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Bible Commentaries

The Biblical Illustrator

Job 40

 

 

Verses 1-24

Job 40:1-24

Moreover, the Lord answered Job, and said.

Jehovah’s answer

Its language has reached, at times, the “high-water mark” of poetry and beauty. Nothing can exceed its dignity, its force, its majesty, the freshness and vigour of some of its pictures of nature and of life. But what shall we say next? It is no answer, we may say, to Job’s agonised pleadings. It is no answer to the riddle and problem which the experience and history of human life suggests, even to ourselves. Quite true. There is no direct answer at all. Even those partial answers, partial yet instructive, which have been touched on from time to time by speaker after speaker, are not glanced at or included in these final words. It is as though the voice of God did not deign to repeat that He works “on the side of righteousness.” He only hints at it. Job is not even told the purpose of the fiery trial through which he himself has passed, of those in other worlds than his own who have watched his pangs. No! God reveals to him His glory, makes him feel where he had, gone wrong, how presumptuous he had been. That is all. He does not say, “All this has been a trial of thy righteousness: thou hast been fighting a battle against Satan for Me, and hast received many sore wounds.” Nothing is said of the truth, already mooted and enforced in this Book, that suffering does its perfect work when it purifies and elevates the human soul, and draws it nearer to the God who sends or permits the suffering. Nor is any light thrown on that faint and feeble glimmer of a hope not yet fully born into the world, of a life beyond the grave; of a life where there shall be no more sorrow or sighing, where Job and his lost sons and daughters shall be reunited. The thoughts that we should have looked for, perhaps longed for, are not here. Those who tell us that the one great lesson of the whole book is to hold up the patriarch Job as the pattern of mere submission, mere resignation--those who search in it for a full Thodice, a final vindication, that is, and explanation of God’s mode of governing the world--those, lastly, who find ill it a revelation of the sure and certain hope of a blessed immortality, can scarcely have studied either Job’s language or the chapters before us today. One thought, and one only, is brought into the foreground. The world is full of mysteries, strange, unapproachable mysteries, that you cannot read. Trust, trust in the power, and in the wisdom, and in the goodness of Him, the Almighty One, who rules it. “Turn from the insoluble problems of your own destiny,” the voice says to Job, and says to us. “Good men have said their best, wise men have said their wisest. Man is still left to bear the discipline of some questions too hard for him to answer. We cannot solve them. We must rest, if we are to rest at all, in the belief that He whom we believe to be our Father in heaven, whom we believe to have been revealed in His Son, is good, and wise, and merciful; that one day, not here, the riddle will be solved; that behind the veil which you cannot pierce, lies the solution in the hand of God.” (Dean Bradley.)

The Lord’s answer

I. A Divine reproof that was effectual.

1. Observe the reproof. “Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct Him?”

2. Observe the effect. What was the effect of this appeal? Here it is. “Then Job answered the Lord, and said, Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer Thee?” etc.

II. A Divine comparison that was silencing.

1. It is a comparison between himself and the Great Creator. “Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto Me.” What is thy power to Mine? “Hast thou an arm like God?” What is thy voice to Mine? Canst thou speak in a voice of thunder? What is thy greatness to Mine? “Deck thyself with majesty,” etc. What is thy wrath to Mine? “Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath.” What art thou in My presence? The only effective way of hushing the murmurings of men in relation to the Divine procedure, is an impression of the infinite disparity between man and his Maker.

2. It is a comparison between himself and the brute creation. “Behold now behemoth.” Study this huge creature, and thou wilt find in many respects thou art inferior to him. Therefore be humble, and cease to contend with Me. (Homilist.)


Verses 1-24

Job 40:1-24

Moreover, the Lord answered Job, and said.

