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Strange Texts but Grand Truths (5 of 17)
This World Too Small for Man
Clarence E. Macartney
Eleusis is a town in Greece on the road from Athens to
Corinth. Near Eleusis was the stronghold of a
notorious robber and brigand, Procrustes. In his
castle Procrustes had two beds, one long and the other
short. When he brought his prisoners to his castle, he
made them sleep in one of those beds. If the prisoner
was a long man, he thrust him into the short bed and
cut off his extremities to make him fit the bed. If he
was a short man, he put him in the long bed and
stretched his body to the length of the bed. Hence the
saying, "the bed of Procrustes."
Here in our text we have a bed like the short bed of
Procrustes, a very uncomfortable bed, too short for
the man who tries to sleep in it, and its coverings
too narrow to cover the sleeper. Nothing could be more
wretched or uncomfortable than to try to sleep in a
bed that is too short for you to stretch yourself on
it. Anyone who has tried to do that will remember what
a miserable night he spent. Likewise nothing could be
more uncomfortable than to try to sleep on a cold
night on a bed where the blanket is not sufficient to
cover the body. Perhaps, as I have, you have had to
sleep with one of your brothers, who took most of the
This is the striking metaphor that Isaiah, that
eloquent master of metaphors, makes use of to describe
a plan of life, national or personal, that leaves out
God. Such a plan is a bed too short for the man to
stretch himself on, and its covering is too scanty to
give warmth to the body.
A Nation That Leaves God Out
The immediate application of this metaphor of Isaiah
was to the national and international situations which
then existed in Judah and Jerusalem. Instead of
relying upon God and upon righteousness of conduct and
the policies which Isaiah had outlined for them, the
leaders of the people at Jeru ...
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