Grandeur Without Godliness
2 Chronicles 9:21-31
For the king's ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram: every three years once came the ships of Tarshish bringing gold…

These words and those that precede them are as suggestive by reason of what is absent from them as by that which is contained in them. They are significant of -

I. GRANDEUR WITHOUT GODLINESS. The historian is drawing his records of the reign of Solomon to a close; and, in taking his view (or his review) of it, he has much to say of the splendours of his throne and of his surroundings; of the multitude of his horses and chariots, with their stalls and stables; of his store of gold and silver; of his apes and peacocks; of his ships and his cedars; but he says nothing of his service of Jehovah; nothing of the gratitude he showed to God for the very bountiful blessings he had bestowed upon him, and the high estate to which he had raised him, and the special gifts of mind with which he had endowed him. Hem there is a painful absence, a silence that speaks only too forcibly. When Solomon came to review his own life and to examine his own career in the light of early influence and special privilege, he must have felt constrained to be silent, or, if he spoke at all, to use the language of confession. There had been much grandeur but little godliness in his reign. And what had been the proved value of it?

1. The delight it had ministered to him had been of a less noble and less elevating kind, if not actually ignoble and injurious.

2. It bad led his mind away from sources of joy which would have been far worthier in themselves and far more beneficial in their influence.

3. It had raised a standard of excellency before the eyes of his subjects which can have had no enlarging and elevating effect upon their minds.

4. It must have awakened the cupidity of surrounding sovereigns and the envy of many among his subjects.

5. It must have been in painful, not to say guilty, contrast with much poverty in many hundreds of Hebrew homes.

6. It entailed a heavy penalty on the people in the shape of burdensome taxes. Grandeur without godliness is a serious sin and a profound mistake. It is as guilty as it is foolish. And so we find the man who "passed all the kings of the earth" in wealth and in a certain order of wisdom (ver. 22), going down into fault and failure because he lost that "fear of God" which he ought to have understood was "the beginning of wisdom." Unfaithfulness to the principles he learned in youth sent him down into his grave "prematurely old," his kingdom weakened, his character corrupted, his reputation bearing upon its face a dark and ineffaceable stain. How unspeakably preferable is -

II. SIMPLICITY AND SACRED SERVICE. Rather than have grandeur without godliness, who would not live in obscurity with a name that does not travel beyond his "native hills," in a home unfamiliar with ivory and gold, living on homeliest fare and dressed in plainest raiment, with the love of the heavenly Father in the heart, the sense of his abiding favour in the soul, Christ's happy and holy service for the heritage of the life, and his nearer presence the promise of the future? Before honour is humility, before grandeur is godliness, before gold and silver is a noble and a useful life. - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: For the king's ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram: every three years once came the ships of Tarshish bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.

WEB: For the king had ships that went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram; once every three years came the ships of Tarshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.

Apes and Peacocks
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