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Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit Commentaries
Job 10

 

 


Verses 1-22

EXPOSITION

Job 10:1-22

Having answered Bildad, Job proceeds to pour out the bitterness of his soul in a pathetic complaint, which he addresses directly to God. There is not much that is novel in the long expostulation, which mainly goes over ground covered in Job 3:1-26; Job 6:1-30; Job 7:1-21; but some new grounds are alleged as pleas for mercy, if not for justice. These are

In conclusion, Job begs for a little respite, a little time of comfort (verse 20), before he descends into the darkness of the grave (verses 21, 22).

Job 10:1

My soul is weary of my life. This is better than the marginal rendering, and well expresses the original. It strikes the key-note of the chapter. I will leave my complaint upon myself; rather, I will give free course to my complaint over myself, or I will allow myself in the expression of it (see the Revised Version). Job implies that hitherto he has put some restraint upon himself, but now he will give full and free expression to his feelings. I will speak in the bitterness of my soul (comp. Job 7:11).

Job 10:2

I will say unto God, Do not condemn me; literally, do not pronounce me wicked My friends, as they call themselves, have, one and all, condemned me: do not thou also condemn me. A touching appeal! Show me wherefore thou contendest with me. One of Job's principal trials is the perplexity into which his unexampled sufferings have thrown him. He cannot understand why he has been singled out for such tremendous punishment, when he is not conscious to himself of any impiety or other heinous sin against God. So now, when he has resolved to vent all the bitterness of his soul, he ventures to ask the question—Why is he so tried? What has he done to make God his enemy? Wherefore does God fight against him continually?

Job 10:3

Is it good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress? Job assumes that he is oppressed. He has no conception that his sufferings are a purification (John 15:2), intended to lead to the elevation and improvement of his moral character. He therefore asks—Is it worthy of God, is it good in him, is it compatible with his perfect excellence, to be an oppressor? It is a sort of argumentum ad verecundiam, well enough between man and man, but quite out of place between a man and his Maker. That thou shouldest despise the work of thine hands (comp. Psalms 138:8). This argument is more legitimate. God may be expected, not to despise, but to care for, the work of his own hands (comp. Isaiah 19:25; Isaiah 29:23; Isaiah 64:1-12 :21; Isaiah 64:8; Ephesians 2:10). Every maker of a thing, as Aristotle says, loves his work, and naturally guards it, cares for it, and cherishes it. And shine upon the counsel of the wicked (comp. Job 9:24). The prosperity of evil-doers must arise, Job thinks, from God allowing his countenance to shine upon them.

Job 10:4

Hast thou eyes of flesh? or seest thou as man seeth? Notwithstanding the anthropomorphism of their language, the sacred writers are as fully aware as their modern critics of the immateriality of God, and the immense gap that separates his nature from human nature. It is on this that Job now dwells. God, being so much above man, having eyes that are not of flesh, and seeing not as man sooth, ought not to judge as man judges, with partiality, or prejudice, or even with extreme severity (verse 6).

Job 10:5

Are thy days as man's days? In short-lived man, shortsightedness and prejudice are excusable, but not in one whose days are unlike man's days—whose "years endure throughout all generations". Such a one ought to be above all human infirmity. Or thy years as man's days? We should have expected "as man's years." But it marks the disparity more strongly to say, "Are thy years not greater in number even than man's [literally, 'a strong man's'] days?"

Job 10:6

That thou inquirest after mine iniquity, and searchest after my sin. It seems to Job that God must have been "extreme to mark what he has done amiss" (Psalms 130:3), must have searched into every corner of his life, and hunted out all his sins and shortcomings, to have been able to bring together against him a total commensurate or even approximately commensurate, with the punishment wherewith he has visited him.

Job 10:7

Thou knowest that I am not wicked; rather, although thou knowest (see the Revised Version). Conscious of his own integrity and faithfulness, Job feels that God too must know them; wherefore it seems to him all the harder that he should be made to suffer as if he were a "chief sinner." And there is none that can deliver out of thine hand.

"'Tis excellent to have a giant's strength;

But tyrannous to use it like a giant."

Job's last ground of appeal is, that he is wholly at God s mercy, can look for no other deliverer, no other support or stay. Will not God, then, have pity, and "spare him a little, that he may recover his strength before he goes hence, and is no more seen "? (see Psalms 39:1-13 :15; and comp. below, verse 20).

Job 10:8-12

Here we have an expansion of the plea in Job 10:3, "Is it good unto thee that thou shouldest despise the work of thine own hands?" Job appeals to God, not only as his Greater, but as, up to a certain time, his Supporter and Sustainer.

Job 10:8

Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about. Canon Cook observes with much truth, "The processes of nature are always attributed in Scripture to the immediate action of God. The formation of every individual stands, in the language of the Holy Ghost, precisely on the same footing as that of the first man". Yet thou dost destroy me; literally, devour me (comp. Job 9:17, Job 9:22).

Job 10:9

Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay; rather, that thou hast fashioned me as day; i.e. "Thou hast formed me, as a potter fashions a pot out of clay." This is scarcely a reference to Genesis 3:19, but rather an early use of what became a stock metaphor (comp. Isaiah 29:16; Isaiah 30:14 :; Isaiah 45:9; Isaiah 64:8; Jeremiah 18:6; Romans 9:21-29, etc.). And wilt thou bring us into dust again? After having fashioned me out of clay into a human form, wilt thou undo thine own work, crumble me into powder, and make me mere dust once more?

Job 10:10

Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese? "Didst not thou" i.e; "form me as an embryo in the womb, gradually solidifying my substance, and changing soft juices into a firm though tender mass?"

Job 10:11

Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh. "To thee," that is, "I owe the delicate skin, which encloses my frame, and keeps it compact; to thee I owe the flesh whereof my frame chiefly consists." And hast fenced ms with bones and sinews; rather, and hast woven me, or knit me together (see the Revised Version, and comp. Psalms 139:13, where the same verb is used in the same sense). The idea is that the body altogether is woven and compacted of skin, bone, flesh, sinews, etc; into a delicate and elaborate garment.

Job 10:12

Thou hast granted me life and favour. God, besides providing Job with a body so delicately and marvellously constructed, had added the gift of "life" (Genesis 2:7), and also that of "favour," or loving providential care, whereby his life was preserved from infancy to manhood, and from manhood to a ripe age, in peace and prosperity. Job has not forgotten his former state of temporal happiness (Job 1:2-5), nor ceased to feel gratitude to God for it (comp. Job 2:10). And thy visitation hath preserved my spirit; or, thy providence—"thy continual care."

Job 10:13

And these things hast thou hid in thine heart; rather, get these things didst thou hide in thine heart; i.e. "Yet all the while, notwithstanding thy protecting care and gracious favour, thou wert hiding in thy heart the intention to bring all these evils upon me; thou couldst not but have known what thou wert about to do, though thou didst conceal thy intention, and allow no sign of it to escape thee." I know that this is with thee; rather, I know that this was with thee; i.e. this intention to destroy my happiness was "with thee"—present to thy thought—even while thou wert loading me with favour. Job's statement cannot be gainsaid; but it involves no real charge against God, who assigns men prosperity or suffering as is best for them at the time.

