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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae
Job 15



Verse 31



Job 15:31. Let not him that is deceived trust in vanity: for vanity shall be his recompence.

THE friends of Job were enlightened and pious men; but they altogether mistook the character of Job, and misinterpreted the dispensations of God towards him. They had assumed a principle which they carried too far: they laid it down as an invariable rule, that hypocrites would be visited with some peculiar judgments, and that extraordinary afflictions were in themselves a proof of some extraordinary wickedness which had procured them. But though they were mistaken in this, their observations are frequently most weighty and important. The words in our text are a kind of general truth, founded upon what Eliphaz had spoken in reference to Job. As applied to Job, it was not by any means pertinent: but as an abstract truth, it is deserving of our deepest attention. Let us consider,

I. The caution—

Men are universally “deceived” through the influence of a corrupt heart, a tempting world, and a subtle adversary. And that deception shews itself, as in other things, so particularly in the “trust” which they place in “lying vanities.” They trust,

1. In vain conceits—

[Men conceive themselves to be possessed of wisdom, goodness, strength, in such a degree at least as to warrant their expectation of happiness in a future world. Tell them from God, that they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked, and they will deny your positions as false, and ridicule them as enthusiastic. They have no idea that they need the influences of the Holy Ghost to enlighten their minds, or the blood of Christ to atone for their sins, or the grace of Christ to renovate their hearts.

But let them examine their boasted attainments, and see whether they amount to any thing more than “vanity.” Let them see whether their wisdom has made them like-minded with God: let them bring their goodness to the touchstone of God’s law: let them try their strength in any act of spiritual obedience: let them see if they can love God with all their heart and mind and soul and strength: and they must soon be convinced, that they are trusting to a mere vanity.]

2. In vain possessions—

[If a man possess much of this world’s goods he presently trusts in it for happiness [Note: 1 Timothy 6:17.]: “his wealth is his strong city [Note: Proverbs 10:15.];” and he says to gold, “Thou art my confidence [Note: Job 31:24.].”

But is not wealth also vanity? What can it do to assuage our anguish? or what stability is there in the possession of it? Do not “riches often make themselves wings, and fly away?” Or, when we are saying, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine case, eat, drink, and be merry;” may not God reply, “Thou fool! this night shall thy soul be required of thee?”

Let it not be said, that men do not trust in riches; for the reverse is manifest beyond the possibility of contradiction, seeing that the acquisition of wealth is regarded as the chief step towards happiness; and men bestow ten-fold more pains in the attainment of it, than they do in the pursuit of heaven.]

3. In vain hopes—

[Every one hopes that he shall be happy when he dies. But, if we “ask men a reason of the hope that is in them,” they can make no reply that will at all justify their expectations. They will say, that they live as well as others, and that God is too merciful to condemn them: but as for any Scriptural reason, they can assign none.

What a vanity then is this! If a man were hoping for a harvest while he neglected to use the proper means to obtain one, would not his folly be manifest to all? Wherefore then will men dream of going to heaven when they die, not only without having one word in all the inspired volume to warrant such a hope, but in direct opposition to the plainest declarations of God concerning them? Is not this a strange infatuation, a fatal delusion?]

4. In vain purposes—

[There is no one so hardened, but he intends at some future period to repent. All who have ever reflected on the value of their souls, or the importance of eternity, must have purposed in their minds that they would prepare to meet their God. But in this state they continue without carrying their purposes into execution. The young confess the necessity of repentance, and declare their intention to seek it: but they arrive at manhood, and repentance is unattained: they proceed to a more advanced period of life, and even to old age, and it still is as far from them as ever. Thus they live, always purposing, but never accomplishing their purpose, till the time for working is for ever past.

Can there be a greater vanity than this? And does not the trusting in such a vanity prove a man deceived?]

