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Bible Commentaries

Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Job 1

Verse 5

DISCOURSE: 449
JOB’S ANXIETY FOR HIS CHILDREN

Job 1:5. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt-offerings according to the number of them all: for M said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.

WHO Job was, or at what precise period he lived, or who wrote the book that is called by his name, is not certainly known. It is probable that he was a descendant of Nahor, Abraham’s brother [Note: Genesis 22:20-21.], and that he lived previous to the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, because there does not appear to be any direct reference to that event, which there would in all probability have been, if it had taken place, and Job or his friends had been acquainted with it. The Book of Job, with the exception of the two first chapters, and part of the last, is written in verse; and this has given occasion to some to imagine, that the whole book is a kind of poetic fiction: but there undoubtedly was such a man as Job [Note: Ezekiel 14:14.]; and the events referred to in the Book of Job did actually occur [Note: James 5:11.]; and the record of them was most assuredly inspired [Note: It is referred to by St. Paul in this view. Compare Job 5:13. with 1 Corinthians 3:19.]. Though therefore we admit that the conversation which passed between him and his friends is not recorded in the precise words used by the different speakers, yet it is certain that the substance of their respective speeches is correctly given, and that the record of them was written under the direction of God himself; so that it is, as much as any other part of the inspired volume, the word of God. The scope of the book must be clearly understood, and be borne in mind throughout; for, if we lose sight of that, the whole will be a mass of confusion. The friends of Job conceived, that his extraordinary calamities proved that his former professions of piety had been hypocritical: and Job maintained, that the trials which a man might be called to endure were no just criterion whereby to judge of his state; since the most upright of men might be deeply afflicted, and the most ungodly of men might enjoy uninterrupted ease and prosperity. And it will be found in the sequel, that, though Job in some instances was unguarded in his expressions, his views on the whole were right, and those of his friends erroneous. But we must not therefore conclude, that his friends uttered nothing that was good: their general sentiments were just; but their application of them to Job’s particular case was incorrect: their premises were often right; but their conclusions wrong. Their great error was, that they thought such extraordinary dispensations of God’s providence towards a man must be sent on account of some extraordinary wickedness committed by him. Conceiving themselves to be correct in this, they concluded Job to have been a hypocrite, and that God had now exposed his hypocrisy to the view of all: and Job, on the contrary, maintained that he had been upright in all his conduct, and that the judgment of his friends was uncharitable, erroneous, and wicked.

But it is not our intention to enter any further into the general question between Job and his friends at present: we have now only to consider the private character of Job, and that more particularly in reference to his family. He is represented as a man of most eminent piety, as being “perfect and upright, and one that feared God and eschewed evil [Note: ver. 1.]:” and from what is said of him in our text, he evidently deserved that high character. Let us consider then,

I.

His conduct in relation to his family—

God had blessed him with a numerous family, whom he had reared to manhood, and placed around him with separate establishments. But, notwithstanding he had thus liberally provided for them, and was evidently most indulgent towards them, (promoting to the uttermost a brotherly union among them, and permitting his daughters to enliven the innocent conviviality of their domestic circles,) he was exceeding watchful and jealous over their eternal interests. His seven sons had been entertaining each other in succession: and, though Job knew not that any thing contrary to God’s will had passed amongst them, yet, conceiving it possible that they might in their mirth have been transported too far, he called them to prepare themselves for a solemn attendance upon God, whilst he should offer for every one of them a burnt-offering unto the Lord.
Now consider this as an act,

1.

Of magisterial authority—

[It is manifest that he was, if not a king, yet a magistrate, possessing very high authority, and occupied to a great extent in judicial proceedings [Note: Job 29:5-10.]: yet he did not therefore think himself at liberty to neglect religion, or to confine his attention to private duties: he felt that the more exalted his station was, the greater was his responsibility, and the more urgent his duty to honour God before men. What a blessing would it be, if all people of wealth and dignity would use their influence in this way! But the generality of great men think there is no need for them to stand forth as patrons and patterns of religion: they suppose they have a dispensation from such open acts of piety as would attract observation, and make them appear particular; and that, if they countenance by their presence the public institutions of religion, it is quite as much as can be required at their hands. But we must declare to all, that, if Job, with the small measure of light which he enjoyed, accounted it his duty to exert all his influence for the honour of his God, much more should we, who profess to have received the full light of the Gospel, feel it our duty to devote all our faculties and all our talents to the honour of Christ, and the extension of his kingdom upon earth.]

