Job 38
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
At length, in answer to the repeated appeals of Job, the Almighty appears, not to crush and overwhelm, as fear had often suggested, but to reason with his servant; to appeal to his spiritual intelligence, rather than to smite him into lower prostration by some thunderbolt of rebuke. "Come now, and let us reason together," is the gracious invitation of him who is Eternal Reason, amidst the wild clamours of our passion and despondency. At the same time, this revelation of the majesty of God humiliates and purifies the recipient of it, teaching him his own littleness and limitation in presence of this fulness of might and of wisdom. God, as the Almighty and only Wise, with whom no mortal may contend in judgment, may appoint the sufferings of the righteous for their probation and purification. And thus the great problem of the book, the enigma of life, receives from the highest Source its long-delayed solution. - J.

I. INTRODUCTION. APPEARANCE OF GOD; SUMMONS TO JOB. (Vers. 1-3.) Out of the storm, in all its grandeur and beauty, which had been gathering while Elihu was speaking, the voice of the Creator is heard, calling upon Job, as one who has been obscuring the Divine counsel by ignorant words, to gird up his loins and prepare for the contest he has so often invoked.

II. GOD'S QUESTIONS TO MAN'S REASON AND CONSCIENCE. (Ver. 4-Job 39:30.) These questions all appeal to man's wonder and curiosity, which impel him to seek the causes of things, and are therefore indirect reminders of his ignorance which can find no last answer to the questions he cannot but ask.

1. Questions on the mode of creation. (Vers. 4-15.)

(1) How was the earth founded? Who prescribed its limits? How shall the solid pillars, on which in the fancy of the ancient world it was conceived as resting, be themselves conceived as supported? Where is the corner-stone of this world-building, and who laid it? How can that great epoch of creation be realized in imagination when all the celestial beings held jubilee over the new-born world? We conceive of the existence of the earth in space under different notions than these; but is the wonder of a world rolling in space, and bound by the principle of gravitation to other bodies, a less wondrous conception, or one more easy to explain?

(2) So with the great sea. Who gave it its limits, who shut in as with gates the vast flood of waters? Breaking forth, as it seemed, from the womb of earth with impetuous force, yet governed and kept within bounds, so that its proud waves cannot transcend the limits fixed by Omnipotence, clothed with the raiment of clouds, the great ocean awakes in all minds the sense of sublimity, the emotion of awe.

"Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form
Glasses itself in tempests; in all time, -
Calm or convulsed, in breeze, or gale, or storm,
Icing the pole, or in the torrid clime
Dark-heaving - boundless, endless, and sublime,
The image of eternity, the throne
Of the Invisible; even from out thy slime
The monsters of the deep are made; each zone
Obeys thee: thou goest forth, dread, fathomless, alone"

(3) Or look again at the dawn in its splendid beauty, which men worshipped as Eos, Ushas, Aurora; consider the regularity of its appearance, gladdening the hearts of all creatures. Who bade the dawn arise and gild the summits of the mountain, causing the earth to flash with all her brilliant variety of colours? Who bade the sun clothe the torrent with rainbows? Nay, who made yonder sun a symbol of righteousness, instinctively perceived by the human conscience, so that ill-doers flee before its revealing beams, for their stronghold of darkness is broken open and their power is overthrown?

2. Question continued: earth's depths and heights, and the forces that thence proceed. (Vers. 16-27.)

(1) The depths under the earth. (Vers. 16-18.) God calls man to reflect upon the immeasurable, the inaccessible; to cause his thought to plunge into the abysses of the sea, to pass in imagination those gloomy portals where the sun goes down, and which lead to Hades, the realm of shadows and of darkness; or with extensive view to survey the broad earth in all its vastness from east to west. "Cabin'd, cribb'd, confin'd" to one spot by the conditions of the bodily life, our mind has spiritual capacities and organs by which we may have notions of the Infinite, and these fill us with the sense of the unsearchableness of God.

