Elihu also proceeded, and said,
The sinner's excuses answered.
I. One excuse is that the Bible cannot be true because it represents God as unjust. It represents God as creating men and then condemning them for another's sin. To this the answer is: (1) The Bible always represents the sinner condemned as really sinning himself, and as condemned for his own sin. (2) Children are never punished punitively for their parents' sins. The evil that befalls them through their connection with their parents is always disciplinary, never punitive. (3) Everywhere in the Bible men are condemned only for their voluntary sins, and are required to repent of these sins, and of these only. Indeed, there can possibly be no other sins than these.
II. Again, it is objected that God is unmerciful, vindictive, implacable. He would not forgive sin until He had first taken measures to kill His own Son. The answer to this is plain. It was not an implacable disposition in God which led Him to require the death of Christ as the ground of forgiveness. It was simply His benevolent regard for the safety and blessedness of His kingdom. The giving up of Jesus Christ was only a voluntary offering on God's part to sustain law, so that He could forgive without peril to His government.
III. Another difficulty is this: the Bible always assumes that sinners cannot do right and please God with a wicked heart. Can we make ourselves a new heart? Yes; you would have done so long ago if you had not resisted God in His efforts to move you to repentance. The Holy Ghost is necessary, but only to overcome your voluntary opposition.
C. G. Finney, Sermons on Gospel Themes, p. 103.
Job 36:2I. The wisdom put into the mouth of Elihu when the three friends had failed reminds us of what we are taught elsewhere in the Bible: that there are times when traditional authority must give way to truth, when he who is young may instruct those who are aged, when out of the mouths of babes and sucklings God has ordained that very strength which the world most needs. Each generation must learn not only from that which has gone before, but from that which is coming after, it.
II. The book of Job impresses upon us that there are problems beyond the power of man to exhaust, and that in the certainty of that uncertainty it is our privilege to rest. The human mind, it may be well said, may repose as calmly before a confessed and incontrovertible difficulty as before a confessed and discovered truth.
III. The third lesson is found in Job's words "I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." He was called from dwelling on himself and his own virtue to feel that he was in the presence of One to whom all earthly intelligence and wisdom seem insignificant. Calamities bring us into the presence of Him before whom we must feel a sense of sin and infirmity. The self-abasement of Job is a necessary element of that perfect and upright character of which he is the type.
IV. This sense of the vastness of the universe, of the imperfection of our own knowledge, may help us to understand, not indeed the origin of evil and suffering, but something of its possible uses and purposes. Distrust of ourselves, self-abasement before the Judge of all mankind, charity for others—these are the gifts which often are the best results of distress, of doubt, and of difficulty.
A. P. Stanley, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiv., p. 289 (see also Addresses and Sermons in America, p. 133).
References: Job 36:2.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiv., No. 1403. Job 36:5.—Ibid., vol. xxiii., No. 1380; Ibid., Evening by Evening, p. 12.
Job 36:10Discipline is the art or system of learning generally any little things. It is very much the same as instruction or education. But because teaching or education is often a very hard thing, and accompanied with severity, discipline has come to be taken in a severe sense, for we generally associate it with pain and hardship. This discipline or training is among the things which God promises to the righteous. Consider the discipline of joy.
I. The beauty of nature is one of the truest joys of life; and it will give a grandeur and a holy and happy solemnity to our delight in a lovely prospect and our enjoyment of a river, or a sea, or a mountain, or a garden, or a flower if we recognise that delight as preparatory to our possession of Paradise and our right habit and use of a fairer and lovelier world.
II. We may take the same view of society. Perhaps the greatest end for which society is given us is that by the social graces we may learn the social glories. Our social meetings are the rehearsals and the beginnings of the amenities and the comforts of the saints.
III. Look at the discipline of joy in your own experience. Have you never found that it was the affliction that hardened you, but that it was the joy that softened you? Did you never walk proudly through a trial to be humbled by a mercy? And is not that joy discipline? You will be a wiser and happier man when you have learnt to let your joys be your schoolmasters for Christ and heaven.
J. Vaughan, Sermons, 14th series, p. 21.
References: Job 36:10.—J. Vaughan, Sermons, 14th series, p. 29. Job 36:26.—Parker, Fountain, April 29th, 1880. Job 36-37—S. Cox, Expositor, 1st series, vol. xi., p. 264; Ibid., Commentary on Job, p. 463. Job 37:6.—H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvii., p. 6. Job 37:14.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. xiv., p. 221.
Suffer me a little, and I will shew thee that I have yet to speak on God's behalf.
I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.
For truly my words shall not be false: he that is perfect in knowledge is with thee.
Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any: he is mighty in strength and wisdom.
He preserveth not the life of the wicked: but giveth right to the poor.
He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous: but with kings are they on the throne; yea, he doth establish them for ever, and they are exalted.
And if they be bound in fetters, and be holden in cords of affliction;
Then he sheweth them their work, and their transgressions that they have exceeded.
He openeth also their ear to discipline, and commandeth that they return from iniquity.
If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures.
But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge.
But the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath: they cry not when he bindeth them.
They die in youth, and their life is among the unclean.
He delivereth the poor in his affliction, and openeth their ears in oppression.
Even so would he have removed thee out of the strait into a broad place, where there is no straitness; and that which should be set on thy table should be full of fatness.
But thou hast fulfilled the judgment of the wicked: judgment and justice take hold on thee.
Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his stroke: then a great ransom cannot deliver thee.
Will he esteem thy riches? no, not gold, nor all the forces of strength.
Desire not the night, when people are cut off in their place.
Take heed, regard not iniquity: for this hast thou chosen rather than affliction.
Behold, God exalteth by his power: who teacheth like him?
Who hath enjoined him his way? or who can say, Thou hast wrought iniquity?
Remember that thou magnify his work, which men behold.
Every man may see it; man may behold it afar off.
Behold, God is great, and we know him not, neither can the number of his years be searched out.
For he maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof:
Which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly.
Also can any understand the spreadings of the clouds, or the noise of his tabernacle?
Behold, he spreadeth his light upon it, and covereth the bottom of the sea.
For by them judgeth he the people; he giveth meat in abundance.
With clouds he covereth the light; and commandeth it not to shine by the cloud that cometh betwixt.
The noise thereof sheweth concerning it, the cattle also concerning the vapour.