Jehovah’s answer

Its language has reached, at times, the “high-water mark” of poetry and beauty. Nothing can exceed its dignity, its force, its majesty, the freshness and vigour of some of its pictures of nature and of life. But what shall we say next? It is no answer, we may say, to Job’s agonised pleadings. It is no answer to the riddle and problem which the experience and history of human life suggests, even to ourselves. Quite true. There is no direct answer at all. Even those partial answers, partial yet instructive, which have been touched on from time to time by speaker after speaker, are not glanced at or included in these final words. It is as though the voice of God did not deign to repeat that He works “on the side of righteousness.” He only hints at it. Job is not even told the purpose of the fiery trial through which he himself has passed, of those in other worlds than his own who have watched his pangs. No! God reveals to him His glory, makes him feel where he had, gone wrong, how presumptuous he had been. That is all. He does not say, “All this has been a trial of thy righteousness: thou hast been fighting a battle against Satan for Me, and hast received many sore wounds.” Nothing is said of the truth, already mooted and enforced in this Book, that suffering does its perfect work when it purifies and elevates the human soul, and draws it nearer to the God who sends or permits the suffering. Nor is any light thrown on that faint and feeble glimmer of a hope not yet fully born into the world, of a life beyond the grave; of a life where there shall be no more sorrow or sighing, where Job and his lost sons and daughters shall be reunited. The thoughts that we should have looked for, perhaps longed for, are not here. Those who tell us that the one great lesson of the whole book is to hold up the patriarch Job as the pattern of mere submission, mere resignation--those who search in it for a full Thodice, a final vindication, that is, and explanation of God’s mode of governing the world--those, lastly, who find ill it a revelation of the sure and certain hope of a blessed immortality, can scarcely have studied either Job’s language or the chapters before us today. One thought, and one only, is brought into the foreground. The world is full of mysteries, strange, unapproachable mysteries, that you cannot read. Trust, trust in the power, and in the wisdom, and in the goodness of Him, the Almighty One, who rules it. “Turn from the insoluble problems of your own destiny,” the voice says to Job, and says to us. “Good men have said their best, wise men have said their wisest. Man is still left to bear the discipline of some questions too hard for him to answer. We cannot solve them. We must rest, if we are to rest at all, in the belief that He whom we believe to be our Father in heaven, whom we believe to have been revealed in His Son, is good, and wise, and merciful; that one day, not here, the riddle will be solved; that behind the veil which you cannot pierce, lies the solution in the hand of God.” (Dean Bradley.)

The Lord’s answer

I. A Divine reproof that was effectual.

1. Observe the reproof. “Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct Him?”

2. Observe the effect. What was the effect of this appeal? Here it is. “Then Job answered the Lord, and said, Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer Thee?” etc.

II. A Divine comparison that was silencing.

1. It is a comparison between himself and the Great Creator. “Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto Me.” What is thy power to Mine? “Hast thou an arm like God?” What is thy voice to Mine? Canst thou speak in a voice of thunder? What is thy greatness to Mine? “Deck thyself with majesty,” etc. What is thy wrath to Mine? “Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath.” What art thou in My presence? The only effective way of hushing the murmurings of men in relation to the Divine procedure, is an impression of the infinite disparity between man and his Maker.

2. It is a comparison between himself and the brute creation. “Behold now behemoth.” Study this huge creature, and thou wilt find in many respects thou art inferior to him. Therefore be humble, and cease to contend with Me. (Homilist.)


Verse 2

Job 40:2

Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct Him?

The equality of God’s dealings

While Job is held up as the model of patience and resignation under God’s chastening hand, we are continually reminded of a certain irritability and restlessness which surprises and distresses us. But a similar difficulty is elsewhere found. David is the model of purity, while there is no saint whose memory is so stained with impurity. Moses is emphatically the type of meekness, while the salient point of his life which attracts our notice is extreme irritability. Manly straightforwardness is the leading feature in the character of Abraham, while a shuffling trick is the one fault by which his memory is marked. Examine this apparent inconsistency in Job. He is brought before our attention as a man deeply impressed with the sense of common fairness, and a dread at seeing success awarded to the wicked, and adversity to the good. His own ease fell under the latter clause, and with no selfish or interested view he makes his own position the opportunity of impugning God’s providence. The leading inconsistency which we have to reconcile is the fact that God should have suspended the law of His moral kingdom in Job’s case, and awarded suffering to the righteous. But if we look a little deeper, we shall see at once that the fairness and justice of God were vindicated and asserted, not infringed, in Job’s case. A challenge had been made by Satan which impugned the justice of God’s estimate of His servant in heaping upon him so many and such abundant blessings. No test could have been more severe than that to which Job was put, and in the end the entire and humble submission of the patriarch to the will of his Maker declared beyond controversy the justice of God’s estimate of His servant, and manifested before Satan and the world the power of saving grace. The object of God is not simply the reward of the good by prosperity, and the punishment of the wicked, but it is also the vindication of His grace and power by the subjection of man to His will, and the manifestation of the sanctity of His elect. There is a seeming inconsistency between Job’s actual life and the character given him. But it must be remembered that the character of the man is generally not the upper surface which catches the eye. It is not the irritated waves and billows of the sea, but that vast belt of waters which girdles the earth below the ever-moving and heaving bosom of the deep, which constitutes the nature of the ocean. That undercurrent of a man’s will and ways is the result of many a contradiction to his natural disposition, and he does not deserve the title of a peculiar character until he has vindicated his right to it by overcoming the influences which are contradictory to it. The natural tendency of Job was that of patient trust in God; it needed the contradiction of circumstances most adverse to that disposition to test and confirm its tendency. Lessons--

1. We little know the reason and cause of God’s dealing with us; we see the handwriting on the wall, but we see not the hand. We know nothing of remote and hidden causes; we only shall know them and understand them, when, at the end of the world, the handwriting is interpreted. We are inclined to blame God’s fairness. But He is fair, He is just. But it is in the whole and complete fulfilment of His scheme that fairness is to be manifested--in the integrity of the drama, not in the isolated scenes.

2. Note the apparent inconsistency of Job’s own character. He began with implicit, unquestioning resignation; his after conduct betrays impatience, and an inclination to argue against those who were apparently pleading the cause of God. The key is found in the last chapter. At the end, his resignation was the result of deep experience, of profound humiliation, and of personal intercourse with God. It is so with us all. A man’s character involves the whole octave--the highest note of it is played in youth, the deepest at the end of the journey of life; the whole is played together in the perfect harmony of heaven.

3. Where lay the fault of Job’s friends? They argued on false premises, and in an improper manner. Censoriousness and love of prejudging human actions are faults which interfere with God’s prerogative, and violate the spirit of true charity.

4. Learn the power of intercession.

5. Very beautiful is the end of Job. Job is a type of the resurrection. (E. Monte.)

Mystery in science and revelation

We may paraphrase the text as follows: Shall man, rebelling against the authority of God, assume to be wiser than the All-wise? Shall he pronounce the ways of God unequal in order to vindicate his own integrity? Is it wisdom in men, surrounded by mysteries and conscious of ill-desert, to fly in the face of heaven and lay their complaints against the God with whom they contend? In that ancient poem, the Book of Job, are embedded some of the profoundest discussions of the problems of life. Most of us are brought, at times, face to face with the question which troubled the man of Uz, “Why is this world one of sin and death?” Why is it that a loving and all-perfect God has permitted such wide-wasting woe? for the suffering is not limited to humankind, but reaches from the worm that crawls beneath our feet through all gradations of animal life, through human and angelic existences up to the right hand of the everlasting throne, where sitteth the crowned Sufferer who wept over Jerusalem, and is the exalted Lamb of Sacrifice, slain from eternity. The question, as I have said, is not new, but old as history. It has been turned over in unnumbered shapes. It has been answered by numberless sages, but reappears in the speculations of every thoughtful mind. It is the shadow that follows us toward the sun, and will disappear only when we walk into the sun, and know even as we are known. And I believe that sometimes nothing will quiet the mind, troubled by the perplexing riddles of evil and pain, so effectually as to consider why it is best for us not to know certain things, or to see how our ignorance in the department of moral evil is equalled by our ignorance in other spheres of truth. This is the lesson which the Lord taught Job. We are surrounded in this world by mysteries which baffle us, or, if we explain one, another lies back of it which defies explanation. These mysteries abound in the realm of science. Says Henry Drummond, “A science without mystery is unknown; a religion without mystery is absurd.” Modern investigation has answered many of the questions which the Lord put to Job; vast additions to human knowledge have been the spoils of hardy efforts; but the unknown is a vaster field now than even then. The circle of knowledge is surrounded by an ever-widening zone of mystery. Geology may have helped us to understand how the cornerstone of the earth was laid, but the question now is, “What is that cornerstone? Whence came it?” Every step backward leads us to mystery, where science closes her lips, and faith speaks out the name of God. Man thinks of the immensities of nature, and he is nothing. He thinks of the minuteness of atoms and molecules, and he seems almost everything. We trespass continually on the domain of the supernatural, the spiritual, the invisible, the Divine; and the Cross of Jesus may well be seen wherever His hand has wrought in the mysteries of creation. God does not think it best to give us completed knowledge, any more than He gives us complete bodily strength, or complete soul development. He demands work of us. Salvation is wrought out with fear and trembling, and we ought to thank God that we are not treated as some rich men treat their sons. God does not want spoiled and pampered children. (John H. Barrows, D. D.)


