THE STORY OF JOB
GLIMPSE INTO THE
MYSTERY OF SUFFERING
Surely there is a place for gold which they refine Job 28: 1
The Book of Job has been a treasure-store to me ever since I went through it with my Bible class in 1895, but the deeper lessons of the seven years interval have been necessary before I could be entrusted by the Lord with the privilege of drawing forth from it, in even a small measure, the message it specially contains for the people of God in these latter days.
As we look out upon the world we see the true gold of Gods elect in the furnace of trial on every hand. If not in trial mockings and scourgings ... of bonds and imprisonments yet are they individually in some furnace made exceeding hot, and many, it may be, in some measure after the pattern of the Lords dealing with Job.
All who can abide the fire are truly passing through the fire. Yea, have we not watched with quivering hearts, the translation of some of the most ripened saints of God, as it were, by a very chariot of fire?
The Church, the Body of Christ, is one, sharing one life with the Head and its members. It is written, Whether one member suffer all the members suffer with it. Therefore the sufferings of our brethren and sisters in China must have meant in a spiritual sense the suffering of all the living members of the Body of Christ in every part of the world, that they - the martyrs, and suffering ones in China, and elsewhere apart from us ... should not be made perfect. *
[* Heb. 11: 40.]
This message on the Story of Job I send forth in the Masters Name to all the children of God who are walking with Him in integrity of heart, and loyal obedience to His known will, and yet are placed by Him in such a fiery trial that they are ofttimes perplexed and dismayed.
May the Eternal Spirit graciously use this message to give light upon the ways of God, and to minister to them the comfort of God while in the crucible.
As regards the scope of the Book some little explanation is I have not attempted a minute exegesis of the text of Scripture. Others with far more resources in scholarship and time have been given this service. But I have sought rather to give a rapid outline of the Story of Job from the experimental standpoint and in narrative form, so as to present it in simplicity to the hearts of those for whom it may have been sent of God, adding in an appendix brief extracts from the writings of others which seem to be appropriate.
I have also avoided all reference to controversial questions, scholastic and spiritual, so that the Word of God might convey its own message as the Divine Spirit may be pleased to apply it to the needs of the children of God.
In conclusion I earnestly ask all who read this little volume to take for themselves only the portion that commends itself to them as from the Spirit of God for their own hearts need, and to leave the remainder for His use to those souls for whom it may have been given.
I have used the Revised Version of the Bible entirely, with the exception of some alternative readings from the Authorised Version, and its margin.
[ and joint- heirs with Christ; IF SO BE THAT WE SUFFER WITH HIM: (Rom. 8: 17b).]
* * *
INTRODUCTION. THE MAN NAMED JOB Page 7 (Chap. 1: 1‑5)
1. A SCENE IN HEAVEN, THE ADVERSARYS CHALLENGE - Page 11 (Chap. 1: 6-22)
2. ANOTHER SCENE IN HEAVEN, JOBS INTEGRITY AND JOBS FRIENDS - Page19 (Chap. 2: 1‑ 13; 3: 1 to end)
3. ELIPHAZ FIRST APPEAL, AND JOBS REPLY Page 27 (Chap. 4, 5, 6, 7)
4. BILDADS REASONING, AND JOBS CRY FOR A MEDIATOR Page 36 (Chap. 8, 9, 10)
5. ZOPHARS FIRST SPEECH, AND JOBS VENTURE OF FAITH Page 42 (Chap. 11, 12, 13, 14)
6. ELIPHAZ SECOND INDICTMENT, AND JOBS HUMILIATION Page 49 (Chap. 15, 16, 17)
7. BILDAD S SECOND APPEAL, AND JOBS PROPHETIC VISION Page 55 - (Chap. 18, 19)
8. ZOPHARS INTERRUPTION, AND JOBS REPLY Page 60 (Chap. 20, 21)
9. ELIPHAZ LAST APPEAL, AND JOBS ANCHOR OF FAITH Page 64 (Chap. 12, 23, 24)
10. BILDADS LAST WORD, AND JOBS REPLY Page 72 (Chap. 25, 26, 27, 28)
11. JOBS STORY OF HIS PAST Page 78 (Chap. 29)
12. JOB IN THE CRUCIBLE Page 86 (Chap. 30)
13. JOBS SELF-VINDICATION Page 93 (Chap. 31, 32: 1)
14. ELIHU THE MESSENGER OF GOD Page 98 (Chap. 32: 2-22; 33: 1-22)
15. THE MESSAGE OF THE RANSOM Page 106 (Chap. 33: 23-32)
16. ELIHU THE MAN Page 113 (Chap. 34, 35)
17. ELIHU THE INTERPRETER ONCE MORE Page 117 (Chap. 36, 37)
18. THE REVELATION OF GOD TO JOB Page 124 (Chap. 38, 39, 40: 1-5)
19. THE VANQUISHED JOB Page 132 (Chap. 40: 6-24; 41, 42: 1-6)
20. JOBS CAPTIVITY TURNED Page 141 (Chap. 42: 7-17)
RETROSPECTIVE NOTES Page 151
EXTRACTS Page 162
* * *
By faith Abel offered unto God sacrifice through which he had witness borne to him that he was righteous. - Heb. 9: 4.
THE MAN NAMED JOB
There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. - Chap. 1: 1.
The spirit of the present age unconsciously affects even those who acknowledge that Every Scripture is inspired of God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for discipline which is in righteousness.
Was Job a real person? is the question that springs to the lips of some as soon as his name is mentioned.
The Omniscient Lord foresaw these perilous times, and happily provided in later Scriptures the answer to this question.
The prophet Ezekiel expressly records that the word of the Lord came to him saying, Son of man, when a land sinneth against Me ... though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it they should but deliver their own souls.*
[*Ezekiel 14: 14, 20.]
We may rest assured that the God of Truth would not have classed Job with Noah and Daniel as one of three righteous men had he been but a mythical personage, and the Book of Job naught else but a literary masterpiece.
The Apostle James also speaks of Job, and appears to include him among the prophets who spake in the Name of the Lord, who were examples of suffering and of patience. He is among the Blessed ones who endured. Ye have heard, he writes, of the endurance of Job, and have seen [in his case] the end of the Lord, how that the Lord is full of pity, and merciful.*
[* James 5: 11, m.]
It is very evident that the early Christians knew the reality of Jobs history, and regarded him as an example of patience [perseverance], and his life-story as an encouragement to trust in the compassion and love of God.
The Jews have tenaciously kept the Book of Job in their Canon of Scripture. It is said to be the oldest book extant, and to have been written some two thousand years before Christ.
It is impossible to speak with absolute certainty upon these two last points, but on general internal evidence some scholars assign the book to the period of the time of Abraham. That it is inspired appears from the fact that the Apostle Paul quotes it (in 1 Cor. 3: 19) with the formula It is written. Our Saviour also (Matt. 24: 28) plainly refers to Job 39: 30. *
The LXX in their translation say that Job lived some two hundred and forty years, one hundred and forty after his affliction. It is therefore quite possible, as some think, that he knew, and often talked with, Shem the son of Noah, and that Job himself may have been one of the line of sacred prophets spoken of by Zechariah under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, as having been since the world began.
In the sacred record Job is described as the greatest of all the children of the East. Most scholars are agreed that he was of princely rank, some even maintaining that he was a real King. His possessions were very great, and consisted of thousands of sheep and camels, many hundred yoke of oxen and she-asses, and a very great household.
Seven sons and three daughters, with his wife, formed his immediate family circle; and at the time of the opening of the Scripture story the sons appear to have had each their own households, doubtless maintained in conformity with their fathers wealth and dignity.
It is also evident that Job was cultured and learned to an advanced degree, for in his book we find, a familiarity with writing, engraving in stone, mining, metallurgy, building, shipping, natural history, astronomy, and science in general.*
Above all we are left in no doubt as to Jobs personal character. The very first words of the book are given to describing this, whilst it is silent as to much that is mere detail in his history.
Again and again we find this method in both Old and New Testaments. The sacred writings are not intended to satisfy our curiosity. They describe lives and histories only so far as to fulfil the main purpose of God in winning men back to Himself.
It is thus in the case of Job. A very few words suffice to tell us of his position, wealth, and family circle, and then we are at once introduced to a passage in his life of momentous import and teaching for all the people of God long after Job himself has passed away.
Jobs portrait as a man of God is sketched for us in a few brief words -
That man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.- Chap. 1: 1.
It is of the greatest importance that we should fully recognize Jobs spiritual character at the time when he was placed in the furnace of trial. He is described as perfect and upright, and Jehovah uses the very same language when speaking of him in the council of heaven.
Jobs subsequent history interprets this description, and makes it clear that he was called a perfect man, simply in the sense of being whole-hearted, and sincere in his loyalty to God. He was not of double heart (a heart and a heart as in the expressive marginal reading of 1 Chron. 12: 33), seeking to serve two masters, God and himself. This wholehearted loyalty to God made him upright in his life before men. He feared God and shunned evil.
The fear of the Lord is the Old Testament expression descriptive of the understanding mentioned by the Apostle John, when he wrote to the little children, who knew the Father, saying, He hath given us an understanding, that we know Him that is true.*
[* John 5: 20.]
