The discourse of Job, here begun, continues through chapters (ch. 12-14.). It is
thought to form the conclusion of the first day’s colloquy. In it Job for the first time
really pours scorn upon his friends, and makes a mock of them (see vs. 2, 8, 20;
ch. 13:4-13). This, however, is a secondary matter; his main object is to justify
his previous assertions:
be attributed to God (vs. 6-25);
why he is so punished (13:3-28). A comparatively mild expostulation
concludes the first series of speeches (ch. 14.).
1 “And Job answered and said, 2 No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom
shall die with you.” Bitterly ironical. Ye are those to whom alone it belongs to speak
— the only “people” to whom attention is due. And wisdom shall die with you.
“At your death,” i.e., “all wisdom will have fled the earth; there will be no one left
who knows anything.” At least, no doubt, you think so.
the style of Scripture. Almost every modification of language is to be found
in the Bible, consecrated to some holy purpose. The prophets abound in
irony. Christ used irony in the parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:16-20).
be best met just by being exposed. Now, irony is a method of showing a
thing in an unexpected light, so that, while admitting all its claims, we
make it apparent that those very claims are absurd. Slight failings will be
best castigated with simple ridicule; more serious ones, if they are not great
sins, with grave irony.
Job’s three friends has now spoken. Though they were not alike in
attainments nor in natural dispositions, they agreed in their dogmas and in
their judgment of Job. A tone of conscious superiority and irritating
censoriousness rings through all their speeches. This not only vexes Job;
it prompts an ironical retaliation. It is dangerous to make grand pretensions.
Humility is a great security, and when humility is lost, we lay ourselves
open to attack on the ground of our assumptions. Pretentiousness does not
only thus provoke ironical replies; it best meets its merited castigation by
these replies, which humilitate it in a most unanswerable manner.
WIELD. It may be a lawful weapon. There are times when it can be used
in the cause of righteousness with tremendous effect. But there is great
danger lest the employment of it should destroy “the greatest thing in the
world” — love. There is always a tendency to push it too far, and to go
beyond wholesome rebuke in the direction of cruel scorn. This is distinctly
unchristian. Moreover, as Job’s friends did not understand him, possibly he
did not understand them. If so, his irony may have been too severe for
justice. We should be careful that we are in no error before we venture to
use irony against our brother. Even then, zeal for righteousness should be
tempered by brotherly kindness. (“speaking the truth in love” –
saw irony in fate. Man’s greatness was shown to be a very small thing, and
his boasted success a mere bubble. The old classical idea was dark and
hard, for it did not take into account the Fatherhood of God. But within
God’s infinite purpose of love there is room for irony. By the slow
unrolling of the course of events, the boasting of the pretentious ends in
confusion. God humbles His creatures in their pride and vanity, giving them
sudden falls, by means of which they cannot but feel their helplessness
and littleness. The monarch is choked by a fly. Such things are not done
vindictively, or in scorn; but because we are ruined by boasting and saved
in our humiliation. Thus the ugly weapon of irony may PREPARE US
FOR THE HEALING GRACE OF THE GOSPEL!
3 “But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you:
yea, who knoweth not such things as these?” But I have understanding as
well as you. “I, however, claim to have just as much understanding [literally, ‘heart’]
as you, and to be just as well entitled to speak, and to claim attention;” since I am not
inferior to you. “I am not conscious,” i.e., “of any inferiority to you, intellectual or
moral. I do not fall below you in either respect.” Yea, who knoweth not
such things as these? “Not,” Job means to say, “that much understanding
is necessary in such a case as this; any man of common intelligence can
form a correct judgment on the point in dispute between us.” The special
point, in Job’s mind, seems to be God’s complete mastery over the world,
and absolute control over all that takes place in it.
4 “I am as one mocked of his neighbor, who calleth upon God, and He
answereth him: the just upright man is laughed to scorn.” I am as one
mocked of his neighbor. You have accused me of mockery (ch.11:3): but it is I
that have been mocked of you. The allusion is probably to 11:2-3,11-12, 20.
Who calleth upon God, and he answereth him. You mock me, though I have
always clung to religion, have called upon God in prayer, and from time to time had
my prayers answered by Him. Thus it is the just upright man that is laughed to scorn.
5 “He that is ready to slip with his feet is as a lamp despised in the
thought of him that is at ease.” rather, as in the Revised Version, In
the thought of him that is at ease there is contempt for misfortune; it (i e.
contempt) is ready for them whose foot dippeth. The meaning is, “I am
despised and scorned by you who sit at ease, because my foot has slipped,
and I have fallen into misfortune.”
The Conduct of the Friends Criticized (vs. 1-5)
· ARROGANT ASSUMPTION REPELLED.
Ø With sarcastic admiration. “No doubt but ye are the people, and
wisdom shall die with you.” Irony is a weapon difficult and dangerous to
use, apt to wound the hand that wields it as well as the heart that feels it,
and seldom becoming on the lips of any, least of all of good men.
Admirably adapted to sting and lacerate, it rarely improves or conciliates
those against whom it is directed. Yet, not being absolutely sinful, it may
be employed with success against arrogant pretension and haughty
assumption. Elijah on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:27), and
his Epistles (Galatians 5:15; Philippians 3:2; 1 Corinthians 4:8),
used satire with remarkable effect. Job also in the present instance may be
held as justified in retorting on Zophar and his colleagues, whose conduct
richly deserved castigation.
Ø With vehement self-assertion. “But I have understanding [literally, ‘a
heart’] as well as you; I am not inferior to you [literally, ‘I fall not
beneath or behind you’].” Modesty, which at all times becomes good
men (Proverbs 30:3; Daniel 2:30; John 1:27; II Corinthians 3:5),
and is specially enjoined upon God’s people (Psalm 25:9; Isaiah
66:2; Micah 6:8), and Christ’s followers (Matthew 5:3; 18:4;
Romans 12:3; Colossians 3:12; 1 Peter. 5:5), need not prevent a
frank self-assertion when one is, like Job, unjustly aspersed. It is sometimes
false humility to sit with uncomplaining silence beneath the tongue of
slander. Provided one indulge not in extravagant assertion, and assume not
the credit of gifts and graces which have descended from above, a man may
honestly and even boldly maintain his intellectual and moral worth, should
these appear to be maliciously traduced. Job might have safely claimed to
surpass his antagonists in mental capacity and acquaintance with the
culture of the day, in ripe personal experience and ability to interpret the
ways of God to man; but with much modesty he only aspires to be their
equal, to have a heart (Anglice’ a head, a brain) as well as they, and not to
be the shallow-pated witling, or wild ass’s colt, they insinuated.
Ø With scornful contempt. “Yea, who knoweth not such things as these?”
The sublime wisdom with which they sought to overwhelm him was the
veriest commonplace; their much-paraded teaching but a string of
threadbare maxims, “familiar in the mouth as household words,” of which
he himself could supply an endless series of examples, as beautiful and
more correct — which he does in the present chapter. It is a just ground of
complaint when old and hackneyed sentiments in morals or religion,
science or philosophy, are served up with the air of, and made to do duty
for, original discoveries. Yet it is proper to remember that truth once
apprehended by the mind does not deteriorate, or become less valuable, by
age. Besides, it is of more consequence that a doctrine should be true than
that it should be new. Still, new truth, or, what is often mistaken for such,
new aspects of old truths, possess a singular fascination for vigorous and
· UNKIND BEHAVIOUR RESENTED.
Ø Its character described. “I am as one mocked of his neighbor;” “The
just upright man is laughed to scorn.” By serving up such trite platitudes as
Job had listened to, they had simply been converting him and his calamities
into a laughing-stock, because they saw him standing on the sharp edge of
ruin, as a traveler might cast away “a despised lamp,” of which he had no
further need. To make a man the subject of laughter, the butt of ridicule,
the object of scornful wit on account of either:
o personal appearance (Genesis 21:9),
o bodily infirmity (II Kings 2:23),
o providential adversity (Lamentations 2:15), or
o religious character (Psalm 42:3),
is severely reprehended by the Word of God (Proverbs 3:34:; 17:5; 30:17).
Yet good men may expect to receive such treatment at the hands of
worldly unbelievers and nominal professors, since the like was meted out
o Christ (Matthew 26:67-68; 27:27-31; Luke 23:35),
o David (Psalm 22:7; 35:16; 69:11-12),
o the apostles (Acts 2:13),
o Old Testament saints (II Chronicles 30:10; 1 Kings 22:24; Hebrews
o New Testament preachers (Acts 17:32) and disciples ( Jude 1:18).