Job 10:14

If I sin, then thou markest me; rather, if I sinned, then thou didst observe me. Thou tookest note of all my sins as I committed them, and laidest them up in thy memory. And thou wilt not acquit me from mine iniquity. This record of my offences thou still hast against me, and I cannot expect that thou wilt acquit me of them. Without some one to atone for them, men cannot be acquitted of their offences.

Job 10:15

If I be wicked, woe unto me! If, on the whole, this record of my sins be such that I am pronounced guilty before God, then I accept my doom. Woe unto me! I must submit to suffer. And if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head. If, on the contrary, it be admitted that I have not sinned so grievously as to be pronounced unrighteous, even then I will not beast; I will not exalt myself; I will not hold up my head as if I were sinless. I am full of confusion. This clause should not be separated from the last. The sense runs on: "I will not lift up my head (being, as I am), full of confusion," or "of shame," through consciousness of my own imperfections (see the Revised Version). Therefore see thou mine affliction; rather, and seeing my afflictions. The sense given in the Authorized Version is maintained by Rosenmuller, De Wette, Stanley Leathes, and Merx, and defended by Canon Cook; but opposed by Schultens, Professor Lee, and our Revisers. If we accept the views of these last, the whole passage will run thus: "If I be [pronounced] wicked, woe unto reel but if righteous, yet will I not lift up my head, being [as I am] full of confusion, and seeing my afflictions." Job still views his afflictions as signs of God's disfavour, and therefore proofs of his sinfulness.

Job 10:16

For it increaseth. Thou huntest me. This passage is very obscure, and has been taken in several quite different senses. On the whole, it is not clear that any better meaning can be assigned to it than that of the Authorized Version, "For my affliction increaseth," or "is ever increasing. Thou huntest me;" i.e. thou art continually pursuing me with thy plagues, thy "arrows" (Job 6:4), thy" wounds" (Job 9:17), thy poisoned shafts (Job 6:4). Thou givest me no rest, therefore I am ever conscious of my afflictions. As a fierce lion. Schultens regards Job as the lion, and so Jarchi and others. But most commentators take the view that the lion is God (comp. Isaiah 31:4; Isaiah 38:13; Jeremiah 25:38; Lamentations 3:10; Hosea 5:14; Hosea 13:7, Hosea 13:8). And again thou showest thyself marvellous upon me; or, thou dealest marvellously with me; i.e. "inflictest on me strange and marvellous sufferings.''

Job 10:17

Thou renewest thy witnesses against me. Each fresh calamity that Job suffers is a new witness that God is displeased with him, both in his own eyes, and in those of his "comforters." Hie disease was no doubt continually progressing, and going from bad to worse, so that every day a new calamity seemed to befall him. And increasest thine indignation upon me; i.e. "makest it more and more evidently to appear, that thou art angry with me." Changes and war are against me; rather, changes and a host; i.e. attacks that are continually changing—a whole host of them, or "host after host", come against me.

Job 10:18

Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? A recurrence to his original complaint (Job 3:3-10); as if, after full consideration, he returned to the conviction that the root of the whole matter—the real thing of which he might justly complain—was that he had ever been born into the world alive! Oh that I had given up the ghost! Before birth, or in the act of birth (so Job 3:11). And no eye had seen me! "No eye," i.e; "had looked upon my living face." For then—

Job 10:19

I should have been as though I had not been; I should have been carried from the womb to the grave. So short an existence would have been the next thing to no existence at all, and would have equally satisfied my wishes.

Job 10:20

Are not my days few? Cease then, and let me alone, that I may take comfort a little. Job here returns from vague longings and idle aspirations to actual realities—the facts of the case—and asks, "Is not the time that I now have to live short? Must not my disease make an end of me in a very brief space? If so, then may I not make a request? My petition is that God will 'cease' from me, grant me a respite, 'let me alone' for a short time, remove his heavy hand, and allow me to 'take comfort a little,' recover my strength, and obtain a breathing-space, before my actual end, before the time comes for my descent to Sheol," which is then (verses 21, 22) described. The parallel with Psalms 39:13 is striking.

Job 10:21

Before I go whence I shall not return (comp. Job 7:9; and see 2 Samuel 12:23). Even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death. Job's idea of the receptacle of the dead, while it has some analogies with the Egyptian under-world, and even more with the Greek and Roman conceptions of Hades or Orcus, was probably derived from Babylonia, or Chaldea, on which the land that he inhabited bordered (Job 1:17). It was within the earth, consequently dark and sunless (compare the Umbrae of the Romans, and Euripides's νέκρων κευθμῶνα καὶ σκότου πύλας), deep (Job 11:8), dreary, fastened with belts and bars (Job 17:16). The Babylonians spoke of it as "the abode of darkness and famine, where earth was men's food, and their nourishment clay; where light was not seen, but in darkness they dwelt; where ghosts, like birds, fluttered their wings; and where, on the doors and on the door-posts, the dust lay undisturbed".

Job 10:22

A land of darkness, as darkness itself; or, a land of thick darkness (see the Revised Version). And of the shadow of death, without any order. The absence of order is a new and peculiar feature. We do not find it in the other accounts of Hades. But it lends additional horror and weirdness to the scene. And where the light is as darkness. Not, therefore, absolutely without light, but with such a light as Milton calls "darkness visible."

HOMILETICS

Job 10:1-7

Job to God: the progress of the third controversy: 1. The pathetic wail of a crushed heart.

I. SOBBING IN THE EAR OF GOD.

1. The moan of a desponding heart. "My soul is weary of [literally, 'loathes'] my life" (verse 1). That which had rendered existence a disgust to Job was partly his intense bodily affliction, but chiefly the overwhelming strangeness of the Divine conduct towards him. If only he had been able to realize that, notwithstanding all contrary appearances, he was still an object of God's compassionate regard, he would have doubtless been able to endure with continued patience and exemplary submission the appalling calamities which had overtaken him. But the heavenward outlook of Job's spirit was obscured by gloomy clouds of doubt and fear. The conviction was beginning to force itself inward upon his soul that God was indeed turned to be his Adversary; and if that were really so, Job felt that life would not be worth living. So David estimated God's favour as life, and God's loving-kindness as better than life (Psalms 30:5; Psalms 63:3; cf. homiletics on Job 6:1-13).

2. The utterance of a fainting spirit. "I will leave my complaint upon myself" (verse 1); i.e. I will give it free scope, yield myself up to it, and permit it to take full possession of me. Job's complaint was that God was treating him as guilty while he was inwardly conscious of being innocent. Had this been really so, Job would have had reason on his side. But as yet the Divine antagonism to which he alluded was only an inference from his great sufferings. Hence the attitude assumed by Job was indefensible. Much more was it inexcusable to give way to a spirit of railing against God. If angry feelings rose within him, it was his paramount duty to repress them. The absence of gospel light, however, may serve in part to extenuate Job's offence. The Divine philosophy of affliction, as expounded by Christianity, was not understood by him. If, then, fainting under tribulation was wrong in the old Arabian patriarch, much more is it indefensible in a New Testament believer.

