Matthew Poole on 1 Samuel

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In a time of economic distress, we do well to remember, "The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up" (1 Samuel 2:7; see Poole's comments). I becomes us as Christians to submit to the Lord's hand (oh, may He give us the grace to do so!), and to help those suffering around us.

Archibald Hall's Gospel Worship: 'I shall begin with some account of the nature of that liberality to poor saints, which is the subject of the present chapter.

If we believe a providence, we must own that God interests himself in the affairs of this life, to the enlarging of some, and lessening of others, as his infinite wisdom sees best. Even an Heathen prince was brought, by God's awful dealings with him, to such a conviction, that "the Most High ruleth in the kingdoms of men, and giveth them to whomsoever he will," as to be constrained to acknowledge, that "he doth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What dost thou?" Daniel 4:32, 35. And this is the current doctrine of inspired writers, with respect to all ranks and degrees of men, 1 Samuel 2:7-8, "The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord's, and he hath set the world upon them." Ps alm75:6-7, "For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another." Psalm 107:40-41, "He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way. Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock."

This being the case, whoso is wise will observe these things; and, while he discerns an happy preference is his situation to that of his neighbour, will thankfully ascribe the praise of it to the love and kindness of the Lord. And because he well knows that the earth, and the fulness of it, is the Lord's, and that he hath given the enjoyment of it to the children of men; therefore he desires to honour the bountiful Giver of all his mercies, with that substance which the Lord hath given him, by dispersing it abroad, and doing good as he hath opportunity, to all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith, Galatians 6:10.

Barely to distribute one's temporal substance, for the most useful purposes, and to the most worthy objects, does not deserve the glorious name of Christian liberality, unless it be accompanied with the following essential circumstances, viz.

1. It must be voluntary and cheerful, without the compulsions of shame or fear. This is very clear from the repeated express directions about it: "Be ready to communicate," 1 Timothy 6:18. "He that showeth mercy, let him do it with cheerfulness; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality," Romans 12:8,13. "Every man, according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give not grudgingly," [2 Corinthians 9:7] etc.

2. It must be performed, as unto the Lord; in obedience to his authority, and with a single view to his glory. This duty is called, pure religion, and undefiled before God and the Father, James 1:27, which would be a wrong description, if it were not to be considered, as a branch of holy worship, and to be performed out of respect to God. When it is practised upon these principles, it becomes "a sacrifice with which God is well pleased," Hebrew 13:16.

3. What is done for the comfort of the saints, must be done for them in the name of Christ, and on his account, Matthew 10:40-42, "He that receiveth you, receiveth me, and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet, shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man, in the name of a righteous man, shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones, a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto, you, he shall in no wise lose his reward." They should be considered as sustaining the place of Christ himself; and entitled, in his behalf, to whatever we would reckon themselves bound to do for him, in like circumstances. In as much as any office of humanity and love, the necessity of the saints requires, is done, upon these principles, to them, Christ reckons it to be done to himself, Matthew 25.

Where these circumstances concur, the mercy showed to the saints, becomes an act of truly sincere and uncorrupted worship; and it is approved and accepted of God in Christ.'
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