Thus said the Lord GOD of hosts, Go, get you to this treasurer, even to Shebna, which is over the house, and say,…
We have one instance, if not two - according to the application we give to the "nail" of the twenty-fifth verse - of ill-founded security. It is a lesson very necessary to teach, for it seems to be one very hard to learn.
I. HUMAN RECKONING. Shebna had carefully and successfully built up his position in the state, and he made sure that he should keep it; he had not only "feathered his nest," but he had made up his mind that he should "die in his nest." He had arranged beforehand the place of his sepulcher (ver. 16). "The nail was fastened in a sure place" (ver. 25). All his plans were drawn, and he confidently anticipated that they would be justified by the event. In this respect he was but a type and specimen of mankind; we do the same thing in our turn and in our way.
1. It may seem strange that it should be so. A modest view of our own capacities; the instruction we gain by reading what has happened to men in the past; the lessons we gather from our observation of human life; - all these might save us from the error, but they do not.
2. The fact is that men do indulge in this illusion: the boy counts on the prizes he will win at school, and the young man on the honors he will gain at college; the tradesman reckons on the profits he will make in business, and the professional man on the mark he will make in his vocation; the minister anticipates the work he will accomplish in his sphere, and the statesman indulges the confident expectation that he will carry the measures on which his heart is set. Others, we know, have failed, but we, we think, shall avoid their errors and escape their discomfiture.
II. DIVINE INTERRUPTION. Shebna's calculations were to be entirely overthrown; instead of living on and dying in Jerusalem, and being buried in the sepulcher he had so elaborately prepared, he should be hurled away like a ball by the strong arm of Jehovah into a distant land, where he should live and die in inglorious exile.
1. It may be that Divine judgment will overtake us, as it evidently overtook and overwhelmed this prefect of the palace. His ostentation (ver. 16), his luxury ("the chariots of thy glory," ver. 18), his tyranny (implied in characterizing his successor "a father to the inhabitants," in contrast to his own severities), brought down upon him the Divine displeasure and the prophetic denunciation. Sooner or later our sin will find us out. If we owe our elevation to our iniquity, or if, on the summit of our success, we fear not God, neither regard the claims of man, we may be sure that at some time and in some way defeat and dishonor will await us.
2. Or it must be that disciplinary changes will affect us. Whatever there is in sorrow which is not judgment is discipline. And of this latter, we must all have our share; we shall find that events will not fill up the outlines we draw, that our future wilt be very different from that which we picture it now: boyhood will not prove to be all that childhood imagines; still less will manhood be what youth supposes; friends will forsake us, schemes will be thwarted, hopes will be extinguished, props will be cut in twain, clouds will come up and rains will pour down, as we little think to-day. The hour will come when the nail that now seems so fast will be removed, and all that hangs upon it be brought to the ground (ver. 25). (See Luke 12:16-21; James 4:13-16.)
III. THE GOOD ON WHICH WE MAY RECKON WITHOUT FEAR OF INTERRUPTION.
1. Holy service, either in the form of action or endurance.
2. The favor of God, the friendship of Jesus Christ.
3. Eternal blessedness. Between the faithful soul and these high hopes no power can intervene. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Thus saith the Lord GOD of hosts, Go, get thee unto this treasurer, even unto Shebna, which is over the house, and say,