3. The resolve of an embittered soul. "I will speak in the bitterness of my soul" (verse 1). Job was at this time intensely miserable. Life was a burden. God was (or seemed to be) against him. His own spirit was stung with a keen sense of injustice. The result was that wild indignation against the Almighty was beginning to steal like a poison through his veins. His soul was fast getting set on fire of hell. In circumstances such as these, it was extremely unwise in Job to resolve to speak. Safety would have been better secured by silence. The only favourable feature in the case was that Job meant not to fling abroad his impassioned outcries on the wild winds, but to breathe them into the ear of God. If a saint or sinner should feel aggrieved with God, it is infinitely wiser to go direct with his complaint to God himself than to either brood over it in secret or tell it to the world.

II. PLEADING BEFORE THE THRONE OF GOD.

1. Deprecating condemnation. "I will say unto God, Do not condemn me [literally, 'do not fasten guilt upon me']" (verse 2). The words may be regarded either as the cry of a saint who is conscious of his own inward moral and spiritual integrity, but who, through bodily affliction or Satanic temptation, or both combined, has become suddenly apprehensive of having forfeited or lost the Divine favour; or as the prayer of a sinful soul awakened for the first time to a conviction of its guiltiness before God, which, in an agony of fear, it implores God not to fasten on it, but to cancel and forgive. In the first of these two senses it was used by Job, and by saints similarly situated it may still be employed. No greater consternation can seize upon the mind of a child of God than that produced by the fear that God intends to condemn him. But such a fear is groundless. Whom God justifies, them he also glorifies (Romans 8:30). "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance" (Romans 11:29). There is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). God ,nay sometimes hide his face from a saint (Isaiah 54:8), but he never finally turns his back upon him (Hebrews 13:5). In the second sense it is a prayer appropriate to all awakened sinners. And, thanks to Divine mercy, God never fastens guilt upon a soul that fastens it upon itself, never condemns those who sincerely condemn themselves (Isaiah 1:16; Isaiah 43:25; 1 John 1:9).

2. Desiring illumination. "Show me wherefore thou contendest with me." God contends with men when in his providence he afflicts, and by his Spirit convicts, them. He contends with sinners on account of their unbelief (John 16:8, John 16:9) and wickedness generally; he may contend with his people on account of their backsliding (Micah 6:2; Revelation 2:4, Revelation 2:5), their formality (Revelation 3:1), their spiritual indifference (Revelation 3:15, Revelation 3:16), or simply to advance their individual improvement (Genesis 32:24). Yet when God does so contend with a saint the reason is not always patent (Job 37:21). Hence the prayer to be divinely instructed as to the grounds of God's controversy with the soul is not only not sinful, but highly proper and advantageous. Only it should be presented with reverence, with humility, with docility.

III. APPEALING TO THE HEART OF GOD. Job remonstrates with God against the treatment accorded to him on two main grounds.

1. It is derogatory to the Divine character. "Is it good unto thee [literally, 'is it becoming'] that thou shouldest oppress, that thou shouldest despise the work of thine hands, and shine upon the counsel of the wicked?" (verse 3). Three considerations, according to Job, ought to have prevented God from inflicting upon him such tremendous calamities.

2. It is inconsistent with the Divine perfectione.

LESSONS.

1. The best thing for burdened souls to do is to cast themselves and their burdens into God's lap; not angrily, but humbly; not complainingly, but confidingly.

2. There is a wide difference between God's contending with his people, and God's condemning them; this he never, that he often, does.

3. When God's character and God's conduct appear in conflict, it becomes us to question our interpretations of the latter rather than renounce our trust in the former.

Job 10:8-17

Job to God: the progress of the third controversy: 2. An inexplicable contradiction.

I. GOD'S FORMER LOVING CARE.

1. Minutely detailed.

2. Skilfully employed. As Job recalls the time when he was thus an object of God's paternal solicitude, he cannot help lingering over the sweet memories with which it floods his soul. Setting up, too, these tender reminiscences against the dark background of his present sorrow, he feels melted and softened. The thought of that Divine love which had fashioned him and favoured him enkindles in his soul a strange yearning for its return, which makes him try, as it were, by recalling old times to God, to excite a touch of pity in the Divine heart. "Thine hands have made me; and yet thou destroyest me!" "Thou hast made me as clay; and yet thou reducest me to dust again!" There are few arguments that touch the heart of God so powerfully as the remembrance of former mercies. "Put me in remembrance," says God (Isaiah 43:26). "Forget not all his benefits," says David (Psalms 103:2; cf. Psalms 42:6; Psalms 77:10; Psalms 143:5).

II. GOD'S PRESENT CRUEL TREATMENT.

1. The Divine plot. "And these things hast thou hid in thine heart: I know that this is with thee" (verse 13). Job conceived that his terrible afflictions were the outcome of a dark and deep design which God had formed concerning him before he was born; that, in fact, God had summoned him into existence precisely in order to persecute him in the way about to be described. That God worketh all things on earth according to the counsel of his will, that every event in history, as well as every incident in individual experience, has its place in an eternally existing and universe-embracing plan, is a truth of natural religion no less than of Divine revelation (Acts 15:18; Ephesians 1:11). But that God created any soul expressly for the purpose of rendering it miserable, either in time or eternity, is s simple perversion of truth, inconsistent alike with man's fundamental notions of the Deity and Scripture's explicit teachings as to the import of predestination. God never plots against either saint or sinner; but he never fails to plan for both—in which there should be comfort for the one (Romans 8:28), and a caution for the other (Proverbs 15:3, Proverbs 15:11; Psalms 33:15).

2. The fourfold net. Job unfolds the nature of that plot which he conceives God to have devised against him.

Learn:

1. That if God uses rigour towards man, he doth it not of any cruelty, since man is God's handiwork.

2. That man, being God's handiwork, should never cease to praise his Maker.

3. That man's lowly origin should both keep him humble and remind him of his latter end.

4. That God's power and grace should be recognized in man's preservation as much as in man's formation.

5. That" all things are naked and manifest to the eyes of him with whom we have to do."

6. That God, if swift to note, is still swifter to forgive, iniquity.

7. That the royal road to Heaven's favour and forgiveness is through humility and self-abasement.

8. That the end of all Divine discipline on earth is to humble man in preparation for eternal exaltation.

Job 10:18-22

Job to God: the progress of the third controversy: 3. An old complaint renewed.

