THE LAST TRIBES.
"Of Naphtali he said, O Naphtali, satisfied with
favor, and full with the blessing of the Lord, possess the west and the
south. And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let
him be acceptable to his brethren; and let him dip his foot in oil. Your
shoes shall be iron and brass; and as your days, so shall your strength be."
Naphtali and Asher now appear. They are the last in
order--not the least in favor. Their blessing proves again the truth often
stated, that the treasury of God is a vast mine. It bestows much--but
much ever remains. The sun has poured down floods of rays on a long train of
generations, but the streams cease not--the fountain is not impoverished.
The elders of faith's house have been most plenteously enriched, but we may
still as plenteously obtain. Store upon store--wealth upon wealth--grace
upon grace--still fill the heavenly coffers. There is no end, no limit. Full
hands are ever open to dispense. Abundant gifts in ages past still leave
abundant gifts for present and for future days.
My soul, if you are poor, it is not because God's
blessings fail. Let faith not cease to bring its empty vessels, they will
not cease to be supplied. "He gives more grace." Jam. 4:6.
Mark, how Naphtali's rich portion confirms this. This
tribe is "satisfied with favor, and full with the blessing of the Lord."
Possession of the west and south is also granted. Their lot is fixed in
fertile and healthful spots. The goodly fruits, which crowned their
baskets--the choice position of their lands--their sheltered valleys--their
inland sea, fulfilled this promise. Nurtured, in nature's richest lap, they
reveled in favor and in blessings.
But the possession thus granted seems to hint at nobler
gain. When Jesus put on our flesh, and trod our earth, this tribe was chosen
as His frequented home. Here stood Capernaum--the scene of His most mighty
works. Here He displayed the brightness of those glorious deeds, which
testified divine commission. Here the God-man moved--healing
disease--allaying pain--soothing deep misery--reviving drooping
hearts--uttering pure wisdom--fulfilling the long line of prophecy--lifting
high the Gospel beacon. This was surpassing honor. This was privilege
exalting to the very heavens. "O Naphtali, satisfied with favor, and full
with the blessing of the Lord," your eyes were privileged to see incarnate
Believer, come now and trace in NAPHTALI'S
distinguished lot, the features of your happy case. Is not this picture
drawn, that you may realize your plenteous treasures? You, too, are
"satisfied with favor." You, too, are "full with the blessing of the Lord."
"Satisfied with favor." You once were dead in trespasses
and sins. You moved a living carcase with a lifeless soul. Your every step
was hellward. Your every moment hurried you towards endless woe. Your life
was ignorance--rebellion--slavery--disgrace. But now the darkness is
dispersed, and true light shines. You see the cross. You use the blood. You
stand in a new world of spiritual delight. You are a new creation of
thought--affection--hope--desire. You live for God--to God--with God--in
But whence the change? Did it result from nature and your
own resolve? Did rolling years beget this wisdom? Oh! no. You owe the whole
to sovereign grace. God, of His own free will, looked down with favor on
your ruined soul. His favor gave you, as a jewel, to His Son--and gave His
Son to be your uttermost salvation. His favor sent the Spirit to make you
one, by faith, with Christ. Thus all things are yours. Child of grace, do
you not rapturously sing, I am indeed a Naphtali, "Satisfied with favor!"
"Full," too, "with the blessing of the Lord." Happy
state! The Father ever lives to bless. Jesus ever reigns to bless. The
Spirit ever works to bless. The morning dawns, that blessings may descend.
The day goes on, that blessings may proceed. The clouds, which seem to
portend storms, bring showers of blessing. Life is a blessing, while it
lasts. Death is a blessing, when it comes.
Trials--afflictions--losses--temptations--are blessings, because they wean
from earth. When time is left behind, and eternity reviews life's
journey; then will the truth stand prominently out, that each saint's cup
was "full with the blessing of the Lord."
But Naphtali's distinction was, that Jesus chose it as
His earthly dwelling. Believer, have not you similar delight? Your soul
is Jesus' home. He, whom no heavens can hold--He, to whom infinity is a mere
speck--scorns not to abide within you. "I am come into my garden, my sister,
my spouse." You may always realize His present smile. You may always hold
sweet communion. You may ever whisper to His ready ear, and catch the joy of
His replying voice. You may always lean upon His arm, and rest upon His
breast. Christ dwells in your heart by faith.
Moses looks on from Naphtali to ASHER. His is the
final blessing. It is largely bounteous. It seals again the truth, that
God delights to scatter favors with unsparing hand. It has a voice still
calling believers to a treasure-house, where they may ask with open mouth,
and take with open hand.
"Let Asher be blessed with children--let him be
acceptable to his brethren--and let him dip his foot in oil. Your shoes
shall be iron and brass--and as your days, so shall your strength be." Deut.
Out of this crowded diadem only the last sparkling gem
can be examined. But is it not a jewel far exceeding this world's boasted
wealth! "As your days, so shall your strength be." This promise intimates
the fact, that days will vary. As in nature, clouds screen the sun--and
storms descend--and tempests rage--and hurricanes sweep fearfully--and rapid
changes come--so is it in the life of grace. The morning brightness often
gives way to mid-day gloom. The mid-day gloom brings in evening wildness.
