THE FIRST SPEECH OF ELIPHAZ.—CONTINUED
I. Application of the Vision (Job ). "Call now, if there be any that will answer thee; and to which of the saints (‘holy ones'—probably angels, as Job 15:15; Dan 8:13) wilt thou turn?" Job to expect no countenance to his language either from holy men or angels.
1. Vain for a sinner to appeal against God either to saints or angels. Every angel in heaven will take God's part against the complaining sinner. Angels already taught the wickedness and woe of rebellion against God. Angels themselves charged with folly; how then dare man open his mouth? The cry of a poor sinner heard in heaven, but not that of an unhumbled self-righteous complainer. That cry heard when directed to God, not to angels.
2. No ground in the text for the doctrine of angelic intercession or prayer to departed saints. God the hearer of prayer; to Him all flesh are to come (Psa ). To pray to others in trouble or difficulty, an insult to God, as if either unable or unwilling to answer (2Ki 1:3). An angel presents the prayers of saints to God, but he the "Angel of the Covenant" (Rev 8:3-4; Mal 3:1; Zec 3:1-8). The only prayer in the Bible addressed to a departed saint, that of the rich man in hell, and then not heard (Luk 16:24; Luk 16:27). To intercede for others the part of saints on earth. To apply for that intercession a privilege and duty (ch. Job 42:8; Jas 5:15; Jas 5:18; 1Jn 5:16). Angels ministering attendants on believers, not interceding priests for them (Heb 1:14). One Mediator between God and men (1Ti 2:5). One Advocate with the Father (1Jn 2:1). One Priest in heaven who makes intercession for us (Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25; Heb 9:24). Men to come to God by Him (Heb 7:25; Joh 14:6). Angels employed by God for the benefit of his children (Psa 34:7; Psa 91:11; Heb 1:14). Prayer for that ministry to be addressed, not to the servants, but to the Master who sends them (Mat 26:53).
3. Angels and departed saints to be "turned to" not for help and protection, but for example (Psa ; Mat 6:10). Angels our example:—
(1) In obedience;
(2) In submission;
(3) In humility;
(4) In reverence. The prayer oftener uttered than realized,—"Thy will be done on earth," &c. God's will done in heaven:—
(1) By each of its inhabitants;
(2) Without intermission or deviation;
(3) With promptitude and cheerfulness;
(4) Without murmuring or questioning. Earth converted into heaven when this prayer is fulfilled. A consummation to be expected:—
(1) From the prayer itself;
(2) From express promises to that effect (2Pe ; Isa 11:9; Zep 3:9).
II. The folly and effects of fretting against God (Job ).
"For wrath (passion, and displeasure against God for his dealings in Providence) killeth the foolish man, and envy (margin, ‘indignation') slayeth the silly one." Probably one of the traditional sayings of the wise in common use among the sages of Arabia. A specimen of the proverbial poetry of the ancients, and a good example of Hebrew parallelism. "Poems instead of written laws,"—one of the Bedouin's boasts. These maxims or wise sayings freely applied by Job's "comforters" against him. The present, like others, an important truth. The sentiment extended in the 37th Psalm. An unfeeling application intended by Eliphaz to the case of Job.
1. It is the part only of fools to fret against God and his procedure. To complain against God and His dealings as absurd as it is wicked. The extreme of folly for a creature of yesterday to find fault with or sit in judgment on the doings of the Eternal Creator. Rather may a child three years old censure the architect's plan of a palace, or an ignorant boor cavil at the complications of a steam-engine.
(2.) Fretting against God's dealings brings its own punishment. The complainer against God's Providence is his own executioner. The man that frets in trouble is like the bird which is said to eat its own bowels. "Envy," or impatient fretfulness, is "rottenness to the bones" (Pro ). Fretting and passionate complaining "kills," as—
(1.) It robs of peace, which is the spirit's life;
(2.) Affects the health, and hastens death;
(3.) Injures the life and prosperity of the soul;
(4.) Brings greater chastening and punishment from God. No greater antagonist to health than a fretful spirit; no greater help to it than a contented and submissive one. Passion and impatience in trouble more hurtful and crushing than the trouble itself. True wisdom, as well as piety, under trial is, to commit our way to God and rest in his wisdom and goodness (Psa ).
