Why I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Job 42:6. Wherefore I abhor myself, &c. — The more we see of the glory and majesty of God, the more we shall see of the vileness and odiousness of sin, and of ourselves because of sin; and the more we shall abase and abhor ourselves for it; and repent in dust and ashes — Namely, sitting in dust and ashes. Job’s afflictions had brought him to the ashes, Job 2:8, He sat down among the ashes; but now a sense of his sins brought him thither. Observe, reader, true penitents mourn for their sins as heartily as ever they did for any outward afflictions; for they are brought to see more evil in their sins than in their troubles; and even those who have no gross enormities to repent of, yet ought to be greatly distressed in their souls for the workings of pride, self-will, peevishness, discontent, and anger, within them, and for all their hasty, unadvised speeches; for these they ought to be pricked in their hearts, and in bitterness, like Job. Observe, also, that self- loathing is always the companion of true repentance. They shall loathe themselves for the evils they have committed, Ezekiel 6:9. It is not sufficient that we be angry at ourselves for the wrong and damage we have, by sin, done to our own souls; but we must abhor ourselves, as having, by sin, made ourselves odious to the pure and holy God, who cannot look upon iniquity but with abhorrence. If sin in general be truly an abomination to us, sin in ourselves will especially be so; the nearer it is to us, the more loathsome it will appear to be, and the more we shall loathe ourselves on account of it. We shall conclude our observations on the poetical part of this book with Dr. Young’s excellent paraphrase on the four preceding verses:
“Thou canst accomplish all things,
Lord of might;
And every thought is naked to thy sight.
But, O! thy ways are wonderful, and lie
Beyond the deepest reach of mortal eye.
Oft have I heard of thine almighty power;
But never saw thee till this dreadful hour.
O’erwhelm’d with shame, the Lord of life I see,
Abhor myself, and give my soul to thee.
Nor shall my weakness tempt thine anger more;
Man was not made to question, but adore.”Job 42:8, nor had he occasion to repent "as if" he had never been a true penitent or a pious man. But he now saw that in the spirit which he had evinced under his afflictions, and in his argument, there was much to regret; and he doubtless saw that there had been much in his former life which had furnished occasion for bringing these trials upon him, over which he ought now to mourn.
In dust and ashes - In the most lowly manner, and with the most expressive symbols of humiliation. It was customary in times of grief, whether in view of sin or from calamity, to sit down in ashes (see the notes at Job 2:8; compare Daniel 9:3; Jonah 3:6; Matthew 11:21); or on such an occasion the sufferer and the penitent would strew ashes over himself; compare Isaiah 58:5. The philosophy of this was - like the custom of wearing "black" for mourning apparel - that the external appearance ought to correspond with the internal emotions, and that deep sorrow would be appropriately expressed by disfiguring the outward aspect as much as possible. The sense here is, that Job meant to give expression to the profoundest and sincerest feelings of penitence for his sins. From this effect produced on his mind by the address of the Almighty, we may learn the following lessons:
(1) That a correct view of the character and presence of God is adapted to produce humility and penitence; compare Job 40:4-5. This effect was produced on the mind of Peter when, astonished by a miracle performed by the Savior which none but a divine being could have done, he said, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord;" Luke 5:8. The same effect; was produced on the mind of Isaiah after he had seen Yahweh of Hosts in the temple: "Then said I, Wo is me, for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the king, the Lord of Hosts;" Isaiah 6:5. No man can have any elevated views of his own importance or purity, who has right apprehensions of the holiness of his Creator.
(2) Such a view of the presence of God will produce what no argument can in causing penitence and humility. The friends of Job had reasoned with him in vain to secure just this state of mind; they had endeavored to convince him that he was a great sinner, and "ought" to exercise repentance. But he met argument with argument; and all their arguments, denunciations, and appeals, made no impression on his mind. When, however, God manifested himself to him, he was melted into contrition, and was ready to make the most penitent and humble confession. So it is now. The arguments of a preacher or a friend often make no impression on the mind of a sinner. He can guard himself against them. He can meet argument with argument, or can coolly turn the ear away. But he has no such power to resist God, and when "he" manifests himself to the soul, the heart is subdued, and the proud and self-confident unbeliever becomes humbled, and sues for mercy.
(3) A good man will be willing to confess that he is vile, when he has any clear views of God. He will be so affected with a sense of the majesty and holiness of his Maker, that he will be overwhelmed with a sense of his own unworthiness.
(4) The most holy men may have occasion to repent of their presumptuous manner of speaking of God. We all err in the same way in which Job did. We reason about God with irreverence; we speak of his government as if we could comprehend it; we discourse of him as if he were an equal; and when we come to have any just views of him, we see that there has been much improper boldness, much self-confidence, much irreverence of thought and manner, in our estimation of the divine wisdom and plans. The bitter experience of Job should lead us to the utmost carefulness in the manner in which we speak of our Maker.I abhor, i.e. dislike, and detest, and loathe
myself, or my former words and carriage. One of these or some like supplement is necessary to complete the sense, and is clearly gathered from the following words.
In dust and ashes; sitting in dust and ashes; which hitherto I have done in token of my grief for my affliction; but now I desire and resolve to do in testimony of my penitence for my sins. Isaiah 6:3, Ezekiel 16:63;
and repent in dust and ashes; which was an external ceremony used by mournful and penitent persons; see Job 2:8; and is expressive of the truth and sincerity of repentance; and never do any more truly mourn for sin and repent of it, are more ashamed of it, or have a more godly sorrow for it, or more ingenuously confess it, and heartily forsake it, than those who with an eye of faith behold God in Christ as a sin forgiving God; or behold their sins through the glass of pardoning grace and mercy; see Zechariah 12:10.Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)6. The effect of this deeper knowledge of God upon Job’s heart.