This fear of the Lord, or understanding, is a Divine sensitiveness to His will, an intuitive knowledge of it springing out of a close fellowship with God Himself. Job had this fear of God in a marked degree, and as a consequence he abstained from everything evil.*
[* Septuagint version.]
The extent of our knowledge of God, our quick understanding of His mind and will, carries with it a proportionate knowledge of the exceeding sinfulness of sin. Just so far as we truly know God shall we have a godly awe of Him, and dread to grieve Him.
Jobs fear of the Lord, and
sensitiveness to sin, we see carried out in practice. Not only in the shunning of evil so far as he
knew a thing to be evil, but in his instinctive consciousness of the need of
sacrifice, or the shedding of blood, for the remission of even sins of
ignorance. He anticipated the law given
[* Lev. 5: 17, A.V.]
Yea, taught of God he anticipated the better sacrifice referred to in Heb. 9: 23, and the blood of sprinkling speaking evermore within the veil for the continual cleansing of all who walk in fellowship with God.*
[* 1 John 1: 7.]
Job knew the Lord in His Holiness, and in his fear of sinning against Him, he rises early in the morning to offer sacrifice to God on behalf of his children, lest in their days of feasting they might have failed in the recollection of Jehovahs presence, gone beyond the limit of restraint in any degree, had a thought of evil in their minds,* or blasphemed God in their hearts (margin R.V.).
[* Septuagint version.]
What a glimpse we have here into Jobs knowledge of God. He understood that remission was needed, through a sacrifice, even for a momentary forgetfulness of the presence of God.
His offering of the burnt offerings continually also shows that his fear of God was not spasmodic, or occasional, when under some great pressure, but that it was a deeply rooted principle of his life, governing all his actions. In short his one and only aim was to be true to God, upright in life, and clear of all that was sin, so far as he knew anything to be sin, and of all that might be evil in the sight of God, both for himself and his family.
Further features of Jobs godly character and life we shall see brought out more fully as we trace out his story. The portrait will be filled in more in detail, but the Divine Spirit, Who inspired the record, emphasizes the secret of his life at the very commencement of the history of his sufferings.
Jobs fear of God and walk of integrity before Him, must be clearly recognized if the children of God are to understand the meaning of his trial.
* * *
To the intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known through the Church the manifold wisdom of God. - Ephes. 3: 10.
A SCENE IN HEAVEN,
THE ADVERSARYS CHALLENGE
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan
(the Adversary m.) came also among them. - Chapter 1: 6.
After a brief description of Jobs personal character, his wealth, position and family, we have opened suddenly before us a scene in heaven. The veil is drawn aside, and we are shown Jehovah seated upon His throne in the midst of His council of holy ones.
It is an audience day in the court of the King of Kings. The sons of God, or angels, present themselves before the Lord to report upon their various duties.
Satan, the Adversary, enters among them in his capacity as prince of this world, and prince of the power of the air. He that is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole inhabited earth ... the accuser of [the] brethren.*
[* Rev. 12: 9, 10.]
Innumerable passages from all parts of the Scriptures confirm, almost in detail, this description of the Lord of Hosts in council assembled.
David speaks of the assembly of the holy ones, and asks, Who among the sons of the mighty is like unto the Lord? A God very terrible in the council of the holy ones *
[* Psa. 89: 5, 7.]
Daniel sees and hears the holy ones, speaking one to the other of the purposes of God on the earth, and the sentence upon Nebuchadnezzar was apparently decreed by the whole council of God assembled, and a holy One entrusted with its fulfilment.
Zechariah sees Joshua the high priest standing before the Lord, and tells how those that stood by were bidden to remove the filthy garments, and clothe him with change of raiment.
We may clearly gather too that there are degrees of authority in this heavenly assembly of the sons of the Mighty, for we read of two archangels, Gabriel and Michael, and of seven presence angels, besides all the holy ones, or watchers spoken of by Daniel.
Godet says that the meaning of Gabriels name is Gods hero and that he is the active executor of Gods designs for the salvation of men. He is the chosen messenger sent to Mary to foretell the birth of her Saviour and Son.
The name of the archangel Michael means who is like unto God? and his work is to overthrow every thing that dares to make itself equal with God whilst Gabriel hastens the realization of His plans.*
[* Godets Biblical Studies.]
Gabriel is sent to make Daniel skilful in understanding in the things of God, whilst Michael, one of the chief princes came to the help of the Divine Man, in His conflict with the opposing forces of darkness, on His way to His interview with Daniel, the greatly beloved and very precious servant of God.
Again Michael is spoken of as the great prince especially entrusted with the interests of the people of God, and the character of his work is referred to also in the letter of the Apostle Jude, where he speaks of Michael as contending with the devil for the body of Moses.
The veil is drawn once more in the book of the Revelation, and we see Michael leading forth the hosts of the Lord against the hosts of darkness, in that great and terrible war in heaven when the rebel prince of the power of the air is finally cast out of the heavenly places, and cast down to the earth, and all his angels with him.
These are but few of the passages in the Scriptures giving glimpses into the court of heaven. We may not linger over others that speak of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, for those who were once far off, and dead in trespasses and sins. The angels after all are but ministering spirits sent forth to do service to them who shall be heirs of salvation; for the redeemed among men are called, not only to stand before the Throne, but to be joint-heirs with Him Who has sat down upon His Fathers Throne.
The character of Satan as the Adversary and accuser so vividly portrayed in the story of Job, is also abundantly verified in other passages of the Scriptures, and we cannot question but that the veil is really drawn aside for a brief glimpse into the spiritual world.
The Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? [he] said, From going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it. - Chap. 1: 7.
Satan had apparently the official right to enter the presence of Jehovah on an audience day. He is the rebel prince of the earth, the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience; the god of this age who blinds the thoughts of the unbelieving; the leader of the principalities and powers of the world-rulers of this darkness, the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
The promise had been given before the time of Job that the Seed which should bruise his head, destroy his works, and bring him to nought, should come in the fulness of time but as yet the rebel prince is not deprived of his realm.
He boldly enters the presence of Jehovah among the other servants of the King. To the question Whence comest thou? he replies that he has come From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
Going to and fro; walking up and down; so the Adversary describes his occupation. The original idea in Arabic is the heat of haste. He has been hurrying through the inhabited earth, as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour or as an unclean spirit seeking rest and finding none.
This fallen archangel imparts his feverish spirit to those who are yet under his thrall, for the wicked are like the troubled sea; for it cannot rest there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.
Let the children of God pay special heed to this self-given description of the Adversarys character, and note the contrast between his feverish heat of haste and the calm walk of the Son of God in His life on earth.
The devil rushes to and fro with restless energy through the realms he has betrayed, causing tumult and unrest wherever he goes.
The Son of God walked in calm peace through the world He came to save, and rest and blessing and life were given by Him on every hand.
No feverish heat of haste ever comes from God, and just so far as the soul becomes a partaker of the Divine nature, will it partake of the calm restful power so strikingly manifested in the Man Christ Jesus.
Let us contrast, too, the difference between the movements of Gabriel - moving only to fulfil the will of God, and in obedience to the commands of God - and this restless fallen archangel. Un-centred from his place in the order of God, Satan is a wandering star, aimless and dissatisfied, with no joy in heaven or earth but in tempting others, and bringing them into the same sore plight as himself.
The question of Jehovah
The Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered My servant job?
that there is none like him in the earth? - Chap. 1: 8.
The Lord well knew what the Adversarys feverish hurry to and fro in the earth meant! It bode no good to any soul, much less the faithful servants of God.
Hast thou set thy heart (A.V. m.) on My servant Job? asks Jehovah, there is none like him on the earth, a man blameless, true, godly, abstaining from everything evil.*
[* Septuagint version.]
What a testimony to Job before all the council of heaven! None like him in the earth! Does this mean that he was the ripest, most matured, and choicest servant of God, among all who in his day sought to serve Jehovah in integrity of heart and life? And so the one most fitted to be entrusted with the service of suffering; being chosen as a pattern of the ways of God in the ages to come for all His children in the furnace of trial.
Paul the Apostle understood this privilege of being chosen of God as an object-lesson to others of the dealings of God.
I obtained mercy, he writes, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all long-suffering, for a pattern.*
[* 1 Tim. 1: 16.]
Even so was Job chosen by God to be an example of His compassion and tender mercy in placing His loved ones in the crucible, that their affliction, which is but for a moment, work for them an exceeding weight of glory.
There was none like him in the earth also to the prince of darkness. Job was a city set on a hill that [could not] be hid. Of all men he could not live or die unto himself. His fall would be the casting down of many. A target for the devil he needs must be. One upon whom his heart would be set, with unceasing thought and fiendish plans for his undoing.
The Adversarys reply to the Lords question shows that he had considered Job to some purpose. He was prepared with his answer as he quickly says, Doth Job fear God for nought?
True to his character, he sneeringly casts a doubt upon the integrity of Jobs motives in thus being blameless, true, godly and abstaining from everything evil. He suggests that job fears God for all that he gets from Him, and not purely for His glory.
Just in the same way did the serpent suggest to Eve that God was grudging to His creatures in withholding from them the fruit of the tree of knowledge, and in just the same way to-day does he whisper to his subjects that selfish motives needs must lie at the back of all service to God. Disinterested love and service, on the part of God or man, is beyond the ken of the devil, and of those who are in his power.