2.

Of parental love—

[Many who have been careful of their children in their earlier days, cast off all concern about them, or at least decline all interference with them as to religious matters, when they have arrived at years of discretion. But so did not Job: though he was an indulgent parent, he did not give up all parental authority, but sought to use it for the eternal welfare of his children. He called them all to self-examination and prayer, previous to his offering for them the sacrifices in which he commanded them to join [Note: This is the meaning of the word “sanctified” See Exodus 19:10; Exodus 19:14.]. Yea, we are told, “Thus he did continually;” continually watching over their eternal interests, and using all his influence, both with them and with God, to bring them to the enjoyment of the divine favour. in this he is a pattern for parents in every age, and in every place. As long as God shall continue to them the possession of their intellects, so long should they improve their authority for the enforcing of an attention to religious duties, and for the cultivating of a spirit of piety in the hearts of their children.]

The peculiarity of his conduct naturally leads us to inquire into,

II.

The grounds and reasons of it—

Had any great evil been committed by his sons, to call forth that particular exercise of parental authority, we should have ascribed to that the conduct of this holy man: but, as no evil existed but in his apprehensions, we must look for the grounds of his conduct in some general views and principles to which it is to be traced. It was founded in Job’s views of,

1.

The extreme depravity of our nature—

[Though he had trained up his children in pious principles, he knew that they were by nature prone to evil, and that there was not any sin which, if left to themselves, they might not commit. He knew that they might even go so far as to speak lightly of God and his dispensations, whether of providence or grace; yea, through an evil heart of unbelief they might depart from God altogether, and actually renounce their allegiance to him. Hence he was desirous to obtain mercy for them, that, if they should have committed so great a sin, they might be brought back again to repentance, and not be left to perish for ever in their iniquity.
Now in this respect the views of Job were just: for the heart of man by nature is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked;” and, whatever education he may have received, and whatever eminence in piety he may have attained, he has reason to pray, “Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not!” yea, he has reason to fear, “lest, having preached to others, he himself should become a cast-away.” And every person in the universe should bear this in mind, in reference both to himself and others: for it is “God alone that is able to keep us from falling,” and it is only whilst “he holds us up that we can be safe.”]

2.

The corrupt tendency of carnal mirth—

[Mirth may be very innocently enjoyed: but there is great danger, especially when indulged to any extent, that it may become an occasion of evil. It certainly tends to stupify the conscience, and to deaden our affections towards God. When we are rejoicing much in earthly things, we are apt to languish in our desire of heavenly things; and to feel less ardent longings for the glory that shall be revealed. Moreover, when “we are full, there is danger lest we deny God, and say, Who is the Lord [Note: Proverbs 30:8-9.]?” It was against this that God cautioned his people of old [Note: Deuteronomy 8:10-11.], and this effect Job saw as likely to be produced in his own children. Hence he called them to a particular recollection of their spirit and conduct during their days of feasting: he urged them to examine well their own hearts, and to implore help from God, that they might be enabled to discover any secret evil which might have lurked in their bosoms. Now in this he set an admirable example unto us. The world is apt to fascinate our carnal hearts; and it is extremely difficult to “use the world without abusing it.” Whenever therefore we have been mixing in its company and participating of its pleasures, it becomes us carefully to examine our own hearts, lest we should have offended God by our forgetfulness of him, or contracted any stain that may render us odious in his sight.]

3.

The universal need of an atonement—

[Had Job offered one burnt-offering for them all, it would have sufficed to shew them what judgments they merited at the hands of God, and that nothing but the Great Sacrifice could ever avert his wrath from them; but when he offered a separate burnt-offering for each of them, these lessons were inculcated with double force. In truth, whether the young men had transgressed, or not, to the extent that their father feared, it was still necessary that they should apply to the blood of atonement to cleanse them from their sins. We need one to “bear the iniquity of our holiest actions,” and much more to expiate the guilt which we contract in an hour of conviviality and mirth: “Without shedding of blood there can be no remission” of any sin whatever: and a most important lesson we shall learn from this history, if we take occasion from it to get this truth deeply impressed upon our hearts.]