III. Testimony from personal observation as to the prosperous wicked (Job ).
"I have seen the foolish (ungodly) taking root," &c. The object of Eliphaz to confirm the former statement (ch. Job ). Unfeeling allusion to the case of Job. Crushing language to come from the lips of a professed friend and comforter. The tongue that uttered it as truly guided by Satan as that of Job's wife. Even Peter, by his carnal though friendly counsel, could earn the title of "Satan" (Mat 16:22-23). The truth of a statement no justification of its cruel and uncharitable application. From the statement of Eliphaz, still more or less realized, we learn concerning.
1. That the ungodly frequently prosper in this life.—(Job .) "I have seen the foolish taking root," not only prospering, but apparently firm in his prosperity. Same sentiment and figure (Psa 37:35; Jer 12:2). The prosperity of the wicked often a mystery and stumbling-block to the righteous (ch. Job 12:6; Job 21:7; Psa 73:3-12; Jer 12:1). The lot of the righteous and the wicked in this life often a contrast to each other, but a contrast the reverse of what might at first sight be expected (Luk 16:25). Wise reasons with God for allowing the ungodly to prosper.
(1.) It exercises the faith and patience of the godly;
(2.) Teaches the great inferiority of earthly to heavenly blessings;
(3.) Confirms the truth of a judgment to come. Insolvable mystery but for a future state, which clears up all (Luk ; Jas 5:1-7). The godly too much beloved to receive their portion in this life. The good things of this world only the bones cast to the dogs [Rutherford].
2. That the prosperity of the ungodly is followed by a speedy and certain, if not a sudden, fall. "Suddenly I cursed his habitation,"—soon had unexpected occasion to mark it as accursed of God and doomed to destruction. The prosperity of the ungodly as insecure and temporary as it appears fair and promising. "Thou didst set them on slippery places." The fall often in this life. Examples: Nebuchadnezzar, Haman, Napoleon. Yet not always (Psa ; Psa 73:4; Luk 12:16-20; Luk 16:19; Luk 16:22; Luk 16:25). Nor even generally; maintained by Job against his three friends (ch. Job 21:7-13; Job 12:6). If not sooner, the fall certain in death (Luk 16:23; Luk 16:25; Luk 12:20).
3. That the children of the ungodly often participate in their fall.—(Job ). "His children are far from safety, and they are crushed in the gate,"—ruined by a judicial sentence, or dying by the judgment of God (2Ki 7:20). Veiled allusion to Job's children. Children often involved in the effects of their parents' sin (Lev 26:39; Isa 14:20-21). A penalty embodied in the Decalogue (Exo 20:5). Repeated in the solemn declaration of Jehovah's name and character (Exo 34:7). God's face set not only against the ungodly themselves, but against their family (Lev 20:5). Examples: Israel in the Wilderness (Num 14:33); Achan (Jos 7:24); Ahab (1Ki 21:29); Gehazi (2Ki 5:27). So general as to have become a proverb in Israel (Jer 31:29; Eze 18:2). The children of the ungodly often inherit the father's punishment while imitating his sin (Isa 65:7). By repentance, the children escape many, if not all, the effects of their parents' conduct (Eze 18:14-17). No small part of a father's punishment, that his sin causes his children to suffer both with him and after him. A diseased constitution and a degraded position among the least of these effects. Vicious habits and propensities often the sad inheritance bequeathed by ungodly parents to their children. A powerful motive to such parents to repent.
4. That the wealth of the ungodly often becomes the prey of the rapacious and covetous. (Job ).—"Whose harvest (literally; or, ‘what he has gathered,' i.e., by a course of iniquity) the hungry eateth up, and taketh even out of the thorns (though guarded ever so carefully, as by a thick thorn-hedge); and the robber (as the Sabeans and Chaldeans, or ‘the thirsty') swalloweth up their substance." Another cruel thrust at Job (ch. Job 1:15; Job 1:17). Crops in Syria and Arabia seldom safe from plundering Bedouin. Backslidden Israel obliged to hide away their grain from the Midianites (Jud 6:11). Earthly treasures such as thieves can break through and steal (Mat 6:19). A frail tenure that by which the ungodly hold their wealth. They often taken suddenly from it or it from them (Luk 12:20). A canker in an ungodly man's gold and silver (Jas 5:2). Sometimes, however, unintentionally laid up for the righteous to inherit (ch. Job 27:17). Happy they on whose treasure no robber can lay his hand (Mat 6:20). With Christ we have "durable riches," and an inheritance laid up for us in heaven (Pro 8:18; 1Pe 1:14).
