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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae
Job 35

 

 

Verse 10

DISCOURSE: 487

THE IMPIETY AND FOLLY OF MANKIND

Job 35:10. None saith, Where is God my Maker, who giveth songs in the night?

IN investigating so deep a mystery as that of, what is generally called, the doctrine of the Trinity, we ought, beyond all doubt, to look for clear and solid ground whereon to found our judgment: and happily there is ample proof, throughout the whole Scriptures, that, though there is but one God, there is in the Godhead a distinction of persons, who are severally revealed to us as possessing all the attributes of Deity. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are represented as concurring in the great work of Redemption; the Father sending his Son into the world; the Son laying down his life for us; and the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son, to apply that redemption to our souls: and this distinction is especially recognised by every one that is received into the Christian Church; every one being, by the express command of Christ himself, baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

In so important a doctrine as this we may reasonably expect to find that, though the clear and full manifestation of it might be reserved for the Messiah some intimations of it should be given from the beginning of the world. Accordingly, we find that, at the very creation of man, the Sacred Three consulted, if I may so speak, with each other, in reference to this matter: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness [Note: Genesis 1:26.].” Again, when man had fallen, and the punishment denounced against transgression was to be inflicted on him, the same concert between them is marked: “And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil [Note: Genesis 3:22.].” In like manner, when, after the Deluge, the inhabitants of the earth were devising a plan for their own consolidation and aggrandizement, and God determined to defeat it, the language used by Jehovah on the occasion was precisely similar: “The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language [Note: Genesis 11:5-7.].” Moreover, in many passages where God is mentioned, his name is put in the plural number; as when it is said, “Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth,” it is in the original. “Remember thy Creators [Note: Ecclesiastes 12:1.].” And the noun thus plural is often united to a singular verb: thus it is said, “Thy Makers is thy husband [Note: Isaiah 54:5.]:” and again in my text, “None saith, Where is God, my Makers?”

The particular occasion on which my text was spoken seems to have been this. All of Job’s friends interpreted his expressions in a way more unfavourable than truth or equity required. Elihu, after doing this in numerous instances, specifies, as a further proof of Job’s supposed impiety, that he had complained of God, as not attending to the cry of the oppressed, either in his own case or in that of others [Note: Alluding probably to what Job had said in chap. 24:12. in reference to others; and in 19:7 and 30:20. in reference to himself.]. In answer to which, Elihu says, that this arose from the people themselves, who under their troubles complained and murmured, but never, in a becoming manner, inquired after God, to seek relief from him. Now, in this answer, as containing a general and a very important truth, Elihu marks, in very strong characters, the impiety and folly of ungodly men: but, in the answer, as intimating also a plurality of persons in the Godhead, there is an extraordinary force, which places their guilt in a most aggravated point of view.

That we may exhibit this truth in its just light, we shall proceed to mark distinctly the impiety and folly of ungodly men. And,

I. Their impiety—

The assertion must, of course, be limited to unconverted men: but of all classes of them, without exception, it is true. St. Paul, shewing that all, whether Jews or Gentiles, are alike under sin, cites a variety of passages to prove his point, and which fully prove also the declaration in my text: “It is written, There is none righteous, no not one: there is none that understandeth; there is none that sceketh after God: they are all gone out of the way; they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no not one [Note: Romans 3:9-12.].” Humiliating as this description of human nature is, it is strictly true, in reference to every unconverted man: there is none that has any sense,

1. Of duty to God—

[Men will acknowledge that there is a Supreme Being; and that they owe him allegiance as their Creator and Governor: but, practically, they pay no regard to his authority whatever. His Law is no law to them: they take no pains to ascertain his will: and, if it be stated to them as the rule of their conduct, they pour contempt upon it, and set it at nought, and determine to regulate themselves by a standard of their own. The language of their hearts is, “Our lips are our own: who is Lord over us [Note: Psalms 12:4.]?” “As for the word which is spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we will not obey it [Note: Jeremiah 44:16.];” but we will certainly do whatever cometh into our own mind, and “will walk every one of us, after the imagination of his own evil heart [Note: Jeremiah 18:12.]:” “We know not the Lord; neither will we obey his voice [Note: Exodus 5:2.].”

If this statement appear too strong, look around you, and see where you can find persons truly and abidingly influenced by the fear of God. Verily, whatever appearance of that principle there may be in some who are more religiously inclined, “it is no other fear of God than what is taught by the precept of men [Note: Isaiah 29:13.];” the true vital principle itself is found in none but those who have been “renewed in the spirit of their minds” by the power of the Holy Ghost [Note: Ephesians 4:23.].]

2. Of dependence on him—

[As men will acknowledge the existence of God, so will they, in words, confess his providence also. But who receives every thing as from God? Who looks to him to order every thing in his behalf! Who realizes the idea, that not a sparrow falls to the ground without the special appointment of God? Who has not his attention so fixed on second causes, as almost to overlook the First great Cause of all? It is undeniable, that men are universally “leaning to their own understanding,” or “making flesh their arm,” or “saying to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence:” and that, to be satisfied with all that God does, and, in the absence of all human help, to trust simply and confidently in him, is an attainment far out of the reach of the natural man, whoever he may be.]

3. Of desire after him—

[Where do we ever hear the language of the Psalmist? “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee; my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is, that I may behold thy power and glory, like as I have seen thee in the sanctuary [Note: Psalms 63:1-2.]?” Does “the hunted deer, panting after the water-brooks, justly represent the desires of men’s souls for God [Note: Psalms 42:1-2.]?” Does their delight in his word, or their earnestness in prayer, or their contempt of all sublunary good, evince that God is indeed the chief object of their desire? Where shall we find the people who can with truth make that appeal to God, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee [Note: Psalms 73:25.]?” The truth is, that they are content to live “without God in the world [Note: Ephesians 2:12.];” that “he is not in all their thoughts [Note: Psalms 10:4.];” and that, if they were to be assured that there was no such Being in existence, it would give them no concern at all: they would sleep as soundly, and eat their food as pleasantly, and spend the morrow as cheerfully, as if no such information had been given them: yea, rather, instead of occasioning them any pain, it would accord with what God himself declares to be the wish of their hearts; “The fool hath said in his heart, No God [Note: Psalms 14:1.].”]

A more distinct view of our text will further exhibit to us,

II. Their folly—

It is the peculiar prerogative of God to “give songs in the night”—

[This is the office, and this the blessed employment, of each person in the Sacred Trinity. The Father, as the source and fountain of all good, is, to all who seek him, a “God of grace, and of all consolation,” “forgiving all their sins, healing all their diseases redeeming their lives from destruction, and crowning them with mercy and loving-kindness.” The Lord Jesus Christ as our Great High-Priest, sprinkles his own precious blood on the soul of the repenting sinner, and “gives him beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” The Holy Spirit also will descend and dwell in the contrite soul, to revive and comfort it: with those also who are bowed down through manifold temptations, to succour them with great might, and to make them victorious over all their enemies. Indeed our Triune God assumes to himself that endearing name, “The God that comforteth all them that are cast down [Note: 2 Corinthians 7:6.].” There is no tribulation so heavy, but he can make our consolations to abound above all our afflictions [Note: 2 Corinthians 1:4-5.]. Behold Paul and Silas when in prison, their backs torn with scourges, and their feet made fast in the stocks; that was certainly to them a night of deep affliction: yet, so far were they from being dejected, that “at midnight, with a loud voice, they sang praises to their God, insomuch that all who were in the prison heard them [Note: Acts 16:25.].” And thus will God support all his afflicted people: he will cause “light to arise unto them in darkness,” yea, and in the darkest night, “will himself be a light unto them.”

But where besides shall we find a god that can do this? As for “the gods of the Heathen, they cannot do either good or evil:” and all the creatures in the universe are no better than “broken cisterns, which can hold no water.” With God alone “is the fountain of life; and in his light alone shall we see light [Note: Psalms 36:9.].”]

Yet is this consideration wholly insufficient to stir up their desires after him—

[Though God would be a Father unto them, and treat them as his sons and daughters, they will not seek his face: and though the Lord Jesus Christ would wash away their sins, and clothe them in the robe of his own unspotted righteousness, they will not follow after him: and, though the Holy Ghost would accomplish in them the whole work of salvation, they will not implore his gracious influences. The vanities of time and sense they will seek with avidity: but after God they will not inquire, nor will they use the appointed means to obtain his favour.

Now, what extreme folly is this! For, however long their day of prosperity may be, there must come at last a night of affliction; since “man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” And what will they do when the night shall arrive? To whom will they flee for succour? or where will they find any solid consolation? Even “in the midst of their sufficiency they are in straits:” and “in the midst of laughter their heart is in heaviness.” What, then, will they do, when all created comforts shall vanish, and God himself shall frown upon them? What will they have to comfort them in a time of sickness? what under the guilt of an accusing conscience, and under the apprehensions of God’s impending wrath? What comforters will they find then? Who will brighten their prospects then? Whatever satisfactions they may have found in the day, who will give them “songs in the night?” Above all, who will console them under the loss of heaven; or administer to them in hell one drop of water to cool their tongue? Verily, the neglect of such a God, who is the only and the all-sufficient source of all good, is nothing short of madness itself: as it is said, “Madness is in their heart while they live; and, after that, they go to the dead [Note: Ecclesiastes 9:3.].”]

Address—

1. To those who are yet in the sunshine of prosperity—

[You, under your present circumstances, feel no need of God: and you can sing, as it were, all the day long. But will night never come? Will the period never arrive when you shall say, ‘Oh that I had God for my Friend! Oh that I had God for my Portion!?’ You cannot but know that that time must come; and that, if your day close before the Sun of Righteousness has arisen upon you, it were better for you never to have been born. Why, then, will you delay to seek the Lord? Why will you not turn, and inquire early after God? Why will you not be as wise for eternity as others are for the concerns of time? You see persons anxious enough to provide for their bodily wants: why will you not be careful for your souls? Were God held forth to you only as a Governor and a Judge, you should want no further inducement to seek his favour: for you cannot but know that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” But, when God is set forth to you under the endearing characters of a Father, a Saviour, a Comforter, how can you withstand his invitations to accept of mercy? Hear how he himself expostulates with you on your impiety and folly: “O generations, see ye the word of the Lord! Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? Wherefore say my people, We are lords; we will come no more unto thee? [Note: Jeremiah 2:31.]” Dear Brethren, delay not any longer to turn unto your God: provoke him not utterly to depart from you, and to “swear in his wrath that you shall never enter into his rest:” but “seek ye the Lord whilst he may be found; call ye upon him while he is near.”]

2. To those who are in the night-season of adversity—

[Tell me, Beloved, whether, on a supposition that you have truly sought the Lord, you have not found him a present, “a very present help in the time of trouble?” Has he not been ready to hear your every prayer, and to supply your every want? and has not the light of his countenance been abundantly sufficient to turn all your sorrows into joy? Has he not enabled you even to “glory in tribulation,” yea, and to “take pleasure” in the heaviest calamities, because of the augmented consolations and supports which they have been the means of bringing into your soul [Note: 2 Corinthians 12:10.]? Ye, then, are witnesses for God, that he “giveth songs in the night,” and that he is worthy of all possible love and adoration and praise. This is the state in which the Lord’s people should be. When you can say, as his Church of old, “In the way of thy judgments, O Lord, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee; with my soul have I desired thee in the night; and with my spirit within me will I seek thee early;” then it is well with your soul: whatever your outward circumstances may be, you are, and must be, happy: no increase of corn or wine or oil could put such gladness into your hearts as that which you experience in the light of your Redeemer’s countenance. Go on, then, and “let your light shine more and more unto the perfect day.” And may “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ your Saviour, and the love of God your Father, and the communion of the Holy Ghost your Comforter,” yea, may all the richest communications of our Triune God, be ever with you! Amen and Amen.]


Verse 14

DISCOURSE: 488

THE SOURCE AND REMEDY OF DESPONDING FEARS

Job 35:14. Although thou sayest thou shalt not see him, yet judgment is before him: therefore trust thou in him.

IN controversy there is need of the utmost candour; nor without it can we ever hope for a favourable issue. The friends of Job were grievously defective in it; and therefore utterly failed, either to convince him, or to be convinced themselves. But Elihu, who was an attentive auditor of the dispute, and who, on account of his youth, judged it indecorous to offer his sentiments till he saw that his elders were silenced, took up the matter with incomparably better temper and judgment, and, instead of bringing railing and unfounded accusations as the others had done, called Job’s attention to many expressions he had used, and endeavoured to convince him out of his own mouth. This was wise, and well adapted to the end proposed: and it is observable, that when God reproved the manner in which the other three had conducted the controversy, he said nothing to the disparagement of Elihu, nor required any sacrifice on his account.

It is certain that Job, though far from being a hypocrite, as his friends had represented him, had not always spoken quite advisedly with his lips. His self-justification had been occasionally too strong, and his complaints of God’s conduct towards him somewhat irreverent: he had yielded also too much to despondency. He had complained that he could not understand God’s dealings with him, and that he had no hope or prospect of deliverance from his troubles [Note: Job 23:8-9.]. This is noticed by Elihu in the words before us; and the proper remedy for such desponding fears is pointed out to him: “although thou sayest thou shalt not see God, yet judgment is before him; therefore trust thou in him;” that is, Place in God that confidence he deserves; and all will yet be well.

From the words thus explained we shall be led to consider,

I. The source of desponding fears—

There is far more of despondency in men than is generally supposed: perhaps it is, as much as any other thing whatever, a ground of their continuing impenitent in their sins.

The ostensible ground of men’s fears is usually a sense of the extreme difficulty of their case—

[Thus it was with Israel at the Red Sea, at the waters of Marah, at the borders of Canaan also, when the spies represented the cities as impregnable, and the inhabitants as irresistible. Thus it was even with the pious Hezekiah, when his sickness appeared to be unto death [Note: Isaiah 38:10-13.]: and thus it is with multitudes amongst ourselves, who imagine that their circumstances are so calamitous, as to be beyond the reach of any remedy. More particularly is this the case with persons under spiritual trouble: they are apt to imagine, that their sins are unpardonable, and that their corruptions are too inveterate ever to be subdued — — —]

The real ground is a low apprehension of the perfections of their God—

[This is the interpretation which God himself puts on the unbelieving fears of his people. When Sarah laughed at the promise made to her, the answer was, “Is there any thing too hard for the Lord?” and the complaint of God against the unbelieving Israelites was, that “they limited the Holy One of Israel.” In fact, a just view of God’s perfections would silence all fears: for if his wisdom, his power, his love, his faithfulness be really infinite, we have nothing to do, but to repose our confidence in him, and we are safe — — —]

But it is a small thing to know the source of desponding fears, unless we apply,

II. The remedy—

This is prescribed in the words of our text:

1. Contemplate God—

[What we are to understand by that expression, “Judgment is before him,” may be ascertained by consulting a similar passage in the prophet Isaiah [Note: Isaiah 30:18.]. He will do nothing but what is right and good; nor will he omit any thing which it becomes him to do.

Consider what he has done in a way of power and grace — — — and is he not the same God as ever?

Consider what he has engaged to do: is there any thing that we can need, which is not made over to us by an express promise? Has he not said, that “his grace shall be sufficient for us;” that “we shall have no temptation without a way to escape;” that “as our day is, so shall our strength be;” that “he will give grace and glory, and withhold no good thing” from his believing people? “Hath he then said these things, and will he not do them? hath he spoken, and will he not make them good?”

Consider, above all, the gift of his only dear Son! What else will he, or can he, withhold from us [Note: Romans 8:32.]? Surely he will be “a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall [Note: Isaiah 25:4.].”

Did we but duly consider his glorious perfections as already exercised for his people, and as specially pledged to be exercised for us, we should never entertain a doubt of his constant and effectual care. “His name would be to us as a strong tower, to which we should run and be safe.”]

2. Trust in him—

[“They that know his name will trust in him:” and to trust in him is the certain way to dissipate all fear. See how a confidence in God operated in the case of David [Note: Psalms 46:1-3; Psalms 11:1-4.]: and the same effect will it produce in us: “if we commit our ways to him, our very thoughts” (which are by nature fluctuating as the wind) “shall be established.” This, then, is what we must do: we must “cast all our care on Him who careth for us.” It is the very direction which God himself gives to “those who walk in darkness and have no light [Note: Isaiah 50:10.]:” and if we follow this direction, “God will keep us in perfect peace [Note: Isaiah 26:3.];” and we shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but standeth fast for ever [Note: Psalms 125:1.].”]

Address—

1. To those who overlook difficulties—

[This is the habit of men in general: and hence it is that they are so much at their ease. But it is no easy matter to turn to God aright. To repent and to believe in Christ are works far beyond the ability of man; nor can any man do either the one or the other, but by the influence of the Holy Ghost [Note: Acts 5:31. Philippians 1:29.]. O let this be duly weighed! Let us remember, that “we cannot even say that Jesus is the Lord,” (we cannot feelingly and believingly say it) “but by the Holy Ghost [Note: 1 Corinthians 12:3.]:” and let us not delay one hour to seek his effectual aid.]

2. To those who unduly magnify them—

[We certainly magnify our difficulties too much, when we deem them insuperable: for “the things that are impossible with man are possible with God.” See the state of Jonah in the whale’s belly: could any condition be conceived more hopeless? Yet from thence did he cry; and his prayer entered into the ears of the Lord of Hosts [Note: Jonah 2:1-7.]. Thus let us “never stagger at the promises of God through unbelief, but be strong in faith, giving glory to God [Note: Romans 4:20.].” The greater our difficulties, let our application to him be the more earnest, and our expectations of his gracious interposition be the more enlarged: “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord [Note: Psalms 31:24.].”]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Job 35:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/job-35.html. 1832.

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