Has not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel to honor, and another to dishonor?…
Some aspects of the Deity may be less pleasing to contemplate than others. The pride of man rejoices not at first in the thought of the majesty which overawes his littleness and compels him to submission. Yet as a hard flint forcibly struck emits a bright spark, and as a rough husk often covers a sweet kernel, so these stern views of the Almighty may, if reverently faced and meditated upon, yield salutary, ennobling, and even comforting reflections.
I. THE POTTER CLAIMS ABSOLUTE RIGHT TO DEAL WITH THE CLAY AS HE THINKS FIT. His arbitrary power does not signify the absence of proper reasons for his selection. As in the calling of Israel to peculiar service and responsibility and honour, so everywhere can an election be discerned. We do not start in the race of life with exactly similar equipment, though we live in tabernacles of clay. If the physical and spiritual powers are the same in essence, like the particles of "the same lump," yet the faculties of some have been well trained from the beginning, and their natures have developed under favourable conditions. Here is a lesson of resignation. He is happiest who accepts the will of God as revealed in his lot, assured that God's decision has ample justification. Even the Stoic philosophy could declare that if man knew the plans of the Superintendent of the universe, and saw them in their completeness, he would at once acquiesce in the determinations of the Arbiter of his destiny. This is the truth which mingles with the error of Mohammedan fatalism. We have to do all that lies within our power, and leave the result with him who is wise and merciful. For the Potter is our Father in heaven. How much of the vexation and worry of life is due to a conceit of our capacity, and perhaps to a jealousy of the position and attainments of our neighbours! Be content to fill a lowly place. And the time is at hand when "the pots in the Lord's house shall be like the bowls before the altar."
II. THE POTTER HAS NO DESIRE FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF HIS WORKMANSHIP. He cares not to waste his clay, nor to employ it in a manner to secure its speedy extinction. It is a pain to God to see his gifts abused, his image degraded, his work marred. He is said in ver. 22 to "endure with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath." A lesson of hopefulness is here. The Most High will not break his vessels in pieces as long as they are fit for any use, for any post, though humble and insignificant. "Potter and clay endure," howe'er the wheel of life may turn and fashion the material into altered shapes. If the light of God shines in a vacuum, no brightness is observable. An empty heaven were a dreary home for a God of love, a silent temple for him who glories in the praises of his people and his works.
III. THE POTTER PREFERS TO CONSTRUCT THE CHOICEST VESSELS. The noblest ware pays him best, and he lovingly exerts his skill on specimens of highest art. Deny not to God the delight which every artist feels in the finest productions of his genius! The most polished mirrors best reflect his glory. A lesson of aspiration therefore. "Covet earnestly the best gifts." God has made his clay instinct with will and energy; he takes pleasure in the improvement of the vessels, that they may be brought into his sanctuary. It will mightily assist our struggles to be sure that the Captain longs "to bring many sons unto glory." - S.R.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?