Lamentations 4:1, 2
How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street.…
I. THE WEIGHT OF THIS REPUTATION. The position of the people was comparable to gold in its glitter and attraction. Gold has its use and iron has its use, and we may be glad we have both; but if one of these two had to be given up, it would certainly be the gold. Iron means immensely more in modern civilization than gold. But if frequency of mention is to count for anything, gold was much more valued among the Israelites than iron, and being so, it had a large place in the symbolisms of the tabernacle service and in the splendours of Solomon's temple. Hence any one with a high reputation might very well be compared to gold. People run after such a one even as they do after gold. There is a time when the crowd are not contented to speak well of a man; they must praise him extravagantly, using the language of superlatives, and showing that their standard, if standard it can truly be called, is far from an ideal one.
II. THE CHARACTER OF THE REFUTATION. Had Israel ever been worthy of this comparison with fine gold? On what was the comparison based? It is to be feared that it rested very much on mere appearance. Remember the saying, "All that glitters is not gold." Jehovah had made Israel to glitter by taking it out from among the nations and making it the object of great demonstrations of his power. But, so to speak, this was only gilding over the impure and incoherent mass of common humanity with a coating of pure gold for a certain purpose. The men and women who made up Israel were at heart like men and women elsewhere. But by giving them a certain outward splendour God furnished a symbol of that true golden nation which is made up from individual believers in him.
III. THE DESTRUCTION OF THE REPUTATION. The gold becomes dim. The comparison was once to gold out of which vessels for honour are made, beautifully shaped and decorated. But now the comparison is to the common clay out of which the potter makes his cheap and fragile ware. And yet, after all, if gold be a standard of preciousness, these sons of Zion were indeed comparable to it; only the gold is in the unpurified state, mixed very intimately with baser elements that take away the use and glory of the gold. Man in his best natural state may have his reputation lifted too high; in his worst natural state that reputation may sink too low; but when God takes the natural man in hand and renews, purifies, and disciplines him, then it will be seen that the most splendid and pleasing of visible objects is only a feeble hint of that glory wherewith God has chosen to glorify his own children. - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street.