(2) Again, from the depths let fancy sear to the bright heights above (vers. 19-21), let it seek to explore the unapproachable fount of light, or the seat of darkness. Still our ignorance blushes and hides her face before the Divine secrets of existence. With what keen irony does Jehovah rebuke the sciolists of every age in ver. 21? Shall short-lived man presume to know the beginning and source of anything? What though we may have cleared up some childlike confusions of thought, have introduced some method and system into our conceptions of the universe, have reduced heat and light to modes of motion, traced the correlation of forces, and perhaps are on our way to the conception of a oneness of force in all its various manifestations: what then? Whence force? Whence and what is motion? Approach as indefinitely near as we may to the last generalization, to the ultimate germ-principle of the genesis of the universe, there will still remain the unknown and the unknowable; there will be need and room still for wonder, worship, reverence, religion.

(3) Or turn to the wonders of the atmosphere: snow and hail, light and wind (vers. 22-27). The questions here asked again are those of childlike wonder and ignorance. We do not put them in the same way. Science restates these questions for us; but only to give our wonder a new direction, a wider scope, a more intelligent quality.

3. The wonders of the air and starry heavens. (Vers. 28-38.)

(1) Here a number of natural phenomena and processes are mentioned, and the explanation of them in like manner demanded. The generation of rain, of dew, of ice, of frost, - science mediately explains these, i.e. traces them to their secondary causes, and brings these causes under certain general laws. But thus the interest deepens in the phenomena; the wonder is not less, but more.

(2) The guidance of the stars, and their influence upon the earth (vers. 32, 33). The Pleiades, or seven stars, appear as if threaded upon a skein, as a necklace of jewels. Who formed that wondrous thread? Or who can loose the fetters of Orion, so that that splendid figure of the heavens should fall to pieces or descend from the sky? Can man lead forth the splendid stars (Mazzaroth) in their season? - Jupiter, Venus, Mars, and the Bear along with its little ones? Knowest thou the laws of the heaven, by which the course of the planets, the changes of the day and of the year, are brought about? Or canst thou determine its influence upon the earth? Modern science has answered these ancient questions with a clearness and fulness inconceivable in the days of the patriarch. But the field of contemplation and of wonder it thus opens to us is infinitely vaster (see Proctors 'Other Worlds than Ours'). And the sentence holds good, "An undevout astronomer is mad." Perhaps there is no science which more assists the mind to the sense of the sublimity of God than astronomy. And besides the revelation of the infinitely great above our heads, microscopic science has brought to light the infinitely small beneath our feet. The longer Job stands gazing, musing, the more do the Divine questions thicken upon him. From every star, from every cloud amidst the innumerable host spread out in the welkin, from every flash of lightning and from every drop of rain, the same voice speaks, the same challenge comes. Man cannot create by all his science the least of these things, and how shall he presume to penetrate the mysteries of the counsel of the Almighty, or question the wisdom and the rightness of his doings?

4. The animal world. (Ver. 39-39:30.) A rich field of study is opened here in the evidences of natural history to the creative power and the loving providence of God for all his creatures. We cannot turn our sermons into lectures on natural history; to descend into details would be to lose sight of those grand elementary truths of which nature's every page furnishes such abundant illustrations. For purposes of teaching, religion and science must to some extent be kept apart in their consideration. That is, we must not burden religious teaching with natural details, however interesting; nor interrupt at every step a scientific lesson, in order to pronounce a homily, or thrust forward a moral application. But viewed in a general way for the purpose of stimulating intelligent religious feeling, the animal world presents:

(1) Variety, rich and boundless, of form, of structure, of mode, and existence. How different the powers of the animals here enumerated - the lion, the raven, the goat, the wild ass, the horse! The limbs that spring and bound, that climb or fly, provided with that muscular apparatus which no human art can rival; the internal organs fitting the creature for its particular food and scene of existence; - these and all the variety of facts that come to light under this head bespeak a power and skill that can adapt the instrument to every set of circumstances, can be daunted by no difficulty, can find means for all necessary ends (see the illustrations in McCosh and Dickie's 'Typical Forms and Special Ends'). Whatever may be the scientific theory in fashion, whether teleological or evolutionary, in so far as it is a true theory, i.e. correctly represents the facts of observation, it can and must lend itself to natural piety, to the confirmation of the great truths of religion. Separate the wild guesses of some scientific men from the sober theories of an accurate science, the latter must ever remain, side by side with the Bible, a witness for God.