Satan goes on to prove to Jehovah that his insinuation is borne out by facts, as he adds, Hast not Thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath, on every side? The devil knew well this hedge of Gods protecting care, for he had met the Divine environment on whichever side he had sought to attack the servant of God.
Oh word of cheer to every faithful heart. The hedge is not only around the praying one, but about his house, and about all that he hath on every side!
Moreover Satan complains that God had not only set an hedge about Job, and protected him, but He had blessed the work of his hands, and increased his substance in the land (verses 10, 11). What opportunity was there for Job to prove that his integrity and loyalty to God were disinterested and true. Jehovah might see his heart, and know that he was loyal at the core, but who else could believe this when they saw him with nothing but prosperity and blessing on every side?
The Adversarys challenge
Put forth Thine hand now, and touch all that he hath,
and he will renounce Thee to Thy face. - Chap. 1: 11.
Was this challenge the object that the fallen archangel had in his mind when he entered the audience chamber of the King on that occasion?
The Adversary had set his heart upon Job. He had walked around that hedge, and so long as Job had kept within the circle of the presence round about him, he had found no way of reaching him. If Satan could but get that hedge removed he thought he could make this so-called godly man as bitterly rebellious against the Lord as he was himself.
This rebel archangel had once sought to exalt his throne above the stars of God. He had dared to say, I will be like the Most High, but through his presumption he had been cast down to hell. If he who had once been perfect in beauty, a day-star and son of the morning, had fallen from his high estate and become the arch-enemy of God, there was hope then that this son of Adam, a member of a fallen race, would be brought down with him. That Job should walk with God in loyal trust and obedience was more than this rebel angel could endure.
Boldly does the Adversary challenge the integrity of Job in the full assembly of the council of heaven around their King, saying to Jehovah Thou sayest that Thy servant is upright and true to Thee, prove it by touching all that he hath. If Thou dost take away all that Thou hast given him, he will cease to serve Thee, he will renounce his allegiance, not in secret, but to Thy Face.
What else could Jehovah do but accept the challenge, and allow His servant to be put to the test? The council of heaven have listened to the debate, and have heard Jehovahs estimate of His godly servant, and the insinuating sneer of the fallen angel as to his integrity. This daring accusation cannot be overlooked. The word of Jehovah is in question. The loyalty of Job shall be proved. All heaven shall know that Jehovah can be loved and worshipped for Himself, even by a son of Adam.
With joy the Adversary sees the challenge accepted. The hedge of the Lords protection around Job is removed by the words Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand (verse 12).
So Satan went forth.
The Adversarys devices
It fell on a day. - Chap.1: 13-19
In brief and vivid language we now have described the
Adversarys attacks upon the possessions of Job. His plan had been carefully thought out with
all the skill that had been gained since he tempted Eve in
Job must be taken unawares, and under the pressure of sudden loss forced to an impulsive renunciation of God. The devil well knew he would not do it coolly and deliberately.
The character of a man is generally revealed in the hour of sudden crisis. With no time for recollection, what is in the heart will suddenly break out - especially under the pressure of great anguish and pain.
Times of joyous festivity too, are times when men are not so likely to be on guard, and bad news in the midst of mirth is always more appalling.
The time is carefully chosen by the subtle Adversary, and on a day of festivity among the young people, a messenger comes to Job to tell him that the Sabeans have suddenly fallen upon his cattle in the field, taken them away, and slain all the servants with none but the messenger left!
Ere the man had finished speaking another arrives with the news that fire from heaven has fallen, burned up sheep and servants, with only the messenger escaped to tell him! Yet a third arrives to say that other bands of robbers have carried away the camels, and slain the servants with the sword, save only the one particular person spared to carry the news to Job.
All this means utter ruin as far as earthly substance is concerned. The coincidence of each thing happening so closely together, and each group of servants being slain with only the one escaped to tell the tale, might well have suggested to Job that more than natural causes lay behind these sudden blows, for the soul that walks with God learns to understand and recognize the supernatural powers that lie behind the surface of things in daily life.
But this touching of Jobs worldly goods was not all. His real treasure was in heaven, and a mans life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
The devil had reserved his keenest blow to the last. Ere Job had time to realize that all his wealth was gone, another messenger arrives to tell him that in the midst of their festivities a strong wind had smitten the house in which his children were, and buried them and the attendants in its ruins. They are dead, said the servant who carried the news, and again, I only am escaped alone to tell thee. No softening of the sorrowful story! They are dead is blurted out. This is the greatest blow of all, and upon its effect the subtle foe had counted.
Children swept away into eternity in the midst of their festivities! No time to say farewell, no last prayer, no last message‑
Then Job arose ... fell down upon the ground, and worshipped: and he said, Naked came I out of my mothers womb,* and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord. - Chap. 1: 20, 21.
[* Poetically the earth, the universal mother. Eccles. 12: 7 - Fausset.]
How little Job knew of the cloud of witnesses looking on! What sympathy and joy in His servants faithfulness there must have been in the heart of God, for in all this adversity He had been no adversary, and He had not afflicted willingly, nor grieved this man among men.
Job had stood the test. The Adversary was defeated. Instead of rebellion Job had worshipped. The sudden blows had found him stayed upon God. In one moment his anchored soul had found its refuge. He had rent his mantle and shaved his head as the outward signs of his deep sorrow, but in his hour of trial, his spirit worshipped the God Who had blessed him hitherto.
In all this Job sinned not, nor attributed folly to God (verse 22, A.V. m.). Rather, allowed himself to commit no folly against God.* Job instantly confessed that nothing he possessed was actually his own. It was the Lord Who had given him wealth, and his children had been laid upon the altar, by faith, along with the burnt offerings he had offered to God for them continually. He had nought but that which he had received out of dust he had come, and unto dust would he return he had brought nothing into the world, he could carry nothing out. The Lord had given him everything and the Lord had the sovereign right to take all things away! Whichever He did, Job would bless the Name of the Lord.
* * *
Satan obtained you by asking that he might sift you as wheat, but I have made supplication for thee, that thy faith fail not. - Luke 22: 31-32, m.
ANOTHER SCENE IN HEAVEN, JOBS INTEGRITY,
AND JOBS FRIENDS
Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also. - Chap. 2: 1.
Once more it is an audience day in the court of heaven, and chief princes, and sons of the mighty, are gathered in the presence of the King.
The Adversary re-appears in their midst, not in any way abashed over his failure to prove his accusation of Job.
Jehovah opens the subject by the formal question to him again, Whence comest thou? and Satan returns the same answer as before. The Lord then repeats His description of Job, adding, he still holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst Me against him, to destroy him without cause (verse 3).
Jehovah here declares before His assembled council that all these trials were sent upon Job without cause. His confidence in Jobs integrity, and faithfulness to Him, had been justified. His servant had stood the test. It was fully proved to the accuser that his sneering insinuation as to Jobs motives in serving God was without foundation. He was not seeking [just] the loaves and fishes after all!
But the Adversary was not silenced. He had a new suggestion ready. All the things that had been taken away did not really touch Job himself. The substance after all was an exterior thing. True, the children were of his bone and of his flesh, but he had recognized that they belonged to God with all the wealth that He had given him, and so he had surrendered them to Him without hesitation, albeit with sorrowing heart.
The Lord had prevented Satan touching Job himself, therefore the case was not proved, the test had not been sufficient, for so long as a man himself is spared he can let other things go. Satan proposes a deeper test. He answered the Lord -
Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will renounceThee to Thy face. - Chap. 2: 5.
Just touch Job himself and see if he will cling to Thee then! See if in the furnace of suffering he will not renounce his allegiance to Thee. If he has not served Thee for what Thou hast given him exteriorly, at least he serves Thee for what he has in himself; the peace of a conscience void of offence; the inward comfort of Thy presence; the reward of integrity in the respect of others, cries the Adversary.
Jehovah again accepts the challenge, and hands over Job to the power of the enemy with but one restriction, only spare his life.
Let us note here for our comfort that Satan is absolutely under the control of God; he is unable to touch Job, his possessions, or his family without the direct permission of Jehovah.
This is confirmed by the words of the Son of God to His disciple Peter. Simon, behold, Satan asked to have you (obtained you by asking, m.), that he might sift you as wheat, but I made supplication for thee, that thy faith fail not.*
[* Luke 22: 31, R.V. m.]
[* 1 Cor. 10: 13.]
It is therefore clear that the Adversary must obtain permission ere he can touch a servant of God; and that the attack is carefully limited by the all-wise Lord to sifting away the chaff around the true grain of wheat, just as Job was sifted by the direct permission of God.
The adversarys Attack
So Satan went forth ... and smote Job with sore boils
from the sole of his foot unto his crown. - Chap. 2: 7.
When Satan does get permission to attack a servant of God, he uses his license to the utmost extent. The limit in Jobs case now is the life, and a man can live through more than in time of prosperity he thinks he is capable of doing.
The Adversary attacks poor Jobs body with a most repulsive loathsome disease - sore boils from head to foot. He was covered with one universal inflammation. It was a form of leprosy called black or Elephantiasis, because the feet swell like those of the elephant. *
Whereupon the stricken Job took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat among the ashes (verse 8).
In the warm dry land of the East, the dung is not mixed with straw, but carried in baskets to a place outside the village where it is usually burnt once a month. The rains reduce the ashes to a solid hill of earth, and the place is used for a watch-tower, or a place of concourse by the inhabitants of the village.
