Then Job answered the LORD, and said,…
The primary object of the Book of Job is to prove and illustrate the glory and force of a pure, unselfish religion. Job was reconciled to his sufferings, not by argument, but by a direct revelation of the character of God. We have here what has been well called "a religious controversy issuing in utter failure." Neither party was convinced; each retained his own views. The result in this case, as in every religious controversy which has occurred since, was bitterness of spirit and alienation of heart, without adding much to the cause of truth. It was not when the friends addressed him that Job was convinced, but when Jehovah addressed him — when He brought him face to face with the wonders of creation — then the mystery of suffering was solved. The moment a man begins to have a living perception of God, when God becomes a presence and a reality to him, he begins to be sorry for his wrong-doing. Job had been peevish, complaining, and somewhat vindictive under his trials. The nearer a man approaches his perfect ideal, the more he feels his imperfections. As the moral sense of the race increases, the more heinous seem the so-called smaller sins. The term which Job uses when he says "I repent" is identical with that which is used in the New Testament to indicate the godly sorrow which is not to be repented of. It means a genuine turning away from evil Observe that the reprovers are reproved. The doctors are treated with a dose of their own medicine. Their dogma falls upon their own heads. They had been placing the justice of God above all His other attributes, and now this very justice has pronounced against them. It is very easy to fall into the error of Job's three friends, to set ourselves up as monopolists of the truth, and make people around us who do not happen to agree with us very uncomfortable. The trouble with Job's friends was, that in their zeal to vindicate their favourite doctrine they not only ignored other doctrines which were fully as important, but they violated some of the simplest principles of righteousness. How does God treat these unprofitable debaters? He rebukes their assumption by sending them to the victim of their persecution, that he may pray for them. They did as they were told. The lesson was humiliating, but it was salutary, and they showed their real goodness of heart by their prompt obedience. We must not miss noticing in the beautiful climax the double lesson which it contains. There had been wrong on both sides. Job had little occasion to boast of his victory, and the greatness of his soul appeared in the heartiness with which he accepted the Divine decision. Here we have the only true solution of the religions controversy. Among Christians who disagree there can be no victor or vanquished, Dissensions which end in the glorification of one party and the humiliation of the other are only followed by more bitter conflicts, or are the beginning of a long estrangement. It is only when Eliphaz and Job can get down on their knees together that a real peace is established.
(C. A. Dickinson.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then Job answered the LORD, and said,