Robinson Crusoe

I just finished reading the classic book Robinson Crusoe.  This book has made a definite impression upon me and upon my Christian faith.  Daniel DeFoe had to have been a Christian who firmly believed in the redeeming power of Christ.  This book has the story of God’s sovereignty unashamedly written all over it.  Allow me to share a few ways in which this book has impacted my faith in Christ.

To start with, Robinson Crusoe is written in the first person.  He tells his narrative quite simply giving us the pertinent points.  One thing he is not shy about is telling about what a sinful person he was at the time he began to set out on his own.  He plainly lays out how he refuses godly counsel obstinately seeking his own way out to sea.  Hardheaded and determined to do whatever he wants to do, he finds himself in the middle of a terrible storm, and then as the rest of the crew perishes he is marooned on a large island.  He thinks of this as the worst fate possible for eight years, until he is hit with a terrible sickness.

Now here he is, all alone, even though he has learned to survive off the island, but now sick unto death his attention turns toward God and he thinks, “Why has God done this to me?What have I done to be thus used?”  My conscience presently checked me in that inquiry, as if I had blasphemed, and methought it spoke to me like a voice:  “WRETCH!  dost thou ask what thou hast done?  Look back upon a dreadful misspent life and ask thyself what thou hast not done; ask, Why is it that thou wert not long ago destroyed?  Why wert thou not drowned in Yarmouth Roads?  Killed in the fight when the ship was taken by the Sallee man-of -war?  Devoured by the wild beasts on the coast of Africa?  Or drowned here, when all the crew perished but thyself?  Dost thou ask, What have I done?”

From this point in the story, there is a marked difference in the life of the narrator.  He begins reading in a Bible that he has salvaged from the ship.  He begins to attribute his circumstances to God and God alone.  At one point I was struck with the contrast between how one could be satisfied in a present state and yet still pray for deliverance.  I’m sure that Paul prayed for deliverance from prison, and yet he still affirmed that he learned to be content in whatever state he found himself in.  But here is how DeFowe portrays his character’s plight.

But now I began to exercise myself with new thoughts; I daily read the Word of God and applied all the comforts of it to my present state.  One morning, being very sad, I opened the bible upon these words, “I will never, never leave thee, nor forsake thee”; immediately it occurred that these words were to me; why else should they be directed in such a manner, just at the moment when I was mourning over my condition, as one forsaken of God and man?  “Well then,” said I, “if God does not forsake me, of what ill consequence can it be, or what matters it, though the world should all forsake me; seeing on the other hand, if I had all the world and should lose the favor and blessing of God, there would be no comparison in the loss?”
From this moment I began to conclude in my mind that it was possible for me to be more happy in this forsaken, solitary condition than it was probable I should ever have been in any other particular state in the world; and with this thought I was going to give thanks to God for bringing me to this place.
I know not what it was, but something shocked my mind that thought, and I durst not speak the words “How canst thou be such a hypocrite,” and I , even audibly, “to pretend to be thankful for a condition which however thou may’st endeavour to be contented with, thou wouldst rather pray heartily to be delivered from?”  So I stopped there.

That, to me, thoroughly sums up any trial that we might go through.  Whether mental, emotional, physical, marital, whatever it may be; we pray that it might be past, yet we learn to be thankful to God for putting us in that state.  Is it hypocritical to pray that something might be past and be thankful to be in its midst at the same time?

As a part of the storyline, the narrator finds human bones on the island left by cannibal savages who bring their victims to the island to devour in a feast.  Later, Robinson Crusoe has a dream that he sees the cannibals about to feast on one of their victims when he breaks free and runs toward him for deliverance.  It occurs to him that perhaps a way to be delivered off the island is to rescue one of these victims and thereby make him into a slave.  Crusoe has a good supply of gunpowder and bullets which he salvaged from the ship so this is not unattainable.  This is how Friday enters the story.  Robinson Crusoe renames him Friday because this is the day that he delivers him from certain death.