Ø Its aggravations recited. These were twofold.
o Job, who had been subjected to this scornful laceration, had been:
§ a good man, personally just and upright, and therefore such a one
as saints should not have ridiculed;
§ one who had enjoyed confidential communications with Heaven —
a man of prayer, who had called upon God and been answered
by Him — and therefore not a person to be lightly spoken of
or to; and
§ a miserable sufferer overtaken by adversity — one who was
“ready to slip with his feet,” and on that account all the more
requiring to be comforted instead of scorned.
o They who had scorned him had been:
§ his neighbors, his friends, at whose hands he should rather have
received pity (ch. 6:14); and
§ were themselves in the enjoyment of ease, which might have
kindled in their flinty bosoms a spark of sympathy for his
Ø Its extenuation stated. It was common. “Contempt for the weak, who
totter and fall on slippery paths, is the habitual impulse of those who stand
firmly on the firm ground of security, and see no reason why other men
should not be as vigorous and ‘resolute’ and prosperous as themselves”
(Cox). The world worships success; failure is its unpardonable sin. When
fortune smiles upon a person he is known of all; when adversity engulfs
him, he is forgotten by all (ch. 8:18). Recall the language of
Buckingham on his way to execution: “This from a dying man receive as
certain,” etc. (‘King Henry VIII.,’ act 2. sc., 1); and Mark Antony’s
address over Ceasar’s dead body: “But yesterday,” etc. (Julius Caesar,’ act
3. sc. 2).
1. If adversity has its uses, prosperity has its dangers, being prone to
engender self-conceit, arrogance, lack of sympathy, and contempt for
2. Wisdom is the noblest excellence of man; yet of wisdom no man enjoys a
3. It is no disparagement to truth to be styled commonplace, since precisely
as it becomes commonplace does it accomplish its mission.
4. As prayer will not always hinder persecution, so neither should
persecution by either friends or foes be allowed to extinguish prayer.
5. Few faults of men are so completely bad that no sort of extenuation can
be discovered for them.
Contempt for the Unfortunate (v. 5)
Like Jesus, when He prayed for His murderers, with the plea that they knew
not what they were doing (Luke 23:34), though in much less perfect
magnanimity, Job sees some excuse for the conduct of his censors. He
finds that conduct to be an instance of a common rule of action, viz. that
the prosperous despise the unfortunate.
· WE CANNOT UNDERSTAND THE TROUBLE WE DO NOT
SHARE. Job’s vast woe was quite beyond the comprehension of his
would-be sympathizers. They thought that they had fathomed its depths,
and that they were in a position to adjudicate upon its merits. But they had
scarcely skimmed its surface. They did not know what Job suffered; much
less did they see why God had permitted him to be thus afflicted. The
happy look from their sunny homes on the dark abodes of misery, but they
cannot understand the sorrows they have never tasted. They who have
always had their wants satisfied simply do not know what hunger and thirst
are. The unbroken family cannot conceive of the agony of bereavement
· WE ARE TEMPTED TO DESPISE THE TROUBLE WE DO NOT
UNDERSTAND. As We have not the faculty to dive into its mystery, it
seems to us a shallow thing. Therefore, when the sufferers appear to make
much of it, we are inclined to think that they are exaggerating it; that they
are giving way to it in a cowardly weakness; that they are indecently
demonstrative or even shamming hypocritically. The rich are too often
ready to regard the very poor as whining impostors. They who have never
felt the pangs of conscience look with contempt on the penitent’s tears.
· WE MAY USE OUR OWN TROUBLE AS A MEANS OF
STIMULATING OUR SYMPATHY WITH THE TROUBLES OF
OTHERS. Possibly this is one reason why it is sent to us. We have been
too narrow and selfish in our view of it, thinking it must be confined to
some effect directly and solely beneficial to ourselves. But it may be largely
intended to prepare us for our work in helping others in trouble. The
widow can sympathize with the widow; the poor show most kindness to
the poor. The experience of the prostration of a great illness enables a
person to understand and help sick people. Thus sorrow is a talent to be
used for the good of others, by being invested in sympathy.
· THE SORROWS OF CHRIST HELPED TO MAKE HIM A
PERFECT SAVIOUR. If Christ understands anything, it is sorrow; for was
He not “a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief”? Therefore the
sufferer who is despised by his prosperous brethren can turn with assurance
of sympathy to the Saviour of men. Christ not only understands sorrow, He
knows how to use it. He converted His cross into a lever for raising a fallen
world. He will help His suffering disciples to despise their own sorrows
while sympathizing with the sorrows of others. Strong in His victory over
sin, sorrow, and death, Christ for ever sanctifies suffering. While the
superficial may despise it, true Christians can now see in it a means of
6 “The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are
secure; into whose hand God bringeth abundantly.” The tabernacles of
robbers prosper. Having set at rest the personal question between himself and
his friends, Job reverts to his main argument, and maintains that, the whole course
of mundane events being under God’s governance, all the results are to be attributed
to Him, and among them both the prosperity of the wicked, and, by parity of
reasoning, the sufferings of the righteous. And they that provoke God are secure
(compare ch.9:24; 10:3). Into whose hand God bringeth abundantly.
So both the Authorized and the Revised Versions; but recent critics mostly
render, “who bring their God in their hand,” i.e. “who regard their own
right hand as their God.”
The Resentment of a Wounded Spirit (vs. 1-6)
Repeated reproaches and accusations falling upon the conscience of an
innocent man sting him into self-defense. They may do a service by rousing
him out of stupor and weakness, and may bring to light the nobler qualities
of his soul. We are indebted to the slanders of the Corinthians for some of
the noblest self-revelations of Paul.
Job rebukes the assumption of these men to know better than himself
concerning matters which belonged to the common stock of intelligence,
and in which he was in no wise inferior to them. To claim superior
knowledge over others is always offensive. To do so against a sick and
broken man from the vantage-ground of health and prosperity is nothing
less than a cruelty. And to make this pretension in matters of common
tradition and acceptance, where all stand about on a level, is an insult to
the sufferer’s understanding.
THE WORLD. (vs. 4-6.)
Ø Cruel inversions of life. Job, who in his just and innocent life, had
hitherto stood in confidential relations with God, who had prayed and
whose prayers had been heard, is now a butt for laughter and scorn.
Ø The injustice of human opinion. (v. 5.) “Contempt belongs to
misfortune, in the opinion of the secure.” A true description of the
opinion of the world. If “nothing succeeds like success; then nothing
damns like failure in the common opinion of the UNFEELING
WORLD. “It awaits those whose foot is slipping.” As the pack of
wolves turn upon the sick and fallen beast, so the thoughtless man
tramples upon the man who is down. To those who are banded
together by the tie of selfish pleasure only or convenience, the very
sight of that which interferes for a moment with their content is hateful.
How different the sanctified instincts of pity, compassion, and
helpfulness which Christ has planted in His society, the
Church! It is the mission of the Christian community to leaven with its
principles the heartless mass of society. On the other hand, nothing
succeeds like success; “restful dwellings” (v. 6) and confident security
are enjoyed by the wasters or desolators who by word and deed hold
God in contempt, and think to make Him bend to their purposes. The
rude man of violence, who owns no law but that of the strong hand,
thinks that where force is there is God, and all must bow to force as
if to God. So he “taketh God in his hand;” he “imputes his power unto
his god;” he sacrifices to his net, and burns incense unto his drag
(Habakkuk 1:11, 16). His motto is like that of the impious warrior,
“My right hand is god” (Virg., ‘AEn.’ 10:773, “Dextra mihi deus”).
Job is driven to respond. He affirms his own competency to speak. He claims
equality with his would-be teachers, whose words are yet far from healing
or comforting his sorely afflicted heart. “I have understanding as well as
you.” But to him belongs the contempt which is the lot of misfortune. Sad
is the story told in a sentence here, but repeated in every day’s history and
in every land and every age. The selfish heart, rising to a higher level of
prosperity, looks down, and looks contemptuously down, on him over
whom Misfortune casts her dark shade. “The just upright man is laughed to
scorn.” Note the truth of this, its wrong and its remedy.
· UNIVERSAL EXPERIENCE TESTIFIES TO THIS — THAT
CONTEMPT IS THE
from a thousand sufferers towards whom fortune has shown no favor.
The wounds may be deep, the pangs of sorrow keen; dark desolation may
encompass; but the joyful, the well-to-do, on whom the smile of prosperity
rests, become incompetent to descend to the lowly lot. On such the tale of
woe makes little impression. There is a sad, if not even natural, revulsion
from the mere sight of suffering, and the step is easy from this to the bitter,
scathing complaint, “Ah! he brought it all upon himself!’ From Job’s days
downward the same has been ever seen. Prosperity seems to:
Ø blind the eyes,
Ø harden the heart,
Ø withdraw the sympathies
even from the friend overtaken in misfortune. It is an interruption to ease
and felicity, to quiet and comfort. And Well-to-do resists as impertinent
the appeals of the victim of misfortune; or, as here, takes up an accusation
against him, and treats him as an offender. Everywhere the truth of this is seen.
