Job 21
Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
But Job answered and said,
Job 21:7; Job 21:9

'Napoleon,' observes Lord Rosebery, 'is often only thinking aloud in the bitterness of his heart,' in his conversation on religion, 'as when he says that he cannot believe in a just God punishing and rewarding, for good people are always unfortunate and scoundrels are always lucky: "look at Talleyrand, he is sure to die in his bed".'

Quoting this and similar passages from Job in the fourth chapter of his Service of Man, Mr. Cotter Morison adds: 'Probably few religious persons have escaped the bitterness of feeling that they were unjustly chastened, that the rod of God was upon them and not upon the wicked. They no doubt repelled the thought with an apage Satana! regarding it as a snare of the tempter. But because the thought was banished from the mind, was the load removed from the heart? This is a trial which theologians must admit is all their own—a clear addition to the weary weight "of all this unintelligible world". Agnostics, at least, when smitten by the sharp arrows of fate, by disease, poverty, bereavement, do not complicate their misery by anxious misgivings and painful wonder why they are thus treated by the God of their salvation. The pitiless brazen heavens overarch them and believers alike; they bear their trials, or their hearts break, according to their strength. But one pang is spared them, the mystery of God's wrath that He should visit them so sorely.'

Job 21:14

'There is a story,' says Mr. C. H. Pearson in his National Life and Character (p. 283), 'that an Ultramontane speaker in an Austrian Parliament addressed the House with the interrogation: "I suppose we all believe in the Church?" and was met with a shout from the left, "We believe in Darwin". What is apprehended is that the whole world may come to be divided in the same way, and that the disciples of Darwin—or of Darwin's successor—will be the more numerous.'

References.—XXI. 15.—A. F. Forrest, Christian World Pulpit, No. 12, 1890. XXI. 29-31.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vii. No. 410.

Job 21:34

'Once more,' in this chapter, says Mark Rutherford, 'Job takes his stand on actual eyesight. He relies, too, on the testimony of those who have travelled. He prays his friends to turn away from tradition, from the idle and dead ecclesiastical reiteration of what had long ago ceased to be true, and to look abroad over the world, to hear what those have to say who have been outside the narrow valleys of Uz. Job demands of his opponents that they should come out into the open universe.... Herein lies the whole contention of the philosophers against the preachers. The philosophers ask nothing more than that the conception of God should be wide enough to cover what we see; that it shall not be arbitrarily framed to serve certain ends.'

Vain Comfort

Job 21:34

The gloomiest of all Job's utterances.

I. He no longer cries, My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me? There is that within him that would forbid even this sacred cry to pass his lips. If He who rules the world habitually leaves it to misrule, if it is a world in which favour is lavished on the bad, and the tide of misery flows at random on His best servants, what avails the complaint, the prayer, the appeal, the cry?

II. The righteous must hold on his way, in gloom and darkness. He must do what he can, bear what he can of his burden of sorrow or of doubt. For clouds and darkness are around him, and his eye cannot pierce to the sky that lies behind.

III. He knew not that, as his earlier submissiveness and resignation had won the attention of the dwellers in other spheres than earth, so his wild complaints could win the sympathy and touch the heart of far distant ages. He knew not, but he was soon to be taught, that his Heavenly Father looked gently on His erring child; on his wild perplexity and despairing words; and that the spark of faith, which would not be extinguished, was infinitely dear in that Father's sight.

—G. G. Bradley, Lectures on the Book of Job, p. 156.

Hear diligently my speech, and let this be your consolations.
Suffer me that I may speak; and after that I have spoken, mock on.
As for me, is my complaint to man? and if it were so, why should not my spirit be troubled?
Mark me, and be astonished, and lay your hand upon your mouth.
Even when I remember I am afraid, and trembling taketh hold on my flesh.
Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power?
Their seed is established in their sight with them, and their offspring before their eyes.
Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them.
Their bull gendereth, and faileth not; their cow calveth, and casteth not her calf.
They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance.
They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ.
They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave.
Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.
What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?
Lo, their good is not in their hand: the counsel of the wicked is far from me.
How oft is the candle of the wicked put out! and how oft cometh their destruction upon them! God distributeth sorrows in his anger.
They are as stubble before the wind, and as chaff that the storm carrieth away.
God layeth up his iniquity for his children: he rewardeth him, and he shall know it.
His eyes shall see his destruction, and he shall drink of the wrath of the Almighty.
For what pleasure hath he in his house after him, when the number of his months is cut off in the midst?
Shall any teach God knowledge? seeing he judgeth those that are high.
One dieth in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet.
His breasts are full of milk, and his bones are moistened with marrow.
And another dieth in the bitterness of his soul, and never eateth with pleasure.
They shall lie down alike in the dust, and the worms shall cover them.
Behold, I know your thoughts, and the devices which ye wrongfully imagine against me.
For ye say, Where is the house of the prince? and where are the dwelling places of the wicked?
Have ye not asked them that go by the way? and do ye not know their tokens,
That the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction? they shall be brought forth to the day of wrath.
Who shall declare his way to his face? and who shall repay him what he hath done?
Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb.
The clods of the valley shall be sweet unto him, and every man shall draw after him, as there are innumerable before him.
How then comfort ye me in vain, seeing in your answers there remaineth falsehood?
Nicoll - Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

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