Job 3
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
This book, so entirely true to nature, presents here one of the darkest moods of the grief-stricken heart. The first state is that of paralyzed silence, dumbness, inertia. Were this to continue, death must ensue. Stagnation will be fatal. The currents of thought and feeling must in some way be set flowing in their accustomed channels, as in the beautiful little poem of Tennyson on the mother suddenly bereaved of her warrior-lord-

"All her maidens, wondering, said,
She must weep or she must die." A period of agitation ensues when the mind resumes its natural functions; and the first mood that succeeds to silent prostration is that of bitter resentment and complaint. As we hail the irritability of a patient who has been deadly sick as the sign of returning convalescence, so we may look upon this petulance of grief when it finds at length a voice. We do not blame; we pity, and are tender towards the irritable invalid whose heart we know to be in its depth patient and true; and he who knows the heart better than we do is forbearing with those wild cries which suffering may wring from even constant and faithful bosoms like Job's. We may read these words of passion with consideration if God can listen to them without rebuke. There are three turns in the thought here expressed.

I. THE SPIRIT OF MAN IN REVOLT FROM LIFE. Curses on the day of his birth. (Ver. 1-10.) There seems to be some reference to the ancient belief, which we find in later times among the Romans, in unlucky or ill-starred days. Such a day, to the sufferers present feeling, must have been the day of his birth. But he will learn better by-and-by. He cannot see things rightly through the present medium of pain. True religion teaches us - the Christian religion above all - that no "black" days are sent us from him who causes his sun to shine on the evil and the good. It is only ill deeds that make ill days. We have met with Job's complaint again and again in different forms. Men and women have complained that they were brought into the world without their consent being asked, and sometimes passionately exclaim, "I wish I had never been born!" Let us admit what our calm and healthy judgment dictates - these feelings are morbid and transitory; and they are partial, because they represent only one, and that an extreme, mood of the ever-changing mind. We must take our morning, not our midnight, moods if we would know the truth about ourselves. The instinct which leads us to keep birthdays with joy and mutual congratulation should instruct us in our debt of thankfulness: "Thanks that we were men!"

II. THE IRRATIONALITY OF DESPAIR. (Vers. 11-19.) But such wishes against the inevitable and for the impossible, the mind, even in the paroxysm of despair, feels to be absurd. It sinks to a degree less irrational in the next wish that an early death had prevented all this misery. Would that a frost had nipped the just-blown flower (vers. 11, 12)! Yet this mood is only a shade less unreasonable than the former. For does not the instinct which leads us all to speak of death in infancy and early childhood as "untimely, premature," rebuke this fretfulness, and witness to the truth again that life is a good? And does not the common aspiration after "length of days," so marked in the Old Testament, supply another argument in the same direction? Job will yet live to smile, from out of the depths of a serene old age, at these passionate clamours of a turbulent grief. Again, he passes into the contemplation of death with pleasure, with a deep craving for its rest. He describes, in simple, beautiful language, that final earthly resort, where agitated brains and restless hearts find at last peace (vers. 17-19). Such a sentiment, again, is common to the experience of suffering hearts, is deeply embedded in the poetry of the world. But how far more common and frequent the happy, healthy mood which finds a zest and relish in the mere sense of existence, in the simple, natural pleasures of every day! The longing for the rest of the grave is the mood of intense weariness and disease; and it is counteracted by the mood of restored health, which longs for activity, even in heaven. Well has that poet, who has entered so deeply into all the phases of modern sadness, sung -

"Whatever crazy Sorrow saith,
No life that breathes with human breath
Hath ever truly longed for death.
life whereof our nerves are scant;
Oh, life, not death, for which we pant;
More life and fuller, that we want."