Let us learn from hence,
1.

To exercise a jealousy over ourselves—

[If it was right in Job to be jealous over his sons, it must surely be right for all to maintain a similar disposition in reference to themselves: nor is it only after a season of conviviality that we should exercise it, but at all times. Not a day should pass without diligent self-examination how we have passed our time, and how we have performed our several duties in the world, the family, and the closet; what tempers we have manifested towards man, and what affections we have exercised towards God, Have we received every thing, whether good or evil, as from him, and endeavoured to enjoy him in our comforts and to bless him for all our trials? In a word, let us especially inquire from time to time whether we have under all circumstances walked as in his immediate presence, and laboured to glorify his great and glorious name? “This, like Job, we should do continually:” and, like him also, we should occasionally set apart a day for more than ordinary self-examination, for deep humiliation on account of our innumerable short-comings and defects, and for a more earnest application to the blood of our Great Sacrifice to expiate the guilt of all sins, whether deliberate or unintentional, whether known or unknown.]

2.

To seek above all things the eternal welfare of our children—

[It is undoubtedly a parent’s duty to seek the comfortable settlement of his children in some good and useful occupation: but it is his duty also to seek above all things the salvation of their souls. Consider, ye who have families, that from you has been transmitted to your children a corrupt nature, which, if not changed by divine grace, will hurry them on to everlasting perdition. Surely then ye are bound to seek this grace for them: ye are bound to pray for them night and day: ye are bound to restrain them also, and to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord [Note: 1 Samuel 3:13.].” Nor is it only in their earlier years that you are thus to watch over them, but in after life: and if you neglect to do so, you will involve yourselves in the deepest guilt, and be justly answerable for them in the day of judgment: “their blood will be justly required at your hands.” In particular, be careful to instil into their minds high and reverential thoughts of God, and adoring gratitude to Christ for the atonement which he has made for sin and sinners. Teach them to go to that Saviour continually, and to wash in the fountain of his blood, which alone can cleanse them from their sins. Thus, whatever may be the issue of your labours with respect to them, you will stand acquitted in your own conscience, and have a testimony from God in the last day that you have done the things which were pleasing in his sight; “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”]


Verse 9

DISCOURSE: 450
UNCHARITABLE JUDGMENT REPROVED

Job 1:9. Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?

WELL has it been asked, “Who can stand before envy?” This vile principle is as ingenious as it is malignant. Never is it at a loss for an occasion to display its hateful propensities. The very favour of God himself shall call it forth, and cause it to pierce the most innocent of men with its envenomed darts. Especially, if any person be made an object of approbation and applause, its odious qualities will instantly appear in an endeavour, if not to destroy the character of the person applauded, yet at least to reduce it to the standard of ordinary attainments. In the chapter before us, Satan is represented as coming on a particular occasion into the presence of the Most High, and as being asked of God, whether he had considered what an eminently holy character Job was, insomuch “that there was not one like him upon earth, so perfect, so upright,” so altogether conformed to the mind and will of God [Note: ver. 6.–8]. And what was the answer of this malignant fiend? It was in direct opposition to the divine testimony: “Doth Job fear God for nought?” No: he is a selfish hypocrite, that serves his God only because of the temporal advantages he gains by it: and, if those advantages were withdrawn, he would shew he has no more regard for God than the vilest of mankind; yea, he would even “curse his God to his very face [Note: ver. 9–11.].”

Now, it is in this very way that envy operates, in reference to the saints, in all ages: they are represented as actuated by far different principles from those which they profess, and as possessing in reality no more of true sanctity than the world around them: “Do they fear God for nought?” No: they have some selfish end in view: and, if they be disappointed in attaining that, they will prove themselves as destitute of any religious principle as those who make no profession of religion.
It was in this sense that Satan put his challenge: and, therefore, we shall first direct our attention to it in that view. But we may take the words without any particular reference to the context; and then they will afford occasion for some observations of a very different nature. In both these views, it is my intention to consider them, and to notice them,

I.

As a base accusation, indignantly to be repelled—

How false the accusation was, in reference to Job, the event proved: nor is it a whit more just as thrown out against the people of God in all ages. I grant there are, and ever have been, some, who are not upright before God. A Judas was amongst the immediate disciples of our Lord; and a Simon Magus amongst the early converts of his Apostles. But if there be some like Orpah, who cleaved to Naomi in her prosperity, but abandoned her when her name was changed to Marah, (when, from being “pleasant” her very existence became “bitter,”) so are there many who, under all circumstances, “cleave unto the Lord,” and adopt the resolution of pious Ruth: “Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me [Note: Ruth 1:14-17.].”

And why should their motives be called in question?
[Is earthly prosperity so generally the portion of the godly, that hypocrites should be induced by the prospect of it to profess themselves the people of the Lord? For one, that is led by a hope of honour or emolument to embrace the religion of Christ, there are ten, at the least, who are deterred from professing it, by a fear of injuring their respectability or interests. Indeed, we are taught, by our blessed Lord, that “we must forsake all to follow him;” and, consequently, a desire after the loaves and fishes cannot reasonably be imputed to the general mass of Christians as their motive for professing godliness. We must look for other motives: and other motives there are, abundantly sufficient to produce the effects which we ascribe to them.

Are we not immortal beings, and accountable to Almighty God for the whole of our conduct? And is not the thought of this sufficient to impress the mind with awe, and to stimulate us to the utmost efforts, if, by any means, we may escape death, and lay hold on eternal life? Has not God also, in tender merey to our souls, sent unto us his only-begotten Son, to effect our reconciliation with him by the death of the cross? And is not this sufficient to shew us at once the value of our souls, and the necessity of fleeing from the wrath to come? May not such love on the part of our offended God be well expected to operate on our hearts, and to constrain us to devote ourselves altogether unto him? And, whilst our lives accord with our profession, has any one a right to sit in judgment upon our motives? and, when no fault can be found with our actions, is any one at liberty to criminate our intentions?]

If multitudes of God’s people were upright in former ages, why should all who profess themselves his be accounted hypocrites now?
[Were Noah, Daniel, Paul, induced by any sinister motives to serve their God? Did not their whole lives bear testimony to them that they were sincere? And is not the grace of God as sufficient for us as it was for them; so far at least as to inspire us with a holy fear of God, and a desire to serve him with our whole hearts? I may go further, and ask, Whether there be not many, even at this present day, evincing a superiority to all earthly good, and a determination to serve their God, though with the loss of all things? I repel, then, and with indignation too, the base accusations that are so generally brought against the people of God: and I declare, without fear of contradiction, that at this day there are many who, though far inferior to Job in respect of spiritual attainments, resemble him fully in the integrity of their hearts; and many, of whom it may be justly said, They are “Israelites indeed, and without guile.”]
But, as detached from the context, the words may be regarded,

II.

As an unanswerable truth, most gladly to be conceded—

Selfishness is doubtless an evil, when it leads us to postpone spiritual things to those which are temporal: but, if understood as implying a supreme regard to our eternal interests, it is good and commendable; for it is that very disposition which was exercised by Mary, when she dismissed from her mind all inferior considerations, and chose that good part, which should never be taken away from her. In this sense Christians are selfish; and it may justly be said of them, that “they do not serve God for nought.” For,

1.

They desire, above all things, the salvation of their souls—

[They know what they have done to offend their God, and what God has done to save them, and what promises of mercy he has given to all who repent and believe his Gospel. And, knowing these things, they desire to avail themselves of the opportunity afforded them, and to secure to themselves the proffered benefits. And is this wrong? If so, what can all the invitations and promises of the Gospel mean? Why did Peter say, “Repent, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out?” or why did our blessed Lord say, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink; and out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water?”]

2.

They actually obtain from God many present benefits—

[By “coming to Christ, they find rest unto their souls,” and are “filled with peace and joy in believing:” and in this way they are encouraged to “fight the good fight of faith,” and to “run with patience the race that is set before them.” And is there any thing evil in this? Does it not accord with the experience of the saints in all ages? Yea, does it not constitute a very strong argument in favour of godliness, that “it bath the promise of the life that now is, as well at of that which is to come [Note: 1 Timothy 4:8.]?”]

3.

They look forward to infinitely richer benefits in the world that is to come—

[To those who seek after glory and honour and immortality, God has promised eternal life: and the saints, under their most afflictive trials, are pronounced blessed, because of the recompence that awaits them in the eternal world [Note: Matthew 5:3-12.]. Can it be wrong, then, to have respect to that reward, and to run with a view to obtain the prize? Look at Moses: was not he actuated by this hope, when he “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt?” Yes, we are expressly told that “he had respect unto the recompence of the reward [Note: Hebrews 11:24-26.].” By the same hope were the ancient martyrs also actuated, when “they refused to accept deliverance from their tortures, in the assured expectation of obtaining a better resurrection [Note: Hebrews 11:35.].” And even of our blessed Lord himself is it said, that “for the joy that was set before him he endured the cross and despised the shame, till at last he sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [Note: Hebrews 12:2.].”

Then I confess the truth contained in my text, that we are selfish: and my only complaint is, that we are not sufficiently impressed with these hopes and expectations: for, if we were, we should, like the holy Apostle. “forget all that is behind, and reach forward to that which is before, and press on with continually increasing ardour for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”]
To all the calumniated servants of God, then, would I say,

1.

Regard not the uncharitable censures of ungodly men—

[Do what you will, they will be sure to find fault with you. Satan accused Job to God as a hypocrite, because of his prosperity: and, when he had prevailed to involve him in utter ruin, he stirred up Job’s friends to condemn him as an hypocrite, because of his adversity. So, when “John the Baptist came neither eating nor drinking,” Satan’s agents said “he had a devil:” and, when “Jesus came eating and drinking,” they accused him as “a gluttonous man and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.” Thus, “whether you pipe or mourn,” they will find occasion against you, even as they did against David, who, “when he put on sackcloth, and fasted,” to bring down blessings on his enemies, had even “that turned to his reproach.” Only be careful to give no just occasion of offence. Let your enemies be able to “find no fault in you, except concerning the Law of your God.” Let it be the one labour of your life to “be blameless and harmless, as sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, shining amongst them as lights in a dark world, and holding forth, in the whole of your life and conversation, the word of life.”]

2.

Endeavour in all things to approve yourselves to God—

[A contempt of man’s censures should ever be attended with a determination of heart to “keep a conscience void of offence towards both God and man.” You have seen what a testimony the heart-searching God bare to Job: seek that he may testify respecting you also, that you are “perfect and upright, fearing God, and eschewing evil.” Be men of principle: and then you will be independent of outward things, and serve God as well in one state of life as another. Neither prosperity nor adversity will influence you in this respect; but, “whether God give or take away, you will bless his holy name.” Then, if condemned by men, you may look forward with confidence to the future judgment, when “your righteousness shall shine forth as the noon-day,” and “every tongue that has spoken against you shall be condemned.”]


Verses 20-21

DISCOURSE: 451
TRIALS AND RESIGNATION OF JOB

Job 1:20-21. Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, and said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

BEHOLD, the invisible world is here opened to our view. We here see an assembly of the sons of God, (whether of angels, or of glorified saints, is not certain,) and Satan himself intruding in among them, in the very presence of their God. We are informed also of a conversation passing between Jehovah and Satan in reference to Job; God commending him as the most eminent of the saints on earth; and Satan traducing his character, as a mercenary hypocrite, who would even curse his Maker to his face, if only he should be tempted to do so by a withdrawment of his temporal prosperity. We are told also that God permitted Satan to put the piety of Job to the test which he had proposed.

There would be no inconsistency in this, if we were to interpret it literally: but we apprehend that it is a kind of parabolic representation, like that of Micaiah, who saw in a vision a spirit coming into the presence of Jehovah, and proposing to go forth as a lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab’s prophets, in order to persuade Ahab to go up to Ramoth-Gilead [Note: 1 Kings 22:19-22.]. In this view it is intended to shew us the malignity of Satan, and the restraints imposed upon him by Almighty God, who will suffer him to proceed no further than shall ultimately lead to his own confusion.

In whichever way we take this account, whether literally or mystically, it appears that Satan was permitted to assault Job with the most grievous temptations, and that the piety of Job was victorious in the conflict. In considering this account of Job, we shall notice,

I.

