Job 1:21
And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) Thither.—If taken literally, can only refer to the womb, which in that case must here mean the earth, with a probable allusion to Genesis 3:19. (Comp. Job 17:14.)

Blessed be the name of the Lord.—The very word used in a contrary sense (Job 1:11). Thus was Satan foiled for the first time.

Job

SORROW THAT WORSHIPS

Job 1:21
.

This book of Job wrestles with the problem of the meaning of the mystery of sorrow. Whether history or a parable, its worth is the same, as tortured hearts have felt for countless centuries, and will feel to the end. Perhaps no picture that was ever painted is grander and more touching than that of the man of Uz, in the antique wealth and happiness of his brighter days, rich, joyful, with his children round him, living in men’s honour, and walking upright before God. Then come the dramatic completeness and suddenness of his great trials. One day strips him of all, and stripped of all he rises to a loftier dignity, for there is a majesty as well as an isolation in his sorrow.

How many spirits tossed by afflictions have found peace in these words! How many quivering lips have tried to utter their grave, calm accents! To how many of us are they hallowed by memories of times when they stood between us and despair!

They seem to me to say everything that can be said about our trials and losses, to set forth the whole truth of the facts, and to present the whole series of feelings with which good men may and should be exercised.

I. The vindication of sorrow.

He ‘rent his clothes’-the signs and tokens of inward desolation and loss.

It is worth our while to stay for one moment with the thought that we are meant to feel grief. God sends sorrows in order that they may pain. Sorrow has its manifold uses in our lives and on our hearts. It is natural. That is enough. God set the fountain of tears in our souls. We are bidden not to ‘despise the chastening of the Lord.’ It is they who are ‘exercised’ thereby to whom the chastisement is blessed.

It is sanctioned by Christ. He wept. He bade the women of Jerusalem weep for themselves and for their children.

Religion does not destroy the natural emotions-sorrow as little as any other. It guides, controls, curbs, comforts, and brings blessings out of it. So do not aim at an impossible stoicism, but permit nature to have its way, and look at the picture of this manly sorrow of Job’s-calm, silent, unless when stung by the undeserved reproaches of these three ‘orthodox liars for God,’ and going to God and worshipping.

II. The recognition of loss and sorrow as the law of life.

‘Naked came I out of my mother’s womb.’

We need not dwell on the figure ‘mother,’ suggesting the grave as the kindly mother’s bosom that gathers us all in, and the thought that perhaps gleams forth that death, too, is a kind of birth.

But the truth picturesquely set forth is just the old and simple one-that all possessions are transient.

The naked self gets clothed and lapped round with possessions, but they are all outside of it, apart from its individuality. It has been without them. It will be without them. Death at the end will rob us of them all.

The inevitable law of loss is fixed and certain. We are losing something every moment-not only possessions, but all our dearest ties are knit but for a time, and sure to be snapped. They go, and then after a while we go.

The independence of each soul of all its possessions and relations is as certain as the loss of them. They may go and we are made naked, but still we exist all the same. We have to learn the hard lesson which sounds so unfeeling, that we can live on in spite of all losses. Nothing, no one, is necessary to us.

All this is very cold and miserable; it is the standing point of law and necessity. An atheist could say it. It is the beginning of the Christian contemplation of life, but only the beginning.

III. The recognition of God in the law.

‘The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away.’ That is a step far beyond the former. To bring in the thought of the Lord makes a world of difference.

The tendency is to look only at the second cause. In Job’s case there were two classes of agencies, men, Chaldeans and Sabeans, and natural causes, fire and wind, but he did not stop with these.

The grand corrective of that tendency lies in the full theistic idea, that God is the sole cause of all. The immanence of Deity in all things and events is our refuge from the soul-crushing tyranny of the reign of law.