I abhor myself] The word myself is not expressed; what has to be supplied as the object of “abhor” is rather it, that is, my former language and demeanour. The word means, I retract, or repudiate.Verse 6. - Wherefore I abhor myself; or, I loathe my words (see the Revised Version). And repent in dust and ashes. Job was still sitting on the ash-heap on which he had thrown himself when his disease first smote him (Job 2:8). He had thrown himself on it in grief and de, pair; he will remain seated on it in compunction and penitence. His self-humiliation is now complete. He does not retract what he has said concerning his essential integrity, but he admits that his words have been overbold, and his attitude towards God one unbefitting a creature. God accepts his submission, and proceeds to vindicate him to his "friends," and to visit them with condemnation.
He spreadeth a threshing sledge upon the mire.
31 He maketh the deep foam like a caldron,
He maketh the sea like a pot of ointment.
32 He lighteth up the path behind him,
One taketh the water-flood for hoary hair.
33 Upon earth there is not his equal,
That is created without fear.
34 He looketh upon everything high,
He is the king over every proud beast.
Under it, or, תּחתּיו taken like תּחת, Job 41:11, as a virtual subject (vid., Job 28:5): its under parts are the most pointed or sharpest shards, i.e., it is furnished with exceedingly pointed scales. חדּוּד is the intensive form of חד (Arab. hadı̂d, sharpened equals iron, p. 542, note), as חלּוּק, 1 Samuel 17:40, of חלק (smooth),
(Note: In Arabic also this substantival form is intensive, e.g., lebbûn, an exceedingly large kind of tile, dried in the open air, of which farm-yards are built, nearly eight times larger than the common tile, which is called libne (לבנח).)
and the combination חדּוּדי חרשׂ (equal the combination חדודי החרשׂים, comp. Job 30:6) is moreover superlative: in the domain of shards standing prominent as sharp ones, as Arab. chairu ummatin, the best people, prop. bon en fait de peuple (Ew. 313, c. Gramm. Arab. 532). lxx ἡ στρωμνὴ αὐτοῦ ὀβελίσκοι ὀξεῖς, by drawing ירפּד to Job 41:30, and so translating as though it were רפידתו (Arab. rifâde, stratum). The verb רפד (rafada), cogn. רבד, signifies sternere (Job 17:13), and then also culcire; what is predicated cannot be referred to the belly of the crocodile, the scales of which are smooth, but to the tail with its scales, which more or less strongly protrude, are edged round by a shallow cavity, and therefore are easily and sharply separated when pressed; and the meaning is, that when it presses its under side in the morass, it appears as though a threshing-sledge with its iron teeth had been driven across it.
The pictures in Job 41:31 are true to nature; Bartram, who saw two alligators fighting, says that their rapid passage was marked by the surface of the water as it were boiling. With מצוּלה, a whirlpool, abyss, depth (from צוּל equals צלל, to hiss, clash; to whirl, surge), ים alternates; the Nile even in the present day is called bahr (sea) by the Beduins, and also compared, when it overflows its banks, to a sea. The observation that the animal diffuses a strong odour of musk, has perhaps its share in the figure of the pot of ointment (lxx ὥσπερ ἐξάλειπτρον, which Zwingli falsely translates spongia); a double gland in the tail furnishes the Egyptians and Americans their (pseudo) musk. In Job 41:32 the bright white trail that the crocodile leaves behind it on the surface of the water is intended; in Job 41:32 the figure is expressed which underlies the descriptions of the foaming sea with πολιός, canus, in the classic poets. שׂיבה, hoary hair, was to the ancients the most beautiful, most awe-inspiring whiteness. משׁלו, Job 41:33, understood by the Targ., Syr., Arab. version, and most moderns (e.g., Hahn: there is not on earth any mastery over it), according to Zechariah 9:10, is certainly, with lxx, Jer., and Umbr., not to be understood differently from the Arab. mithlahu (its equal); whether it be an inflexion of משׁל, or what is more probable, of משׁל (comp. Job 17:6, where this nomen actionis signifies a proverb equals word of derision, and התמשּׁל, to compare one's self, be equal, Job 30:19). על־עפר is also Hebr.-Arab.; the Arabic uses turbe, formed from turâb (vid., on Job 19:25), of the surface of the earth, and et-tarbâ-u as the name of the earth itself. העשׂוּ (for העשׂוּי, as צפוּ, Job 15:22, Cheth. equals צפוּי, resolved from עשׂוּו, ‛asûw, 1 Samuel 25:18, Cheth.) is the confirmatory predicate of the logical subj. described in Job 41:33 as incomparable; and לבלי־חת (from חת, the a of which becomes i in inflexion), absque terrore (comp. Job 38:4), is virtually a nom. of the predicate: the created one (becomes) a terrorless one (a being that is terrified by nothing). Everything high, as the לבלי־חת, Job 41:33, is more exactly explained, it looketh upon, i.e., remains standing before it, without turning away affrighted; in short, it (the leviathan) is king over all the sons of pride, i.e., every beast of prey that proudly roams about (vid., on Job 28:8).
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