Having answered Bildad, Job proceeds to pour out the bitterness of his soul in a
pathetic complaint, which he addresses directly to God. There is not much that
is novel in the long expostulation, which mainly goes over ground covered in
chps. 3, 6, and 7; but some new grounds are alleged as pleas for mercy, if not
for justice. These are:
· that he is God’s creature, and in the past (at any rate) has been the
object of his care (vs. 3, 8-12);
· that God must be above judging as man judges (vs. 4-5);
· that God knows his innocence (v. 7); and
· that he (Job) is entirely in God’s power (v. 7).
In conclusion, Job begs for a little respite, a little time of comfort (v. 20), before
He descends into the darkness of the grave (vs. 21-22).
1 “My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself;
I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.” My soul is weary of my life.
This is better than the marginal rendering, and well expresses the original.
It strikes the key-note of the chapter. I will leave my complaint upon myself;
rather, I will give free course to my complaint over myself, or I will allow
myself in the expression of it (see the Revised Version). Job implies that
hitherto he has put some restraint upon himself, but now he will give full and free
expression to his feelings. I will speak in the bitterness of my soul (compare
Weariness of Life (v. 1)
We need not wonder that Job was weary of his life. Beggared, bereft of his
family, smitten with a painful and loathsome disease, tormented by the
cruel comfort of his friends, he could see nothing but misery around and
before him. Few, if any, have been in his sore plight. Yet others have felt
the same weariness of life that the patriarch so naturally experienced. Let
us look at the sorrowful condition and its Divine remedy.
Ø The misery of it. Life is naturally sweet. It is a most merciful
unbearable when regarded from the outside has many alleviations
and consolations for those to whose portion it has fallen. There
are few lives on which no gleam of sunshine ever falls. But to be weary
of life is to have lost all the sunshine, and to be in dark despair. Like
“Mariana of the moated grange,” the desolate one cries:
I am aweary, aweary;
O God that I were dead!”
Ø The dangers of it.
o It tempts to suicide, and that is sin. (I recommend
II Samuel 17 – Notes on Suicide – this web site –
CY – 2013)
o It leads to the neglect of duty; for if a man has no hope
or heart in life, it is difficult for him to take up its tasks.
When life itself is no longer worth living, it is hard to summon
any energy for work.
o It blinds us to remedies. Like Hagar in her despair, we do
not lift up our eyes to see the fountain. Despair justifies itself by
blinding us to hope.
Ø The causes of it. This weariness of life may spring item a terrible
conjunction of external circumstances, as it did in part with Job. But
internal causes usually cooperate. Sometimes the despair is a result of
bodily or brain disease, and the sufferer must be pitied and treated
accordingly. But it may come from:
o brooding too much over the dark side of life,
o distrust of God,
o a consciousness of sin, or
o impenitent and rebellious thoughts.
Ennui or boredom is the product of indolence. Weariness of life is often
a result of idle sentimentality.
delusion. No one would be weary of life if he knew all its future
possibilities. If the despair is a result of brain disorder, the remedy is in
medicine, not theology. Here is a harder-land where the two faculties
touch; therefore a man who practices either should not be a stranger to the
other. Despair may give way to a change of scene and a bracing regimen
without any arguments. But when the causes are deeper and more spiritual,
a corresponding remedy must be looked for. This will not be found in any
worldly philosophy of life. The wonder is not that some people are weary
of life, but that all who are “without God in the world” are not also
“without hope” (Ephesians 2:12). Pessimism is the natural goal of the
Epicurean. Life is not worth living WITHOUT GOD! The great
remedy for weariness of life is the discovery of the true worth of life
when it is REDEEMED BY CHRIST and CONSECRATED TO
GOD! Then it is not dependent on pleasure for its motives,
nor driven to despair by pain. It has a higher blessedness than any earthly
possession can give, in doing God’s will on earth with the prospect of
enjoying Him for ever in heaven. But even the unselfish service of our
brother man will help to conquer weariness of life. If Mariana had been
well occupied she might have overcome her misery. There is a healing
grace in the discharge of duty, and more of it in losing ourselves
while serving others.
2 “I will say unto God, Do not condemn me; shew me wherefore thou
contendest with me.” I will say unto God, Do not condemn me; literally,
do not pronounce me wicked. My friends, as they call themselves, have, one
and all, condemned me: Do not thou also condemn me. A touching appeal!
Show me wherefore thou contendest with me. One of Job’s principal
trials is the perplexity into which his unexampled sufferings have thrown
him. He cannot understand why he has been singled out for such
tremendous punishment, when he is not conscious to himself of any impiety
or other heinous sin against God. So now, when he has resolved to vent all
the bitterness of his soul, he ventures to ask the question — Why is he so
tried? What has he done to make God his enemy? Wherefore does God
fight against him continually?
3 “Is it good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress, that thou shouldest
despise the work of thine hands, and shine upon the counsel of the
wicked?” Is it good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress? Job
assumes that he is oppressed. He has no conception that his sufferings are a
purification (John 15:2), intended to lead to the elevation and improvement of
his moral character. He therefore asks — Is it worthy of God, is it good in Him,
is it compatible with His perfect excellence, to be an oppressor? It is a sort of
argumentum ad verecundiam’ well enough between man and man, but quite
out of place between a man and His Maker. That thou shouldest despise the
work of thine hands (compare Psalm 138:8). This argument is more legitimate.
God may be expected, not to despise, but to care for, the work of His own hands
(compare Isaiah 19:25; 29:23; 44:21; 64:8; Ephesians 2:10). Every maker of a
thing, as Aristotle says, loves his work, and naturally guards it, cares for it, and
cherishes it. And shine upon the counsel of the wicked (compare ch. 9:24).
The prosperity of evil-doers must arise, Job thinks, from God allowing His
countenance to shine upon them.
4 “Hast thou eyes of flesh? or seest thou as man seeth?”
Notwithstanding the anthropomorphism of their language, the sacred
writers are as fully aware as their modern critics of the immateriality of
God, and THE IMMENSE GAP THAT SEPARATES HIS NATURE
from human nature. It is on this that Job now dwells. God, being so much
above man, having eyes that are not of flesh, and seeing not as man seeth,
ought not to judge as man judges, with partiality, or prejudice, or even with
extreme severity (v. 6).
God’s Vision of Man (v. 4)
How does God see us? Is He so far above us that He cannot quite see us as
we are? Is He so great that He cannot conceive of our littleness? Are His
ideas so different from our own that He cannot understand our life and
sympathize with it? Or is not God so supreme in His vision of man that He
cannot make the mistakes we make, and must see us truly just as we are? If
so, why does God seem to act as though He had man’s limited vision?
Questions of this sort seem to be perplexing Job. How can they be met?
above seeing what is small. Because God is infinite He can descend to the
infinitely little as well as comprehend the infinitely great. Moreover, He
does not treat us as insignificant beings unworthy of His notice, but He
regards us as His children. The very hairs of our head are numbered by
God (Luke 121:7). His greatness is seen in the truth and thoroughness of His
vision. He does not look through distorting media, nor does He only see one
aspect of things, as is the case with us. He sees all round everything, and He
looks through all things. There is no secret hidden from God. He
understands what He sees, for His infinite vision is accompanied by an
are hampered by narrow ideas; our judgment is warped and cramped by
prejudice and error. Our ignorance, folly, and sin even mar the very
standards by which we judge. God’s estimate is supremely fair, and it is
after the very highest and purest ideas of judgment.
We might be dismayed by the very elevation and perfection of God’s
method of judgment, thinking it totally different from our own. If this were
the case conscience would be a delusion. But God is the Creator of
conscience, and though this is limited, and in a measure perverted, still it
retains the essential character given to it by God. “God made man in
HIS OWN IMAGE.” (Genesis 1:26). Therefore man’s honest judgment
must be a reflection of God’s judgment. God sees as we see, so far as we
see truly. His judgment is just the correction and perfection of our judgment.
WITH OUR OWN EYES. This seems to be part of the purpose of the
Incarnation. Christ is a brother-Man. He looks at us with human eyes. One
with us by nature, He can perfectly understand us. We cannot even
understand our favorite dog when he turns to us his dumb, pathetic gaze,
for he is of a different species. Christ became one with us, one of our
species. Thus we can understand Him, and He can perfectly sympathize with
us. (He was “in all points tempted like as we are, YET WITHOUT SIN!”
- Hebrews 4:15). Apart from Christ, God seems to be distant and altogether
different from ourselves. In Christ He is ONE WITH US, near to us, and
able to regard us with the eyes of a Brother.
5 “Are thy days as the days of man? are thy years as man’s days,”
Are thy days as man’s days? In short-lived man, shortsightedness and prejudice
are excusable, but not in one whose days are unlike man’s days — whose
“years endure throughout all generations” (Psalm 102:24). Such a one ought
to be above all human infirmity. Or thy years as man’s days? We should have
expected “as man’s years.” But it marks the disparity more strongly to say, “Are
thy years not greater in number even than man’s [literally, ‘a strong man’s’] days?”