That we may not ourselves be guilty of this folly, let us consider,

II. The reason with which the caution is enforced—

God has wisely ordained that men should reap according to what they sow [Note: Galatians 6:7-8. Proverbs 4:8.]. And it will surely be found, sooner or later, that “they who trust in vanity, shall have vanity for their recompence:” they shall reap,

1. Disappointment—

[God alone is the proper object of our trust and confidence, because he alone can support us, and make us happy. If we have looked to sin for happiness, we will venture to ask, with the Apostle, “What fruit have we now of those things whereof we are ashamed?” If we have sought happiness in things lawful, still we must confess, that the creature, however excellent in itself, is but a broken cistern that can hold no water, and that must consequently fail us when we most need its support. We may fitly compare those who expect solid satisfaction in the creature, to a man almost famished, who dreams that he is eating and drinking, but awakes afterwards as empty and unsatisfied as before [Note: Isaiah 29:8.]. Truly, “he fills his belly with the east wind [Note: ver. 2.]:” and his fairest prospects shall “be as the unripe grape shaken off from the vine, or the blossom cast off from the olive [Note: ver. 33,].”]

2. Vexation—

[Solomon has observed respecting all the choicest things under the sun, that they are “vanity and vexation of spirit:” and the experience of all attests the truth of his observation. The more we trust in the creature, the more pain, generally speaking, it will occasion us: it will not only be a broken staff that refuses to support us, but a sharp “reed that will pierce through the hand that leans upon it [Note: 2 Kings 18:21.].” When Ahaz relied upon the Assyrian monarch to extricate him from his troubles, he found nothing but additional vexation: “Tiglathpilneser distressed him, but helped him not [Note: 2 Chronicles 28:16; 2 Chronicles 28:20.].” Thus it will be with all who trust in vanities of any kind, or seek for happiness in any thing but God. They may not yet have reached the crisis of their fate; but vanity and vexation are inseparable, both in this world and in the world to come. They may think that they have a feast to come; but while dreaming of something pleasing to their palate, they will find that they are “feeding on ashes, and a deceived heart hath turned them aside [Note: Isaiah 44:20. See also Ecclesiastes 5:16-17.].”]

3. Ruin—

[We well know how the tasting of the forbidden fruit, which promised such gratification and benefit to our first parents, terminated, and what misery it brought on them and their posterity: and the same recompence awaits us also, if we trust in lying vanities, instead of depending wholly on our God. Hear what God himself says respecting this: “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and that maketh flesh his arm, and whose hope departeth from the Lord [Note: Jeremiah 17:5.].” How should we tremble at such a denunciation as this! O let it have a becoming influence on our minds; and stimulate us to seek our happiness where alone it can be found.]

We conclude with observing,

1. How necessary is it to mark the state and habit of our minds!

[If it were said that gross sin should issue in misery, we should not be surprised: but we are told that the mere “trusting in vanity,” independent of any gross sins which may flow from it, “will have vanity for its recompence.” Let us look then not to our actions only, but to the state and habit of our minds; since our happiness both in time and in eternity depends no less on the latter than on the former. Let us not be satisfied that we are free from any flagrant transgressions, while we are relying on any thing besides God. Let us observe whether we practically feel the emptiness of all created things, and their utter insufficiency to make us happy either here or hereafter. And let us be going forth to God in the constant exercise of prayer, and “commit our souls to him in well-doing, as into the hands of a faithful Creator.”]

2. How thankful should we be, that there is an all-sufficient Friend in whom we may trust!

[God in Christ is the only legitimate object of our hope and confidence. We are told, under the figure of Eliakim, that “Christ has the key of David; that he openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth; and that on him must hang all the glory of his Father’s house [Note: Isaiah 22:20-24.].” “Every vessel in the Lord’s house, whether great or small, must hang on him;” and every care must be devolved on him. In him there is a fulness of all that we can want. “In him is wisdom for the blind, righteousness for the guilty, sanctification for the polluted, and redemption for the enslaved: and all this he will become to those who trust in him [Note: 1 Corinthians 1:30.].” Be thankful then, Brethren, for such a friend, and for the command given you by God, “Trust in him at all times, ye people.” Rejoice that he can bear your every burthen, and supply your every want; and that, as a trust in vanity will have vanity for its recompence, so a “confidence in Jesus will have a great, substantial, everlasting recompence of reward [Note: Hebrews 10:35.].”]


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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Job 15:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.

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