Skip Navigation

Daily Devotion

Back

Twelve Princes

January 15, 2020
By Martin Luther

These are the sons of Ishmael and these are their names, by their villages and by their encampments, twelve princes according to their tribes.

GENESIS 25:16

+

Twelve Princes

Ishmael, who is the brother born of a slave woman, is honored by a blessing so great and glorious that in a short time he begets 12 princes. . . This was surely a severe trial for faith, hope, and love. Would these things not try a heart, no matter how godly and saintly it might be? Above all, however, they try the heart of Isaac, who believed God and heard himself preferred to all nations and to his brother Ishmael. . .. Here, however, everything seems to be changed and turned around. Isaac, who has the true promise, is put after Ishmael; and although the latter has only a carnal promise, he goes very far ahead and becomes a lord of lords. He has 12 princes, while Isaac lives alone and without offspring. . .. When you have a promise of God, it will happen that the more you are loved by God, the more you will have it hidden, delayed, and turned into its opposite. For if God did not love you exceedingly, He would not play with you in this manner; that is, He would not delay His promise and help and turn it into its opposite. . .. Therefore the examples of the fathers teach us what the true forms of worship are, namely, genuine faith, perfect hope, and unwavering love. These virtues lead us to the realization that God is present and beneficent, no matter how He seems to be against us.