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Job is smitten with a sore disease, and is still resigned.
1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD. 2 And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
3 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him to destroy him without cause.
4 And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin; yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life:
5 But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face. 6 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.
7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.
8 And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.
9 Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. 10 But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What! shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.
Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him, and to comfort him.
12 And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.
13 So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.
Whatsoever we receive at the hand of God, all is good. How watchful ought it to make us, when we reflect, that we have an enemy so active and so ill disposed as Satan, and that God allows him to try and tempt us! And though we gain one victory, and repulse one of his assaults, how carefully must we still be on our guard against his frequently renewed attacks! Job had borne with exemplary patience the loss of his children and his goods. But will he put up also with the loss of health? will he still bless God instead of cursing Him, if his life should be
placed in jeopardy by a painful and loathsome disease? Satan thinks and suggests that he will not. God permits Satan to make the trial. And as far as we here read of the result, Job holds fast his integrity, and shews himself to be, as God had pronounced him, "a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil." Reduced to the lowest state of distress, by sickness, want, and sorrow, he sits down in a place where ashes were thrown out, as one not fit to occupy his former dwelling. There he is fain to dress his foul ulcers with no better help than a piece of broken earthenware. But when his wife tempts him in these miserable circumstances, to cast off his allegiance to the Lord, he firmly rebukes her foolishness, and steadfastly expresses his own settled purpose to continue faithful to the end, saying, "Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?"
The fact that all our blessings are given us by God, is first considered by Job, as a good reason why we ought to part with them readily at his bidding. This is the weighty argument of his former saying, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Ch. 1. 21. The same fact, that God gives us all our blessings, is here brought forward as a reason why we ought to receive patiently, as at his hand, whatsoever evil He inflicts, or allows to be inflicted. Job knew that he had previously received good things in great abundance. He felt it no more than just, that he should now in turn receive evil things abundantly.
But behold the goodness of the Lord! He contrives to make our portion of affliction a means of everlasting benefit. In all parts of his word He plainly teaches, that it is good for us to be afflicted. And more especially in the New Testament, He has brought to light that life and immortality, with a view to which all this world's sufferings sink into the merest trifles, or rather are justly considered as valuable helps in fitting us for heaven. This is the consolation which Christian friends are privileged to offer to each other. This is comfort which Eliphaz and Bildad and Zophar were unable to minister to Job. Even God, when He vouchsafes to answer Job, at the end of the book, dwells more on his mighty power than on his transcendent goodness. And it is not till we view his attributes and character as revealed in the Gospel, and in the person of his Son, that we are assured infallibly that "God is love." 1 John 4. 8. Then all things that He does or permits to be done, are at once acknowledged to be excellent. Then whether we meet with what men call evil, or with what men call good, we feel sure that we have exactly that lot and portion, which God orders for the best. And we have the ample satisfaction of believing, that whatsoever we receive at the hand of God, all is good.
Job revileth his day, and wisheth he had never been born. joined unto the days of the year, let it not come into the number of the months.
1 After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day. 2 And Job spake, and said, 3 Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.
4 Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it. 5 Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it.
6 As for that night, let darkness seize upon it; let it not be
7 Lo, let that night be solitary, let no joyful voice come therein. 8 Let them curse it that curse the day, who are ready to raise up their mourning.
9 Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark; let it look for light, but have none; neither let it see the dawning of the day:
10 Because it shut not up the doors of my mother's womb, nor hid sorrow from mine eyes.
Against wishing any thing to be otherwise than as God orders it.
Grief, such as that with which Job was overtaken, is indeed a sacred thing; and it ought to be approached, even by those who come as comforters, with no common measure of respect. Wisely therefore did Job's three friends to sit down with him in silence for a time; and rather to wait till he saw fit to speak, than first to speak themselves. See Ch. 2. 13. But what is the tenour of the words, which at length burst forth from the lips of afflicted Job? How are we to understand his vehement expressions? How can we reconcile his murmuring language, with his stedfast piety, and exemplary patience? It must be owned that there is herein a manifest inconsistency. We may indeed contend justly, that these wishes of Job were uttered in language which is highly figurative, more in the style of poetry than of simple prose; and that his object might be not so much to murmur at his sufferings, as to express the intensity of his pain and grief. We may argue that affliction, unless felt to be afflictive, cannot yield its proper fruit in the chastisement of the soul; and that therefore it was well for Job to shew how deeply he felt his present tribulation. But it is evident, that Job not only felt his affliction deeply; he was also disposed to murmur at it wrongfully. And after all that we may say properly in extenuation of this righteous man's offence, it is vain to deny that he offended.