His trials—

These were beyond measure great—
[Their number and variety; their rapid succession, without one moment allowed him for reflection and prayer; the extent of them, comprehending the loss not only of all his worldly property, but of all his children, and that too in a season of mirth, when he was peculiarly apprehensive that they might be least fit to die; and particularly the certainty of all these calamities, every one of them being reported by an eye-witness; all of these coming so suddenly, were sufficient to overwhelm any one, more especially when the hand of God himself appeared, not in the language of the reporters only, but in the events themselves, to have been thus awfully directed against him.]

In them we see,

1.

How great the power of Satan is—

[How speedily he found instruments to execute his will! The minds of Sabeans and Chaldeans received in a moment the impulse which he chose to give them; and they performed exactly the service to which he destined them: the time, the manner, the measure of their actions were perfectly subject to his control, The elements also were alike obedient to his command, and performed precisely what he directed them to effect: the lightnings flashed, the winds blew, and, by their ready compliance with his will, proclaimed him to be indeed “the god of this world,” “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that worketh in all the children of disobedience.” True it is, he could not have done these things if God had not permitted him: but from what he did we may easily see what he both could and would do, if all restraint were withdrawn from him; and what he will do in the eternal world to those who shall be delivered into his hands.]

2.

How uncertain is all worldly good—

[When Job arose in the morning, he was “the richest man in all the east;” and before night he was bereft of all that he possessed. And such changes are by no means unfrequent in the world. Not to mention the restless desires of a gamester, the unfortunate speculations of a merchant, or the misplaced confidence of a surety, (all of which are fruitful sources of misery and ruin,) let us contemplate those other sources of calamity which are more out of the reach of human prudence, such as earthquakes, inundations, shipwrecks, invasions, conflagrations; alas! alas! how many thousands are from time to time reduced by these from a state of ease and opulence to the most abject and destitute condition! Verily there can be no one so ignorant as not to know, as well from observation as report, that “riches make themselves wings, and fly away.”]

3.

That the most eminent saints are not exempt from even the heaviest calamities—

[If ever any man could venture to say, “I shall die in my nest [Note: Job 29:18.],” it was Job; because, whilst he possessed more wealth than others, he had a mind more under the influence of piety, and consequently more free from those snares and temptations to which others are exposed. Yet, though there was no one like him upon earth in respect of piety, there never was a man so oppressed as he by overwhelming calamities. Let no man then ever venture to say, “My mountain standeth fast; I shall not be moved:” for “all things come alike to all.” “Of the righteous in particular the afflictions are many:” as in the case of Job, God often sends troubles to try and prove the sincerity of their faith, to strengthen their graces, to purify their hearts, to display before the world the efficacy of his grace, and to fit his people for a better world. If God have given faith to any, they may expect that it shall “be tried, in order that it may be to the praise and honour and glory of their God at the appearing of Jesus Christ [Note: 1 Peter 1:7.].”]

But in the midst of all his trials we behold, and admire,

II.

His resignation—

He felt, and deeply too, the heavy load of his afflictions; and hence he rent his mantle, and shaved his head, as customary expressions of deep anguish of mind [Note: Genesis 37:29; Genesis 37:34. with Job 2:12 and Isaiah 22:12. with Micah 1:16.]. But still he was composed and tranquil, “not charging God foolishly,” or uttering any thing hasty or unadvised. Let us notice,

1.

The considerations with which he quieted his mind—

[These were two; namely, that what he had lost, was not properly his own; and, that he had taken it, whose property it was. He felt himself now only reduced to the state in which he was when he came into the world, and in which he must at all events soon be, when he should be called to go out of the world again. Why then should he repine and murmur at being stripped of all, when he was so lately, and must so soon again be, altogether naked, without any thing that he could properly call his own? So just and important is this idea, that St. Paul has actually quoted the very words of Job, to shew that “godliness with contentment is the only desirable gain [Note: 1 Timothy 6:7-9.].”

Moreover, the use and enjoyment of those things had been given him by God alone: whether they came by inheritance, or had been the fruits of his own industry, God was equally the giver of them [Note: James 1:17.]: and, whether men or devils or elements had deprived him of them, they were no other than as instruments in the hand of God, who had accomplished by them his own sovereign will [Note: Isaiah 45:7. Amos 3:6.]. How then could he presume to reply against God? No: “he would be dumb, and not open his mouth, because the Lord had done it.”

