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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Job 10

Verse 1

DISCOURSE: 460
IMPATIENCE REPROVED

Job 10:1. My soul is weary of my life.

LIFE is justly esteemed a blessing: and we are properly taught in the Liturgy to thank God, as well for our creation, as for our preservation, and redemption. But to the greater part of mankind this world is a chequered scene at best; and to very many it is only a vale of tears. Had we seen Job in his prosperity, we should have been led perhaps to form a more favourable estimate of the present state: but there are changes in the affairs of men, as much as in the air and seas: and the day that dawned with the most promising appearance, may be overcast with clouds, and blackened with tempests, ere the sun has reached its meridian height. Thus it was with Job: the man that was the envy of all who knew him, was in a short space of time so reduced, as to exclaim, “My soul is weary of my life.”
We shall,

I.

Shew that this is a common experience—

Daily observation proves that it is common,

1.

Among the ungodly—

[It arises from domestic trials. Who can tell what trouble a tyrannical or unfaithful husband, a contentious or imprudent wife, a rebellious or extravagant son, an indiscreet or unchaste daughter, may occasion? There is scarce a family to be found, where something does not happen to embitter life, and to make death, either to the head or members, an object of desire.

From personal troubles also the same disquietude will spring. Pain and sickness, when of long continuance, and especially when accompanied with the infirmities of age, cause many to wish for a speedy dissolution. Embarrassed circumstances too will so oppress the spirits, particularly when occasioned by one’s own extravagance or folly, as to make the soul weary of life: yea, to such a degree are the minds of men oppressed by troubles of this kind, that a deliverance from them is not unfrequently sought in suicide. Even a mere sense of the emptiness of all earthly things will often fill the soul with disgust, and cause it to sigh for a release from the body, in which it finds no satisfactory enjoyment. Many, in the midst of youth, health, and affluence, while moving in a constant round of amusements, and free from every external trouble, are yet so weary of life, that they would gladly part with it immediately, if they were not afraid of entering into the invisible world. But, above all, a guilty conscience renders man “a burthen to himself.” A person “weary and heavy-laden” with a sense of sin, and not knowing where to go for rest, is indeed a pitiable object. He wishes that he had never been born, or that he could be again reduced to a state of non-existence. If he might but be annihilated like the beasts, he would gladly accept the offer, and most thankfully forego all hope of heaven, to obtain deliverance from the fears of hell.]

2.

Among the godly—

[Not even the most eminent saints are altogether free from this experience. They are not, whilst in the flesh, above the reach of temporal afflictions. They are not indeed overcome by every little trouble, like those who know not God: but they are not insensible to pain or pleasure: they have their feelings, as well as other men. Pains of body, loss of substance, bereavements of friends, injuries from enemies, may, when accumulated, cast them down; and produce, as in the case of Job, extreme dejection.

The weight of spiritual troubles is felt by these exclusively: nor can those who have never experienced their pressure, form any just conception respecting them. Who can describe the anguish that is occasioned by violent temptations, headstrong corruptions, unsuccessful conflicts? What language can paint the distress of a soul under the hidings of God’s face, and the apprehensions of his wrath? Can we wonder that a person long exercised with such trials, should say, “Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest [Note: Psalms 55:4-6.]?” Surely “the spirit of a man may sustain other infirmities; but a wounded spirit who can bear [Note: Proverbs 18:14.]?”]

The commonness of this experience may well lead us to,

II.

Inquire into the reasons of it—

Many reasons may be assigned, but we shall limit ourselves to a few:

1.

Impatience—

[Job, whose patience is celebrated even by God himself, when borne down by the weight of his afflictions, cursed the day of his birth [Note: Job 3:1-22.], and longed exceedingly for death [Note: Job 6:8-9.]; and would have been glad to have had a period put to his existence, even by strangling, rather than to have it protracted any longer in such misery [Note: Job 7:15-16.]. To the same source we must trace those hasty wishes, which we also are ready to form in seasons of great calamity. If “patience had its perfect work in us,” we should be willing to bear whatever God might see fit to lay upon us. But “in the day of adversity the strongest of us are too apt to faint.”]

2.

Unbelief—

[From this more particularly arose that weariness and aversion to life which the Prophet Elijah manifested, when he fled from Jezebel. He had encountered Ahab, and slain all the prophets of Baal, in dependence on the divine protection: but when this wicked woman menaced him, he stayed not to take counsel of the Lord, but instantly fled into the wilderness; and, to get rid of all his dangers and difficulties at once, requested God to kill him [Note: 1 Kings 19:4.]. Had he felt the same security in God us on former occasions, he would have been quite composed, knowing assuredly that without God’s permission not a hair of his head could fall to the ground. Thus when afflictions render us weary of life, we shew that we have forgotten the promise of Jehovah to make all thing’s work together for our good. When we know that medicine is operating for our good, we disregard the uneasiness that it occasions: we are contented even to pay for the prescriptions, from a confidence that we shall be benefited by them in the issue. And should we not welcome the prescriptions of our heavenly Physician, if we duly considered his unerring wisdom, goodness, and truth? Instead of repining and murmuring on account of his dispensations, we should rest satisfied, that every additional trouble would only call forth additional displays of his power and love.]

3.

A forgetfulness of our real desert—

[Man, as a sinner, deserves the curse of the law, and the wrath of God. Suppose we bore this in mind, should we not say, even under the most accumulated trials, “Thou hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve [Note: Ezra 9:13.]?” Would not a recollection of our desert of death and hell constrain us to cry, “Shall a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins [Note: Lamentations 3:39.]?” Would Jonah have been so clamorous for death, and so ready to justify his impatience before God [Note: John 4:2-3; John 4:8-9.], if he had considered what he merited at God’s hands? So neither should we be so fretful under our sufferings, if only we bore in mind, that, instead of being put into the furnace of affliction, we should, if dealt with according to our deserts, be cast into the flames of hell. We should learn rather to adopt the sentiment of the Church of old, “I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him [Note: Micah 7:9.].”]

4.

A disregard of the great ends of life—

[It is truly humiliating to find not only such querulous, and almost doubtful, characters as Jonah, but the bold Elijah, the pious David, the patient Job, fainting in their trials, and longing for their dismission from the body. But to this catalogue we must add another, even Moses, the meekest of mankind. Even this holy man, unable to bear up under the burthens imposed upon him, complains of them to God, and says, “If thou deal thus with me, I pray thee to kill me out of hand [Note: Numbers 11:14-15.].” Would he have offered such a petition if he had reflected on the benefits which had already accrued to Israel by his means, and, humanly speaking, the incalculable loss which they would sustain by his removal? And should not we also be more willing to endure our trials, if we considered what valuable ends might be promoted by our continuance under them? Perhaps we are not prepared to die; (for persons are most apt to wish for death when they are least prepared to meet it;) and would we, for the sake of extricating ourselves from some earthly trouble, plunge ourselves, both body and soul, into the everlasting miseries of hell? But, supposing that we are prepared, may not others be greatly edified by our example, our counsels, and our prayers? May not our own weight of glory also be greatly increased, by a due improvement of our light and momentary afflictions [Note: 2 Corinthians 4:17.]? Is not this last consideration alone sufficient to reconcile us to a prolonging of our troubles, and a deferring of our heavenly felicity [Note: For this sublime idea the author is in a measure indebted to a poor woman (so poor as to be supported by the parish), who, when in great pain, and almost in dying circumstances, replied (in answer to what he had suggested respecting the rest and happiness that awaited her), “True, Sir, but in some respects affliction is better even than heaven itself; for, &c. &c.”]? We may indeed be in a strait betwixt the two; but we shall, like St. Paul, be willing to live, when we reflect how much better that may be both for ourselves and others [Note: Philippians 1:23-24.].]

Towards lessening this common evil, we shall,

III.

Prescribe some remedies for it—

The painful experience before described may be mitigated, and in many cases wholly prevented, by,

1.

A due attention to our worldly callings—

[Persons under the pressure of heavy afflictions are apt to give themselves up to sorrow, and to neglect the proper duties of their calling. By this means their minds become more and more enervated; their spirits sink, and they fall a prey to their sorrows: they die of a broken heart. But if, instead of thus yielding to lowness of spirits, they would employ themselves in their accustomed duties, their occupations would divert their attention from their troubles, and give scope and opportunity to the mind to recover its proper tone. Whether the troubles be of a temporal or spiritual nature, this remedy should be applied. We must not indeed go and plunge ourselves into business or amusement in order to get rid of reflection, (that would be to run into a contrary extreme;) but we should never be so occupied with our sufferings as to forget or neglect our duties. It is remarkable, that when God repeated to the fugitive prophet that expostulatory question, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” he ordered him, not to sit any longer wishing for death, but to go about the business which yet remained for him to do; namely, to return to Damascus, and anoint Hazael to be king of Syria, and Jehu to be king of Israel, and Elisha to be his successor in the prophetic office [Note: 1 Kings 19:15-16.]. And in the same manner it becomes us, not to sit wishing for the spoils of victory, but to continue fighting till God shall call us to put off our armour.]

2.

A close walk with God—

[Strange it is, that heavy trials which are sent to bring us to God, often prevail rather to drive us from him. We complain, “We are so overwhelmed with trouble, that we cannot think of our souls or compose our minds for supplication to God.” But we are particularly commanded to “call on God in the time of trouble [Note: Psalms 50:15.];” and to “cast all our care upon Him, who careth for us [Note: 1 Peter 5:7.]:” and we see in the instance of St. Paul how speedily our sorrows might be turned into joy, if only we would use this remedy [Note: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.]. Surely one ray of the light of his countenance would dissipate all our darkness, and change our impatient murmurings into “thanksgiving and the voice of melody.” If we were bowed down with a sense of guilt, one glimpse of Christ would remove the load from our conscience. If we were harassed with the fiercest temptations or most overwhelming fears, one word from him would quiet the tempestuous ocean, and qualify us for encountering all the storms wherewith we might at any time be overtaken.]

3.

A frequent survey of heaven—

[A view of heaven would indeed excite desires after the full enjoyment of it. But this is very different from the experience which is described in the text. Our longings after heaven cannot be too ardent, provided we are contented to wait God’s time in order to possess it [Note: 2 Peter 3:12.]. This is an important distinction, and most accurately marked by the Apostle Paul. He knew that heaven was the portion prepared for him; and he earnestly desired to enjoy it [Note: 2 Corinthians 5:1-3,]: but these desires did not spring from an impatient wish to get rid of his troubles, or to terminate his conflicts, but from a thirst after God himself, and the perfect fruition of his glory [Note: 2 Corinthians 5:4.]. Now this would be a most effectual remedy against the other: the brighter the views we had of the glory that awaits us, the less we should regard the sufferings of this present time [Note: Romans 8:18.]. If the years of labour and servitude appeared to Jacob only as a few days, because of the love he bore to Rachel, and the desire he had to possess her as his wife [Note: Genesis 29:20.], so will the tribulations which are appointed as our way to the kingdom [Note: Acts 14:22.] appear of little concern, when we look to the end of our journey, and the felicity we shall then enjoy.]


Verse 7

DISCOURSE: 461
CONSCIOS INTEGRITY

Job 10:7. Thou knowest that I am not wicked.

PAINFUL as the consideration of God’s omniscience must be to the wicked, it is a rich source of consolation to those who are upright before him. Circumstances may arise, wherein they may not be able fully to vindicate their character to the world, even though they are perfectly innocent of the things laid to their charge. The defilement also which they sometimes contract by reason of their indwelling corruptions maybe such as to excite fears respecting the state of their souls; while they are maintaining a strenuous conflict with the whole body of sin. In such cases it will be a satisfaction to them to reflect, that their very inmost souls are naked and open before God; and that he can discern the integrity of their hearts, even when most clouded, either by unreasonable suspicions, or just occasions of doubt. From this source Job drew his consolation, when the dispensations of Providence seemed to justify his friends in accusing him of hypocrisy: he could then appeal to God, and say, “Thou knowest that I am not wicked.”
We propose to shew,

I.

What we are to understand by this appeal—

Job never intended to assert that he was possessed of sinless perfection—
[God had indeed honoured him with the title of a “perfect man.” But in the very same place, the import of the term “perfect” is limited and explained by the word “upright” united to it [Note: Job 1:8.]. Perfection, in the Scripture use of the word, relates rather to our desires than our attaimments; and denotes that growth in grace, which is found in those who have arrived at the full stature of a Christian, as distinguished from a state of infantine weakness, or youthful inexperience. That Job did not deny himself to be a sinner, or still to be encompassed with sinful infirmities, is evident from the whole of the preceding context, where he repeatedly acknowledges, and deeply bewails, his own depravity [Note: Job 7:20; Job 9:20-21; Job 9:30-31.]. Indeed his spirit at this time was by no means free from sinful impatience [Note: ver. 3.]; so that, if he had boasted of sinless perfection, he would have opposed the whole tenor of Scripture [Note: 1 Kings 8:46. Jam 3:2. 1 John 1:8.], and his own mouth would have condemned him, and proved him perverse.]

But he appealed to God,

1.

That he was free from the sin imputed to him—

[Job’s friends imagined, that heavy judgments were never sent except as punishments of some enormous wickedness. What evils Job had been guilty of, they could not tell: but, as they saw him so grievously afflicted, they concluded that he must have indulged some secret wickedness, which God now intended to disclose and punish. They therefore, at a venture, accused him of hypocrisy [Note: Job 8:13-14; Job 8:20.]. But he repelled the charge, and asserted, in opposition to them, his own innocence [Note: David did the same. See Psalms 7:3; Psalms 7:8; Psalms 26:1; Psalms 26:6. And Paul: see 1 Thessalonians 2:10.].]

2.

That he was, on the whole, upright before God—

[He had unfeignedly endeavoured to serve and please God; nor did his conscience accuse him of allowedly indulging sin. In hopes therefore that the solemnity of an appeal to God would convince and satisfy his friends, he presumed to address the Deity in the words of our text. Nor was this without an evident propriety: for, as the troubles which proceeded from God were considered as a testimony against him, he could not clear himself better than by appealing to the Author of those troubles for a testimony in his favour. To have done this merely to cover his guilt, would have been madness: for if he was already suffering the rebukes of God on account of his hypocrisy, he could expect nothing but a ten-fold load of misery us the reward of such aggravated impiety Such an appeal therefore to the heart-searching God, upon a subject of which none but God could judge, was the best, and indeed the only means, of re-eatablishing his character in the good opinion of his friends.]
But, that we may not be too hasty in making such an appeal, let us consider,

II.

What is necessary to warrant it—

We ought to have the testimony of our own conscience,

1.

That we are free from all allowed sin—

[If we allow ourselves in any sin, we are servants of sin [Note: Romans 6:16.]; we belong to Satan [Note: 1 John 3:8.]; we have no interest in the covenant or grace [Note: Romans 6:14.]; yea, even the prayers we offer in such a state are an abomination to the Lord [Note: Psalms 66:18. Proverbs 28:9.]. It matters not whether the sin be open or secret, great or small; if we indulge it willingly, we oppose the authority of God, which is equally displayed in every commandment. It is no excuse to say, that such or such an indulgence is conducive to our comfort, or necessary to our welfare: if it be as useful as a right hand, or as precious as a right eye, we can never be sincere, if we do not pluck it out or out it off, and cast it from us [Note: Matthew 5:29-30.]. In order to say with truth, “I am not wicked,” we must have “a single eye [Note: Matthew 6:22.],” and be Israelites indeed, without guile [Note: John 1:47.].]

2.

That we endeavour habitually to approve ourselves to God—

[We may approve ourselves to our fellow-creatures, while there is much iniquity harboured in our hearts. If we would have a good conscience, we must act, not to men, but to God: God’s will must be the reason, his word the rule, and his glory the end, of our obedience [Note: Colossians 3:23.]. We must have as much respect to our motives and inclinations as to our words and actions; we must be careful to purge out all leaven [Note: Luke 12:1. 1 Corinthians 5:7-8.], and to have the very thoughts of our hearts brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ [Note: 2 Corinthians 10:5.]. Without this we cannot say, “I am not wicked;” for that which is the root and summit of all wickedness abides within us: we have “a carnal mind that is enmity against God [Note: Romans 8:7.]:” and however clean we may be in the outward appearance, we are inwardly like whited sepulehres, full of rottenness and all uncleanness [Note: Matthew 23:27-28.].]

But in proportion to the difficulty of making this appeal is,

III.

The blessedness of being able to make it—

Certainly such a consciousness of our own integrity must be a rich consolation to us,

1.

Under any troubles that may come upon us—

[Under the pressure of any heavy calamity, when God seems as if he were “bringing our sins to remembrance,” and especially in times of persecution, when our characters are traduced, and we are regarded as the most worthless of man-kind, we find it a most painful addition to our grief if we think that we have brought the trial on ourselves by some misconduct of our own. But if, in either of these cases, we can appeal to God that we have sought only his glory, and endeavoured to approve ourselves to him, we shall feel our trials greatly alleviated, and our spirits calmed. Never was a man more cruelly aspersed, or more virulently persecuted, than the Apostle Paul: yet the reflection that God knew his heart, and approved his conduct, made it appear “a light matter to him to be judged of man’s judgment [Note: 1 Corinthians 4:3.].” A similar consciousness will be productive of similar composure in all our minds [Note: 2 Corinthians 1:12.].]

2.

In the prospect of death and judgment—

[None who have guilt upon their conscience can look forward to these seasons without pain and dread. But to him who can make this appeal to God, death and judgment have lost all their terrors. He has within himself an earnest of the felicity that awaits him. The judgment has already passed, as it were, with respect to him; and, while others have only a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation to consume them, he “knows that he has a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens [Note: 2 Corinthians 5:1.].” Not being condemned in his own heart, he has a just and Scriptural confidence towards God [Note: 1 John 3:19-21.].]

Address,
1.

Those who are living in any known sin—

[Perhaps you have contrived so well, that you can defy man to lay any particular evil to your charge. But what will that avail, while God beholds the secret abominations of your hearts? To what purpose is it to say to your fellow-creatures, “Ye cannot accuse me,” when you are constrained to confess before God, “Thou knowest that I am wicked?” Reflect on the strictness of the trial that awaits you; and know, that God will bring every secret thing into judgment, whether it be good or evil [Note: 1 Corinthians 4:4-5. with the first clause of Job 10:15.].]

2.

Those who think themselves in a good state—

[It is by no means uncommon for men to “deceive themselves, by thinking themselves something when they are nothing [Note: Galatians 6:3.].” The way to prevent this is, to take the word of God as the standard by which we try ourselves; and, to beg of God to search and try us. This is recommended by St. Paul, in order that we may have rejoicing in ourselves alone, and not merely in the good opinion of others [Note: Galatians 6:4-5.]. If indeed we have in ourselves an evidence that we truly love and fear God, we may say, with Peter, “Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee [Note: John 21:17.].” But, after all, we should remember, that, whatever be our estimate of our own character, “Not he who commendeth himself shall be approved, but he whom the Lord commendeth [Note: 2 Corinthians 10:18.].”]


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Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Job 10". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/shh/job-10.html. 1832.