That devout recognition of God in law is eminently to be made in regard to death, as Job does in the text: ‘The number of his months is with Thee.’ Death is not any more nor any less under His control than all other human incidents are. It has no special sanctity, nor abnormally close connection with His will, but it no more is exempt from such connection than all the other events of life. The connection is real. He opens the gate of the grave and no man shuts. He shuts, and no man opens.

Job did not forget the Lord’s gifts even while he was writhing under the stroke of His withdrawings. Alas! that it should so often need sorrow to bear into our hearts that we owe all to Him, but even then, if not before, it is well to remember how much good we have received of the Lord, and the remembrance should not be ‘a sorrow’s crown of sorrow,’ but a thankful one.

IV. The thankful resignation to God’s loving administration of the law.

The preceding words might be said with mere submission to an irresistible power, but this last sentence climbs to the highest of the true Christian idea. It recognises in loss and sorrow a reason for praise.

Why?

Because we may be sure that all loss is for our good.

Because we may be sure that all loss is from a loving God. In loss of dear ones, our gain is in drawing nearer to God, in being taught more to long for heaven. In our relation to them, a loftier love, a hallowing of all the past. Their gain is in their entrance to heaven, and all the glory that they have reached.

This blessing of God for loss is not inconsistent with sorrow, but anticipates the future when we shall know all and bless Him for all.Job 1:21. Naked came I out of my mother’s womb — I brought none of those things which I have now lost with me when I came out of my mother’s womb into the world, but I received them from the hand and favour of that God who hath now required his own again; and naked shall I return — I shall be as rich when I die as I was when I was born; and therefore have reason to be contented with my condition, which also is the common lot of all men. We go naked out of the world into the womb or lap of our common mother the earth, as the weary child lays its head on its mother’s bosom. Death strips us of all our possessions and enjoyments; clothing can neither warm nor adorn a dead body: a consideration which silenced Job under all his losses. The sanctified soul, however, goes out of the world clothed, (2 Corinthians 5:3,) and when it appears in the presence of God is not found naked. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away — He hath taken away nothing but his own; nothing but what he so gave to me as to reserve the supreme dominion and disposal of it in his own hand. So that I have no cause to murmur against him or complain. Nor have I reason to fret and rage against the Chaldeans and Sabeans, the fire or the wind, which were only God’s instruments to execute his wise and holy counsel: for, what is it to me by what hand or means he that gives resumes what he gave? Blessed be the name of the Lord — That is, blessed be the Lord, his name being put for himself. The sense is, I have no cause to quarrel with God, but much cause to bless and praise him that he did give me such blessings, and suffered me to enjoy them more and longer than I deserved, and that he hath vouchsafed to afflict me, which I greatly needed for my soul’s good; and which I take as a token of his love and faithfulness to me, and therefore ministering more matter of comfort than grief to me; and that he hath left me the comfort of my wife, and yet is pleased to continue to me the health of my body, and a composed mind, and a heart to submit to his good pleasure; and that he hath reserved and prepared a felicity for me, which no Chaldeans or Sabeans, no men or devils, can take away from me; of which see Job 19:25.1:20-22 Job humbled himself under the hand of God. He reasons from the common state of human life, which he describes. We brought nothing of this world's goods into the world, but have them from others; and it is certain we can carry nothing out, but must leave them to others. Job, under all his losses, is but reduced to his first state. He is but where he must have been at last, and is only unclothed, or unloaded rather, a little sooner than he expected. If we put off our clothes before we go to bed, it is some inconvenience, but it may be the better borne when it is near bed-time. The same who gave hath taken away. See how Job looks above instruments, and keeps his eye upon the First Cause. Afflictions must not divert us from, but quicken us to religion. If in all our troubles we look to the Lord, he will support us. The Lord is righteous. All we have is from his gift; we have forfeited it by sin, and ought not to complain if he takes any part from us. Discontent and impatience charge God with folly. Against these Job carefully watched; and so must we, acknowledging that as God has done right, but we have done wickedly, so God has done wisely, but we have done very foolishly. And may the malice and power of Satan render that Saviour more precious to our souls, who came to destroy the works of the devil; who, for our salvation, suffered from that enemy far more than Job suffered, or we can think.And said, Naked came I out - That is, destitute of property, for so the connection demands; compare 1 Timothy 6:7; "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out." A similar expression also occurs in Pliny, "Hominem natura tanturn nudism." Nat. Hist. proem. L. vii. Job felt that he was stripped of all, and that he must leave the world as destitute as he entered it.