6 “That thou inquirest after mine iniquity, and searchest after my sin?”
It seems to Job that God must have been “extreme to mark what he has done
amiss” (Psalm 130:3), must have searched into every corner of his life, and
hunted out all his sins and shortcomings, to have been able to bring together
against him a total commensurate or even approximately commensurate, with
the punishment wherewith He has visited him.
7 “Thou knowest that I am not wicked; and there is none that can
deliver out of thine hand.” Thou knowest that I am not wicked; rather,
although thou knowest (see the Revised Version). Conscious of his own
integrity and faithfulness, Job feels that God too must know them; wherefore
it seems to him all the harder that he should be made to suffer as if he were a
“chief sinner.” And there is none that can deliver out of thine hand.
“‘Tis excellent to have a giant’s strength;
But tyrannous to use it like a giant.”
Job’s last ground of appeal is, that he is wholly at God s mercy, can look
for no other deliverer, no other support or stay. Will not God, then, have
pity, and “spare him a little, that he may recover his strength before he goes
hence, and is no more seen “? (see Psalm 39:13; and compare below, v. 20).
The Pathetic Wail of a Crushed Heart (vs. 1-7)
· SOBBING IN THE EAR OF GOD.
Ø The moan of a desponding heart. “My soul is weary of
[literally, ‘loathes’] my life” (v. 1). That which had rendered
existence a disgust to Job was partly his intense bodily affliction,
but chiefly the overwhelming strangeness of the Divine conduct
towards him. If only he had been able to realize that,
notwithstanding all contrary appearances, he was still
an object of God’s compassionate regard, he would have
doubtless been able to endure with continued patience and
exemplary submission the appalling calamities which had
overtaken him. But the heavenward outlook of Job’s
spirit was obscured by gloomy clouds of doubt and fear.
The conviction was beginning to force itself inward upon his
soul that God was indeed turned to be his Adversary; and if that
were really so, Job felt that life would not be worth living.
So David estimated God’s favor as life, and God’s loving-
kindness as better than life (Psalm 30:5; 63:3; compare
homiletics on ch.6:1-13). (The idea of GOD’S LOVING-
KINDNESS being better than LIFE is one of the
most profound thoughts in the Bible to me! - CY – 2013)
Ø The utterance of a fainting spirit. “I will leave my complaint
upon myself” (v. 1); i.e. I will give it free scope, yield myself up
to it, and permit it to take full possession of me. Job’s complaint
was that God was treating him as guilty while he was inwardly
conscious of being innocent. Had this been really so, Job would have
had reason on his side. But as yet the Divine antagonism to which he
alluded was only an inference from his great sufferings. Hence the
attitude assumed by Job was indefensible. Much more was it
inexcusable to give way to a spirit of railing against God. If angry
feelings rose within him, it was his paramount duty to repress
them. The absence of gospel light, however, may serve in part to
extenuate Job’s offence. The Divine philosophy of affliction, as
expounded by Christianity, was not understood by him. If, then,
fainting under tribulation was wrong in the old Arabian
patriarch, much more is it INDEFENSIBLE IN a New
Ø The resolve of an embittered soul. “I will speak in the
bitterness of my soul” (v. 1). Job was at this time intensely
miserable. Life was a burden. God was (or seemed to be) against
him. His own spirit was stung with a keen sense of injustice. The result
was that wild indignation against the Almighty was beginning to
steal like A POISON THROUGH HIS VEINS! His soul
was FAST GETTING SET ON FIRE BY HELL! In
circumstances such as these, it was extremely unwise in Job to
resolve to speak. Safety would have been better secured by silence.
The only favorable feature in the case was that Job meant not to fling
abroad his impassioned outcries on the wild winds, but to breathe
them INTO THE EAR OF GOD! If a saint or sinner should feel
aggrieved with God, IT IS INFINITELY WISER TO GO
DIRECT TO GOD HIMSELF than to either BROOD OVER
IT IN SECRET OR TELL IT TO THE WORLD????
· PLEADING BEFORE THE THRONE OF GOD.
Ø Deprecating condemnation. “I will say unto God, Do not condemn
me (literally, ‘do not fasten guilt upon me)” (v. 2). The words may be
regarded either as the cry of a saint who is conscious of his own inward
moral and spiritual integrity, but who, through bodily affliction or Satanic
temptation, or both combined, has become suddenly apprehensive of
having forfeited or lost the Divine favor; or as the prayer of a sinful soul
awakened for the first time to a conviction of its guiltiness before God,
which, in an agony of fear, it implores God not to fasten on it, but to
cancel and forgive. In the first of these two senses it was used by Job,
and by saints similarly situated it may still be employed. No greater
consternation can seize upon the mind of a child of God than that
produced by the fear that God intends to condemn him. But such a fear
is groundless. Whom God justifies, them He also glorifies (Romans
8:30). “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Ibid.
11:29). There is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus
(Ibid. 8:1). God may sometimes hide His face from a saint (Isaiah 54:8),
but He never finally turns His back upon him (Hebrews 13:5). In the
second sense it is a prayer appropriate to all awakened sinners. And,
thanks to Divine mercy, God never fastens guilt upon a soul that
fastens it upon itself, never condemns those who sincerely condemn
themselves (Isaiah 1:16; 43:25; I John 1:9).
Ø Desiring illumination. “Show me wherefore thou contendest with
me.” God contends with men when in His providence He afflicts, and
by His Spirit convicts, them. He contends with sinners on account of their
unbelief (John 16:8-9) and wickedness generally; He may contend with
His people on account of their backsliding (Micah 6:2; Revelation 2:4-5),
their formality (Ibid.3:1), their spiritual indifference (Ibid. vs.15-16), or
simply to advance their individual improvement (Genesis 32:24). Yet
when God does so contend with a saint the reason is not always patent
(ch.37:21). Hence the prayer to be divinely instructed as to the
grounds of God’s controversy with the soul is not only not sinful,
but HIGHLY PROPER AND ADVANTAGEOUS! Only it
should be presented with reverence, with humility, with docility.
· APPEALING TO THE HEART OF GOD. Job remonstrates with
God against the treatment accorded to him on two main grounds.
Ø It is derogatory to the Divine character. “Is it good unto thee
(literally, ‘is it becoming’) that thou shouldest oppress, that thou
shouldest despise the work of thine hands, and shine upon the
counsel of the wicked?” (v.3). Three considerations, according to
Job, ought to have prevented God from inflicting upon him such
o His personal greatness. It was not becoming in a Being so
transcendently glorious and powerful as He was to be guilty of
o His personal interest. What proprietor ever destroyed his own
property? What potter ever dashed to the ground the exquisite
vessel which his hands had just fashioned? But Job was God’s
handiwork, and yet God despised him, and treated him as of
o His personal integrity. If God was a Being of absolute
holiness and incorruptible justice, then it was clearly impossible
that He could shine upon the counsel of the wicked, or favor bad
men. But this, as it appeared to Job, was what God was doing
in afflicting him. The threefold argument was good if Job’s premise
was correct. But Job’s description of the Divine conduct
towards him was in all its particular, fallacious. THE
ALMIGHTY never oppresses any of his creatures, least
of all man. The Creator never despises anything He has made,
least of all His own children. The Governor of the universe cannot
wrong the just, least of all can He favor the ungodly. Job’s argument
therefore should have led him to seek another solution for the dark
problem that perplexed him. It could not be that God was treating
him as above depicted: God’s character forbade that. Neither
could it be that he, Job, was guilty: the testimony of his own
conscience protested against that. (It is not certain that a Christian
would have been as tenacious of his own personal innocence as
Job was.) Might it not, therefore, be that Job was putting a
wrong construction on his sufferings?
o It is inconsistent with the Divine perfections.
§ With His omniscience. “Hast thou eyes of flesh? or seest
thou as man seeth?” (v. 4). If God were like man, a being
of limited capacity in respect of knowledge, if He could only
judge by appearance, then He might be acting in the present
instance under a mistaken idea of the patriarch’s guilt. But
against that rose the transcendent objection that God’s eyes
were not “eyes of flesh” at all, but eyes “like a flame of fire”
(Revelation 1:14), from which no thought can be withholden
(ch. 42:2), and which seeth every precious thing (Ibid. 28:10).
(Also, God is “of purer eyes than to behold evil, and
canst not look on iniquity” – Habakkuk 1:13 – CY –
§ With his eternity. “Are thy days as the days of man?
are thy years as man’s days, that thou inquirest after
mine iniquity, and searchest after my sin?” (vs. 5-6).
Job professes he could have understood the Almighty’s
hot pursuit of him had the Almighty been a short-lived
being like himself, and afraid that His creature might die
before He had it out with him. But, then, God was not like
man. (“thou thoughtest that I was altogether such
an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set
them in order before thine eyes.” – Psalm 50:21)
There was no fear of God dying. Hence Job
could not see the need for such a hasty and terrible
inquisition as he had been subjected to. If to find out his
sin was God’s object, why all this hurry? had not God an
eternity to do it in?
§ With His justice. “Thou knowest (rather, ‘although thou
knowest’) that I am not guilty; and there is none that
(rather, ‘and although none’) can deliver out of thy hand”
(v. 7). The Divine conduct would have been perfectly
intelligible to Job on the hypothesis that God, like some
petty tyrant, had resorted to the thumbscrews of affliction
to extort confession from a prisoner whom he knew to be
innocent, simply because he had the power so to do. But
such a supposition was, of course, untenable.
Therefore Job felt hemmed in on every side by
inextricable difficulty, and was obliged to cry,
“Show me wherefore thou contendest with me.”
Note: The best thing for burdened souls to do is to cast themselves and their
burdens into God’s lap; not angrily, but humbly; not complainingly, but
confidingly. There is a wide difference between God’s contending with His people,
and God’s condemning them; this He never, that He often, does. When God’s character
and God’s conduct appear in conflict, it becomes us to question our interpretations
of the situation rather than RENOUNCE OUR TRUST IN GOD!
The Supplicatory Cry of Deep Sorrow (vs. 1-7)
This is the cry of one who declares, “My soul is weary of my life.” He
opens his lips that the stream of his “complaint” may flow forth unchecked.
Yet is he humble and subdued, though he adopts almost the tone of
expostulation. He has confessed himself to be unequal to the contention.
He cannot give answer to God; he has acknowledged his guilt and
impotence. Now he would know “wherefore” God contends with him. This
is the desire of even the most resigned sufferer. Certainly the cry which
comes oft from the lips of the deeply afflicted is, “Why am I thus made to
suffer?” If Christian principle and calm faith keep back the demand, “Show
me wherefore,” yet it is heard in the undertones of amazement and surprise
at the unexplained and even severe dealings of a loving God — “Ah, it is
mysterious!” The confession of the mysteriousness of human suffering is a
suppressed cry for the mystery to be cleared up. Job’s cry takes the form of:
· A DESIRE TO RE FREED FROM CONDEMNATION. “I will say
unto God, Do not condemn me.” This the first desire of the resigned
sufferer. Let it not be as a punishment for my transgression. “Condemn me
not” is another form of urging, “Pardon my offence which I confess.” It is a
prayer for forgiveness. Up to this, the previous confession of unworthiness
and even of sin has properly led. It is the first rest of the soul. While the
unconfessed condemnations of guilt are upon it THERE CAN BE NO
PEACE! Happy he who in the depth of his suffering makes his confession;
happier still he who hears the word of gracious forgiveness. This is
· THE UNSUPPRESSED LONGING TO KNOW THE REASON FOR
THE DIVINE AFFLICTIONS. “Show me wherefore thou contendest with
me.” How natural to desire this! But the Divine ways are “past finding
out.” (Romans 11:33) “He giveth none account of His ways” (ch. 33:13)
Certainly to Job came no sufficient answer. It remained for later days to
learn, “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth” (Hebrews 12:6) To all
Job’s suggestions a negative reply may be given.
Ø It is not “good” (i.e. pleasing) to God “to oppress,” to (appear to)
“despise” His creatures; or, as it would seem, “to shine upon the
counsel of the wicked”
Ø He has not “eyes of flesh” He does not see “as man seeth” — looking
only on the outward appearance, and judging by that alone. God looketh
on the heart, and estimates the human act by the motive which impels
it. He makes allowance for human frailty more than even frail, erring
man makes for his own brother. He is just in His view, and not warped
as is the judgment of feeble flesh.
Ø His days are not “as the days of man.” His are the days of eternity, He
can wait until the future for a justification of Job’s conduct. He has not to
make haste to bring about a crisis in Job’s history. He needs not to hurry
to put Job to the proof. Our reflections on the Divine dealings may be
justly corrected by duly pondering this history. In our assured integrity
we may wait. In our conscious sinfulness we are safest in the Lord’s
hands; from which, indeed, we cannot escape. “There is none that
can deliver out of thine hand.”
In vs. 8-12, we have an expansion of the plea in v. 3, “Is it good unto thee that
thou shouldest despise the work of thine own hands?” Job appeals to God, not
only as his Greater, but as, up to a certain time, his Supporter and Sustainer.
8 “Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about; yet
thou dost destroy me.” Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together
round about (compare Psalm 139:12-16, “My reins are thine; thou hast
covered me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks unto thee, for I am
fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are thy works, and that my soul
knoweth right well. My bones are not hid from thee, though I be made
secretly, and fashioned beneath in the earth. Thine eyes did see my
substance, yet being imperfect; and in thy book were all my members
written, which day by day were fashioned, when as yet there was none of
them”). The processes in nature are always attributed in Scripture to THE
IMMEDIATE ACTION OF GOD! The formation of every individual stands,
in the language of the Holy Ghost, precisely on the same footing as that of
the first man! (Compare “Thine hands have made me and fashioned me.”
Psalm 119:73: An interesting but unsubstantial note here: Thine hands. Hilary and
Ambrose think that by the plural "hands" is intimated that there is a more exact and
perfect workmanship in man, and as if it were with greater labor and skill he had been
formed by God [as if God had made the worlds with one hand tied behind His
back – CY – 2013], because after the image and likeness to God: and that it is not
written that any other thing but man was made by God with both hands, for he saith
in Isaiah, "Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth": Isaiah 48:13.
— John Lorinus, 1569-1634. This, however, is an error, as Augustine notes; for it
is written, "The heavens are the work of thine hands" (Psalm 102:25. —
Charles Haddon Spurgeon). Yet thou dost destroy me; literally, devour me
Creation and Its Consequences (v. 8)
Job appeals to God as his Maker. He remonstrates with the Creator for
apparently destroying His own work. If God had first made man, why
should God turn on His creature to “swallow him up”? This is not so much
an appeal to pity or justice, as one to reason and consistency.
· GOD IS THE CREATOR OF EVERY INDIVIDUAL MAN.
Theologians were once divided between two theories of the origin of
human souls, called respectively “Creationist” and “Traducianist.” The
Creationists held that each soul was created by God; the Traducianists that
souls were derived by descent, were transmitted by birth from ancestral
souls, and originally from Adam and Eve, just like the bodies they inhabit.
Was it not unfair to confine the name “Creationist” to the former school?
The idea of descent from parents does not exclude Divine action. The
parent is not the creator. The original great Cause must be the Source of all
that follows. If God only created once for all at the beginning of the world,
still He created each individual, because each individual simply comes from
that original creation. If it could be shown that man was not separately
created, but that he derived his origin from lower creatures by evolution,
he would be not the less created by God; for how could the marvelous
process of evolution originate or progress, unless the Almighty and All-Wise
had started it? Nay, it is only reasonable to believe that God is ever
creating. Not once for all, but in every stage of evolution, the Divine hand
is working out the eternal plan. So also each individual life is molded by
that same Creative hand. God is working eternally, for the laws of nature
are but the ways of God. He was as truly the Creator of Job as of Adam;
and he makes each man now by means of birth as really as He made the first
life out of inorganic matter.
· THE FACT THAT GOD IS THE CREATOR OF EVERY MAN
MUST AFFECT HIS TREATMENT OF ALL HIS CREATURES.
Ø He cannot have predestined them to ruin. To affirm that He could do so
is to say that the Creator is not God, but the devil, A god who was merely
indifferent to his creatures would not from the first plan their destruction.
If it is suggested that God might do this to display His own glory, the reply
is that such an action could display no glory, but the reverse. To say that
God may do as He will with His own is irrelevant. His absolute rights over
His creatures do not exclude moral considerations. Further, the holy,
righteous, and loving character of God makes it absolutely certain that
He could not planned have their ruin.
Ø He can never consent that they should be ruined. “He hateth nothing
that he hath made.” The very fact of creation gives God an interest in His
creatures. The artist cannot be indifferent to the fate of his works. But God
is more than an artist; He is a Father, and a father cannot be indifferent to
the fate of his children. It may be necessary for the parent to chastise, but
no true and worthy parent will ever really wish to hurt his offspring. Can
we think that God is less strong in parental love than we are? It is
necessary for God to be angry with the wicked — and there is a terror in
God’s anger which men can only despise at their peril — but behind that
auger there can be no vindictive temper, much less can there be a spiteful
malignity. God only desires the welfare of His children.
9 “Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay; and
wilt thou bring me into dust again?” Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast
made me as the clay; rather, that thou hast fashioned me as day; i.e. “Thou hast
formed me, as a potter fashions a pot out of clay.” This is scarcely a reference to
Genesis 3:19, but rather an early use of what became a stock metaphor
(compare Isaiah 29:16; 30:14:; 45:9; 64:8; Jeremiah 18:6; Romans 9:21-23).
And wilt thou bring us into dust again? After having fashioned me out of clay
into a human form, wilt thou undo thine own work, crumble me into powder,
and make me mere dust once more?
10 “Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like
cheese?” “Didst not thou” i.e., “form me as an embryo in the womb,
gradually solidifying my substance, and changing soft juices into a firm
though tender mass?”
11 “Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with
bones and sinews.” Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh. “To thee,” that
is, “I owe the delicate skin, which encloses my frame, and keeps it
compact; to thee I owe the flesh whereof my frame chiefly consists.” And
hast fenced me with bones and sinews; rather, and hast woven me’ or knit
me together (see the Revised Version, and compare Psalm 139:13, where
the same verb is used in the same sense). The idea is that the body
altogether is woven and compacted of skin, bone, flesh, sinews, etc., into a
delicate and elaborate garment (compare II Corinthians 5:2-4).
12 “Thou hast granted me life and favor, and thy visitation hath
preserved my spirit.” Thou hast granted me life and favor. God, besides
providing Job with a body so delicately and marvelously constructed, had
added the gift of “life” (Genesis 2:7), and also that of “favor,” or
loving providential care, whereby his life was preserved from infancy to
manhood, and from manhood to a ripe age, in peace and prosperity. Job
has not forgotten his former state of temporal happiness (ch.1:2-5),
nor ceased to feel gratitude to God for it (Ibid. 2:10). And thy visitation
hath preserved my spirit; or, thy providence — “thy continual care.”
Man the Creature of God (vs. 8-12)
Job now seeks consolation in other courses of reflection, although arising
out of the foregoing. He would fain draw what comfort he can from the
knowledge of the fact that he is the creature of God. “Thy hands have
made me and fashioned me together round about.” Thy skill and patience,
thy thought and attention, have been bestowed on me. Wilt thou forsake
the work of thine hands? Is it solely for this time of trouble thou hast
brought me forth? A calm meditation on the truth, “I am the creature of
God, created by the Divine hands, the product of His activity,” is calculated
to bring consolation, for:
· IT IS A PLEDGE OF BLESSING. Even erring man is thoughtful of his
own work. God’s work is perfect. But it is so because He momentarily
guards it. He carries forward all the processes which we moderns call
“laws of nature.” Job saw the “hand” of God in all the changes of the earth
and heavens and of human life, Therefore to know I am a creature of God
is to know my life is in His hands. I serve His purpose. He is Lord of all.
Every act of His hand is pure blessing. He can do no evil. My creatureship
is a sufficient pledge to me of certain blessing. He worketh for the good of
all the creatures of His hands — sheep and oxen, birds of air and fish of sea.
So His work in my limb is the truest warrant of good to me.
· IT IS A SOURCE OF COMFORT. No one can calmly reflect on the
fact of his creatureship without finding cause for comfort. Each may leave
himself in the hands of his Owner. It is the basis of the truest consolation.
“I am thine” must warrant the prayer, “Save me.” The human life may be
left in the Divine hands. The poor, frail, helpless one may commit himself
unto God. There is rich comfort in the knowledge of the fact that the Lord
of the whole earth is my Creator. That He should “destroy,” or appear to
destroy, the poor sufferer is at once acknowledged to be matter of surprise.
Under the shadow of the wings of the Almighty Creator every creature
may find refuge.
· IT IS AN ASSURANCE OF DIVINE CARE. “Wilt thou then bring
me into dust again?” This is the inevitable thought in the heart of him who
recognizes himself as the creature of God — who says, “Thou hast made
me as the clay.” It is the instinct of frail man to care for his own. How
much more is it the Divine method! Already Job has declared his faith
when saying, “Dost thou despise the work of thine own hands?” Thou hast
raised me from the dust; wilt thou bring me into dust again? Will thou
frustrate thine own purpose? Thus Job reasons, and wisely. It is the
assurance of calm wisdom, the faith which has firm foundation. He who
has brought me into life, will care for me, will sustain me, will defend me.
· SUCH AN ASSURANCE IS A SUFFICIENT GROUND OF
CONFIDENT AND CALM REPOSE. Restful is the spirit of faith; and the
more simple faith is in its reasoning, the more assured is its peace.
Consciousness of sin would lead to distress of mind and to fear when it is
remembered, “Thine hands have fashioned me;” but to the heart assured of
its integrity, this truth is the ground of calm repose. Prayer may be based
upon this. Faith here may find its support; love, its inspiration.
Life and Favor from God (v. 12)
· GOD THE ORIGINAL SOURCE. Job appeals to his Creator, and
recognizes the Divine Source of all he is and all he has. The prologue
shows that Job had always been a devout man, not forgetful of God. But
his frightful losses and troubles brought home to him the thought of his
relations to God with a vividness never before experienced. Job is now face
to face with God. Huge calamities have swept away all intermediate
interests, and over the wreck of his wasted life he looks straight to
GOD HIS MAKER! Terrible hours of distress reveal the deeper facts of
life, as the earthquake exposes the granite foundations of the hills. Tragedy
destroys superficiality. Those who have been through the raging waters of
trouble are best able to perceive the Divine Source of all things.
· GOD’S PRIMAL GIFTS.
o This can only come from God. The chemist may analyze the
component elements of our bodily frame, but the subtle life-
principle can never be caught in his crucible. The engineer
may construct a most delicate machine, but he can never
breathe life into it. God is the one Source of life!
o This is essential to all else. Here we are at the first and most
fundamental gift. Men may bury treasures with the dead, but the
silent sleepers in the tomb can never touch one of the gifts that
rust and molder by their side. We must live if we are to own or
use anything. We must have the spiritual life in order to
enjoy the gospel blessings.
Ø Favor. Life is itself a favor. It is never deserved; yet it is good to live.
But with life God gives other favors. Even Job in his desolation did
not forget this fact, as some seem to forget it when they murmur against
working for the misery of man. Greater than all earthly favor is
THE GRACE OF CHRIST, the favor shown to fallen man
in THE REDEMPTION OF THE RACE BY THE
SACRIFICE OF GOD’S ONLY SON!
· GOD’S CONTINUED GOODNESS. Job acknowledges that his very
breath is continued by God’s care. God does not merely create once for all;
He preserves His creatures. If He were to withdraw His hand for one
moment, THEY WOULD CEASE TO BE! That we are alive now is a
sign that God is now good to us. Present existence is a proof of PRESENT
withered flowers of yesterday, but the new blossoms of to-day, with the
dew still upon them. Daily renewed mercies call for daily renewed praises.
(“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His
compassions fail not, They are new every morning: great is thy
faithfulness.” - Lamentations 3:22-23). We have not to look
far for God, searching the annals of antiquity, inquiring of the deeds of
old world history, or scraping together the geologic records of the rocks.
God is with us in the new sunrise, in each day’s life and blessing.
· GOD’S ASSURED CARE. It cannot be as Job supposes. His
remonstrance is natural to him, but it is needless. If God has made and
preserved us, it is impossible that He should be turned against us.
(“He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all,
How shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” -
Romans 8:32). His past and present favors are proofs of His unchanging love.
Though He smites, He cannot hate. Though He withdraws His smiling
countenance, He does not remove His supporting hand. Creation and
preservation are prophecies of REDEMPTION and SALVATION!
13 “And these things hast thou hid in thine heart: I know that this is
with thee.” And these things hast thou hid in thine heart; rather, yet
these things didst thou hide in thine heart; i.e. “Yet all the while,
notwithstanding thy protecting care and gracious favor, thou wert hiding
in thy heart the intention to bring all these evils upon me; thou couldst not
but have known what thou wert about to do, though thou didst conceal thy
intention, and allow no sign of it to escape thee.” I know that this is with
thee; rather, I know that this was with thee; i.e. this intention to destroy my
happiness was “with thee” — present to thy thought — even while thou
wert loading me with favor. Job’s statement cannot be gainsaid; but it
involves no real charge against God, who assigns men prosperity or
suffering as is best for them at the time.
The Things that are Hidden in God’s Heart (v. 13)
Job is possessed by a fearful thought. His tremendous troubles, and the
cruel accusations of his friends, have driven him to the conclusion that God
must have conceived the idea of thus tormenting him long before Job knew
anything of it; that God must have hidden the dreadful purpose in His heart;
that all the while Job was complacently enjoying his prosperity, God was
nursing the secret design of scattering it to the winds, and plunging His
servant into the depths of misery.
· GOD’S PURPOSES ARE HIDDEN FROM MAN. They are more
hidden than Job supposed. He thought that the Divine plan had just
appeared. But it was deeper than he imagined. Not only was it hidden in
the sunny days of prosperity; it was also hidden in the dark and dreadful
days of misery. Had Job known the Divine purpose, his suspicions would
have been dissipated, and he would have seen how unjust his arraignment
revealed to us, the discipline of trial would be frustrated. Moreover, it is
too deep and wide for us to grasp it. Therefore we must walk by faith
(II Corinthians 5:7).
· GOD APPEARS TO HIDE DARK DESIGNS. So Job thought, and so
the events of his life seemed to show. As the curtain slowly lifted, dreadful
things were discovered behind. God was always in the future, preparing it
for its advent; yet when it came it appeared in thunder and ruin. Was God
secretly planning all this misery in the quiet, old peaceful days when Job
suspected no danger? The unrolling of many a life-story has seemed to tell
the same tale of God’s secret thoughts made manifest in calamity.
· GOD REALLY HIDES PURPOSES OF LOVE IN HIS HEART.
He must do so because He is love. We cannot understand His plans, but we
can understand His nature as far as it is revealed to us. Now the revelation
of God is wholly of goodness. This includes wrath against sin, but no
injustice, no harshness, no delight in inflicting misery. Therefore, though
we do not see the Divine intention, we may be sure that it is gracious.
Ø He is seen to do so as far as His purposes are revealed.
o In Scripture. Ancient prophecy and the New Testament
gospel concur in setting forth the Divine plan, and although
this includes judgment and the punishment of sin, its main
design is the redemption of man.
o In experience. Some of God’s purposes are ripened and
fulfilled during our earthly life. These are seen to be good
and gracious. It is only the unaccomplished purpose that
wears a threatening aspect.
· THE HIDDEN PURPOSES OF GOD’S HEART WILL BE
ULTIMATELY REVEALED. God does not delight in secrecy, much less
does He designedly tantalize His creatures by perplexing them with needless
mysteries and alarming them with bogus fears. What we know not now we
shall know hereafter (John 13:7). The great apocalypse of futurity will
answer many a dark riddle of providence in the light of ETERNAL LOVE!
We have but to possess our souls in patience, and all will be clear. Job’s
life-problem was solved at last. When ours is made clear it will only enlarge
our wondering gratitude for the depth of the love which God had hidden in
14 “If I sin, then thou markest me, and thou wilt not acquit me from
mine iniquity.” If I sin, then thou markest me; rather, if I sinned’ then thou
didst observe me. Thou tookest note of all my sins as I committed them,
and laidest them up in thy memory. And thou wilt not acquit me from
mine iniquity. This record of my offences thou still hast against me, and I
cannot expect that thou wilt acquit me of them. Without some one to atone
for them, men cannot be acquitted of their offenses. (This plight of
man is why God sent us Jesus Christ! See How to be Saved - # 5 – this
web site – CY – 2013)
15 “If I be wicked, woe unto me; and if I be righteous, yet will I not lift
up my head. I am full of confusion; therefore see thou mine affliction;”
If I be wicked, woe unto me! If, on the whole, this record of
my sins be such that I am pronounced guilty before God, then I accept my
doom. Woe unto me! I must submit to suffer. And if I be righteous, yet
will I not lift up my head. If, on the contrary, it be admitted that I have not
sinned so grievously as to be pronounced unrighteous, even then I will not
boast; I will not exalt myself; I will not hold up my head as if I were sinless.
I am full of confusion. This clause should not be separated from the last.
The sense runs on: “I will not lift up my head (being, as I am), full of
confusion,” or “of shame,” through consciousness of my own
imperfections (see the Revised Version). Therefore see thou mine
affliction; rather, and seeing my afflictions. Job still views his afflictions as
signs of God’s disfavor, and therefore proofs of his sinfulness.
16 “For it increaseth. Thou huntest me as a fierce lion: and again thou
shewest thyself marvelous upon me.” For it increaseth. Thou huntest me.
This passage is very obscure, and has been taken in several quite different senses.
On the whole, it is not clear that any better meaning can be assigned to it than that
of the Authorized Version, “For my affliction increaseth,” or “is ever increasing.
Thou huntest me;” i.e. thou art continually pursuing me with thy plagues,
thy “arrows” (ch.6:4), thy “wounds” (Ibid. 9:17), thy poisoned shafts (Ibid. 6:4).
Thou givest me no rest, therefore I am ever conscious of my afflictions.
As a fierce lion. Most commentators take the view that the lion is
God (compare Isaiah 31:4; 38:13 [similar thinking by Hezekiah]; Jeremiah 25:38;
Lamentations 3:10; Hosea 5:14; 13:7-8). And again thou showest thyself
Marvelous upon me; or, thou dealest marvellously with me; i.e. “inflictest
on me strange and marvelous sufferings.’’
17 “Thou renewest thy witnesses against me, and increasest thine
indignation upon me; changes and war are against me.”
Thou renewest thy witnesses against me. Each fresh calamity that Job
suffers is a new witness that God is displeased with him, both in his own eyes,
and in those of his “comforters.” His disease was no doubt continually progressing,
and going from bad to worse, so that every day a new calamity seemed to befall him.
And increasest thine indignation upon me; i.e. “makest it more and more
evidently to appear, that thou art angry with me.” Changes and war are against me;
rather, changes and a host; i.e. attacks that are continually changing — a whole
host of them, or “host after host” (Revised Version margin), come against me.
An Inexplicable Contradiction (vs. 8-17)
· GOD’S FORMER LOVING CARE.
Ø Minutely detailed.
o In Job’s creation. This is first stated generally, the patriarch describing
himself as having been made directly, by God’s hand: “Thine hands
have made me and fashioned me;” perhaps in allusion to Genesis 1:26
(compare here, ch.12:10; 34:19; Deuteronomy 4:32; Psalm 33:15; Isaiah
45:12); completely, in all his parts: “together [‘literally,’ all of me ‘]
round about” (compare ch. 27:3; Psalm 139:15-16; 94:9 Exodus 4:11);
carefully, with exquisite skill: “Thou hast made me as the clay,” —
possibly an echo of Genesis 2:7, though most probably the image is
that of a potter molding an exquisite vessel And certainly man is God’s
noblest handiwork, whether we have regard to his physical structure
or to his mental and moral organization, and much more if we include
both in our contemplation (compare ‘Hamlet,’ act 2. sc. 2). The process
of man’s formation is then sketched in four particulars, showing a
remarkable acquaintance with the physiological phenomena connected
with this mysterious subject: the generation of the child; the production
of the embryo; the gradual development of the fetus; and the actual
birth of the child (vs. 10-12); for further information on which points
the Exposition may be consulted.
o In Job’s preservation. “Thy visitation [literally, ‘thy providence’] hath
preserved my spirit’ (v. 12). Man s continued existence on earth is as
much a miracle of Divine power as his first introduction into life.
Only Divine care constantly exercised could keep a delicate organism
like the human body, and much more a complicated instrument like
the human mind, from falling into disrepair, and eventually into
dissolution. Man, too, has so many wants, that unless Divine goodness
waited on him daily, he would speedily succumb beneath the stroke
of death. Hence Scripture assigns our sustenance no less than our
formation to God (Deuteronomy 8:3; Psalm 36:6; Acts 17:28).
Ø Skillfully employed. As Job recalls the time when he was thus an object
of God’s paternal solicitude, he cannot help lingering over the sweet
memories with which it floods his soul. Setting up, too, these tender
reminiscences against the dark background of his present sorrow, he feels
melted and softened. The thought of that Divine love which had fashioned
him and favored him enkindles in his soul a strange yearning for its return,
which makes him try, as it were, by recalling old times to God, to excite a
touch of pity in the Divine heart. “Thine hands have made me; and yet
thou destroyest me!” “Thou hast made me as clay; and yet thou
reducest me to dust again!” There are few arguments that touch the
heart of God so powerfully as the remembrance of former mercies.
(Of which I have been greatly blessed these seventy-seven years.
CY - 2021) “Put me in remembrance,” says God (Isaiah 43:26).
“Forget not all His benefits,” says David (Psalm 103:2; compare
ch. 42:6; 77:10; 143:5).
· GOD’S PRESENT CRUEL TREATMENT.
Ø The Divine plot. “And these things hast thou hid in thine heart: I know
that this is with thee” (v. 13). Job conceived that his terrible afflictions
were the outcome of a dark and deep design which God had formed
concerning him before he was born; that, in fact, God had summoned him
into existence precisely in order to persecute him in the way about to be
described. That God worketh all things on earth according to the counsel
of His will, that every event in history, as well as every incident in
individual experience, has its place in an eternally existing and universe-
embracing plan, is a truth of natural religion no less than of Divine
revelation (Acts 15:18; Ephesians 1:11). But that God created any soul
expressly for the purpose of rendering it miserable, either in time or
eternity, is s simple perversion of truth, inconsistent alike with man’s
fundamental notions of the Deity and Scripture’s explicit teachings as
to the import of predestination. God never plots against either saint or
sinner; but He never fails to plan for both — in which there should be
comfort for the one (Romans 8:28), and a caution for the other
(Proverbs 15:3, 11; Psalm 33:15).
Ø The fourfold net. Job unfolds the nature of that plot which he conceives
God to have devised against him.
o On the supposition of his sinning, God had determined to mark it
against him: “If I sin, then thou markest me, and thou wilt not acquit
me from mine iniquity” (v. 14). The hypothesis was natural, since
“there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and sinneth not”
(Psalm 14:3; I Kings 8:46; Romans 3:12). The inference was also
correct in the sense that God observeth all men’s sins (Psalm 33:13-15;
69:5; Proverbs 15:3; Hebrews 4:13), and can by no means acquit the
guilty (Nahum 1:3; Exodus 20:5; Romans 6:23); but as insinuating
that God lay in wait to catch men in transgression, or that He
was swift to note and punish sin, it was decidedly incorrect (Psalm
130:3; Nehemiah 9:17; Exodus 34:6; Psalm 78:38). It is God’s
highest glory that, though He sees, He is now able not to mark,
iniquity; that He can both remit the trespass and acquit the sinner
in consequence of Christ’s propitiation (Romans 3:25-26).
o On the assumption of his perpetrating heinous wickedness, then his
punishment would simply be unspeakable: “If I be wicked, woe unto
me!” It is still true that obstinate and impenitent transgressors will not
escape the just judgment of Almighty God (ch. 31:3; Isaiah 3:11; 45:9;
Proverbs 11:21; Matthew 21:41; 24:51; Romans 1:18; 2:8), but it is
likewise a blessed truth that the most notorious offender may be forgiven
(Isaiah 1:18; Jeremiah 33:8; I John 1:7, 9; I Timothy 1:15).
o If he should prove to be forensically guiltless, he must still demean
himself as if he were a criminal: “If I be righteous, yet will I not lift
up my head.” Job’s language here suggests two important truths —
that no man, however conscious of innocence, can really lift up his
head before God as if he were spotless; and that even those who
can lift up their heads, through the righteousness of Jesus Christ,
have no room for self-exaltation (Romans 3:27).
o Should he venture to indulge in such a feeling, then God would
redouble His attempts to abase him; hunting him like a wild beast, —
“Thou huntest [literally, ‘wouldst hunt’] me as a fierce lion: and
again thou showest thyself marvelous upon me [or, ‘thou wouldst
repeat thy miracles upon me’] “ — prosecuting him like a culprit, —
“Thou renewest thy witnesses against me;” besieging him like a fortress,
— “Thou increasest [or, ‘wouldst increase’] thine indignation against
me, with host succeeding host against me.” The imagery may set forth
the intensity and variety of Job’s sufferings; but it is likewise fitted to
suggest the vehement, relentless, and unceasing opposition which
God offers to all attempts on man’s part to vindicate his own
righteousness. It is God’s paramount aim, in providence
and grace, to reduce man to a position of self-abasement and
self-condemnation; and for this end He employs all the supernatural
power of His Word and Spirit, all the evidence and testimony of the
sinner’s own heart and life, all the vicissitudes and trials of his
ordinary providence. God’s object in doing so is that He may be
able to lift up the sinner’s head.
1. That if God uses rigor towards man, He doth it not of any cruelty, since
man is God’s handiwork.
2. That man, being God’s handiwork, should never cease to praise his
3. That man’s lowly origin should both keep him humble and remind him of
his latter end.
4. That God’s power and grace should be recognized in man’s preservation
as much as in man’s formation.
5. That “all things are naked and manifest to the eyes of him with whom
we have to do.” (Hebrews 4:13)
6. That God, if swift to note, is still swifter to forgive, iniquity.
7. That the royal road to Heaven’s favor and forgiveness is through
humility and self-abasement.
8. That the end of all Divine discipline on earth is to humble man in
preparation for eternal exaltation.
The Relation between the Creator and the Creature (vs. 8-17)
· Comparison of the Creator and the creature the potter and his work.
(v. 8.) The potter’s artistic work is a work on which care, thought,
elaboration, have been spent; it is a “thing of beauty,” and he designs it to
be a “joy for ever.” He will not wantonly destroy it, will not bear to see it
so destroyed. Can we believe otherwise of God and His work? A most
true and telling analogy, and on which may be founded an argument for the
immortality of the soul. Had that idea come within the horizon of Job’s
vision, his analogy would have afforded him profound comfort.
Ø Contrast between the careful production and preservation’ and the
seeming reckless destruction of the creature. (vs. 10-17.) On the one
hand we see (vs. 10-11) the marvelous production and development of
the bodily life from the embryo to the distinct and fully developed form,
arranged with all the apparatus and mechanism of nutrition and of
movement. (If this was the only sentence in the world which addressed the
sin of abortion, it would be enough to pass eternal judgment on those
associated with abortion FOR EVER! - CY – 2013). What dazzling
evidences of the thought which God has lavished upon his chief work do all
the discoveries of physiology unfold! (I recommend typing in your
browser spina bifida Michael Clancy – to see a photograph of a 21 week
old fetus holding on to a doctor’s finger – the photograph was in the
newspapers and was taken at
2013) We may read side by side with this passage Psalm 139., and
endowment of this marvelous framework with the great gift of life, and
manifold rich enjoyments, and its preservation through all the dangers
of youth to the present moment (v. 12). But how dread the other side of the
contrast! Behind this elaborate design there was concealed from the first,
as it seems to Job’s gloomy reflection, A DELIBERATE PURPOSE OF
DESTRUCTION - the reckless annihilation of THIS SPLENDID
WORK OF DIVINE ART (v. 13). Rather, if we do but rectify these
perverted reasonings of a morbid and distressed mood, what noble and
irresistible arguments do we derive from experience and from the science
of our physical life for God’s eternal interest in that which is here contained
in it — the soul which partakes of Him, and cannot perish! Then
follows a terrible picture of the relation in which the patriarch, in his misery,
supposes himself to stand to God. He is in a “tetralemma,” or net, from which
he can see no escape.
Ø If he commits the smallest error (v. 14), those all. searching eyes
follow him with their ceaseless watch, and will exact the penalty of
Ø If he should commit iniquity (v. 5) — that he has done so, however,
before these sufferings, he must most solemnly deny — then he will be
Ø But even if he were in the right, he must appear as a guilty one; cannot
dare, freely and proudly, to raise his head — because full of ignominy,
and with his own eyes beholding his humiliation (v. 15).
Ø And should this innocent and insulted head, unable longer to endure the
ignominy, rise in freedom and in pride — as Job is now doing, in fact, by.
the tone of his speech — then God, wroth with his resistance, will send
afresh the severest sufferings upon him; will hunt him like a lion; will reveal
himself in fresh marvels of woe and judgment (v. 16); will produce fresh
witnesses, in the shape of new pains, as accusers against him. Like hosts
pouring one after another against one beleaguered city, so will these
troubles thickly come on (v. 17).
The Hidden Purposes of Affliction (vs. 13-17)
Job has reasoned much, and he has asked for an explanation of the Divine
purpose. “Wherefore contendest thou with me?” (v. 2). Doubtless he judges,
as do his friends, that suffering is the natural consequence and certain punishment
of wrong-doing. But he is conscientious in affirming his innocence of
transgression, and the Divine testimony to his goodness agrees with this
(ch.2:3). What, then, is the explanation of the whole? Can we ever
hope to know in this world what are the deep purposes of God in the
afflictions of which the human life is capable, and especially in the
sufferings of the godly? No. The purposes, though partially revealed, are
still to a great extent “hidden” — hidden in the “heart” of God. Job feels
himself hedged in. He is “full of confusion.” We must remember Job had
not the clear light in which we view the Divine work. Yet even from us His
ways are hidden. We must say, “Clouds and darkness are round about Him.”
· WE MUST SEE IT TO BE PERFECTLY NATURAL THAT THE
DIVINE WAYS SHOULD BE HIDDEN FROM MEN. How should
Man be able to trace the Divine purpose? It is high; he cannot attain unto it
(Psalm 139:6). Hidden in the Divine mind — not always revealed by the
incidents of affliction. “These things hast thou hid in thine heart.” (v.13).
· THE HIDING OF THE DIVINE PURPOSES IS A SALUTARY
TEST TO FAITH. Faith in God is needful in order to a right relation of the
human soul towards God. It is the basis of peace; encouragement to
obedience; ground of holy fear; help to holy love. But the testing of faith
leads to a more spiritual dependence upon God, to a more frequent
reference of the heart to him. Walking by faith honors God. Faith is
needed by the very conditions of human life. Its exercise promotes
· THE HIDING OF THE DIVINE PURPOSE IS A GRACIOUS
DESIGN ON THE PART OF GOD MORE EFFECTUALLY TO
WORK OUT HIS WILL CONCERNING MAN. The rebellious, not
knowing it, cannot frustrate it. Secretly the Divine will is wrought out in
the experience and history of the sufferer. The entire dependence of the soul
on God is encouraged. This must lead to submission, and submission in faith.
The reliance of the soul must be on the character of God, and not on
circumstances and incidents.
· THE HIDING OF THE DIVINE PURPOSES ISSUES IN THE
PERFECTING OF THE SUPREME EXCELLENCE OF THE
HUMAN CHARACTER — PATIENCE. Thus it has its “perfect work”
(James 1:4), and the soul is left “entire, lacking nothing.” He who can
patiently and trustfully wait upon God, bearing up under pressure of afflictive
circumstances, gains a vigor and beauty of character. If patience be
wanting, all other qualities of the character are impaired. Man’s wisdom
is to be satisfied with COMMITING HIMSELF TO THE HIDDEN
PURPOSES OF GOD! In faith to confide in them as wise and good.
In patience to await their exposition when it shall please God to reveal them
18 “Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? Oh
that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me!” Wherefore then
hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? A recurrence to his original
complaint (ch.3:3-10); as if, after full consideration, he returned to the conviction
that the root of the whole matter — the real thing of which he might justly complain —
was that he had ever been born into the world alive? Oh that I had given up the
ghost! Before birth, or in the act of birth (Ibid. v.11). And no eye
had seen me! “No eye,” i.e., “had looked upon my living face.” For then:
19 “I should have been as though I had not been; I should
have been carried from the womb to the grave.” So short an existence
would have been the next thing to no existence at all, and would have
equally satisfied my wishes.
20 “Are not my days few? Cease then, and let me alone, that I
may take comfort a little.” Job here returns from vague longings and idle
aspirations to actual realities — the facts of the case — and asks, “Is not
the time that I now have to live short? Must not my disease make an end of
me in a very brief space? If so, then may I not make a request? My petition
is that God will ‘cease’ from me, grant me a respite, ‘let me alone’ for a
short time, remove His heavy hand, and allow me to ‘take comfort a little,’
recover my strength, and obtain a breathing-space, before my actual end,
before the time comes for my descent to Sheol,” which is then (vs. 21-22)
described. The parallel with Psalm 39:13 is striking.
21 “Before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness
and the shadow of death. Before I go whence I shall not return.” (compare
ch.7:9; and see II Samuel 12:23). Even to the land of darkness and the
shadow of death. Job’s idea of the receptacle of the dead, while it has
some analogies with the Egyptian under-world, and even more with the
Greek and Roman conceptions of Hades or Orcus, was probably derived
from Babylonia, or
(ch.1:17). It was within the earth, consequently dark and sunless
(compare the Umbrae of the Romans, and Euripides’s ne>krwn keuqmw~na
kai< sko>tou pu>lav), deep (ch.11:8), dreary, fastened with belts and
bars (ch.17:16). The Babylonians spoke of it as “the abode of
darkness and famine, where earth was men’s food, and their nourishment
clay; where light was not seen, but in darkness they dwelt; where ghosts,
like birds, fluttered their wings; and where, on the doors and on the
doorposts, the dust lay undisturbed” (Transactions of the Society of Biblical
Archaeology, vol. 1. p. 118).
22 “A land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death,
without any order, and where the light is as darkness.” A land of darkness,
as darkness itself; or, a land of thick darkness (see the Revised Version).
And of the shadow of death, without any order. THE ABSENCE OF
ORDER is a new and peculiar feature. We do not find it in the other accounts
of Hades. But it lends additional horror and weirdness to the scene. And
where the light is as darkness. Not, therefore, absolutely without light, but
with such a light as
Appeal to the Justice, Knowledge, and Goodness of God
In his extremity of maddening pain and in his contempt of life, Job resolves to give
full way once more to words (v. 1). And as they pour forth in full flood from the
bottom of his heart, we perceive that he has in reality truer and juster thoughts
about God than those expressed in the preceding chapter. He proceeds to appeal one
by one to the highest perfection which can be associated with the Divine Name.
· APPEAL TO THE GOODNESS AND GREATNESS OF GOD (vs. 2-7.)
Ø To His reasonableness and justice. (v, 2.) “Condemn me not unheard,
without cause assigned; make clear to my mind, which cannot deny its
convictions, my guilt and its nature.” Taking the analogy of our Lord’s
reasoning in the sermon on the mount, if to condemn a man without cause
is felt to be an odious injustice — if it is a cardinal point in a just earthly
constitution (e.g. as expressed in our Habeas Corpus Act) that no man be
seized and kept in prison without speedy opportunity of being confronted
with his accusers — how can we ascribe such conduct to Him who sits on
the eternal throne?
Ø To His equity. (v. 3.) Can it be right that God should, on the one hand,
cast down the weak and innocent, and, on the other, exalt and favor the
unprincipled and the wicked? This would not be to hold even the scales,
the eternal emblem of justice. The true solution to the question is given
by Christ. God is good to all alike. The great gifts of nature — sunshine
and rain — are common to good and evil, just and unjust. And as to
spiritual blessings, which are of their nature conditional on human will
and seeking, God is as good to all as their own state and disposition
will suffer Him to be. Are, then, the sufferings of the good contrary to
His justice? Not so; but they come under that higher law which Job
and his friends have yet to learn, that suffering is one of the forms and
manifestations of Divine goodness in the education of human beings.
Ø Appeal to His omniscience. (v. 4.) God sees all things, from all
beginnings, to all ends. He is not a short-sighted tyrant who is tempted to
force by torture a confession of guilt from an unhappy prisoner against
whom He has only a suspicion but no evidence. God knows that Job is
innocent. But this fact should put an end to his murmurs, could he be
wholly true to his higher faith in God. The right which God knows he will
in the end declare, and will be seen to have throughout defended and
Ø Appeal to His eternal duration. (vs. 5-6.) The calm and ever-abiding
existence of God must surely free Him from those temptations to which
short-lived man is subject. Hurry, impatience, haste, impetuosity, are
characteristics of humanity, because men know they have much to do,
and but a short time in which to do it. Therefore the tyrant will snatch
quickly at revenge for any affront or injury he may have suffered.
But who can escape the power and the penalties of the Eternal?
Once more: God knows he is innocent (v. 7)!
· RENEWED BURST OF DESPONDENCY, IMPRECATIONS ON
LIFE, CRAVING FOR REST. (vs. 18-22.) Once more he wishes that he
had never been (vs. 18-19, repeated from ch. 3:11, etc.). Once more
he urges his strong petition that he may enjoy one brief respite during these
few short days that remain, free from the unceasing torment (v. 20),
before he sinks for ever into the lower world.
· PICTURE OF HADES, OR THE LOWER WORLD.
Ø It is the “land of darkness and of gloom, like to midnight” (vs. 21-22).
Ø Therefore it is the land of disorder and of confusion, where none who is
accustomed to light and order can feel himself at home.
Ø Though there be even there a slight change of day and night, yet even if
it be bright there, it is as gloomy as midnight upon earth. We may
compare those impressive pictures of the lower world and the state
of the departed which we find in the ‘Odyssey’ (11.) —
“Never the sun, that giveth light to man,
Looks down upon them with his golden eye,
Or when he climbs the starry arch, or when
Slope toward the earth, he wheels adown the sky;
But sad night weighs upon them wearily.”
“In bondage through fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:15) The knowledge
of another and a better life — denied to Job — is evidently the one
thing needed to satisfy an honest mind, cast down in extreme suffering,
overwhelmed in mystery, yet unable to renounce its faith in the justice
and goodness of God. Christ, by bringing life and immortality
to light (II Timothy 1:10). spreads a great radiance over the world.
It is the firm grasp of this Divine idea which enables man to support
suffering with calmness and patience. Let this idea be taken away, and
— as we see from the painful tone of those in our day who seriously
put the question, “Is life worth living?” — even ordinary
suffering may be resented as intolerable.
1. Confidence founded on our relation to God as a “faithful Creator.” He
cannot desert the work of His own hands.
2. His goodness in the past is an argument for trust for the time to come.
3. Insoluble perplexities are due to our own ignorance of the complete
conditions of life. God is the most misunderstood of beings.
4. Every revelation is to be eagerly received, every habit of mind
encouraged, which induces us to look on life as a good, death as a gain,
and the scene beyond as one of eternal brightness for all faithful souls.
An Old Complaint Renewed (vs. 18-22)
· A GREAT MERCY DESPISED. Life. “Wherefore then hast thou
brought me forth out of the womb?” (v. 18). Job here announces an
important truth, that the extraction of an infant from the womb is
practically God’s work (Psalm 22:9; 71:6), but likewise commits a sin
in regarding as an evil fortune what, rightly pondered, should have been
esteemed a valuable blessing. Life, as God bestows it, is a precious gift;
though frequently, as man makes it, it proves a dreadful curse. Job’s
ingratitude was all the more reprehensible that in his case life had been
crowned with mercies — with great material wealth, with true domestic
enjoyment, with immense social influence, with rich spiritual grace, with
palpable Divine favor.
· A SINFUL REGRET INDULGED. That he had not been carried from
the womb to the grave. “Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had
seen me!” (v. 18). Job’s regret was:
Ø Sinful; inasmuch as it undervalued a Divine gift.
Ø Unnatural; since it contradicted the instinct of love of life which the
Creator has implanted in all His creatures.
Ø Foolish; for though Job might have thereby escaped bodily pain, he
would also have missed much happiness and many opportunities of
glorifying God by doing good and enduring affliction.
Ø Mistaken; as though Job had been carried from the womb to the grave,
his expectation, “I should have been as though I had not been,” would
not have proved correct. The child who opens its eyes on earth simply
to shut them again does not return to the wide womb of nothingness
when its tiny form is deposited in the dust. The fact of its being Born
into Adam’s race constitutes it AN IMMORTAL! The doctrine of
annihilation, if not absolutely unphilosophical, is certainly unnatural
· A PASSIONATE ENTREATY OFFERED. For a brief respite in the
midst of his sufferings. “Are not my days few? cease then, and let me
alone, that I may take comfort a little.”
Ø The prayer. “Let me alone.” Job craved a momentary alleviation in his
troubles. Few sufferers are without such interludes of ease. God mercifully
mitigates human sorrow by granting brief periods of relief; otherwise men
would be crushed, and the end of affliction defeated.
Ø The purpose. “That I may be cheerful a little.” Job could not brighten up
while tormented by incessant pain and haunted by continual fear
(ch. 9:27). Only the lifting of God’s hand would remove the load from
his heart and the cloud from his brow. And this he felt was desirable
before he went to the under world. Most men will sympathize with Job
in desiring a brief period of freedom from pain before passing into the
eternal world, to enable them to calm their spirits, to collect their
thoughts, to prepare their souls for the last conflict and the great hereafter.
Ø The plea. “Are not my days few?” Job thought himself upon the brink of
the grave. In this, however, he was mistaken. Most men deem themselves
further from the unseen world than they really are (I Samuel 20:3), but
occasionally sufferers judge themselves nearer the close of life than they
eventually prove to be. If the first is a sin of presumption, the second is an
error caused by feeble faith. If the first is peculiar to youth and health, the
second is not infrequent to suffering and age.
· A DISMAL FUTURE DEPICTED. Hades. The melancholy region,
into which Job anticipated almost instantaneous departure, was not the
grave, which was, properly speaking, only the receptacle of the dead body;
but Sheol, the abode of departed spirits. As conceived by Job and other
Old Testament saints, this was not a place where the disembodied spirit
either found annihilation or sank into unconsciousness, but a realm in
which the spirit, existing apart from the body, retained its selfconsciousness.
Yet the gloom which overhung this silent and impenetrable land was such as
to render it unattractive in the extreme. It was a land of:
Ø Perpetual exile. “Before I go whence I shall not return” (v. 21); “the
undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveler returns” (‘Hamlet,’
act 3. sc. 1).
Ø Thick darkness. “A land of darkness, as darkness itself” (v. 22). Four
different terms are employed to depict the gloom of this dismal world;
o the first (used in Genesis 1:2) probably depicting a condition of
things upon which light has not yet arisen;
o the second representing this lightless region as death’s shade,
i.e. the veil which death draws around the eyes of men;
o the third setting forth this darkness as that which covers up
or encircles all things; and
o the fourth pointing to the complete shutting off of light, the
deepest and thickest gloom.
This horrible picture the poet finishes by adding, “and the light is as
the thick darkness,” meaning that in that doleful region the daylight
or the noontide is like the midnight gloom of earth: “not light, but
darkness visible” (Milton, ‘Paradise Lost,’ bk. 1.).
Ø Complete disorder. A land “without any order” (v. 22); meaning either
without form or outline, every object being so wrapped in gloom that it
appears devoid of shape, or without regular succession, as of day and
night; a realm without light, without beauty, without form, without
order; a dark subterranean chaos filled with pale ghosts, waiting in
comparative inactivity during that “night in which no man can work”
(John 9:4), for the dawning of the resurrection morn. Contrast with all
this the Christian Paradise, where the spirits of just men made
perfect are now for ever with the Lord; not a land of exile from
which one shall no more return, but a better country (for which
Abraham looked - Hebrews 11:8-16), even an heavenly, from
which one shall go no more out (Revelation 3:12); not a region of
darkness, but a bright realm of light (Revelation 21:23); not a
chaos of confusion, but a glorious cosmos of life, order, and
beauty (ibid. v. 1).
1. The danger of unsanctified affliction.
2. The power of Satan over the human heart.
3. The short-sightedness of sense and reason.
4. The propriety of ever being ready for our departure into the unseen
5. The value of the gospel, which has brought life and immortality to light.
6. The advantage possessed by those who live under the gospel dispensation.
7. The greater responsibility of those who enjoy greater light than Job did.
DEATH APPEARS TO LEAD TO A
Ø We cannot see what lies beyond. Science cannot penetrate this
mystery of mysteries (thus revealing her impotence – CY – 2013).
At best she can but dimly surmise the existence of an “unseen
universe.” Philosophy may reason of the soul’s immortality, but
can throw NO LIGHT INTO THE TOMB! . The mind dashes
itself in vain against the awful wall that separates it from the world
beyond. One by one our most intimate friends leave us, and the dark
doors open to receive them, but never a ray of light comes out, and
“the rest is silence.” (As Philip Henry used to pray, “Lord help us to
be ready to leave this world, or to be left.” - great advice for us
all! -CY – 2013)
Ø We shrink by natural instinct from death. Reason as we may,
the grave is a horror to us. We people the land of the dead with terrors
of the imagination. La Rochefoucauld says, “Neither the sun nor death
can be looked at steadily,”
“Death is a fearful thing.
…To die, and go we know not where
To lie in cold obstruction, and to rot;
This sensible warm motion to become
A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
In thrilling regions of thick-ribbed lee;
To be imprison’d in the viewless winds,
And blown with restless violence round about
The pendent world, or to be worse than worst
Of those, that lawless and incertain thoughts
Imagine howling! — ‘tis too horrible!
The weariest and most loathed worldly life
That ago, ache, penury, and imprisonment
Can lay on nature, is a paradise
To what we fear of death.” (Shakespeare.)
WHETHER DEATH WILL
LEAD TO A
DEPENDS ON OUR USE OF LIFE. Nature, science, philosophy, all
leave the future obscure. But God has lifted the veil in the gospel enough
to give us:
Ø warning, and
We learn from the revelation of Christ that the unseen land need be no place
of terror and darkness. (Christ has brought life and immortality to light
through the gospel!” – II Timothy 1:10 -CY – 2013) What it will be
depends on our PRESENT CONDUCT!.
Ø Death leads the impenitent sinner into a land of darkness. For him
The horrors of imagination cannot be too black. No one can conceive the
chill desolation of the “OUTER DARKNESS” (Matthew 8:12; 22:13;
25:30), the dread despair of seeing the “DOOR SHUT” (Ibid.
v.10-12) on A REJECTED SOUL! The darkness will consist in
SEPARATION FROM GOD, from blessed companionship
FROM JOY, FROM LIFE — for the future existence
of the lost IS NEVER CALLED A FUTURE LIFE! The
dolorous words of Job are not too strong for THE FATE
OF LOST SOULS!
Death leads the people
of God into A
The old-world gloom of the grave is dissipated by Christ, who
has “brought life and immortality to light through the gospel”
(As mentioned above – II Timothy 1:10). Here we have a great advance
from the Old Testament standpoint, “The resurrection of Christ has
thrown A FLOOD OF LIGHT INTO THE REGIONS BEYOND!
It has shown us a “land of the leal,” where the blessed dwell in
LIGHT ETERNAL! Paul could even desire to depart and be with
Christ, counting it gain to die (Philippians 1:21-23). All who have
turned FROM SIN TO CHRIST may despise the darkness of death,
for this is but the portal to the home of eternal life. (Matthew 5:24;
I John 3:14)
Note: Confidence founded on our relation to God as a “faithful Creator.” He
cannot and will not, desert the work of His own hands. His goodness in
the past is an argument for trust for the time to come.
INSOLUBLE PERPLEXITIES are due to OUR OWN IGNORANCE
of the complete conditions of life. God is the most misunderstood of beings.
(Is it not because that Satan, the god of this world [II Corinthians 4:3-4],
deceives us like he did Job? - CY – 2013) There is a danger in unsanctified
affliction. Often, there is a short-sightedness of sense and reason. Every
revelation from God is to be eagerly received, every habit of mind encouraged,
which induces us to look on life as a good, death as a gain, and the scene beyond
as one of ETERNAL BRIGHTNESS for ALL FAITHFUL SOULS!
Beware: There is a danger of unsanctified affliction. Beware of the power of
Satan over the human heart. SENSE and REASON are short-sighted.
Consider: The propriety of ever being ready for our departure into the unseen
world. Prize the value of the gospel, which has brought life and immortality
to light. Appreciate the advantage we possess by the privilege of living
UNDER THE GOSPEL DISPENSATION! We enjoy greater light than
Job did. THEREFORE, WE ALSO HAVE A GREATER RESPONSIBILITY!
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