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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

Job 9

 

 

Verses 1-35

JOB'S REPLY TO BILDAD

Strongly affirms the truth of Bildad's speech as to God's justice (Job ). Declares the impossibility of fallen man establishing his righteousness with God. The same, already acknowledged in reference to himself (ch. Job 7:20-21). Only maintains, as before, his freedom from such sins as to make him specially obnoxious to God's judgments. Enlarges on the majesty, power and sovereignty of God, as exhibited in His works of creation and providence. Again complains of his severe and unmerited sufferings, and his inability to plead his own cause with God.

I. Acknowledgement of man's sinfulness and guilt in the sight of God (Job ). "But (or, ‘and') how should a man (a fallen, mortal man, ‘enosh') be just with God? if he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand" [of the charges to be brought against him]. The language suggests the

Way of a Sinner's acceptance with God

1. Man's state and necessity as a sinner the foundation of the Gospel. Man is a sinner, unable to justify himself before God. The Gospel reveals a Saviour, and shows how man can obtain the justification he needs. In the Gospel is revealed "the righteousness of God"—a righteousness provided by God for man's justification; or, God's righteous way of justifying a sinner; viz., by the obedience and death of His own Son as the sinner's substitute (Rom ). To show this necessity of man and the provision made in the Gospel to meet it, Paul's object in the Epistle to the Romans.

2. The necessity acknowledged by Job; the provision unnoticed by him as not bearing on the present controversy, and as not yet clearly known. The way of forgiveness through vicarious suffering understood, as constantly exhibited in the sacrifices. That of a sinner standing accepted and righteous before God through the active and passive obedience of another not yet fully revealed. The "righteousness of God" better known in the time of David—"I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only" (Psa ). Still more clearly revealed by Isaiah—"Surely shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength; in him shall all the seed of Israel be justified and shall glory" (Isa 45:24-25). The light still advancing in the time of Jeremiah, a century later: "I will raise unto. David a righteous branch—and this is his name whereby he shall be called, the Lord our Righteousness" (Jer 23:5-6). Clearer still in the time of Daniel: "We do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies"—"for the Lord's (Adonai's) sake;" "Seventy weeks are determined to make reconciliation for iniquity and to bring in everlasting righteousness;" "Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself" (Dan 9:17-18; Dan 9:24; Dan 9:26).

3. That provision "witnessed to by the law and the prophets," but only "now," in the Gospel dispensation, "manifested" (Rom ). Described as "the righteousness of God without the law, which is by faith in Jesus Christ, unto all, and upon all them that believe" (Job 9:22). The same ground and necessity of it alleged as confessed by Job: "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Job 9:23). The "righteousness of God" to show that God is "just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus," declared "at this time" in the "remission (or passing over) of sins that were past" (in previous generations) (Job 9:26).

4. "HOW CAN A MAN BE JUST WITH GOD?"—the great question for humanity. The great concern for a dying hour, therefore the great concern now. How we stand with men a trifle in comparison. Without the Gospel, man's views regarding it false, and his efforts vain. Men look for it—

(1) From their own virtues;

(2) From the efficacy of sacrifices, ceremonies, and penances;

(3) From the merits and intercession of others. But men's greatest virtues still leave them sinners. No efficacy in the temporary sufferings of man or beast to atone for sin. No sinner can have merit or power with God to procure his neighbour's acceptance any more than his own. "The sufficiency of my merit is to know that my merit is insufficient" [Augustine].

5. God's way of acceptance every way suited to meet the case. Salvation and acceptance through a substitute according to reason and analogy. Common among men to allow the merit of one to avail on behalf of another. The eye of Zaleucus admitted as sufficient satisfaction to justice for that of his son. The uplifted stump of Æschylus, in testimony of his services to his country, allowed to prevail for his brother's acquittal. One permitted to take another's place in serving his country in time of war. Elements in the substitution of Christ:—

(1) The Divine law receives its perfect fulfilment and righteous penalty for man's transgression in man's nature;

(2) The man Christ constituted by God a second Adam and head of the race;

(3) As man fell by the disobedience of one, the first Adam, he rises by the obedience of one, the second Adam;

(4) The dignity of the Substitute, as the Son of God, sufficient to impart to His merits all necessary efficacy;

(5) His Divine nature and supernatural birth exempted Him from sin and the liability of the race;

(6) Christ, with a human mother and a Divine Father, placed both within the race and outside of it, as necessary for substitution.

