrance brings Benjamin's triple blessing—safety—constant shelter—fellowship with God.