Behold, all you that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire…
Various interpretations of the fire here referred to have been given. Probably the allusion is to the ordinary domestic fire, taken as a figure for the various comforts and supports which men can find for themselves. A self-kindled fire contrasts with divinely given light. Matthew Henry says, "They place their happiness in their worldly possessions and enjoyments, and not in the favour of God. Creature-comforts are as sparks, short-lived and soon gone; yet the children of this world, while they last, warm themselves by them, and walk with pride and pleasure in the light of them. Those that make the world their comfort, and their own righteousness their confidence, will certainly meet with a fatal disappointment, which will be bitterness in the end." The figures of the verse may receive explanation from the Eastern fires made with grass, which, while burning, emits many a dancing spark, that, after a vain promise to enliven the surrounding gloom for a moment, suddenly sink into darkness. The wet and shivering inmates of the hovel seek for light and heat by crowding close to the blazing hearth, but after many fruitless attempts, and the consumption of their stock, they are compelled to retire to their ill-covered pallets - "they lie down in sorrow." Let the subject be self-confidence.
I. THE SHOW IT MAKES. A man in the power of it starts out bravely; defies the darkness; and easily overcomes first difficulties. The early efforts of self-reliant people attract attention and excite hope. We like to see the working of energy and strong will.
II. THE PLEASURE IT BRINGS. To feel power; to find that men yield to our resoluteness, and that circumstances are mastered by our energy.
III. THE BREVITY OF ITS SUCCESSES. For our strength does not endure. The strain of life steadily increases. Circumstances at last prove greater than we are. We cannot do the things that we would. Peters, who for a while can gird themselves, by-and-by find that another must gird them. Do what we may, we cannot keep the fire of self-trust steadily burning.
IV. THE MISERY WHEN SUCCESS CHANGES TO FAILURE. As it surely does when God puts his hand upon us, damps the fire, puts out the light we have made, keeps away his light, and leaves us alone, cold, smitten: to feel with such a one as Byron -
"The worm, the canker, and the grief are mine alone." Impress the folly and the danger of self-trust by the figures given in Jeremiah 17:5-8. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.
WEB: Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who adorn yourselves with torches around yourselves; walk in the flame of your fire, and among the brands that you have kindled. You shall have this of my hand; you shall lie down in sorrow.