That lie on beds of ivory, and stretch themselves on their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock…
That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall, etc. Here is a sketch of the way in which these leading men of the chief nations luxuriated in carnal pleasures and sensual indulgences. Observe two things.
I. THE MORAL TORPOR OF CARNAL INDULGENCE. Observe two things.
1. These people wrought entirely for the senses. See how they slept! They provided themselves with "beds of ivory." They did not require rest for their weary limbs, otherwise beds of straw would have done. They wanted to be grand, they loved glitter, hence "beds of ivory." Here is the lust of the eye. See how they ate! "And stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall." They abounded in superfluities; they partook of the choicest dainties of nature, and that in a recumbent position. Here is the lust of the palate. See how they sang! "That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of music, like David." Musical sounds gratified their auricular sensibilities, and they chanted to the "viol." Here is the lust of the ear. See how they drank! They "drink wine in bowls." Small vessels would not do; they must take long, deep draughts of the pleasing beverage. Here again is the lust of the palate. See how they anointed themselves! With the chief ointments." They regaled their olfactory nerves with the choicest perfumes of nature. Here is the lust of the smell. See how indifferent they were to the suffering of the true Church of God! "They are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph." What a description this of a people that lived and wrought entirely for the senses! They were practical materialists. They had no spiritual vision, sensibilities, or experience. Their imperishable souls were submerged in the deep flowing sea of mere animal pleasures. Are there no such men now? For what do our prosperous tradesmen and the upper ten thousand live? For the most part, we fear, for the senses. Grand furniture - "beds of ivory;" choicest viands - "lambs out of the flock, and calves out of the midst of the stall;" ravishing music - "chants to the sound of the viol;" delectable beverages - the choicest wines in "bowls;" the most delicious aromas - "the chief ointments." Has carnal indulgence been more rife in any land or age than this? Matter everywhere governs spirit; the body everywhere is the despot, men are "carnal, sold under sin."
2. These people wrought without conscience. In all this there is no effort of conscience recorded, no word uttered. There is, indeed, a reference to intellectual effort, for it is said "they invented to themselves instruments of music." Carnal indulgence has ever been and is now as much, if not more than ever, the great employer of man's inventive faculties. Luxury in England today is the great employer of human ingenuity. But there is no conscience here. When conscience is touched in such a state of things, and startled by the sense of its guilt, it exclaims, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this sin and death?"
II. THE RETRIBUTIVE RESULT OF CARNAL INDULGENCE. The threat in the text is:
1. The loss of liberty. "Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive." Those who had taken the lead in revelry and all manner of wickedness were to be the first in the procession of captives. In such a position their disgrace would be more conspicuous. Luxury always leads to slavery: it is the eternal law of justice, that those who live to the flesh shall lose their freedom and be exiled into the region of tyranny. "Lust, when it hath conceived, bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, bringeth forth death" (James 1:15).
2. The loss of provisions. "And the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed." They shall have scarcity, perhaps starvation, instead of the profusion of dainties with which their tables have been spread. All this carnal indulgence and voluptuousness, this luxury in ease, and diet, and music, and aroma will not go on forever. They are abnormal conditions of human nature; retribution will one day put an end to them.
Bane of elated life, of affluent states,
What ruin is not thine?... Behind thee gapes
Th' unfathomable gulf where Ashur lies
O'erwhelmed, forgotten; and high boasting Cham:
And Elam's haughty pomp; and beauteous Greece;
And the great queen of earth, imperial Rome."
Parallel VersesKJV: That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall;