The Web of Life
Isaiah 38:12
My age is departed, and is removed from me as a shepherd's tent: I have cut off like a weaver my life…

Life is like a web of which man is the weaver, and the threads may at any moment be cut by the master, and the weaver dismissed from the loom.


1. God supplies the warp of life.

(1) This consists partly of a man's capacities and partly of a man's circumstances. It is different in almost every case; but in each case it forms the material which lies at the basis of a man's life. No two men are exactly alike. One man enters life with a strong physical constitution. Another, perhaps his brother, enters into life a cripple. One man inherits a strong intellect, which in his boyhood puts him at the top of his school, and in his later years makes him the leader of his fellows. Another is born with a slow, dull comprehension. One man is born with tastes and tendencies which will make him an artist or a poet; another with passions which will sink him into the criminal class if they are allowed to develop. One man is weak in character, veering like the weather-cock with every breath of public opinion. Another has a strong character. He is firm and persistent, and allows no difficulty to discourage or distress him. How very different is the warp of life in these cases!

(2) The warp of life comprises, moreover, a man's early surroundings his parentage, his social position, his early education, his religious training. One men is born with a silver spoon in his mouth, another has the fiery liquid poured down his throat before he is many weeks old. One is surrounded by the sunshine of love and affluence; another enters life in the cold winds of adversity and cruel oppression. One man is born in a country village, and his early life is full of experiences of the external world in all its purity and beauty; another is born in a large town, amid the roar of traffic and the bustling excitement of city life. One is born in a land where the air is heavy with idolatry; another is surrounded with Christian influences. How different is the warp of life in all such cases! Now God supplies this; and it is not for any one of us to murmur at His arrangements. For this, at least, we know, that God requires of a man no more than he possesses.

2. The weft of life, as we conceive of it, consists of the desires and purposes and resolutions that we bring to bear upon our capacities and circumstances. There are some who weave with the coarse yarn of selfishness, who use their strong physical natures for the gratification of their bodily appetites, who allow their strong reasoning powers to lift them up in rebellion against God, who oppress and crush their weaker brethren with their firm wills and imperious natures. When a coarse thread is woven into a fine warp, the cloth is not good. Neither can that life be good which has a selfish purpose woven into the Divine plan. But there are others who weave with the fine yarn of Christian consecration, and the web of their lives cannot but be well pleasing in the sight of God. It is true that the weft of life is supplied to us as well as the warp, and yet each man possesses the power to choose the thread that he will weave into his life. It is ours to choose either the selfish purpose or the Christ-like purpose. Any weaver may lay aside the yarn that his master has supplied to him, and substitute for it an inferior yarn and work with that. And that is exactly what many are actually doing. On the one side, the Divine Spirit is prompting him to all that is noble and good; and on the other side are the spirits of darkness, who cannot compel one single man to choose the wrong, but who can, and do tempt him to it; and if a man, either through indifference or presumption, allows himself to be influenced by that which is evil, for the life that is thus marred he is accountable to God.

II. GOD KNOWS BEST OF ALL WHEN THE WEB OF LIFE IS REALLY FINISHED. The Greeks believed that the fates were spinning the web of human life, and that they determined when it should be cut off from the loom. Ours is a truer and a more comforting creed. It is no cruel fate but a loving Father that determines for us the length of life's fabric.

1. We sometimes think that some lives are ended before they are completed. What means the broken column, so frequently to be seen in our cemeteries, but that some mourning friend thinks that one life, perhaps dearer than any other life, has been cut off before it is completed. But God knows best when a life is really finished. Every life is finished when God's purpose in that life has been fulfilled. The life of Jesus only reached over thirty-three short years; but no one thinks of suggesting that it would have been better if He had lived to be sixty. His work was finished.

2. Again, are there not many who seem to us to have lived long after their work on earth was over? It may be that in the patient waiting of their lives, in the dim glory of their eventide, He has some threads for them to weave into the warp that He has supplied.

3. But after the fabric has been rolled up, it must be unrolled again. How few are there who can, without emotion, take a retrospect of their past life! To some it is a punishment greater than they can bear! And is there any man, however good, who can think of the past without regret? The memory of God's goodness, indeed, may fill him with gratitude, and joy, and wonder; but the recollection of his share in life's fabric must fill him with grief and shame. And this life must be Unrolled before the searching eye of the Great Master, in the fierce light that beats about His throne. "For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ." How can we bear to present such imperfect and sin-stained lives to God? Let us take courage. For are there not some standing before the throne whose lives were no better than ours? How can they stand there? "They have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." And we, too, can receive forgiveness and cleansing where they received it. The Great Master might well say that such clumsy and faithless weavers as we are should have no place in His service and in His home. But He will receive us for the sake of His dear Son.

(W. V. Robinson, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Mine age is departed, and is removed from me as a shepherd's tent: I have cut off like a weaver my life: he will cut me off with pining sickness: from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me.

WEB: My dwelling is removed, and is carried away from me like a shepherd's tent. I have rolled up, like a weaver, my life. He will cut me off from the loom. From day even to night you will make an end of me.

The Life of Jesus
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