IV. Poetical aphorisms as to the origin and extent of trouble (Job ).
"Although (or ‘for'), &c" Perhaps another example of the traditional sayings of the East. A commonplace, intended partly for Job's reproof and partly for his comfort. Declares the origin, universality, and unavoidableness of trouble. Foolish to complain so bitterly of what is unavoidable and as universal as the race. A consolation to know that our sufferings are only such as are common to man (1Co ). Suffering saints reminded that the same afflictions are accomplished in their brethren that are in the world (1Pe 5:9). Both the reproof and the consolation inapplicable to Job's case, which was both unprecedented and unparalleled. Implied on the part of Eliphaz a want of sympathy and appreciation of the depth of Job's trouble. Hence felt by Job to be only an exasperation of his grief (ch. Job 6:2-7).
The passage suggests concerning
1. Its origin. Negatively.—(Job ). "Not from the dust" or "ground."
(1.) Not from mere chance, as a weed springing up from the soil; nor
(2) From anything merely external; not from the ground but from our selves. Positively.—(Job ). "Born unto trouble." Trouble is—
(1.) From a necessity and law imposed on our existence in this world;
(2.) From sin, which is the ground of that necessity. The origin of suffering is in man himself as a child of fallen Adam. All suffering the consequence of sin. Man is "born to trouble," simply because he is "born in sin" (Psa ). Sin and suffering linked by bonds of adamant. In the government of a good and righteous God, suffering could exist only,—
(1.) As a legal necessity in consequence of disobedience to His laws; or
(2.) As a moral necessity for the discipline of His erring children. Ah suffering in the world the consequence of the first transgression (Rom );
‘Of one man's disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world and all our woe."
2. Its universality. "Man is born unto trouble."—(Job ). Suffering co-extensive with the race. An inmate of the palace as truly as of the prison. Tears moisten the pillow of down as well as the pallet of straw. One of the Hebrew terms for "man" is enosh, or "the miserable." Trouble makes the world akin. Suffering universal, because sin is so. Follows sin as its shadow. Its universality ought to render us—
(1.) Patient under our own trouble;
(2.) Sympathizing with that of others.—(i.) Terrible evil of sin that has filled a world with suffering, (ii.) Heaven all the more desirable as entirely free from it. (iii.) Precious grace that converts it into a blessing.
3. Its certainty. "As the sparks fly upward." This by a law of nature. Suffering in like manner a law of our being. Inseparable from our existence in the present life. The hand that made us has since the entrance of sin, made us sufferers. Man born to trouble as truly as he is born to live. Tears track man's pathway from the cradle to the grave. No wealth can purchase, no power effect, immunity from the common lot. Only through the incarnation and suffering of God's own Son, our suffering not necessarily eternal. "The wages of sin is death,—the gift of God eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom ).
V. The counsel of Eliphaz (Job .
"I would seek unto God (El, the mighty One), and unto God (Elohim, plural,—denoting totality of Divine perfections, or perhaps plurality of Divine persons), would I commit my cause," &c. This to the end of the chapter the best part of Eliphaz's speech. Comes down from the place of a reprover to that of a friendly adviser. His counsel characterized by wisdom, if not by warmth. Its only fault that it implies an uncharitable and unjust reflection, as if Job was a prayerless man (See ch. Job ; Job 10:2; Job 12:4; Job 13:20; Job 14:6). At times, however, from darkness and confusion, Job, like other believers, hardly able to pray (Job 23:3-4; Job 23:15). Our great comfort in trouble that we can address ourselves to God in it. God to be sought unto in trouble,—
(1.) For counsel and direction in it;
(2.) For comfort and support under it;
(3.) For grace so to bear it as to glorify God by it;
(4.) For deliverance in His own time and way out of it;
(5.) For the spiritual benefit and improvement intended through it. True piety, and wisdom to commit our cause into God's hands (Psa ). The very hairs of our head all numbered by Him (Mat 10:30). Makes all things work together for good to them that love Him (Rom 8:28). To seek unto God in trouble an instinct of nature. Practised even by the heathen according to their knowledge (Jon 1:5). In ordinary circumstances the Athenians sacrificed to the gods of the Pantheon, but in time of calamity prayed to the Unknown God (Act 17:23). The attributes of God such as to render Him the proper object of prayer and trust in time of trouble. These attributes described by Eliphaz as exhibited in His works.
