And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah:…
On the deposition of Shebna, Eliakim was appointed prefect, clothed with the robe and invested with the keys of office; henceforth he should shut and open, should appoint and depose according to his good pleasure. We look at -
I. THE EXCELLENCE OF HUMAN AUTHORITY.
1. It satisfies a craving which is both broad and deep. Doubtless his succession to the high office vacated by Shebna brought great gratification to the heart of Elialdm. Men covet office, and the authority which it brings. Many meek and lowly minded ones, indeed, there are who have no such thirst of spirit; but, on the other hand, there are very many who profoundly desire and exceedingly enjoy it. The craving is both broad and general; its satisfaction, consequently, brings an intense and a widespread delight.
2. It conduces to order and to all those activities and pleasures of which order is the first condition.
3. It enables its holder to confer benefits
(1) on those whom he is most desirous of serving - "a glorious throne to his father's house," a source of strength and succor to all those related to him; and also
(2) on those whom he should account it a privilege to serve - he can be "a father to the inhabitants," etc., a source of blessing to his fellow-countrymen;
(3) on those who are specially deserving - a man in authority can admit to office those who are capable and honorable, while he can exclude those who are incapable and undeserving (ver. 22). On the other hand, it has to be remembered that authority
(1) often injures its possessor by making him selfish or self-sufficient;
(2) is often grossly and pitifully abused;
(3) is often suddenly and unexpectedly withdrawn, plunging him who holds it into humiliation and distress (ver. 25).
II. THE GREATER, EXCELLENCE OF HOLY INFLUENCE. Our Lord gave his apostles promise of power; but he distinctly told them that such power would lie, not in the exercise of authority, but in the exertion of influence (Mark 10:42-45). They were to be commissioned to deliver the most vitalizing and transforming truth, and to live a life purified and ennobled by that truth; their utterance and their action together would have a most decisive influence on individual men and on society at large. We inherit the privilege which the Master conferred on them. The truth they taught we teach; the life they lived we live. And this Divine, this redeeming, this everlasting wisdom, thus revealed from God, and thus manifested through us, is a far greater and a far mightier thing than the exercise of any human authority whatever. For by their attitude towards it men determine their destiny; by it they stand or fall (Matthew 21:44; John 3:36; 2 Corinthians 2:15, 16). It "opens, and no man can shut; it shuts, and no man can open." It is not only a mightier, but also a more blessed thing. This holy influence, thus exerted by the wise and good, through lip and life,
(1) shuts men out of evils into the power of which none can thenceforth draw them;
(2) opens the gate into kingdoms from which none can exclude them - those of Divine wisdom, of holiness, of usefulness, of heavenly joy and glory;
(3) has a salutary and elevating effect upon the heart of him who wields it. It blesses him that gives as much as him that takes.
1. Only the minority among mankind can possibly exercise authority; it is to a small fraction only that it will prove a blessing; and from all of these it will soon be removed by the fickleness of man or by the lapse of time.
2. But it is open to every child of man to exert a holy influence; this will confer a true, spiritual, undying good on others, and will leave a lasting, inward blessing on the giver. It is far the better of the two. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah: