Shall the ax boast itself against him that hews therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shakes it?…
All the various orders of creatures, natural and supernatural, animate and inanimate, are under the control of the Divine Being, who uses them for the accomplishment of His own purposes. The Assyrians were not conscious of being the Lord's servants; it was, therefore, no virtue in them to be employed in His service. Mark the speech of the king of Assyria, it is vain and fulsome enough. Here observe —
I. THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD.
1. This is a doctrine of Scripture.
2. The term sovereignty is suitable here, since it is significant of the supremacy of the Divine Being. Where shall we go for manifestations of the Divine sovereignty?
(1) To creation.
(2) The moral government of the world furnishes the most striking illustration of the Divine sovereignty.
II. THE SUBJECTION OF MEN.
1. Man is not a merely passive instrument, but an active being, dependent upon and under the control of his Maker.
2. Man is a voluntary agent, has in possession a power which we call will, and an awful power it is either for good or evil. It imports responsibility.
3. Still, whatever may be said about the will of man, or the will of a nation, considered as a power, it must be allowed that man and his circumstances, that nations with all their complicated affairs, are under the control of the Divine Being.
4. The Divine Being is still at the head of the nations of the earth, directing and controlling all their affairs, for the accomplishment of His own ends; just as a man directs and controls the mountain stream, for the working of his mill, or the watering of his lands.
III. THE SIN OF SLIGHTING THE DIVINE BEING.
1. It is obvious that man has no choice as to whether or no he will have to do with his Maker. Man's choice is as to whether or no he will pursue a line of conduct befitting the relation in which he stands to God; whether he will obey or disobey, honour or slight God.
2. It is in the very nature of a creature to be dependent; man is a creature, and therefore dependent upon God for everything essential to his temporal welfare; and certainly not less so for everything essential to his spiritual welfare.
3. It is therefore irrational, and indeed grossly sinful, for those who excel others in station, in fortune, in respect to anything that may be justly deemed an advantage, to ascribe the difference altogether, or even mainly to their own skill and efforts; as though there were no God, or as though He were unable, or unwilling, to interfere with human affairs (1 Corinthians 4:7).
4. God is jealous of His honour. He cannot give His glory to another.
5. The case of Nebuchadnezzar, as recorded in Daniel 4, furnishes a remarkable illustration of the supremacy of the Divine Being, and of the sin of alighting it. We infer —
(1) That it is the will of God that there should be various distinctions among men with regard to circumstances; that some should be above others.
(2) It is the imperative duty of man, whatever his rank or position in society, to acknowledge the Divine Being uniformly and constantly.
(3) The Divine supremacy ought to be cheerfully acknowledged in every, household.
(4) Let the nations of the earth acknowledge the Divine authority.
(5) The Church especially is bound to honour God.
Parallel VersesKJV: Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood.
WEB: Should an axe brag against him who chops with it? Should a saw exalt itself above him who saws with it? As if a rod should lift those who lift it up, or as if a staff should lift up someone who is not wood.