And why should we attempt to deny it? when we have the oft repeated testimony of God's own word, that "there is no man that sinneth not." 1 Kings 8. 46. Why should we attempt to deny it? when we have Job's own admission of his sinfulness, in this humble declaration made to God, after God had vouch
safed to answer him: "Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." Ch. 42. 6. God had indeed been pleased to call him perfect and upright. See ch. 2. 3. But God had nowhere said, that Job was more than human. And the highest praise that can be spoken, on the very highest authority, of one that is but man, can never be intended to imply, that such an one is not frail, liable to be tempted, and when tempted liable to transgress. It is enough, if he does not sin wilfully, greedily, or habitually; if he does not consent unto sin, but abhors it, as soon as his awakened conscience reproves him for disobeying God. It is enough, if when he falls he is not cast down, but arises by dint of repentance and faith; more humble, more watchful, more thankful, more full of love towards that good God, who at the first loved us when we were sinners, and who ever after, when we are truly penitent, justifies us anew. Where God is served
in a spirit such as this, sin being continually more and more subdued under the power of renewing grace, there, though He must still see much that is amiss, He is not extreme to mark it, and though He must be aware of much imperfection in the most faithful of his servants, He counts them perfect for Christ's sake.
Admitting then, that when Job reviled his day, and wished that he had never been born, his words amounted to sinful murmuring, let us remember how natural such wishes are in the extremity of sorrow and suffering; and let us watch that we are never tempted in like manner to wish any thing to be otherwise than God has ordained. We are perhaps too anxious to speculate on the precise amount and nature of Job's transgression, and too apt to forget, that these things are set down in Scripture for our own warning, correction, and instruction in righteousness. He that was a pattern of patience, was at length prevailed upon to harbour a rebellious wish, and to utter a rash complaint. How great then is our risk, lest we complain rashly, or wish rebelliously! Our troubles may have never been so great as those of Job. They may never have been such as to make us regret that we have been born into the world. But have we never repined at being born in the station, or with the infirmities, or subject to the disadvantages, in the midst of which our lot is cast? Have no disasters from without, or disturbances of passion within, ever wrung from our hearts this rash question towards God, Why hast Thou made me thus? Considering our advantages of knowledge, and our high calling as sons of God by adoption of grace, in Christ Jesus, we ought to feel, that the least murmur of discontent in us, is as far from true devotion to the Lord, as this impassioned lamentation on the part of Job. And we should then resolve, as we read this history, that no art or malice of the devil, shall induce us, for a single moment, to wish that any thing which God orders were otherwise than as He thinks fit to order it.
Job complaineth of life, repining at his afflictions.
11 Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?
12 Why did the knees prevent me? or why the breasts that I should suck?
13 For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept then had I been at rest. 14 With kings and counsellors of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves;
15 Or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver:
16 Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light.
17 There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest.
18 There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor.
19 The small and great are there; and the servant is free from his master.
20 Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul;
21 Which long for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures;
22 Which rejoice exceedingly, and are glad, when they can find the grave?
23 Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in?
24 For my sighing cometh before I eat, and my roarings are poured out like the waters.
25 For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come
26 I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.
The value of life to the most afflicted of mankind.
We have abundant reason for maintaining, that the whole of Scripture is inspired; or, in other words, that the holy men who wrote it, wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. At the same time we must remember, that they were moved to write down truly many things which men had done or said wickedly. And we must watch that we do not attribute inspiration to those words thus written, which are merely the utterance of man's ignorance and sin. Job was a holy man, who in the writing of this book, was undoubtedly guided by the Spirit of God. But Job was not inspired to curse his day, or to wish that he had never been born. Even here however the Holy Spirit guided him to set down the exact purport of that which he had wished and said, in order that we might be better edified by the discourses which ensued. And it is possible, that in the expression of his murmurs, Job may have been led to use language, and to think thoughts, which, had he never been an inspired man, he could never have conceived. As God's grace of holiness did not altogether fail him, upon his falling into this one transgression, so neither was