Attributes of God
1. His Almightiness.—(Job ). "Who doeth great things and unsearchable," &c. A God almighty to help and deliver, our great comfort in trouble (Psa 46:1; Psa 62:8; Psa 65:5). Nothing impossible with God. His almightiness seen in His works of creation, providence, and grace. His works in creation "marvellous" and "unsearchable," both for greatness and minuteness, number and complexity. His works in providence "unsearchable,"—
(1) In the end designed in them;
(2) In the manner of its accomplishment. "Deep in unfathomable mines," &c. More now seen in the works of creation than could even be imagined in the days of Eliphaz. The discoveries of the last three centuries give an emphasis to his words undreamt of at that period. Many of the numerous nebul or dusky spots observed throughout the heavens, already resolved by the telescope into innumerable stars, each itself a sun. Reason to conclude the same of the rest, though from their distance as yet unresolved. Millions of suns, probably with systems like our own, found to compose the Milky Way of which our solar system is a part. The microscope, on the other hand, reveals animalcule so minute that a thousand millions of them together do not exceed in size a grain of sand; yet each having perfect and distinct formations and all the functions essential to life. Such a view of God's almightiness calculated not only to deepen our reverence, but to increase our trust.
2. His goodness and benevolence—(Job ). "Who giveth rain," &c. Rain a striking display of God's goodness as well as of his power and wisdom. One of his most common but precious gifts (Psa 65:9-10; Jer 14:22; Amo 4:7; Zec 10:1; Act 14:17). One of the most beautiful as well as beneficent operations in nature. The evaporation of moisture, its suspension in clouds, its condensation and descent, carried on by the operation of natural laws of which God is the author and director. The changes of temperature on which this operation depends, all in His hands, and "unsearchable" to us. Every drop of rain comes to us as a witness-bearer of the Divine benevolence (Psa 68:9-10).—"To set up on high those that be low," &c. The change on the part of thousands from wretchedness and despondency to gladness and rejoicing, often, especially in the East, the result of an abundant rain. In this, as in other respects, the natural a beautiful and instructive figure of the spiritual (Isa 44:3-5; Isa 55:10-13; Deu 32:2).
3. His wisdom—(Job ). "He disappointeth the desires of the crafty," &c. His wisdom displayed in overmatching the crafty and disappointing their schemes.—(Job 5:13.) "He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." Quoted by the apostle in 1Co 3:19, to show that "the wisdom of men is foolishness with God." The deepest devices of carnal men in God's view only short-sighted contrivances of little children. Their "best laid schemes" often suddenly overturned by the slightest incident. Human "enterprises," most carefully prepared and likely to succeed, often made to collapse like houses of cards. The splendid Armada, designed by Spain for the overthrow of the Reformation in England, dissipated and destroyed by unfavourable weather. Of the three attempts of the French to effect a landing in Ireland, the first and second failed through the adverse elements, and the third by the influence of the change in Buonaparte's counsels. Haman's well laid scheme to crush Mordecai and the Jews ends in his own disgrace and ruin. At David's prayer and for David's deliverance, Ahithophel's sagacious counsel is turned into foolishness (2Sa 15:31; 2Sa 16:20-23; 2Sa 17:1-14). The Birs Nimroud, on the plains of Babylon, a standing example of the "counsel of froward" Babel-builders "carried headlong." Our affairs safe in the hands of One with whom the wisdom of men is only foolishness.
4. His compassion (Job ). "But he saveth the poor from the sword," &c. (or, "He saveth the oppressed from their mouth, the poor from the hand," &c.) From their "mouth," open to devour, and from their "hand" lifted up to slay them. Examples: The enslaved Israelites delivered from the hand of Pharaoh and the Egyptians (Exo 18:20); Peter from the hand of Herod and the expectation of the Jews (Act 12:11); Paul from the mouth of the lion Nero (2Ti 4:17). God's goodness exercised towards men in general; His compassion towards the needy and oppressed. The helpless and afflicted especially the objects of His regard (Psa 72:12-13; Psa 103:6). An additional reason for Job's seeking unto God and committing his cause into His hands.—The results on others from God's compassion exercised in the deliverance of the afflicted. (Job 5:16).—
(1.) "The poor have hope." Job in his affliction encouraged to hope in God from his dealings with others in a similar condition. The use to be made of all God's gracious interpositions on behalf of those in trouble (Psa ; Psa 34:6; Psa 34:8; Psa 34:11; Psa 40:1-3). Hope in God the object of the Scriptures and the examples of delivering mercy recorded in them (Rom 15:4). Encouragement to hope, the actual result of God's dealings with Job (Jas 5:11).—
(2.) "Iniquity stoppeth her mouth" (found also in Psa ). Persecution and oppression often struck dumb,—
(1) by God's manifest deliverance of the poor that trusted in Him;
(2) by His judgments on the wicked executed along with that deliverance (Exo ). God's works will put the ungodly to silence when His words do not. The time of the final deliverance of the godly that of the shame and confusion of the wicked (Dan 12:2).
