Esau’s Tears

“And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father.”
(Genesis 27:34)


“For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.”
(Hebrews 12:17)


I should not perchance refer to Esau’s tears were it not for the fact of many sincere souls being much troubled respecting them.

First, the apostle in Hebrews 12 calls Esau a profane person who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. Subsequently, however, though he was troubled about the consequences of sins, he never had a grain of godliness, nor the least desire for God, nor godly repentance, and therefore never went to God in prayer about any matter whatever.

Secondly, although there are spirituals in the blessing Jacob obtained, Esau never shed a single tear about the loss of them. And it is as evident that the deprivation of the best of temporals caused his great and exceeding cry. Yea, like the bear bereaved of her whelps, or as the man much stripped of his idol gods: “What,” saith he, “have I left?” (Judges 18:24). Whereas all the good things of this poor world are as nothing in comparison with God to a truly gracious soul (Psalm 73:25). In fact, such are for seeking first the kingdom of God, and for leaving the rest, as a single overplus of goodness (Matthew 6:33). And where they find in the field the pearl of great price (Christ) they are for parting with everything in the hope of possession thereof (Matthew 13:46).

Esau, however, being the firstborn of the twins, Isaac fully intended to bless him in preference to Jacob. Consequently when Esau came in immediately afterwards with his venison, and found that he had been supplanted, and cried out so bitterly, Isaac could not repent or change his mind relatively to the blessing. Hence: “Isaac his father said unto him (Esau), Who art thou? And he said, I am thy son, thy firstborn Esau. And Isaac trembled exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him?” And now mark what follows: “Yea, and he shall be blessed” (Genesis 27:32-34). And now follow Esau’s tears, all of which, as the apostle saith, found no place of repentance (in Isaac’s heart) or as the margin in Hebrews reads: found no way to change his (Isaac’s) mind – that is, from blessing Jacob, as Esau, in finding how he was supplanted in the affair, evidently thought he would.

And in conclusion, I would just say that Satan, knowing by what they say in prayer, how wicked and unworthy subjects of divine grace feel, misrepresents the mind of the Spirit in the sacred Scriptures, and on purpose to add to their affliction. Yea, he uses the law of God for his purpose, and in all manner of ways oppresses and worries each humble soul. Any person, therefore, who feels their lost and ruined condition as a sinner before God, will yet justify Him, and cry for mercy, for the fear of God, for divine teaching, searching, pardon, and truth, whatever such have done, or may have been, or see and feel themselves to be, or however ugly and many their sins – there is not a single scripture rightly understood against them, from Genesis to the Revelation, but rather everything in their favour. Hence: “The meek (teachable) shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek Him: your heart shall live for ever” (Psalm 22:26). And such, whatever their felt hardness of heart, or effect of Satan’s temptations, have no cause whatever to be troubled about Esau’s tears. And again I repeat: Esau was a profane person, and consequently neither repented of his sins, nor sought God all his days.


– James Popham

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