(2) Consider again the marvellous force that we call instinct. Instinct may possibly be defined as unconscious reason. We see traces of it in plants, and more strikingly marked ones in animals. It is a power by which these lower creatures arrive at ends, execute designs of marvellous skill and beauty, penetrate immediately to natural truth. Man, plodding his way slowly by the light of reason to his ends, stands in amazement before the effects and results of this mysterious mind-force. Well he may; for what is this force, so constant, so unerring, so matchless, but a direct emanation and impartation from the Creator himself?

(3) And again our sense of the beautiful and the sublime is awakened by the study of animal life. The description of the war-horse in ch. 39, has always been reckoned among the most striking examples of the sublime. His strength, his vibrating mane and trembling neck, all quivering with emotion, his fiery spirit breathing, as it were, fire through his nostrils, pawing the ground in his impatience, rushing to the charge at the battle-signal, - the whole is a living expression of Divine force, awful and beautiful to behold. The analytic habits of scientific thought may hinder, if we do not guard against it, our simple and intense appreciation of nature and nature's individual objects as appealing to our sense of wonder, awe, and beauty. These feelings were given to lead us upward to the Fountain of all existence, to adore the beauty and the might of God. Thus "the book of animal life, that God here writes down for us, may be to us a true book of training for all virtues" (Cramer). If God cares so closely and so providently for the life of the lower animals, how much more are we, his children, his care? This wondrous life in body, soul, and mind; these capacities of moral improvement, of increasing knowledge of eternal life in communion with himself; - will he not care fro them? Let the cry of the dumb creatures remind us of our need of prayer, and of him who delights to hear; let the contemplation of the beauty and order of their divinely created life fill us with disgust at the disorder of sin in our own heart and life, and let us seek, in the new redeemed mode of existence, to use and improve all our powers, and consecrate them to the service of our faithful Creator, our compassionate Father and Redeemer. - J.

At length Job has his wish. He has been longing to meet with God and praying for God to reveal himself. The time has now come for God to hear his prayer and make his will known. This is far more important than man's speculations.


1. The time of his coming. God comes last. The three friends have had their say, reiterating till they weary us. Job has been free to vent his grief and his despair. Elihu, more enlightened, yet not quite attaining to the full light, has uttered his long harangue. All have said all they had to say, and throughout God has been silent. Now it is his time to appear. God will have the last word in every controversy, in every life's story, in the great world's history. "In the beginning God "In the end, too, there is God. Christ is the Alpha and also the Omega. We have but to wait in patience. The end is not yet; when it comes God reveals himself.

2. The manner of his coming. "Out of the whirlwind." When Elijah met God the Lord was not in the whirlwind. God uses various vehicles of revelation - the "still small voice" for Elijah, the whirlwind for Job. He is not tied down to any routine. He has no rigid ceremonies. He adapts his methods to circumstances and requirements. Anything God has made may be a chariot in which he will come to visit his people. Sometimes it is best for him to come in storm and tempest, to hush our vain babble and subdue our wayward spirit. The noisy debate of men is drowned in the whirlwind of God.

II. THE ACTION OF GOD. When he comes it is to answer Job.

1. For Job's sake. Then the first thought is of the patriarch. He is the central figure in the whole drama. But we might have thought that the three friends would have been rebuked first. Yet their condemnation is postponed. It is more necessary for Job to be relieved of his perplexity and led into a right state of mind.