VI. The plea of Eliphaz for Job's repentance (Job )
Holds out the benevolent object and happy effects of affliction. Job thus addressed as one needing repentance and now under the Divine correction. The statement true and applicable to Job's case, but not as Eliphaz supposed. Job's affliction not strictly a correction for sin, but to be employed as such for his spiritual benefit. His "captivity" to be "turned," and that upon his repentance. His repentance, however, not as Eliphaz thought, for sins of life, but for that of cavilling at the Divine procedure. The whole passage a fine specimen of ancient Shemitic poetry. Probably more of the wisdom of the ancients handed down in verse from the earliest times. Contains a highly coloured description of the happiness of the godly in the present life. Generally true, according to the Old Testament platform. In harmony with other Old Testament promises, especially in the Psalms and Proverbs. New Testament promises rather of inward peace with outward trouble; all our need supplied, and all things working together for our good (Joh ; Joh 16:33; Php 4:19; Rom 8:28). The error of Eliphaz in making earthly prosperity the uniform reward of godliness. That error seen and opposed by Job. Some of the promises held out by Eliphaz felt by Job to be a cruel mockery and an aggravation of his grief. These promises however afterwards fully realised in his experience (ch. 42)—"Behold," &c. Calls Job's special attention to what he is now to advance. The thing stated strange in itself and not readily believed. "Happy is the man whom God correcteth." Same sentiment in nearly the same words (Psa 94:12). Two modes of correction employed by God—
(1) By His Word and Spirit;
(2) By His work in Providence. The latter here intended "Correcteth," or "rebukes," viz., with the "rod of affliction" (Sam. Job ; Psa 39:10-11). The text contains:—
(1.) A truth stated;
(2.) A lesson drawn from it. The truth: Blessedness found in Divine correction. The lesson: That correction therefore not to be despised.
1. Its blessedness. Seen—
(1) In its origin. Its origin—Divine love (Pro ; Heb 12:6; Rev 3:19). Correction the part, not of a. judge but of a father (Heb 12:7-9). A mercy to be corrected when we might have been destroyed (2Sa 3:22). Sad token for a man when God will not spend a rod upon him [Brookes].
(2) In its object. Our spiritual benefit (Heb );—Repentance (Rev 3:19); Removal of sin (Isa 27:9); Participation in God's holiness (Heb 12:10). Affliction is God's medicine to heal, and His furnace to purify His children.
(3) In its actual result. Affliction in itself a fruit of sin, but in God's hand a means of good. When God corrects His children, He—(i.) Supports them in the affliction; (ii.) Purifies them by it; (iii.) Delivers them out of it. "None more unhappy than he who never felt adversity" [Seneca].
2. Its improvement. Here negatively expressed. "Despise not thou," &c. So Pro ; Heb 12:5. God's corrections are not to be—(i.) Refused as something nauseous; nor, (ii.) Rejected as something hurtful; nor, (iii.) Slighted as something useless. The exhortation implies the opposite duty. God's corrections are on the contrary to be—
(1) Highly prized;
(2) Carefully improved. Prized, as—(i.) From a Father's hand; (ii.) Sent in love; (iii.) Designed for our highest good. Affliction to be improved—
(1) By consideration of its object;
(2) By examination into its cause;
(3) By endeavour after its fruit (Lam ). Trials only profitable when we are rightly exercised under them (Heb 12:11). To be benefited by God's rod, it is necessary to be taught out of God's Word (Psa 94:12).—The correction that of "the Almighty," or All-sufficient. Indicates—
1. His benevolence in the correction; the "Almighty" under no obligation to sinning creatures.
2. His ability—
(1) To sustain us under it;
(2) To sanctify us by it;
(3) To deliver us out of it. God's corrections are sores which He himself will heal again.