“He that is ready to slip with his feet is as a lamp despised in the thoughts
of him that is at ease;”
· IT IS NOT MORE GENERAL THAN IT IS WRONG. It is unworthy,
unbrotherly, unneighborlike. The great Teacher hit the evil with His hard
words (the Good Samaritan - Luke 10:25-37) , and exposed for ever to the gaze
of men the self-sufficiency of the prosperous one and his carelessness as to the
condition of the sufferer. He passes by on the other side, indisposed to help the
poor wretch lying in his blood, stripped and sore. Pride fills the heart to
overflowing that is well-nigh full of treasure. There is little room in it for
sympathy and pity, and the tender communion of sorrow. He who is lifted
up does not feel that the lot of him who is trodden down is any affair of his.
He cannot be hindered on his way. Shame upon the heart that is so far
forgetful of the common interest that it leaves the needy and sad, and
finds itself absorbed in its own comfort! The curl of contempt upon the lip
and the hard word upon the tongue — Job fathomed this depth, and in the
bitterness of his soul rebukes the wrong.
· WE TURN TO OTHER WORDS FOR THE CORRECTION OF
THIS ERROR. True, Job by his irony accuses his severe friends, who
transport themselves into accusers. In their hard words he traces the
contempt of which he complains, and takes his lot with others who suffer
like himself. He is not unmindful of the true Source of help. He is one who
“calleth upon God.” He retains his integrity, and the consciousness of it
gives him support even under this trouble. “The just upright man is laughed
to scorn.” But the assurance of his uprightness is a deep consolation. Here,
then, are the true sources of help. The tested faith in God will find its
reward, and the testimony of a good conscience is of price untold. By these
Job is upheld, and by that strength which is secretly imparted to all faithful
ones who call upon God, though it may seem as though they were
abandoned and forgotten. If the “neighbor” mocketh, the righteous Judge
does not mock; and though the trial is permitted and continued, a Divine
and gracious end is reserved which Job lived fully to prove.
7 “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of
the air, and they shall tell thee:” But ask now the beasts, and they shall
teach thee. Job here begins his review of all creation, to show that God has the
absolute direction of it. The order of:
is that of dignity (compare Genesis 9:2; Psalm 8:7-8). Job maintains that, if appeal
were made to the animal creation, and they were asked their position with respect
to God, they would with one voice proclaim him their absolute Ruler and Director.
And the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee. The instincts of birds, their
periodical migrations, their inherited habits, are as wonderful as anything in
the Divine economy of the universe, and as much imply God’s continually
8 “Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the
sea shall declare unto thee.” Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee.
If the material earth be intended, the appeal must be to its orderly course, its summers
And winters, its seedtime and harvest, its former and latter rains, its constant
productivity, which, no less than animal instincts, speak of a single ruling
power directing and ordering all things. If the creeping things of the earth,
the reptile creation, be meant, then the argument is merely an expansion of
that in the preceding verse. The instincts of reptiles are to be ascribed, no
less than those of beasts and birds, to the constant superintending action
shall declare unto thee. The testimony will be unanimous — beasts, birds,
reptiles, and fishes will unite in it.
9 “Who knoweth not in all these; or, by all these; i.e. by all these
Instances - That the hand of the Lord hath wrought this?” literally, the
hand of Jehovah. The name “Jehovah does not occur elsewhere in the
dialogue, though it is employed frequently in the historical sections
(ch. 1:6-12, 21; 2:1-7; 38:1; 40:1,3,6; 42:1, 7-12). The writer
probably regards the name as unfamiliar, if not unknown, to Job’s
neighbors, and therefore as avoided by him in his discussions with them.
But here, for once, he forgets to be consistent with himself. Outside
Scripture, the name is first found on the Moabite Stone (about B.C. 890),
where it designates the God worshipped by the Israelites (see ‘Records of
the Past,’ vol. 11. p. 166, 1. 18).
10 “In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of
all mankind.” In whose hand is the soul of every living thing. A brief
summary of what had been said in vs. 7- 8, to which is now appended the
further statement, that in God’s hand — wholly dependent on Him — is the
entire race of mankind also. And the breath of all mankind; literally, and
the spirit of all flesh of man.
The Testimony of the Creature to the Divine Government
Job again vindicates himself in presence of his accusing friends. He
professes his knowledge to be as theirs, and he even points them to the
lower animals to find wisdom from them. The very beasts of the earth, the
fowls of the air, the fruitful field, the fishes in the deep, all tell the great
truth — JEHOVAH REIGNS SUPREME! “In His hand is the soul of every
living thing, and the breath of all mankind;” all proclaim the Almighty, all speak
of the Ever-living One in whom all live. This testimony is witnessed:
· IN THE CONSCIOUS LIFE OF EVERY CREATURE. Even man, at
the head of all, is conscious of the dependence of his life upon some power
higher than himself. There is one LORD OF LIFE, AUTHOR OF ALL
LIFE, SUPPORTER OF ALL! Every individual life declares “the hand
of the Lord hath wrought this.” In His hand alone is “the soul “ — the life
“of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.” He is the Creator
and Preserver of every life.
· IN THE INFINITE VARIETY OF LIFE. What an unlimited variety do
we behold! The birds of the air, the beasts of the field, the fish of the sea,
abound in a wide diversity of life. ALL SPEAK OF THE INFINITE
CREATOR in whom are the possibilities of infinite life; who, of His
own infinite resources, has created and made the whole. That the species
vary according to the encircling conditions of their life does not detract from
their testimony to the infinite and supreme Power. For the very existence of
every life speaks of THAT POWER! How great is He whose creative skill
reveals itself in this unlimited variety!
· NOT LESS TESTIMONY IS BORNE BY THE CONTINUOUS
REPRODUCTION OF THE VAST VARIETIES. That age after age this
power continues to bring forth, each after its own kind, is another
testimony to the greatness of Him “in whose hand is the soul of every living
thing.” The creation and preservation of the many species age after age
speaks to the thoughtful mind of Him who is the one Lord of all life, who
by his omnipotent overruling preserves all in their order and in their
· BUT IN THE MARVELOUS STRUCTURE OF THEIR BODIES
ANOTHER TESTIMONY IS BORNE. How delicate are the organs of the
body — the powers of sight, of hearing, of activity; the strength of one, the
delicacy of the structure of another! How wonderful are the nerves of the
body, conveying the impression from the outer world to the brain! Equally
so the blood-vessels, and the hidden powers by which the bones are built
up, and again the powers of nutrition gathering food from without and
assimilating it to the body in all its parts. This is done without the
knowledge and consent of the creature; for the creature, even man, knows
not how it is done. it is above him; it speaks definitely and distinctly and
loudly of God, “in whose hand is the breath of all mankind.” (v. 10;
compare Psalm 139)
· YET A FURTHER TESTIMONY IS TO BE SEEN IN THE
ABUNDANT PROVISION MADE FOR THE SUSTENANCE OF ALL.
Notwithstanding the vastness of the realm in which creature-life is found,
and the variety of the forms of life, each having its own peculiar needs, yet
He “satisfieth the desire of every living thing” (Psalm 145:16). Food is
abundant for man and beast, and of the fowls of the air it is truly said,
“He feedeth them.” So the Divine work is seen on every side; and from all
the varieties of conscious life one testimony arises to the great truth,
“The Lord reigneth.” (Psalms 93 and 97) On every work the truth lies
clearly stamped, “The hand of Jehovah made this.” (We can joyfully say,
“My God made it all! CY - 2021)
Lessons of Nature (vs. 7-10)
· NATURE REBUKES MAN’S IGNORANCE. Job refers his friends to
nature in a tone of reproach. They ought to have known what nature was
proclaiming. There are two grounds for this rebuke.
Ø The wealth and fullness of nature’s testimony to her Creator. Go
where one may, nature is ready to speak for God. The beasts of the field,
the fowls of the air, the creeping things on the ground, the fishes of the
sea, all speak for the power and wisdom of their Maker. There is variety
in this grand utterance of nature, yet there is unity. Many creatures,
of diverse sorts, agree to bear witness to the same great truths. If we
cannot understand the beasts, the birds may teach us; if the insects
are an enigma, the fishes may instruct us. Though all these different
voices of nature may not be sounding in our ears as once, we cannot
be long out of the reach of some of them. Therefore:
“In contemplation of created things
By steps we may ascend to God.”
