Did I say, Bring to me? or, Give a reward for me of your substance?…
In his agonized yearning for sympathy and tenderness, Job further appeals to the conscience and memory of his friends, seeking to put an end to this lacerating contention, and to be reconciled to them in peace.
I. DISCLAIMERS. True friendship disclaims the right to be exacting. We have no right to lay a tax on the property, or time, or energy of those whom we desire to grapple to us as with hooks of steel. All must be spontaneous, voluntary, free, in the mutual offices of friendship. There are a few noble hearts, indeed, with whom every benefit is a reason for another. Shakespeare has drawn the sublime picture of such a one in his 'Merchant of Venice,' who stops not short at the loan of goods, but pledges his very flesh for his friend. But the counterpart is not to be found in actual life. God is he who alone invites our largest asking, wearies not of our urgency, giveth to all liberally, and upbraideth not. The life laid down for us is the pledge that we cannot claim too much from him. The gospel does not fail to point us to the frailty of human nature, even in its noblest moods, in order to set in contrast the illustrious sacrifices of Christ for us. Job had not asked for gifts of substance from his friends to redeem him from durance, or for any other purpose. He had been wiser than to kill the tender plant of mutual good will by unseasonable exactions. And let us read ourselves the lesson that nothing will more surely or speedily break our happiest ties than to allow the hand we offer in affection to be put forth to buy, to traffic, to exact.
II. CLAIMS. But we have great rights and privileges in friendship. These the patriarch insists upon now. He has a right to good words, which are worth much and cost little. He has a right, so long as he is regarded as a friend, to have the truth of his own statements accepted. He has a right to confidence. In distress he is entitled to tenderness, compassion, and efficient guidance by those whose minds are calm and unimpaired by woe. And above all, perhaps, just now, the right of self-defence is most precious, which these advisers seem obstinately to deny. How often is this tragedy enacted! We condemn good men, honest hearts, unheard; we refuse them a fair hearing. They do not easily explain themselves, or we, with our preoccupations and prejudices, are slow to understand. There may be greater ability to defend one's self against the accusations of bitter foes than against the misconceptions of intimate friends. In fact, this is one of those severe trials in relation to our equals of which a recent preacher has so finely discoursed (Mozley, 'University Sermons ').
III. SELF-DEFENCE. Against what fault or sin are these monotonous and harsh reproofs directed? Is it against Job's evil deeds? But they are not specified, and Job denies that they have been done. There is no keener injustice than vague attacks on a man without specification of the exact nature of the charges. Is it the present language of Job? True, hasty words may have escaped him; he fears it; but is the language of health and joy to be tested by the same measures, weighed in the same scales, with that which pain and intense distress extort from the lips? Job knows his heart has not been unfaithful to his God, whatever cries of agony and despair have been berne upon the wind. The whole section thus contains a pathetic appeal to the human conscience for human love; and it teaches us indirectly, bur. with great feeling, the duties of friendly ministry to others in their distress. LESSONS.
1. Calm guidance, healthy suggestions for the morbid intelligence.
2. The "sweetness" (ver. 25) of right words of tender sympathy.
3. Abstinence from argument in such circumstances which only irritates and never soothes.
4. Considerate listening to explanations.
5. Hearty acceptance of honest self-vindications. In all these particulars we have bright examples set us by our blessed Saviour, who never broke the bruised reed nor quenched the smoking flax. By such methods of ministry we are to earn and prove the holy name of friend to our brethren, and lead men to believe that God has angels of blessing in human shape passing about the worn paths of misery in this world. - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: Did I say, Bring unto me? or, Give a reward for me of your substance?