After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day.
This text speaks to us over nearly four thousand years. Job lived in days when the light of truth was dim; the Sun of righteousness had not yet risen above the horizon; Jesus had not yet brought life and immortality to light; and thus it is possible that we are able to understand Job's words more fully and better than he understood them himself. The text may be read first as of the grave, but in its best meaning it speaks of a better world, to which the grave is but the portal.
I. Think of these words as spoken of the grave. (1) In the grave, Job says, for one pleasant thing, "the wicked cease from troubling." Cross the line that parts life from death, and the strongest human hand cannot reach to vex or harm any more. There is nothing more striking about the state of those who have gone into the unseen world than the completeness of their escape from all worldly enemies, however malignant and however powerful. (2) But there is something beyond the mere escape from worldly evil. Now the busy heart is quiet at last, and the weary head lies still. "There the weary are at rest." It is sometimes comforting, and we cannot say it is not sometimes fit and right, to think of a place where we shall find rest and quiet, where "the weary are at rest." But though a deep sleep falls on the body, it is only for a while, and indeed there is a certain delusion in thinking of the grave as a place of quiet rest. The soul lives still, and is awake and conscious, though the body sleeps; and it is our souls that are ourselves. Even that in us which does sleep—even the body—sleeps to wake again.
II. Though these are Old Testament words, we read them in a New Testament light, as those who know that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life to all His people. These words speak of a better world. They point us onward to heaven. The two great things of which they assure us and remind us are safety and peace, (1) There is to be safety, and the sense of safety. "There the wicked cease from troubling." Not wicked men only, but everything wicked: evil spirits, evil thoughts, evil influences, and our own sinful hearts. When the wicked cease from troubling, there will be no trouble at all. (2) "The weary are at rest." We know the meaning of all the vague and endless aspirations of our human hearts. It is that "this is not our rest." Our rest is beyond the grave. There is something of life's fitful fever about all the bliss of this life; but in that world the bliss will be restful, calm, satisfied, self-possessed, sublime. It will be "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding."
A. K. H. B., Counsel and Comfort Spoken from a City Pulpit, p. 128.
Reference: Job 3:17.—G. Durrant, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. ii., p. 371.
Job 3:23I. We have in the text a great certainty—light is given. The light within the soul falls from other worlds, from unseen, unrealised heights beyond the soul. "The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord." Those strange, perceptive intuitions which pry and penetrate into metaphysical subtleties, those frequently even unhallowed inquisitivenesses which question all things—and sometimes, it may be, too daringly—whence are they? Yes, "the light is given."
II. We have in the text a great perplexity—"the way is hid." It seems that the light only reveals itself, neither the objects nor the way. It seems as if our consciousness became paralysed at the touch of speculation; a dark, black wall rises where we anticipated we should find a way. The light tantalises; it distresses. Like a handful of men in camp besieged and beleaguered by the mighty armies of the foeman, the soul exclaims, "I am among lions! Which is the way out?" Knowledge is the saddest condition of the soul if there is not the knowledge of the true God and eternal life.
III. Light can only be seen in Christ. God can only be known in Him. "Why is light given to a man whose way is hid?" (1) To enable him to find his way and to escape beyond the hedge. Light is not its own end, excepting as it shall guide us to the Source of all light. Be the almoner of the light thou hast. God gives the candle for the day, for the occasion. Be faithful to the light of today. (2) Light is given to teach man his dependence, to show him that "it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." (3) What is naturally illegible to sense, and to the apprehension of sense, is legible to faith. "He who believeth shall not walk in darkness." His way is not hid. "The light that never was on sea or land" shines on that way.
E. Paxton Hood, Dark Sayings on a Harp, p. 91.
References: Job 3:23.—Spurgeon, My Sermon Notes: Genesis to Proverbs, p. 118. Job 3—S. Cox, Expositor, 1st series, vol. iv., p. 241; Ibid., Commentary on Job, p. 60. Job 4:6.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 314. Job 4:12-21.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. xi., p. 197.
And Job spake, and said,
Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.
Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it.
Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it.
As for that night, let darkness seize upon it; let it not be joined unto the days of the year, let it not come into the number of the months.
Lo, let that night be solitary, let no joyful voice come therein.
Let them curse it that curse the day, who are ready to raise up their mourning.
Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark; let it look for light, but have none; neither let it see the dawning of the day:
Because it shut not up the doors of my mother's womb, nor hid sorrow from mine eyes.
Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?
Why did the knees prevent me? or why the breasts that I should suck?
For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept: then had I been at rest,
With kings and counsellers of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves;
Or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver:
Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light.
There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest.
There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor.
The small and great are there; and the servant is free from his master.
Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul;
Which long for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures;
Which rejoice exceedingly, and are glad, when they can find the grave?
Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in?
For my sighing cometh before I eat, and my roarings are poured out like the waters.
For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.
I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.