Ø The greater intelligence of man. “But ask now the beasts, and they
shall teach thee” — as though those dull brutes knew what man had
missed discovering. So the lord of creation is sent to be a pupil of his
humblest subjects. Of course, to be prosaically accurate, it must be said
that the beasts do not understand the lessons they teach; that only man
can know God, and that the testimony of nature is unconscious. Still,
the higher faculty of man makes it a shame that he should not know
what nature is teaching in so many ways all around him.
· NATURE REVEALS GOD’S PRESENCE.
Ø By its constitution. The very variety of the creation bespeaks the mind
and power of the Creator. For this variety is not confused, but orderly.
There must be a sameness about the very disorder of chaos which is not
seen in the cosmos. The various species of living creatures keep their
several places in the scale of creation, fulfill their distinctive destinies
and perform their separate functions. There is mind and purpose in
the very variety of nature.
Ø By its life. Nature is not a huge mosaic. If its variegated picture were
motionless and changeless, we could not but admire the infinite skill
with which it had been put together. The exhibition of stuffed specimens
of dead animals in a natural history museum gives us abundant proof of
the skill of the Creator. But the fields show us what no museum can
reveal. In the great world of nature all is life and movement. Thus we
have not the relics of an ancient Divine activity of God, like fossils of
extinct animals, but the creatures in the very flush of life. And this life
must be constantly maintained. Then by its very continuance it proclaims
the presence of God. He is in nature, energizing in it every moment.
In his hand is the soul of every living creature.
Ø By its human connections. Man shares in the common life of nature.
The hand that holds the soul of every living thing holds the breath of all
mankind. “In him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
Therefore we have not only to look around us on the animal creation.
If we do but consider our own existence, we have daily evidence of the
presence of God. The testimony of creation is designed to remind us
of our own dependence on God. It is especially a good corrective of
the subjective notions of a visionary. Job answers Eliphaz and his
awful vision most aptly by appealing to the great living voice of nature.
11 “Doth not the ear try words? and the month taste his meat?”
rather, as the palate tasteth its meat? (see the Revised Version). In other
words, “Is it not as much the business of the ear to discriminate between
wise and unwise words, as of the palate to determine between pleasant and
unpleasant tastes?” The bearing of the verse on the general argument is not
Discrimination (v. 11)
Job seems to mean that, as the mouth detects differences of taste, so the
ear discerns distinctions of words. We do not eat all that we taste. We can
reject the nauseous and select the palatable. In the same way we do not
accept and believe all that we hear. We can discriminate between the
sayings that come to us. Bildad in particular has been attempting to settle
the question of providence by appealing to the traditions of antiquity. Job
shows that he can make the same appeal to another series of proverbs, and
the result will be very different. Tradition is not unanimous. It is not
reasonable, therefore, to take all that comes to hand from it as infallible
truth. We must examine and test it, selecting what is wise, rejecting what is
· DISCRIMINATION IS NEEDED. Note why.
Ø Many voices claim a hearing. We are not left to a monotone of advice.
claimants for our belief. We live under a perfect rain of rival notions.
Every theory pretends to be absolute truth; yet each novel theory gives
the lie to its predecessor. In religion this is very painfully apparent.
Not only do the great historic religions of the world compete for
supremacy, but Christianity itself speaks to us in many voices. What
are we to believe amid the conflict of the sects and parties, some
urging to extreme sacerdotalism (priestly), others to evangelicalism;
some contending for the ancient creeds, others favoring new lights?
We must use discrimination, for it is childish folly to
give our assent to the first voice that chances to attract our attention.
Ø It is important to accept the purest truth. Truth is the food of the soul.
We dare not play with its ideas in dilettante indifference. To be deluded
is to be ensnared. We suffer by feeding on error. As we must distinguish
between wholesome and unwholesome diet if we would be in good
bodily health, so we must distinguish between truth and error if we
would be in spiritual health. There are even deadly poisons which
look beautiful They must be detected and rejected if our souls are
not to be killed.
· DISCRIMINATION IS POSSIBLE.
Ø We have a natural faculty of judgment. Job claimed to possess this, and
he compared it with the natural discriminating ability of the palate. Our
minds were made by God FOR USE! If we weakly and indolently fail
to employ them, and so become the slaves of any unscrupulous deceiver,
we have only ourselves to blame for our ruinous error. While we have
to walk by faith, we need first to use our reason in order to be assured
of a good ground of faith. To deny the possibility of doing so is to play
into the hands of the ultramontane Roman Catholics.
Ø Our judgment can be enlightened by the Holy Spirit. We must be
aware that we often err. The palate is not an infallible guide, for what
is pleasant to the taste may be most unwholesome. There are sweet
poisons. How shall we be able to avoid attractive errors? This question
is most important, because our taste has been depraved; a vicious
appetite has perverted the natural faculty of discrimination. But Christ
has provided for the difficulty by promising the Holy Spirit to guide
us into all truth (John 16:13). Let us but be sure we are humbly
depending on the Spirit of God, and we cannot err fatally
12 “With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding.”
Men get their wisdom gradually and painfully by much experience during a long
stretch of time, so that it is not until they are “ancient” that we can call them
wise or credit them with “understanding.” But with God the case is wholly
The Wisdom and the Power of God a Truth Universally Known
Wisdom is not the peculiar possession of those fancied wise friends. It is a truth
impressed on all nature and on the experience of man.
· APPEAL TO THE LIVING CREATURES. (vs. 7-10.) The beasts,
the birds of the air, the earth with all its living growths, the creatures of the
sea, — all bear traces of His skill, all receive from Him their life and
sustenance, all are subject to His omnipresent power (compare Psalm
· APPEAL TO THE EXPERIENCE OF AGE. As the palate tries and
discriminates between the different dishes on the table, so does the ear try
the various opinions to which it listens, and selects the best, the ripest, as
its guide (v, 11). Long life means large experience, and largo experience
gives the criterion of truth and the guide of life. (“.....we glory in
tribulations...tribulation worketh patience; And patience , experience,
and experience hope, - Romans 5:3-4). Yet experience is but the
book of common experiences. It fails us when we have to deal with the
peculiar and the exceptional, which is the present situation of Job (v. 12).
· AN ELOQUENT DESCRIPTION OF THE POWER AND WISDOM OF
GOD. (vs. 13-25.) Here Job rivals and surpasses his friends. With
repeated blows, as of the hammer on the anvil, he impresses the truth that
the might and intelligence of the Supreme are irresistible, and before Him
all human craft and power must be reduced to impotence. The power and the
wisdom of God alternately occupy His thought, appear and reappear in a
variety of images.
13 “With Him is wisdom and strength, He hath counsel and understanding.”
With Him is wisdom and strength. With God wisdom and
strength dwell essentially. He is not wiser or stronger at one time than at
another. Time and experience add nothing to the perfection of His
attributes, which are unchangeable. Such wisdom infinitely transcends any
to which man can attain, and therefore is doubtless the wisdom whereby
the world is governed. He hath counsel and understanding. God has
these qualities as His own. They are not acquired or imparted, but belong
to Him, necessarily and always.
The Dogma of the Friends Demolished (vs. 5-13)
· BY THE FACTS OF EXPERIENCE.
Ø The prosperous fortunes of the bad. Apt illustrations were at hand in
the seemingly unchanging success which waited on the footsteps of those
marauding caterans (bands of fighting men) with which Arabia Deserta
was overrun. The adverse fortunes of the good. Exemplified in Job’s
own case, which showed
o that a man might be upright and yet fall into misfortune;
o that a person enjoying confidential relations with Heaven, calling upon
God and receiving answers, might sink so low in the mire of adversity
as to become a scorn and a byword, and be regarded as a sort of infidel
and outcast; and
o that the largest and heaviest portion of a good man’s affliction might
even come from the good themselves, from those who enjoyed the
reputation at least of being religious, from his neighbors and friends,
who were themselves sitting in the sunshine of prosperity. And the
entire veracity of these deductions is abundantly confirmed by the
concurrent testimony of all past ages, by the histories, e.g.
§ of Abel,
§ of Joseph,
§ of David,
§ of Christ;
while it is sustained by the voice of all contemporary
Ø The prosperous fortunes of the bad. Apt illustrations were at hand in the
seemingly unchanging success which waited on the footsteps of those
marauding caterans (bands of fighting men) with which Arabia Deserta
o As to character, they were notoriously wicked, in fact, flagrantly
immoral, outrageously ungodly.
