Verse 16. There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains. From small beginnings great results shall spring. A mere handful in a place naturally ungenial shall produce a matchless harvest. What a blessing that there is a handful; "except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah:" but now the faithful are a living seed, and shall multiply in the land.
The fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon. The harvest shall be so great that the wind shall rustle through it, and sound like the cedars upon Lebanon: --
"Like Lebanon, by soft winds fanned,
Rustles the golden harvest far and wide."
God's church is no mean thing; its beginnings are small, but its increase is of the most astonishing kind. As Lebanon is conspicuous and celebrated, so shall the church be.
And they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth. Another figure. Christ's subjects shall be as plentiful as blades of grass, and shall as suddenly appear as eastern verdure after a heavy shower. We need not fear for the cause of truth in the land; it is in good hands, where the pleasure of the Lord is sure to prosper. "Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." When shall these words, which open up such a vista of delight, be fulfilled in the midst of the earth?
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 16. An handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains. Not only would the soil be likely to lack depth of earth, but the seed itself would be apt to be blown away by the winds of heaven, or washed down by the teeming rain to the base beneath. Peter Grant. 1867.
Verse 16. An handful of corn, etc. Upon mature consideration, I am persuaded that the proper sense of the word ~k, or hmk, is "a patch" or "piece;" and that it is used here just as we use the same words in English, in such expressions as these, -- "a patch of wheat, a patch of barley, a piece of corn." Samuel Horsley.
Verse 16. An handful of corn. Doubtless it has been familiar to you to see corn merchants carrying small bags with them, containing just a handful of corn, which they exhibit as specimens of the store which they have for sale. Now, let me beg of every one of you to carry a small bag with this precious corn of the gospel. When you write a letter, drop in a word for Christ; it may be a seed that will take root... Speak a word for Christ wherever you go; it may be a seed productive of a great deal of fruit. Drop a tract on the counter, or in a house; it may be a seed productive of a plenteous harvest. The most difficult place, the steepest mountain, the spot where there is the least hope of producing fruit, is to be the first place of attack; and the more labour there is required, the more is to be given, in the distribution of the seeds. James Sherman.
Verse 16. Shall shake like Lebanon. With a plentiful ear, shall yield so large and strong a stalk that, with the motion of the wind, it shall shake cedar like. Joseph Hall.
Verse 16. Shall shake as Lebanon. That is to say, shall wave backwards and forwards with the wind, like the tall cedars of Lebanon. This implies that the corn will be lofty and luxuriant. French and Skinner.
Verse 16. Neither wave nor shake conveys the full force of the Hebrew verb, f[r which suggests the additional idea of a rushing noise, like that of the wind among the cedars of Lebanon. This comparison is certainly more natural and obvious than that which some interpreters assume with the grain crops or harvest fields of Lebanon itself. This would be merely likening one harvest to another, nor is any such allusion ever made elsewhere to the mountain, though its circumjacent plains and valleys were productive. Joseph Addison Alexander.
Verse 16. Like Lebanon. By dint of skill and labour, they have compelled a rocky soil to become fertile. Sometimes, to avail themselves of the waters, they have made a channel for them, by means of a thousand windings on the declivities, or have arrested them in the valleys by embankments. At other times they have propped up the earth, that was ready to roll down, by means of terraces and walls. Almost all the mountains being thus husbanded, present the appearance of a staircase, or of an amphitheatre, each tier of which is a row of vines or mulberry trees. I have counted, upon one declivity, as many as a hundred, or a hundred and twenty, tiers from the bottom of the valley to the top of the hill. I forgot, for the moment, that I was in Turkey. Volney.
Verse 16. Like Lebanon. To understand the images taken from Mount Lebanon, it is necessary to remark that four enclosures of mountains are described, rising one upon another. The first and lowest of these is described as rich in grain and fruits. The second is barren, being covered only with thorns, rocks, and flints. The third, though higher still, is blessed with a perpetual spring; the trees are always green. There are innumerable orchards laden with fruit, and it forms, altogether, a terrestrial paradise,
"Where fruits and blossoms blush,
In social sweetness, on the self same bough."
The fourth, or highest ridge of all, is the region of perpetual snow. Now, the imagery in the 72nd Psalm is evidently taken from the first of these ridges of Lebanon, where (most probably following the ancient mode of cultivating) the monks of Lebanon, for they were the chief cultivators of the terraced soil, industriously husband every particle of productive earth. In the expressive words of Burckhardt, "Every inch of ground is cultivated," so that no image could have been more singularly expressive of the universal cultivation under Messiah's reign, than to say that His fruit shall shake like Lebanon; or, understanding the psalmist to speak figuratively, what moral landscape could be painted more richly than he does, when he intimates that those barren mountains of our world, which at present yield no fruit unto God, shall be cultivated in that day so industriously and so fully, that the fruit shall wave like the terraced heights of Lebanon. Robert Murray Macheyne. 1813-1843.
Verse 16. Shall flourish like grass. The peculiar characters of the grass, which adapt it especially for the service of man, are its apparent humility and cheerfulness. Its humility, in that it seems created only for lowest service, -- appointed to be trodden on and fed upon. Its cheerfulness, in that it seems to exult under all kinds of violence and suffering. You roll it, and it is stronger next day; you mow it, and it multiplies its shoots, as if it were grateful; you tread upon it, and it only sends up richer perfume. Spring comes, and it rejoices with all the earth, -- glowing with variegated flames of flowers, -- waving in soft depth of fruitful strength. Winter comes, and, though it will not mock its fellow plants by growing then, it will not pine and mourn, and turn colourless and leafless as they. It is always green; and is only the brighter and gayer for the hoar frost. John Ruskin.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- A happy description of the gospel: it is a handful
- The places where it is sown.
- The blessed effects which this gospel, when thus
sown, will produce in the world. J. Sherman.
Commencement. Publicity. Growth. Result.
- What? Corn.
- How much? A handful.
- Where? In the earth upon the top of the
- Will it grow? The fruits, etc.
- What then? They of the city, etc.