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Bildad the Shuhite addresseth Job.
1 Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,
2 How long wilt thou speak these things? and how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a strong wind?
3 Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert justice?
4 If thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them away for their transgression;
5 If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty;
6 If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous. 7 Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase.
8 For enquire, I pray thee, of the former age, and prepare thyself to the search of their fathers:
9 (For we are but of yesterday, and know nothing, because our days upon earth are a shadow :) 10 Shall not they teach thee, and tell thee, and utter words out of their heart?
12 Whilst it is yet in his greenness, and not cut down, it withereth before any other herb.
13 So are the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite's hope shall perish:
14 Whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust shall be a spider's web.
15 He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand: he shall hold it fast, but it shall not endure.
16 He is green before the sun, and his branch shooteth forth in his garden.
17 His roots are wrapped about the heap, and seeth the place of
18 If he destroy him from his place, then it shall deny him, saying, I have not seen thee.
19 Behold, this is the joy of his way, and out of the earth shall others grow.
20 Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man, neither will he help the evil doers:
21 Till he fill thy mouth with laughing, and thy lips with rejoicing.
22 They that hate thee shall be 11 Can the rush grow up with- clothed with shame; and the dwelout mire? can the flag grow ling place of the wicked shall without water? come to nought.
Our conviction of God's mercy and justice.
The argument of Bildad the Shuhite is in the main the same with that of Eliphaz the Temanite. He takes for his general position that God deals with men in this life according to their works. And hence he concludes, that both Job and his children must have sinned grievously against God, or they would not have suffered so severely at his hands. To suppose otherwise would imply, he thinks, as he charges Job with implying, that the Almighty perverts justice. Whereas if Job were pure and upright, God would be sure, he says, to make him prosperous. For the
confirmation of his reasoning he appeals to the wisdom "of the former age;" by which we may understand the opinions of the patriarchal church, as handed down from father to son. The tenour of such opinions, as here set forth by Bildad, is to this effect, that the wicked, though they may flourish for a time, can no more continue in prosperity, than the flag can grow without water, or the spider's web form an enduring means of support. Their branches may shoot forth luxuriantly, and their roots strike deep into the earth. But they soon perish and give place to others. Such is sure to be the end of the wicked. Whilst he who serves God with his whole heart, is no less sure to be preserved by the Lord, and to be established by Him in joy.
Now this was the very opinion which rendered Job full of perplexity, at finding himself so marked an object of the divine displeasure. Though he knew himself and owned himself to be a sinner, he could not help to be also well aware, that he had done much to serve God faithfully, that he had not been, as Bildad seemed to think, a profane or ungodly person. And his great difficulty, the great difficulty which for ages troubled all the wisest and the best of men, was to reconcile the acknowledged truth of God's unerring justice, with the undeniable fact, that those who serve Him faithfully do notwithstanding often suffer severely. This was the question that pressed constantly on the mind of Job. This is the question which throughout this book is canvassed in various points of view; and on which this book served to throw no small amount of light, for the edification of those who lived under the Law of Moses.
Considering that according to that Law there was a positive pledge given on the part of God, that He would requite good and evil conduct, by temporal prosperity and adversity, it was doubly necessary to guard the minds of his people against hastily mistaking any measure of affliction, for a violation of this pledge. And the book of Job would always serve the devout Jew for a proof, that God was faithful to his promises, by teaching him to wait with patience, and see the end of the Lord; who even in this present life abundantly made up for Job's affliction. At the same time this book would help to direct attention to that promised redemption from all evil, from all sin and suffering, that future judgment, that future life, which was to be, as Christians know, the true key to every seeming difficulty in the present state of things. We know, with the most infallible certainty, that our "redeemer liveth." Ch. 19. 25. We know that He has died to redeem us. We know that He will judge the world in righteousness. The life and immortality which He has brought to light, outweigh beyond all comparison our present momentary affliction. And it is by looking, not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen, that we rest assured, under any circumstances, that God is in all his dealings at once merciful and just.
Job acknowledgeth the power and justice of God.
1 Then Job answered and said, 2 I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God?
3 If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand.
4 He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered?
5 Which removeth the mountains, and they know not: which overturneth them in his anger. 6 Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble.
7 Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars.
8 Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.
9 Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south.
10 Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number.
11 Lo, he goeth by me, and I see him not: he passeth on also, but I perceive him not.
12 Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou?