§ They were Robbers of men, violent and rapacious
plunderers, who put might for right, “men of the arm”
(ch. 22:8), acting on
“The good old rule, the simple plan,
That they should take who have the power,
And they should keep who can;”
like the Nephilim and Gibborim of Noah’s day, who deluged the
world with immorality and violence (Genesis 6:4)
o Defiers of God, impudent and audacious sinners who openly and
presumptuously trampled on Heaven’s laws in order to obtain
their unhallowed will, like:
the tower-builders of
§ Pharaoh (Exodus 5:2),
§ Sennacherib (II Kings 18:19-35), and
§ like wicked men generally, whose foolish tongues
“talk loftily,” and “set themselves against the heavens,” and
“walk through the earth” (Psalm 73:8-9), and whose carnal
minds, inflamed with enmity against God (Romans 8:7),
conspire against the Lord and His Anointed (Psalm 2:2).
o Worshippers of the sword, who had no deity but the dagger
which they carried in their hands, as the glutton has no god
but his belly (Philippians 3:19); who:
§ like Lamech, made ballads to their rapiers (Genesis 4:23);
§ like Laban, regarded brute force as the supreme power
of the world (Genesis 31:29); and
§ like the ancient Chaldeans, took military strength for
their god (Habakkuk 1:11).
Ø As to fortune’ it was as widely removed from that of the virtuous and
pious as it could well be.
o Their tents were peaceful. That is, their habitations were tranquil,
their families were united and numerous; their domestic felicity
was deep (compare ch. 21:8-11; Psalm 17:14; 49:11).
o Their persons were secure. Calamity seldom, almost never,
overtook them. Winds and hurricanes that desolated the
righteous left them untouched (Psalm 73:4).
o Their baskets were full. Retaining the Authorized Version
(Carey and others), we understand Job to have said that God
brought to them abundantly with His own hand, as if He had
taken them under His especial protection.
· BY THE TEACHINGS OF THE CREATURES.
o The teachers. The entire circle of animate and inanimate creation —
everything on the earth, in the air, and in the sea. The natural and the
supernatural, the visible and the invisible, the material and the spiritual,
the mundane and the heavenly, are in God’s universe so indissolubly
linked together, and so wisely adjusted to each other, that the one is
a picture or reflection of the other, the earthly and material an
emblem of the heavenlyand spiritual. Hence all nature is full of
subtle analogies to things and thoughts existing in the realms
above it — the intellectual, the moral, the spiritual, the human,
the celestial. Hence the wise student of nature may find
“Tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.”
(‘As You Like It,’ act 2. sc. 1.)
Hence man is frequently counseled by Scripture writers to learn wisdom
from the creatures.
o “Solomon sends us to the ant;
o Agur to the coney, the locust, the spider;
o Isaiah to the ox and the ass;
o Jeremiah to the stork, the turtle-dove, the crane, the swallow;
o the heavenly Teacher Himself to the fowls of the air”
Of all teachers Christ stood indisputably first in interpreting the hidden
thoughts of nature.
Ø The teaching. While the creatures say much to man concerning God, His
almighty power, unerring wisdom, unwearied goodness, and ever-watchful
care; and concerning duty, reminding man that He, like them, should act
in harmony with the laws of his nature, and in obedience to the will of his
Creator (Psalm 148:7-13), they are here introduced as instructors on
the subject of Divine providence. Among the lower creatures phenomena
exist analogous to those above described as occurring in the higher world
of men. How often is the harmless lamb devoured by the wolf, the kid by
the panther, the gazelle by the tiger, the patient ass by the ferocious lion!
Are not the eagle, the vulture, and the hawk but as rapacious robbers
swooping down upon the dove the sparrow, and the robin? Can greater
plunderers be found than the vast aquatic monsters, the whale, the shark,
and the crocodile, which roam through the deep, striking terror among the
lesser tribes that haunt the seas? And yet “who knoweth not in all these
that the hand of Jehovah hath wrought this, in whose hand is the soul of
every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?” (V. 9) Well, if these
things occur under God’s government among the lower creatures, why,
asks Job, might similar occurrences not transpire under the same
government among men?
· BY THE SAYINGS OF THE FATHERS.
1. The ground of their authority. The weight attached by Zophar, and
indeed allowed by Job himself, to the maxims of antiquity, was derived
from the fact that they were the concentrated wisdom of antecedent ages,
which had been carefully elaborated by long-lived sages as the result of
their individual and collective experience (see homiletics on Job 8:8-
22). This is what a deceived, misguided and wicked Cancel Culture
is consumed with trying to exterminate. Unfortunately, Revelation 11:18
describes their fate: “O Lord God Almighty..............shouldest destroy
them which destroy the earth.” CY - 2021)
2. The limit of their authority. Granting that these sagacious apothegms
and profound parables were fairly entitled to be heard, Job contended that
they were not possessed of absolute authority. They were not to be
accepted with unquestioning submission, but with wise and intelligent
discrimination, the ear, and of course “the judgment which sits behind the
ear,” having been given to try words as the palate does food. And even at
the best they were only human judgments, the thoughts of long-lived
patriarchs, of much-observing as well as deep-reflecting sages, but not at
all to be compared with the thoughts of Him with whom is “wisdom and
strength, counsel and understanding” (v. 13). They were, therefore, not
to be accepted as final interpretations of the facts of providence, which
were the concrete expressions of eternal Wisdom, as much as these
traditional maxims were the abstract utterances of patriarchal wisdom.
Man’s thoughts never can be more than a finite projection, or contracted
image, of God’s. Hence the danger of setting man’s thoughts in place
of God’s, investing confessions, catechisms, and symbolical books
generally with the authority which belongs only to the supreme
revelation of God’s mind. Hence also the folly of attempting to
crush THE BOUNDLESS REALM OF GOD’S TRUTH into the
narrow dimensions of any formula, however beautiful or
well-arranged, however strictly scientific or profoundly philosophic.
(Contemporary Progressivism attempts to replace God with science
which is promoted by the modern Media - CY - 2021) The fundamental
principles of all intelligent Protestantism may be summed up in
two thoughts: man’s formulas are not the exact measure of God’s
revelations; “prove all things, and hold fast that which is good.”
(I Thessalonians 5:21)
3. The verdict of their authority. If rightly discriminated, the voice of
patriarchal wisdom will be found to be on Job’s side; in support of which
assertion he proceeds, in the next section, to recite other sayings of
antiquity, which certainly give countenance rather to his than to their
view of God’s providential government of the world and mankind.
So perhaps it will be generally found that the best thoughts of men
in all ages harmonize with the thoughts of God as expressed both
in the Bible and in providence.
1. “He that is first in his own cause seemeth right; but his neighbor
cometh and searcheth him.” (Proverbs 18:17)
2. “A half-truth is sometimes as dangerous as a whole lie.”
3. “In contemplation of created things, by steps we may ascend to God.”
4. It is not true that “man is the measure of the universe.”
5. “There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in
man’s philosophy.” (For proof, enter Fantastic Voyage - You
Tube - in your browser and see what happens. CY - 2021)
6. “That alone is true antiquity which embraces the antiquity of the
world (this Cancel Culture refuses to do - CY - 2021,
and not that which would refer us back to a period when the
world was young.”
14 “Behold, He breaketh down, and it cannot be built again: He shutteth
up a man, and there can be no opening.” Behold, He breaketh down, and
it cannot be built again. Professor Lee thinks that the allusion is to the cities of
the plain (Genesis 19:24-29 – see arkdiscovery.com. – CY - 2013). But the
sentiment is so general, that we may well doubt if particular instances were in Job’s
mind. At any rate, the destructive agencies of nature must be as much included as
any supernatural acts. He shutteth up a man (compare ch.11:10). God “shuts
up” men when be hedges them in with calamities or other circumstances,
which take away from them all freedom of action (ch.3:23; 19:8)
When He does this, the result follows — There can be no opening. No
other power can give release.
15 “Behold, He withholdeth the waters, and they dry up: also He
sendeth them out, and they overturn the earth.” Behold, he withholdeth
the waters, and they dry up. God, at His pleasure, causes great droughts, which
are among the worst calamities that can happen. He withholds the blessed rain from
heaven (Deuteronomy 11:17; I Kings 8:35; 17:1), and the springs shrink,
and the rivers dry up, and a fruitful land is turned into a desert, and famine
stalks through the land, and men perish by thousands. Also He sendeth
them out, and they overturn the earth; i.e. He causes floods and
inundations. Once upon a time He overwhelmed the whole earth, and
destroyed almost the entire race of mankind, by a deluge of an
extraordinary character, which so fixed itself in the human consciousness,
that traces of it are to be found in the traditions of almost all the various
races of men. But, beside this great occasion, He also in ten thousand other
cases, causes, by means of floods, tremendous ruin and devastation,
sweeping away crops and cattle, and even villages and cities, sometimes
even “overturning the earth,” causing lakes to burst, rivers to change their
course, vast tracts of land to be permanently submerged, and the contour
of coasts to be altered.
16 “With Him is strength and wisdom: the deceived and the deceiver
are His.” With Hm is strength and wisdom; rather (as in the Revised
Version), with Him is strength and effectual working. God has not only the
wisdom to design the course of events (v. 13), but the POWER AND
ABILITY TO CARRY OUT ALL THAT HE DESIGNS. “What He
had promised, HE WAS ABLE TO PERFORM.” (Romans 4:21).