My mother's womb - The earth - the universal mother. That he refers to the earth is apparent, because he speaks of returning there again. The Chaldee adds קבוּרתא לבית lebēyt qebûratā' - "to the house of burial." The earth is often called the mother of mankind; see Cic. de Nat. Deor. ii. 26; compare Psalm 139:15. Dr. Good remarks, that "the origin of all things from the earth introduced, at a very early period of the world, the superstitious worship of the earth, under the title of Dameter, or the "Mother-goddess," a Chaldee term, probably common to Idumea at the time of the existence of Job himself. It is hence the Greeks derive their Δημήτνρ Dēmētēr (Demeter), or as they occasionally wrote it Γημήτηρ Gēmētēr (Ge-meter), or Mother Earth, to whom they appropriated annually two religious festivals of extraordinary pomp and solemnity. Thus, Lucretius says,

Linquitur, ut merito materhum nomen adepta

Terra sit, e terra quoniam sunt cuneta creata.

v. 793.

- "Whence justly earth

Claims the dear name of mother, since alone

Flowed from herself whate'er the sight enjoys."

For a full account of the views of the ancients in regard to the "marriage" (ἱερός γάμος gamos hieros)of the "heaven" and the "earth," from which union all things were supposed to proceed, see Creuzer's Symbolik und Mythologie der alt. Volk. Erst. Theil, p. 26, fg.

And naked - Stripped of all, I shall go to the common mother of the race. This is exceedingly beautiful language; and in the mouth of Job it was expressive of the most submissive piety. It is not the language of complaint; but was in him connected with the deep feeling that the loss of his property was to be traced to God, and that he had a right to do as he had done.

The Lord gave - Hebrew יהוה yehovâh. He had nothing when he came into the world, and all that he had obtained had been by the good providence of God. As "he" gave it, he had a right to remove it. Such was the feeling of Job, and such is the true language of submission everywhere. He who has a proper view of what he possesses will feel that it is all to be traced to God, and that he has a right to remove it when he pleases.

And the Lord hath taken away - It is not by accident; it is not the result of haphazard; it is not to be traced to storms and winds and the bad passions of people. It is the result of intelligent design, and whoever has been the agent or instrument in it, it is to be referred to the overruling providence of God. Why did not Job vent his wrath on the Sabeans? Why did he not blame the Chaldeans? Why did he not curse the tempest and the storm? Why did he not blame his sons for exposing themselves? Why not suspect the malice of Satan? Why not suggest that the calamity was to be traced to bad fortune, to ill-luck, or or to an evil administration of human affairs? None of these things occurred to Job. He traced the removal of his property and his loss of children at once to God, and found consolation in the belief that an intelligent and holy Sovereign presided over his affairs, and that he had removed only what he gave.

Blessed be the name of the Lord - That is, blessed be yahweh - the "name" of anyone in Hebrew being often used to denote the person himself. The Syriac, Arabic, and some manuscripts of the Septuagint here adds "forever." - "Here," says Schmid, "the contrast is observable between the object of Satan, which was to induce Job to renounce God, and the result of the temptation which was to lead Job to bless God." Thus, far Satan had been foiled, and Job had sustained the shock of the calamity, and showed that he did not serve God on account of the benefits which be had received from him.