2. An answer. Then God had heard what preceded. He may not make his presence manifest, but yet he is a silent Auditor at all our conferences, debates, quarrels. He hears our trusty words. He perceives our foolish doubts. God's treatment of us is not irrespective of our action. He takes account of all we do and say, and his action is adjusted accordingly. Thus God answers man. He meets the doubt, takes up the difficulty, handles the complaint, deals with the prayer, replies to the question. We may have to wait long for the answer. It may not come in this life. But as it came to Job, so at last, in God's time, it will assuredly come to us, and when it has come no more need be said. It will certainly be full, sufficient, satisfying.

3. In words. The Lord spoke out of the whirlwind. God usually answers us on earth by deeds of providence, or by the voiceless pleading of his Spirit in our hearts. But he has given us words in the messages that prophets have brought to us and that are recorded in the Bible. For us, however, God's great answer to every question and every prayer is the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ. The gospel shows that God has not left us to work out our problems in the dark. It reveals God speaking to us, and his message in Christ is one to give light and peace. - W.F.A.

This is perplexing. When after long delays God has at length appeared, we expect him to clear up all doubts and to fully vindicate his providence to Job, while he also vindicates Job in the presence of the three friends. But God acts in a very different way, and rather seems to defend darkness and mystery than to shed light. Yet if we look into the matter carefully we shall see that all the light that could be given with profit comes through the new impression of awe and mystery that the language of God's reply produces.

I. IGNORANCE MUST BE ACKNOWLEDGED AND HUMBLED. If anything had been most painfully apparent to Job throughout the whole debate, rousing his scorn as well as his anger, it was the fact that his three friends had "darkened counsel by words without knowledge." Now God wilt have Job see that even he has been making the same mistake. The perplexed patriarch has been throwing out a cloud of indignant words, but he has not really understood what he has been talking about. Such words have not helped to the explanation of things; on the contrary, they have been misleading, darkening counsel instead of throwing light upon it. Now, until Job perceives this, he cannot be led to a vision of reassuring truth. While we think we know, our ignorance is invincible. So long as we are satisfied with ourselves, we cannot receive the deliverance of God. The first lesson must reveal our ignorance and humble our pride.

II. MYSTERY MUST BE MANFULLY FACED. Job had lain groaning on his ash-heap. Let him now gird up his loins like a man. Humility should not be thought to exclude courage. We are most brave when we think least of ourselves. Now, a courageous facing of difficulty is necessary if we would conquer it. It is useless to rave against the mystery of life. Let us go up to it and confront it calmly. This is the second step to the conquest of moral and intellectual difficulties. But there may be a touch of irony in God's words to Job - merciful and not bitter, kindly meant, to complete his lesson of humility. Can the patriarch face the mystery? Let him try. It' he fails in the honest attempt, he will be in the very condition for receiving the help of a Divine revelation.

III. THOUGHT MUST BE ROUSED AND STIMULATED. Job had been questioning God; God will now question Job. God's first answer to Job is to request an answer from the patriarch. It is easy to put questions. We should be wiser if we listened to those that are addressed to us. The method of the reply to Job out of the whirlwind was fitted to awaken the thinking of the patriarch. We must learn to approach the mysteries of God with an open and an active mind. No help can come to us so long as we remain inert. Perhaps one effect of the awakening of thought will be to reveal our own littleness by the side of the awful greatness of God. This is what God's answer to Job seems designed to produce in his hearer. Then we can be no longer perplexed at mystery. We see we must expect it. At the same time, the greatness and goodness of God in his works teach us to trust him and not despair at the mystery. - W.F.A.