The deceived and the deceiver are His. Not only does God rule the course
of external nature, but also the doings of men. “Shall there be evil in a city,
and shall not He have done it?” (Amos 3:6) He allows some to deceive,
and others to be deceived. Moral evil is thus under His control, and, in a
certain sense, may be called His doing. But it behoves men, when they approach
such great mysteries, to be very cautious and wary in their speech. Job touches
with somewhat too bold a hand the deepest problems of the universe.
17 “He leadeth counsellors away spoiled, and maketh the judges fools.”
He leadeth counsellors away spoiled. The wise of the earth cannot resist or
escape Him; He frustrates their designs and overthrows them, and, as it were,
leads them away captive. And maketh the judges fools; rather, and judges
maketh He fools. There is no article, and no particular judges are referred to
(compare Isaiah 44:25).
18 “He looseth the bond of kings, and girdeth their loins with a
girdle.” This may either mean that God at His pleasure both looses kings
from captivity, and also binds them with a cord and causes them to be
carried away captive; or that He looses the authority which kings have over
their subjects, and then lets them be carried away captive by their enemies.
The latter is perhaps the more probable sense.
19 “He leadeth princes away spoiled, and overthroweth the mighty.”
He leadeth princes away spoiled; rather, priests (μynhk), as
in the Revised Version. This is the only mention of “priests” in the Book of
Job, and a priest-caste, such as that of
meant. The priests are placed among the mighty, on a par with kings (v.
18), princes (v. 21), and “the strong” (Ibid.). This context makes us
naturally think of those priest-kings whom we hear of in the olden times,
such as were Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-20) and Jethro (Exodus
3:1; 18:1-27), and the Egyptian kings of the twenty-first dynasty (‘History
is probably to persons of this exalted class, who no doubt were sometimes
defeated and dragged into captivity, like other rulers and governors. And
overthroweth the mighty. Schultens understands by ethanim (μynjya)
“great teachers;” but the ordinary meaning of the word is “strong” or
“mighty” (see ch. 33:19; Micah 6:2).
20 “He removeth away the speech of the trusty, and taketh away the
understanding of the aged.” He removeth away the speech of the trusty.
God deprives trusted statesmen of their eloquence, destroys their reputation and
their authority. And taketh away the understanding of the aged. He turns
wise and aged men into fools and drivellers, weakening their judgments
and reducing them to imbecility.
21 “He poureth contempt upon princes, and weakeneth the strength of
the mighty.” He poureth contempt upon princes; literally, upon the
munificent. But the word has often the more generic sense of “princes,”
“great men” (see I Samuel 2:8; Proverbs 25:7). And weakeneth the
strength of the mighty; literally, looseth the belt of the strong. But our
version sufficiently expresses the meaning.
22 “He discovereth deep things out of darkness, and bringeth out to
light the shadow of death.” He discovereth deep things out of darkness. By
“deep things” are probably meant the “deeply laid schemes” which wicked men
concoct in darkness (or secrecy). These God often “discovers,” or causes
to be laid bare. English history can point to such a case in the discovery of
the famous “Gunpowder Plot” in the second year of King James I. And
bringeth out to light the shadow of death. There is nothing secret which
God cannot, if He choose, reveal; nor is there anything hid which He cannot
make known. (In fact, Christ said, “For there is nothing covered, that shall not
be revealed, neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye
have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have
spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.” -
Luke 12:3-4 – CY – 2013) Dark, murderous schemes, on which lies a shadow as
Of death, which men plan in secret, and keep hidden in their inmost thoughts,
He can, and often does, cause to be brought to light and made manifest in
the sight of all. Every such scheme, however carefully guarded and
concealed, SHALL ONE DAY BE MADE KNOWN! (Matthew 10:26).
Many are laid bare even in the lifetime of their devisers.
Instances of the Overruling Wisdom of God
(vs. 16-17, 22)
· THE DECEIVER AND THE DECEIVED ARE HIS. (v. 16.) He can
cause the spirit of the faithless prophet to be a lying spirit (1 Kings 22.), to
be deceived in his oracles, and incur destruction (Ezekiel 14:9).
· SO THE JUDGES ARE MADE FOOLS. (v. 17.) In short, God hath
made from time to time the wisdom of this world foolishness (1
Corinthians 1.), that no flesh might glory IN HIS PRESENCE!
· HE BRINGS NEW DISCOVERIES OF TRUTH TO LIGHT. (v. 22.)
This is the revelation of God in history, and its page is full of
illustrations. The calling of Abraham; the raising up of Moses; the
lowly Messiah; the progress of the gospel and triumph over the wisdom of
few of the salient (important) points in this providential history of the world.
The whole description is fitted to teach:
Ø Humility in the sense of the feebleness of our power, the inferiority of
our knowledge in the presence of the power and wisdom of God.
Ø Reverence in the study of history and the observation of nature.
Ø Watchful and confident expectation of changes in the course of
providence, by which:
o iniquity will be overturned,
o the rule of falsehood be brought to an end, and
o the Divine kingdom be advanced in the world.
Deep Things Out of Darkness (v. 22)
· HOW GOD DISCOVERS DEEP THINGS OUT OF DARKNESS. He
has means of knowledge which are sealed to us, a key which unlocks the
most secret chamber, an eye that can see down to the most hidden depths.
He sees the skeleton in the cupboard. The mask of the hypocrite can never
Ø God sees inwardly. Man looks on the outward countenance, God on the
heart (1 Samuel 16:7). His indwelling Spirit sees as far as it influences,
and it influences the inmost springs of our being.
Ø God sees immediately. This results from His inward vision. We have to
infer and draw conclusions by means of a chain of reasoning. God can
dispense with this process. He sees everything; His knowledge is direct
Ø God sees everywhere. Our vision is limited to a certain area. (There is
only one secular thing on this website # 1522. The Art of Free Throw Shooting -
The last entry on the site. In it I talk about focus from a human eye
standpoint which makes the above point - CY - 2021) Even
when we stand on the top of a mountain and endeavor to take in a
great panorama of scenery, we can only look attentively at one part
of the prospect at a time. But God’s infinite gaze takes in all the
facts of the universe at once.
· WHAT DEEP THINGS GOD BRINGS TO LIGHT.
Ø He discovers hidden sin.
o The nefarious (wicked or criminal) design of the unscrupulous
statesman concocted within the locked doors of the council-
o the dark plot of the little band of desperate conspirators,
o the ugly scheme of the robber horde,
o the fell purpose of the betrayer,
are all quite known to God from the moment when the first black
thoughts entered the minds of their originators. (“For there is
nothing covered, that shall not be revealed, neither hid, that shall
not be known.” Luke 12:2; “O Lord, thou hast searched me, and
known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou
understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and
my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is
not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.
Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon
me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot
attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall
I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there:
if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings
of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold
me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall
be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the
night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to
thee.” Psalm 139:1-12) The sin which has once been committed is all
known to God, though it may have been hushed up and kept from the
observation of men. In the great day of judgment God will bring it
Ø He discovers hidden goodness. All that God brings out of its secret
hiding-place is not evil. There are hidden treasures. Miners bring up
precious minerals from the dark interior of the earth. The voyage of the
Challenger was a means of bringing to light many wonderful works
of God from the dim depths of the sea. God observes all hidden worth.
“The violet born to blush unseen”
is perfectly well known to Him. He also understands the innocence that is
cruelly misjudged and condemned as guilt by men. Some day He will
bring that to light, and vindicate the cause of every true martyr.
· THE CONSEQUENCES THAT RESULT FROM GOD’S
DISCOVERY OF THE DEEP THINGS OF DARKNESS: He will rectify
all wrong. He will give righteous judgments. The dark creatures of sin that
are brought to light cannot be left out in the full blaze of the sun to befool
the day with their obscenity. As we stamp on the unclean things that creep
out of dark places when they are suddenly disturbed and crush them, so
God must destroy the wicked when their evil is brought TO LIGHT!
The revelation can only be preliminary to the condemnation. Meanwhile the
delusion which leads men to harbor their sin is fatal. Whatever excuse
covers it is a lie.
For love of grace,
Lay not that flattering unction to your soul;
It will but skin and film the ulcerous place;
Whiles rank corruption, mining all within,
On the other hand, the ultimate vindication of the right is a grand
encouragement to “patient perseverance in well-doing.”