Job . "He maketh sore and bindeth up." Same truth (1Sa 2:6; Hos 6:1). All pains and griefs from God. True even in Job's case, though not as Eliphaz supposed. This thought an aggravation to Job's distress. "Maketh sore," as a surgeon amputating a limb or cutting out a gangrene. The pain no further inflicted than is necessary (Lam 3:33). "And bindeth up,"—as a wound or amputated limb (Psa 147:3). God himself the Physician of souls (Psa 103:3). Jehovah Rophi (Exo 15:26). The office assumed and executed by the incarnate Son (Luk 4:18; Luk 4:23; Mat 9:12). The bandages employed—the doctrines, promises, and consolations of the Gospel (Psa 107:20).—"He woundeth," as with a surgeon's knife or lancet. God wounds to heal. His wounds faithful, as those of a friend (Pro 27:6; Psa 141:5). Judicial wounds reserved for the head of obstinate transgressors (Psa 68:21).—"And his hands make whole"—literally, "sew up," viz., the wound. His own hands; implying—
(4) Success in the operation. Learn—(i.) Those wounds well and lovingly sewed up that are sewed up by the hands of the Almighty. (ii.) We may well endure wounds that are to be sewed up by such a Physician.
VII. Motive to repentance drawn from the promises (Job, &c)
These promises held out on the supposition of repentance and prayer. Most of God's promises both to saints and princes conditional. The blessings here enumerated both of a negative and positive nature. Most of them, according to the Old Testament dispensation, pertaining to the present life.
1. Negatively. Safety and deliverance in times of trouble. "In six troubles He shall deliver thee." "Six;" a definite number for an indefinite: many and manifold troubles" (Pro ; 1Pe 1:6). "Many are the afflictions of the righteous" (Psa 34:19). "One woe past, another woe cometh." "Lord, how are mine enemies increased" (Psa 3:1). Deliverance promised not in one or two troubles, but in all, however many (Psa 34:19). Every new trouble needs Divine support and deliverance. "In" six troubles, viz.—the troubles you yourself are in; or, the dangers and calamities prevailing around you. "A thousand shall fall at thy side," &c. (Psa 91:7). The promise is either—
(1) to be kept from falling into the trouble; or,
(2) to be preserved from injury by it; or
(3) to be in due time taken out of it. Preservation in trouble, support under it, and deliverance out of it, all in the believer's charter. The cross not immediately taken from the shoulder, but strength given to bear it. The time and mode of deliverance best reserved in God's own hands. Deliverance from troubles either temporary and partial, or final and complete. Only the former usually experienced in this life. Here, trouble succeeds trouble as wave succeeds wave. One past, we are to prepare for another. Final and complete deliverance only at death. Death strikes off every link of the believer's chain, except the last one, which is itself. That link, which hinds the body to the grave, struck off at the Lord's appearing (1Co ; 1Co 15:57).—"Yea, in seven;" however accumulated in number and excessive in severity. "Seven" the number of fulness. Not one, nor many, but "all thy waves and thy billows," &c. (Isa 42:7). The furnace heated "seven times" more than usual for the three young captives (Dan 3:19).—"There shall no evil touch thee"—so as really to injure or destroy (Psa 91:7; Psa 91:10). The lions in the den lie harmless at Daniel's feet. The fire leaves the captive's hair un-singed, while it consumes their bonds (Dan 3:25). Even physical evil not always a real evil. Rutherford, in his exile, dates his letters from his "palace at Aberdeen." Such evils often the prevention of greater ones, and the means of obtaining blessings. Bernard Gilpin breaks his leg by an accident, and escapes the fires of Smithfield. "Children, we should have been undone, had we not been undone," said Themistocles, when an exile at the Persian Court. Joseph's confinement in prison his stepping-stone to the throne of Egypt.—Kinds of deliverance promised.
(1) From famine (Job ). "In famine," (—arising from failure in the crops—) "He shall redeem thee from death." Believers may suffer in famine, but, as a rule, not die from it. The righteous not even then forsaken, nor his seed begging bread (Psa 37:25).
(2) From calumny (Job ). "Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue"—so as not to be hurt by calumny and false accusation. The tongue often a more mischievous instrument than the sword. Slander the choice weapon of the ungodly against the faithful (Jer 18:18). Times of spies and informers, when no godly man appears safe. Yet God has a pavilion to hide His people from the strife of tongues (Psa 31:20). Jeremiah, Daniel, and the three captives assailed by the tongue, but delivered. Stephen, like his Master, falls by it, but only the sooner to gain his crown. Paul smitten with it, but the sooner obtains his desire of being with Christ. God either gives to His people what He promises, or something better.