The skies are now serene--we look above on one expanse of clearest blue--now
the scene varies, and thick darkness frowns, or forked lightning darts its
angry shafts. Faith has no lofty seat, which trials cannot reach--and no
seclusion, which distress cannot invade. But it has a rock, from which no
foes can shake--the rock is Asher's blessing, "As your days, so shall your
Strong in this pledge--bold in this might--safe in this
safety--confident in this security--impregnable within this fort--happy in
this happiness, faith feels, "I shall not be injured, or destroyed. Days may
be dark and sad; I may be sorely buffeted; but strength shall be enough. All
earthly props may fall, but I shall stand. All human friends may flee, but I
shall not be left alone. All trials may in turn assail, but they shall not
prevail. Satan may hurl each dart, but a strong shield shall ward them off.
All snares may be most craftily laid, but they shall not destructively
entangle. The world may use its every enticing art, but I shall be enabled
to escape. It may mutter its threats, but I have a sufficient refuge. I may
be tempted--persecuted--wronged--but not cast down. I often may fear. I
often may see a yawning precipice before my feet. The ground may tremble.
But I am safe. I hold a saving promise--"As your days, so shall your
Faith can fly back, and commune with the elder saints. It
hears from all the self-same story. We had a course through stormy seas,
where billows tossed, and rocks were sharp, and quicksands opened their
engulfing jaws. But our barks rode triumphant to the haven. As our days, so
was our strength.
Jacob speaks of an outcast life--and many enemies--and
overwhelming griefs--and lonely tremblings--and inward fears--but still
strength was built up. He held on to the end. He testifies, The Angel
redeemed me from all evil. David presents a painful chart. What cruel hate
of men! what thirstings for his blood! what foul assaults of Satan! what
stumbles! ah! what falls! His soul-life often seemed trodden in the dust.
But he revives. Oil of grace supplies the flickering lamp. The heaven-lit
flame never expires. Others are bound, and dragged to torturing flames; but
they survive. The menace cannot overcome. The fire cannot consume. Their day
is very terrible, but strength endures. Others are cast a prey to angry
beasts, but their peace is as a placid lake. The outward scene is wild
affright, but their souls never quake. The Lord is with them, and their
View Paul and Silas in the inmost cell. Their wounds are
smarting--the dungeon is deep--the chains clash heavily. But inward comfort
flows in full tide. Thanksgivings swell. They loudly sing, and bless a
Mark the heroic calmness of the early preachers of the
faith. Threats and imprisonment are their lot. They feel, as men; but they
rejoice, as saints. They neither faint nor fail. They sit unmoved amid an
earthquake of alarms. As their days, so is their strength. It is Paul's glad
acknowledgment--but not Paul's sole experience--"Sorrowful, yet always
rejoicing." "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me."
Martyrs and confessors press forward to give like witness. They joy in
anguish--they embrace the stake--they hug encircling flames. They find, that
days are often terrible, but never without needful strength. Was Stephen
left without support, when, with angelic look, he kneeled down, and, praying
for his murderers, amid a shower of stones, fell tranquilly asleep?
The whole bright throng around the throne attest the
same. They passed through many perils--sorrows--fights--but heavenly
strength braced their loins--sustained their hearts--fanned their desponding
spirits--and made them more than conquerors. From every lip one testimony
sounds. The word is true, "As your days, so shall your strength be."
Believer, tremble not. Take courage. Go forward. You may
be young, and a long course may open to your view. Foes must infest it. You
have no promise, that trials will not come. Satan spares none. He grants no
Sabbath of repose. But face the worst, bold and serene in Christ. Hold fast
the staff of grace. Trust and fear not. Trust and pray always. Trust and
plead this word. It is not Asher's only. It is your portion. You will surely
find, "As your days, so shall your strength be."
You may be worn with malady, and tottering down the
valley of years. You may dread Jordan's waves, and the cold touch of death.
But clasp the promise. The greater need brings the more large support. How
many tremblers have gone triumphantly to rest! Christ's love exceeds all
hopes. His merciful fulfillments surpass each pledge. He cannot fail. He
cannot disappoint. Come what may--this will be true, "As your days, so shall
your strength be."
But faithfulness must add, that these rich mercies are
Israel's portion only! They, who are Christ's, possess, and claim, and use,
and joy in them. They, who reject Him, see but a casket, which they open
not. Their days have trouble without strength. Their future will have misery
without end. Let not such turn from Naphtali and Asher until they share what
Naphtali and Asher gained from God. The blessings of these tribes may yet,
through grace, be sought and found.
Eternal Spirit, mighty source of light and inward life,
give Your help! Open each eye to see the beauty, riches, blessedness, and
glory of God's heritage. Stir up each heart to wrestle, until the word is
heard--"Great is your faith, be it done unto you, even as you will."