23 “He increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them: He enlargeth the
nations, and straiteneth them again.” He increaseth the nations, and
destroyeth them. God’s providence concerns itself, not only with the fate of
individual men, but also with that of nations. With
(Deuteronomy 14:2), He especially concerned Himself, but not with
likewise objects of His attention, of His guidance, of His chastening hand, of
His avenging rod. Particular nations were consigned by God to the charge
of particular angels (Daniel 10:13, 20). At His pleasure He can “increase”
nations by blessing them with extraordinary fecundity (Exodus 1:7-12), or
“destroy” them by internal decay, by civil wars, or by the swords of their
neighbors. He enlargeth the nations, and straiteneth them again; i.e.
“enlarges their bounds, or diminishes them.” In
empires were continually starting up, growing and expanding, increasing to vast
dimensions, and then after a while shrinking back again to their original narrow
24 “He taketh away the heart of the chief of the people of the earth, and
causeth them to wander in a wilderness where there is no way.”
He taketh away the heart of the chief of the people of the earth; rather.
the chiefs of the people’ or the popular chieftains.. He deprives these “chiefs”
of their wisdom or courage, or both, and thus brings down the nations
under their governance. And causeth them to wander in a wilderness
where there is no way; rather, in a chaos — one of the words used in Genesis
1:2 to describe the condition of the material universe before God had ordered and
arranged it. The chieftains, deprived of their “heart,” are so confused and
perplexed that they do not know what to do, or which way to turn.
25 “They grope in the dark without light, and He maketh them to
stagger like a drunken man.” They grope in the dark without light
(compare ch.5:14 and Deuteronomy 28:29). And he maketh them to stagger
like a drunken man; literally, to wander — to pursue a devious course
instead of a straight one.
The Divine Supremacy Illustrated (vs. 11-25)
Bildad appeals to “the ancients.” Job replies, “I also know their teaching.”
But there is a wisdom higher than that of the ancients. Wisdom — unfailing
wisdom — is A DIVINE ATTRIBUTE! From the earthly to the heavenly wisdom
Job turns. He speaks of a higher and a mightier One — One “with whom is
strength and wisdom,” by which He rules. The supremacy of that Divine
rule he illustrates from a very wide field of survey. He points to the
evidences of the DIVINE ALMIGHTYNESS!
· IN THE CONTRASTED POWERLESSNESS OF THE HUMAN
OPPOSITION TO THE DIVINE WILL. (v. 14.)
· IN THE CONTROL OF THE MIGHTY ELEMENTS OF NATURE.
The very “waters” obey His behest (v. 15).
· IN COMPELLING EVEN THOSE THAT ERR AND THOSE
THAT DECEIVE TO BE SUBSERVIENT TO HIS WILL AND
PURPOSE. (v. 16.)
· IN CONFOUNDING THE WISDOM OF THE WISE. Leading
“counselors away spoiled,” and bringing down the judge to the level
of the fool (v. 17). (I wonder how the Judges on the Supreme Court of
in the last sixty years - [1960-2020] in the undermining of biblical
and religious foundations, were of God? CY - 2021)
· IN HUMBLING KINGS AND PRIESTS AND MIGHTY MEN.
· IN RESTRAINING THE SPEECH OF THE ELOQUENT AND
ROBBING THE AGED OF THEIR UNDERSTANDING. (v. 20.)
· IN CASTING CONTEMPT UPON THE HONORABLE, AND
MAKING THE STRONG TO TOTTER WITH WEAKNESS. (v. 21.)
He giveth or taketh away wisdom and might as it pleaseth Him, proving
that He is wise and mighty above all; for these are His gifts to the children of
men that have them.
· HE FURTHER SHOWS THAT THE HIDDEN THINGS OF
DARKNESS ARE OPEN TO HIS VIEW. He discovereth the secret
works of evil. Even the thick shadow of death cannot hide from Him
(v. 22; compare Psalm 139:12 - no doubt God sees in some superior
form of infra-red - CY - 2021).
· NATIONAL HISTORY IS EQUALLY UNDER HIS CONTROL.
His power is over the nations; He enlarges or straitens as He pleases. He
scatters or gathers as He will (v. 23).
· THE VERY CHIEFEST AMONG ALL THE PEOPLES OF THE
EARTH ABE SUBJECT TO HIS SOVEREIGN SWAY. It is a little thing
for Him to remove the light of reason from them, confounding and
confusing them, and casting them into darkness and gloom. Elsewhere we
learn why and when the Almighty deals thus with men. Job’s purpose is to
show that man is as nothing before Him. In his highest honor, in his
utmost wisdom, in his greatest strength, He cannot contend with JEHOVAH!
Over the individual life in all its various conditions, over the combined
lives of men in their national or political combinations, HE IS STILL
SUPREME! And over the heavens and the earth He is Lord — even
over all. This is Job’s faith and his declaration. He can proclaim THE
SUPREME AND ABSOLUTE MAJESTY OF JEHOVAH as truly,
and even more strikingly than his friends.
The Wisdom and Might of God (vs. 13-25)
Job meets his friend’s authoritative utterances of proverbs and worldly
maxims by a citation of similar sayings, but with a different import. It is not
true that the righteous always prosper, and that the wicked always suffer.
Such a primitive notion implies too anthropocentric a conception of the
universe; it goes on the assumption that all things are done just to suit our
condition and conduct. Now, Job takes a higher and wider view. He
appeals to sayings that speak of the supreme wisdom and irresistible
might of God, altogether irrespective of man and his concerns.
fathom his thought; we cannot resist his arm. He will do what he thinks best
whether we concur or not. The universe is under an irresistible Ruler. It is
possible for us to question what God does, but we cannot answer Him.
We may rebel against His authority, but we cannot overthrow it.
Therefore we should escape from our petty parochialism, and consider
God’s large world and universal rule, before we attempt to form any
theory of life.
INTERESTS THAN THOSE OF MAN. Our narrow views of God’s
government lead to false opinions about His action. We are tempted to
fancy that all He does is solely with a view to its effect on ourselves. Thus
we try to color the universe with our egotism. But the Lord of all must
have vast interests to consider of which we know nothing. What looks foolish
to us because we cannot see the end in view — an end often quite outside
ourselves, would appear in a very different light if we knew all God’s far
WITH HIS GOODNESS. This is not so apparent in Job’s representation of
the Divine action as it must be to a Christian. The patriarch has fallen into
the error of a one-sided view in combating the narrow and erroneous
opinion of his friends, and he has come to represent God too much as the
irresponsible Oriental autocrat, whose only law is his will, but whose will
may follow mere caprice, and may be free from all considerations of
justice. Job would not say as much of God, but his description leans in this
direction. Now, we know that the most supreme thing in God is not his
might, nor is it his wisdom; it is HIS LOVE (I John 4:8-9). Therefore,
although we cannot understand His large purpose, that must be a good one.
We see God in His irresistible might casting down kings and princes,
leading clever people into scenes of bewilderment, apparently playing with
all sorts of men as mere pawns. But this is only because we are shortsighted.
The large purposes which include other worlds than ours do not
exclude our world. God does not brush man aside as a nonentity when He
goes forth to achieve His vast designs. One of God’s greatest purposes is
THE REDEMPTION OF MAN BY THE GIFT OF HIS ONLY
BEGOTTEN SON! (John 3:16).
and strength, He hath counsel and understanding” (v. 13) — a
sentiment repeated in v. 16. Of the two attributes here mentioned, the first is
involved in His supreme Divinity; though in the connection Job seems to
base it on His eternal existence, as if he meant to say, “You affirm that in
length of days is understanding, and I grant it; but what then must be the
wisdom of Him who is eternal in his years?” The second, which is equally
involved in the conception of the Godhead, may here be said to rest upon the
already stated fact that “in His hand is the soul of every living thing, and
the breath of all mankind” (v. 10). The Creator of the universe must be
strong, and the Eternal Intelligence must be wise. Being, then,
INFINITELY WISE AND POWERFUL, wise and powerful,
the like qualities must appear in His handiwork. As the artist puts his conceptions
into the painting which he executes, and the artificer directs attention to the work
he has fashioned as a proof of his ability; so, reasons Job, will the providential
government of God be seen, when thoroughly examined, to reflect the matchless
wisdom of HIS OMNISCIENT MIND and attest the measureless force
of HIS ALMIGHTY HAND.
breaketh down, and it cannot be built again: He shutteth up a man, and
there can be no opening” (v. 14). The first may allude to the destruction
the reference may be more general, to such acts of destruction (and, by
implication, of restoration) and of restraint (and again, by implication, of
liberation) as attest His Almighty Power. Illustrations of the former may be
found in the burning of
arkdiscovery.com and look up the section on the Destruction of Sodom –
CY – 2013); the destruction of
volcanic agency; while the shutting up of men in prisons may be regarded as
having been exemplified in Joseph (Genesis 37:24), Jeremiah (Lamentations
3:53; compare Jeremiah 38:6), Jonah 1:17.