III. INTERROGATION OF LIFE'S MYSTERIES. (Vers. 20-26.) Once more, from longing for death, the distressed mind of the sufferer passes to impatient questioning. Why should life, if it is to be given to any, be given to sufferers who desire death? why should it be given to him who can find no rest, who is ever in dread of fresh woes? This complaint, again, is natural, but it is not wise. We are impatient of pain; we should otherwise have no quarrel with the mystery of being. But pain is a great fact in the constitution of the world; it is there; it is there evidently by Divine appointment; it cannot be glozed over nor explained away. The wisdom of piety is in reconciling ourselves to it as the dispensation of God, in submitting to it as his will, supporting it with patience. Then, "though no affliction for the present be joyous, but grievous, yet afterward it will yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness" (Hebrews 12:11). In hope let us -

"Strain through years
To catch the far-off interest of tears." To the question of Job the answer is - Suffering is the signet of a majestic being. The light of eternity, falling athwart our tears, forms a rainbow prophetic of our glorious destiny. But the final and most significant of all answers is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is the union of highest life with extremest suffering. Born to suffer, and by suffering to be made perfect, the Lord Jesus Christ supplies for them that trust in him a power by which they can rise out of the mysterious darkness of pain, believing that what is tried, even as by fire, shall be found unto praise and honour and glory at his appearing. The study of this paroxysm of extreme pain of mind will be instructive if it help us to govern any similar moods which may arise in our own minds. LESSONS.

1. There is a natural and precious relief from mental pain in words,

"Poor breathing orators of miseries!
Let them have scope; though what they do impart
Help nothing else, yet they do ease the heart."

2. God, our gracious Father, is not offended by our sincerity. Greater than our hearts, he knows all things. This book and many of the psalms teach us a childlike piety by repeating words in which sufferers poured forth all their complaints as well as thanksgivings into the ear of him who misunderstands nothing.

3. There is an exaggeration in all the moods of depression. We are prone to overstate the ills of life, and to forget the numberless hours of joy in which we have instinctively thanked God for the blessing of existence.

4. The very intensity and exaggeration of such moods point forward to a reaction. They will not continue long in the course of nature. God has mercifully so constructed this fine mechanism of body and mind that these extremes bring their own remedy. Patience, then. The hour is darkest that is nearest the dawn. "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." - J.

Frail is the heart of man. With all its heroism, its endurance and power, yet the stout heart yields and the brave spirit is cowed. The strongest bends beneath the heavy pressure. But if the human life is to be truthfully presented, its failures as well as its excellences must be set forth. It is an evidence that the writer is attempting an impartial statement, and in the midst of his poetical representations is not led away to mere extravagance and exaggeration in depicting the qualities of the righteous man. Job's strength of heart receives a shock. He is in the whirlpool of suffering and sorrow. He will recover himself in time; but for the present he is as one who has lost his balance. Let it not be forgotten how severe the strain upon him is. His possessions have been torn from him; his family stricken down by death; his body is the seat of a fierce and foul disease; his friends are powerless to help him. No wonder that "his grief was very great." Out of that grief springs his wail of complaint - the cry of a spirit overburdened. This is an instance of what may escape from the lips of a strong and good man under the pressure of unusual affliction. In judging the cry of sorrow or forming our estimate of the character of him who raises it, we must remember -

I. THAT IT DOES NOT ACCURATELY REPRESENT THE UTTERANCE OF A CALM UNBIASED JUDGMENT. The sufferer is so liable to be unmanned at such an hour. There is too vivid a perception of the pains of life for the cry to be an accurate judgment on life itself.

II. THAT IT IS THE EXPRESSION OF THE SOUL'S FEELINGS IN THE EXTREMITY OF ITS CIRCUMSTANCES. And although the true test of strength is in an ability to bear the heaviest pressure, yet that perfection of virtue by which the severest strain can be borne with calmness is only an uncommon experience; if, indeed, it can ever be found but in the Perfect One.

III. THE INHERENT HUMAN FRAILTY. In this instance Job, "the perfect man and upright," falls behind the one absolute Example of patient endurance of the severest sufferings. Job, judged by the ordinary standard of human life, must be pronounced a model of patient endurance. The inherent weakness, the true mark of humanity, is apparent here. The world needed one "greater than Job" as its typical Example of patience.

IV. But in all we may also learn THE USELESSNESS OF THAT CRY OF SORROW WHICH DEMANDS THE IMPOSSIBLE. In quietness and self-composure Job would not have cried thus. Reason is not always supreme. In moments of great suffering her authority is assailed, impaired, even sometimes lost. In our judgment upon the cries of our frail brethren, we must, therefore, extend our utmost charity, make every allowance for the extreme conditions of which they are the expressions; and in our own habit of life accustom ourselves so to receive our minor afflictions that we may be tutored to comport ourselves rightly under the extremset pressure. - R.G.

