I. INTRODUCTION: DENUNCIATION OF JOB AS A FOOLISH AND VIOLENT SPEAKER. (Vers. 1-4.) He is one who "hunts after words." Let him be truly sensible and rational, begs this confident Pharisaic preacher. "Why do you treat us as stupid beasts? ' he indignantly expostulates. "You tear yourself to pieces in your anger, and think yourself lacerated by God" (comp. Job 7:16). Does Job exact the earth to be depopulated and rocks to be removed for his sake? Bildad thinks that Job's repeated assertion of his innocence aims at the subversion of the moral order of the world - the holy order given by God (comp. Romans 3:5, 6). It is a grand thought, though misapplied by the speaker. The order of God, alike in nature and the human spirit, is unchangeable, and admits of no exception. But this order is not to be misunderstood by drawing conclusions from the outward to the inward life. Where the higher, the spiritual, is concerned, reason, Scripture, and conscience, rather than any outward tokens, must decide the truth.
II. DESCRIPTION OF THE DREADFUL DOOM OF THE HARDENED SINNER. (Vers. 5-21.) Most solemn and pathetic; a masterpiece of dramatic representation. A series of striking figures is made to pass before the eye of imagination.
1. The light of the wicked is put out; no flame leaps from his fire, no cheerful lamp hangs from his tent-roof. This is a favourite image (Job 21:17; Job 29:3; Psalm 18:28; Proverbs 13:9). The Arabs say, "Fate has put out my lamp" (vers. 5, 6).
2. Another figure: his steps are hemmed in - current in the East - and his own counsel overthrows him (ver. 7).
3. Again, the figure of the nets and snares and pitfalls, by which he meets his ruin (vers. 8-10). Terrible thoughts and dread events throng around him, and pursue him, like the Erinnyes of the Greek mythology - messengers from God to disquiet his guilty soul (ver. 11).
4. Disaster and ruin are personified in the poetic description. The one has an eager hunger for him; the other stands ready, like an armed foe, to cast him down (ver. 12).
III. The description now TAKES A MORE PERSONAL DIRECTION - POINTING TO THE STATE OF JOB.
1. His disease - the terrible elephantiasis - the "first-born of death," devours him piecemeal (ver. 13).
2. Expelled from his secure abode, he advances into the power of the "king of terrors" (ver. 14). He dwells in the tent of another, while brimstone from heaven desolates his former habitation (comp. Job 15:34; Deuteronomy 29:22, 23; Psalm 11:6). This, it is said, is still at the present day the most dreadful of images to the mind of the Semitic peoples - the desolation of the home (ver. 15).
3. Another figure: he is like a tree, withered at the root, and topped above (ver. 16). An imprecation was written on the sarcophagus of Eshmunazar, "Let him have neither roots below nor branches above]" (comp. Isaiah 5:24; Amos 2:9).
4. His memory passes away from the land, and his name is known over the wide steppe no more (ver. 17; comp. Job 13:12). He is thrust out of the light of life and happiness into the darkness of calamity and death, and is hunted from the round habitable earth (ver. 18). No scion nor shoot springs from him among the people; none escaped from his utter ruin in his dwellings (ver. 19).
5. An awful impression is felt by all, in East and West alike, who contemplate so dreadful a doom. "Thus," concludes Bildad, "it befalleth the dwellings of the unrighteous, and the place of him that knew not - recognized and honoured not - God" (vers. 20, 21). Detaching this address from its inappropriate application to the sufferer, it is in itself a noble piece of warning and exhortation. Letus gather from it a few lessons.
1. The curse of the wicked is the extinction of the light of God, who is the Light and Brightness of the righteous (vers. 5, sqq.; Psalm 36:9, 10; Psalm 119:105). The light, again, may be taken as a figure for the clear knowledge of man's destiny, a clear consciousness in the whole life (Matthew 6:22, 23). Then the light in the tent enhances the figure, and beautifully points to this clear consciousness in the daily relations of the house.
2. (Vers. 17, sqq.) The memory a man leaves behind is not of so much consequence as the consciousness in life of being known to God. There are many true and hidden ones in the world, whose deeds are done in secret for God's sake (John 3:21); and many godless ones, who make so great a stir and noise in the world that they are talked of after they are gone. It is a peculiar blessing to the child of God if he be made an example to any, and after his death a sweet savour ascends from his life to God's praise (Proverbs 10:7).
3. The repeated descriptions of the doom of the ungodly are intended to quell our envy at the sight of unhallowed prospering, and direct our thoughts to the inward, the only real life. How can we judge whether any one is a true fearer of God? Not from his religious observances, not from the external fortunes which befall him, not from his individual good works; but from the .faith which he owns, from the whole direction of his life to the Divine, from the frame of mind in which he dies (Psalm 73:17, 19, etc.; Wohlfarth). - J.
I. A CHARACTER SPOKEN OF. "Righteous." As persons who are taught to discard their own righteousness, and are clothed upon with the righteousness of another. Clad in that righteousness, they are taught to live "soberly, righteously, and godly in this present evil world."
The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.
(J. A. Picton, M. A.)
I. AT THE KIND OF STRENGTH AND PROGRESS THAT IS PROMISED IN THE TEXT TO THE RIGHTEOUS. Our text speaks of a strength whose greatest triumphs in this world are still future, as Christ's greatest triumphs in and over men are still future. It is a benign strength this that lies calmly resting on the sure promises and unchanging faithfulness of God. This kind of strength is moral and spiritual might, active, aggressive, victorious goodness. The strength of our text is the strength of right in vanquishing wrong, the strength of moral goodness in overcoming moral evil, both in its possessor and around him. This spiritual strength is counted weakness by the world, because its triumphs are not only like itself, spiritual, but they are often not immediate. Men who walk by sense, seeing not the things which are invisible, cannot wait God's time and way. And yet to conquer sin and self is man's best and greatest triumph. Every man's noblest battlefield lies within, not without himself; lies within, not without his fellow man. In harmony with the world's prevailing false idea of greatness, the idol gods, and the human heroes that men have made or chosen for themselves, have for the most part been powerful, but not goad. Look at the gods of the heathen. Superhuman in power always, but human, and almost infra-human, in character often. It is not moral and spiritual power, but grosser forms of power, that most people admire most. The suffering attitude of Jesus seemed to His contemporaries, and still seems to the eye of the natural man, the weakest of all Divine displays of power. And yet this in truth is not only the highest kind of power, but it is the mightiest in moral result. For the Cross of Christ is the very "power of God unto salvation." Here in the Cross of Christ we see more of the peculiar power of God "who is love," than anywhere else. Here lies the power of the Gospel. It is the revelation of God's rich grace and love to the evil. God instructs us to seek as our best personal attainment, the possession of a goodness so strong, and pure, and lofty, that evil from within, us and from without us shall flee away ashamed and vanquished before its overcoming and subduing power. This strength needs to be all the more diligently cultivated by us because it is not natural to us. In our fallen state we are spiritually weak. But this best kind of strength may be obtained. It is the life of God in the soul of man, and it re-creates in God's image the soul that it enters, and its presence becomes in part visible. The men in whom this life not only exists, but is abundant, by their very presence, both at rest and in action, exert a beneficent moral power and influence. These are the men from whose moral being a felt virtue goes forth that good men seek, and bad men shun. For there are men, every movement of whose mind creates currents of healthful, healing, spiritual influence, and such God-inspired men are strong. The text holds before us the encouraging prospect, that the really good man shall, by the inherent laws of goodness, go on his way, and become stronger and stronger in goodness, more and more successful in gaining victories over evil. Intellectual greatness we ought all profoundly to revere as one of God's best gifts to man; but we ought not to dishonour the Holy God and His moral image in man by an unholy worship of intellect as disjoined from goodness. How much even in the service of religion is talent often exalted above grace! View the text as a Divine direction, and also as a positive promise of success, to every renewed soul that is trying to make progress in the Divine life, and asks by what means he may become strong. An answer to this inquiry is much needed.
II. WHO ARE THEY THAT OBTAIN THE STRENGTH PROMISED IN THE TEXT? All do not. The man who would be strong and hold on his way must be in God's sense "righteous, and keep his hands clean."
1. The righteous, — the upright, honest, virtuous, pious. Our obligations to God and man not only lie near together, but at many points intersect and overlap each other. Righteousness is a name which covers over and enters into the whole web of human duty. The Bible name "righteous" denotes a well-defined class of men who are not now what they once were, but have been "born again." Our text does not speak of any man in his natural unrenewed state; but it speaks of man when under a supernatural tuition, of man the subject of Divine grace. Life comes before strength, and is more important. Get life, and strength will fellow.
III. THE LAWS THAT REGULATE THIS GROWTH OF STRENGTH. The reasons why the righteous grow stronger are both natural and supernatural. Note —
1. The operation of the natural law that the exercise of our faculties strengthens them. This is a law of the mind as well as a law of the body. The religion of the Bible perfectly harmonises with all Divine law. It is a reasonable service which yet rises above reason. Mature piety is ordinarily the ripened product of years well spent.
2. The righteous man who has clean hands holds on his way, and ever grows stronger through the ordinary operation of the great law of habit. Habit makes all things castor, and among others the most difficult Christian duties. The law of habit comes into action in favour of duty as well as in favour of sin.
3. The righteous man, and of clean hands, holds on his way, and waxes stronger and stronger by the teachings of experience.
4. The righteous man holds on his way, because religion is a life of which Christ is the source. But all life is much affected by food, climate, and exercise; and so is this higher life. Divine truth is the fit food of this life.
5. The great reason is that the righteous man's God and Father holds him up and strengthens him. And He is the living God. When others stumble and fall, the righteous man rises and stands upright, because God strengthens and upholds him. Clean hands, and such alone can lay a firm hold upon God, and lovingly constrain Him in His visits to leave a blessing behind Him. Polluted hands have no such power. The man who seeks and finds this Helper must hold on his way and grow stronger. The whole atmosphere of Scripture is strongly provocative of robust spiritual health. The Godward attitude continued in makes weak men to become strong, and strong men to become stronger and stronger.
(J. C. Macintosh.)
II. THESE RIGHTEOUS ONES ARE DESCRIBED AS ON THEIR "WAY." There is but one way, and Jesus is that way — the way of acceptance with God, the way in which alone we can walk so as to please God. It is the only way of happiness, and may be a way of self-denial.
III. THE PROMISE. "Shall hold on." It is as positive as language can express it. He shall do it. Discouragements he may have, and shall have; trial of his patience, his hope, and his love — this he stands continually in need of, day by day, and hour by hour; through want of watchfulness he may slumber; through want of diligence he may stumble; withholding prayer, he ceases to fight; through self-confidence he may fall; but "the righteous shall hold on his way." It is the "mouth of the Lord that hath spoken it."
(J. H. Evans, M. A.)
( C. H. Spurgeon.)John Bunyan, has not pictured Christian as carried to heaven while asleep in an easy chair. He makes Christian lose his burden at the cross foot, he ascribes the deliverance of the man from the burden of his sin, entirely to the Lord Jesus; but he represents him as climbing the Hill Difficulty — ay, and on his hands and knees too. Christian has to descend into the Valley of Humiliation, and to tread that dangerous pathway through the gloomy horrors of the Shadow of Death. He has to be urgently watchful to keep himself from sleeping in the Enchanted Ground. Nowhere is he delivered from the necessities incident to the way, for even at the last he fords the black river, and struggles with its terrible billows. Effort is used all the way through, and you that are pilgrims to the skies will find it to be no allegory, but a real matter of fact: your soul must gird up her loins; you need your pilgrim's staff and armour, and you must foot it all the way to heaven, contending with giants, fighting with lions, and combating Apollyon himself.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. THE CHARACTER OF THOSE WHO ARE HERE INTRODUCED. They have already commenced the course of the Christian life. The expression "clean hands" denotes their freedom from those pollutions which are connected with human nature in its unconverted state. The language further suggests an open and honest profession of their attachment to the ways of God and righteousness. The man who partakes of this character will necessarily be concerned that he may hold on his way, and wax stronger and stronger.
II. THE CONSIDERATIONS WHICH LED YOU TO SEPARATE YOURSELF FROM THE WORLD AND TO DEVOTE YOURSELF TO GOD. All these claims are now at hand, and possess all the claim they ever possessed. Hold on your way, and look to the exercise of that cleanness of spirit which every honest mind will be concerned to possess. Look to the exercise of purity of intention, to the testimony which God has connected with His Word, that it may come home to your heart, and work mightily there.
(R. Vaughan.)I. THE PERSONS SPOKEN OF. The "righteous" are those who have "clean hands." The former term describes their state, the latter their character. Righteous is a forensic term. There can only be two ways of being righteous — either by never having sinned, or by being delivered, in some way or other, from the condemnation due to sin. The former applies to the angels. For fallen man another kind of righteousness must be devised, which is, the imputation of Christ's righteousness unto him.
II. WHAT IS SAID CONCERNING THEM? "Shall hold on his way." They are going onward in the way to heaven; in this way they meet many obstacles — as from false brethren, false teachers, false waymarks. There are obstacles both in the way of faith and of conduct. Nevertheless, they shall "hold on their way." This must necessarily follow.
1. From a consideration of the character of God. He is faithful and immutable.
2. From a consideration of the death of Christ. He died for us, not leaving it doubtful what effects would be produced by His death.
3. From a consideration of the nature and constitution of the covenant of grace. It is God's will that saints should have strong consolation, upon the ground of their final perseverance.
4. From a consideration of the nature of real conversion, and the work of God the Holy Spirit.
5. From a consideration of the intercession of Christ, which must be ever prevalent.
6. From a consideration of the nature of that principle which is implanted within them. It is an immortal principle; an "incorruptible seed."