Job's affliction is a mystery - a mystery that needs to be revealed. Job has not given the explanation of it. He has not known it. His friends have failed. It has been attributed to his sin; but he is confident in his honest integrity, and cannot be persuaded that he is suffering punishment, for he has not a consciousness of guilt. Elihu has indicated the hidden nature of the Divine works, and has not made the mystery clearer. But he has closed the lips of them who would accuse God of wrong and unjust dealing. Job is being led, perhaps blindfold, to a final exposition of the whole. By imperfect knowledge of the purpose of God, Job may be led to wrong conclusions. But God will not forsake his faithful servant, of whom the Divine testimony at the beginning was that he "sinned not with his tongue;" and at the end that he had "spoken the thing which is right." It is still night with Job; he is in the dark as to the purpose of his affliction, but the morning breaketh. And whilst God has appeared hitherto as the Punisher of Job, he will ere long declare himself his Friend, and when he has well tried his faithful servant will amply reward him. But there are processes in the Divine method. Job has to be humbled to the very dust, and the present stage in that process is to reveal the littleness of man in presence of the Most High. Human impotence and ignorance are displayed in presence of the wonderful creation of God.

I. GOD'S WORK INDEPENDENT OF MAN. "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?" "Hast thou commanded the morning," and "caused the day-spring to know his place?" "Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea?" etc.

II. GOD'S WORK ABOVE MAN. "Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades?" etc.

III. GOD'S WORK UNKNOWN TO MAN. "Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven?" "Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts?" etc. Thus is Job taught amidst the wonders of God's creation how great is the Creator. If his works are past finding out by puny man, surely his purpose which he hath hidden is beyond the reach of human research. It is another step in the valley of humiliation for him who is finally found biting the dust. - R.G.

I. A GLAD SONG. This highly poetic picture describes the joy of creation. When the world was made God saw that it was good (Genesis 1:10). There is no Manichaean pessimism in the Bible. Nature is full of gladness. This we should expect when we know the character of God, for he whose name is love must take pleasure in the joy of his creatures. We may see the same truth in the construction of the world. It is beautiful, and made to minister to the happiness of the myriads of living creatures that inhabit it. We may find it hard to catch the echoes of the song of creation, yet even amid the toils and cares of life it is cheering to be reminded of its rare and ravishing melody.

II. A SONG OF PRAISE. This was more than gladness. The Creator's glory is celebrated in the joyful recognition of the greatness and beauty of his works. Nature-worship always tends to grovel in the mire, twining itself most closely about the lowest thing in nature. Wordsworth was a prophet of nature of the highest order, because he saw more than nature, and because he took nature as a mirror of the spiritual world. The glad praises of the sons of the morning begin the history of the world with a hymn to God.

III. A HOPEFUL SONG. It was sung by morning stars, in view of the new day of creation. It sprang out of the fresh youth of the world. We praise God for what he has done since that first psalm was sung. Yet we too can sing in hope, for God still lights up the future with glory. There is always something melancholy in a song of memory. The right attitude of the sons of God is the forward gaze.

IV. A HARMONIOUS SONG. The morning stars sang together. Plato discovered the music of the spheres in their rhythmic movements. There is no music in war, confusion, or selfishness. The joy of heaven is the gladness of love. Sympathy tunes the sweetest music the heart can utter. If we would emulate the joyous praises of the angels, we must follow their willing obedience, and live in that heavenly atmosphere of love which is their home.

V. AN ANCIENT SONG. Vastly more ancient than any one imagined in the days of Job. The brain grows dizzy in the vain attempt to form some idea of the immeasurable antiquity that is opened up to us by the wonderful story of geology. Before all that came the first song of creation. This thought dwarfs the life of man. Job had considered of the brevity of life from another point of view, and with regard to the melancholy prospect of its termination. Now he is to look back and see how recent was his origin. This was to check dogmatic assumptions. How can the creature of a day enter into the age-long counsels of God?

VI. AS ETERNAL SONG. The far-off antiquity was joyous in the light and love of God. But the Divine light and love have not laded out of the world. God is still creating. Every fresh spring is a new birth from God, every day has its dawning, every child its gladsome youth. The theory of evolution suggests even more joyous creations in the future. But better than them all is the second creation, the regeneration of souls, for which there is joy in the presence of the angels of God (Luke 15:10). The joy of creation is the angels' joy; that of redemption is "in the presence of the angels." For this greater joy does not first arise in them; it springs from the very heart of God. - W.F.A.