6. Righteous in the righteousness of another,—the only way left for a sinner's acceptance with God. RIGHTEOUS IN CHRIST, the Gospel plan and the believer's glory. Sufficient for the acceptance and justification of the entire race. A man who is now not just and accepted before God is so only from—

(1) Ignorance of God's plan of making a sinner righteous;

(2) Unwillingness to accept of it; (3; Inability to trust in it; or

(4) Indifference in regard to his salvation.

II. The folly of contending against God (Job ).

"He is wise in heart and mighty in strength; who hath hardened himself against Him and prospered?" Men harden themselves against God—

(1) While resisting His authority and disobeying his commands;

(2) Rebelling and murmuring against His dealings in Providence;

(3) Refusing the offers of His mercy in the Gospel. Man possessed of the fearful power of hardening himself against God. The folly of such contention seen—

1. From the attributes of God. God "wise in heart and mighty in strength." "Wise" to convict the offender and know how to deal with him; "Mighty" to arrest him and inflict the merited punishment. "Wise" to know and choose what is best to do; "Mighty" to accomplish it. Strength may prevail against wisdom, and wisdom against strength; but who can prevail against both combined? Almighty strength safe in the hands of infinite wisdom. Strength without wisdom makes a tyrant; strength with wisdom, a God. In Christ the wisdom and strength of God are both employed on our behalf. To His wisdom and power, as well as to His love, is due the plan of man's salvation (Eph ; Eph 1:19-20). Christ both "the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1Co 1:24).

2. From the facts of history. "Who hath hardened himself against Him and prospered?" The sinning angels, Pharaoh, Sennacherib's army, the infidel leaders in the first French Revolution, referred to for an answer. For a creature to oppose God is for briars and thorns to do battle against fire. Success certain in falling in with God's plan and procedure; certain ruin in opposing it. Prosperity for a time sometimes the apparent result of opposing God. That prosperity generally only the precursor of ultimate ruin. Pharaoh never appeared nearer his object than when he met with destruction.

Magnificent description of the

Power and Majesty of God

As exhibited in the works of creation and providence (Job ). The description unequalled for poetic grandeur. Its elements—

1. The sudden overthrow of mountains (Job ). "Which removeth the mountains, and they know not (or, before ever they are aware), and overthroweth them in his anger" (as in righteous judgment for the sins of the people). "To remove mountains," synonymous with an impossibility. Nothing impossible with God. Hannibal celebrated for making a passage over the mountains; God removes them out of the way. Through the secret operation of natural causes, as in earthquakes and otherwise, mountains sometimes split, and portions torn away from the rest, with destruction of human life. All nature under God's control, and employed by Him in mercy or in judgment.

2. Trembling of the earth's foundations, and disappearance of portions of its surface. (Job ). "Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof (or, its foundations,—the earth represented as a fabric or building) tremble." Nothing apparently more firm m its place than the earth; yet islands and other large portions of it frequently made to disappear, through subterraneous agencies in earthquakes, subsidences, and submersions, what was once land now becoming sea. Earthquakes and all apparently natural convulsions and changes entirely under God's control.

3. The sun withholding its beams in obedience to His command (Job ). "Which commandeth the sun and it riseth not,"—sends not forth its rays; as in eclipses, dense fogs, the darkness frequently accompanying earthquakes, or when clouds and tempests darken the sky. The Divine command as powerful as at the beginning (Gen 1:3). Joshua's command but an echo of his Master's (Jos 10:12).

4. The starry sky sealed up as a folded scroll. "And sealeth up the stars." The starry heavens God's volume nightly spread open before us (Psa ). Its characters sometimes entirely hidden by clouds, fogs, or tempests, as in Act 27:20. The nocturnal sky usually clear in the East, and the stars peculiarly brilliant. Hence the obscuration of it much more striking than with us. The clouds God's seal, not to be broken by any earthly power. The scroll to be one day folded up (Isa 34:4; 2Pe 3:10; Rev 6:14).

5. The firmament spread out as a canopy, and the clouds made His chariot (Job ). "Which alone (by His unaided power,—the one only Creator and Preserver of all) spreadeth out (or boweth) the heavens." Spread out the firmament at the beginning, still keeps it spread, and spreads it out afresh every morning as a curtain (Psa 104:2; Isa 40:22). Employs the clouds as His chariot, bowing the heavens beneath Him, and putting darkness under His feet (Psa 18:9; Psa 144:5). Probably a further description of a tempest. The verse a miniature of the scene so sublimely described in Psa 18:7-15.