What strikes me as so profound is that no matter how pagan the culture, there is a certain indebtedness when one is rescued from certain death.  Here Friday was all but killed, and the one who delivers him is now unequivocally his new master.  Friday makes no mistake in reassuring Crusoe that he would never harm the one who rescued him.  After years of being his faithful servant, Crusoe is now making plans for leaving the island.  Yet Friday is confused about where both of them will go.  When Friday learns that Crusoe wants Friday to go back to his people, but Crusoe would go on without him, this leads to a certain discussion.

Upon the whole, I was by this time so fixed upon my design of going over with him to the continent, that I told him we would go and make one as big as that, and he should go home in it.  He answered not one word, but looked very grave and sad.  I asked him what was the matter with him; he asked me again thus, “Why you angry mad with Friday, what me done?”  I asked him what he meant; I told him I was not angry with him at all.  “No angry! no angry!”  says he, repeating the words several times, “Why send Friday home away to my nation?”  “Why,” says I, “Friday, did you not say you wished you were there?”  “Yes, yes,” says he, “wish be both there, no wish Friday there, no Master there,”  In a word, he would not think of going there without me.  “I go there, Friday!” says I.  “What shall I do there?”  He turned very quick upon me at this:  “You do great deal much good,”  says he, “you teach wild mans be good sober tame mans; you tell them know God, pray God, and live new life.”  “Alas, Friday,”says I, “thou knowest not what thou sayest.  I am but an ignorant man myself.”  “Yes, yes,” says he, “you teachee me good, you teachee them good.”  “No, no, Friday,” says I, “you shall go without me, leave me here to live by myself, as I did before.”  He looked confused again at that word, and running to one of the hatchets which he used to wear, he takes it up hastily, and gives it to me.  “what must I do with this?”  says I to him.  “you take kill Friday,” says he.  “What must I kill you for?”  said I again.  He returns very quick, “What you send Friday away for?  Take kill Friday, no send Friday away.”  This he spoke so earnestly that I saw tears stand in his eyes.  In a word, I so plainly discovered the utmost affection in him to me, and a firm resolution in him, that I told him then, and often after, that I would never send him away from me, if he was willing to stay with me.

What strikes me is how Friday has the chance to return to his people, but refuses to do so if it means parting with the one who saved his life.  Friday could see no other life for him other than in serving his master, even though he had a life up to the point of what would have been his death.  Because his life had truly been spared, there was nothing but gratitude to Robinson Crusue and sincere devotion.  Friday would sooner die than be parted with the one to whom he owed his very life.  Friday’s life was now completely bound up and intertwined with his deliverer.

I would encourage everyone to read this classic book.  There is a reason it has stood the test of time.  It is more than just British genius transforming the average man into farmer, shepherd, hunter, baker, architect, carpenter, etc.  It is the struggle in the heart of man of how to be content in all circumstances.  It is the power to redeem a sinful man transforming him into someone who fears God giving thanks for all things, even while marooned on an island.  It is the picture of indebtedness of one who has been spared from death owing all their devotion to their savior.  In short, this book touches on the deepest struggles in the human soul.  Parts of it are a bit laborious, but such is necessary to understand the solitary life of one who must do everything themself for mere survival.  The last few chapters more than make up for the uneventfulness of the previous monotony in an exciting conclusion to that solitary life which had been rued by Crusoe.  Check it out and give thanks to God for your basic living standard.

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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3 Responses to Robinson Crusoe

  1. Robert says:

    Odd all I read on Robinson Crusoe never mentions or include this aspect ( God centerness or Christian worldview ) …odd … neither the movies … ,. Thanks for posting this !

    • Same here. I never knew the blatant Christian themes in the book until a pastor preached and mentioned a couple of ideas. It made me want to read it for myself and I’m certainly glad I did. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Pingback: Exiles in Babylon | The Orange Mailman

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