I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.
The preacher was promising a day of trouble for great Babylon. "Behold," he cried, "the day of the Lord cometh, cruel," etc. Then he came to the very abyss and extremity of their desolation. Bad enough to have the land shorn of its harvests, and all the standing grain trampled under the feet of war horses; bad enough to have the consuming fire lay hold upon its houses; bad enough to have pride turned into shame, wealth into poverty, power into captivity. But, thus far, hope was left, for men were left. Leave us men, and we may live. Leave us men, and you may do your worst; the day will pass, and tomorrow we will repair the damage, and begin over again, and get our revenge upon you yet. But there shall be no men. The widows and fatherless children shall search about the ruined streets, and a man shall be as rare a sight as a purse of gold. The text sets the emphasis, not on money, but on men. And that is Christianity. That is what the Master taught. What we all need, whether we have great possessions or small possessions, is to be interested in men. The part of a Christian man or woman is to set about making somebody's life better. The best good is got when one helps one; when a man goes to his neighbour and gets acquainted with him, and becomes his personal friend, and sympathises with him, and uplifts him. You won't have to go very far to find somebody who is worse off than you are. Take that somebody up. Interest yourself in that unhappy life. Perhaps it will take money; perhaps it will take time; perhaps it will take yourself. Give yourself, anyhow, and as much else as you need to. But, above all, be generously interested. One of the most helpful people I know lives in a back, street, in an unpleasant neighbourhood, in a small house. Everybody in that neighbourhood knows her, and she knows them and their children. They go to her in their troubles, and she gives them her sympathy. As for money, she would give that too if she had any to give. She gives herself. The whole street is better because she lives in it. But if she had the means which some have, what would she do, I wonder? Would she fall before the temptation of a comfortable life? Would she get, perhaps, to thinking that because she had plenty of butter on her bread, so had everybody else? and because she was contented, all the mutterings of discontented people were but needless grumblings? Anyhow, it is true that the kindest, most thoughtful, most helpful people, quickest to bear the hardest inconveniences for a neighbour, readiest to lift up those that are down, are the poor. It is not your money that we want so much as your interest. We want your own personal, hand to hand and heart to heart endeavour. The best use that can be made of money is to use it for the uplifting of men.
(George Hedges, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.