Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
Job 3:7; Job 7:1-5) he bursts forth into lamentation over the universal doom of sorrow.
I. HIS NATURAL WEAKNESS. (Vers. 1-2.) His origin is in frailty; he is "born of woman." His course is brief, and full of unrest. He sees himself mirrored in all natural things that fleet and pass:
(1) in the flower of the field, briefly blooming, doomed to the speedy scythe;
(2) in the shadow, like that of a cloud, resting for a moment on the ground, then vanishing with its substance. "Man is a bubble," said the Greek proverb (πομφόλυξ ὁ ἄνθρωπος). He is like a morning mushroom, soon thrusting up its head into the air, and as soon turning into dust and forgetfulness (Jeremy Taylor). Homer calls man a leaf; Pindar, the "dream of a shadow."
II. HIS MORAL WEAKNESS. (Vers. 3, 4.) On the natural frailty is founded the moral. And this poor, weak being is made accountable, dragged before the tribunal of God. And yet, asks Job, how is it possible that purity should be exacted of him? How can the product be diverse from the cause; the stream be of purer quality than the source?
III. REASONING AND EXPOSTULATION FOUNDED ON THESE FACTS. (Vers. 5, 6.) If man, then, is so weak, and his life determined by so narrow bounds, were it not the part of Divine compassion and justice to give him some release and respite until his brief day of toil and suffering be altogether spent (comp. Job 7:17; Job 10:20)? It seems to Job, in the confusion of his bewildered thought, that God is laying on him a special and extraordinary weight of suffering, which makes his lot worse than that of the common hireling.
IV. FURTHER IMAGES OF DESPONDENCY. (Vers. 7-12.) Casting his eye upon the familiar scenes of nature, it seems that all things reflect the sad thought of the transiency and hopelessness of man's fate, and even to exaggerate it.
1. Image of the tree The tree may be hewn down, but scions and suckers spring from its well-nourished root; an image used by the prophet to symbolize the spiritual Israel. The stump of the oak represents the remnant that survives the judgment, and this is the source whence the new Israel springs up after the destruction of the old (Isaiah 6:13). But when man is broken down and falls like the trunk of the tree, there is an end of him. This is undoubtedly a morbid perversion of the suggestion of nature. She by the sprouting scion teaches at least the great truth of the continuity and perpetual self-renewal of life, if she can tell no more.
2. Image of the dried-up waters. (Ver. 11.) These forsake their wonted channels and flow in them no more (comp. Job 7:9). So, it seems to the eye of nature, man passes away in a mist from the earthly scene and leaves no trace behind.
3. Image of the abiding heavens. (Ver. 12.) This is introduced, not in illustration of the transient life of man, but in contrast to it (comp. Psalm 89:29, 36, 87). The heavens appear eternally fixed, in contrast to the fluctuating scene below. They look calmly down, while man passes into the sleep of death, and into Sheol, whence there is no return. But when man rises into the full consciousness of his spiritual nature through the revelation of life and immortality, all seems passing compared with the life in God. The heavens shall vanish away like smoke, but God's salvation shall not be abolished. He that doeth the will of God shall abide for ever. - J.
I. IT IS WISE TO BE DILIGENT IN THE FULFILMENT OF DUTY. Days lost cannot be recovered. The duty omitted cannot be afterwards attended to without intrenching upon some other. A watchfulness over the moments saves the hours. Diligence prevents waste, and the days are numbered. Diligence is imperative if life's large work is to be done in its little time. He learns the value of time who diligently applies himself to his work. And no one has any time to lose.
II. The brevity of life is AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO PATIENCE UNDER TROUBLE, The way is not long. The strength is taxed, but not for long. The lit e of "few days" is "full of trouble." Happily it is but for a "few days." Life is not stretched out beyond endurance. And the vision of immortality may gild the horizon as the light of a setting sun. All the future to the humble and obedient is bright, and the present weary march is not longer than can be borne, even by feeble human strength.
III. The brevity of human life may properly act as A SALUTARY CHECK AGAINST ENTERTAINING TOO HIGH AN ESTIMATE OF EARTHLY THINGS. The things of time have their importance - their very great and solemn importance. And he who has a just view of the future will be the more likely to place a just estimate on the present. But he will "sit loose" to things of time. He will remember he is but a sojourner. That the goods and possessions he now calls his own will soon be held by other hands. He will therefore see that he must not put so high a price upon the present as to barter away the future and more durable possessions for it. Life opens to him like a flower in its beauty; it "cometh forth like a flower' in its promise, but it "is cut down." It is vain to build too confidently on such a hope. It is unwise to live wholly for so uncertain a tenure, that fleeth as a shadow and continueth not.
IV. The brevity of human life MAKES IT NEEDFUL THAT MEN SHOULD LOSE NO OPPORTUNITY OF LAYING HOLD ON THE LIFE IMMORTAL. The true preparation for the life to come - the permanent and enduring life - is to occupy this present one with careful and diligent fidelity. Great issues depend upon it. The condition of the future; the attainment of character; the recorded history; the everlasting approval or disapproval of the manner in which life has beer held, which the eternal Judge will pass upon it, and which will be reflected in the solitudes of the individual conscience. - R.G.
I. WHERE IS A COMMON CHARACTER IN ALL HUMAN LIFE. Job seems to be suffering from exceptional troubles. Yet he regards his condition as typical of that of mankind generally. He turns from himself to "man that is born of a woman." We differ in external circumstances, possessions, honours; in bodily, mental, and moral characteristics. But in our fundamental constitution we are alike. The points of resemblance are more numerous than the points of difference.
1. All born of women come in the common descent from the first parents.
2. All are frail and short-lived.
3. All suffer from the troubles of lit e.
4. All sin.
5. All have Christ for their brother, able and willing to be also their Saviour.
6. All may enter the eternal life and dwell for ever in the love of God, on the same conditions of repentance and faith.
II. MAN SHARES THE CHARACTERISTICS OF NATURE. Job sees in nature types of human life. We are a part of nature, and the laws of nature apply to us. This fact should save us from amazement when trouble comes upon us. It is just in the course of nature. We have not been singled out for a miracle of judgment. It is not that God is writing bitter things against us in particular. Oars is part of the general experience of all nature. Our greatest evil, however, is not that which befalls us in the course of nature, but that which we bring upon ourselves unnaturally. There is something monstrous about sin. We feel a gentle pathos in natural sorrow, but we recognize a terrible tragedy, a dark and dreadful curse, in our self made sorrow of sin. That is infinitely worse than the lading of flowers and the fleeing of shadows.
III. NATURE SETS FORTH THE SAD SIDE OF LIFE.
1. Brevity. Man is "of few days." The age of nature is maintained by succession, not by continuance. The race goes on, the individual passes.
2. Trouble. "Full of trouble." "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together" (Romans 8:22). The advance of nature is through conflict and struggle.
3. Frailty. Man is born of a woman, "the weaker vessel" (1 Peter 3:7). The flower, which is the most beautiful thing in nature, is the most fragile. Crushed by a careless step, or nipped by frost, or withered by the very sun that drew out its life and painted its loveliness, it is yet the type of human life. The most exquisite flowers may be the most delicate, and the finest souls the most sensitive. The hot Southern sun quickly turns a garden into a desert. The same fate is found among the most cultivated and valued lives. The flowers are not saved by their beauty and fragrance. Some of the most precious lives are cut down in their prime. The scythe that mows the meadows cuts off the summer flowers in the height of their short-lived beauty. The rough, common fate of man is indiscriminate, laying low the best of men together with their less-valued companions.
4. Unreality. A mere shadow! and a moving shadow! What could be more unsubstantial anti transient? Yet the frailty and changefulness of life make our human existence appear no more real. CONCLUSION. Observe another side of the scene. The very melancholy of the picture suggests that it does not cover the whole field. Nature is not dissatisfied with her changefulness. The flowers do not bewail their untimely end. Man alone looks with sorrow on his fate. The reason is that he is made for something greater. The Divine instinct of immortality is in him. lie is more than a part of nature. A child of God, he is called to share a larger life than that of the natural world. The Christian who is cut down as a frail flower on earth will yet bloom as an immortal flower in Paradise. - W.F.A.
I. EVOLUTION. We are not now concerned with the scientific aspect of the question of evolution. That must be determined by the men of science. But there is a religious aspect of it that calls for attention, because some are dismayed as though evolution had banished God from his universe. Now, if this idea of the world is set forth as a substitute for the theological conception of creation and providence, it is removed from its rightful sphere and made to trespass on a foreign domain, where it cannot justify the claims of its supporters. There it is confronted by Job's question, "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" Evolution signifies a certain kind of progress. But the cause must be equal to the effect. It is contrary to the very law of causation that dead matter should produce life, and that the merely animal should produce the spiritual human being. For every elevation and addition a corresponding cause is needed. If the unclean ape were the ancestor of a saint, something must have been added that was not in the ape. Whence was this? It must have had a cause. Thus we may see that evolution requires the idea of the Divine, not only at the primal creation, but throughout the process.
II. HEREDITY. Men inherit their parents' characters. The man who is not the heir of any estate is yet perforce an heir of the most real kind of property. Now, the past of our race is stained with sin, steeped in iniquity. It is not to be supposed that the succeeding generations will be spotless. Moral guilt cannot be charged till the individual soul has chosen evil, and consented to sin in its own freedom. But the degradation of evil tendencies is in us from our birth. Men are shapen in iniquity and conceived in sin (Psalm 51:5).
III. REDEMPTION. This is offered by God. It cannot come from man. No sinful man could redeem his brethren. To do this would be to bring the clean out of the unclean. We must have a sinless Redeemer. Moreover, as sin has lowered the whole of life, there is need of a perfect Man to raise the type of the race. Even this would not be enough, for the great work is not to set an example, but to transform the world. None but God who created it can do this. Thus we need what we have in Christ - a sinless, perfect Man, who is also the only begotten Son of God.
1. In the individual man. He must first be regenerated. All prior attempts at goodness fail. Really clean words cannot come out of a foul heart. Clean deeds must spring from a clean soul. All the corrupt man's conduct is besmirched with the filth of his own inner life. He must be pure in heart in order to live a truly pure life. The sinner must have a new heart before he can live a new life.
2. In Christian work. He who would lead others from sin must first forsake sin himself. The reformer must be a reformed man. The missionary must be a Christian. To do good we must first be good. - W.F.A.
I. MAN IS GOD'S SERVANT. He is more than the hireling, for whom a hard master cares nothing so long as he can exact the full tale of work. Still, he is the servant. We are not our own masters, and we are not put into the world to do our own will. Our business is to serve.
1. To work. To live for a purpose. Idleness is sin. The man who needs not work to earn his bread should still work to serve his Master.
2. To obey. Our business is just to do God's will in God's way. It is not for us to choose; our duty is to follow the Master's orders.
II. MAN HAS AN ALLOTTED TASK. Each man has his own life-work. Some may be slow in discovering their peculiar vocation. With many this may not be at all what they would have chosen for themselves. Still, if the thought of duty is foremost, all may see that there is something that duty calls them to do. It gives us a great sense of confidence to discover this, and to fling all wild fancies aside in the single desire to accomplish our true life-task. Often the only rule is "Do the next thing;" and if we will but do it, that is just the one task God has called us to.
III. MAN HAS A DAY FOR HIS WORK.
1. A full day. There is the opportunity. God can never require what man is unable to perform. He does not seek the work of eternity from the creature of a day.
