And Reuben spoke to his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to you: deliver him into my hand…
I will give you leave to take away my life, unless I do this or that. Such modes of speaking as this do not become the mouths of the disciples of our Redeemer. How do we know what we shall be able to do a day or an hour hence? We ought to say, If we live, and the Lord will, we shall do this or that; "for a man's heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps." When men use this language their words are not to be understood in their literal sense. They are only strong assertions, tinctured with a profane levity of mind. Death ought not to be made a by-word. It will be found a serious thing to die when death comes, if it is not habitually esteemed a serious matter by us, whilst we are living in prosperity and health. "By the life of Pharaoh, ye are spies," said Joseph to his brethren. Reuben engages, by the life of his two sons, that he will bring Benjamin in safety to his father, if his father would trust the young man to his care. Surely Reuben might have learned to avoid such strong asseverations about things of this sort. It was his wish to bring Joseph home to his father, and yet he could not persuade his brethren to comply with his intentions. It was his desire to bring Simeon safe to his father, and yet he was compelled to leave him in Egypt. He had reason to hope that his brethren would not treat Benjamin as they had treated Joseph. He had reason to hope that the lord of Egypt would keep his promise. But was he so sure of both these things, and of meeting with no bad accident in the course of his journeyings, that he could warrantably pledge the life of his two sons for Benjamin's happy return? He knew that Jacob would not take him at his word. But what if God should, by some untoward event, make him sensible that he had spoken amiss?
(G. Lawson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Reuben spake unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee: deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again.