Jehoshaphat made ships of Tharshish to go to Ophir for gold: but they went not; for the ships were broken at Ezion-geber — 1 Kgs 22:48
Solomon’s ships had returned in safety but Jehoshaphat’s vessels never reached the land of gold. Providence prospers one, and frustrates the desires of another, in the same business and at the same spot—yet the Great Ruler is as good and wise at one time as another. May we have grace today, in the remembrance of this text, to bless the Lord for ships broken at Ezion-geber, as well as for vessels freighted with temporal blessings. Let us not envy the more successful, nor murmur at our losses as though we were singularly and specially tried. Like Jehoshaphat, we may be precious in the Lord’s sight, although our schemes end in disappointment.
The secret cause of Jehoshaphat’s loss is well worthy of notice, for it is the root of very much of the suffering of the Lord’s people; it was his alliance with a sinful family, his fellowship with sinners. In 2 Chron. 20:37, we are told that the Lord sent a prophet to declare, “Because you have joined yourself with Ahaziah, the Lord has broken your works.” This was a fatherly chastisement, which appears to have been blessed to him; for in the verse which follows our text—we find him refusing to allow his servants to sail in the same vessels with those of the wicked king.
Would to God that Jehoshaphat’s experience might be a warning to the rest of the Lord’s people to avoid being unequally yoked together with unbelievers! A life of misery is usually the lot of those who are united in marriage, or in any other way of their own choosing—with the men of the world. O for such love to Jesus that, like Him, we may be holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners; for if it is not so with us, we may expect to hear it often said, “The Lord has broken your works.”
The iron did swim. — 2 Kgs 6:6
The axe-head seemed hopelessly lost, and as it was borrowed, the honor of the prophetic band was likely to be imperilled, and so the name of their God to be compromised. Contrary to all expectation, the iron was made to mount from the depth of the stream and to float; for things impossible with man are possible with God.
I knew a man in Christ but a few years ago who was called to undertake a work far exceeding his strength. It appeared so difficult as to involve absurdity in the bare idea of attempting it. Yet he was called thereto, and his faith rose with the occasion; God honored his faith, unlooked-for aid was sent, and “the axe-head floated.”
Another of the Lord’s family was in grievous financial straits, he was able to meet all claims, and much more if he could have realized a certain portion of his estate but he was overtaken with a sudden pressure; he sought for friends in vain but faith led him to the unfailing Helper, and lo, the trouble was averted, his footsteps were enlarged, and “the axe-head floated.”
A third had a sorrowful case of depravity to deal with. He had taught, reproved, warned, invited, and interceded but all in vain. Old Adam was too strong for young Melancthon, the stubborn spirit would not relent. Then came an agony of prayer, and before long a blessed answer was sent from heaven. The hard heart was broken, and “the axe-head floated.”
Beloved reader, what is your desperate case? What heavy matter have you in hand this evening? Bring it here. The God of the prophets lives, and lives to help His saints. He will not allow you to lack any good thing. Believe in the Lord Almighty! Approach Him pleading the name of Jesus, and “the axe-head shall float.” You too shall see the finger of God working marvels for His people. According to your faith be it unto you, and yet again “the axe-head shall float.”