Verse 3-4

Job 40:3-4

Behold, I am vile.

A humbling confession

Self-examination is of unspeakable importance. The most useful knowledge of ourselves is not that which is physical, but that which is moral; not a knowledge of our worldly affairs, but of our spiritual condition.

I. The self-accusation. “Behold, I am vile.”

1. The quality acknowledged. “Vileness.” “Behold, I am vile.” “Vile,” says Johnson in his Dictionary, is “base, mean, worthless, despicable, impure.” There is nothing in the world to which this will so much apply as sin; and to sin Job referred when he said, “Behold, I am vile.” He does not call himself vile because he was a man reduced, poor, and needy; no man of sense ever would do so. Character intrinsically does not depend Upon adventitious circumstances. If poverty were vileness, as by their discourse some people seem to think, how vile must the apostles have been, who said, “Even to this very hour, we hunger, and thirst, are naked, are destitute, and have no Certain dwelling place!” How vile must that be which leads God to hate the work of His own hands; which leads a God of love to threaten to punish with everlasting destruction from His presence and His power, and which would not allow of His pardoning without the sacrifice of His own Son!

2. Who made this confession? Surely it was some very gross transgressor? No. It was some newly-awakened returning penitent? No. It was Job; a saint of no ordinary magnitude. What, then, do we learn from hence, but that the most eminent saints are the most remote from vain thoughts of themselves? We know that the nearer a man approaches to perfection in anything, the more sensible he becomes of his remaining deficiency, and the more hungry and thirsty he is after improvement. Take knowledge; advancement in knowledge is like sailing down a river; it widens as you proceed, till you are out at sea. A little knowledge puffs a man up, but Sir Isaac Newton was the most modest of men. Not that there is no difference between a saint and a sinner. Job does not mean to intimate that he loves sin, or that he lives in it. His friends accused him of this, which he denied, saying, in his address to God, “Thou knowest that I am not wicked.” “Behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high.” But he knew that sin, though it did not reign in him, yet lived in him, yet opposed him, yet vexed him, yet defiled him; so that he could not do the thing that he would.

3. When was the acknowledgment here uttered, “Behold, I am vile”? It was immediately after God’s interview with him, God’s intercourse with him, God’s addressing him. “Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man, for I will demand of thee, and answer thou Me.” It was after God had further displayed Himself in the perfection of several of His works; it was then that “Job answered the Lord, and said, Behold, I am vile.” And what does this teach us but this--that the more we have to do with God, the more we shall see and feel our unworthiness. Those who have never been abroad to see great things are pleased with littleness, but travelling expands and enlarges the mind, furnishes it with superior objects and images; so that the man is no longer struck, upon his return, with the little rivulet and the little hill, which seemed to astonish him before he went from home, and during his infancy. And when a man has gone far enough, so to speak, to be introduced to God Himself, he will be sure to think afterward very little of himself. Yes, if anything can make us feel our littleness, it must be a view of His wisdom; if anything can make us sensible of our weakness, it must be the view of His almighty sovereignty; if anything can make us feel our depravity, it must be the view of His spotless purity,--the spotless purity of Him “who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, and in whose sight the very heavens are not clean.”

II. To observe how this conviction is produced. You will observe here, that, our inquiry is not after the fact itself. The fact itself is independent of our conviction, or of our belief. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us”; and the heavens will reveal our iniquity, and the earth will rise up against us. Yes, it is a truth, whether we acknowledge it or not, that we are vile; vile by nature, and vile by practice. Let us, therefore, remark the Author and medium alone of this discovery. As to the Author, we make no scruple to say, that it is the Spirit of the blessed God; according to our Saviour’s own declaration, “When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He shall convince the world of sin, because they believe not on Me.” All that is really good in the souls of the children of men is from Him. From Him comes the first pulse of life. Now as to the medium, or instrumentalities, we would observe that these are, principally, the law and the Gospel. The law is one of the principal instrumentalities; for “by the law is the knowledge of sin.” “Sin is the transgression of the law.” The law is always to be used so; and for this purpose the Gospel also is equally instrumental with it. The Gospel teaches us the nature of our disease, by showing us the nature of our remedy. Now this being the Author, and this being the medium of the discovery, observe the mode in which it is accomplished. This is gradual. The thing does not take place all at once; it is effected by degrees. Usually, indeed, it begins with a charging home of one single sin upon the conscience of the man; the sin to which he has been peculiarly addicted, and by which his conscience, therefore, is now alarmed. It is increased by the various events, and by the various dispensations of providence. Little do we know of ourselves, indeed, until we are enlightened, until we meet with our own proper trial. The Christian often supposes that he is worse, because he is wiser than he was. Because he sees more of his inward corruptions, he thinks there are more. He resembles a man in a disagreeable, loathsome dungeon; before the light enters he sees nothing offensive; he knows not what there is there; but as the light enters he sees more and more. “I have heard some people,” says Mr. Newton, “pray that God would show them all the wickedness of their hearts. I have said to myself, It is well that God will not hear their prayer; for if tie did, it would drive them to madness or despair; unless at the same time they had a proportionate view of the work, and the ability, and the love of their Lord and Saviour.”

III. Let us observe the effects of this conviction.

1. One of these effects is evermore wonderment. As if a person had been born and bred up in a subterranean place, and had been raised up and placed upon the earth; the first emotion he would feel would be wonder. Peter tells us that God calls us “out of darkness into His marvellous light.” Not only “light,” but “marvellous light”; seeing as well as wondering. Nothing is more wonderful to the man than what he now sees of himself. That he should have acted in such an ungrateful, such a foolish, such a base manner as he has been doing!

2. Humiliation will be another result of this discovery. Ignorance is a pedestal upon which pride always stands. Self-complacency then will be at an end, and the man will abhor himself, repenting in dust and ashes. Self-justification will also be at an end, and the man will condemn himself.

3. The endearment of the Saviour is another result of this discovery. Why is it there ate so many to whom He has no form nor comeliness, nor any beauty that they should desire Him?--that they can read of Him, that they can hear of Him, that they can talk of Him without feeling any attachment to Him? Why is it, but that, to change the image, as Solomon says, “the full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet”? Or, to use our Lord’s own words, “They that are whole need not a physician.”

4. Submission under afflictive dispensations of providence will be another effect of this discovery. I remember Bunyan says, “Nothing surprised me more when I was first awakened and enlightened, than to see how men were affected by their outward troubles. Not that I was without my troubles, God knows I had enough of them; but what was everything else beside compared to the loss of my poor soul!” So will it be with us if we have the same views and the same feelings. So it is, that an old divine says, “When a sense of sin lies heavy upon the soul, the sense of trouble will be light.”

5. Then gratitude will be another result of this discovery of our vileness. The proud are never grateful. Do what you will--heap whatever favours you please upon them--what reward have you? what thanks have you? They only think you are doing your duty; they think they are deserving of all this. But when a man feels that he is unworthy of the least of all his mercies, how will he feel with regard to the greatest of them?

6. Charity and tenderness towards the faults of others will be a result from this conviction. There is a knowledge of human nature that is far from being sanctified; so far from it that it is even an injury to him that possesses it. Read Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees; read Rochefoucauld’s Maxims; read some of Lord Byron’s works: do you not perceive how they discover, how fully they discover, in a sense, the vileness of human nature? Yes, and they love to dwell upon it; they love to expose the nakedness of our common nature. They always speak of these things with complacency; never with regret; never with anything like reproach of themselves and others. But it is otherwise with the man who has been taught his depravity at the foot of the Cross; who has there been made to say, with Job, “Behold, I am vile.” Such a man will not look for perfection in others, because he is conscious he is destitute of it himself.

IV. The relief of this complaint. For I am persuaded there are persons who are saying, “Well, whatever others may think of themselves, Job’s language is mine. I daily feel it. Whether I am alone or in company--whether I am in the sanctuary or at the table of the Lord”--nothing fits my lips but this acknowledgment, “Behold, I am vile.” Is there any consolation for such? There is much every way.

1. Because God has commanded us, as ministers, to comfort you. We are to tell those whom He has thus made sad that God has commanded them to make merry. Because “the joy of the Lord is their strength.” They never feel gratitude so well as when they are walking in the comforts of the Holy Ghost. You do not remember that the Jews in their passage, when they crossed the Red Sea, came to Marah, where the waters were bitter, as well as to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water, and threescore and ten palm trees. You do not remember in the immortal Pilgrims Progress that there were in the way of the shining light the valley of humiliation and the valley of the shadow of death, as well as the delectable mountains.

2. Remember that this experience is a mercy, and a great mercy; that this experience is essential to all real religion; that it is previous to all true consolation; that it is a proof of the Divine agency in you. “I will take away the heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh.”

3. Remember that all in you is not evil now. Beware, therefore, that you never depreciate not only what God has done for you, but what He has done in you. The work of His Holy Spirit is called a good work; and it is a good work.

4. As all is not vile in you now, so nothing will be vile in you long. No. “The night is far spent, and the day is at hand”; and your warfare will soon be accomplished. (W. Jay.)

Consciousness of sin the result of the manifestation of God

Jehovah’s mode of dealing with Job is very remarkable. He did not enter at all upon the point about which the disputants could not agree. He said nothing whatever about the dispensations of His providence. Nor did He declare whom He chastened, and whom He left unchastened in the world. Of what, then, did He speak? Of the great mysteries of creation and nature, as displaying His glorious majesty, His creative power, His perfect wisdom. The result was striking. Job was strongly convinced of his own ignorance and sinfulness.

I. Job’s deep consciousness of sin. No words could express it more strongly than these, “Behold, I am vile!” It is just the most eminent saints--just those who are most advanced in the knowledge of God, who make use of such words. (See case of Isaiah; and Psalms 51:3.) “Behold, I am vile!” is no exaggerated statement; it is a state and a feeling to which we ought all to be brought--a confession which we ought all to make. If we try to analyse the state of mind expressed by these words, it is quite evident that it is one in which the sinfulness of sin is most deeply felt--in which sin is regarded with great abhorrence, and the sinner views himself with deep self-abasement. There is a Scripture term that suits the idea--“self-loathing” (Ezekiel 36:31). If we endeavour to go a little deeper into this state of mind, we shall find that there are two feelings, carefully to he distinguished from each other, which elicit this solemn confession. The one is “remorse,” the other is “the consciousness of ingratitude towards God.” There is a great difference between remorse and true repentance. Remorse may, and often does, lead to repentance, but very often it stops short of it. Remorse is repentance without grace--the working of the natural heart; whereas repentance is a change of mind, showing itself in real sorrow for sin. The chief difference between “the two lies in the motives. Have you then felt the ingratitude of your heart? Have you realised that every act of sin in which you indulge is an act of ingratitude towards God?

II. The consequences of this deep consciousness of sin. One only is mentioned here--silence before God. The natural heart is very prone to arraign God’s ways. Never, in the language of the world, do you find such words as these, “I will lay my hand upon my mouth.” But the true Christian places authority on her right throne--in God, and not in man,--and aims continually at the grace of silent submission. If you wish to be submissive, pray that you may feel your utter sinfulness. You wish, it may be, to feel your utter sinfulness, pray that God may be manifested to you by the Spirit in Jesus Christ through His Word. (George Wagner.)

Indwelling sin

I. The fact that even the righteous have in them evil natures. Job said, “Behold, I am vile.” He did not always know it. All through the long controversy he had declared himself to be just and upright. But when God came to plead with him, he at once put his finger on his lips, would not answer God, but simply said, “Behold, I am vile.” How many daily proofs you have that corruption is still within you! Mark how easily you are surprised into sin. Observe how you find in your heart an awful tendency to evil, that it is as much as you can do to keep it in check, and say, “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further.” Then how wrong it is, if any of us, from the fact of our possessing evil hearts, think to excuse our sins. Some Christians speak very lightly of sin. There was corruption still remaining, and therefore they said they could not help it. The truly loving child of God, though he knows sin is there, hates that sin.

II. What are the doings of this indwelling sin?

1. It exerts a checking power upon every good thing.

2. Indwelling sin not only prevents us from going forward, at times it assails us, and seeks to obstruct us. It is not merely that I fight indwelling sin; it is that indwelling sin makes an assault upon me.

3. The evil heart which still remaineth in the Christian, doth always, when it is not attacking or obstructing, still reign and dwell within him. My heart is just as bad when no evil emanates from it, as when it is all over vileness in its external developments.

III. The danger we are under from such evil hearts. It arises from the fact that the sin is within us. Remember how many backers thy evil nature hath. Remember also that this evil nature of thine is very strong and very powerful.

IV. The discovery of our corruption. To Job the discovery was unexpected. We find most of our failings when we have the greatest access to God.

V. If we are still vile, what are our duties? We must not suppose that all our work is done. How watchful we ought to be. And it is necessary that we should still exhibit faith in God. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Self-abasement

On the whole, the design of this portion of Scripture is to teach men that, having a due respect to the corruption, infirmity, and ignorance of human nature, they are to lay aside all confidence in themselves, they are to labour continually after an unwavering and unsullied faith, which is the gift of God only, and to submit, with becoming reverence, to the trials which He may call them to endure in this their probationary state. In this book the state of man as a fallen creature is to be manifested. Job’s expressions prove him, at worst,, not to be an irreligious man, but a man possessed of integrity, and too confident in it. And they give peculiar interest to his deep self-abasement and repentance when convinced of sin . . . What further light, what directions, does the Gospel supply in doing this necessary work of repentance and self-humiliation? We are all in danger, while performing the very duties which we owe to God, of placing too great a reliance upon them. Our virtues may be a snare to us. We may misapply to the injury of our soul’s health those very things which are set forth for our good. The great scope and end of Christian doctrine is the consolation, not of those who are vainly puffed up with such fleshly conceits, but of those whose hearts are overcharged with the burden of their sins. There never was, nor is there, any mere man absolutely righteous and free from sin. If Christ hath paid the ransom for all, then were all captives and bondsmen of the great enemy, and under sentence of death. If one have died for all, then were all dead in sin, and none is able to justify himself. (J. C. Wigram, M. A.)


Verse 8

Job 40:8

Wilt thou also disannul My judgment?
Wilt thou condemn Me, that thou mayest be righteous?

The excuses of sinners condemn God

I. Every excuse for sin condemns God.

1. Nothing can be sin for which there is a justifiable excuse.

2. If God condemns that for which there is a good excuse, He must be wrong.

3. But God does condemn all sin.

4. Consequently, every excuse for sin charges blame upon God, and virtually accuses Him of tyranny. Whoever pleads an excuse for sin, therefore, charges God with blame.

II. Consider some of these excuses.

1. Inability. It is affirmed that men cannot do what God requires of them. This charge is blasphemous against God. Shall God require natural impossibilities, and denounce eternal death upon men for not doing what they have no natural power to do? Never.

2. Want of time. If God really requires of you what you have not time to do, He is infinitely to blame.

3. A sinful nature.

4. Sinners, in self-excuse, say they are willing to be Christians. But this is insincere, if they persist in remaining in their sins.

5. Sinners say they are waiting God’s time.

6. They plead that their circumstances are very peculiar.

7. Or that their temperament is peculiar.

8. Or that their health is so poor they cannot get to meeting, and so cannot be religions.

9. Another excuse takes this form--My heart is so hard, that I cannot feel. Learn--


Verse 23

Job 40:23

Behold, he drinketh up a river.

Christian confidence

We have often wondered what was meant by the singular action of behemoth in Job 40:23, “Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth.” What does that mean? It means nothing. The revisers set forth the meaning very clearly, “Behold, if a river overflow he trembleth not”; he is confident though Jordan swell up to his mouth. That is just what men should be who put their trust in God. “Behold, if a river overflow, he trembleth not”; he says, It is all in the hand of God: the river is overflowing my meadows and carrying away my hay harvest, I do not fear or fret, it is not my harvest, it is God’s. “He is confident though Jordan swell up to his mouth”; he does not begin to fear when he sees Jordan, but when Jordan doubles itself, swells, expands, rises, floods over, and comes up to his very neck, and then to his chin, and then to his very mouth, he says, I shall still be saved. Over the brimming river he breathes his assurance of triumph through the power of God. (J. Parker, D. D.)
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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Job 40:4". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/job-40.html. 1905-1909. New York.

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