I. A GREAT MERCY DESPISED. Life. "Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb?" (verse 18). Job here announces an important truth, that the extraction of an infant from the womb is practically God's work (Psalms 22:9; Psalms 71:6), but likewise commits a sin in regarding as an evil fortune what, rightly pondered, should have been esteemed a valuable blessing. Life, as God bestows it, is a precious gift; though frequently, as man makes it, it proves a dreadful curse. Job's ingratitude was all the more reprehensible that in his case life had been crowned with mercies—with great material wealth, with true domestic enjoyment, with immense social influence, with rich spiritual grace, with palpable Divine favour.

II. A SINFUL REGRET INDULGED. That he had not been carried from the womb to the grave. "Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me!" (verse 18). Job's regret was:

1. Sinful; inasmuch as it undervalued a Divine gift.

2. Unnatural; since it contradicted the instinct of love of life which the Creator has implanted in all his creatures.

3. Foolish; for though Job might have thereby escaped bodily pain, he would also have missed much happiness and many opportunities of glorifying God by doing good and enduring affliction.

4. Mistaken; as though Job had been carried from the womb to the grave, his expectation," I should have been as though I had not been," would not have proved correct. The child who opens its eyes on earth simply to shut them again does not return to the wide womb of nothingness when its tiny form is deposited in the dust. The fact of its being horn into Adam's race constitutes it an immortal. The doctrine of annihilation, if not absolutely unphilosophical, is certainly unnatural and unscriptural.

III. A PASSIONATE ENTREATY OFFERED. For a brief respite in the midst of his sufferings. "Are not my days few? cease then, and let me alone, that I may take comfort a little."

1. The prayer. "Let me alone." Job craved a momentary alleviation in his troubles. Few sufferers are without such interludes of ease. God mercifully mitigates human sorrow by granting brief periods of relief; otherwise men would be crushed, and the end of affliction defeated.

2. The purpose. "That I may be cheerful a little." Job could not brighten up while tormented by incessant pain and haunted by continual fear (Job 9:27). Only the lifting of God's hand would remove the load from his heart and the cloud from his brow. And this he felt was desirable before he went to the under world. Most men will sympathize with Job in desiring a brief period of freedom from pain before passing into the eternal world, to enable them to calm their spirits, to collect their thoughts, to prepare their souls for the last conflict and the great hereafter.

3. The plea. "Are not my days few?" Job thought himself upon the brink of the grave. In this, however, he was mistaken. Most men deem themselves further from the unseen world than they really are (1 Samuel 20:3), but occasionally sufferers judge themselves nearer the close of life than they eventually prove to be. If the first is a sin of presumption, the second is an error caused by feeble faith. If the first is peculiar to youth and health, the second is not infrequent to suffering and age.

IV. A DISMAL FUTURE DEPICTED. Hades. The melancholy region, into which Job anticipated almost instantaneous departure, was not the grave, which was, properly speaking, only the receptacle of the dead body; but Sheol, the abode of departed spirits. As conceived by Job and other Old Testament saints, this was not a place where the disembodied spirit either found annihilation or sank into unconsciousness, but a realm in which the spirit, existing apart from the body, retained its self-consciousness. Yet the gloom which overhung this silent and impenetrable land was such as to render it unattractive in the extreme. It was a land of:

1. Perpetual exile. "Before I go whence I shall not return" (verse 21); "the undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveller returns" ('Hamlet,' act 3. sc. 1).

2. Thick darkness. "A land of darkness, as darkness itself" (verse 22). Four different terms are employed to depict the gloom of this dismal world; the first (used in Genesis 1:2) probably depicting a condition of things upon which light has not yet arisen; the second representing this lightless region as death's shade, i.e. the veil which death draws around the eyes of men; the third setting forth this darkness as that which covers up or encircles all things; and the fourth pointing to the complete shotting off of light, the deepest and thickest gloom. This horrible picture the poet finishes by adding, "and the light is as the thick darkness," meaning that in that doleful region the daylight or the noontide is like the midnight gloom of earth: "not light, but darkness visible" (Milton, 'Paradise Lost,' bk. 1.).

3. Complete disorder. A land "without any order" (verse 22); meaning either without form or outline, every object being so wrapt in gloom that it appears devoid of shape, or without regular succession, as of day and night; a realm without light, without beauty, without form, without order; a dark subterranean chaos filled with pale ghosts, waiting in comparative inactivity during that "night in which no man can work," for the dawning of the resurrection morn. Contrast with all this the Christian Paradise, where the spirits of just men made perfect are now for ever with the Lord; not a laud of exile from which one shall no more return, but a better country, even an heavenly, from which one shall go no more out (Revelation 3:12); not a region of darkness, but a bright realm of light (Revelation 21:23); not a chaos of confusion, but a glorious cosmos of life, order, and beauty (Revelation 21:1).

Learn:

1. The danger of unsanctified affliction.

2. The power of Satan over the human heart.

3. The short-sightedness of sense and reason.

4. The propriety of ever being ready for our departure into the unseen world.

5. The value of the gospel, which has brought life and immortality to light.

6. The advantage possessed by those who live under the gospel dispensation.

7. The greater responsibility of those who enjoy greater light than Job did.

HOMILIES BY E. JOHNSON

Job 10:1-22

Appeal to the justice, knowledge, and goodness of God.

In his extremity of maddening pain and in his contempt of life, Job resolves to give full way once more to words (verse 1). And as they pour forth in full flood from the bottom of his heart, we perceive that he has in reality truer and juster thoughts about God than those expressed in the preceding chapter. He proceeds to appeal one by one to the highest perfection which can be associated with the Divine Name.

I. APPEAL TO THE GOODNESS AND GREATNESS OF GOD. (Verses 2-7.)

1. To his reasonableness and justice. (Verse 2.) "Condemn me not unheard, without cause assigned; make clear to my mind, which cannot deny its convictions, my guilt and its nature." Taking the analogy of our Lord's reasoning in the sermon on the mount, if to condemn a man without cause is felt to be an odious injustice—if it is a cardinal point in a just earthly constitution (e.g. as expressed in our Habeas Corpus Act) that no man be seized and kept in prison without speedy opportunity of being confronted with his accusers—how can we ascribe such conduct to him who sits on the eternal throne?

2. To his equity. (Verse 3.) Can it be right that God should, on the one hand, cast down the weak and innocent, and, on the other, exalt and favour the unprincipled and the wicked? This would not be to hold even the scales, the eternal emblem of justice. The true solution to the question is given by Christ. God is good to all alike. The great gifts of nature—sunshine and rain—are common to good and evil, just and unjust. And as to spiritual blessings, which are of their nature conditional on human will and seeking, God is as good to all as their own state and disposition will suffer him to be. Are, then, the sufferings of the good contrary to his justice? Not so; but they come under that higher law which Job and his friends have yet to learn, that suffering is one of the forms and manifestations of Divine goodness in the education of human beings.

3. Appeal to his omniscience. (Verse 4.) God sees all things, from all beginnings, to all ends. He is not a short-sighted tyrant who is tempted to force by torture a confession of guilt from an unhappy prisoner against whom he has only a suspicion but no evidence. God knows that Job is innocent. But this fact should put an end to his murmurs, could he be wholly true to his higher faith in God. The right which God knows he will in the end declare, and will be seen to have throughout defended and protected.

4. Appeal to his eternal duration. (Verses 5, 6.) The calm and ever-abiding existence of God must surely free him from those temptations to which short-lived man is subject. Hurry, impatience, haste, impetuosity, are characteristics of humanity, because men know they have much to do, and but a short time in which to do it. Therefore the tyrant will snatch quickly at revenge for any affront or injury he may have suffered. But who can escape the power and the penalties of the Eternal? Once more: God knows he is innocent (verse 7)!

II. THE RELATION BETWEEN THE CREATOR AND THE CREATURE. (Verses 8-17.)

1. Comparison of the Creator and the creature to the potter and his work. (Verse 8.) The potter's artistic work is a work on which care, thought, elaboration, have been spent; it is a" thing of beauty," and he designs it to be a "joy for ever." He will not wantonly destroy it, will not bear to see it so destroyed. Can we believe otherwise of God and his work? A most true and telling analogy, and on which may be founded an argument for the immortality of the soul. Had that idea come within the horizon of Job's vision, his analogy would have afforded him profound comfort.

2. Contrast between the careful production and preservation' and the seeming reckless destruction of the creature. (Verses 10-17.) On the one hand we see (verses 10, 11) the marvellous production and development of the bodily life from the embryo to the distinct and fully developed form, arranged with all the apparatus and mechanism of nutrition and of movement. What dazzling evidences of the thought which God has lavished upon his chief work do all the discoveries of physiology unfold! We may read side by side with this passage Psalms 139:1-24; and Addison's noble hymn, "When all thy mercies, O my God." Then there is the endowment of this marvellous framework with the great gift of life, and manifold rich enjoyments, and its preservation through all the dangers of youth to the present moment (Psalms 139:12). But how dread the other side of the contrast! Behind this elaborate design there was concealed from the first, as it seems to Job's gloomy reflection, a deliberate purpose of destruction—the reckless annihilation of this splendid work of Divine art (verse 13). Rather, if we do but rectify these perverted reasonings of a morbid and distressed mood, what noble and irresistible arguments do we derive from experience and from the science of our physical life for God's eternal interest in that which is here contained in it—the soul which partakes of him, and cannot perish! Then follows a terrible picture of the relation in which the patriarch, in his misery, supposes himself to stand to God. He is in a "tetralemma," or net, from which he can see no escape.

III. RENEWED BURST OF DESPONDENCY, IMPRECATIONS ON LIFE, CRAVING FOR REST. (Verses 18-22.) Once more he wishes that he had never been (verses 18, 19, repeated from Job 3:11, etc.). Once more he urges his strong petition that he may enjoy one brief respite during these few short days that remain, free from the unceasing torment (verse 20), before he sinks for ever into the lower world.

IV. PICTURE OF HADES, OR THE LOWER WORLD.

1. It is the "land of darkness and of gloom, like to midnight" (verses 21, 22).

2. Therefore it is the land of disorder and of confusion, where none who is accustomed to light and order can feel himself at home.

3. Though there be even there a slight change of day and night, yet even if it be bright there, it is as gloomy as midnight upon earth. We may compare those impressive pictures of the lower world and the state of the departed which we find in the 'Odyssey' (11.)—

"Never the sun, that giveth light to man,

Looks down upon them with his golden eye,

Or when he climbs the starry arch, or when

Slope toward the earth, he wheels adown the sky;

But sad night weighs upon them wearily."

"In bondage through fear of death." The knowledge of another and a better life—denied to Job—is evidently the one thing needed to satisfy an honest mind, cast down in extreme suffering, overwhelmed in mystery, yet unable to renounce its faith in the justice and goodness of God. Christianity, by bringing life and immortality to light, spreads a great radiance over the world. It is the firm grasp of this Divine idea which enables man to support suffering with calmness and patience. Let this idea be taken away, and—as we see from the painful tone of those in our day who seriously put the question, "Is life worth living?"—even ordinary suffering may be resented as intolerable.

LESSONS.

1. Confidence founded on our relation to God as a "faithful Creator." He cannot desert the work of his own hands.

2. His goodness in the past is an argument for trust for the time to come.

3. Insoluble perplexities are due to our own ignorance of the complete conditions of life. God is the most misunderstood of beings.

4. Every revelation is to be eagerly received, every habit of mind encouraged, which induces us to look on life as a good, death as a gain, and the scene beyond as one of eternal brightness for all faithful souls.—J

Job 10:1-7

The supplicatory cry of deep sorrow.

This is the cry of one who declares, "My soul is weary of my life." He opens his lips that the stream of his "complaint" may flow forth unchecked. Yet is he humble and subdued, though he adopts almost the tone of expostulation. He has confessed himself to be unequal to the contention. He cannot give answer to God; he has acknowledged his guilt and impotence. Now he would know "wherefore" God contends with him. This is the desire of even the most resigned sufferer. Certainly the cry which comes oft from the lips of the deeply afflicted is, "Why am I thus made to suffer?" If Christian principle and calm faith keep back the demand, "Show me wherefore," yet it is heard in the undertones of amazement and surprise at the unexplained and even severe dealings of a loving God—"Ah, it is mysterious!" The confession of the mysteriousness of human suffering is a suppressed cry for the mystery to be cleared up. Job's cry takes the form of—

I. A DESIRE TO RE FREED FROM CONDEMNATION. "I will say unto God, Do not condemn me." This the first desire of the resigned sufferer. Let it not be as a punishment for my transgression. "Condemn me not" is another form of urging, "Pardon my offence which! confess." It is a prayer for forgiveness. Up to this, the previous confession of unworthiness and even of sin has properly led. It is the first rest of the soul. While the unconfessed condemnations of guilt are upon it there can be no peace. Happy he who in the depth of his suffering makes his confession; happier still he who hears the word of gracious forgiveness. This is followed by—

II. THE UNSUPPRESSED LONGING TO KNOW THE REASON FOR THE DIVINE AFFLICTIONS. "Show me wherefore thou contendest with me." How natural to desire this! But the Divine ways are "past finding out." "He giveth none account of his ways" Certainly to Job came no sufficient answer. It remained for later days to learn, "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth" To all Job's suggestions a negative reply may be given.

1. It is not "good" (i.e. pleasing) to God "to oppress," to (appear to) "despise" his creatures; or, as it would seem, "to shine upon the counsel of the wicked"

2. He has not "eyes of flesh" He does not see "as man seeth"—looking only on the outward appearance, and judging by that alone. God looketh on the heart, and estimates the human act by the motive which impels it. He makes allowance for human frailty more than even frail, erring man makes for his own brother. He is just in his view, and not warped as is the judgment of feeble flesh.