Ø To nature. “Behold, He withholdeth the waters, and they dry up:
also He sendeth them out, and they overturn the earth” (v. 15).
Perhaps exemplified in the first formation of the dry land (Genesis 1:9),
and in the Deluge (Ibid. 7:11); though more probably pointing to the
Divine agency as the true cause of drought (I Kings 17:1), and of
floods or destructive inundations.
Ø To man. “The deceived and the deceiver are His” (v. 16). Possibly
alluding to himself and his companions, though it is better to
give the language a wider reference. Exemplified in:
o Satan and man (ch. 1:12; Revelation 20:3),
o the lying spirit and Ahab (I Kings 22:22),
o antichrist and unbelievers (II Thessalonians 2:11).
The language forcibly expresses God’s complete control over
ALL CLASSES OF MEN!
o Civic rulers. “He leadeth counselors away spoiled
[literally, ‘naked,’ i.e. ‘stripped of their official robes,
and of their clothes and shoes as captives ‘], and maketh
judges fools,” destroying their power and degrading
their position (compare Isaiah 3:2, 4; 40:23; 44:25).
“He looseth the bond of kings, and girdeth their
loins with a girdle” or cord; meaning either He unbinds
their prisoners, and makes them prisoners instead, or He
unlooses the jeweled girdle of kings, the insignia of royalty,
and ties their loins with the cords of servitude. Illustrations:
Zedekiah, Napoleon, etc.
o Ecclesiastical officers. “He leadeth princes [literally,
‘priests’] away spoiled [literal]y, ‘stripped of their robes ‘],
and overthroweth the mighty [or, ‘the long established’ —
those of great and high repute for sanctity and wisdom,
probably such priest-princes as Melchizedek and Jethro].’
o Eloquent senators. “He removeth away the speech
[literally, ‘the lip’] of the trusty, and taketh away the
understanding of the aged” (v. 20). So He turned the
counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness (II Samuel 15:31).
o Haughty nobles. “He poureth contempt upon princes,
and weakeneth the strength of the mighty;” literally,
“looseth the girdle of the strong” (v. 21). The girdle
being the belt by which the garments were fastened prior to
undertaking any violent exertion, the language expresses the
idea that it is God’s province either to impart or to
withhold the strength requisite for any undertaking
in which man may engage.
o Intriguing politicians. “He discovereth deep things
out of darkness, and bringeth out to light the shadow
of death” (v. 22). While the language may with perfect
propriety be applied to the power possessed by God of
disclosing truths which lie beyond the reach of the human
intellect, as e.g. those of revelation, or of bringing to light
recondite discoveries in science and philosophy, which are
ever wrapped in impenetrable darkness till He is
pleased to unfold them, the connection seems to rather
point to God’s ability to read the secret thoughts and
intentions of the human heart (Psalm 139:1-13; Hebrews
4:12-13), and in particular to detect and expose “the deep
and desperate designs of traitors, conspirators, and
other STATE VILLAINS, as those, e.g. of Absalom
against David (II Samuel 15:6), and Haman against the Jews
(Esther 3:9), of Herod against Christ (Matthew 2:8), and of
the Jews against Paul (Acts 23:21), as the Catiline conspiracy
hopefully, what is going on in the Supreme Court, Justice
Department, the Oval
Office, and halls of the
and House of Representatives – CY – 2013)
o National tendencies. The deep things out of darkness and
The discovered death-shade may also allude to “the hidden
bents and currents which slowly give shape to the character
and functions of a nation or ever it is aware, or ever even its
rulers are aware, of them; that stream of tendency running
partly underground for a while, which silently carries us
we know not whither, we know not how, and lands us in
enterprises and modes of national activity alien and
opposed to those towards which our subtlest politicians
supposed they were guiding us.
o National movements. “He increaseth the nations, and
destroyeth them: He enlargeth the nations, and straiteneth
them again” (v. 23). The original distribution of mankind into
nations, and their dispersion over the face of earth, although
effected in accordance with natural law, WAS DIRECTLY
THE WORK OF GOD! (Genesis 10 and 11.). So national
increase and national diminution, national prosperity and national
adversity, however these may seem to be the result of well-known
and invariably operating causes, are traceable in the last
analysis to THE WILL AND POWER OF GOD! (Psalm
22:28; 24:1; 47:2-3; Isaiah 40:22-23; Daniel 4:17; Acts 17:26).
the wilderness (Numbers 14:29), advanced it to prosperity under
David (II Samuel 8:6, 11, 14), and gave it up to decay from the
time of Rehoboam forward (I Kings 12:24). He enlarged in turn
straitened them. He has
but He has not deprived Himself of power to bring them to the
o National leaders. “He taketh away the heart of the chief
of the people of the earth, and causeth them to wander in
a wilderness where there is no way,” leaving them to their
own foolish and distracted counsels (Romans 1:24, 26, 28),
so that “they grope in the dark without light,” and causing
them “to wander in a wilderness where there is no way”
(vs. 24-25). It is not in man that walketh, whether he be a
statesman or a ploughman, to direct his steps aright
(Jeremiah 10:23). They that guide either themselves or others
by the light of their own understanding are like travelers who
follow an ignis fatuus (A will-o'-the-wisp - atmospheric ghost
lights seen by travelers at night, especially over bogs, swamps or
marshes) to their destruction. HENCE NO POLITICIAN
CAN SAFELY GUIDE A STATE, (UNLESS GOD
FIRST GUIDES HIM). A gigantic intellect, splendid
eloquence, prolonged experience, the subtlest craft,
the most careful deliberation, the rarest sobriety of
judgment, will not suffice for political success
(America Beware! – CY – 2013) without the help of
DIVINE WISDOM AND STRENGTH, a Solomon, if
deserted by God, WILL BEGIN TO PLAY THE
FOOL and a Samson TO BE WEAK AS OTHER
MEN! (Delilah said, “The Philsitines be upon thee,
Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said,
I will go out as at other times before and shake
myself. And he wist not that THE LORD WAS
DEPARTED FROM HIM.” Judges 16:20)
on earth. It is not included in the Divine program that the justice of God’s
procedure here shall always be perceptible by those to whom it relates.
Rest assured notwithstanding that God doeth all things well “Shall not
the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25) We can carry the
thought of God’s overruling providence with us into all the relations and
duties of life. It is a great help to piety to recollect that GOD IS NEAR!
Images of the Irresistible Power of God.
(vs. 13-15, 18-21, 23-25)
· THE WALL, OR HOUSE, OR CITY THUS DEMOLISHED
CANNOT BE BUILT UP AGAIN. (v. 14.) Swept with the besom (a broom)
of destruction, it becomes the possession of the bittern and pools of water
(Isaiah 14:23). The ruined walls
the weary toil of the people (Jeremiah 51:58); she sinks, and shall not
rise from the evil that Jehovah will bring upon her (ibid. v. 64).
Men may build, but he will throw down (Malachi 1:4). (One thing
the Progressive Movement of the Twenty-First century is producing
is a rapid decline in such a great country as the
· THE PRISON-DOORS WHICH HE SHUTS NO MAN CAN OPEN.
(v. 14.) He hath the key of David (Isaiah 22:22; Revelation 3:7).
Vain is all human bravery when the Lord hath determined to “deliver a man
into the hand of his enemy” (1 Samuel 26:8). Yet there is a merciful
aspect of this seeming harsh truth, as pointed out by
shut them all up in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all”
· THE DRYING UP AND SENDING OF FLOODS. (v. 15.) As
illustrated in the ancient story of Genesis 6. and 8., and of the drought in
Elijah’s time (1 Kings 17.). He shuts the heaven (1 Kings 8:35), and He
alone can give showers (Jeremiah 14:22).
· THE SUBJUGATION OF EARTHLY KINGS. (v. 18.) As
illustrated in the carrying of Manasseh captive to
23.), and of Zedekiah (Jeremiah 52.). The thought is repeated in v. 21,
and further illustrations may be drawn from the cases of Pharaoh, of Saul,
and of Ahab.
· THE DEPRIVATION OF SPEECH AND WISDOM. (v. 20.) Men’s
sagacity is turned to folly; their prudence is vain when it pleases Him to put
forth His power (compare Isaiah 3:1-3). So in v. 24, where we are
reminded of the striking judgment upon Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4.).
· THE INCREASE AND DESTRUCTION OF NATIONS. (v. 23.)
The rise and fall of empires and peoples is determined by constant laws.
Obedience to law means increase and prosperity; violation of law, decay
· CONFUSION AND BEWILDERMENT are evidences of the
practical power of God (vs. 24-25). Chaos, wandering, darkness,
helpless vacillation, fall upon men and nations from time to time, because
they have been unfaithful to the true light and the Divine leading.
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