1 Kings 22:48
Jehoshaphat made ships of Tharshish to go to Ophir for gold: but they went not; for the ships were broken at Eziongeber.
This subject has especial pertinence to business men.
I. WHERE ONE GOOD MAN MAY SUCCEED ANOTHER MAY FALL. Solomon had done the very thing that Jehoshaphat proposed. What Solomon did prosperously Jehoshaphat vainly attempted. Why was this? The thing itself was right. God would not have one nation isolated from another. He would have unbrotherliness broken down, and men learn in the barter of commerce that "none of us liveth to himself." Countries differ in their productions, and each can furnish something to the wardrobe, table, or adornment of the rest. The merchant has no philanthropy, perhaps, moving him to his commercial ventures, but every ship in the foreign market and bearing its honest freightage to our own is a herald of Him who came to proclaim "goodwill to men." Industry is provoked, and that is good; the poor ore helped into comfort, the international sentiment is strengthened, the war demon is fettered, and the separated parts of the earth are united by mutual dependence and blessing. No one land is made for itself alone.
II. JEHOSHAPHAT'S SHIPS WERE BROKEN TO SEPARATE HIM FROM A SINFUL PARTNERSHIP. Thus was ended his alliance with an idolator. Very stringent was God's word against such a union. And now, the work broken, God's rod expounded the word. And in the clearer, wider times of Christianity, can we be careless about our partnerships? If wrong for a king to join in shipbuilding and a commercial venture with a worshipper of idols, can it be right in us, of choice, to yoke with the wicked in the pursuits of business? Is it not written by Paul, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers." Difficulties meet us here, as where, indeed, do they not in the Divine life? Narrow is the way now as ever. A workman may have comrades as spiritually distant from him — more spiritually distant than the sundered roles. What is that Christian man to do? To cut himself adrift from his occupation there because of those ungodly men around him? What is the Christian merchant to do who has an unchristian partner in his firm? Must that partnership be dissolved? How easily can questions accumulate upon us! And what shall we say? We can but lay down principles to be applied to the individual case by Bible-enlightened conscience. Any business, any business transaction which cannot be undertaken as beneath God's eye should not be undertaken by God's children. For a Christian man to choose association, partnership with immoral men is presumption. He may do good, but how much more likely to receive harm? He is but one, and his judgment may be overruled by the verdict of others. Is God only for the Sabbath and sanctuary, the religious meeting, and the dying hour? He is to be acknowledged in all our ways. Business is to be transacted in his fear. We may be united to practices as well as individuals, and these, though familiar by habit, may be a damage to the soul. Good political economy may be very bad Christianity. Any infraction of the royal law is that, whoever may be guilty of it.
III. JEHOSHAPHAT'S SHIPS WERE BROKEN TO GOOD PURPOSE. The ships were built at Ezion-geber, and there were they wrecked. A great loss this; all the outlay and the golden hopes scattered in broken planks and beams and drift-wood upon the seashore. But God was in this thing. "The Lord hath broken thy works," said the prophet to the king. The storm had done, as the Lord would have it, double duty — had broken the merchantmen and Jehoshaphat's alliance with his heathen neighbour. The loss might have been greater. Troubles are mercies if they have with us similar result. Better that a man's possessions go down like a house of cards than that he go down into spiritual destruction. Better than a man s projects be broken up like those ancient Jewish ships, than that he made shipwreck of faith and a pure conscience. Oh, many a man has wrung his hands amid the shattered prosperity of life, and he has cried, "I am ruined," while the clear-eyed angels have been celebrating his deliverance from the maelstrom that sucks down into hell. Welcome such losses! Blessed be such calamities! Let them be sudden and violent! Shall the passenger sleeping in his cabin complain because the captain has roughly aroused him to the fact that the vessel is in the swift, fierce hands of there demon rushing from stem to stern? Better so aroused than to sleep till escape is impossible. That can be no real calamity which wakes a man to the peril of his soul, and flings him on a huge wave up upon the Rock of Ages. A ship was settling down into the sea. Oh, the horror in every eye! "Then shrieked the timid, and stood still the brave!" But lo, a vessel of rescue drew near, and through speaking-trumpet the captain cried, as boats were launched for their succour, "Come all on board with me!" To us comes in sight a shining barque: angels man it, and: evening breezes wafting and lo! the Captain cries, "My name is Jesus, My ship salvation, My haven heaven. Come all on board with Me!" How wise to heed that voice!
(G. T. Coster.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Jehoshaphat made ships of Tharshish to go to Ophir for gold: but they went not; for the ships were broken at Eziongeber.