And seek you great things for yourself? seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil on all flesh, said the LORD…
Seekest thou great things, etc.? God searches the heart, and probably discovered that, lurking secretly there, there was somewhat of an unhallowed ambition. Had he been other than one of God's chosen messengers, such ambition would have been natural and reasonable (cf. former homily). God does not directly charge him with this, but sets him on self-examination. This ever the Divine method. Are we seeking great things for ourselves? If we are, God says to us, "Seek them not." And the reasons are many. Some of them are such as these -
I. We cannot tell whether they are designed for us. If they are not, they will bring us only misery; cf. David in Saul's armour. If they are, they will come without our seeking.
II. To make ourselves our supreme object is ever wrong, despicable, and in the end ruinous. The corn of wheat must fail into the ground and die, give up its own life. If it do not, it abideth alone; if it do, it bringeth forth fruit. "He that loveth his life shall lose it, but he," etc. (John 12.).
III. Great things mean great responsibilities and terrible possibilities of great guilt and harm done to others and ourselves.
IV. Whilst seeking them, we let go what is more precious than them all. "Whilst I was busy here and there, lo, he was gone."
V. They tend to tie us down to earth and to fill our hearts with that love of the world which is death. "Ah! Davie, Davie," said Johnson to Garrick, as they wandered through the beautiful demesne of a great nobleman, "these are the things that make it so hard for a man to die." A similar story is told of Cardinal Richelieu, who caused himself, when near death, to be borne into his magnificent picture gallery, and there is reported to have made, to one near him, a like remark. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the LORD: but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest.