Job 15:20
A wicked man writhes in pain all his days; only a few years are reserved for the ruthless.
The Consequences of Evil-DoingR. Green Job 15:20-30
Warnings from the Wisdom of ExperienceE. Johnson Job 15:20-35


1. Lifelong pain. Notwithstanding all appearances of ease and prosperity, the bad man only suffers. The sword seems ever suspended above the tyrant's head. The serpent is ever busy with the tooth of remorse at his heart.

2. Dread fancies throng through every sound into his imagination; he is ever in terror of some sudden doom. He sees a darkness coming upon him from which there is no possibility of escape. In the glance of dread fancy he sees himself already singled out for the fatal sword-stroke. The gaunt shape of famine seems to haunt his steps; from his soft couch and splendid table he looks out into a dark scene, and realizes it as present; he is overcome by anguish and trouble, as a king is borne down amidst the turmoil of battle. Thus conscience makes the guilty man a coward, and the "native hue of resolution is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought." "A guilty conscience! I ask no other hell."


1. Rebellion against God. This is presented under the powerful figure of a warrior, rushing against his foe, on the field, in headstrong fury. Self-will, leading to contempt of the moral order of God, and this to violent resistance to all moral restraint; here is the genesis and development of sin. See the history of Pharaoh.

2. His selfish life. He lives in luxury, pampering his body till he becomes a gross mass of flesh, full of carnal appetite. In his unsocial ambition and greed he has laid waste flourishing cities rich in men, that he may abide in them alone, as if he could not find place enough for the dwelling of his body and preferred to live alone amidst wide desolation, rather than peacefully among a multitude of the happy. So in Isaiah 5:8, "Woe to them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!" "He enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people" (Habakkuk 2:5). "He builds a town with blood, and lays its foundations in iniquity "(Habakkuk 2:12). The picture is one of grasping, insatiable greed and covetousness, which shut a man out from the sympathy of his fellows. Some, however, take ver. 28 as referring further to an act of disobedience in fixing his dwelling among ruins, cursed by God and forbidden to future habitation.

III. THE INSTABILITY OF THE WICKED. (Vers. 29-33.) His hopes are disappointed, riches elude him, his accumulations melt away. Unlike the heavy harvest of the waving corn, he is rather like the tree whose roots do not sink deeply into the earth (ver. 29), so that every outward misfortune becomes in extreme source of danger - all his blossoms and fruits are cast away before the time of gathering! Then, again, the figure of darkness returns, which he only escapes, to fall into the glowing breath of God's anger, which blasts everything that is green and fair in his prospects.

IV. THE VANITY AND FOLLY OF THE WICKED. (Vers. 34, 35.) He begins by trusting in vanity, in what is baseless, such as all absence of moral principle; and vanity, according to the moral constitution of the world, must be the end of his schemes. The time of ripeness and harvest must be that of destruction; or like the blossoms of the olive in certain years, which fall off without fruit being formed, his plans never come to maturity. The "brood" of the wicked man is unfruitful; the fire devours his tent. Or like the woman who has falsely conceived, and remains long in deception, but at last perceives with grief the nothingness of her hopes, so with the wicked man (comp. Isaiah 7:14-17; Isaiah 33:11). LESSONS.

1. Goodness alone has substance, vitality, endurance, fruitfulness.

2. Evil is emptiness; it carries with it self-delusion; its end is disappointment and failure. - J.

What is man that he should be clean?
Of all the truths acknowledged and assumed in this ancient book, we find none more clearly or readily confessed than that of man's original sin and native corruption. "What is man that he should be clean?" When a question is asked in argument and left unanswered, it is the strongest possible form of denial. It is more than saying no man is clean or righteous. It represents such a supposition as man's priority or holiness to be preposterous and absurd. Man, as man, and as born of woman by natural descent, is necessarily imperfect and impure. God is Himself the pure and perfect one, and nothing is pure or perfect but what is in God. All other purity and perfection is therefore comparative. Man may be pure and perfect as a man, while he is still very far from the purity and holiness of God. God has other and higher beings than man. Compare man with these. By "saints" here are meant the holy angels. God is said not to put trust in them. Their perfection is derived and comparative, not absolute. Contemplate man as he actually is; take the positive side of the charge brought against him in the text. II he is not clean, and cannot be righteous in God's sight, then what is he? "How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water." It might be urged that this is the representation made of the case by an angry and unscrupulous disputant, only anxious to establish his own position. But does not Job himself allow much the same? Is he not brought to say, "Behold, I am vile." "I abhor myself"? Such representations abound in Scripture. Away, then, with all human maxims and all worldly opinions, which only throw a false gloss over the heart, and conceal its hidden corruption without touching it. Let us always look at ourselves in the looking glass of God's Word, and not in the deceitful mirror of our own judgment, or the flattering world's opinion.

(W. E. Light, M. A.)

Archbishop Usher was once asked to write a treatise upon sanctification; this he promised to do, but six months rolled away and the good Archbishop had not written a sentence. He said to a friend, "I have not begun the treatise, yet I cannot confess to a breach of my promise, for to tell you the truth I have done my best to write upon the subject; but when I came to look into my own heart I saw so little of sanctification there, and found that so much which I could have written would have been merely by rote as a parrot might have talked, that I had not the face to write it." Yet if ever there was a man renowned for holiness it was Archbishop Usher; if ever there was a saintly man who seemed to be one of the seraphic spirits permitted to stray beyond the companionship of his kind among poor earthworms here, it was Usher, yet this is the confession he makes concerning himself. Where, then, shall we hide our diminished heads?

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

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