3. His days are not "as the days of man." His are the days of eternity, lie can wait until the future for a justification of Job's conduct. He has not to make haste to bring about a crisis in Job's history. He needs not to hurry to put Job to the proof. Our reflections on the Divine dealings may be justly corrected by duly pondering this history. In our assured integrity we may wait. In our conscious sinfulness we are safest in the Lord's hands; from which, indeed, we cannot escape. "There is none that can deliver out of thine hand."—R.G.

Job 10:8-12

Man the creature of God.

Job now seeks consolation in other courses of reflection, although arising out of the foregoing. He would fain draw what comfort he can from the knowledge of the fact that he is the creature of God. "Thy hands have made me and fashioned me together round about." Thy skill and patience, thy thought and attention, have been bestowed on me. Wilt thou forsake the work of thine hands? Is it solely for this time of trouble thou hast brought me forth? A calm meditation on the truth, "I am the creature of God, created by the Divine hands, the product of his activity," is calculated to bring consolation, for—

I. IT IS A PLEDGE OF BLESSING. Even erring man is thoughtful of his own work. Cod's work is perfect. But it is so because he momentarily guards it. He carries forward all the processes which we moderns call "laws of nature." Job saw the "hand" of God in all the changes of the earth and heavens and of human life, Therefore to know I am a creature of God is to know my life is in his hands. I serve his purpose. He is Lord of all. Every act of his hand is pure blessing. He can do no evil. My creatureship is a sufficient pledge to me of certain blessing. He worketh for the good of all the creatures of his hands—sheep and oxen, birds of air and fish of sea. So his work in my limb is the truest warrant of good to me.

II. IT IS A SOURCE OF COMFORT. No one can calmly reflect on the fact of his creatureship without finding cause for comfort. Each may leave himself in the hands of his Owner. It is the basis of the truest consolation. "I am thine" must warrant the prayer, "Save me." The human life may be left in the Divine hands. The poor, frail, helpless one may commit himself unto God. There is rich comfort in the knowledge of the fact that the Lord of the whole earth is my Creator. That he should "destroy," or appear to destroy, the poor sufferer is at once acknowledged to be matter of surprise. Under the shadow of the wings of the Almighty Creator every creature may find refuge.

III. IT IS AN ASSURANCE OF DIVINE CARE. "Wilt thou then bring me into dust again?" This is the inevitable thought in the heart of him who recognizes himself as the creature of God—who says, "Thou hast made me as the clay." It is the instinct of frail man to care for his own. How much more is it the Divine method! Already Job has declared his faith when saying, "Dost thou despise the work of thine own hands?" Thou hast raised me from the dust; wilt thou bring me into dust again? Writ thou frustrate thine own purpose? Thus Job reasons, and wisely. It is the assurance of calm wisdom, the faith which has firm foundation. He who has brought me into life, will care for me, will sustain me, will defend me.

IV. SUCH AN ASSURANCE IS A SUFFICIENT GROUND OF CONFIDENT AND CALM REPOSE. Restful is the spirit of faith; and the more simple faith is in its reasonings, the more assured is its peace. Consciousness of sin would lead to distress of mind and to fear when it is remembered, "Thine hands have fashioned me;" but to the heart assured of its integrity, this truth is the ground of calm repose. Prayer may be based upon this. Faith here may find its support; love, its inspiration.—R.G.

Job 10:13-17

The hidden purposes of affliction.

Job has reasoned much, and he has asked for an explanation of the Divine purpose. "Wherefore contendest thou with me? Doubtless he judges, as do his friends, that suffering is the natural consequence and certain punishment of wrong-doing. But he is conscientious in affirming his innocence of transgression, and the Divine testimony to his goodness agrees with this (Job 2:3). What, then, is the explanation of the whole? Can we ever hope to know in this world what are the deep purposes of God in the afflictions of which the human life is capable, and especially in the sufferings of the godly? No. The purposes, though partially revealed, are still to a great extent "hidden"—hidden in the "heart" of God. Job feels himself hedged in. He is "full of confusion." We must remember Job had not the clear light in which we view the Divine work. Yet even from us his ways are hidden. We must say, "Clouds and darkness are round about him."

I. WE MUST SEE IT TO BE PERFECTLY NATURAL THAT THE DIVINE WAYS SHOULD BE HIDDEN FROM MEN. How should man be able to trace the Divine purpose? It is high; he cannot attain unto it. Hidden in the Divine mind—not always revealed by the incidents of affliction. "These things hast thou hid in thine heart."

II. THE HIDING OF THE DIVINE PURPOSES IS A SALUTARY TEST TO FAITH. Faith in God needful in order to a right relation of the human soul towards God. It is the basis of peace; encouragement to obedience; ground of holy fear; help to holy love. But the testing of faith leads to a more spiritual dependence upon God, to a more frequent reference of the heart to him. Walking by faith honours God. Faith needed by the very conditions of human life. Its exercise promotes its growth.

III. THE HIDING OF THE DIVINE PURPOSE IS A GRACIOUS DESIGN ON THE PART OF GOD MORE EFFECTUALLY TO WORK OUT HIS WILL CONCERNING MAN. The rebellious, not knowing it, cannot frustrate it. Secretly the Divine will is wrought out in the experience and history of the sufferer. The entire dependence of the soul on God is encouraged. This must lead to submission, and submission in faith. The reliance of the soul must be on the character of God, and not on circumstances and incidents.

IV. THE HIDING OF THE DIVINE PURPOSES ISSUES IN THE PERFECTING OF THE SUPREME EXCELLENCE OF THE HUMAN CHARACTERPATIENCE. Thus it has its "perfect work," and the soul is left "entire, lacking nothing." He who can patiently and trustfully wait upon God, bearing up under pressure of afflictive circumstances, gains s vigour and beauty of character. If patience be wanting, all other qualities of the character are impaired. Man's wisdom is to be satisfied with committing himself to the hidden purposes of God. In faith to confide in them as wise and good. In patience to await their exposition when it shall please God to reveal them to him.—R.G.

HOMILIES BY W.F. ADENEY

Job 10:1

Weariness of life.

We need not wonder that Job was weary of his life. Beggared, bereft of his family, smitten with a painful and loathsome disease, tormented by the cruel comfort of his friends, he could see nothing but misery around and before him. Few, if any, have been in his sore plight. Yet others have felt the same weariness of life that the patriarch so naturally experienced. Let us look at the sorrowful condition and its Divine remedy.

I. THE SORROWFUL CONDITION.

1. The misery of it. Life is naturally sweet. It is a most merciful arrangement of Providence that the hard lot which would seem to be unbearable when regarded from the outside has many alleviations and consolations for those to whose portion it has fallen. There are few lives on which no gleam of sunshine ever falls. But to be weary of life is to have lost all the sunshine, and to be in dark despair. Like "Mariana of the moated grange," the desolate one cries—

I am aweary, aweary;

O God that I were dead!"

2. The dangers of it.

3. The causes of it. This weariness of life may spring item a terrible conjunction of external circumstances, as it did in part with Job. But internal causes usually co-operate. Sometimes the despair is a result of bodily or brain disease, and the sufferer must be pitied and treated accordingly. But it may come from brooding too much over the dark side of life, from distrust of God, from a consciousness of sin, or from impenitent and rebellious thoughts. Ennui is the product of indolence. Weariness of life is often a result of idle sentimentality.

II. THE DIVINE REMEDY. This evil is not incurable. For the despair is a delusion. No one would be weary of life if he knew all its future possibilities. If the despair is a result of brain disorder, the remedy is in medicine, not theology. Here is a harder-land where the two faculties touch; therefore a man who practises either should not be a stranger to the other. Despair may give way to a change of scene and a bracing regimen without any arguments. But when the causes are deeper and more spiritual, a corresponding remedy must be looked for. This will not be found in any worldly philosophy of life. The wonder is not that some people are weary of life, but that all who are "without God in the world" are not also "without hope." Pessimism is the natural goal of the Epicurean. Life is not worth living without God. The great remedy for weariness of life is the discovery of the true worth of life when it is redeemed by Christ and consecrated to God. Then it is not dependent on pleasure for its motives, nor driven to despair by pain. It has a higher blessedness than any earthly possession can give, in doing God's will on earth with the prospect of enjoying him for ever in hen yen. But even the unselfish service of our brother man will help to conquer weariness of life. If Mariana had been well occupied she might have overcome her misery. There is a healing grace in the discharge of duty, and more of it in losing ourselves while serving others.—W.F.A.

Job 10:4

God's vision of man.

How does God see us? Is he SO far above us that he cannot quite see us as we are? Is he so great that he cannot conceive of our littleness? Are his ideas so different from our own that he cannot understand our life and sympathize with it? Or is not God so supreme in his vision of man that he cannot make the mistakes we make, and must see us truly just as we are? If w, why does God seem to act as though he had man's limited vision? Questions of this sort seem to be perplexing Job. How can they be met?

I. GOD SEES US TRULY AS WE ARE. It is no attribute of infinity to be above seeing what is small. Because God is infinite he can descend to the infinitely little as well as comprehend the infinitely great. Moreover, he does not treat us as insignificant beings unworthy of his notice, but he regards us as his children. The very hairs of our head are numbered by God. His greatness is seen in the truth and thoroughness of his vision. He does not look through distorting media, nor does he only see one aspect of things, as is the case with us. He sees all round everything, and he looks through all things. There is no secret hidden from God. He understands what he sees, for his infinite vision is accompanied by an infinite comprehension.

II. GOD JUDGES US BY A HIGHER STANDARD THAN OURS. We are hampered by narrow ideas; our judgment is warped and cramped by prejudice and error. Our ignorance, folly, and sin even mar the very standards by which we judge. God's estimate is supremely fair, and it is after the very highest and purest ideas of judgment.

III. GOD'S STANDARD OF JUDGMENT IS NOT ALIEN TO OURS. We might be dismayed by the very elevation and perfection of God's method of judgment, thinking it totally different from our own. If this were the case conscience would be a delusion. But God is the Creator of conscience, and though this is limited, and in a measure perverted, still it retains the essential character given to it by God. "God made man in his own image" (Genesis 1:26). Therefore man's honest judgment must be a reflection of God's judgment. God ,sees as we see, so far as we see truly. His judgment is just the correction and perfection of our judgment.

IV. GOD HAS ENTERED INTO OUR LIFE THAT HE MAY SEE US WITH OUR OWN EYES. This seems to be part of the purpose of the Incarnation. Christ is a brother-Man. He looks at us with human eyes. One with us by nature, he can perfectly understand us. We cannot even understand our favourite dog when he turns to us his dumb, pathetic gaze, for he is of a different species. Christ became one with us, one of our species. Thus we can understand him, and he can perfectly sympathize with us. Apart from Christ, God seems to be distant and altogether different from ourselves. In Christ he is one with us, near to us, and able to regard us with the eyes of a Brother.—W.F.A.

Job 10:8

Creation and its consequences.

Job appeals to God as his Maker. He remonstrates with the Creator for apparently destroying his own work. If God had first made man, why should God turn on his creature to "swallow him up"? This is not so much an appeal to pity or justice, as one to reason and consistency.

I. GOD IS THE CREATOR OF EVERY INDIVIDUAL MAN. Theologians were once divided between two theories of the origin of human souls, called respectively "Creationist" and "Traducianist." The Crestionists held that each soul was created by God; the Traducianists that souls were derived by descent, were transmitted by birth from ancestral souls, and originally from Adam and Eve, just like the bodies they inhabit. Was it not unfair to confine the name "Creationist" to the former school? The idea of descent from parents does not exclude Divine action. The parent is not the creator. The original great Cause must be the Source of all that follows. If God only created once for all at the beginning of the world, still he created each individual, because each individual simply comes from that original creation. If it could be shown that man was not separately created, but that he derived his origin from lower creatures by evolution, he would be not the less created by God; for how could the marvellous process of evolution originate or progress, unless the Almighty and All-wise had started it? Nay, it is only reasonable to believe that God is ever creating. Not once for all, but in every stage of evolution, the Divine hand is working out the eternal plan. So also each individual life is moulded by that same Creative hand. God is working eternally, for the laws of nature are but the ways of God. He was as truly the Creator of Job as of Adam; and he makes each man now by means of birth as really as he made the first life out of inorganic matter.

II. THE FACT THAT GOD IS THE CREATOR OF EVERY MAN MUST AFFECT HIS TREATMENT OF ALL HIS CREATURES.

1. He cannot have predestined them to ruin. To affirm that he could do so is to say that the Creator is not God, but the devil, A god who was merely indifferent to his creatures would not from the first plan their destruction. If it is suggested that God might do this to display his own glory, the reply is that such an action could display no glory, but the reverse. To say that God may do as he will with his own is irrelevant. His absolute rights over his creatures do not exclude moral considerations. Further, the holy, righteous, and loving character of God makes it absolutely certain that he could not planned have their ruin.

2. He can never consent that they should be ruined. "He hateth nothing that he hath made." The very fact of creation gives God an interest in his creatures. The artist cannot be indifferent to the fate of his works. But God is more than an artist; he is a Father, and a father cannot be indifferent to the fate of his children. It may be necessary for the parent to chastise, but no true and worthy parent will ever really wish to hurt his offspring. Can we think that God is less strong in parental love than we are? It is necessary for God to be angry with the wicked—and there is a terror in God's anger which men can only despise at their peril—but behind that auger there can be no vindictive temper, much less can there be a spiteful malignity. God only desires the welfare of his children.—W.F.A.

Job 10:12

Life and favour from God.

