And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children to Leah…
I. THE APPROACH OF THE BROTHERS.
1. Of Esau. At the head of four hundred armed men. Probably at the first meditating revenge, or to make a great display of his power. But Jacob was a man of prayer. Had often asked God to guard and keep him. Had the night before this meeting so mightily prevailed in prayer that his name had been altered. In answer to the prayers of Jacob, the revengeful feelings of Esau depart. As he draws nigh, Esau feels his heart drawn out in love towards his brother.
2. Of Jacob. Full of hope and confidence. Lame, and yet strong. He is now the prevailer. The sun shining upon him, and, better still, God lifts upon him the light of His countenance. He had sent forward the present, and now places himself in advance of all the rest. He — the prevailer — does not fear to meet the first storm of his brother's rage.
II. RECONCILIATION OF THE BROTHERS. Esau, the offended and injured, instead of taking vengeance on Jacob, having his heart softened by the grace of God, runs towards Jacob. Does not proudly wait for Jacob to approach, and then upbraid him for his past conduct. Ran towards him. Then spoke not a single word. Could not. Too full of joy at once more meeting his long-lost brother. They throw themselves in one another's arms. The kiss of reconciliation. Tears of joy, gratitude. Tears too, it may be, of penitence on both sides. Each needed to be forgiven by the other. Each had done wrong. Jacob, in that he had deprived his brother of the birthright and the blessing; and Esau, in that he had left his father's house, and harboured wrong feelings against his brother, and been the cause of his long exile. Persons offended with each other have often much need of each other's forgiveness. The pardon should be on both sides. He who forgives should also seek forgiveness.
III. THE CONDUCT OF THE BROTHERS.
1. Of Jacob. He entreats Esau to accept his present. Will take no denial. Thus shows the sincerity of his affection. Is unwilling that Esau should at all go out of his way to guard him. Has sufficient trust in God alone.
2. Of Esau. At length, to please his brother, accepts the present he makes. It is often as kind to accept as to make a present. He kindly received the wives and children of Jacob. Goes on the way before Jacob to make the way clear. Acts as his brother's guide and vanguard. Shows his forgiveness by deeds as well as by words. Without practical kindness words are "sounding brass," &c.Learn:
1. In all angry partings, remember that a future meeting will come.
2. God can still the raging of the fiercest storm of passion and revenge.
3. The reconciliation of brethren, a fit and beautiful sight.
4. We have all sinned against God, and need His forgiveness.
5. By causing Esau to forgive his brother, God shows how ready He is to forgive us.
6. Our elder Brother, Jesus, has obtained a full pardon for us.
(J. C. Gray.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids.