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Bible Commentaries

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

Judges 10



Verse 4


‘Thirty sons that rode on thirty ass = colts.’

Judges 10:4

I. There were no serious questions, no thrilling problems, to engage Israel at this time: and therefore the people took notice of this trivial incident about the ass-colts. It was surely a sign of the monotony, the commonplace, the absence of high ideals, which prevailed throughout the land, which led to the magnifying of the trivial detail. It is disastrous indeed for a country when it gives itself to gossip about the ass-colts, the fancies, whims, and oddities of high life, or personalities about notable people. It was said once by a brilliant essayist of our day that, though we have only gone into five years of the new century, the children of this pleasure-loving time are becoming unable to understand the seriousness of the century receding from our view; and if this were true, we might well pray God to send a visitation of a providential character, which should shake us out of our littleness and frivolity, and make us sublime in prayer, heroic in effort, and exalted in our ideals.

II. What is the nature of your life?—Around you is the cry of men for food, for daily employment, for proper conditions of living; are you thinking only of the ass-colts, the incessant round of pleasure, or the best methods of passing time? Will the record of your life, the one sentence which epitomises its purpose, be like that of Jair and his thirty sons? If so, the next record will be: ‘and the children of Israel again did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord;’ or this, ‘Israel was sore distressed.’

III. Why will you not to-day consecrate yourself to follow Christ in the evangelisation of the world?—The Divine purpose in your creation may be but vaguely apprehended at first; but, as we live up to our highest ideals in little things, our pathway continually broadens, the woodand thins, and the great expanse of heaven unfolds above us. Christ wants to make the very most of us for Himself and the great world.


(1) ‘The great danger of times of quietness, when there is little to excite attention and develop energy, is the tendency that men may notice little things and make much of them. There was not much to do in Israel when it could be noted how many sons any man had, and whether they rode on ass-colts or otherwise. That danger besets all life. In the absence of great questions, thrilling problems of an imperial or social kind, men betake themselves to little pedantries, frivolous amusements, trifling inquiries; the greater nature sleeps, and little, active, nimble fancy presides over the life and fritters it away. We want every now and then some great heroic occasion that shall swallow up all our little fancies, whims, and oddities and make men of us.’

(2) ‘The whole analogy of this period of the history of Israel leaves no doubt that so long an interval of rest would involve a more serious declension than any of those before it. Accordingly we find them serving all the gods of all the nations around them, “Baalim and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, of Sidon, of Moab, of the Beni-ammi, and of the Philistines,” except Jehovah; Him they forsook, and served not. This time the punishment was as signal as the crime.’


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Bibliography Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Judges 10:4". Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.

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