6. The towering billows made a pathway for His feet. "And treadeth on the waves (margin, ‘heights') of the sea." Sublimely expresses His control over the mountain billlows of the ocean, treading on them as a Conquerer and Ruler, restraining their fury, and keeping them from returning and again deluging the earth. So Christ visibly walked on the stormy lake of Galilee (Mat ). Comfort for the tempest-tossed mariner, to remember that the God who is love both walks on the wings of the wind and the waves of the sea. A man walking on the waves, the Egyptian hieroglyphic for impossibility. "With God all things are possible."

7. The constellations of heaven, as His creatures, rising and setting at His will Job ). "Which maketh Arcturus (or the Great Bear), Orion, and the Pleiades (or Seven Stars), and the chambers of the south" (or the Constellations in the Southern Hemisphere, appearing to the Arabs only in summer). Preserves them in their original places, marshals them as His hosts, sustains and directs their apparent motions through all the successive seasons of the year.

8. His acts wonderful, innumerable, and unsearchable (Job ). "Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number." In creation, His works wondrous and unsearchable, both in their multitude and magnitude, their complexity and minuteness. A drop of water and a dusky spot hardly visible on the face of the sky, each reveals suchwonders; the one, millions of perfectly-formed living creatures; the other millions of worlds, each world a sun. In Providence and the government of the universe, His works equally great and marvellous, innumerable and beyond our power of investigation. "His thoughts a great deep." "Deep in unfathomable mines," &c.

Lessons from this description:—

1. Ruinous to resist a Being of such power and majesty.

2. Blessed to have such a Being for our friend; miserable to have Him for a foe.

3. Our duty and happiness to trust Him in the most trying and apparently hopeless situations.

4. His appointment and dispensations to be meekly submitted to.

5. A Being of such perfections to be reverenced, adored, and obeyed.

III. God's Perfections and Dealings viewed by Job in relation to Himself

1. Job declares God's incomprehensibleness in His dealings with him (Job ). "Lo, he goeth by me (is near me, in the dealings of his Providence), and I see him not; he passeth on also (from one stroke to another, or ‘passeth through like a whirlwind,' Isa 21:1), but I perceive him not" (do not apprehend either His meaning or His love). A great part of Job's trial, that while God was so painfully visiting him he was entirely in the dark as to His meaning. Contrasted with his experience in former trials (chap. Job 29:3). Observe—

(1) A child of God sometimes entirely in the dark as to the meaning of God's dealings with Him. Perplexity and bewilderment as to the cause of our trials on God's side, sometimes no small part of them. One of the greatest trials of a believer to be under trouble, and not to apprehend God's love in it.

(2) God's incomprehensibleness an exercise for faith. His children to trust Him in the dark. God most glorified by such confiding faith. Abraham an example (Rom ; Heb 11:8; Heb 11:17-19).

(3) Incomprehensibleness a feature in God's character and conduct. His ways in the sea, and His footsteps not known (Psa ). His ways past finding (Rom 11:33). The glory of God is to conceal a thing (Psa 25:2). God's dealings incomprehensible to us—(i.) as to their reasons; (ii.) as to their ends. "What I do thou knowest not now" (Joh 13:7). Part of the darkness, of sin that God is near and yet not perceived. His close and constant nearness a matter for praise and adoration (Psa 139:5). Analogy between God's dealings in nature and in Providence. The operations and effects obvious, the agent Himself unseen. The operation of natural causes manifest; the moving power behind and under these entirely hidden (Act 17:22).

2. Job acknowledges God's sovereignty and irresistible power (Job ). "Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? (margin ‘turn him away'). Who will say unto him, ‘What doest thou?'"Observe—

(1) God takes away as He pleases. Already acknowledged by Job in his calamities (ch. Job ; Job 2:10). Good to recognize God's hand in our losses. No evil but from God, either directly or indirectly (Isa 45:7; Amo 3:6). Satan rather than God, the immediate author of Job's calamities. Yet Satan's action is not without God's permission. Satan only God's instrument in accomplishing His purpose of trying His people.—

(2) When God takes away, none can hinder Him. God possesses not only the right but the might to do as He pleases. Our comfort to know that both are exercised in wisdom, goodness, and holiness. Good to remember that when God takes away, that—(i.) He only takes away His own; (ii.) He takes away for our good. Job a greater gainer by his losses than he had ever been by his gains. To say to God, What doest Thou? is as ignorant as it is wicked. What God does, He does because it is best. God gives no reason to impenitent sinners either as to what He does or why He does it. A child of God would not hinder Him even if he could.—

