Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer you? I will lay my hand on my mouth.
At length Job is brought near to the state of mind that God desires to see in him. Proud and defiant before the unwise and unjust attacks of his human accusers, he is humbled in the dust in presence of the revelation of God.
I. THE VISION OF GOD IN HIS WORKS HUMBLES US. Job has seen a succession of vivid pictures of the works of God in nature. They all transcend human efforts. Then how great must the Author of nature be! How small are we in his awful presence! Pride is always a form of godlessness. We forget God when we exalt ourselves. Our self-exaltation is only possible while we shut ourselves up in a little world. When we see God we are humbled. Now, this is not only because God is supremely powerful. There is some heroism in the weak maintaining their right in the presence of the strong. But God's greatness in nature is seen in intellectual and moral features. The wonderful thought of God impressed upon his works reveals a mind infinitely greater than the human mind; and the care with which God provides for all his creatures - wild asses, heedless ostriches, and repulsive ravens, as well as those creatures that seem more deserving of his providence - shows us how good God is. Thus the wisdom and goodness of God, added to the power that makes resistance useless, crown the revealed character of God with glory, and invite our humble adoration.
II. SILENCE BEFORE GOD IS THE TRUE EXPRESSION OF HUMILITY. It cannot be said that Job is as yet deeply conscious of sin. The "vileness" of which he makes confession is rather his mean estate, his poor, feeble, human helplessness, than moral guilt. Therefore it does not need to be made much of, or regarded as anything like a full confession. It is, however, the mark of humility to admit it, and then to relapse into silence. This is the Condition to which the great argument of the drama is designed to bring its readers. We are too busy with our own performances in religion. In prayer we have too many words to speak to God. We are always telling him what he knows already, and often dictating to him what we think he should be doing, instead of patiently waiting for his voice and humbly submitting to his will. There is room for more silence in religion and in all life.
III. SILENT HUMILITY IS A PREPARATION FOR EXALTATION, At the end of the book we discover that God exalts Job and loads him with favour and prosperity. But he must be humbled first. The later honour is only possible after Job has abased himself. So long as he justified himself and arraigned the justice of God, he could not be restored and exalted. Thus the poem shows to us the way in which God disciplines his servants and prepares them to enjoy his goodness. Humility is the door to honour. This is a very Christian truth. It is taught by Christ: "Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." It is gloriously illustrated in the life and death and exaltation of Christ (see Philippians 2:5-11). - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.