There the outcast who has been stricken by some loathsome malady, making him unfit to enter the dwellings of men, lays himself down at night sheltering himself among the ashes which the sun has warmed.*
To this ash-mound outside the village the afflicted man repairs, feeling himself an outcast, and an object of terror to others by reason of his loathsome condition.
Job, the greatest of the children of the East is compelled to take his place with the beggar and the outcast. His possessions are gone, and of his children he is bereft. He who once had attendants to minister to his every wish, must now take a potsherd to scrape himself - not a piece of broken earthen vessel, but an instrument made for the purpose, for the sore was too repulsive to touch.*
Who would recognize the princely Job in that loathsome object, sitting among the ashes outside the village where he had once sat as chief, looked up to as the most noble of the men of the East?*
[* Septuagint version.]
The integrity of Job
Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still hold fast thine integrity?
renounce God, and die! - Chap. 2: 9.
Jobs wife seems to have been the only one left to him, and she appears to have followed him to the ash-mound outside the village. In her anguish over her husbands sufferings, she unknowingly lends her mouth to the Adversary and speaks words that actually passed between Jehovah and the Adversary in the council in heaven.
How did the wife of Job know that Jobs integrity was in question?
Satan was keenly watching the effect of his attack upon Job, and hopes in this critical hour to force him to the point he desires by the lips of his wife.
Again in the New Testament we see the confirmation of this story, and we may learn through the words of Christ to Peter that the devil can use the lips of our most faithful friends to tempt us in the hour of trial. Peter said to Christ when he spoke of His coming Cross, Pity Thyself, Lord, but the Son of God at once discerned the source of the words, and said unhesitatingly, Get thee behind Me, Satan.
Renounce God and die, said Jobs loving and faithful wife to her afflicted husband. We do not read of any word she said when she saw the earthly goods swept away, nor of rebellion over the loss of her children, but now it seems too much to see her husband suffer. It were better for him to be dead than in such a state. The God he had served so loyally must have forsaken him! Is Job still going to persist in blessing the Name of the Lord? Let him rather renounce Him Say some word against the Lord* - and die.
[* Septuagint version.]
God cannot be a God of Love, or He would not let such suffering come to those who serve Him, is oft-times the thought of those who look on with aching hearts at the servants of God in severe trial to-day.
But Job again stood the test -
He said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the impious women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? - Chap. 2: 10, m.
Only those who do not know God speak like this, said Job to his wife. Such words should not come out of the lips of one who worships Jehovah. It is lawful for Him to do what He will with His own. Have we served Him only from selfish interest? Are we going to cling to Him only in the time of prosperity? Shall we not accept from His hand sorrow and suffering as well as joy?
Job was in truth a thoroughly surrendered soul. In all this did not Job sin with his lips (verse 10), because his will was wholly yielded to God, and he was true, upright, and sincere in his loyalty to Him.
It is, alas, true that many of the [redeemed] children of God, in one way or another, unconsciously perhaps, serve Him for the good they get in this present world, and in the world [or age] to come, rather than for Himself alone.
The worldlings, too, expect what they call good from a God Who is called Love, and misjudge and renounce Him because of the suffering in the world, which they cannot reconcile with His Love. Both Christian and worldling stumble at the mystery of pain, and fail to understand, what a writer has so truly said, that Pain has other and higher functions than penalty, for the outer man must be sacrificed in the interests of the man within, and the world of man without, and unseen worlds beyond.*
[* W. W. Peyton.]
Job was a true man of God. Blow upon blow had come upon him, but his integrity had stood the test.
He proved in his surrender and faith in the faithfulness of God, that he had not served Him for all that He had given him. Whether the Lord gave, or the Lord took away, he still blessed the Name of the Lord.
The Friends of Job
Now when Jobs three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came ... Eliphaz ... Bildad ... and Zophar. ... They made an appointment together to come ... to comfort him. - Chap. 2: 11.
Ill news flies apace! The report of Jobs troubles reaches the ears of three of his intimate friends. In the kindness of their hearts they agree together to visit him to sympathize with him, and comfort him.
The three men make an appointment to journey to the scene of Jobs sorrows.
As they went, according to the privilege of intimate friends, they discussed the whole affair from every point of view, and before they saw the stricken man they came to their conclusions as to the cause of all the evil, and settled how best to deal with him.
The story of Job bears the impress of reality because it coincides in many respects with the experience of to-day, for just in the same way as the friends talked over Job before they saw him, and settled in their own minds the cause of his troubles, do the friends of afflicted ones act in modern times!*
[* We shouldnt worry or get annoyed about what any Christian may say about us in private - about what we believe or of what we may have said to others, (i.e., our doctrines) - for everyone will be held to account at the Judgment Seat of Christ for idle words and slanderous accusations made against others; and unless forgiveness and repentance is forthcoming, all this tittle tattle amongst regenerate believers must eventually bring upon them personal loss and chastisement from a holy God: (See Eph. 5: 6; 1 Tim. 4: 1; 2 Tim. 2: 16-18.) May God give all of us a tighter control over what we say in private about others: (James 4: 11.) Ed.]
There are few among us who know how to minister the comfort of God. Few who know how to leave their fellows in the hand of God, and encourage them to believe their way through their paths of trial, and still fewer who are able to interpret to stricken hearts the purposes of God in their afflictions.
Knowing little of the inwardness of things, more often do we judge by the sight of the eyes and the hearing of the ears, and come to conclusions from our own standpoint, and according to the measure of our own experience.
Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar draw nigh the village. Afar off they see the ash-mound, but is that Job lying there?
Job, the greatest of the children of the East! Can this pitiable object be the Job that they had known? Alas, alas, they knew him not, and lifted up their voice, and wept. How are the mighty fallen!
They rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads in token of their sorrow for him.
At last they reach the ash-mound and sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights. This expression aptly describes the fulness of their grief, and the long period of silence which came upon them. They were dumb in the presence of such unparalleled suffering.
What could they say? How could they speak? For they saw that his pain was very great (verse 13 m.).
After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day. - Chap. 3: 1.
Job was the first to break the silence, and when he speaks he pours out the depths of his soul. There was no renouncing of God, no word of rebellion against His hand upon him, but he curses the day of his birth. The word is quite a different one in the original to the word renounce in the previous passages. It means simply that he execrated his day.
He has spoken no word of welcome to his friends, explained nothing to them, for formalities and ordinary language have no place at such a time.
The words that Job pours out in the anguish of his soul, tell us something of the thoughts which have been filling his mind in these hours of silence.
Let the day perish wherein I was born, he cries. That anniversary of my birth which is wont to be kept as joyous festival, let it henceforth be regarded as a day of mourning (verses 3-10). Oh that it could be blotted out from the calendar, that it might be forgotten - oh miserable day -
Why died I not? ... For now should I have lien down and been quiet [and] at rest. - Chap. 3: 11-13.
I should have slept, Job says - even as the kings who have had to leave their solitary piles which they built for themselves on earth and the princes who had to part with their gold.
In the grave* the weary have rest; the wicked cease from raging; the prisoners are at ease from the task-master, and the servant is free; for the small and the great are there (verses 14-19, m.).
[* Note. Our body is described as a tent or covering for the soul: and the disembodied soul must remain in Hades for as long as the body remains in the grave: (Acts 2: 27, 31; Matt. 18: 18; Luke 16: 23, 31. cf. John 19: 40. Only after resurrection is it possible to ascend into heaven, (John 20: 17; 14; 3: 13; 13: 36- 14: 3): and, it is the soul which is the person, not the animating spirit. Ed.]
Strangely the soul turns to the thought of death in the hour
of deep trial. It is enough, take away my life, said Elijah to the Lord in his time of
exhaustion under the juniper tree. It is too heavy for me, kill me, I pray Thee,
said Moses under the pressure of the burden of the people. It is better for me to die,
said Jonah, when the Lord did not fulfil the threatened judgment upon
Job had not rebelled against the Lord, but he was going perilously near the doing so in using this language. He had told his wife that we should be willing to endure evil things* as well as receive good things* from the hand of God, but to long for death as the way of escape from the evil is not the way to bow to the will of God. Yet it is the cry of nature for escape from suffering, pressed out from the soul in its anguish and pain.
[* Septuagint version.]
The Adversary is at the back of much of this language from the lips of Job, even as he was the instigator of the temptation to speak against God that came to him from the lips of his wife.
It is the enemy that is throwing this cloud upon his soul, and pouring into his mind these thoughts of escape through death. There are some who have yielded to such thoughts in the time of deep anguish, and at last have been driven by the Tempter to take their lives so as to reach this place of rest.
Let the children of God take heed and stay themselves upon their God, thanking Him for the privilege of life. Let them turn from the temptation of dwelling upon the peace of the grave, and choose life, even though it be life in the very crucible of fire, for the sky, not the grave, is our goal.
Wherefore is ... given ... life unto the bitter in soul: which long for death, but it cometh not ... which rejoice unto exultation ... when they can find the grave, - Chap. 3: 20-22, m., cries Job, and he does not realize the cowardice of his language, nor how he is opening the door to the enemy of his soul. He goes on to call himself a man whom God hath hedged in, including among his miseries what the devil had called his peculiar blessing!
