Woe to him that strives with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth…
The truth of the Divine sovereignty must be clearly and faithfully presented. But we must carefully guard God from all charges of caprice or favouritism. We must liken him to man, in order to apprehend him at all; but we must eliminate from our figure of man all that is weak and self-seeking. The infinite holiness and infinite wisdom of God glorifies his sovereignty. He does what he wills with his own; but what he wills to do is always the absolute best, the eternally right. It must, then, be mistaken, unworthy, and wrong for us to resist God. "Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!" The immediate reference of the text is to those who murmured at the delay of the deliverance from exile. "Woe unto him who, though made of earth, and with no intrinsic superiority over others of his race, presumes to find fault with his Maker, and to criticize providential arrangements!" Matthew Henry says, "Men are but earthen pots, nay, they are broken potsherds, and are made so very much by their mutual contentions. They are dashed in pieces one against another; and, if they are disposed to strive, let them strive with one another, let them meddle with their match; but let them not dare to contend with him that is infinitely above them, which is as senseless and absurd as for the clay to find fault with the potter, as unnatural as for a child to find fault with his parents." Criticizers of God may be classed under two heads -
(1) those who only question and raise doubts;
(2) those who arrogantly condemn.
Some of the people of Israel were looking for a deliverer to arise from among themselves, and criticized God's delay, and then criticized his delivering by the agency of a heathen prince. The plea urged is this: "Will Israel be more wise than God?" We have here suggested three stages of unworthy treatment of God.
I. CRITICIZING. There are two ways of judging the actions of others, and they differ by the difference in their tone and spirit rather than in the acts themselves.
1. We may judge with the prevailing disposition to find out all that is good.
2. We may judge with the prevailing disposition to find fault. This is always unworthy, but never so unworthy as where applied to the ways and works of God.
II. CONDEMNING. Always a doubtful thing for man to do, seeing he is invested with neither authority nor ability for such work. Always wrong and unworthy, if man's condemnation of God, seeing that he cannot compass the whole of God's reasons, motives, and aims. Man never knows enough to allow him to venture on a condemnation.
III. WORKING AGAINST. Translating bad opinions into bad conduct. Allowing criticism to encourage enmity. Illustrate from Saul of Tarsus, who ventured to criticize and condemn God's Messiah, and then thought himself justified in working against him. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?
WEB: Woe to him who strives with his Maker— a clay pot among the clay pots of the earth! Shall the clay ask him who fashions it, 'What are you making?' or your work, 'He has no hands?'