Teaching God
Job 21:22
Shall any teach God knowledge? seeing he judges those that are high.

Job has already warned his friends that their advocacy of a cruel creed was speaking wickedly for God (Job 13:7). The presumption of the foolish advocates of an effete orthodoxy now reaches a greater height, and they virtually assume to teach God. Their dogma is above Divine revelation. If the two differ, so much the worse for the revelation. Let us see how this same error may be found in other branches of life and thought.

I. IN AUTHORITATIVE ORTHODOXY. It cannot be said that the mere act of calling in the aid of authority to establish and support what we believe to be the truth implies a disposition to assume to be the teachers of God. But there is a tendency in absolute reliance on authority to move towards that absurdity which reaches its climax in the folly that Job ascribes to his friends. The tendency is to think the settled opinion of our party or section of the Church a certain and infallible truth. Thus people are urged to submit to such settled opinion without inquiry. Though God may have given teaching available to all in nature and in the Scriptures, though he may be speaking in the hearts of his children by the voice of his Spirit, all these Divine communications are set aside in favour of the one human authoritative utterance. Instead of this being subject to the test of nature, Scripture, and conscience, God's voice in those three channels is translated and often distorted into accordance with the dogma of authority.

II. IN PRIVATE JUDGMENT. The same error may be seen in the opposite direction, in a sort of ultra-Protestant employment of the right of freedom of thought. The individual man asserts his opinion as infallible, regardless of the ideas of all other people. He poses as "Athanasius contra mundum," without possessing the title to independence which was earned by the hero of Nicaea. The mischief is not that he is independent - surely everybody should think for himself; it is that he rejects all external aids to knowledge, and sets up his own reason, or often his own prejudice, as the standard of truth. He rejects the Pope of Rome that he may be his own pope. Even the Divine revelation in the Bible must be interpreted so as to agree with his opinions. Instead of going to the Scriptures as a humble learner seeking light, he approaches them as one who has made up his mind, and who mast now get the Bible to echo his notions. The same mistake is made by those who presume to judge nature or providence, thinking they would have done better if they had been in God's place.

III. IN PRAYER. Is it not very common for people to pray as though they were instructing God? They inform him of what he already knows far better than they know it themselves. God invites our confidence and confession; but this is that we may put ourselves into right relations with him, not that we may tell him anything of which he would be ignorant but for our prayer. Or people go further, and offer instructions to God as to the way in which he should act. Prayer, instead of being a supplication, becomes a dictating to God. Entreaty is virtually converted into a demand. We have to learn to submit to the higher knowledge as well as the higher authority of God. Prayer needs to be more simply the trusting of ourselves to God for him to do with us just what he knows to be best. - W.F.A.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Shall any teach God knowledge? seeing he judgeth those that are high.

WEB: "Shall any teach God knowledge, since he judges those who are high?

Mental Independence of God
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