(3) Opposition to God and His will as useless as it is wicked (Job ). "If God will not withdraw his anger (or simply, ‘God will not withdraw,' &c.), the proud helpers do stoop under Him." God's anger not to be turned away by man's opposition, but by repentance, submission, and faith (Psa 2:10-12). His "anger" put for the rod which is the expression of it. All creature help against God and His chastisements utterly vain. Israel's sin, that when under the rod they went to Egypt for help (Isa 30:2; Isa 31:1). Egypt in their pride, ready to render that help (Isa 30:4). Both helpers and helped obliged in the end to stoop under the rod. (Isa 31:3). Not uncommon for the ungodly to agree to mutual help in resisting God and His purposes (Psa 2:1-3; Psa 83:5-8; Act 21:28; Act 23:12). Such confederacies frequent in the time of the Reformation. Combinations against the Protestant religion combinations against God and his truth. Pride the characteristic of such confederacies (Exo 5:2; Exo 15:9). Their end seen in the overthrow of sinning angels and the destruction of Pharaoh's host (Jude 1:6; Exo 15:9). The final destruction of anti-christian combinations yet to be exhibited (Rev 17:12-14; Rev 19:11-21). The essence of pride to oppose oneself to God's purposes.—

(4) Good to take warning from others not to fall into their sin (Job ). "How much less shall I answer him [in his charges against me], and choose out my words to reason with him" [as defendant in my cause]. Humility learned by consideration of God's mightiness. If the proudest opposers of God and His purposes must stoop, how then shall I dispute with Him?—

(5) Silence and submission under God's rebuke our interest as well as our duty (Job ). "Whom, though I were righteous, yet would I not answer [at his bar], but I would make supplication to my judge" (or to him debating with me). Man's wisdom not to dispute with God, but to submit to Him. God ever ready to hear the sinner when he supplicates, but never when he disputes. However blameless his conduct, or good his conscience, fallen man still a sinner before God. "FOUND WANTING," written on man's best performances. God better acquainted with our character and conduct than we are ourselves (1Co 4:4; 1Jn 3:20). Constant reason for humiliation and faith (Psa 19:12; Psa 139:23-24).—

(6) The tried soul ready to fall back into despondency and unbelief (Job ). "If I had (or have) called [on Him to answer my complaints], and he had (or hath) answered me [by condescending to take the place of a defendant], yet would (or will) I not believe that he had (or hath) hearkened to my voice." Unbelief made the continuance of Job's sufferings an argument that God had not hearkened to his prayer. The part of the flesh, to reason from the dealings of God's hand to the purposes of God's heart. Prayer often heard before the proof of it is apparent. Faith required to believe this (Mar 11:24). Unbelief must see the answer before it believes in it; faith believes in it before seeing it. Prayer, like seed, which for a time lies buried in the earth. God's time for answering prayer reserved in His own hand. Prayer attended to, and prayer answered, two different things. The former usually followed sooner or later by the latter. Receiving an answer to be distinguished from the actual enjoying of it (Mar 11:24). Faith believes that it receives the blessing asked before it sees it: the seeing comes in God's time.—

(7) Unbelief eyes outward dealings (Job ). "For he breaketh me with a tempest (or, ‘crusheth me as in a whirlwind'), he multiplieth my wounds without cause. He will not suffer me to take my breath (enjoy the least respite or relief), but filleth me with bitterness." The ground of Job's despondency and unbelief. Continued suffering forbids him to believe God regards His prayers. Hard to believe in God's love when so terribly crushed with successive strokes of His Providence. A tragic but true description of Job's sufferings. "Broken"—crushed, or "bruised," as in Gen 3:15. "With a tempest," or "in a whirlwind"—suddenly—violently—irresistibly, like one continually lifted up and then dashed down again forcibly to the ground. This as suffered "without cause" known to himself, only all the more painful. His suffering "without cause," God's own account of the matter (ch. Job 2:3). The thing denied by the friends, but persistently maintained by Job, while yet acknowledging himself a sinner before God. Job ignorant of God's purpose in the affliction. What was really done by Satan, Job in his ignorance ascribes to God. Ignorant of Satan's malice, he can only think of God's arbitrariness. Satan having destroyed Job's children by one "whirlwind," thinks to destroy Job himself by another of a different nature. Sufferings long continued and without intermission terribly exhausting and crushing to the human spirit. The "bitterness" of Job's outward sufferings only the counterpart of the bitterness in his soul. Heroic faith to believe in God's gracious regard in such terribly distressing circumstances. Such experience and faith that of Jesus Himself (Mat 26:38; Mat 27:46). Job's faith also at times triumphant (ch. Job 19:25; Job 23:10).

IV. Job's mental agitation in respect to his case (Job ).

1. His inability to plead with God (Job ).—"If I speak of strength (—if the question be one of strength), lo! he is strong (or, ‘a strong One is here'; or, ‘the strong One saith, here am I'); and if of judgment—(if the question be of one of right), who shall set me a time to plead" (or, ‘who shall bring him [or us] into court' [that as umpire, we may debate the case before him]. Though conscious of innocence, Job feels there is no possibility of pleading his case against God. As regards power, God is the Mighty One, with whom no creature may contend. He is sovereign and supreme, so that there can be no umpire to summon both parties to trial. No creature therefore may dispute with God. Happily, no creature needs. Every one's case left safe in His hands. Only agitation and unrest till this is done. Job atlast, after all his tumults and tossings, is brought to this, and then has peace. The lesson for Job and all tried ones,—not to dispute with God, but to leave the case confidingly in His hands, assured that the Judge of all the earth will do right. The lesson that of the 37th Psalm. "Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him, and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday" (Psa 37:5-6).

2. His certainty of condemnation notwithstanding His conscious integrity (Job ). "If I justify myself (or, ‘although I be righteous'), mine own mouth shall condemn me (—by its very utterances will shew me guilty), if I say, I am perfect (or, ‘although I am upright'), it shall also prove me perverse" (or, ‘He, i.e. God, shall declare me guilty'). A great truth felt, though unwillingly acknowledged by the "perfect" man. However upright and consciously innocent, a fallen man must yet stand condemned before his Maker. To exhibit this, one of the great objects of the book of Job. Fallen man, at his best estate, a sinner, and so guilty before God. The Apostle's declaration, as shewing the necessity for the Gospel scheme (Rom 3:23). No flesh living capable of being justified in God's sight (Psa 140:3). "No just man on earth that doeth good and sinneth not" (Ecc 7:20). To be justified before God on the ground of his own merits, a man must be absolutely sinless (Gal 3:10; Jas 2:10). Such a person nowhere to be found (1Jn 1:8). The mouth that pleads "Not guilty" before God condemns itself. Its very language proves the man a sinner by convicting him—

(1) Of pride;

(2) Of rebelliousness;

(3) Of falsehood. Self-righteousness in a sinner sufficient to condemn him. The object of the law not to justify but to silence (Rom ). A man's salvation and peace is found—

(1) in acknowledging guilt and taking the place of a lost sinner before God;

(2) In casting himself entirely on His mercy as flowing through a Saviour's atoning blood (Rom ).

3. His resolution to maintain his integrity at all costs (Job ). "Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul (or, I am blameless and sincere, I care not for myself'); I would despise (or, I ‘despise') my life." As an honest man, conscious of sincerity and uprightness, Job refuses to confess himself a hypocrite and secret transgressor, in order to obtain the restoration to temporal prosperity held out by his friends. A contest maintained by Job with his friends as well as with God. As against God, he was wrong; as against men, he was right. Before God, he must and does acknowledge himself a sinner; before men, he maintains his integrity. In asserting himself "perfect" (blameless, sincere, upright), he only does what God had done for him (chap. Job 1:8; Job 2:3). A man may boldly maintain his integrity before his fellow men, while he humbly abases himself as a sinner before God. In the sight of God, Paul bows as "the chief of sinners" (1Ti 1:15); before a human tribunal, he declares—"I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day" (Act 23:1).

V. Perplexed thoughts as to the Divine procedure in the present world (Job ).

1. Its indiscriminateness (Job ). "This is one thing (or, ‘it is all one'); therefore I said it, he destroyeth the perfect (the blameless or upright) and the wicked." Both classes treated, as a rule, without discrimination in the present life. Maintained by Job—

(1) As against the friends. Calamities not confined to the wicked;

(2) As against God Himself. No special regard had to those who serve Him. Such indiscriminate procedure maintained in the Book of Ecclesiastes (chap. Job ). One of the facts in the Divine government observed by thoughtful and good men. Both classes suffer alike, as in war, famine, pestilence, earthquake, tempests, &c. Both share equally in the ills and calamities of life. A mystery and a stumblingblock. To be regarded—

(1) As an argument for a future state. The difference between the righteous and the wicked reserved for a future day (Mal ).—

(2) As a trial for faith in the Divine character. Hence the murmurings of unbelieving professors (Mal ; Mal 3:15).

