Observe here, I. The kind greeting that took place between Moses and his father-in-law, Exod. 18:7. Though Moses was a prophet of the Lord, a great prophet, and king in Jeshurun, yet he showed a very humble respect to his father-in-law. However God in his providence is pleased to advance us, we must make conscience of giving honour to whom honour is due, and never look with disdain upon our poor relations. Those that stand high in the favour of God are not thereby discharged from the duty they owe to men, nor will that justify them in a stately haughty carriage. Moses went out to meet Jethro, did homage to him, and kissed him. Religion does not destroy good manners. They asked each other of their welfare. Even the kind How-do-you-do’s that pass between them are taken notice of, as the expressions and improvements of mutual love and friendship.
II. The narrative that Moses gave his father-in-law of the great things God had done for Israel, Exod. 18:8. This was one thing Jethro came for, to know more fully and particularly what he had heard the general report of. Note, Conversation concerning God’s wondrous works is profitable conversation; it is good, and to the use of edifying, Ps. 105:2. Compare Ps. 145:11, 12. Asking and telling news, and discoursing of it, are not only an allowable entertainment of conversation, but are capable of being tuned to a very good account, by taking notice of God’s providence, and the operations and tendencies of that providence, in all occurrences.
III. The impressions this narrative made upon Jethro. 1. He congratulated God’s Israel: Jethro rejoiced, Exod. 18:9. He not only rejoiced in the honour done to his son-in-law, but in all the goodness done to Israel, Exod. 18:9. Note, Public blessings are the joy of public spirits. While the Israelites were themselves murmuring, notwithstanding all God’s goodness to them, here was a Midianite rejoicing. This was not the only time that the faith of the Gentiles shamed the unbelief of the Jews; see Matt. 8:10. Standers-by were more affected with the favours God had shown to Israel than those were that received them. 2. He gave the glory to Israel’s God (Exod. 18:10): “Blessed be Jehovah” (for by that name he is now known), “who hath delivered you, Moses and Aaron, out of the hand of Pharaoh, so that though he designed your death he could not effect it, and by your ministry has delivered the people.” Note, Whatever we have the joy of God must have the praise of. 3. His faith was hereby confirmed, and he took this occasion to make a solemn profession of it: Now know I that Jehovah is greater than all gods, Exod. 18:11. Observe, (1.) The matter of his faith: that the God of Israel is greater than all pretenders, all false and counterfeit-deities, that usurp divine honours; he silences them, subdues them, and is too hard for them all, and therefore is himself the only living and true God. He is also higher than all princes and potentates (who are called gods), and has both an incontestable authority over them and an irresistible power to control and over-rule them; he manages them all as he pleases, and gets honour upon them, how great soever they are. (2.) The confirmation and improvement of his faith: Now know I; he knew it before, but now he knew it better; his faith great up to a full assurance, upon this fresh evidence. Those obstinately shut their eyes against the clearest light who do not know that the Lord is greater than all gods. (3.) The ground and reason upon which he built it: For wherein they dealt proudly, the magicians, and the idols which the Egyptians worshipped, or Pharaoh and his grandees (they both opposed God and set up in competition with him), he was above them. The magicians were baffled, the idols shaken, Pharaoh humbled, his powers broken, and, in spite of all their confederacies, God’s Israel was rescued out of their hands. Note, Sooner or later, God will show himself above those that by their proud dealings contest with him. He that exalts himself against God shall be abased.
IV. The expressions of their joy and thankfulness. They had communion with each other both in a feast and in a sacrifice, Exod. 18:12. Jethro, being hearty in Israel’s interests, was cheerfully admitted though a Midianite, into fellowship with Moses and the elders of Israel, forasmuch as he also was a son of Abraham, though of a younger house. 1. They joined in a sacrifice of thanksgiving: Jethro took burnt offerings for God, and probably offered them himself, for he was a priest in Midian, and a worshipper of the true God, and the priesthood was not yet settled in Israel. Note, Mutual friendship is sanctified by joint-worship. It is a very good thing for relations and friends, when they come together, to join in the spiritual sacrifice of prayer and praise, as those that meet in Christ the centre of unity. 2. They joined in a feast of rejoicing, a feast upon the sacrifice. Moses, upon this occasion, invited his relations and friends to an entertainment in his own tent, a laudable usage among friends, and which Christ himself, not only warranted, but recommended, by his acceptance of such invitations. This was a temperate feast: They did eat bread; this bread, we may suppose, was manna. Jethro must see and taste that bread from heaven, and, though a Gentile, is as welcome to it as any Israelite; the Gentiles still are so to Christ the bread of life. It was a feast kept after a godly sort: They did eat bread before God, soberly, thankfully, in the fear of God; and their table-talk was such as became saints. Thus we must eat and drink to the glory of God, behaving ourselves at our tables as those who believe that God’s eye is upon us.