Job concludes this outpouring of his grief by saying, the thing which I feared is come upon me (verses 24-26, m.).
Taught of God, as Job was, he knew that the testing time must come. He had shrunk from it and been afraid of it. He confesses that he had not been at case (verse 26, m.) in spite of the outward peace of his life. He had known that the furnace was inevitable, and now all that he had shrunk from had come upon him.
* * *
It was not an enemy that reproached me . But it was thou ... my companion, and my familiar friend- Ps. 55: 12-13.
ELIPHAZ FIRST APPEAL, AND JOBS REPLY
Then answered Eliphaz ... and said. ... - Chap. 4: 1.
ELIPHAZ is the first of the three friends to speak. We may describe him as the candid friend - the friend we know so well in actual life who always feels it incumbent upon him to speak out all his mind!
We have seen how the three men made an appointment together to come and comfort Job. Discussing the sad news, they had settled among themselves the only way in which he could be really helped out of his troubles, and Eliphaz is the one chosen for the delicate task of suggesting to him the conclusions they had come to.
Eliphaz begins saying, If I try to speak to you, Job, will you be grieved? but who could help speaking after listening to all that you have said (verse 2). Then he goes on to put into plain bald language the bitterest thought of all, a thought that possibly had been rankling in Jobs mind while he was speaking: -
Behold thou hast instructed many -
Thou hast strengthened the weak -
Thou hast confirmed the feeble knees -
But now - it is come unto thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled. - Chap. 4: 3-5.
It must be confessed that Job had given cause to Eliphaz to say all this, and Eliphaz probably expressed the thought of the friends in the words, he uses. Job, Job, you have taught others; helped them with your words; strengthened and upheld those that were falling, and now - when you are put into the same circumstances - we see you fainting and troubled!
Did not Job know all this in his heart? Did not [Satan] the Adversary anticipate the words of Eliphaz, and whisper all this to Job - when he was sinking under his misery? As the words about death and the grave came out of his lips, did he not know that he was fainting under the hand of God, and did not the memory of the way he had instructed others add agony to his fainting spirit? But it was bitter pain to have the keen-eyed Eliphaz put all this into cold bare words.
Is not thy fear of God thy confidence (verse 6), continues Eliphaz Job, you of all men should know how to trust God in the hour of trial. Is not thy knowledge of Him sufficient to give thee confidence now?
Oh soul in the furnace, are not these the words of some who assay to comfort thee? They talk to the grief of the one whom God has wounded, and comfort by saying, thou badest others be strong, and now thou art fainting thyself.
The candid friends comfort
Remember ... who ever perished, being innocent? ... according as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow trouble, reap the same. - Chap. 4: 7- 11.
This is comfort from the candid friend! Eliphaz draws upon his long experience, and says that he has seen that men simply reap what they sow.
In plain language the suggestion is that Job must be reaping the consequences of sin. None have ever perished, or been brought to such extremity as he was in when they were innocent. God must be angry with him (verse 9).
Eliphaz could say this with conviction and assurance, for he was not speaking out of his own mind, but as one taught of God. He would tell Job how this knowledge had come to him -
Now a thing was secretly brought to me ... in ... visions of the night a spirit passed before my face ... a form was before mine eyes: I heard a still voice, saying, Shall mortal man be just before God? Shall a man be pure before his Maker? - Chap. 4: 12-17, m.
Eliphaz seeks to enforce his words with the account of a vision which had come to him in the night; but the language of the spirit-form that passed before his eyes, savours more of the devil as an angel of light than of the Holy Spirit of God.
The Adversary who had accused Job to God before the heavenly assembly, and asserted that in the crucible he would unfailingly renounce his faith in Him, was not likely to leave any means untried on earth to bring about the end which he desired.
In reading Jobs story we must bear in mind continually the forces that lie behind the surface history. The Adversary had set his heart upon Job, and his tactics are not ended when he has stripped him of all his possessions, and stricken him down to the ground. He attacks him through his wifes words; then by dangling before him the escape in the grave; and again through the lips of the three friends, particularly at this stage by the words of Eliphaz. Every point is thus seen to be a direct attack against the integrity of Job, his faith in God, and his assurance of fellowship with Him.
Eliphaz asserts that he has learnt through a spirit-vision that no mortal man can be just and pure before his Maker. He says in effect Job, you had better let go your confidence that you have walked with God in integrity of heart. Your present experience proves that you are just the same as other men. You thought that God protected and blessed you, but after all you are reaping the consequences of sin just as others do. You shun evil, you say, and seek to walk uprightly; but no man can be counted just before God, no man can be pure before his Maker.
Behold [God] putteth no trust in His servants; and His angels He chargeth with folly: How much more them that dwell in houses of clay? - whispers the spirit voice to Eliphaz at the very time that Jehovah was trusting His servant Job with the fullest confidence He could have placed in him, and, instead of charging him with folly, had borne witness before the council of heaven that in His sight he was blameless, true, and godly, abstaining from everything evil.
The Adversary is always accusing man to God, and God to man, maligning His character and misrepresenting His attitude to the creatures He has made.
Man is only like a moth, said this spirit to Eliphaz - he is crushed in one brief day, he perishes and none regard it (verses 19-21, m.).
Alas for those who rely upon spirit-visions for the knowledge of God. They are bound to be led astray. This lying spirit has wholly misled Eliphaz, and deceived him with a half-truth. It is true that mortal man is not pure before the Holy God, but the spirit voice said nothing of the sacrifice- the burnt-offerings which Job offered continually, and which in the foreknowledge of God anticipated the sacrifice of Christ upon Calvarys Cross, in Whom, and through Whom, a man stands accepted before his Maker.
That mans life on earth may be said to be as brief as the life of a moth, is also true; but that God lets him perish un-regarded is untrue - for the Son of God Who came to declare the Father, said to His disciples, The very hairs of your head are all numbered. Ye are of more value than many sparrows.*
Call now, said Eliphaz to his afflicted friend, is there any that will answer thee, and to which of the holy ones wilt thou turn? (Chap. 5: 1).
These words imply that Eliphaz was under the impression that the spirit-form which passed before his face was one of the holy ones, or angels of God. Unto which of the holy ones would Job turn for help and counsel in his trouble?
As for me, said Eliphaz, I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause (verse 8); thus showing that he had not discerned the devil as an angel of light in the vision which had come to him.
There are many [regenerate believers] like Eliphaz in these days, and some who would use his very words in describing things secretly brought to them in the stillness of the night; communications from the spirit-world which they fully believe to be messages from God.
They have no intention of forsaking the Lord any more than Eliphaz had, but think that by this means they will get to know Him better. May God open their eyes to the devices of the evil one, and deliver them from his snare!
I have seen all this in experience, continues Eliphaz, I have seen the foolish taking root; but suddenly I cursed his habitation. His children are ... crushed in the gate with none to deliver them (verses 3, 4).
What does Eliphaz mean? The vision of the night he speaks of, has clearly not resulted in the manifestation of that spirit of pity and love which comes from fellowship with the God of Love.
Affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground (verse 6), is the callous reasoning of Eliphaz. He had spoken a curse against the foolish and the consequence had followed - therefore there must be some cause for Jobs trouble.
If I were in your place, Job - Eliphaz continues - I would commit my cause to God. He doeth great things, marvellous things without number (verse 9); He setteth on high those that be low, and exalteth those who are mourning to a place of safety (verse 11); He frustrateth the devices of the crafty, and taketh the wise in their own craftiness (verses 12, 13); saving the needy from the hand of the mighty, so there is hope for the poor in Him (verses 15, 16).
The Exhortation of Eliphaz
Behold, happy is the man whom God reproveth ... despise not thou the chastening of El-Shaddai. For He maketh sore, and bindeth up; He woundeth, and His hands make whole. - Chap. 5: 17, 18, m.
ELIPHAZ appears to be a strange mixture. He undoubtedly has some knowledge of God, whether by theory or not we cannot say. After his first words in answer to Jobs complaint of his condition, he has dealt with him very gently. He only suggests that men reap what they sow, and advises Job to definitely seek God for deliverance from his trouble; he should think himself happy to be corrected by God, it will be well for him not to despise His chastening. If El-Shaddai - the Pourer-forth of blessing - makes sore, He just as surely binds up; if He wounds, He unfailingly makes whole.
From this Eliphaz goes on to draw a most beautiful picture of the result of the binding up of the hands of the Almighty, if Job would but truly seek Him, and not despise His chastening.
El-Shaddai would deliver him in every trouble that would come upon him so that no evil should touch him (verse 19); in famine he should be kept from death, in war he should be saved from the sword (verse 20); the scourge of the tongue should not touch him; he would not be afraid of destruction (verse 21); he should laugh at every danger, and be fearless before the beasts of the field (verses 22, 23); his home should be in peace, and protected by the power of God (verse 24); his offspring should be as the grass, and he should come to his grave in a full age like a shock of corn in its season (verses 25, 26).
Lo this, we have searched it, so it is, adds Eliphaz. We would that thou shouldest prove it for thyself, Job, for we do but desire thy good (verse 27, m.).
Very beautiful Eliphaz, but not the time! A wise mans heart discerneth time and judgment. It was not the time for Eliphaz to urge the blessings of deliverance. The premise also was wrong. All this would be if Job would go back to God, but Job had not left Him. Eliphaz did not understand!