(3) From foreign invasion. "Neither shalt thou be afraid (i.e., have any cause to be afraid) of destruction (—desolation from an invading enemy) when it cometh,"—or is coming, either upon others or near thyself. The believer not taken out of the evil, but kept above it. Preserved from real evil in it, and from fear regarding it. Faith grasping the promises lifts the soul above fear. The name of the Lord a strong tower, &c. "Fear not, thou carriest Cæsar;" for Cæsar substitute Christ. No cause for fear, therefore no place to be given to it. God a wall of fire round about his people (Zec ). Makes a dense mist or wreath of snow such a wall at his pleasure. "The providence of God is my inheritance"—inscribed on an old house in Chester, the only one in the street untouched by the plague. (Job 5:22.)—"At destruction" (—the desolation as already come)—"and famine" (—scarcity of food as its attendant—) "thou shalt laugh." The promise rises in a climax,—safety—fearlessness—triumph. Faith enables believers to laugh when others weep. A holy laughter put by God Himself into the mouths of His servants (ch. Job 8:21; Psa 126:2). Believers laugh in times of calamity, not from want of sensibility, but from warrant of safety. The godly can laugh from satisfaction as to themselves, while they weep in sympathy for others. To laugh at destruction without faith, is either stoicism or cruelty; to laugh from faith, the highest piety. Abraham laughed piously from faith; Sarah laughed sinfully from the want of it. Faith and fidelity give songs in the darkest night of adversity. God's sweetest consolations often reserved for the time of sorest tribulations.
(4). From wild beasts. "Neither shalt thou be afraid of the beasts of the earth"—ravaging a country wasted by an invading foe. The incursions of wild beasts often spoken of as a Divine judgment (Deu ; 1Ki 17:24; Eze 5:17; Eze 14:21). Then a much greater terror in the East than now. Term probably included reptiles (Gen 3:1). Similar promise of Divine protection against them (Psa 91:13). Daniel's God able to shut the lions' mouths. Paul shakes off the viper that fastened on his hand and feels no harm (Act 28:1, &c.) Yet Polycarp and thousands more found their martyr's crown in the jaws of wild beasts.
(5) From being hurt either by the animate or inanimate creation.—(Job .) "Thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field, and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee." The covenant made with believers includes the beasts of the field as their friends and allies (Hos 2:18). Man in rebellion against His Maker has all creation at enmity with him. Reconciliation with God through Christ restores man to friendship with the creatures. Dominion over the lower animals lost in Adam but regained in Christ (Psa 8:6; Heb 2:8). Neither stones can hurt nor beasts devour against God's will. Stones and beasts not only not hurtful, but made profitable. The lions that refused to touch Daniel devoured his enemies. The stones of the field afforded Jacob the pillow on which he slept his sweetest sleep.
2. Point of transition to positive blessings. These such as are held most valuable among men. Promised to Israel while faithful to God. Not all of them promised to believers, with the world in its present condition and Satan as its prince. To be enjoyed in that better state, when the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord (Isa ; Rom 8:19-22; 2Pe 3:13). A for eshadowing of that state in Job's condition after his restoration (ch. Job 42:10-17.)
