So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spoke a word to him…
Someone says, "God had one Son without sin, but no Son without sorrow." The line of saints has been a striking one. Men burdened with terrific duties, overwhelmed with affliction, stoned and sawn asunder, persecuted, afflicted, tormented. There is a matter of subsidiary but yet striking interest to which we must advert, namely, the prominence given to Satan in connection with this affliction. The gospel theory of affliction does not name him. "Whom God loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth." But here Satan is the accuser, the adversary, and he, with God's permission, brings upon Job all his troubles. But although in the early twilight of truth all things are not discerned so clearly as in gospel noonday, it is striking how near the fullest truth the writer comes. There have been darkling thoughts in the minds of men on this matter. Some few shallow spirits have never sufficiently resisted temptation to feel its reality and force; nor sufficiently sympathised with the sorrow of the world to feel the mystery of evil. There have been three great lines of thought on this matter of the principle of evil. There have been those who have thought that the Evil One was the Great God, the Lord Almighty. Sometimes they have developed this into the basis of religion, like the devil worshippers in Santhalistan, in Southern India, and in Ceylon. Sometimes they have made it only the basis of their practical life, as the fraudulent, who, in England, in the nineteenth century, believe the god of falsehood and of fraud a stronger providence than the God of truth and honour; or the despairing and remorseful, who think God vengeance only. Sometimes, as in the old Manichean doctrine, men have shrunk from believing in the supremacy of an Evil Deity, but have believed him equal in power to the Good God, and have explained all the mixing of human conditions by the divided sovereignty which governs all things here. And Ormuzd, the god of light, and Ahriman, the god of darkness, have sat on level thrones, confronting one another in constant but unprogressive conflict. The writer of the Book of Job had never lapsed into the despair that deemed evil supreme, nor into that alarm which feared it was equal in power to God. According to him, Satan is powerless to inflict outward trouble or inward temptation, excepting as permitted by the Lord. Substantially, the doctrine of this book on the power of evil is the doctrine of Christ, the doctrine of the devout in all ages. Give heed to it. Evil is not Divine in its power, nor eternal in its mastery over men. It works within strictest limits; the enemy only by permission can touch either soul or body. Be not afraid, nor yield to despair. Love is the supreme and the eternal thing; therefore rejoice. Accusing Job — God gives Satan liberty and power to afflict. The affliction is suggested by Job's enemy, with the hope of destroying his integrity. It is permitted by God with an intent very different; namely, that of developing it. It is no vivisection of a saint that is permitted merely to gratify curiosity as to the point at which the most vigorous vitality of goodness will break down. Little knowing the Divine issue which would proceed from his assault, the enemy goes forth to his envious and hateful task. There is an awful completeness about this calamity of Job. The strokes of it are so contrived that, although some interval may be between them, they are all reported in the same day.
1. Observe that affliction is by God's ordinance part of the general lot of man. A state of perfect happiness, if such were possible, would not be suitable for a world of imperfect virtue.
2. We should not be astonished when afflictions touch us. We all get into the way of assuming that somehow we are to be exempt from the usual ills.
3. Remember that a universal experience has testified that affliction has its service, and adversity its sweetness. Without affliction who could avoid worldliness? It is the sorrows of this life that raise both eye and expectation to the joys of the life to come. Without affliction there would be but little refinement — no tender ministries, no gracious compassion, no self-forgetful sympathy. All the passive virtues, which are so essential to character, thrive under it — such as endurance, patience, meekness, humility. Prosperity coarsens and scars the conscience; affliction gives it tenderness. The necessity for stronger faith itself strengthens it.
4. It is but a deduction from this to add: Remember, therefore, affliction is not hate, but love. "Whom God loveth He chasteneth." Lord Bacon forgot Job when he uttered his fine aphorism: "Prosperity was the blessing of the Old Testament, but adversity of the new."
Parallel VersesKJV: So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.