Passing from the thought of the joy of creation, when the morning stars sang together, we find our thoughts directed to the sea in its power and pride, first formed by the hand of God, and ever reined in by his commanding voice.

I. GOD'S POWER OVER WHAT IS MOST GREAT. The sea strikes our imagination chiefly because of its vastness. It only consists of water, which, when we see it in the trickling rill or hold it in the cup, is one of the most simple and seemingly harmless things in nature. But in gathering volume it gains strength. The little rill swells into the roaring torrent. The water of the sea grows into a tumult of awful forces before which the strongest man is helpless. To the ocean Byron says -

"Man marks the earth with ruin - his control
Stops with the shore; upon the watery plain
The wrecks are all thy deed, nor cloth remain
A shadow of man's ravage, save his own,
When, for a moment, like a drop of rain,
He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan,
Without a grave, unknell'd, uncoffin'd, and unknown." Yet the sea is under God's complete control Nothing is too strong for God. No might can escape his authority. Kings and emperors, men of genius and men of vast resources, are all subject to the present rule, and must all answer to the final call of God.

II. GOD'S ORDER IN WHAT IS MOST TURBULENT. Nothing looks so wild and lawless as the sea in a storm. In the mixing of the elements, when the wind shrieks among the waves, and the waters leap up madly to the sky, we seem to be back in the confusion of Old Chaos. Yet we know that the raging sea is as truly under the laws of nature as the fields with their growing crops. Every drop of water is as absolutely obedient to law as the stars in their orderly courses. God rides upon the storm. He rules over the unruly. Wild tempests of human passion, the fury of the despot and the rage of the people, are all watched and controlled by God. When black clouds gather and angry waves rise on the sea of human life, let us remember that there is One who rules over nations and cities as well as over the wild forces of nature.

III. GOD'S RESTRAINT OF WHAT IS MOST CHANGEFUL. The waters threaten to invade the land. But there is a limit to their progress. Each wave that tries most eagerly to outrun its predecessor is compelled to break and fall back in confusion, hissing with vexation as it is dragged down among the pebbles. The tide rises, higher and yet higher; but it has its limit. God gives man a certain scope for freedom. He can rise and fall like the wave, and ebb and flow like the tide. Sometimes he seems to have a very long leash. But it is not endless, and God has hold of it. At the right moment he will draw it in, and then all man's pride will be of no use. Our life is like the shifting tide, like the restless wave. We are wearied with its incessant changefulness. It is like the sea crawling up on the beach, and creeping back again, moaning on the shore night and day without intermission. There is monotony even in the changes. That is just the point to be noted. They are all limited and under restraint. So is it with those of life; they are limited and restrained by the providential care of our Father. - W.F.A.

The earliest science was that which concerned itself with the movements of the heavenly bodies; until recent times this science was universally associated with the fortunes of men, and it is still thus associated by the greater part of the world. What is our relation to the heavenly bodies?

I. IN COMMON WITH THE STARS, WE ARE PART OF ONE DIVINE UNIVERSE. The study of the heavens is the study of God's works. He dwells in the most distant systems, and equally in this familiar world. All parts of the universe obey the fixed laws of God; all move in harmony under his directing hand. Thus all the worlds are linked together. We are members of a very large "household of God."

II. WE ARE SUBJECT TO INFLUENCES FROM THE HEAVENLY BODIES. We have given up astrology as a delusion. But we are entirely dependent for life itself upon one heavenly body, the sun. This earth is not self-sufficient. It would be frozen to death if the sun were to cease to pour into it his streams of heat. Some have connected sun-spots with social and financial crises! Although this may be but a survival of an ancient superstition, perhaps it is not wise to affirm that it must be nothing more. Now, the physical heavens have always been to us a type of the spiritual heavens. Spiritually our life is not self-contained. Astrology had this in its favour, that it taught a certain largeness of view. It did not permit a person to confine his attention to his own parish. It compelled him to look up and to look to distant things. It is our duty to "do the next thing," and not to waste our time in star-gazing. Nevertheless, we need to be lifted in thought out of the petty round of interests that immediately concern us, even in order that we may best discharge our duty in connection with those interests. Astronomy is an elevating and enlarging science; much more so is a true theology.