Job had endured bravely up to this moment. But when his courage broke down his despair swept all before it like an avalanche. Existence itself then seemed only a curse, and Job thought it a matter of regret that he had ever been brought into the world. In his despair he cursed the day of his birth.

I. THE CAUSES OF THE CURSE. Job was no mere dyspeptic pessimist. His utterance of despair was not simply bred from the gloom of a discontented mind. Nor was he a hasty, impatient man who rebelled against the first sign of opposition to his will. The curse was wrung out of him by a most terrible conjunction of circumstances.

1. Unparalleled calamities. He had lost nearly all - not property only, but children; not outside things only, but health and strength. He was bereft of almost everything in the world that promised to make life dear. Why then, should he value it any longer?

2. Long brooding over trouble. Job did not speak in haste. For seven days he had been sitting dumb with his three silent companions - dumb, but not unconscious. What an array of thoughts must have passed through his mind while he thus suppressed all utterance! Benumbed at first, perhaps, his mind must have gradually roused itself to take in all the truth. Thus he had time to realize it. Nothing is worse than to suffer without being able to do anything to meet and conquer our trouble. Action is a powerful antidote to despair. Inaction intensifies pain. Thought and imagination add tremendous horrors of the mind to the greatest external and bodily troubles.

3. Sympathy. The kind presence of his friends broke down Job's self-restraint. Men can bear in solitude with calmness; but sympathy opens the wells of emotion. This is best, for the heart that does not let out its pent-up feelings will break with concealed agony.


1. Its bitterness. Satan said, "Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life" (Job 2:4). Now Job unconsciously answers the superficial word of the accuser, though from an unexpected point of view. Life itself may become so cruel as to be not worth living, as to be a curse rather than a blessing. But the trouble must indeed be great that can thus conquer and reverse a primary instinct of nature. The exceeding bitterness of future punishment will be that the life which has become dead, and yet which is not unconscious, must still be endured.

2. Its humiliation. Job cursed his day, only his day; he did not curse his God, nor the universe. He did not vent his agony in rage against the whole order of things. He confined it to his own miserable existence. At worst he only complained that he had been brought into being; he did not complain that the general order of the world was unjust. Here is a token of humility, patience, self-control. Weak sufferers rail against all things in earth and heaven. They take their experience as a sign of universal mismanagement. It is, indeed, difficult not to judge the universe by our own feelings.

3. Its mistake. Job's despair was very excusable. Yet it was an error. It was an outbreak of impatience, though sadly provoked and bravely limited. No man is able to judge of the worth of his own life. The life which is miserable to its owner may yet be serving some high Divine purpose, may yet be a blessing to mankind. This was the case with Job's. We cannot know the use and value of life till we see it as a finished whole and from the other side of the grave. - W.F.A.

In the toil and sorrow of life men long for rest. They lighten the toils and brighten the darkness of the present by the hope of repose and gladness in the future. Without such a hope life's burdens would be much heavier than they are; and in some cases almost insupportable. As the worn labourer longs for the rest of the even-tide, so does the over-wrought spirit of the sad desire the rest of the grave. It is proper to consider if this is a healthy, a just, a well-grounded desire. To the grave men of widely different characters look for rest. Let us think of the grave -

I. AS LONGED FOR BY THE WEARY. "Then had I been at rest." This is not always to be commended. The present is our time for toil. These are the hours of the day. They that sleep should sleep in the night. It is not a Christian spirit to wish life shorter. Rather should we ask for grace to be faithful, even unto death. Resignation, obedience, hope, will check the desire to diminish the term of life. What is suicide but the adding violence to this desire? For our change we must wait.

II. AS THE ONLY REST KNOWN TO THE IGNORANT. By Christian teaching and discipline we learn where the spirit may find rest; and we are encouraged to wait for the end of our toil. But the ignorant know nothing of this good hope.

III. THE GRAVE BRINGS NO REST TO THE UNFAITHFUL. He owns rest who does a day's work. To him that rest is sleep. To the idler death will bring no rest. It will change the canditions and surroundings of life. But it is a dire delusion to suppose that the spirit, in putting off the garment of the flesh, will escape from all toil. Its burdens are within itself, not in the fleshy tent. All sensation is in the mind during the bodily life, and all the sad weariness of the spirit, springing from consciousness of disobedience, that spirit carries with it. The sting of punishment for the wicked pierces the spirit; often through the flesh, it is true. But the sting is not left in the flesh, to be cast off when the body is laid down. The weapons of the spiritual foe penetrate beyond the clothes. The wicked deluded in life is deluded by death. Some long so eagerly for death that they rush through the thin veil that separates them from the regions of the dead. But it is rushing from darkness to light. It is rushing into the presence of the All-seeing One whose apprehended judgment upon life is the severest of all punishments.

IV. THE REST OF THE GRAVE IS A TRUE REWARD TO THE FAITHFUL. Fidelity in toil has its reward in rest. To the faithful ones it is sweet. But not as a mere cessation of activity.

1. It ends for them the time of exposure to temptation.

2. It marks the limits of probation.

3. It exchanges warfare for triumph; hard toil for honourable repose; danger for safety; the cross for the crown.

4. It brings the perfectness of all blessing in the everlasting life and the fulness of joy which are promised to the obedient and the pure. - R.G.

The rock-tombs, mausoleums, and pyramids, which are most striking features of Eastern and especially of Egyptian architecture, are noted by Job with some feeling of envy. It is not that the splendour of these strange works excites his admiration. His thought dwells rather on their desolation, but this desolation is brought out the more vividly by contrast with their vastness and original magnificence. To be associated with such imposing embodiments of the idea of death is just the most enviable goal of despair. Job thus directs our attention to the pyramids. Let us note their significant features.

I. THEIR USE. What was the object of the builders of these monstrous structures? For a long while men regarded the question as an insoluble riddle. Some suggested that the pyramids contained mystic prophecies shaped in symbolical measurements of architecture. Others saw in them astronomical records and libraries of science. But whatever subsidiary ends they may have served, it is now generally agreed that the primary object of the pyramids was to serve as tombs for their builders. Thus they emphasize the importance of death. We strive to banish the thought of our end; the Egyptians kept it most prominently before their eyes. We toil for the present ministry of life; the Egyptians toiled for the dead. A Pharaoh spent far more in constructing a home for his corpse than in building a palace for his present life. Here was a strange perversion of the idea that we should prepare for death and look forward to existence beyond.

II. THEIR VASTNESS. The great Pyramid of Gizeh was one of the wonders of the world, and already of hoary antiquity when the Book of Job was written. It is now certainly the most stupendous structure that has ever been built.

1. A sign of patient toil. Thousands of poor slaves must have been sacrificed to the construction of such a building. There is scarcely any limit to the results that may be produced by unremitting labour.

2. A proof of concentration of effort. Only a Pharaoh could build a pyramid in those old days. It needed the master of a nation to gather together the materials and the workmen. The greatest works come from combination of efforts. The highest spiritual efforts must not be in isolation. We must learn to unite and concentrate our spiritual service.

III. THEIR DESOLATION. These pyramids were "desolate places" from the first. They were never beautiful. The dismal use to which they were put must always have given to them an atmosphere of gloom. They were and are the most enduring structures in the world; yet their polished surface has been stripped off, and on near approach they appear like massive ruins. They were designed to preserve the mummied remains of their masters in safety; but their secret chambers are emptied, robbed by unknown hands of their carefully concealed contents. We cannot disguise the fact that death is desolation. We may build a splendid tomb, but it will only cover loathsome corruption. We cannot cheat death and decay by any earthly device. True immortality cannot be found on earth. But the Christian looks forward to a more solid and enduring home than any pyramid - to "a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." - W.F.A.

I. TROUBLE ANTICIPATES THE PEACE OF THE GRAVE. There is a famous picture of Orcagna's in the Campo Santa at Florence, representing Death suddenly appearing in a motley crowd of men and women, and producing the most opposite effects. The rich, the young, and the gay flee in terror; but the poor, the miserable, and the sick stretch forth arms of longing welcome to their deliverer. When life is despaired of, death is sweet. Seeing that all must die, this is some compensation for the inequalities of life. The sleep of the tired toiler is deep and calm; and the footsore pilgrim on life's highway looks forward at times to his final rest with unspeakable eagerness. He can endure in view of the delicious repose which he sees beyond all his sufferings - a repose, however, which has no attraction for the healthy end happy. It is only a false sentimentalism that leads vigorous young people to apply the well-known words of the text to themselves.

II. WICKEDNESS IS AT THE ROOT OF THE TROUBLE THAT MAKES THE PEACE OF THE GRAVE DESIRABLE. Job's first thought is that the wicked cease from troubling in the land of the dead. There the captive no longer hears the odious voice of his oppressor. Injustice and heartless selfishness make a hell of this earth, which would be a very paradise if all men lived in the atmosphere of 1 Corinthians 13. It is horrible to think how often man's cruelty to man has turned the natural love of life into a yearning for the release of death. Certainly this wrong cannot continue beyond the grave. And yet there is a deeper and more personal truth. Our own sin is our greatest trouble. Too often we are ourselves the wicked who trouble our own hearts.

III. CHRISTIANITY OFFERS SOMETHING BETTER THAN THE PEACE OF THE GRAVE. We must remember that we have not here a complete Divine oracle concerning the future. Job is merely giving utterance to his despair. There is a certain truth in what he says, but it is not the whole truth. It is true that "there remaineth a rest to the people of God" (Hebrews 4:9). But Christ offers more than negative relief from the troubles of this life. He brings to us eternal life. To the Christian death is not sinking into silence for ever, but sleeping in Christ to awake in a new resurrection-life. Job looked forward to the still grave. We can anticipate the blessed heaven,

IV. THE CHRISTIAN HOPE RESTS ON MORE THAN THE EXPERIENCE OF DEATH. To die was all that Job hoped for; to die as an embryo dies who has never known life seems to him far better than to drag out such a weary existence as he now sees before him. Thus the mere dying and ceasing to be are enough. But for the larger Christian hope more is needed. Death is not the door to heaven; Christ is that Door. There is no certain road to peace through death; for death may lead to darker distress in a future of banishment from God. There is no peace in the "outer darkness," but "weeping and gnashing of teeth." For future rest even, and for the life eternal which is better than rest, we have to be born from above, and w be walking on earth in the footsteps of Christ. If we are doing this, it is not for us to long for death, but to "work while it is day; for the night cometh, wherein no man can work." - W.F.A.

No thought is more hackneyed than the idea that the present inequalities of life end at death. Yet the practical significance of this idea is never fully realized and acted on. Let us consider its lessons. What does death the leveller teach us?

I. IT TEACHES HUMILITY. The master of an empire will soon own but six feet of soil The worms will shortly feed on one to whom princes bowed as slaves.

"O mighty Caesar! dost thou lie so low?
Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils,
Shrunk to this little measure?
But yesterday the word of Caesar might
Have stood against the world: now lies he there,
And none so poor to do him reverence."

II. IT WARNS AGAINST INJUSTICE. The oppressor's sway is but brief. After a few swift years the rod will fall from his hand, and he will lie exactly on a level with the oppressed. How will he face his victims when he and they are in equal state? Christ bids his disciples make themselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness, that at the end they may receive them into everlasting habitations. There is a generous way of using money and influence that helps to win true friends among our brethren. They who have acted in the opposite way must expect a friendless future.

III. IT ENCOURAGES PATIENCE. The injustice is but temporary. The hard servitude will cease with death. The slave may look forward to his complete liberation. Hope may be the present inspiration of those whose lot is the most bitter, if only they can be assured of a portion in the life beyond the grave.

IV. IT POINTS TO HIGHER THAN EARTHLY THINGS FOR TRUE GREATNESS. If there were nothing above the words of our text, Job's thought would suggest a cynical contempt for all ambition and aspiration, because, if all must end at last in the low plain of death, nothing can be of permanent value. But if there is another world, the collapse of this world should urge us the more to store our treasures in that heavenly region. This does not mean that we are simply to live in preparation for the future beyond death; for we may have heaven in the present life; but it means that we should find true greatness in heavenly things, in spiritual grace and service.

V. IT CALLS US INTO TRUE BROTHERHOOD. Why should we wait for death to abolish the shams and pretensions, the unjust claims and cruel oppressions, of earth? The large liberty of the future should be a type and pattern for more fair dealings in the present. Already we might begin the process of liberation and justice which death will ultimately accomplish. We need not resort to the violent levelling processes of the anarchist. Nihilism is not Christianity. But it is incumbent upon us to do all that is in our power to establish a state of society which recognizes the brotherhood of man. - W.F.A.

From the lips of Job words escape which prove how deeply he suffered. "Why?" is ever on the lips of men when they consider God's hidden work. But he giveth none account of his ways. Clouds and darkness are round about him. Happy the man who at all times is persuaded that justice and judgment are the habitation of his throne. The question here proposed by Job is the unanswered question running through the whole book. Until all is accomplished, the design of the process is unexplained. That the afflictions of Job had some other purpose than merely to respond to Satan's appeal, none will deny; but what the purpose was is not stated in words. The whole story alone explains it. New Testament readers have light upon the mystery of human suffering denied to the -saints of old. But with all the light and teaching granted, a veil of mystery still hangs over all. Partial answers may, however, be found. The demand of Job is unreasonable. It amounts to requiring that all who suffer should be permitted at once to end their sorrows in the silence of the grave. In other words, that none should suffer. "Why is life given unto the bitter in soul?" It is the cry of a sufferer distracted by his pain. Reasons why death should not come immediately to him that longs for it may be readily given. Let our thoughts rest on the purposes that are obviously answered by pain.

I. SUFFERING ARISES FROM THE INFRINGEMENT OF SOME NATURAL LAW, EITHER WILFULLY OR IGNORANTLY DONE. Pain, therefore, is the guardian of the life, giving sharp warning of disobedience or of ignorant exposure to wrong. How often would life be sacrificed in ignorance were not pain to declare the departure from the path of safety!

II. PAIN FORMS AN ELEMENT OF THAT TESTING OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT BY MEANS OF WHICH CHARACTER IS DEVELOPED. Patience, bravery, faith, resignation, hope, and obedience, and many other graces that adorn the human spirit, are celled into play and strengthened by the sharp severities of pain. It is a means of growth.

III. Afflictions, if not directly imposed by a Divine hand, are USED AS MEANS OF SPIRITUAL CORRECTION, INSTRUCTION, AND GOVERNMENT. The great law finds its application here, "It is for chastening that ye endure." A wise father disciplines his loved son, not suffering him to run wild. So the Lord, the true Father, "dealeth with" men "as with sons."

IV. The true end of all suffering is thus found in the GROWTH, THE SANCTITY, THE CULTURE, AND ]PERFECTING OF THE SOUL. "That we may be partakers of his holiness." - R.G.

Job here refers to two kinds of limitations - limits to knowledge and limits to power. Each is mysterious and perplexing.

I. THE MYSTERY OF LIMITED KNOWLEDGE. There are many kinds of knowledge that are of no immediate and practical importance to us. It would satisfy our curiosity if an answer could be found for our inquiries about such subjects; but it is by no means necessary that an answer should be forthcoming, and we can very well be content to go on without it. But the case is very different where we have to do with our own lives and their course of experience. Here the mystery is as perplexing and distressing as it is profound and insoluble. This is just Job's trouble. His way is hid.

1. The meaning of the present is not seen. The events that happen are so contrary to expectation and apparently to reason. Changes seem to happen like the aimless shiftings of a kaleidoscope. Useless troubles appear to fall upon us, Undeserved calamities seem to assail us.

2. The prospect of the future is obscure. If we could discern a happy issue out of our troubles, they might be endured with equanimity. But perhaps, as in Job's case, it is often impossible to see whither they are leading us. There is no bow in the cloud.

3. The discipline of life is conducted in mystery. Assuredly there is a purpose in the mystery, though we cannot see it. It would be bad for us to know all. Job could not have proved his disinterested devotion so effectively as he did prove it if he had known that the eye of the universe was on Satan's experiment of which he was the subject. God trains us in faith by means of obscurity. In the mean time he does not leave us. Our way may be hidden, but it is known to God. He is able to lead us safely over the darkest paths.


1. Human faculties are limited. They must be, or we should be infinite beings, i.e. we should be as God. But if there are necessarily some bounds to our power, we have only a question of degree when we are considering where this boundary is set. Still, the weak man wonders why he is not strong. Why should not the pigmy be a giant? Why should not the commonplace man have the intellect of a Plato? Why cramp him with a small mind? This is all mysterious, as it seems to bring injustice. But God only expects according to what is given, and surely there are some who cannot be trusted with the powers which others are capable of using.

2. Human circumstances are limited. A man has great powers; but he is hedged in. How hard this seems! If only he were at liberty what grand feats would he perform! So the poor man thinks he would do wonders if he were but a millionaire. But we have all to learn that "he shall choose our inheritance for us," because he knows us better than we know ourselves. Meanwhile the very hedge has its good effect. Satan had complained that God had set a hedge about Job (Job 1:10) for protection. Job apparently sees another hedge, and thinks it a hindrance. But may not the hindrance be a protection? The river runs the swifter when its channel is narrowed. There is a gathering of strength from the concentration of effort that limited circumstances require. There is an inspiration in difficulty. If we all had perfect liberty and power, we should lose the bracing discipline which now helps to train us. Finally, observe, no hedge set up by God can keep us from our true mission or our rightful heritage. Job did not fail, but, on the contrary, did his great life's work the better through' the mysterious cramping of his circumstances. - W.F.A.

Job complained that he was not foolishly confident in his prosperity, and so courting a reverse of fortune by pride and presumption. On the contrary, he was anticipating the possibility of evil and walking in fear. His action, as it appears in the opening verses of the book, shows us a man of an anxious temperament (Job 1:5). He thinks it hard that trouble should come to him who had feared it. This may be unreasonable in Job; but it is quite natural, and not at all inexplicable. Inconsistent as it may seem, our very anticipation of evil is unconsciously taken as a sort of insurance against it. Because we are prepared to expect it we somehow come to think that we should not receive it. Our humility, foresight, and apprehension are unconsciously treated as making up a sort of compensation which shall buy off the impending evil. When they turn out to be nothing of the kind we are sadly disappointed.


1. On earth. Anxious people are not ipso facto saved from trouble. The world does contain great evils. The ills of life are not confined to the imagination of the despondent. They are seen in plain prosaic facts.

2. After death. The fear of death will not save from death, nor will the fear of hell save from hell. A person may have very dark views of his impending fate, and, if he deserves it, he may find that it is quite equal to his fears. Nothing can be more disastrous than the notion that the expectation of future punishment is only the dream of a scared conscience. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" is a great fundamental law of nature.

II. THE RIGHT WAY TO DISPEL FEARS IS TO REMOVE THEIR GROUNDS. To soothe fears without touching the facts which justify them is the height of folly. The facts remain, however much we may be hoodwinked into disregarding them. Salvation is not to be got by means of any manipulation of the sinner's fears. Sin is the fundamental cause of all ruin, and the justification of men's worst fears. The one necessity is to remove the sin; then the fears will vanish of their own accord. The sickening letters from condemned criminals, who are quite sure that they are going straight from the gallows to heaven, although they give no sign of genuine penitence for sin, reveal a very unwholesome style of religious instruction. Surely the chief business of a Christian teacher is not to lull the fears of an alarmed conscience, and induce a condition of placid resignation. Hypnotism would do this more effectively; but to be hypnotized into placidity is not to be saved. If, however, men learn to confess their sins, and to loathe themselves on account of those sins, then indeed the gospel of Christ assures perfect redemption for all who turn to him in faith. When this is the soul's experience fear may be banished. Trouble, indeed, may come. But it is useless to anticipate it. It is better to take our Lord's advice, and "be not anxious for the morrow." - W.F.A.

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Job 2
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