Verse 67. Moreover he refused the tabernacle of Joseph. God had honoured Ephraim, for to that tribe belonged Joshua the great conqueror, and Gideon the great judge, and within its borders was Shiloh the place of the ark and the sanctuary; but now the Lord would change all this and set up other rulers. He would no longer leave matters to the leadership of Ephraim, since that tribe had been tried and found wanting.
And chose not the tribe of Ephraim. Sin had been found in them, folly and instability, and therefore they were set aside as unfit to lead.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 67. The moving of the ark is not the removing of it; Shiloh has lost it, but Israel has not. God will have a church in the world, and a kingdom among men, though this or that place may have its candlestick removed; nay, the rejection of Shiloh is the election of Sion. Matthew Henry.
Verse 67-68. Refused. Chose not. Chose. As God's love is set out to us, as not independently pitched, but as having all the persons in his eye and having them all in view; so by this also, that he hath not pitched it upon everybody. This is distinct from the former; for an indefinite is not knowing whom he pitched it upon. Now, as he knew whom he pitched upon, so he hath pitched but upon some, not on every one ... If God would love, it was fit he should be free. It is a strange thing that you will not allow God that which kings and princes have the prerogative of, and you will allow it them. They will have favourites whom they will love, and will not love others; and yet men will not allow God that liberty, but he must either love all mankind, or he must be cruel and unjust. The specialness of his love, increases it, endears it to us. You shall find almost all along the Bible, that when God would express his love, he doth it with a speciality to his own elect, which he illustrates by the contrary done to others ... And you shall find frequently in the Scripture, when he mentions his choice of some persons, he holdeth up likewise on purpose his refusing of others ... When he speaks of an election out of the tribes, he contents not himself to say he chose Judah, but he puts in the rejection, the preterition at least, of Joseph. He refused the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim: But chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Zion which he loved. ... He speaks of the times of the judges. The rejection of the ten tribes began to show itself soon; he says, he refused the tabernacle of Ephraim, but he chose Judah. After Solomon's time, they fell to worshipping of calves (let me tell you, it is the declining of election that undoes a nation, when election grows low, and ceases in an age), till at last the ten tribes were cast off, as they are at this day; but the tribe of Judah had election among them ...
Though at the first, and for a long time, both were alike his people, yet at last election began to pass a discontinuation. Ephraim, or the ten tribes, had at first the advantage of Judah in spirituals; for the ark, the token of God's presence, was committed unto their keeping at Shiloh; the seal of God's worship and ordinances was entrusted to them, and Judah must come up thither, if they would seek the Lord. But Ephraim, for their sinning against that worship, forfeited and lost it, and should therefore have the keeping of it no longer, no, not for ever any more; but Judah had it at Bethlehem, till at last it was fixedly seated in Sion, as "the earth is established" Psalms 78:69 ; and this for no other reason than that he had loved them, and out of love had chosen them Psalms 78:67-69 . For otherwise Judah was, as well as Ephraim, alike involved in the same guilt of sin which had forfeited it, as Psalms 78:56-60 of the Psalm plainly show. "Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies," etc. He speaks it of the whole in those verses, and yet takes the occasion against Ephraim to remove it for ever. Thus, the first are last, and the last first; and those whom God's presence is with for a while, upon some eminent sin God begins to withdraw from them, and by degrees as he did by that people of the ten tribes, till at last he cast them off from being a people; but dealt not so with Judah, though these made a forfeiture of their temple, and worship, and nation, in the captivity of Babylon, yet God restored all again to greater glory at last. The ground was that in Psalms 78:68 , Zion which he loved. Thomas Goodwin.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 9,67. The backsliding of prominent believers.
- The Lord's soldiers: who they were; belonging to God's chosen people; were distinguished by grace. Genesis 48:17-20 . Strong by God's blessing. Deuteronomy 33:17 . Honourable place among their brethren. Favoured with the tabernacle at Shiloh -- Psalms 78:60 .
- Their equipment: armour defensive and offensive; like that of others who triumphed.
- Their behaviour in battle: to turn back was traitorous, cowardly, dangerous, disastrous, dishonourable.
- Their punishment -- Psalms 78:57 . Deprived of their special honour. Revelation 3:11 . C. D.