21. Naked—(1Ti 6:7). "Mother's womb" is poetically the earth, the universal mother (Ec 5:15; 12:7; Ps 139:15). Job herein realizes God's assertion (Job 1:8) against Satan's (Job 1:11). Instead of cursing, he blesses the name of Jehovah (Hebrew). The name of Jehovah, is Jehovah Himself, as manifested to us in His attributes (Isa 9:6). I brought none of these things which I have now lost with me, when I came out of my mother’s womb into the world but I received them from the hand and favour of that God who hath now required his own again. I still have all that substance wherewith I was born, and have lost only things without and beside myself.

Naked shall I return thither; I shall be as rich when I die as I was when I was born, and therefore have reason to be contented with my condition, which also is the common lot of all men.

Thither, i.e. into my mother’s womb, which in the former clause is understood properly, but in this figuratively, of the earth, which is our common mother, as it is called by many authors, out of whose belly we were taken, and into which we must return again, Genesis 3:19 Ecclesiastes 12:7. And as our mother’s womb is called

the lower parts of the earth, Psalm 139:15, so it is not harsh if reciprocally the lower parts of the earth be called our mother’s womb. Nor is it strange that the same phrase should be taken both properly and metaphorically in the same verse; for so it is Matthew 8:22, let the dead spiritually bury the dead corporally. See also Leviticus 26:21,24 Psa 18:26, &c.

The Lord hath taken away; he hath taken away nothing but his own, and what he so gave to me that he reserved the supreme dominion and disposal of in his own hand. So I have no cause to murmur or complain of him. Nor have I reason to fret and rage against the Chaldeans, and Sabeans, and other creatures, who were only God’s instruments to execute his wise and holy counsel.

The name of the Lord, i.e. the Lord; God’s name being often put for God himself, as Psalm 44:5 48:10 Psalm 72:18,19 Da 2:19,20; as names are put for men, Acts 1:15 Revelation 3:4. The sense is, I have no cause to quarrel with God, but much cause to bless and praise him that he did give me such blessings, and suffered me to enjoy them more and longer than I deserved; and that he hath vouchsafed to afflict me, which I greatly needed for my soul’s good, and which I take as a token of his love and faithfulness to me, and therefore ministering more matter of comfort than grief to me; and that he hath left me the comfort of my wife, and yet is pleased to continue to me the health of my body, and a composed mind, and a heart to submit to his good pleasure; and that he hath reserved and prepared such a felicity for me, whom no Chaldeans or Sabeans, no men nor devils, can take away from me; of which see Job 19:25. And said, naked came I out of my mother's womb,.... Either literally, where he was conceived and lay, and from whence he came into the world, though he afterwards wishes he never had, or had died as soon as he did, Job 3:10, and so it is expressive of his birth, and the circumstance of it; or figuratively, his mother earth, from whence the first man sprang, and so all his posterity with him, being as he of the earth, earthly, see Ecclesiastes 12:7, which sense is mentioned by Jarchi and Aben Ezra; but the first sense seems best: the nakedness referred to is not of the mind or soul, being destitute of righteousness and holiness, with which the following clause will by no means agree, but nakedness of body; and therefore as soon as a child is born, one of the first things done to it is to wrap it in clothes provided for it, see Ezekiel 16:4 and also a being without the things of this life; the apostle's words are a proper comment on these, and explain them, and perhaps these are referred to by him, "we brought nothing into this world", 1 Timothy 6:7, this shows the necessity of the early care of Providence over us, and what reason we have to be thankful for unknown mercies at the time of birth, and in the state of infancy, Psalm 22:9 and what obligations children lie under to parents, and what benefits they receive from them at their first entrance into the world, and which they should religiously requite when through old age they stand in need of their assistance, 1 Timothy 5:4, and this may also serve to abate the pride of man, who will have no reason to boast of his riches, nor of his fine clothes, when he considers his original nakedness; and more especially the use of it may be, and which seems to be the use Job made of it, to make the mind easy under the greatest losses. Job considered he did not bring his substance, his servants, and his children into the world with him; and now they were taken from him, he was but as he was when he came into the world, and not at all the worse; he knew how to be abased, and to abound, and in both was content:

and naked shall I return thither; not into his mother's womb in a literal sense, which was impossible, John 3:4, but to the earth, and to the dust of it, Genesis 3:19, pointing to it with his finger, on which he now lay; meaning that he should go to the place appointed for him, the grave, the house of all living, Job 30:23, and so the Targum here has it,

to the house of the grave, where he should lie unseen, as in his mother's womb, till the resurrection morn; which would be a kind of a regeneration of him, when he should be delivered up from thence, and enjoy a state of happiness and glory: he should descend into the grave as naked as he was born, respecting not so much the nakedness of his body, as being stripped of all worldly enjoyments, see Ecclesiastes 5:15 and he says this in his present view of things; he thought once he should have died in his nest, Job 29:18, in the midst of all his prosperity, and left a large substance to his children; but now all was taken away, and for the present had no hope or expectation of a restoration, as afterwards was; but whereas he was now naked and bare of all, he expected he should continue and die so: or this is said with respect to the common case of men, who it is certain cannot carry anything out of the world with them, either riches or honour, but must leave all behind them, 1 Timothy 6:7 which may serve to loosen the minds of men from worldly things, not to set their eyes and hearts upon them, nor to put their trust and confidence in them; and good men may part with them, especially at death with pleasure, since they will have no further use of them, and will have a better and a more enduring substance in their stead:

the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; all outward enjoyments, all the good things of this world, are the Lord's, and at his dispose; the earth, and the fulness of it; kingdoms, nations, countries, houses and lands, the beasts of the field, and cattle on a thousand hills; the gold and silver, and all the riches of the earth: and these are the gifts of his providence to the sons of men; nor have they anything but in a way of giving and receiving; and even what they enjoy, through diligence and industry, is owing to the blessing of God; and who gives not in such sort as that he loses his property in what is given; this he still retains, these are talents which he puts into the hands of men to use for themselves and others, and for which they are accountable to him; and they are but stewards, with whom he will hereafter reckon, and therefore has a right to take away when he pleases; and both Job ascribes to God, not only the giving, but the taking away: he does not attribute his losses to second causes, to the Sabeans and Chaldeans, to the fire from heaven, and the wind from the desert, but to God, whose sovereign will and overruling hand were in all; these were but the instruments of Satan, and he had no power but what was given from God; and therefore to the counsel of his will, who suffered it, Job refers it, and for that reason sits down satisfied and quiet. This is all to be understood of temporal things only; for of spiritual things it cannot be said that God gives and takes away; such gifts are without repentance, and are irreversible, Romans 11:29, the Targum is,

"the Word of the Lord hath given, and the Word of the Lord and the house of his judgment hath taken away; the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions add,

as it pleased the Lord, so it is done:''

blessed be the name of the Lord; for all his blessings and mercies; for all the gifts of nature and providence that had been bestowed, which could not be claimed, and of which he knew himself unworthy; and for the continuance of them so long with goodness and mercy had followed him all the days or his life hitherto, and still he had mercies to bless God for; his wife was still with him, he had some servants left, his own life was spared; he continued as yet in health of body, and therefore could sing of mercy as well as judgment; nor is there any state on earth a man can be in, but there is something to bless God for; wherefore the apostle's exhortation will always hold good, "in everything give thanks": 1 Thessalonians 5:18; besides the name, the nature, the perfections, of God are always the same, and therefore always to be celebrated, and blessing, honour, and glory, are to be ascribed to him continually, in every state and condition of life; wherefore the Arabic version adds, "from henceforth, and for ever"; which agrees with Psalm 72:19; and thus Job, instead of cursing God, blesses him, and proves the devil to be a liar, as he was from the beginning; and shows his superiority over him through the power of divine grace; this evil one could not touch him, he was overcome by him, and his designs defeated.

And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return {b} thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; {c} blessed be the name of the LORD.

