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We have in this chapter Job's answer to Eliphaz. He entereth upon his defense, in which we see the workings of the afflicted mind; and the mingled state of grace, with human infirmity, variously displaying itself.
(1) ¶ But Job answered and said, (2) Oh that my grief were throughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together! (3) For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea: therefore my words are swallowed up. (4) For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me.
There is a great beauty here manifesting itself, in the wish of Job for a Mediator; for I hope the Reader will not overlook what is plainly implied, in all these several expressions. Job tells Eliphaz and his friends with him, that their incompetency of knowing what his grief was, made both him and them, think lighter of it than it really was. Therefore saith Job, Oh! that it were weighed! Are not these the cries both of nature and grace, after one that could weigh them? Job perfectly knew that the Almighty, whose arrows he says were within him, could not be ignorant of the depth of his sorrows. But if there was a day's man, a mediator, who from a perfect knowledge of his state, could graciously stand up between GOD and his soul, to plead his cause and make his peace: this would be the desire of his heart. Reader! how sweet is it to remark, the universal voice of every enlightened mind; from the first transgressor in the garden of Eden, to the coming of the promised seed, all sending forth their most fervent cries, for this glorious, gracious Mediator! Did not Adam say as much when he cried out, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid? Genesis 3:10 . And did not Israel do the same, when they cried unto Moses: go thou near and hear all that the LORD our GOD shall say, and speak thou unto us, all that the LORD our GOD shall speak? Deuteronomy 5:27 . What are these instances, with many others that might be brought forward in proof, but testimonies, that it is a Mediator, the soul oppressed with sin and sorrow, hath been longing for in all ages. Reader! think of your happiness in having one, so sweetly revealed to you, and one so near to you, and so near to GOD?
(5) Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass? or loweth the ox over his fodder? (6) Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt? or is there any taste in the white of an egg? (7) The things that my soul refused to touch are as my sorrowful meat.
These are striking expressions, to denote the total insufficiency of all earthly comforts. How differently doth the soul feel, when creature comforts are sanctified with redeeming blessings. David felt this in an high degree, when he saith, O my GOD, my soul is cast down within me; therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, and from the hill Mizar. Psalms 42:6 . Reader! it is blessed to still and calm the troubled spirit, by thoughts of GOD. I cannot bid those troubled waters be quiet; but JESUS can. Him therefore let me remember.
(8) ¶ Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for! (9) Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off! (10) Then should I yet have comfort; yea, I would harden myself in sorrow: let him not spare; for I have not concealed the words of the Holy One.
Is it not probable (I only propose it as a question, and do not determine upon it,) that Satan had secretly tempted Job to self-murder? His wife had openly recommended it. Job 2:9 . But though Job presumed to wish the LORD would take away his life; yet grace restrained all desires, to take it away with his own hand. Oh! that every poor tempted soul, when under such peculiar exercises from Satan, may look up and behold his security, in the restraining grace of JESUS. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 .
(11) What is my strength, that I should hope? and what is mine end, that I should prolong my life? (12) Is my strength the strength of stones? or is my flesh of brass? (13) Is not my help in me? and is wisdom driven quite from me?
Eliphaz had intimated, the want of wisdom in Job's grief Job 4:21 . Job in those verses refutes this argument, and proves that he was not void of reason.
(14) ¶ To him that is afflicted pity should be shewed from his friend; but he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty. (15) My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook, and as the stream of brooks they pass away; (16) Which are blackish by reason of the ice, and wherein the snow is hid: (17) What time they wax warm, they vanish: when it is hot, they are consumed out of their place. (18) The paths of their way are turned aside; they go to nothing, and perish. (19) The troops of Tema looked, the companies of Sheba waited for them. (20) They were confounded because they had hoped; they came thither, and were ashamed. (21) For now ye are nothing; ye see my casting down, and are afraid. (22) ¶ Did I say, Bring unto me? or, Give a reward for me of your substance? (23) Or, Deliver me from the enemy's hand? or, Redeem me from the hand of the mighty? (24) Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred. (25) How forcible are right words! but what doth your arguing reprove? (26) Do ye imagine to reprove words, and the speeches of one that is desperate, which are as wind? (27) Yea, ye overwhelm the fatherless, and ye dig a pit for your friend. (28) Now therefore be content, look upon me; for it is evident unto you if I lie. (29) Return, I pray you, let it not be iniquity; yea, return again, my righteousness is in it. (30) Is there iniquity in my tongue? cannot my taste discern perverse things?
In all these verses we have the warm expostulations of the man of Uz, concerning the unkindness, and deceitfulness, of those who professed friendship for him. They came, as was understood, to comfort him. Whereas everything that Eliphaz had hitherto advanced, in the name of himself and those who came with him, was directly full of reproof. He therefore compares them to the brook, which from its fulness, during the fall of rain, promised supply, but in the scorching summer when really needed, offereth nothing. The latter part of Job's speech is uncommonly striking. He apologizeth for any inadvertent expressions, which had dropped from him, from the desperate state of his afflictions; but beg them to observe that in all this, he had not condemned GOD, though he had lamented himself. His righteousness, by which no doubt he means to imply, his righteous thoughts of GOD, were the same. And thus, though Satan had charged him with hypocrisy, and his friends contended for the same, yet there was no hypocrisy with him.
READER! let us ponder over the situation, in which the HOLY GHOST hath represented Job in this chapter, and gather from it those precious instructions, which we may humbly suppose, the LORD the SPIRIT, graciously designed to convey.
Though we hear Job thus expressing himself, in the bitterness of his complaints, and speaking unadvisedly with his lips, yet it is not the complaining to GOD when under trouble which causeth sin, but the complaining of GOD. Here lies all the difference. Paul the apostle hath told the church, from the authority of GOD the HOLY GHOST, that no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous. And every saint's own experience bears witness to the truth. Nay, unless we feel our trials, how can they be sanctified, Reader! mark the striking difference, and observe how we are taught, neither to despise the chastenings of the LORD, by making too light of them; nor faint under them, as if they were too heavy. If a child manifests stubbornness under a father's rod, as though he felt it not, and appears determined not to regard it; what must we think of him? And if on the other hand, he sinks and faints under the rebuke, how would this improve?
But here, precious JESUS, as in every other thing, so in this, thy bright example, thy blessed pattern, shows what thy followers should be. When in thine unequalled conflicts, thy soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, yet we hear no complaining word, no angry expostulation. As the prophet had described thee, so the Evangelist records of thee, that thou wast led as a Lamb to the slaughter, and as the sheep before her shearers is dumb, so didst thou not open thy mouth. Oh! LAMB of GOD! give me to be everlastingly keeping in view thy meekness! and while I behold thee, condescending to the deepest abasement; feeling all indignities, bearing all our sins, receiving all thy Father's wrath, and enduring all that contradiction of sinners, which in the days of thy flesh, thou didst sustain for me and for my salvation: oh blessed JESUS, let me ask my soul, was it for me, that thou wast oppressed, thus exercised, thus tempted, thus buffetted, thus crowned with thorns; and all for me? Oh! give me grace in all my lesser trials, which were not worthy to be mentioned, to be looking unto thee. And though at times, my poor weak and corrupt nature, feels tempted to cry out under them, like Jonah or like Job, as though I did well to be angry; yet, LORD, if thou wilt strengthen me with one view of thee, then in thy power shall I take up the cross, and follow thee, thou LAMB of GOD, whithersoever thou goest, and be more than conqueror, through thy grace helping me.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Job 6". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent