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Bible Commentaries

Sermon Bible Commentary
Job 4



Verses 13-17

Job 4:13-17

I. Consider the spectre itself and its appearance. (1) It was produced by a likeness of moral state. It was a time of thought. But this does not convey all the idea of the passage. The Hebrew word here used for thought comes from a root signifying the boughs of a tree, and it has been rendered, "in the high places of the forests of thought." The mind was wandering amazed; the labyrinthine way stretched out on every hand; the mind trod the dark pathways. (2) Fear anticipated the vision. Fear unbolts the bars of the room and admits the spectre to our presence. Our world is a house full of fears, because the Fall has removed us into the night, away from God.

II. Notice, next, the question. The ghost's question touches very appropriately and comprehensively the whole topic also of the book of Job. (1) How large is the field of thought the message covers. It is the assertion of the purity and universality of Divine Providence. Rising from the small circle of interests, beyond the boundary of our time, the spirit suggests the sweep of Providence. (2) But the ghost's question had another department—it was directed to the defectibility of man. Consider God, but consider thyself—thy littleness, thy narrowness, the limited sphere of thy vision. These two thoughts face each other with mute aspects of despair and power. This is all they will say: Man is weak, God is strong; God is omnipotent, man is helpless. (3) Hitherto the ghost only crushed; it was not the purpose of the spectre to do more. It asked of man the question which had its root only in the eternal and illimitable will. It referred all to God. But the message of the ghost, no doubt, included the following chapter, which must be read along with it.

III. The ghost is asking this question still: "Shall mortal man be more just than God?" Our age is baffled by the same perplexities which alarmed Job and his friends. It is from God Himself that man derives the terrors which scare him. The alarm, the fear, the awe, the moral misery—these are the assertion of the Divine within the soul. To the alarmed conscience now God comes by the Saviour, not by an apparition. The conscience is calmed amidst its highest terrors by the "blood of sprinkling" and by the night-breezes of Gethsemane. From the darkness of Calvary comes a consolation to dispel all evil spirits and all night fears.

E. Paxton Hood, Dark Sayings on a Harp, p. 261.

References: Job 4:15-17.—H. Melvill, Sermons on Less Prominent Facts, vol. ii., p. 60. Job 4:18.—E. Monro, Practical Sermons, vol. i., p. 1. Job 4—A. W. Momerie, Defects of Modern Christianity, p. 93. Job 4-5—S. Cox, Expositor, 1st series, vol. iv., p. 321; Ibid., Commentary on Job, p. 76. Job 5:6, Job 5:7.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 314.


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Bibliography Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Job 4:4". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

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