He is a merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand: he loves to oppress.…
He is a merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand: he loveth to oppress. And Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich, I have found me out substance: in all my labors they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin. And I that am the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast. Here we have -
I. FORTUNES BADLY USED. "And Ephraim said, I am become rich, I have found me out substance." Here is a fortune held and no doubt employed in the spirit of haughty egotism. It is all I. "I have become rich, I have found me out substance."
1. Here there is no recognition of human co-operation. No man comes in possession of wealth without the efforts of some men either living or dead. Wealth, whoever holds it, is the result - in most, perhaps in all cases - of the efforts of a large number of human workers. But the possessor oftentimes takes no note of this. He thinks only of himself. He does not think of the toil, the sweat, the exhaustion of those who have helped to put it into his hand.
2. Here there is no recognition of Divine agency. All fortunes roam of God - out of his materials, out of his seasons, out of the activity of his creatures. But there is no recognition of him here. "I have become rich, I have found me out substance." How many fortunes are thus held and employed in England this day - held and employed in a haughty egotism!
II. FORTUNES BADLY MADE.
1. Here is fraud. "He is a merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand." The hand of fraud has ever been, and still is, alas! the most active of all agencies in the erection of fortunes. There is deceit everywhere. In all fabrics, groceries, trade commodities. Deceit in making, deceit both in the buying and the selling. Were all the fortunes in England that have been built up by deceit to be destroyed this day, the whole human world would be startled with the terrible crash. The event would be as the hurling of the Himalaya into the sea, causing the billows to roar on every shore.
2. Here is oppression. "He loveth to oppress." Indeed, fraud is oppression in some form or other. What unrighteous exactions there are in the building of many fortunes! Go to the pits of mine-owners, to the factories of manufacturers, to the warehouses of merchants, to the vessels of ship-owners, and everywhere you will meet men and women groaning under the oppression of those for whom they are building up fortunes.
3. Here is cunning. "In all my labors they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin." Ephraim - this typical fortune-maker - took such care to conceal all that was unfair and nefarious in his operations that he was certain no wrong could be found in his doings. Wrong there was, he knew, but he was careful that none should discover it. By plausible and well-guarded statements, by legal formulae, by "board" resolutions, he tools that he can say, "In all my labors they shall find none iniquity in me." Who has not seen many men of this type? - many who have made a fortune by a swindle, but have so guarded the transaction that they have clapped their hands and said, "None will ever find it oat."
III. FORTUNES BADLY ENDED. "And I that am the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast." The meaning of this is - Rich as thou art, I will strip thee of thy wealth, drive thee from thy home, send thee back again to the wilderness a vagrant, to howl for bread and water. Ay, ay, to all such fortune-holders and fortune-makers retribution must come sooner or later. "I tell thee," says Thomas Carlyle, "there is nothing else but justice: one strong thing I find here below - the just thing, the true thing. My friend, if thou hadst all the artillery of Woolwich marching at thy back in support of an unjust thing, and infinite bonfires visibly waiting ahead of thee to blaze centuries to come for thy victory on behalf of it, I would advise thee to call 'Halt!' to fling down thy baton, and say, 'In God's Name, no!' What will the success amount to? If the thing be unjust, thou hast not succeeded, though bonfires blazed from north to south. and bells rang, and editors wrote leading articles, and the just thing be trampled out of sight to all mortal eyes, an abolished and an annihilated thing." - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: He is a merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand: he loveth to oppress.