Then job answered and said. ... - Chap. 6: 1.
Job listens, but the words of Eliphaz do not reach his soul. With the inner ear he hearkens not for anguish of spirit. He breaks out that his calamity, could it but be weighed, would be found to be heavier than the sand of the seas (verses 2, 3). The arrows of the Almighty are within me, he cries, the terrors of God are set in array against me (verse 4).
The beasts make a cry of distress over their food when it is unpalatable (verse 5), just so am I bound to cry out in my sufferings, for nature must be allowed relief. What things my soul refused to touch, these are as my loathsome meat* (verse 7, m.).
[*Compare Ezek. 4: 14.]
Eliphaz, you say that men can be destroyed like moths, oh that God would grant me what I long for, even that it would please Him to crush me! If He would but let loose His hand and cut me off then I should have comfort. Yea I would harden myself, and exult in pain that spareth not (verses 8, 9, 10, M.).
I have not denied the words of the Holy One. What strength have I to wait for deliverance, and what have I to look forward to that I should be patient? I am not made of brass to endure all this, I am helpless and effectual working is driven quite from me (verses 10-13).
To him that is ready to faint kindness should be shewed from his friend; else might he forsake ... the fear of the Almighty. Chap. 6: 14, m.
Job says that Eliphaz had come professedly to comfort him, but he had not dealt kindly with him. He had reproached him with fainting under the hand of God after teaching and helping others. Granted that it was so, to him that is ready to faint his friend should show kindness, not severity; otherwise the fainting one might be driven away from God altogether.
Job compares his friends to a deceitful brook, and graphically pictures the disappointment of the caravans in the desert turning aside to seek water in their hour of need, and finding the brooks black and frozen with ice (verses 15-21).
Ye are like thereto (verse 21, m.), cries Job, Ye have given me no comfort from the heart of God, ye frozen streams - ye see me so loathsome that I am a terror to you, and ye are afraid to be kind to me, lest ye are counted a partaker of the sins ye charge me with.
Jobs appeal to his friends
Did I say, Give unto me? ... or Deliver me? ... or Redeem me?
Teach me, and I will hold my peace. - Chap. 6: 22-24.
Smarting under the pain of disappointment in those who should have understood and helped him by true heart sympathy in his time of trial, Job reminds Eliphaz that he had asked nothing of him or those with him! He had not asked for a gift from their substance, although he had lost everything - he had not cried to them to deliver him from the oppressor. He is quite willing to be taught and to be made to understand wherein he had erred (verse 24).
Words of uprightness carry force and weight; but the arguing of Eliphaz had no power. What is he arguing about? What is he trying to reprove? Words, mere words! The speeches of a desperate man are only for the wind (verses 25, 26, m.). They should be allowed to pass, and not be dealt with seriously. His character should not be judged by them, nor should his friends charge him in his bitter anguish with reaping what he had sown.
Yea, cries Job, Ye would cast lots upon the fatherless (verse 27), so hard hearted are you. A man who could deal as you have dealt with me in my pitiable condition, would be capable of selling his friend -
Be pleased to look upon me: and it will be evident to you if I lie Is there injustice upon my tongue?- Chap. 6: 28-30, m.
Jobs pitiful state
Is there not a warfare to man upon earth? ... so am I made to possess ... wearisome nights ... I am full of tossings ... my flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust; my skin is broken, and become loathsome. - Chap. 7: 1-6, m.
Job is feeling very keenly the evident lack of understanding in his friends. His condition was sufficient to melt the hardest heart, but Eliphaz and his companions had settled that Job must be dealt with as a transgressor, and to give him sympathy when he was an evident evildoer, would only injure him seriously in his soul, and make his friends partakers of his sins.
Eliphaz had bidden him seek unto God - was he not in the hand of God? Is there not a warfare to man upon
earth? Are not his days like
the days of an hireling? (verse 1,
A.V., m.). He is under authority, and has
to accept all that is appointed for him.
There is a time of service for every man, when he has to learn obedience to
the will of God ere he can be trusted with authority in the
I am in that warfare, Job says I am appointed wearisome nights, tossings to and fro until the dawning of the day (verse 4); months of weary waiting instead of happy service; my skin is broken and become loathsome (verse 5); my life is passing as rapidly as the shuttle in the weavers hand (verse 6). Oh Eliphaz, remember my life is like the wind (verse 7); I am passing from your sight, you will look for me and I shall be gone (verse 8); like a cloud I shall vanish away; I shall return no more to my home, my place shall be empty, therefore I must speak in the anguish of my spirit, it is useless talking to me about going to my grave in a full age like a shock of corn, I am a dying man, and I must pour out the bitterness of my soul (verses 9-11).
Jobs complaint to God
Am I ... a sea-monster, that Thou settest a watch over me? Let me alone ... What is man that Thou shouldest magnify him, and that Thou shouldest set Thine heart upon him ...
and try him every moment? - Chap. 7: 12- 18.
From his would-be comforters Job turns to God, and almost petulantly cries, Am I ... a sea-monster, that Thou settest a watch over me? His terrible nights of suffering seem the keenest point of his complaint - those awful nights of tossing to and fro until the dawning of the day. When he goes to his couch in hope of some relief from his pain, then he is scared by dreams and fearful visions. Was Job quite right in charging God with these? Were they not part of the enemys devices? Such awful nights made him feel that strangling would be a mercy (verse 15). He could not but loathe his life; he did not want to live in such a warfare as this (verse 16).
* * *
Behold ... I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. Isa. 48: 10.
BILDADS REASONING, JOBS CRY FOR A MEDIATOR
Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said - Chap. 8: 1.
The characters of the three friends of Job are shown very strikingly in their different speeches, and methods of dealing with Job. Eliphaz was possibly considered the most spiritual of the three, perhaps on account of his assurance that he was taught of God in the visions of the night, hence his being chosen to speak to Job first. He is also the one who deals plainest with him in charging him with definite transgressions.
Bildad may be described as the very humble friend. He speaks the least of the three, always mildly, within a narrow scope, and generally as a gentle echo of the other two men.
Bildad had listened to all that passed between Eliphaz and Job. He had heard Jobs cry to God, If I have sinned ... why dost Thou not pardon my transgression? and he now proceeds to reason gently with him.
How long, Job, wilt thou speak like this? Doth El-Shaddai pervert justice? If thou knowest not of any iniquity in thine own life, thy children must have sinned, and God has delivered them to the consequences of their sin. Thy children have been punished for their transgression (verses 2-4).
Oh, Job, if thou wouldest but seek diligently unto God, and make supplication unto El-Shaddai - the Pourer-forth of blessing. If thou wert pure and upright surely now He would awake for thee, and make [thee] prosperous (verses 5, 6).
Ah, here is the sting. This terrible If, so full of torture to the soul in the crucible. The devil whispers If all was right with God, He would deliver thee! The gentle friend that comes to succour in the time of trouble suggests again, If all was clear with God, would He not interpose and set thee free. The soul itself cries If I have sinned against Thee ... why? -
No loss of earths possessions, no misjudgment of friends, no physical suffering, can awaken the pain aroused by that if in one who has walked with God in integrity.
Bildad had studied the teaching of the fathers. Eliphaz has based his knowledge upon spirit-teaching from the other world. But Bildad would not presume to this; he is satisfied to accept the authority of antiquity. He has a great reverence for tradition. He could not venture to assume that he knew anything at all (verses 8, 9)
The fathers had searched out the truth, and they had settled that God prospered all who are upright, and punished all who were ungodly. Suffering was invariably the result of sin, prosperity the reward of innocence. Surely Job should bow his head and accept the teaching of authority. Was he going to presume that he knew God better than others of the former age (verse 10)?
Bildad was only an echo like many others to-day. He was content to take his knowledge second hand. It looked like humility. Better and wiser men than he had said these things, and he was satisfied to accept their conclusions.
After this appeal to tradition, Bildad draws for Job a picture of the paths of those who forget God (verse 13). His illustrations are drawn from a small area; the withered grass (verse 12), the spiders web (verse 14), the house (verse 15), the garden (verse 16), the dust (verse 19. m.); all showing that his sphere had probably been a very circumscribed one, and his mind and vision had remained correspondingly small.
Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man ... He will yet fill thy mouth with laughter, and thy lips with shouting. - Chap. 8: 20, 21.
Bildad is a kind man, and in his way feels sorry for poor Job. He would like to give him a word of cheer. All that he has said about the fate of the godless is true, but if Job should be right with God after all, God will not cast him off, but will yet fill his mouth with laughter and shouting.
Hardly a suitable word for the once grave and dignified patriarch sitting as chief among his people.
Bildads idea of encouragement reminds us of well-intentioned friends in modern days who say, Come, cheer up, we shall see you laughing and shouting ere long!
Bildad meant it kindly, but deep soul anguish is not thus easily dismissed. His small and shallow mind is not capable of realizing the depths of a man like Job.
They that hate thee shall be clothed with shame. (verse 22) adds this would-be comforter. What? A man of the character of Job, cheered by the thought of seeing others humiliated? It might be comfort to a man of Bildads stamp, but to one who had walked in fellowship with God - never.
Jobs reply to Bildad
Then Job answered and said, Of a truth I know that it is so: But how can man be just before God? - Chap. 9: 1, 2, m.
