Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
Moreover Job continued his parable, and said,Job 29:2
At the close of his paper on Good-Nature (Spectator, No. 171), Addison quotes this chapter as one of 'several passages which I have always read with great delight in the book of Job. It is the Account which that Holy Man gives of his Behaviour in the Days of his Prosperity; and, if considered only as a human Composition, is a finer picture of a charitable and good-natured man than is to be met with in any other author.' 'People do not dream when they are happy. For the last few days,' says Miss Thackeray of her heroine, Catherine, in The Village on the Cliff, 'she had remembered without bitterness. Life seemed to have grown suddenly bearable, and almost easy once more. If she had known how short a time her tranquillity was to last, she might have made more of it perhaps, and counted each minute as it passed. But she did not know, and she wasted many of them as she was doing now, as we all do, in unavailing hankering and regrets—precious little instants flying by only too quickly, and piping to us very sweetly, and we do not dance. Looking back, one laments not so much the unavoidable sorrows of life, as its wasted peace and happiness, and then more precious minutes pass in remorse for happiness wasted long ago.'
References.—XXIX. 2.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. i. No. 81. XXIX. 2-4.—Ibid. vol. xvii. No. 1011.
'When I get down to my home from this House,' said Bright in the House of Commons during the American Civil War, 'I find half a dozen little children playing upon my hearth. How many Members are there who can say with me, that the most innocent, the most pure, the most holy joy which in their past years they have felt, or in their future years they have hoped for, has not arisen from contact and association with our precious children?'
Job 29:7 f.
To Sir Alexander Ball exclusively the Maltese themselves attributed their emancipation; on him, too, they rested their hopes of the future. Whenever he appeared in Valetta, the passengers on each side, through the whole length of the street, stopped and remained uncovered till he passed, the very clamours of the market-place were hushed at his entrance, and then exchanged shouts for shouts of joy and welcome. Even after the lapse of years he never appeared in any one of their casals, which did not lie in the direct road between Valetta and St. Antonio, his summer residence, but the women and children, with such of the men who were not at labour in their fields, fell into ranks, and followed, or preceded him, singing the Maltese song which had been made in his honour, and which was scarcely less familiar to the inhabitants of Malta and Gozo than 'God save the King' to Britons. 'When he went to the gate through the city, the young men refrained talking; and the aged arose and stood up. When the ear heard, then it blessed him; and when the eye saw him, it gave witness to him: because he delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and those that had none to help them. The blessing of them that were ready to perish came upon him; and he caused the widow's heart to sing for joy.'
—Coleridge in The Friend.
Reference.—XXIX. 16.—J. Baldwin Brown, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xx. pp. 264, 280.
We seem to learn from these anticipations of Job in the days of his former prosperity and comfort the delusions relative to things tending to their own good and to the glory of God, which may especially be imposed upon the godly in seasons of great and uninterrupted prosperity.
I. An overrated estimation of their own comfort, 'I shall die in my nest'. If your hearts are in heaven, you will find your conflicts upon earth, which will effectually hinder you from the making of nests in a world of sin and sorrow.
II. A forgetfulness of their character as strangers and pilgrims upon earth, 'I shall multiply my days as the sand'. Job manifested the presumption of long life, on which the rich man went, who is the subject of a parable in the gospel, 'Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee, then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?'
III. A disposition to estimate their time upon earth, rather upon the score of its comfort, or its duration than of its usefulness. What is the value of all that comfort to a sinner in which God is not glorified? What is the value of multiplied days, if they do not speak to the praise of Jehovah?
—W. Borrows, Select Sermons, p. 216.
Reference.—XXIX. 20.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxviii. No. 1649.
How easy it is to shed human blood! How much in all ages have wounds and shrieks and tears been the cheap and vulgar resources of the rulers of mankind! How difficult and noble it is to govern in kindness, and to found an empire upon the everlasting basis of justice and affection!... The vigour I love consists in finding out wherein subjects are aggrieved, in relieving them, in the laborious, watchful, and difficult task of increasing public happiness by allaying each particular discontent.
—Sydney Smith, Peter Plymley's Letters (ix.).
Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me;
When his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness;
As I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle;
When the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were about me;
When I washed my steps with butter, and the rock poured me out rivers of oil;
When I went out to the gate through the city, when I prepared my seat in the street!
The young men saw me, and hid themselves: and the aged arose, and stood up.
The princes refrained talking, and laid their hand on their mouth.
The nobles held their peace, and their tongue cleaved to the roof of their mouth.
When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me:
Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him.
The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy.
I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.
I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame.
I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out.
And I brake the jaws of the wicked, and plucked the spoil out of his teeth.
Then I said, I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days as the sand.
My root was spread out by the waters, and the dew lay all night upon my branch.
My glory was fresh in me, and my bow was renewed in my hand.
Unto me men gave ear, and waited, and kept silence at my counsel.
After my words they spake not again; and my speech dropped upon them.
And they waited for me as for the rain; and they opened their mouth wide as for the latter rain.
If I laughed on them, they believed it not; and the light of my countenance they cast not down.
I chose out their way, and sat chief, and dwelt as a king in the army, as one that comforteth the mourners.