For scarcely for a righteous man will one die - The Jews divide men, as to their moral character, into four classes:
The second class is made up of those who say, "what is mine, is thine; and what is thine, is mine." These are they who accommodate each other, who borrow and lend.
The third class is composed of those who say, "What is mine, is thine; and what is thine, let it be thine." These are the pious, or good, who give up all for the benefit of their neighbor.
The fourth class are those who say, "What is mine, is mine; and what is thine, shall be mine." These are the impious, who take all, and give nothing. Now, for one of the first class, who would die? There is nothing amiable in his life or conduct that would so endear him to any man, as to induce him to risk his life to save such a person.
This is for one of the third class, who gives all he has for the good of others. This is the truly benevolent man, whose life is devoted to the public good: for such a person, peradventure, some who have had their lives perhaps preserved by his bounty, would even dare to die: but such cases may be considered merely as possible: they exist, it is true, in romance; and we find a few rare instances of friends exposing themselves to death for their friends. See the case of Jonathan and David; Damon and Pythias, Val. Max. lib. iv. c, 7; Nisus and Euryalus, Virgil. And our Lord says, John 15:13; : Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. This is the utmost we can expect among men.
For scarcely - The design of this verse and the following is, to illustrate the great love of God by comparing it with what man was willing to do. “It is an unusual occurrence, an event which is all that we can hope for from the highest human benevolence and the purest friendship, that one would be willing to die for a good man. There are none who would be willing to die for a man who was seeking to do us injury, to calumniate our character, to destroy our happiness or our property. But Christ was willing to die for bitter foes.”
Scarcely - With difficulty. It is an event which cannot be expected to occur often. There would scarcely be found an instance in which it would happen.
A righteous man - A just man; a man distinguished simply for integrity of conduct; one who has no remarkable claims for amiableness of character, for benevolence, or for personal friendship. Much as we may admire such a man, and applaud him, yet he has not the characteristics which would appeal to our hearts to induce us to lay down our lives for him. Accordingly, it is not known that any instance has occurred where for such a man one would be willing to die.
For a righteous man - That is, in his place, or in his stead. A man would scarcely lay down his own life to save that of a righteous man.
Will one die - Would one be will. ing to die.
Yet peradventure - Perhaps; implying that this was an event which might be expected to occur.
For a good man - That is, not merely a man who is coldly just; but a man whose characteristic is that of kindness, amiableness, tenderness. It is evident that the case of such a man would be much more likely to appeal to our feelings, than that of one who is merely a man of integrity. Such a man is susceptible of tender friendship; and probably the apostle intended to refer to such a case - a case where we would be willing to expose life for a kind, tender, faithful friend.
Some would even dare to die - Some would have courage to give his life. Instances of this kind, though not many, have occurred. The affecting case of Damon and Pythias is one. Damon had been condemned to death by the tyrant Dionysius of Sicily, and obtained leave to go and settle his domestic affairs on promise of returning at a stated hour to the place of execution. Pythias pledged himself to undergo the punishment if Damon should not return in time, and deliver himself into the hands of the tyrant. Damon returned at the appointed moment, just as the sentence was about to be executed on Pythias; and Dionysius was so struck with the fidelity of the two friends, that he remitted their punishment, and entreated them to permit him to share their friendship; (Val. Max. 4. 7.) This case stands almost alone. Our Saviour says that it is the highest expression of love among people. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends;” John 15:13. The friendship of David and Jonathan seems also to have been of this character, that one would have been willing to lay down his life for the other.
God will be to us everything we will let Him be. Our languid, half-hearted prayers will not bring us returns from heaven. Oh, we need to press our petitions! Ask in faith, wait in faith, receive in faith, rejoice in hope, for everyone that seeketh findeth. Be in earnest in the matter. Seek God with all the heart. People put soul and earnestness into everything they undertake in temporal things, until their efforts are crowned with success. With intense earnestness learn the trade of seeking the rich blessings that God has promised, and with persevering, determined effort you shall have His light and His truth and His rich grace. OHC 131.3Read in context »