The Woman of Samaria

The Woman of Samaria

The Woman of Samaria. True Worship. Messiah.

(The Gospel History, Sections 24)

So he cometh to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph: and Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. For his disciples were gone away into the city to buy food. The Samaritan woman therefore saith unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a Samaritan woman? (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his sons, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Every one that drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up unto eternal life. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come all the way hither to draw. Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said unto him, I have no husband. Jesus saith unto her, Thou saidst well, I have no husband: for thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: this hast thou said truly. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father. Ye worship that which ye know not: we worship that which we know: for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth: for such doth the Father seek to be his worshippers. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth. The woman saith unto him, I know that Messiah cometh (which is called Christ): when he is come, he will declare unto us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

The Woman of Samaria

(The Saviour of the World, Vol I Book III Poem XIV)

The Son of Man sat, languid, in the shade
The plenteous leafage o’er the cool well made,
For it was noon, and He had walked all day
In the heat of the sun; ’twas Jacob’s well that lay
There in the green to invite His noontide rest,

And, as He was, He sat, by weariness opprest.

The Lord was thirsty, too; and, for awhile,
The need of water might His thoughts beguile
E’en from that spot of ground that Jacob bought
And gave to Joseph; dear to Jewish thought,
And dear to Him Who Israel had led

Through all their devious ways, and in green pastures fed.

He suffered thirst; His living creature there
Lay deep below, nor, of its Lord aware,
Leapt high to the well’s mouth His thirst to slake!
Never for use of His, the Christ might make
Other than as their wont His creatures act,

Though He an-hungered went, athirst, of ills compact.

A woman saw He, coming from afar,
Bearing, graceful, on her head her water-jar:—
Daughter of Sychar she, too bold of mien,
And eyed the stranger o’er with curious spleen:
For every Jew was hated of her race,

And Him a Jew she knew, both by His garb and face.

But His first word allayed her truculent mood:
“Give Me to drink,” as suppliant He sued;
And as she drew the gurgling water up,
Gave Him to drink of that refreshing cup,
At leisure she to ponder, Whose that face?

Who is’t that asks to drink with so benign a grace?

The woman of Samaria said to Him,—
“How is’t that Thou, a Jew, shouldst touch the brim
Of my pitcher? Through ages past the Jews
All common dealings with our race refuse!”
The Lord beheld her; saw, through flippant speech,

A thirsting soul that craved a draught beyond its reach.

Now Jesus passed her idle chatter by,
And answer made to that sincerer cry
He only heard, uplifting from her heart:
“Didst thou but know the gift of God, thy part—
And hadst but known Who water begged of thee—

Had been to ask, and get, a living draught from Me.”

Dim recollections crossed her untaught mind;
Here was a prophet, sure; one of the kind
Who struck the rock, and water issued thence.
What if He struck out stream, to wander hence
To her very door, what labour saved, in sooth!

“Now will I question Him, and learn the very truth!

“Sir, whence canst Thou get water for my drought?
The well is deep, Thou hast no vessel brought;
Where else canst living water get for me?
Greater than Jacob wouldst Thou claim to be
Which gave us the well, and thereof drank he too,

Our father, his sons, his flock;—and canst Thou greater do?”

How should this soul be taught to comprehend
Water, whose satisfaction hath no end?
“Who drinketh of this water thirsts again;
Who drinks water I give, shall know no pain
Of thirst for evermore; in him a well

Brimming with water of life shall spring perpetual.”

“A prophet, sure!” But not a thought can find,
Beyond the needs of the day, her darkened mind:
Still harping on that stream of Moses, she,—
“Sir, give this water, that no more I be
Thirsty, or weary, journeying to the well!”

Now, with long-suffering sweet, He seeks another spell:

“Go, call thy husband to thee, and come here.”
The rock is struck at last; a trickle, clear,
Of truth, flows out this most world-hardened soul;
“I have no husband,” saith she; and the whole
Of her besmirchèd life is in her view.

Then said the Holy Watcher, “In this thou speakest true.”

’Tis no slight thing to speak a shameful truth;
Nor would He try her further, but, in ruth,
Told of five husbands, and another man:
Assured, ashamed, attracted—faith began;
But not at once would she yield; with woman’s skill,

Another theme she opes; “Our fathers, on this hill,

“Contented, worshipped God; and ye would say,
“To worship in Jerusalem, the one way.”
And Jesus, tenderer grown for her true word,—
“Nor here, nor in Jerusalem, shall the Lord
Be worshipped, in a near” (how dreadful!) “hour;

Confinèd to no place believe the Father’s power.

“Not where they worship, but what men believe
Enables them God’s purpose to perceive.
The ignorant, who will not use his mind,
But worships that he knows not, shall he find
God here or there or in another place?

And such are ye; we know; salvation, of our race.”

“But comes the hour when not to Jews alone
Condition of true worship shall be known:
The Father for His faithful goes abroad
And seeks them by the searching of His word:
Not clime or nation shall affect His choice;

In spirit and in truth, who worship, shall rejoice:

“For God, a Spirit, intimate with man;
And, drawing near in spirit, all men can
Approach the Father.” How much understood
This ignorant shrewd woman, of all, would
The Master, lavish of high truth, impart?

To know herself untaught, she had the humble art.

Knew, too, no doom of darkness on her soul,—
“Messias cometh, shall declare the whole:
This thing I know.” A mighty word of faith,
Invites Messiah’s confidence; He saith,
(Blest woman, graced with News told first to thee!)—

“The Christ, indeed, hath come; lo, I that speak am He!”

St. John iv. 5–26.

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