Bildads humble attitude and gentle reasoning has soothed the suffering job, and he quietly answers him, Of a truth I know that it is so.
All that Bildad has said about God not upholding evil-doers is quite true, and Job is willing to acknowledge it. The words of Eliphaz, however, remain in his mind, especially the question propounded by the spirit-voice, Shall mortal man be just before God?
How can man be just before God? Job now repeats. The question may not have occurred to him before. He only knew that he had walked with God in integrity of heart, and the friendship of God has been given him. In obedience to the Lord he had offered up sacrifices, but as to how he was justified before Him he did not know.
From the spirit-vision given to Eliphaz we gather that it is the Adversary who suggests the Shall and the How. His one object is to prevent, or to break, communion between the soul and its God. Let the intellect be occupied with the How, and the soul will generally fail to know the fellowship with God in experience.
Job appears to be in the position of one who has happy and close fellowship with God, and is suddenly asked How? Such a question is a severe test to a trusting heart. It has been so happy in its blessed child-like walk with God. What means this strange unbelief in the world around? Why is it being disturbed by those who want indefinable things defined? Are they not content to take the word of the Lord? Must the soul face this painful element in professed worshippers of God? Can it not be left alone to walk with its God. Must it be able to answer the How?
It is all part of the refining fire. The very foundations are being tried. Through the testing the soul will learn how to give a reason for the hope it possesses, with meekness and fear.
Job has been thinking over this question of being just before God and in answer to Bildad pours out the thoughts passing in his mind.
How can a man be just before God? If one should desire to contend with Him, he could not answer Him, for who ever hardened himself against Him, and prospered (verses 3, 4. M.)? He is so mighty in strength that He overturns mountains shakes the earth out of its place; commands the sun; stretches out the heavens ; treads upon the sea; makes the stars; yea, He doeth marvellous things, great things past finding out (verses 5- 10). This great God, so invisible, so all-powerful - Who can hinder Him or say, What doest Thou? (verses 11, 12).
How then could I, Job, speak to Him, or reason with Him? Though I were righteous I could not answer Him, for He is God, and I am but a man. If I called, and He answered me I could not believe that He had hearkened to my voice! He Who is breaking me with a tempest of trouble, multiplying my wounds - without cause it seems to me - and does not allow me time to take my breath, but fills me with bitterness (verses 14-18).
It appears from this language that Job did not know God yet as the One who talked with him. He knew Him more in his inner consciousness as the great Holy One before Whom he walked in integrity of heart, shunning evil, and fearing Him with godly awe. Job little knew that this path of suffering was to end in a revelation of God, and a fellowship with Him richer and fuller than aught he had ever conceived of in his days of prosperity.
As Job compares himself with the omnipotent God he is brought to despair. If he considers relative strength there is no hope; if judgment, who would appoint the place of meeting for him to plead (verse 19)? If he was righteous, and said he was perfect, Jehovah would prove him perverse (verse 20. m.). No, the matter is hopeless, he cannot justify himself, he simply despises himself and his life. It is all one ... I say, He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked (verse 22). You say Bildad, that God will not cast away a perfect man, but as I think of His omnipotence, and I see Him using His power to break me to pieces, I say it is all one. No man can be just before God if it depends upon his justification of himself. The perfect and the wicked stand in the same place; in fact it appears as if God mocked at the calamity of the innocent, and handed over the good of the earth to the wicked. If it is not God Who controls all these things, then who is it (verses 23, 24. m.)?
You tell me, Bildad, to brighten up (verse 27. m.), but if I try to forget my complaint and be of good cheer, I am afraid of all my sorrows, and that God will not hold me innocent (verse 28).
You tell me that if I were pure and upright He would surely work on my behalf, but what can I do? I have appealed to Him to pardon any transgression; it is labour in vain to try and wash myself. If I were to cleanse my hands with lye (verse 30 m), He would, so to speak, plunge me into the ditch again (verse 31).
Jobs cry for a Mediator
He is not a man, as I am ... that we should come together in judgment.
There is no umpire betwixt us.- Chap. 9: 32, 33, m.
Job is getting lower and lower before God. The distance between the Creator and the finite creature that He has made is so great. Oh that there was an umpire between us, he cries, one who could lay his hand upon us both!
The need of the human heart has always been the same. Job knew how to offer burnt-offerings unto God, and through them understood that he was accepted of Him, but in his hour of need when God appeared so far off, he longs for an umpire between Jehovah and himself, one who could plead with God for him, and speak to him from God.
When life and immortality was brought to light through the Gospel it was revealed that God had met this cry by the gift of His only begotten Son, Who became the one Mediator between God and man, Himself man - Christ Jesus and It behoved Him in all things to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. Job cries again, Let Him take His rod away ... Then I would speak, and not fear Him; For I am not so in myself (verse 34, 35). I am not afraid of God in my heart, but while I suffer [His] terrors I am distracted. I am so weary of my life that I must give free course to my complaint, and speak in the bitterness of my soul - I will plead with God.
Jobs appeal to God
Do not condemn me: shew me wherefore Thou contendest with me. Is it good ... that Thou shouldest oppress [and] despise the labour of Thine hands? - Chap. 10: 2, 3, m.
The words that follow may well be described as a prayer of the afflicted when he fainteth, and poureth out his complaint before the Lord.*
[* Psalm 102. Head-note and margin.]
Jobs pleading with God is very touching. Shew me wherefore Thou contendest with me, he cries. Is it Thy good pleasure to oppress and despise Thy handiwork? Dost Thou see as man seeth (verse 4)? Art Thou judging me like these men, and searching me for some secret sin when Thou Who knowest all hearts, knowest that I am not wicked (verses 5-7)?
I am in Thy hands, Lord. Thou hast fashioned me, and yet Thou art destroying me. Wilt Thou bring me into dust again (verses 8, 9)? Thou hast made me. Thou hast given me life. Thou hast preserved me, and yet Thou hast had all this suffering hidden in Thine heart for me (verses 11-13)!
I know Thy character enough to know, Lord, that Thou wilt not overlook any transgression in Thy children. Thou wilt not acquit me of any iniquity. If Thou seest aught that is wicked then it will be woe unto me (verses 14, 15), and Thou wilt deal severely with me. If I be righteous before Thee, Lord, I cannot lift up my head; I am filled with ignominy (verse 15, m.). If for a moment I do raise my head, Thou springest upon me as a lion hunts its prey, and again Thou showest Thy marvellous power upon me (verse 16).
Oh Lord, Thy indignation seems to increase, and host after host is against me (verse 17, m.). Why didst Thou let me live at my birth? If I had died no eye would have seen me as am now (verses 18, 19).
Are not my days few? Wilt Thou not let me alone that I may take comfort a little, before I go to the land of darkness and of the shadow of death; a land of thick darkness, as darkness itself? (verses 20-22).*
Job believed in the
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The proof of your faith, being more precious than gold that perisheth,
though it is proved by fire. - 1 Pet. 1: 7.
ZOPHARS FIRST SPEECHY AND JOBS VENTURE OF FAITH
Then answered Zophar ... and said ... Should a man full of talk be justified? - Chap. 11: 1, 2.
ZOPHAR, the third friend, is thought to be the oldest of the three men, and to speak with the tone of extreme age. This may account for his blunt - almost rough - language to a man of Jobs position and character.
Eliphaz had only hinted to Job the conclusions they had come to, and Bildad had gently echoed his words by saying, If thou wert pure and upright God would surely awake for thee.
Zophar now roughly and bluntly breaks out, Should a man full of talk be justified? His indignation has been growing as he listens to Job pleading with God, and saying that he knows of no cause for his affliction, but longs for an umpire to stand as judge between Jehovah and himself.
Zophar does not mince his words. He considers it is time that Job was spoken to a little more plainly. Gentle dealing evidently is in vain, for he thinks that Hob is full of talk and boasting. It is only mockery for him to appeal to God in the way he has done, and to persist in saying that his conscience is clear before Him (verses 2-4).
Zophar feels indignant on Gods behalf; he wishes that God would open His lips against such mockery, and show Job that He was exacting of him even less than his iniquity deserved (4, 5, 6)!
How a man should speak so boldly to Jehovah was beyond his comprehension. Did Job realize the greatness of the God he was appealing to so freely?
(Was Job, as a man, able to know the deep things of God 4, 7, m.)? Could he find out El‑Shaddai to perfection? His infinitude was as the heights of heaven, and the depth of the grave; longer than the earth, and broader than the sea (verses 8, 9, m.). But El‑Shaddai knew vain men; He could see iniquity, even though a man considered it not (verse 11, M.).
What use, though, to talk to Job? An empty man will get understanding, Zophar contemptuously says, only when a wild asss colt is born a man (verse 12, m.).
If thou set thine heart aright, and stretch out thine hands toward Him; If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away ... Surely then. ... - Chap. 11: 13-15.
If thou wert pure and upright, surely He would awake for thee, said Bildad, and Zophar continues on the same text. If thou wouldest set thine heart right. If thou wouldest but truly cry to Jehovah, and put iniquity away from thee (verses 13, 14), surely then, Job - then thou couldest lift up thy head, and be without fear (verse 15).
