And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against you…
I. THE DIVINE JUSTIFICATION OF JOB. (Vers. 7-10.) The cure of the inward sickness of the sufferer's spirit is followed here, as we often see in the course of life, by outward health and happiness.
1. The reproof of the friends. (Ver. 7.) Addressing Eliphaz, as their chief spokesman, Jehovah declares his displeasure that they have not spoken the truth concerning him. Not that they have spoken with wilful dishonesty, but that they have been in error. There has been a want of heart, and therefore a want of right thought. They have refused to receive the testimony of a brother's substantial innocence; have persistently tried to fix on him a guilt which did not exist. The habit of censeriousness, the habitual exclusion of charity from our feelings, vitiates and falsifies the whole course of our thought. The grave question arises, whether any intellectual error can in the end escape condemnation; whether the very definition of such error is not the thought arising from an evil state of heart. But Job, on the other hand, has spoken the substantial truth, and for the opposite reason. Again and again we have seen how his contention is for truth; and how, beneath all the irritation of his hasty words, there has been throbbing a heart true to God. And now comes the hour of recognition, as it ever will come for every faithful soul. What a blissful sound is there in those words of recognition and of pardon and of justification, "My servant Job"! What grace in the long-delayed, but now fully granted answer to the prayer (Job 16:21) that right may be done before God and his friends! But let us clearly grasp and retain the principle and the contents of this Divine judgment. The friends spoke ill, and Job spoke well. This is the Divine judgment. On what ground is it based? Their one point was this: affliction is the evidence of God's wrath, and of the afflicted one's guilt. And they were wrong. Job's insistence is that afflictions are not always the sign of the sufferer's guilt nor of the anger of God. And Job is right. And there remains the grand principle illustrated by the discourses of Jehovah, and on which this judgment rests, that affliction comes from the will of supreme power and justice. And this is so, although the reasons of affliction cannot by our imperfect intelligence be fully known. At the same time, the judgment on this great point at issue does not exclude the elements of truth and beauty to be richly found in the discourses of the friends; nor does it excuse the passion and the hasty speeches of Job.
2. Sacrifice for sin and intercessoty prayer. (Vers. 8, 9.) The friends are directed to perform an act of worship, the character el which appears to point back to early times (comp. Numbers 23:1; Genesis 7:2, 3; Genesis 8:20, et seq.). All outward sacrifices were the visible expression of inward feelings, of thankfulness and joy, of reverence, and especially, as here, of the desire of the penitent to renounce his sin and be at one with his God. Blood was the most sacred symbol, because it was the expression of life. The life of the animal offered in sacrifice represents the life of the worshipper surrendered to God. Hence for us the deep significance of the "blood of Christ;" and the highest act of worship is the presenting ourselves, body, soul, and spirit, to God through Christ and his sacrifice; that is, with his spiritual sacrifice present to the eye of the spirit, as the ancient animal sacrifice was present to the bodily eye of the early worshipper. Then, on the other hand, sacrifice as divinely ordained is a language from God to us, as well as one on our part to God. It bespeaks the willingness of God to enter into relations of peace with man. It therefore announces the possibility of repentance and of forgiveness conditional upon repentance; and so calls man to turn, to be converted and healed. Thus regarded and used, the great Christian sacrament is a powerful means of grace, and is most appropriately resorted to at such great epochs of spiritual history as that here set before us. Again, the passage brings to notice the privilege of intercession. "Pray for one another, that ye may be healed" As the intercession of Abraham for Abimelech is honoured, so now is Job appointed a mediator and intercessor for those who have forfeited a measure of Divine grace, and thus the prophecy of Eliphaz (Job 22:30) is realized. We are encouraged in the New Testament to pray for one another. The great law of mediation runs through life (comp. Butler's 'Analogy'), and this is one of its illustrations. A value is justly attached to good men's prayers. How far this privilege extends, and what are its limits, we do not know. It belongs to spiritual laws, the operation of which cannot be fully verified in the field of experience. It is a truth revealed in the heart and for the heart; and the heart has reasons, as Pascal says, which reason knows not. Let us sacredly guard the oracles of the heart, and thankfully receive every ray of confirmatory light that actual experience affords. The song of a tiny bird by the wayside which brings us comfort, may be a messenger of God to the soul; and the prayer of our feebleness for those whom we know not otherwise how to assist may effect a far-working good, as may theirs for us. But what a beautiful touch is this in the narrative, "Jehovah turned the captivity of Job while he was praying for his friends"! For it points to the fact that amongst the best moments of our life are those in which we lose sight of self in thought for others; when we can forgive and forget the injuries we have received from others, and seek their good in deeds of kindness, in words of prayer.
II. RESTORATION OF OUTWARD PROSPERITY. (Vers. 11-17.) "Twice as much as he had before." God takes away only to enrich, never to ruin and destroy, the faithful heart. He knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation; and as we have seen throughout the book the powers by which he leads souls to himself more nearly, so here we see his "end" (James 5:7-11; 1 Corinthians 10:13). The swallow-like friendship of men, vanishing as the winter of trouble draws on, returning when the sun of prosperity gains power once more, is contrasted with t he enduring, never-changing friendship of the eternal, one God. The life, then, the sufferings, the triumph and happy end of Job, are a type for all ages of the lot of the Christian, of the child of God. A harmony of the inward spirit with the outward surroundings is necessary to the completeness of life. This restored possession of wealth and honour is a happier state than his life's beginning, because it is a state more truly in relation to God. All that he has and enjoys he now possesses for God's sake. God is revealed in his gifts, and from his presence and love they derive their savour. Dens meus et omnia! "My God and my all!" is the motto of the heart purified and humbled by affliction. The darkness and the mystery pass away from the life when the great secret is discovered that in all outward changes "God is God to me." Here is a type of him who was humbled to the death of the cross, and who, because he, though a Son, learned obedience by the things he suffered, received a name above every name. What, then, have we to do, as followers of him, but to commit ourselves to God as to a faithful Creator; to receive what he assigns us humbly, and enjoy it thankfully, knowing that by denying us many things on which our hearts are set, he is doing us the greatest kindness in the world, which is to "keep us from temptation," and by keeping us from temptation, to "deliver us from evil," and by delivering us from evil, to prepare and fit us for all the good that can be desired, and for himself, the endless inexhaustible Fountain of it, "in whose presence there is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand there are pleasures for evermore"? To whom be ascribed all praise, might, majesty, and dominion for ever. Amen. - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.
WEB: It was so, that after Yahweh had spoken these words to Job, Yahweh said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "My wrath is kindled against you, and against your two friends; for you have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job has.