2. Only a day. There is no time to be lost. We have but one day for our day's work. If we waste the morning we shall have no second opportunity. This short season should be well filled. If the work is hard it is not interminable. Diligence and patience are becoming in a man who has but one short life for his work.
IV. MAN IS EXPECTED TO ACCOMPLISH HIS WORK. His business is not merely to sway his limbs and exercise his muscles, but to do something effective, to produce. We should all aim at a definite end in our life's work. The village blacksmith can enjoy his rest because
"Something attempted, something done, V. MAN CANNOT ACCOMPLISH HIS WORK WITHOUT GOD'S CO-OPERATION. Job prays that God will not hinder him. if, indeed, God did oppose a man in his life's work, that man would be certainly doomed to failure, it is hard enough to succeed in any case; it is impossible to do so when God is frustrating our efforts. No one can defeat Providence. But it is not enough to be let alone. Job desires that God will look away from him, for the look of anger blasts and withers. But we may pray that God will look upon us in favour and helpfulness. The greatest success in the world was accomplished by men who were "fellow-workers with God" (2 Corinthians 6.). - W.F.A.
V. MAN CANNOT ACCOMPLISH HIS WORK WITHOUT GOD'S CO-OPERATION. Job prays that God will not hinder him. if, indeed, God did oppose a man in his life's work, that man would be certainly doomed to failure, it is hard enough to succeed in any case; it is impossible to do so when God is frustrating our efforts. No one can defeat Providence. But it is not enough to be let alone. Job desires that God will look away from him, for the look of anger blasts and withers. But we may pray that God will look upon us in favour and helpfulness. The greatest success in the world was accomplished by men who were "fellow-workers with God" (2 Corinthians 6.). - W.F.A.
I. THE PRESENT LIFE OF MAN PRESENTS CHARACTERISTICS OF IMPERFECTNESS WHICH INDICATE THAT THIS CANNOT BE THE COMPLETE VIEW OF LIFE.
II. THE MORAL, SPIRITUAL, AND INTELLECTUAL CAPABILITIES WHICH ARE OBVIOUSLY BUT PARTIALLY CALLED INTO PLAY DEMAND OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES FOR THEIR FULL DEVELOPMENT, AND INDICATE THE INCOMPLETENESS OF THE VIEW OF LIFE WHEN. CONFINED TO THE PRESENT ONLY.
III. THE ASPIRATIONS OF MEN TOWARDS CONDITIONS THAT CANNOT BE ATTAINED IN THIS LIFE ARE A TESTIMONY TO ITS INCOMPLETENESS.
IV. THE IDEALS OF LIFE ARE SO FAR SUPERIOR TO THE REALIZATIONS, THAT THEY BECOME A CONSTANT PROPHECY OF SOMETHING BETTER AND HIGHER THAN THE PRESENT LIFE.
V. THE HOPE OF HIGHER CONDITIONS THAN THE PRESENT IS STRONGEST IN THE BEST AND PUREST SOULS.
VI. THE PAINFULNESS OF THE PRESENT WITH THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF CAPACITY FOR GREAT AND PURE ENJOYMENT A FURTHER EVIDENCE OF THE INCOMPLETENESS OF LIFE IF THE VIEW BE RESTRICTED TO THE PRESENT.
VII. ALL IS SATISFIED IN' THE SUBSEQUENT REVELATIONS, AND IN THE CALM ASSURANCE THEY GIVE OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD AND THE LIFE OF THE WORLD TO COME. - R.G.
I. THE CRAVING FOR IMMORTALITY IS INSTINCTIVE. The craving may be hidden by more pressing desires of the moment; it may even be crushed by despair. But it is not the less natural and instinctive. For when we come to ourselves and calmly reflect on life and its issues, we cannot be satisfied that death should end all. Then there wakes up in us a deep, insatiable hunger for life. The essential characteristic of this desire is its craving for more than the repose of a future that is rescued from the turmoil of this present time; its object is life. It is not enough for us that an end may come to our present troubles, That is all Job desired at first (see ch. 3), but now a deeper thought stirs in his breast, and he thinks of the possibility of living again. Surely it is a miserable degradation of this instinct of immortality that represents the future blessedness as chiefly consisting in indolent repose.