If thou wilt but put things right, Job, then thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that are passed away (verse 16); thy life shall arise above the noonday; the darkness shall be changed into the light of morning (verse 17); thou shalt take thy rest in safety (verse 18) without these terrible dreams thou speakest of; thou shalt lie down without fear; yea, thou shalt be restored to thy place of dignity and authority, and many shall make suit unto thee (verse 19).
But refuge is perished from the wicked, there is no hope for them but death (verse 20, m.)!
Jobs reply to Zophar
Then job answered ... No doubt but ye are the people, And wisdom shall die with you. - Chap. 12: 1, 2.
The blunt friend is often a blessing! Job had only winced under the reproachful sarcasm, and assumed spiritual authority of Eliphaz. In answer he had expressed bitter disappointment at his lack of kindness and sympathy with him in his affliction, and then poured out a pathetic account of his pitiable condition, as a man manifestly drawing nigh to the grave.
Under Bildads gentle reasoning and evident desire to encourage him, Job had almost sunk into despair, as he dwelt upon the omnipotence of God, and faced out the question of how to be counted just before Him. He had nevertheless poured out his heart in pleading with this great Jehovah, but had sunk again into the wail that his days were but few, and that he was a dying man.
But the rough language of Zophar acts like a tonic, stirs him to a vigorous reply, awakens the faith that is lying dormant in him, and rouses it to a tenacious hold on God that will carry him through his trial.
The dying man has more vigour in his soul than he knows. He answers Zophar as bluntly as he had spoken to him. Sarcastically he says, No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you but I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you ... who knoweth not such things as these? (verse 3). Zophar, you are making me a laughing stock to talk to me like this! I, who have in the past called upon God, and received His answer. The just man - the man that has walked with God, and known that he was accepted of Him - is being laughed at by his neighbour (verse 4)!
But In the thought of him that is at ease there is contempt for misfortune (verse5), cries the stricken man.
Job is as blunt as Zophar when he says, Ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee! Who knoweth not that in the hand is the life of every living thing (verses7-10)?
Zophar had spoken of the greatness of God, but all nature bore witness to this. The ear could test words, even as the palate tasted meat, and Job could not discern any extraordinary light in Zophars language (verse 11).
With aged men, ye say, is wisdom (verses 12, 8.), but I say that wisdom and might is with God (verse 13), continues Job. The God that he had pleaded with was the One Who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will, it was He alone Who had understanding.
He breaketh down so effectually that all that He breaks cannot be built up again. He shuts up a man, and none can open the doors for him, when God holds the key (verse 14).
He holds back the floods of water, and again He sends them out so that they overturn the earth; With Him is strength and effectual working (verses 15, 16).
Jehovah is the sovereign Lord of all. He takes away the wisdom of the wise (verse 17); He binds and makes loose evenings (verse 18); He overthrows the mighty (verse 19); He takes away utterance and understanding from the aged (verse 20), and pours contempt upon princes (verse 21); He brings out the riches of darkness (verse 22); increases or decreases nations, and works His will upon the highest of the people of the earth (verses 23-25).
Surely I could speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God. - Chap. 13: 3.
Zophar had wished that God would open His lips against Job, but Job was not afraid of this; he desired with all his soul to speak with God. He repeats that he is not inferior to Zophar in knowledge of Jehovah (verse 2); his friends had come professedly to help him, but they were physicians of no value, he would even describe them as forgers of lies (verse 4) for they were charging him with things that were utterly untrue. What use is a physician who cannot diagnose the case? It would show more wisdom if they were to acknowledge their ignorance, and hold their peace (verse 5).
The friends had sought to reason with Job, let them now listen to his reasoning with them (verse 6). They had sought to contend for God (verse 8). What mockery! The Lord would surely reprove them for respecting persons in their hearts (verse 9, 10, m.). They would not have spoken to Job in his days of authority as they had spoken to him as an outcast upon the ash-heap. Were they not afraid thus to deal with a servant of God (verse 11)? Their memorable sayings were but ashes, and their excuses, defences of clay (verse 12). They had better hold their peace and let him alone, he would speak, be the consequences what they may (verse 13)!
Jobs venture of faith
At all adventures I will take ... my life in mine hand (margin R.V.). Though He slay me yet will I trust in Him ... I will maintain my ways before Him. He also shall be my salvation. - Chap. 13: 14-16, A.V.
Job is thoroughly aroused by Zophars harshness, and is driven to a desperate venture of faith. Whatever the cost he will take his life in his hand, and cast himself upon the character of God. He will trust God even though He pleases to slay him. He will hold to it, that Almighty as Jehovah is, may argue his case with Him (verse 15, m.), and the Lord Himself will be his salvation.
He is sure that a hypocrite will not be permitted to enter His presence (verse 16, A.V.), and in the hearing of his friends he will order his cause before Him. Although he may not be able to say how a man may be counted just before God, yet he knows that he shall* be justified (verses 17, 18, m.).
[*Note. This is not justification by faith, but the assurance - (because of his holy walk with God) - of being justified by his works.]
Looking upon his would-be helpers, Job asks if there are any that will venture further to contend with him? He is in such a state that if he holds his peace he feels he will die (verse 19, m.).
There are only two things he will ask of the Lord, and then he will not shrink away from His face (verse 20). Withdraw Thine hand, he cries to God, and let not Thy terror make me afraid. Then call Thou, and I will answer; or let me speak, and answer Thou me (verses 21, 22).
Job has referred to this terror once before. Knowing the terror of the Lord we persuade men, said the apostle Paul in writing to the Corinthians long after the time of Job. Without question there is a revelation of God as the One in terrible Holiness, even to the redeemed, so that they might know the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and fear Him with godly awe.
While I suffer Thy terrors I am distracted. Thy terrors have cut me off, cried David, when in the same crucible as Job.
Jobs appeal to God
How many are mine iniquities and sins?
Make me to know my transgression and my sin. - Chap. 13: 23.
Jobs friends are charging him with reaping what he has sown; and telling him that he is suffering even less than his iniquity deserves; but he turns from them, and once more pours out his soul to the Lord. Will He not make him know what these iniquities are? Why does he hide His face, and treat him as an enemy (verse 24)? Will the great God harass a driven leaf? Will He, the Mighty One, ceaselessly pursue a wisp of dry stubble (verse 25)?
Job goes back in searching of heart to his early days. Is the All-seeing God making him to inherit the iniquities of [his] youth? He is putting him in the stocks and looking narrowly unto all his paths, as it were, drawing a line about the soles of his feet, so that every step he took was marked (verse 27). He feels like a rotten thing a moth-eaten garment, only fit to be thrown aside (verse 28), and yet he knows not of any definite iniquity, or transgression to cause this terrible dealing of God.
If a man die, shall he live again? - Chap. 14: 14.
After his appeal to God, Jobs thought turns upon the frailty of human life, and the words he uses make it appear that as yet he had no clear assurance of the life to come.
Job evidently feels that he is a man on the edge of the grave, but his words Thine eyes shall be upon me, but I shall not be, give no indication that he had an assured hope of life beyond the tomb. The land of the shadow of death is apparently to him a land of thick darkness, as darkness itself, and he says, he that goeth down to the grave cometh up no more.
Job has walked with God in this present world, and known His blessing in the things of time, but he is to learn in his affliction what he did not know in his prosperity; for the realities of the other world seem only to be unveiled to us when all of this world has been loosened from our grasp.
Job compares the frail life of man to a flower which springs forth, and is cut down as quickly (verses 1, 2).
Dost Thou - the Omnipotent, Eternal God open Thine eyes upon such an one? he cries to Jehovah. Is it possible that Thou wilt deal severely with me - a frail human being - and bring me unto judgment with Thee (verse 3), for who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean (verse 4)?
By these words we see that Job clearly recognizes that man, as he is in himself, is unclean, even as David the Psalmist wrote, they are all gone aside; they are together become filthy there is none that doeth good, no, not one.*
[* Psa. 14: 3; see also Rom. 3: 9-12.]
A clean thing cannot come out of an unclean is as true as that a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and there is no hope for fallen man but to begin again, and to be born from above.
Job understands that there is hope for a tree if it is cut down new life may spring again (verses 7-9); but as for man if he dies, Where is he (verse 10)? He passes away as the waters are gone from the sea (verse 11, m.). When he lies down to his last sleep, he will not wake again until the heavens be no more (verse 12).
If God is angry with me, oh that I could thus be hidden in the grave, until His anger has passed away (verse 13, in.), cries Job. He wishes that the Lord would only appoint a set time when He would remember him, and restore His favour to him, but the thought comes, If a man die, shall he live again? (verse 14). If he could but be sure of this he would wait patiently all the days of conflict until his release should come; until he would hear the voice of God calling him to another life, when he would answer Him quickly, and know that after all the Lord had a desire to the work of His hands (verses 14, 15).
But now, reverting to his present condition, God appears to be counting his steps, and watching minutely for sin, so that He might seal and fasten up his transgression and iniquity, as it were, in a bag (verses 16, 17).
Surely water ceaselessly running wears away even stones, and Job is feeling quite worn out with the conflict. This prolonged trial is destroying every bit of hope (verse 19). A man in such a state cannot notice anything going on around him, even His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not (verse 21). Job is in such a condition that he only feels his own pain, and mourns over himself, and his affliction, yea, only for himself his flesh hath pain, and for himself his soul mourneth (verse 20, m.).
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