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“ WHAT SHALL WE DO FOR THE
HUNDRED TALENTS ?"
2 CHRONICLES XXV. 9. “AND Amaziah said to the man of God, But what shall we do for the hundred talents which I have given to the army of Israel? And the man of God answered, The Lord is able to give thee much more than this.”
AMAZIAH king of Judah, eager to make war against the Edomites, not content with a force of “three hundred thousand choice men” of Judah and Benjamin, hired also “an hundred thousand mighty men of valour out of Israel for an hundred talents of silver,” (6th ver.)
But whilst man's heart deviseth his way, the Lord directeth his steps. Ready prepared, intent on war, reviewing, it may be, his host armed for the battle, Amaziah is crossed in his plans. Those hired ones must depart, or God's favour be withdrawn. “There came a man of God to him, saying, O king, let not the army of Israel go with thee; for the Lord is not with Israel, to wit, with all the children of Ephraim. But if thou wilt go, do it, be strong for the battle: God shall make thee fall before the enemy: for God hath power to help and to cast down.” Then did the king suggest the inquiry of our text, and meet with the answer which we shall do well to lay to heart: “God is able to give thee much more than this."
The subject will lead us to consider,-
I. The Command given: “Let not the army of Israel go with thee.” It shows us God's disapproval of union with the enemies of the truth. The children of Ephraim had departed from the Lord, His favour was withdrawn from them : Judah, if he hope for success, must send such helpers away. Yes, brethren, “the friendship of the world is enmity with God,” both now and in the days gone by : “Strangers and pilgrims” is a description that belongs to the people of God in every age. The world is still an evil world, with its “lusts of the flesh, lusts of the eye, and pride of life.” “Come out from among them, and be ye separate,” is a word profitable for instruction to us in a professedly Christian land, as well as to the Corinthians in a heathen land. It is a sad proof of a mind lukewarm in the things of God, when pleasure can be felt in the society of those, with whom earnestness in seeking the kingdom of heaven is held to be enthusiasm, and to speak of “the things that belong to our peace” hypocrisy. In the hour of affliction, or whenever such need our aid, cheerfully should we render it; or if, in the providence of God, our lot be cast amongst these, we may look up and trust in the Lord. To join affinity with such, as Amaziah did, is to run into temptation and a snare.
2. But the command of God thus given, leads us to notice, further, that His disappointment of our hopes is in mercy, not in wrath. Perhaps to the mind of Amaziah this only was wanting to ensure victory: his army was strong, and could he but procure this aid from Israel all would be secure; and yet no sooner are they come than the command is given, “ Let not the army of Israel go with thee,” and the victory is only sure on obedience to His word, on the sending away that force on which he had reckoned for success. It is
often thus in God's dealings with our souls. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.” Could I but be placed in such circumstances, saith one, were but this difficulty removed, is the thought of another, then should I grow in grace, and prosper in my soul.
my soul. But it cannot be, and you are discouraged. And yet it is in mercy, not in wrath, that your wishes are crossed. “My grace” (are your Saviour's words) “is sufficient for thee.” He lays our hopes in the dust, and when they are cast down, comes and fills us with Himself, and causes us to rejoice in His all-sufficient aid.
3. Observe that the command calls for immediate compliance. Not after aid received in the battle, but now in the face of danger, at the risk of injury from those sent away, injury, too, that was not feared without cause, (13th ver.) now must the army of Israel be sent away.
God's command, my brethren, will not bear delay. To-morrow,—the “convenient season, has ruined multitudes, and will, if we listen to their voice, ruin us. Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood,” was the watchword of the Apostle Paul (Gal. i. 16), and must be ours. Time is too short for parleying, eternity too near, our souls too precious. Doth God command ? Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids. Arise and do. Ask for strength, and use it to the glory of God, and the safety of thy soul.
II. The Difficulty started: “And Amaziah said to the man of God, But what shall we do for the hundred talents that I have given to the army of Israel.” (9th ver.)
With some awe upon his mind, a conviction of the necessity of obedience, Amaziah liked not the cost. This is the difficulty proposed, “ What shall we do for the hundred talents ?” There was the divided mind. On the one side was his fear of the displeasure of the Lord, without whose help he well knew he could not prosper ; on the other side the hundred talents weighed down his purpose, he could not brook the loss of so large a sum. Ah! who would not obey God if he might do it without cost? Who would not be the servant of Christ, if he might be so without pains ? Who would not desire heaven to be his, if he might have all of earth too? Who would not, amidst the changes and chances of this mortal life, have something certain to