And it came to pass on the day that Moses had fully set up the tabernacle, and had anointed it, and sanctified it…
This chapter describes two sets of gifts, one of wagons to help the Levites in transporting the tabernacle, the other for the dedication at the anointing of the altar. The first gift, when we look into it, is seen to be peculiarly beautiful and significant.
I. IT WAS VOLUNTARY. Jehovah had made no provision that these wagons should be got. The Levites had the bearing of the tabernacle assigned them, and there was nothing to show but they must use their own backs and hands for the purpose. What was essential had been pointed out. But this did not prevent voluntary additions where such did not contradict commands already given. There were men enough - at least, so it would seem - among the Gershonites and Merarites to have borne the heavy furniture. God had not laid on them a work beyond their skill and strength. We may conclude, therefore, that the gift of the wagons was an act of pure good will from these princes to the Levites. It was a fresh bond in the unity of the nation.
II. IT WAS SUITABLE. Many gifts of good will are mere ornaments. Sometimes they are white elephants. It is a great deal when a gift shows both a loving heart and a sound judgment. These wagons and oxen were just the thing to help. Probably there had been careful estimates, so as to secure a sufficient number. These wagons were well used (see chapter 33).
III. IT WAS A UNITED GIFT. Something to express the interest of all Israel in the Levites. The whole nation, in an indirect yet real way, had its part in the service of the tabernacle. It is a good thing to have many joined in a good work. It is better to have a hundred people interested in a hundred good institutions to the extent of a pound a piece, than one man in one institution to the extent of a hundred pounds. God sends down his clouds in the wide-scattering, tiny drops of rain.
IV. IT WAS DULY PROPORTIONATE. Each tribe had its share in the gift and its share in the credit. It was such a kind of gift that each tribe might reasonably give an equal share. It was the gift of all and the gift of each. The niggardliness of the individual should not be bidden away in the munificence of the community.
V. IT WAS ACCEPTED OF GOD. A contrast with the way in which he treated the rashness and presumption of Nadab and Abihu. God is glad to have us lighten burdens and help one another, when it does not lead to a mean shirking of personal duties. It was right for these princes to take care that the strength of the bearers of burdens should not be decayed (Nehemiah 4:10). We see moreover a certain honour put upon the lower creation; it was an honour to be used for sacrifice, an honour to bear the tabernacle furniture.
VI. When accepted, THE GIFT WAS PROPORTIONED BY GOD. The princes gave, but God arranged. It was not fit that brute beasts should carry the vessels of the sanctuary, therefore the Kohathites could not avail themselves of the wagons. The Merarites, we may presume, had more to bear than the Gershonites, and they had more in the way of help. If even among these minute specifications of God's commands to Moses there was this room for voluntary gifts, how much more under the gospel. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, a great deal more liberty in giving than most believers avail themselves of. - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass on the day that Moses had fully set up the tabernacle, and had anointed it, and sanctified it, and all the instruments thereof, both the altar and all the vessels thereof, and had anointed them, and sanctified them;
WEB: It happened on the day that Moses had finished setting up the tabernacle, and had anointed it and sanctified it, with all its furniture, and the altar with all its vessels, and had anointed and sanctified them;