Verse 67. "Sarah's tent" - Sarah being dead, her tent became now appropriated to the use of Rebekah.
"And took Rebekah, &c." - After what form this was done we are not told; or whether there was any form used on the occasion, more than solemnly receiving her as the person whom God had chosen to be his wife; for it appears from ver. 66 that the servant told him all the especial providential circumstances which had marked his journey. The primitive form of marriage we have already seen, chap. ii. 23, 24, which, it is likely, as far as form was attended to, was that which was commonly used in all the patriarchal times.
IN this chapter we have an affecting and edifying display of that providence by which God disposes and governs the affairs of the universe, descending to the minutest particulars, and managing the great whole by directing and influencing all its parts. This particular or especial providence we see is not confined to work by general laws; it is wise and intelligent, for it is the mind, the will, and energy of God; it steps out of common ways, and takes particular directions, as endlessly varied human necessities may need, or the establishment and maintenance of godliness in the earth may require. What a history of providential occurrences, coming all in answer to the prayer and faith of a simple, humble individual, does this chapter exhibit! As Abraham's servant has God's glory only in view in the errand on which he is going, he may well expect the Divine direction. See with what simplicity and confidence he prays to God! He even prescribes the way in which the Divine choice and approbation shall be made known; and God honours the purity of his motives and his pious faith, by giving him precisely the answer he wished. How honourable in the sight of God is simplicity of heart! It has nothing to fear, and all good to hope for; whereas a spirit warped by self-interest and worldly views is always uncertain and agitated, as it is ever seeking that from its own counsels, projects, and schemes, which should be sought in God alone. In every place the upright man meets with his God; his heart acknowledges his Maker, and his Maker acknowledges him; for such a one the whole economy of providence and grace is ever at work.
Abraham's solicitude to get a suitable wife for his son is worthy of the most serious regard. He was well aware that if Isaac formed a matrimonial alliance with the Canaanites it might be ruinous to his piety, and prevent the dissemination of the true religion; therefore he binds his most trusty servant by a solemn oath not to take a wife for his son from the daughters of Canaan, but from his own kindred, among whom the knowledge of the true God was best preserved. Others had different rays of the light of truth, but Abraham's family alone had THE truth; and to the descendants of this family were the promises made.
How careful should parents be to procure alliances for their children with those who fear God, as so much of the peace and comfort of the children, and the happiness of their posterity, depend on this circumstance! But alas! how many sacrifice the comfort and salvation of their offspring at the shrine of Mammon! If they can procure rich husbands and wives for their daughters and sons, then all, in their apprehension, is well. Marriages of this kind may be considered as mere bargain and sale; for there is scarcely ever any reference to God or eternity in them. The Divine institution of marriage is left out of sight; and the persons are united, not properly to each other, in the love, fear, and according to the ordinance of God, but they are wedded to so many thousand pounds sterling, and to so many houses, fields, &c. Thus like goes to like, metal to metal, earth to earth.Marriages formed on such principles are mere licensed adulteries. Let such contractors hear these awful words of God: "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?" James iv. 4. See note on "Genesis xxiv. 36".
Although under the patriarchal dispensation parents had a kind of absolute authority over their children, and might dispose of them as they pleased in general cases, yet it appears that in matrimonial connections they were under no compulsion. The suitable person was pointed out and recommended; but it does not appear that children were forced, against the whole tide of their affections, to take those persons who were the objects of the parent's choice. Wilt thou go with this man? was, in all likelihood, deemed essential to the completion of the contract; and by the answer, I will go, was the contract fully ratified. Thus the persons were ultimately left to their own choice, though the most prudent and proper means were no doubt used in order to direct and fix it. Whether this was precisely the plan followed in primitive times we cannot absolutely say: they were times of great simplicity; and probably connections on the mere principle of affection, independently of all other considerations, seldom existed. And it must be allowed that matches formed on the sole principle of conveniency might as well be formed by the parents as by any others; and in Asiatic countries it was generally so, for there the female seldom presumes to have a choice of her own.
In all cases of this kind the child should invariably consult the experience and wisdom of the parents; and the parents should ever pay much respect to the feelings of the child, nor oppose an alliance which may be in all other respects suitable, because there may be a lack of property on one side of the intended match. If parents would proceed in this way, God would pour his blessing on their seed, and his Spirit upon their offspring.