(1) Domestic peace and felicity (Job ). "Thou shalt know," &c, i.e., by a Divine assurance and a happy experience. To discern a mercy is itself a new mercy in its bosom [Brookes]. "Thy tabernacle shall be in peace," or, "be peace,"—so thoroughly pervaded by it. In safety from others; in harmony with itself; and enjoying a general prosperity. "A peaceable habitation, a sure dwelling, and a quiet resting place," among promised blessings (Isa 32:18). The voice of rejoicing and salvation in the tabernacles of the righteous (Psa 51:8; Psa 51:15). God's presence the only sure foundation of family peace. That peace consistent with trial, sickness, and death in the dwelling 1Pe 1:6).—
(2) Safety and prosperity in our secular calling. "Thou shalt visit thy habitation, (or perhaps,'thy fold,') and shalt not sin;" (or, ‘shalt not miss any of thy property;' or, ‘not be disappointed in thy hope,'—Margin, "Shalt not err"). "Shalt visit thy habitation," after the day's journey or toil;" or, "shalt visit thy fold or pasture," as one looking to the state of his flocks and herds (Pro ). A great mercy to have a habitation to visit; a still greater one to be made to visit it without sin. Domestic peace a precious blessing; domestic purity a still more precious one, and essential to it. Better to be kept from sinning in our habitation than from suffering in it. God's blessing on our family and affairs connected with diligence in attending to them. Great mercy to find our dwelling preserved from flames within and foes without. The contrary on one occasion one of David's great trials (1Sa 30:1-5). Promises not falsified by trials that seem to run counter to them.—
(3) A numerous and happy offspring. (Job ). "Thy seed shall be great," &c. A numerous and powerful family accounted, especially in the East, one of the greatest blessings. The Bible expresses the feelings of humanity in reference to children,—"Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them" (Psa 127:5). One of the most frequently promised earthly blessings in the Old Testament. The promise supposes godliness in the parents, and, as its consequence, also in the children (Psa 128:1; Psa 128:4). In the New Testament, the promise not so much of a great as of a gracious offspring (Isa 44:3-5). Contrary to his expectation, the text realized in Job's case, notwithstanding his bereavement (ch. Job 42:13).—
(4) A ripe old age with a peaceful death and burial. (Job ). "Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age," &c. "Shalt come." indicating—
(1) Willingness to die;
(2) A quiet passage. "To thy grave,"—buried in the sepulchres of thy fathers. A peaceful grave and decent burial held, especially in the East, a matter of great importance. The want of it threatened as a Divine judgment (Deu ; Jer 22:18-19; Jer 36:32). Graves in the East usually hewn out in the rock or dug deep in the sand. Bodies otherwise frequently exposed to birds and beasts of prey. The promise generally fulfilled. But the godless rich man died and was buried; while nothing is said of the burial of Lazarus. The promise of a ripe old age especially an Old Testament one. Made first to Abraham (Gen 15:15). Made generally to the godly (Psa 91:16). The desire to live to a good old age an instinct of human nature. Premature death often threatened to the ungodly. Length of days in wisdom's right hand (Pro 3:16). The general result of a holy, peaceful, and temperate life. A course of piety in every respect favourable to it. Long life connected both in the Old and New Testament with obedience to the fifth commandment (Exo 20:12; Eph 5:1-3). A blessing to live while we can live to purpose. Life to be measured, not so much by its days as by its doings. More important to live well than to live long. Inward development not necessarily the work of years. The promise rather of ripeness for death than continuance of life. The faithful believer is satisfied with life whenever called to quit it. Ripening for death the result of Divine grace, and found at all ages.
VIII. Application of the foregoing (Job ).
1. Affirmation of its truth with the grounds of it. "Lo this—so it is." Good to speak, with full conviction of the truth of what we advance. Personal conviction, however, not necessarily the proof of truth. Conviction may be more or less enlightened. Inspired utterances always true.—"We have searched it." Eliphaz the spokesman of the rest. Their discourses probably the result of previous conference. Their minds already made up on the subject of the Divine procedure in reference to the righteous and the wicked. The statements of Eliphaz the result of study and examination. The objects of his search were—
(1) The actual experience of men, or God's visible dealings in Providence;
(2) The traditional maxims of wise men before him. The examination, having little of revealed truth, both partial and limited. The period of Eliphaz the early twilight of the world. All statements in respect to moral and religious truth to be the result of careful examination, according to the means within our reach.
2. Exhortation to. personal self-application of the truth delivered. "Know thou it." Truth heard, to become matter of personal experience. In order to this, it is to be—
(3) Received. The conduct of the Beræans (Act ). The tone of Eliphaz that of a monitor and teacher, as much older than Job (ch. Job 15:10; Job 32:6-7; Job 42:16).—"For thy good." The hearer's good to be the speaker's aim (Eph 4:29). His duty to apply truth heard for his own advantage. The aim of Eliphaz, Job's repentance and consequent restoration to Divine favour. His motive good, but founded on a mistaken and uncharitable view of Job's character and the cause of his sufferings. Eliphaz, viewed as an example to preachers—
(4) Employs variety of arguments and illustrations;
(5) Adduces authorities;
(6) Appeals to Divine revelation. Fails—
(1) In sympathy and warmth of feeling;
(2) In comprehensiveness of view;
(3) In adaptation of his authorities to the case in hand;
(4) In charitable judgment;
(5) In appreciation of the case of his hearer.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Job 5". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week after Epiphany