I. GOD THE ORIGINAL SOURCE. Job appeals to his Creator, and recognizes the Divine Source of all he is and all he has. The prologue shows that Job had always been a devout man, not forgetful of God. But his frightful losses and troubles brought home to him the thought of his relations to God with a vividness never before experienced. Job is now face to face with God. Huge calamities have swept away all intermediate interests, and over the wreck of his wasted life he looks straight to God his Maker. Terrible hours of distress reveal the deeper facts of life, as the earthquake exposes the granite foundations of the hills. Tragedy destroys superficiality. Those who have been through the raging waters el trouble are best able to perceive the Divine Source of all things.

II. GOD'S PRIMAL GIFTS.

1. Life.

2. Favour. Life is itself a favour. It is never deserved; yet it is good to live. But with life God gives other favours. Even Job in his desolation did not forget this fact, as some seem to forget it when they murmur against Providence, and complain of the world as though everything were working for the misery of man. Greater than all earthly favour is the grace of Christ, the favour shown to fallen man in the redemption of the race by the sacrifice of God's Son.

III. GOD'S CONTINUED GOODNESS. Job acknowledges that his very breath is continued by God's care. God does not merely create once for ell; he preserves his creatures. If he were to withdraw his hand for one moment, they would cease to be. That we arc alive now is a sign that God is now good to us. Present existence is a proof of present providence. Therefore our thanksgivings should be fresh; not the withered flowers of yesterday, but the new blossoms of to-day, with the dew still upon them. Daily renewed mercies call for daily renewed praises. We have not to look far for God, searching the annals of antiquity, inquiring of the deeds of old-world history, or scraping together the geologic records of the rocks. God is with us in the new sunrise, in each day's life and blessing.

IV. GOD'S ASSURED CASE. It cannot be as Job supposes. His remonstrance is natural to him, but it is needless. If God has made and preserved us, it is impossible that he should be turned against us. His past and present favours are proofs of his unchanging love. Though he smites, he cannot hate. Though he withdraws his smiling countenance, he does not remove his supporting baud. Creation and preservation are prophecies of redemption and salvation.—W.F.A.

Job 10:13

The things that are hidden in God's heart.

Job is possessed by a fearful thought. His tremendous troubles, and the cruel accusations of his friends, have driven him to the conclusion that God must have conceived the idea of thus tormenting him long before Job knew anything of it; that God must have hidden the dreadful purpose in his heart; that all the while Job was complacently enjoying his prosperity, God was nursing the secret design of scattering it to the winds, and plunging his servant into the depths of misery.

I. GOD'S PURPOSES ARE HIDDEN FROM MAN. They are more hidden than Job supposed. He thought that the Divine plan had just appeared. But it was deeper than he imagined. Not only was it hidden in the sunny days of prosperity; it was also hidden in the dark and dreadful days of misery. Had Job known the Divine purpose, his suspicions would have been dissipated, and he would have seen how unjust his arraignment of Providence was. We cannot yet see the Divine thought. If it were revealed to us, the discipline of trial would be frustrated. Moreover, it is too deep and wide for us to grasp it. Therefore we must walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7).

II. GOD APPEARS TO HIDE DARK DESIGNS. So Job thought, and so the events of his life seemed to show. As the curtain slowly lifted, dreadful things were discovered behind. God was always in the future, preparing it for its advent; yet when it came it appeared in thunder and ruin. Was God secretly planning all this misery in the quiet, old peaceful days when Job suspected no danger? The unrolling of many a life-story has seemed to tell the same tale of God's secret thoughts made manifest in calamity.

III. GOD REALLY HIDES PURPOSES OF LOVE IN HIS HEART.

1. He must do so because he is love. We cannot understand his plans, but we can understand his nature as far as it is revealed to us. Now the revelation of God is wholly of goodness. This includes wrath against sin, but no injustice, no harshness, no delight in inflicting misery. Therefore, though we do not see the Divine intention, we may be sure that it is gracious.

2. He is seen to do so as far as his purposes are revealed.

IV. THE HIDDEN PURPOSES OF GOD'S HEART WILL BE ULTIMATELY REVEALED. God does not delight in secrecy, much less does he designedly tantalize his creatures by perplexing them with needless mysteries and alarming them with bogus fears. What we know not now we shall know hereafter (John 13:7). The great apocalypse of futurity will answer many a dark riddle of providence in the light of eternal love. We have but to possess our souls in patience, and all will be clear. Job's life-problem was solved at last. When ours is made clear it will only enlarge our wondering gratitude for the depth of the love which God had hidden in his heart.—W.F.A.

Job 10:21, Job 10:22

The land of darkness.

I. DEATH APPEARS TO LEAD TO A LAND OF DARKNESS.

1. We cannot see what lies beyond. Science cannot penetrate this mystery of mysteries. At best she can but dimly surmise the existence of an "unseen universe." Philosophy may reason of the soul's immortality, but can throw no light into the tomb. The mind dashes itself in vain against the awful wall that separates it from the world beyond. One by one our most intimate friends leave us, and the dark doors open to receive them, but never a ray of light comes out, and "the rest is silence."

2. We shrink by natural instinct from death. Reason as we may, the grave is a horror to us. We people the land of the dead with terrors of the imagination. La Rochefoucauld says, "Neither the sun nor death can be looked at steadily,"

"Death is a fearful thing.

…To die, and go we know not where

To lie in cold obstruction, and to rot;

This sensible warm motion to become

A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit

To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside

In thrilling regions of thick-ribbed lee;

To be imprison'd in the viewless winds,

And blown with restless violence round about

The pendent world, or to be worse than worst

Of those, that lawless and incertain thoughts

Imagine howling!—'tis too horrible!

The weariest and most loathed worldly life

That ago, ache, penury, and imprisonment

Can lay on nature, is a paradise

To what we fear of death."

(Shakespeare.)

II. WHETHER DEATH WILL LEAD TO A LAND OF DARKNESS DEPENDS ON OUR USE OF LIFE. Nature, science, philosophy, all leave the future obscure. But God has lifted the veil in the gospel enough to give us guidance, warning, and consolation. We learn from the revelation of Christ that the unseen land need be no place of terror and darkness. What it will be depends on our present conduct.

1. Death leads the impenitent sinner into a land of darkness. For him the horrors of imagination cannot be too black. No one can conceive the chill desolation of the "outer darkness," the dread despair of seeing the "door shut" on a rejected soul. The darkness will consist in separation from God, from blessed companionship, from joy, from life—for the future existence of the lost is never called a future life. The dolorous words of Job are not too strong for the fate of lost souls.

2. Death leads the people of God into a land of light. The old-world gloom of the grove is dissipated by Christ, who has "brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Timothy 1:10). Here we have a great advance from the Old Testament standpoint, "The resurrection of Christ has thrown a flood of light into the regions beyond. It has shown us a "land of the leal," where the blessed dwell in light eternal St. Paul could even desire to depart and be with Christ, counting it gain to die (Philippians 1:21-23). All who have turned from sin to Christ may despise the darkness of death, for this is but the portal to the home of eternal life.—W.F.A.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Job 10:4". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc/job-10.html. 1897.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020
the First Week of Advent
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