13 If God will not withdraw his anger, the proud helpers do stoop under him.
14 How much less shall I answer him, and choose out my words to reason with him?
15 Whom, though I were righteous, yet would I not answer, but I would make supplication to my Judge.
16 If I had called, and he had answered me; yet would I not believe that he had hearkened unto my voice.
17 For he breaketh me with a tempest, and multiplieth my wounds without cause.
18 He will not suffer me to take my breath, but filleth me with bitterness.
19 If I speak of strength, lo, he is strong: and if of judgment, who shall set me a time to plead? LECTURE 775.
God's power and justice demand resignation on our part. Job begins his reply to Bildad with assenting to his general position, that God favours the righteous, and sets his face against the wicked. "I know it is so of a truth," he says. But then he adds, "how should man be just with God?" And in these words we may understand him to argue, that if such perfect righteousness as his friends seem to suppose, were requisite, in order to enjoy God's favour, then no man could stand in his sight. There may be, and there is, a very great difference between one man and another, in point of faithfulness and zeal. But as to contending with God, and claiming happiness as the reward due to our obedience, the best of men would not be able to clear themselves of sin in God's sight, for one thing in a thousand. Hence Job proceeds to speak of God's great power; justly viewing it as a weighty argument to humble man; and saying much that is not unlike to that which was afterwards spoken by
the Lord Himself, when He answered Job out of the whirlwind. But whilst he could speak thus justly in reply to Bildad, he was not yet able to see how forcibly his argument applied to his own case; or he would not have given way again, as he did soon afterwards, to the temptation to murmur against God.
Let us however be thankful for the lessons of divine truth, which Job here powerfully teaches us; however reluctant he was to learn them for himself. Let us consider how hopeless a thing it is to contend against the order of God's providence. Let us weigh well how vain a thing it is to strive or murmur against the will of One, who made the earth, and all the universe, and who, according to his own good will and pleasure, can either maintain them, or destroy them. Many as are the uses of studying God's works, there is no one more profitable to us generally than this, namely, the proof which they are fitted to impress upon our minds of the great power of our Maker. Whether we turn to the firmament of heaven, and look at the sun and moon, and countless stars, with which it is so thickly studded, or whether we confine our attention to this earth on which we dwell, and examine its mountains, its plains, its rivers, its seas, or any one of the many animals or plants, which fill the whole with life, and with activity; when we consider how exactly every thing is made and fitted for its proper use, and endeavour to conceive the most marvellous point of all, that the whole was created by the Lord out of nothing; we are compelled to own with Job, that God" doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number." And this great God, the doer of these great things, is a Spirit, ever present; going by us, and we see Him not; passing on, and we perceive Him not. He is the supreme Governor of the world, and of all them that dwell therein; insomuch that the most high and mighty of mankind "stoop under him." However exalted our station may be, however firmly fixed our prosperity may seem, He can at once bring us to nothing; being not only the Maker of things visible, but also the Author of life to our souls, the God of the spirits of all flesh, in whose hands are our health and strength, our continuance, or our death; our life or death eternal. Such is his boundless power; boundless except so far as He Himself has set it limits, by the exercise of his own equally unbounded goodness. Who then shall dare to say to Him, "What doest thou?" Who shall doubt that all which He sees fit to do is right? Even were we righteous, his greatness would demand that we should not reason with Him, but pray. And even should He vouchsafe to answer to our speech, it would be presumption in us to think, that He had condescended so to do. How much less when we feel that we are sinners, and know that He is no less just than He is great, no less holy than mighty; how much less shall we ever dare to murmur against God, or in any thing make attempt to resist his will?
Job deploreth the hopelessness of his case.
20 If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.
21 Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul: I would despise my life.
22 This is one thing, therefore I said it, He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked.
23 If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent.
24 The earth is given into the hand of the wicked: he covereth the faces of the judges thereof; if not, where, and who is he? 25 Now my days are swifter than a post: they flee away, they see no good.
26 They are passed away as the swift ships: as the eagle that hasteth to the prey.
27 If I say, I will forget my complaint, I will leave off my
heaviness, and comfort myself: 28 I am afraid of all my sorrows, I know that thou wilt not hold me innocent.
29 If I be wicked, why then labour I in vain ?
30 If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean;
31 Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me.
32 For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment.
33 Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both.
34 Let him take his rod away from me, and let not his fear terrify me:
35 Then would I speak, and not fear him: but it is not so with me.
Our blessedness in having Jesus for our Mediator.
How justly applicable to ourselves are these words of Job, viewed as an acknowledgment of our sinfulness, and as an admission that our case is hopeless, except there be found a Mediator between us and God, to turn away his wrathful indignation from us. Our very attempt to justify ourselves convicts us of sin; it is one of the ways in which the pride and perversity of our hearts is most frequently made manifest. And if we were as free from blame as we are apt to suppose, it would be one chief point in our altered character, to be lowly in our own eyes. No wonder, then, that God visits with affliction the righteous as well as the wicked, since none are really righteous in his sight. wonder that He permits wickedness to flourish for a while at the expense of those who are comparatively innocent. It is for their trial, and their chastisement; and it is therefore for their good. And when we consider how short our time is, how swiftly our days pass away, and are no more, we shall count it but a light thing to suffer wrongfully in this life, so we may be happy in the life which is to come.