(b) That is, into the belly of the earth, which is the mother of all.

(c) By this he confesses that God is just and good, although his hand is sore on him.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. naked shall I return thither] The general sense is plain, though the precise idea is obscure. The words “my mother’s womb” must be used literally, and return thither somewhat inexactly, to describe a condition similar to that which preceded entrance upon life and light. Or, as growth in the womb is described, Psalm 139:15, as “being curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth,” the womb and the bosom of the earth, “the mother of all,” may be compared together. “We brought nothing into the world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out,” 1 Timothy 6:7. All that man has is a gift of God which He may recall. Job blesses God alike who gave and who recalled.

the name of the Lord] The Author here lets the Israelitish name Jehovah fall from the lips of his hero, contrary to his usual habit of putting the names God, Almighty, which were not distinctively Hebrew, into the mouths of the speakers. Perhaps the phrase was a general one which alteration would have spoiled; or more likely, the writer was so much in sympathy with the sentiment put into Job’s mouth that it escaped him for the moment that it was not himself or his nation but one foreign to Israel that was uttering it.Verse 21. - And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither. There is some difficulty in the word "thither," since no man returns to his mother's womb (John 3:4), at death or otherwise. The expression must not be pressed. It arises out of the analogy, constantly felt and acknowledged, between "mother" earth and a man's actual mother (setup. Psalm 129:15). The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away. Job is here represented as knowing God by his name "Jehovah," though elsewhere the "great Name" appears once only in the words of Job (Job 12:9), and never in the words of his friends. The natural conclusion is that the name was known in the land of Uz at the time, but was very rarely used - scarcely, except in moments of excitement. Blessed be the Name of the Lord; literally, may the Name of Jehovah be blessed! The ermphatic word is kept for the last. According to Satan, Job was to have" cursed God to his face" (ver. 11). The event is that he openly and resolutely blesses God. That the same word is used in its two opposite senses rather accentuates the antithesis. 13-15 And it came to pass one day, when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in the house of their eldest brother, that a messenger came to Job, and said, The oxen were ploughing, and the asses feeding beside them, when the Sabeans fell upon them, and carried them away, and smote the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

The principal clause, היּום ויהי, in which the art. of היּום has no more reference to anything preceding than in Job 1:6, is immediately followed by an adverbial clause, which may be expressed by participles, Lat. filiis ejus filiabusque convivantibus. The details which follow are important. Job had celebrated the usual weekly worship early in the morning with his children, and knew that they were met together in the house of his eldest son, with whom the order of mutual entertainment came round again, when the messengers of misfortune began to break in upon him: it is therefore on the very day when, by reason of the sacrifice offered, he was quite sure of Jehovah's favour. The participial construction, the oxen were ploughing (vid., Ges. 134, 2, c), describes the condition which was disturbed by the calamity that befell them. The verb היוּ stands here because the clause is a principal one, not as Job 1:13, adverbial. על־ידי, properly "at hand," losing its radical meaning, signifies (as Judges 11:26) "close by." The interpretation "in their places," after Numbers 2:17, is untenable, as this signification of יד is only supported in the sing. שׁבא is construed as fem., since the name of the country is used as the name of the people. In Genesis three races of this name are mentioned: Cushite (Genesis 10:7), Joktanish (Genesis 10:28), and Abrahamic (Genesis 25:3). Here the nomadic portion of this mixed race in North Arabia from the Persian Gulf to Idumaea is intended. Luther, for the sake of clearness, translates here, and 1 Kings 10:1, Arabia. In ואמּלטה, the waw, as is seen from the Kametz, is waw convertens, and the paragogic ah, which otherwise indicates the cohortative, is either without significance, or simply adds intensity to the verbal idea: I have saved myself with great difficulty. For this common form of the 1 fut. consec., occurring four times in the Pentateuch, vid., Ges. 49, 2. The clause לך להגּיד is objective: in order that - so it was intended by the calamity - I might tell thee.

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