And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away…
Job was very much troubled, and did not try to hide the outward signs of his sorrow. A man of God is not expected to be a stoic. The grace of God takes away the heart of stone out of his flesh, but it does not turn his heart into a stone. I want you, however, to notice that mourning should always be sanctified with devotion. "Ye people, pour out your hearts before Him: God is a refuge for us." When you are bowed down beneath a heavy burden of sorrow, then take to worshipping the Lord, and especially to that kind of worshipping which lies in adoring God, and in making a full surrender of yourself to the Divine will, so that you can say with Job, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." It will also greatly alleviate our sorrow if we then fall into serious contemplations, and begin to argue a little, and to bring facts to bear upon our mind. "While I was musing," said David, "the fire burned," and it comforted and warmed him. Job is an instance of this kind of personal instruction; he has three or four subjects which he brings before his own mind, and these tend to comfort him.
I. THE EXTREME BREVITY OF LIFE. Observe what Job says, "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither." We appear for a brief moment, and then we vanish away. I often, in my own mind, compare life to a procession. Well now, because life is so short, do you not see where the comfort comes? Job says to himself, "I came, and I shall return; then why should I worry myself about what I have lost? I am going to be here only a little while, then what need have I of all those camels and sheep? If my earthly stores vanish, well, I shall vanish too." Further, Job seems especially to dwell with comfort upon the thought, "I shall return to the earth, from which all the particles of my body originally came: I shall return thither." You recollect how the tribe of Gad and the tribe of Reuben went to Moses, and said, "If we have found grace in thy sight, let this land be given unto thy servants for a possession, and bring us not over Jordan." Of course, they did not want to cross the Jordan if they could get all their possessions on the other side. But Job had not anything this side Jordan; he was cleaned right out, so he was willing to go. And, really, the losses that a man has, which make him "desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better," are real gains. What is the use of all that clogs us here?
II. Job seems to comfort himself by noticing THE TENURE OF HIS EARTHLY POSSESSIONS. "Naked," says he, "came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither." He feels himself to be very poor, everything is gone, he is stripped; yet he seems to say, "I am not poorer now than I was when I was born." One said to me, the other day, "All is gone, sir, all is gone, except health and strength." Yes, but we had not as much as that when we were born. We had no strength, we were too weak to perform the least though most necessary offices for our poor tender frame. Old men sometimes arrive at a second childhood. Do not be afraid, brother, if that is your case; you have gone through one period already that was more infantile than your second one can be, you will not be weaker then than you were at first. Suppose that you and I should be brought to extreme weakness and poverty, we shall neither be weaker nor poorer than we were then. It is wonderful that, after God has been gracious to us for fifty years, we cannot trust Him for the rest of our lives; and as for you who are sixty, seventy, or eighty years of age, what! has He brought you thus far to put you to shame? Did He bear you through that very weakest part of your life, and do you think He will now forsake you? Then Job adds, "However poor I may be, I am not as poor as I shall be, for naked shall I return to mother earth. If I have but little now, I shall soon have still less." I want you to notice, also, what I think really was in Job's mind, that, notwithstanding that he was but dust at the beginning, and would be dust at the end, still there was a Job who existed all the while. "I was naked, but I was; naked shall I return thither, but I shall be there." Some men never find themselves till they have lost their goods. They, themselves, are hidden away, like Saul, among the stuff; their true manhood is not to be seen, because they are dressed so finely that people seem to respect them, when it is their clothes that are respected. They appear to be somebodies, but they are nobodies, notwithstanding all that they possess.
III. But perhaps the most blessed thing is what Job said concerning THE HAND OF GOD IN ALL THINGS: "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." I am so pleased to think that Job recognised the hand of God everywhere giving. he said, "The Lord gave." He did not say, "I earned it all." He did not say, "There are all my hard-earned savings gone." What a sweet thing it is if you can feel that all you have in this world is God's gift to you! A slender income will give us much content if we can see that it is God's gift. Let us not only regard our money and our goods as God's gifts; but also our wife, our children, our friends. Alas! some of you do not know anything about God. What you have is not counted by you as God's gift. You miss the very sweetness and joy of life by missing this recognition of the Divine hand in giving us all good things richly to enjoy. But then, Job equally saw God's hand in taking them away. If he had not been a believer in Jehovah, he would have said, "Oh, those detestable Sabeans! Somebody ought to go and cut to pieces those Chaldeans." That is often our style, is it not, — finding fault with the secondary agents? Suppose my dear wife should say to the servant, "Where has that picture gone?" and the maid replied, "Oh, the master took it!" Would she find fault? Oh, no! If it had been a servant who took it down, or a stranger who removed it, she might have said something; but not when I took it, for it is mine. And surely we will let God be Master in His own house: where we are only the children, He shall take whatever He pleases of all He has lent us for a while.
IV. Job's last comfort lay in this truth, that GOD IS WORTHY TO BE BLESSED IN ALL THINGS — "Blessed be the name of the Lord." Let us never rob God of His praise, however dark the day is. "Blessed be the name of the Lord." Job means that the Lord is to be blessed both for giving and taking. "The Lord gave," blessed be His name. "The Lord hath taken away," blessed be His name. Surely it has not come to this among God's people, that He must do as we like, or else we will not praise Him. God is, however, specially to be praised by us whenever we are moved by the devil to curse. Satan had said to the Lord concerning Job, "Put forth Thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse Thee to Thy face"; and it seemed as if God had hinted to His servant that this was what the devil was aiming at. "Then," said Job, "I will bless Him."
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.