What astonishing grace was here, that could suggest at a moment such thoughts as these, and give them such an efficacy to compose and tranquillize his soul!
But let us notice more particularly,]

2.

The manner in which he expressed his resignation—

[He “fell on the ground and worshipped” his God with the profoundest humility. O what submission of heart was here! How meekly did he receive at the Lord’s hands the strokes of his chastening rod! But he went further still, and “blessed the name of the Lord,” yea, blessed him for that very dispensation which Satan expected to have called forth only the language of cursing and blasphemy. Job was convinced in his judgment that “the Judge of all the earth could not but do right;” and that however “clouds and darkness might be round about him, yet judgment and justice were the basis of his throne.” He knew that whether he could see the reason of God’s dealings now, or not, he should see reason to adore him for them in the eternal world; and therefore he would bless and adore him for them here. Thus did he adopt exactly the line of conduct which God approves; “neither despising the chastening of the Lord, on the one hand, nor fainting under his rebukes,” on the other hand [Note: Hebrews 12:5.]. He “walked by faith, and not by sight,” and excelled all the saints, whether of that or any other age. David was not the least eminent of men; yet when the Amalekites had invaded Ziklag, and taken away his wives and property, “he wept till he had no more power to weep [Note: 1 Samuel 30:3-4.]:” and when he lost his rebellious son Absalom, he so fainted under the loss as to be altogether forgetful of all his mercies, and of all his duties [Note: 2 Samuel 19:4-6.]. But Job lost not for a moment his self-possession: his principles operated instantly to the full extent that the occasion required: “Shall we receive good at the hands of God,” says he, “and shall we not receive evil [Note: Job 2:10.]?” Any other conduct appeared to him to be highly unreasonable: and hence he is proposed by God himself as a pattern for our imitation to the end of time [Note: James 5:11.].]

From contemplating this exalted character, let us learn,
1.

To sit loose to earthly things—

[We deny not but that a competency in earthly things is a blessing for which we have great reason to be thankful: but when we see how uncertain the possession of them is, and, above all, how happy we may be in God without them, we have no occasion to covet them, or to set our hearts upon them. St. Paul, when “he had nothing, yet possessed all things [Note: 2 Corinthians 6:10.],” because he had God for his God and portion. Let us in like manner “learn in every state to be content, whether we be full or hungry, whether we abound or suffer need [Note: Philippians 4:11-12.].” Let us, “if we have a wife, be as though we had none; if we weep, be as if we wept not; if we rejoice, be as if we rejoiced not; if we buy, be as though we possessed not; and altogether use this world as not abusing it, because the fashion of it so quickly passes away [Note: 1 Corinthians 7:29-31.].”]

2.

To stand prepared for trials—

[Truly we know not what a day or an hour may bring forth; what losses we may have in our property, or in our dearest friends and relatives; or what calamities may come upon us. We are sure that “Satan, that roaring lion,” is “going to and fro throughout the earth,” “seeking whom he may devour:” and, if he have obtained permission to exercise his power against us, how soon may he bring us down to the ground, and even “sift us as wheat!” Who amongst us can have any idea what storms he may be preparing for us, or what instruments he may be stirring up against us? Knowing then his malignity and his power, let us stand upon our guard against him; let us “arm ourselves with the mind that was in Christ Jesus [Note: 1 Peter 4:1.];” and let us so endeavour to realize our principles, that we never give way to discontent or impatience, but bless in every thing the name of our God.]

3.

To seek the things which neither men nor devils can take away from us—

[Spiritual blessings are out of the reach of all our enemies: “Our life is hid with Christ in God;” and not all the powers of darkness combined can destroy it. Moth and rust may corrupt our earthly treasures, or thieves may break through and steal them: but if we lay up treasure in heaven, it will be inaccessible to them all. That issubstance [Note: Proverbs 8:21.],” whilst all else is vanity and vexation of spirit. Let us then “labour for the meat that endureth to everlasting life;” and “choose the good part, that never can be taken away from us.”]


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Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Job 1". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/shh/job-1.html. 1832.