III. WE CANNOT AFFECT THE HEAVENLY BODIES. They roll on their age-long courses in sublime indifference to our greatest achievements and strongest desires. Job is asked whether he can bind up the cluster or Pleiades, as he would bind up a hunch of jewels. Can he unclasp the belt of great Orion? Here man is nothing. This is a lesson in humility. Yet have we not a grand encouragement in knowing that the Lord of the starry universe is our Father who cares for us, listens to our cry, and helps our need?

IV. WE CANNOT RULE THE SEASONS. As summer came on, Job would see the brilliant little group of the Pleiades rising before the sun and the giant Orion sinking out of sight; and this would be a sign that the fruitful season was approaching. But Job could not hasten it. The farmer cannot bring abort the seasons he would choose. It is useless to murmur at their apparent inopportuneness. It is wiser to learn the lesson they teach us of our absolute dependence on God. Before these great phenomena of nature we are as nothing. Yet in the sight of God we are more than all of them; for they are material, we spiritual; they his works, we his children. - W.F.A.

Job is asked to think of the raven, and consider how it is provided for. Christ answers the question: "Consider the ravens; that they sow not, neither reap; which have no store-chamber nor barn; and God feedeth them: of how much more value are ye than the birds!" (Luke 12:24). But the lessons are not the same in both cases. While Job is to see the greatness of God in providence, Christ directs attention to his care and kindness in providing for his creatures. There are some characteristics of the raven that accentuate the ideas of providential power and kindness.

I. ONE OF THE LOWER CREATURES. God is not only concerned with spiritual beings He makes his power felt, and he shows his kindness in the animal world. Nothing is so insignificant as to be beneath his notice. Material wants are thought of and supplied by God. But if he supplies these wants of the lower creatures, much more will he satisfy the deeper hunger of spiritual beings.

II. A WILD BIRD. Man cares for his domestic pets, and leaves the wild creatures to shift for themselves. But these animals are not neglected by God. Though building its nest in the depths of the forest or in some remote mountain recess among desolate cliffs and crags, the raven is watched over and cared for by God. Though no meek caged bird, but a free denizen of the wilderness, it is not beyond his control. God cares for his wandering children. Wild races, savage tribes, forgotten peoples, forlorn souls, are all under the notice and care of God.

III. A REPULSIVE BIRD. The raven has no gorgeous plumage; there is no music in its croak; it feeds on carrion. Yet God provides for it. God is very wide in his sympathies. We are narrow, partial, selective. While we favour one person and slight another, the large bounty of God is extended to all his creatures. God provides for the insignificant sparrow and the croaking raven. He cares for both insignificant and objectionable men and women. We must remember, however, that the repulsiveness of the raven is not moral. Sin is worse than feeding on carrion. God provides for sinners, sending rain and sunshine alike on the good and on the evil. Nevertheless, his best blessings are reserved for those of his children who know and love him.

IV. A NATURAL CREATURE. The raven is a part of nature. It simply follows its unconscious instincts, and in doing so it finds that its wants are provided for. God who implanted instincts satisfies them. We are to follow our whole nature, not the animal part only, but also the spiritual, which in us is as natural as the animal, and more important. Then, just in proportion as we keep to the laws of our being as God has constituted us, shall we find that our real wants are provided for. But if God has given to us reason and conscience, and only instinct to the raven, we must use our higher faculties in obtaining what is needful, just as the raven uses what is highest in its nature. The raven is not fed if it lives idly like the lily, which God still cares for in its own sphere; and man will not be satisfied if he lives only like the raven. Each creature must follow its full nature.

V. A PARENT. God implants parental love. When the young ravens cry, God feeds them by leading their parents to food. God uses natural affections for the good of his creatures. He blesses children through their parents. - W.F.A.

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