Are the consolations of God small with you? is there any secret thing with you?
Eliphaz is disappointed at the failure of the consolations which he and his two friends intended for the mitigation of Job's sorrows. He coolly assumes that these consolations are from God, and that Job despises their Divine worth. So he asks - Are the consolations of God small things to Job, and the gentle words in which they are conveyed but little appreciated? Let us see how it comes about that consolations are not appreciated. The fault may lie with the consoler or with the sufferer.
I. WHEN THE FAULT IS WITH THE CONSOLER. It is very difficult to offer true consolation. Too often we only chafe the sore which we would soothe, and hurt when we think to heal. Where is the cause of failure?
1. A false assumption. Eliphaz assumes that he and his friends have been bringing to Job the consolations of God, whereas they have been doing nothing of the kind. Their hard doctrine of exact, temporary retribution is not true, and it could not have come from God. Truth is the first requisite in all speech and counsel. It is a common error to confound man's notions with God's truth. Very often the protest which we take to be a rejection of the gospel is only urged against our unworthy presentation of it. The failure of people to receive the truth of Christ is frequently due to the ugly and odious ideas of man with which that truth is confused.
2. A mistaken judgment. Job could not accept the well-meant consolations of the three friends because they implied that he was a great sinner, and called him to repent of what he knew he should not have been credited with doing. The injustice of the charge soured the consolation, and its balm was turned to bitterness. We must learn to understand men if we would help and comfort them.
3. An unsympathetic method. The three friends did not appreciate Job's sufferings; therefore he could not appreciate their consolations. Sympathy is the most essential ingredient of comforting influences. Until we can feel with the sufferer, all our attempts to aid him will be but bungling failures. The Divine Spirit is the great Comforter, because he enters our hearts and lives with intelligence and sympathy.
II. WHEN THE FAULT IS WITH THE SUFFERER.
1. Impenitence It might have been as Eliphaz had supposed, and in some cases it is so, and then the guilty man excludes the Divine consolations by refusing to confess his sins. So long as the sinner declines to admit his guilt he cannot receive God's comfort. The grace of God is sufficient for all the needs of all his children, and yet none of it is effective with his disobedient and unrepentant children.
2. Rebellion. Possibly no great sin has been committed, and no great guilt incurred, and still the attitude of the sufferer towards his God may exclude consolation. He must submit in order to be comforted. Resignation is a condition of Divine consolation. When the wind is opposed to the tide, it tears off the crests of the waves and flings them about in wild spray; whereas when wind and tide flow together, the great rollers run smoothly on to the beach. It is our rebellion against the tide of providence that tears our life and makes its bitterest agony. When we have learnt to say, "Thy will be done," our harmony with God's will smooths down the height of the trouble and prepares for the Divine peace.
3. Unbelief. Until we can trust God his consolation seems small to us. It is not valued till it is tried. Unbelief minimizes grace. According to our faith is the blessing, great or small. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Are the consolations of God small with thee? is there any secret thing with thee?