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Bible Commentaries

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary
Job 4



Verse 15


‘A spirit passed before my face.’

Job 4:15

However we may explain it, there is no doubt that the real or fancied appearance of a human spirit, without the body, has, in all ages, been more than unwelcome to man; it has been terrible.

I. It may be that to a composite being like man, in whom body and soul are so subtly and intimately intertwined, the divorce between the two, when thus vividly brought before us, seems to suggest unnatural violence as nothing else can.

II. It may be that our ignorance of the capacities of a disembodied spirit, of its power to affect ourselves in a hundred ways now that it lives under totally new conditions, may explain the universal dread which it inspires.

III. It may be—nay, rather, it probably is—the case, that the quickened sense of the nearness and reality of the invisible world has a terror for us sinners, because we know that we are sinners.—A perfectly sinless man would gaze at a ghost with reverent but untroubled curiosity. Certain it is that, for ordinary men, as in the days of Eliphaz, so in all ages of the world’s history, to see, or to think we see, a disembodied spirit inspires dread. However we may account for it, man has a secret terror at the thought of contact with pure spirit unclothed in a bodily form. This dread is part of our human nature.

—Canon Liddon.


‘The first speaker is Eliphaz, who commenced with a courteous apology for speaking at all, and yet a declaration that he cannot withhold himself. After expressing surprise at Job’s complaint, and asking if his integrity ought not to be a sufficient guarantee of his safety, he proceeded to a general explanation of the problem of suffering, declaring it to be God’s punishment of wickedness, a harvest for which there must have been a previous sowing. He argued the truth of this by insisting upon the fact of man’s sin in the sight of God. This had been revealed to him in a solitary hour, in the dead of night, by a mystic presence, a form. The inference of this statement is that Job’s suffering was the result of Job’s sin.’


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Bibliography Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Job 4:4". Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.

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