II. NATURE DOES NOT SATISFY THE CRAVING FOR IMMORTALITY. Job turns to the analogies of nature. They are obscure and contradictory. The tree that has been cut down will sprout again from its roots. But is this life the fate of man? "Man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?" Has he any root remaining that can be quickened at the scent of water? Then if the tree sprouts again, there are other things in nature that cease altogether, e.g. the stream that is entirely dried up. May not man's fate be like these temporal things that come to an end? We look for analogies in the awakening spring, in the emerging of the butterfly from the chrysalis, in the return of day after night. These analogies afford but faint suggestions, little more than fanciful illustrations, Nature does point to the existence of an unseen universe, but she gives us little, if any, hints as to our share in the life beyond the present and the seen.
III. CHRIST SATISFIES THE CRAVING FOR IMMORTALITY. He has brought "life and incorruption to light through the gospel" (2 Timothy 1:10).
1. By his revelation of God. In Christ we see God as our Father. Such a God cannot mock us with a delusion, cannot plant an instinct in us for which there is no satisfaction. All other instincts have their objects provided. A good Father will not let this starve and pine into disappointment.
2. By his direct teaching. Christ said little about the future life, but that little was clear, unhesitating, emphatic. He made no mention of harps and palms, but he said, "I am the Resurrection, and the Life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" (John 11:25).
3. By his own resurrection. He is "the Firstfruits from the dead" (1 Corinthians 15:20). One man has risen. This is enough to show that death does not end all.
4. By his saving grace. He not only reveals the life beyond. He gives the life eternal. A mere shadowy existence in Hades would be no boon; an existence of torment in Gehenna would be a curse. We want a full and glorious life. That is not ours by nature; it is the gilt of God (Romans 6:23); and it is received through Christ (1 John 5:11, 12). - W.F.A.
out' for want of definite knowledge, into darkness.
I. LONGING FOR CONCEALMENT IN HADES FOR A SEASON. (Ver. 13.) The intense desire, so frequently repeated, for a respite, marks the extremity of intolerable anguish. And if the source of it b,- God's wrath, perhaps in time his heart will relent. Then let the appointed judgment be held, and the decision be made. At least may the wrath of God not pursue him into the darkness of the other world!
II. A FUTURE LIFE SUGGESTED. (Ver. 14.) For if there is to be a future judgment, there must be a future life to be the subject of it. Perhaps this is the greatest question man can ask without the light of the gospel. But some preliminary answer is here suggested for a moment, though Job does not grasp it firmly, that the future life is guaranteed by the justice and the love of God. But it is observable how the very faintest thought of the possibility gives a new turn to feeling. Patience can only exist when there is hope. And Job feels he could patiently wait all the days of his earthly service were that hope assured. It awakens joy. A happy change must occur. The misunderstandings of the present will clear away. And with this is connected again the glimmering of -
III. THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF MAN'S ETERNAL RELATION TO GOD. The heart is made for God. How gladly, when he appears from out the clouds and darkness that surround him, will the heart respond to his call! God yearns for man. Man is his creature, his handiwork, his offspring. He cannot but regard man with tenderness, with eternal interest. Here again we find at the bottom of the patriarch's heart the germ of that faith which the bright rays of the gospel were to bring to flower (ver. 15). The revolt of the heart from false views of God. The picture of One who numbers his steps, and has an eye only for his sins, is inconsistent with the filial consciousness of God (ver. 16). Yet there may be insufficient knowledge or faith to overcome this prevailing mood of despair (comp. Job 10:8-12). - J.
I. THE EAGER, UNSATISFIED CRY OF MEN APART FROM DIVINE REVELATION.
II. THE PARTIAL UNFOLDING OF THE TRUTH IN THE EARLIER REVELATIONS.
III. THE PERFECT AND UNEQUIVOCAL REVELATION MADE BY JESUS CHRIST Of this last we may notice.
1. Christ's teachings all proceed on the assumption that there is a future life.
2. His teachings are constantly supported by an appeal to the future conditions of reward and punishment.
3. Very much of his teaching would be unmeaning and inexplicable in the absence of such future.
4. But he crowns all his teaching by himself becoming the Disputant, and affirming and demonstrating the future life. "But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed in the place concerning the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, anti the God of Jacob. Now he is not the God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him."
5. He crowns all by the raising of the dead to life, and by the example of his own triumph over death. But Job had not this consolation, and he still abides in gloom, as must all who have not the perfect revelation of God. - R.G.
I. HE STILL ABOUNDS WITH VARIED FIGURES, THE VERY ELOQUENCE OF COMPLAINT. God has taken his sins and placed them as in a bag, sealed for safety of deposit, that they may be reproduced against him. He appears like an accuser who heaps up scandals and offences against the unhappy object of his wrath (ver. 17).
II. IN THIS LIGHT OF PERSONAL EXPERIENCE HE FURTHER CONTEMPLATES THE CONDITION OF MANKIND.
1. The impossibility of resistance to their doom. (Vers. 18, 19.) Mountains and rocks are dissolved, hard stones are gradually dislocated, by the continuous action of water; their fragments are carried away by the flood. Much more must the feeble body of man give way at last. And so his mind must surrender the kindled light of God, which God destroys!
2. The overmastering power of God. (Vers. 20-22.) The mighty warrior overcomes the feeble resistance of his foe, and releases him only when he has set him before his face and given him a proof of his pre-walling three So God only releases man in death when all his beauty has passeth away, and there remains but the hideous corpse. In the lower world consciousness fails him; he knows nothing of the things of earth, joyous or sad; can render no help to the dear ones who survive him. In the lower world the dead man, without activity or energy, endures his bodily and mental pain in dreary solitude and stillness. So ends again this address with the gloomiest, most despondent outlook as to the other world, relieved only toe a moment by the fugitive hope of the life to come. LESSONS.
1. The heart has an instinct for immortality, derived from its revolt from extreme pain. Something within us tells us that we were not made to be eternally, irrecoverably miserable.
2. The truth of a future life comes in flashes upon the mind; for its retention we need the support of positive revelation.
3. The natural weakness and frailty of man is complemented by his spiritual power and greatness as partaker of an endless life. - J.
I. WE CANNOT TAKE BACK OUR SINS. They are ours before we have let them loose on the world. Then they pass out of our control. They may wander far in their mischievous effects, or they may be checked by the providence of God. But, in any case, they have passed away from us beyond all chance of recovery. The bag in which God puts our sins is sealed, and it is impossible for us to break the seals. We may well be on our guard against producing those evil things that we cannot hold in or suppress.
II. OUR SINS ARE WITH GOD. He has them in his bag. We may not have thought that he noticed our conduct, and we may not have considered that our wickedness was an offence against God. Yet God could not be indifferent to our violation of his laws. Our first dealings with our sins was in the privacy of our own hearts. When we next meet them they will be in God's possession, thoroughly examined by him, and ready to be used as he thinks fit in his judgment of us.
III. OUR SINS ARE RESERVED FOR THE FUTURE. We do not now see them; they are sealed up in God's bag. The judgment is not yet. Because it is delayed many men refuse to expect it, and grow indifferent to their guilt. But time will not alter it. We cannot expect future immunity because we enjoy present forbearance. How is the time for repentance. If the opportunities the present affords are neglected, can they be pleaded in extenuation of our guilt when at last we are called up for judgment?
IV. IT IS OUR IMPENITENCE, NOT GOD'S WILL, THAT CAUSES OUR SINS TO BE SEALED UP IN GOD'S BAG. In the dreadful anguish and perplexity of his soul, Job seemed driven to the conclusion that God was carefully treasuring up his sins out of a spirit of opposition to him. Such an idea is quite impossible to one who knows God as he is revealed in Christ. God cannot delight himself in retaining our sins. They are no treasures for him. He would much rather be rid of them. The seal that holds them is our hard heart.
V. THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST BREAKS THE SEAL OF SINS. Those sins that are still retained can yet be cast away, and the offer of forgiveness means that the bag may be opened. The past is not irreparable. Although it cannot be reversed, it may be forgiven and forgotten. Christ has taken the great bag of the world's sins as a heavy burden upon his own shoulders. He has carried it with him to the grave. He has left it there, buried with the dark, bad past, and he has risen without it in a new life, triumphant and redemptive. Now, the preaching of his gospel is the declaration that for every sinner who repents and trusts Christ the bag of sins is gone; it will be remembered no more. Those who dread the reappearance of their sins as witnesses against them may have a sure hope of escaping them in the atoning work of Christ. - W.F.A.
I. THE PROCESS. Job compares the process of providence to the action of the winter torrents in the wadys of a desert region. Few phenomena in nature are more striking to those who examine them than those of erosion. A small trickling stream cuts through a great hill, and makes a deep winding valley. Water constantly flowing over granite rocks smooths the hard stone and wears it away, eating its course through the most solid cliffs. The falls of Niagara are receding, and in front of them is seen an ever-lengthening chasm as the river continually cuts away the rock over which it pours. This process is compared by Job to the friction of time anti trouble.
1. From apparently feeble causes. The water does not seem capable of effecting the marvellous results that are attributed to it. Slight causes may have great issues.
2. By slow degrees. The worst and the best things are both produced slowly. We cannot judge of the process by its immediate effects.
3. With irresistible force. We cannot resist time. The slow course of providence is a river that cuts through all opposition. It is impossible for man to succeed when he opposes God; for the very rock is worn by the waters that wash over it. Thus vain hopes perish. The worst troubles are not sudden blows, but wearing anxieties and gnawing griefs.
II. ITS LESSONS. Job drew from the process only a conclusion of despair, or at best an expostulation with God for bringing his irresistible might to bear on so feeble a creature as man. But other and wider conclusions may be inferred.
1. It is foolish to trust in our own hopes. They may be solid as granite, and yet time and disappointment may wear them away. The robustness of the hopes is no guarantee of their permanence. The sanguine man is not kept secure by his self-confidence.
2. We should examine the character of our hopes. Low hopes fail first. The stream runs through the valley, sparing the crags on the mountain-top, though these are exposed to all the fury of the gale, and only wearing those that lie in its sunken course. There is safety in elevation of character.
3. The failure of earthly hopes is designed to turn our mind to heavenly hopes. God does not frustrate every hope of man. Job's idea is the fruit of his despair. Foolish hopes are destroyed, and even innocent hopes, in some cases, in order that we may build higher and found our true hopes on the immovable rock of God's truth. The Rock of Ages is never worn by the waters of time or trouble.
4. The destroying process carries away much that we are glad to lose. It does not select the rich treasures and pleasant experiences of life. Job thought that God carefully sealed up his sin in a bag (ver. 17), while he destroyed his hope as with the waters that wear the stones. But when a man truly repents, God washes away his sins, and gives him a good and enduring hope. Many troubles are worn away by the slow but sure erosion of the waters of time. Even while we fear them they are being lessened for us. God's destructive agencies are all directed by his supreme goodness. We need not fear the wearing waters if we are reconciled to the God who directs their course, and says to the flood, "Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further, and here shall thy proud waves be stayed." - W.F.A.