2. Its apparent indifference to the sufferings of the godly (Job ). "If the scourge slay suddenly (or, indiscriminately), he will laugh (or, it laugheth) at the trial of the innocent." The supposed case already asserted (Job 9:22). Job's own case before his view. Providence often has the appearance of cruel indifference to the sufferings of the innocent. The feelings of God's heart not to be judged by the dealings of His hand. Divine "love and hatred" not known by any mere outward dispensation (Ecc 9:1). The godly sometimes "accounted as sheep for the slaughter" (Psa 44:22). The Divine sympathy for the suffering exhibited in the character of Jesus. For a time Jesus Himself also sometimes appeared indifferent to suffering (Mat 15:23-26; Mar 4:38; Joh 11:6). The Divine dealings in the present life are—

(1) Probative;

(2) Disciplinary. The trial of the righteous found at last unto praise, and honour, and glory (1Pe ). Precious metal proved as well as purified by the fire. The scourge that destroys the guilty only tries the good (So Psa 11:5; Psa 7:11).

3. Its apparently unjust partiality (Job ). "The earth is given into the hand of the wicked; he covereth the faces of the judges thereof." Two anomalies—

(1) The wicked are exalted to power, while godly men are depressed;

(2) Tyrants are allowed to reign while rightful rulers are treated with ignominy and put to death (Est . Same sentiment (Psa 12:8). The ungodly styled "the man of the earth" (Psa 10:18). Satan himself the "prince of this world." He and his host the "rulers of the darkness of this world." Godly men in Christ earth's proper judges and rulers (1Co 6:2-3; Rev 1:5). Such often treated in the providence of God as malefactors. Job himself an example (ch. Job 29:7-17; Job 29:25; Job 30:10-23). God the author of civil government. The earth with its various states and governments in His hand. Given over by Him to others according to His will. Often in judgment to bad men (Dan 4:17). By Him kings reign. He putteth down one and setteth up another (Psa 75:7; Dan 2:21). Ruleth in the kingdom of men, and appointeth over it whomsoever he will (Dan 4:17; Dan 4:25; Dan 5:21). Does this in His invisible and mysterious providence, without infringement on man's free will or the operation of second causes. This fact one of the elements in the doctrine of "wisdom," exhibited in this and other inspired books of the same period.

4. The mysterious certainly connected with it. "If not (—if the case be not so), where and who is he [who does these things]?" Or, "if the case be not thus [viz., that God does these things], who is it [that does them]?" The facts undeniable; who but One can be the author of them? Acknowledged mystery in these anomalies in the government of a righteous God. Yet none but God can be the author of them. Earth necessarily under a Supreme Ruler. That Ruler necessarily righteous. The doctrine of two co-ordinate principles not to be admitted. God the author both of good and evil—light and darkness (Isa ). The existence and prevalence of evil in the world, including the elevation of wicked rulers, one of the mysteries in Divine Providence. God the author of evil—

(1) By permission;

(2) By predestination;

(3) By Providence. Satan the author of evil—

(1) Actually;

(2) Subordinately;

(3) Instrumentally. Evil under the Divine government permitted for wise and benevolent purposes. His wisdom and benevolence seen—

(1) In restraining the evil;

(2) In overruling it for good;

(3) In employing it for the exhibition of His own perfections (Psa ). God displays His glory, while "from seeming evil still educing good." Tyrants and evil rulers God's scourge to a guilty land. The terrible and destructive thunderstorm the purifier of the atmosphere. The rainbow the offspring of the dark cloud behind it. The grandest scenery the product of earth's terrible convulsions. The stars shine out most brilliantly from the blackest sky: Deep shadows give effect to the picture—an occasional discord to the music. Old and fractured instruments often yield the sweetest tones. Wicked hands the agencies in man's redemption (Act 2:23).

VI. Reflections on his own pitiful condition (Job ).

1. The rapid termination of his prosperity and his life (Job ). "Now my days are (or, have been) swifter than a post (or, runner,—a state-courier carrying letters or despatches, sometimes travelling a hundred and fifty miles in less than twenty-four hours; dromedaries, able to outrun the fleetest horses, also employed (Est 8:14); they flee (or, have fled) away; they see (or, have seen) no good." Job had not reached the meridian of life. Lived after his troubles a hundred and forty years. His present age probably not more than the half of that. His death, which appeared at hand, therefore sadly premature. His past prosperity accordingly short-lived. In the presence of his now accumulated miseries, his days appear to have witnessed no happiness. Present misery apt to make us overlook past mercy. Two more comparisons to represent the swiftness with which his life had sped to its close—

(1) A reed-skiff or canoe, formed of the papyrus of the Nile, remarkable for its lightness and swiftness (Job ). "They are (or have) passed away as the swift ships" (margin, "ships of desire," or, "ships of Ebeh;" more probably "ships of papyrus," like Isa 18:2.)

(2) An eagle, swiftest of birds, eagerly pouncing down on its prey. "As the eagle hasteth," &c. A frequent comparison. (Sec Deu ; Jer 4:13; 1Sa 4:19.)

Human Life a Voyage

Each individual's life fitly compared to a swift sailing vessel speeding onwards on her voyage.—

1. Constant and rapid progress. No stoppage till we reach the place of destination.—

2. The precise length of the voyage various in each case.—

3. The length of the voyage and the time of its termination previously unknown.—

4. The voyage a most important one to each. All others comparatively insignificant. Its issue an eternity of happiness or woe.—

5. The freight an immortal spirit with boundless capacities.—

6. The place of destination one or other of only two, widely remote from each other in character and situation—a paradise of bliss and a home of glory, or a region of darkness and despair.—

7. Each vessel under the direction of an invisible power that presides at the helm. The helmsman in each case, either the Prince of Life, or the Prince of Darkness. The object of the former is to steer the vessel to glory; that of the latter to wreck it on the shores of death. The first human vessel launched with the former at the helm. Man listening to the flattering proposals of the latter accepted him for his pilot. Since then human life has been started under the influence of the Prince of Darkness, the "god of this world." The choice made by Adam of a pilot, confirmed by his offspring who are born in his likeness. Man might have been hopelessly left to his miserable and ungrateful choice. Mercy, however, places again within his reach a change of pilots. The Prince of Life, having atoned for man's rebellion, offers again to take charge of the vessel. Conscious of their sin and misery, many thankfully accept His offer and safely reach the port of peace. Others, rejecting it, are wrecked on the rocks of eternal ruin.—Two important questions—

(1) Whither am I bound? For heaven or for hell?

(2) Who is my pilot? Christ or the Wicked One?

2. The inability of his efforts to overcome his heaviness (Job ). "If I say, I will forget my complaint (lay aside my lamentation); I will leave off my heaviness and comfort myself (or, I will put away my sorrowful countenance and brighten up), I am afraid of all my sorrow (—I shudder at my accumulated griefs). I know that thou wilt not hold (or, treat me as) innocent" (whatever I may be or may deem myself). A painful struggle between the enlightened spirit, and the flesh aided by the depressing nature of disease and the buffetings of the invisible adversary. Similar struggle in David—"Why art thou cast down?" &c. (Psa 42:5; Psa 42:11; Psa 43:5). The believer often conscious that he ought to rejoice when unbelief forbids him. Much more under the New than the Old Testament to make a child of God "lay aside his sorrowful countenance and brighten up." To "rejoice in the Lord" in the midst of trials, made much easier now than in the days of Job. The aim of Jesus to give his people ground to "rejoice in tribulation," (Joh 14:27; Joh 15:11; Joh 16:33). Enjoined on them (Php 4:1). Their actual experience (Rom 5:3; 1Pe 1:6). Job kept from "brightening up" by the thought that, though conscious of innocence, God would still hold and treat him as guilty. The believer able now to rejoice in the thought that, though conscious of guilt, God for Christ's sake will hold and treat him as innocent, making him accepted in the beloved."

3. His despair of being able to obtain acquittance with God (Job ). "If I be wicked (or simply, ‘I am,' or ‘shall be wicked;' i.e., must be held and treated as such), why then labour I in vain" [to maintain a good conscience or attempt to prove my innocence]? A hard and unbelieving thought of God, suggested by his own carnal nature, and by the enemy who sought to bring him to curse his Maker as arbitrary, tyrannical, and unjust. Satan's old trade (Gen 3:1; Gen 3:4-5). The bitter and ungenerous thought too fondly dwelt upon by Job. Perhaps some secret consciousness of inward corruption, and of the truth as regarded himself (Job 9:30). "If I wash myself with snow-water (the purest to be got), and make my hands never so clean (or, ‘cleanse my hands with lye'—used with oil instead of soap), yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch (or pit), and mine own clothes shall abhor me" (margin, "make me to be abhorred"). The idea: All my attempts to make my heart and life pure will with Thee be utterly vain,—Thou wilt still regard me as impure and abominable. The thought probably suggested by—

(1) his conscious endeavours to maintain purity of heart and life;

(2) his treatment at God's hands being such as apparently to indicate the Divine condemnation. Should have been awakened by—

(1) Conscious corruption;

(2) Apprehension of the Divine purity. So Isaiah (Isa ). So Job himself afterwards (ch. Job 40:4; Job 42:5-6). The language probably now dictated by peevishness and bitterness. Yet true, though in a different sense from that intended. All man's attempts to justify and purify himself before God in vain. He still remains wicked, guilty, and abominable in the sight of a holy God. Man, as a fallen child of Adam, in his very nature corrupt and opposed to God. All self-attempts leave his nature unchanged and polluting all his actions. Such attempts themselves only the offspring of pride and self-righteousness, therefore abominable. Humility and love the only things in a creature acceptable to God. Man's self-attempts leave him destitute of both. Guilt not to be effaced but by an atonement, or satisfaction to Divine justice. The waters of the ocean unable to wash out a single blood-spot of guilt. Only Almighty power able to remove the leopard's spots or whiten the Ethiopian's skin. In Christ provision made both for the removal of guilt and impurity. His blood removes the one, His Spirit's grace the other. From His pierced side came forth both "blood and water" (Joh 19:34; Joh 5:6; Joh 5:8). The true posture of each fallen child of man in Luk 18:13. The prayer (Psa 51:7). The invitation (Isa 1:18. The promise (Eze 36:25). The acceptance (1Jn 1:7. The thanksgiving (Rev 1:5). A gracious plunging of the self-purified into the ditch, in the Divinely awakened consciousness of guilt and corruption. Saul carefully washed at Jerusalem; blessedly plunged in the ditch at Damascus (Act 9:9-11; Act 26:4-5).

4. Job's inability to plead his cause before God (Job ). "For he is not a man as I am, that I should answer him [as defendant at the bar], and that we should come together in judgment" [to plead our respective causes]. Job thinks he has a case against God, as God appears to have one against him. Wishes he could have them tried, but feels that the distance between him and God precludes the thought (Job 9:33). "Neither is there any daysman betwixt us (margin, "one that should argue;" or, "an umpire;" properly, an arbitrator with authority to restrain each party, and to bind them to his decision) that might lay his hand [authoritatively] upon us both." Hence the supposed impossibility of an equal contest. What Job desiderated has, in a much better sense, been provided for sinful man. A daysman, or Mediator, has been found in the person of Jesus Christ—the fellow both of God and man (Zec 13:7). Not to afford man an opportunity of vainly pleading his innocence against God, but of humbly acknowledging his guilt and obtaining mercy (1Jn 2:1; 1Ti 2:5-6). Job imagines he could make good his case but for the Divine power and majesty that overawe him (Job 9:34). "Let him take his rod away from me (—his power, and perhaps the effect of it, his affliction), and let not his fear (or terrible majesty) terrify me. Then, would I speak and not ar him: but it is not so with me" (margin but I am not so with myself;" or, "for I am not so in mind,"—as to fear him in the controversy from any consciousness of guilt). The fear of the Divine majesty the common feeling of humanity. Even the seraphim cover their faces with their wings before God. The doors of the temple and the foundations of Sinai shook at His presence. "A fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." The "rod" of God seen removed in the person and work of Him who was "meek and lowly in heart," and who "suffered for our sins, the Just one in the room of the unjust." The rays of Divine majesty softened in the God-man, Christ Jesus. The Father seen in him who was the "man of sorrows" (Joh 14:9). Jesus the way to the Father. Through Him we enter with boldness into the holiest of all (Joh 14:6; Heb 10:19-22). Christ the true Jacob's ladder. The foot on the earth, and the top reaching to heaven (Joh 1:51; Gen 28:12).

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Job 9:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/job-9.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

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