I. HE IS RIGHTEOUS. The character in the text is right with God. Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
II. HE IS HOLY. He has "clean hands." The hand is the instrument of action; it is moved by the heart — the pulsations of which are right, and so he can lift them up to God "without wrath or doubting." He is not afraid for God to see them, nor for Him to know the principles whence these actions emanate. A man has just as much religion in his business as he has in his closet; the same in the counting house as he has on his knees. There is no reason why labour should not be a psalm, and commerce a ritual in the best sense of the word. The time shall come when "holiness to the Lord" shall be written upon the bells of the horses; and then, whether men eat or drink, or whatever they do, they "do all for the glory of God."
III. HE IS PERSISTENT. "He shall hold on," etc. At an important period of his existence, Gibbon said of his prospects, "All is dark and doubtful." Of this character's future, all is bright and hopeful — "Glory, honour, immortality, eternal life," are in the future. "He shall hold on his way." The wind, and tide, and sea may be against the steamers which reach your port, but through the power of the steam within, they hold on their way. Outward circumstances may appear to be all against the character of the text; but by the power of the principle within he "holds on his way." This is a moral duty. Final perseverance is an article for the code, rather than for the creed. This is a law of the Divine life. The leaven is put in to leaven the whole lump. You must go on, or recede; you cannot stand still. The purest water that ever fell from heaven will corrupt if it be stagnant.
IV. HE IS GROWING. The Bible beckons you on to better things, and urges you to "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." This is also confirmed by experience. There is also a power in the habit of goodness. The more you exercise faith, the easier you can do so. The more you do for God, the more delightful becomes the exercise. In every conflict with hell in which you conquer, you learn the tactics of war, and become mightier for further engagements. What a bright vista opens before the soul which is morally right!
(G. Warner.)Job 42:5, 6): —
1. It is not possible to set out the salient features of Job's strength with even a slight approximation to completeness, without taking into account the immense energy he derived from his burning consciousness of unimpeachable integrity. Not that Job made no mistakes. He made many. He misconceived God's methods, misjudged God's heart, flung censures to right of him and censures to left of him, spoke rashly and petulantly. But never did he sink into an insincerity, or clothe himself with a sham; but maintained an unbroken consciousness of integrity of spirit and purity of heart. Integrity is power. Sincerity is a high form of human energy. Righteousness as a passion of the heart, and an element in character and life, is a manifest and undeniable source of imperial force. Wickedness is, in spite of seeming strength, actual imbecility.
2. Nevertheless, the closing picture of this hero, Job, is not that of a conqueror, but a confessor; not of an enthroned prince, but a kneeling penitent. This is not what we expected. The language of genuine sorrow and deep self-abasement loads his lips, and his far-shining integrity is not worth a moment's lip defence by the side of his failure to keep the law of God. Sincerity is good, but it is not sinlessness. Indisputable integrity of purpose, and inflexible honesty of heart, are jewels of unspeakable worth, but they will not atone for rash speech, misjudgment of God, and hatred of weak and faulty men. Be true, by all means; but think of Job's penitence, and remember that the heroic virtue of integrity and wholeness, superlatively good as it is, is not enough.
3. It is the special charm of Job's story that it exhibits this high-strung and strenuous integrity dwelling in the same spirit with the acutest penitence and throbbing self-loathing. We can recognise these qualities apart, and appreciate them in their singleness, but that they should blend in the same life, tenant the same spirit, and be sources of power to the same character, conflicts with our habitual thought. Yet the minds of culminating power in the vast brotherhood of the world's workers and redeemers, have not been more deeply marked by their persistent devotion to purity of thought, uncompromising fidelity to fact, and aspiration after perfection, than by their quivering sensitiveness to the smallness of their achievements, acute sense of personal fault, and prevailing consciousness — often attended by spasms of weakening pain — of absolute failure. The righteous Job in his penitence anticipates the Church of the first-born in heaven. It is fidelity to the clearest laws of advancing human life which marries in one and the same progressive spirit, inflexible consecration to reality and right, and deep and true penitence for failure and sin.
4. Whence came this penitential mood? What induced this change of feeling? The unexpected revolution is effected by the revelation of God to the eye of the soul. "Mine eye seeth Thee." He passes out of the realm of mere "hearsays" about God, to that of inward experience and actual communion. The eyes give fuller and clearer knowledge than the ear. Job knows God as he did not know Him before. The character of his knowledge is changed, heightened, vitalised, intensified, personalised.
5. Was not Job led to this renewing sight of God by the voice that addressed, startled, and overwhelmed him out of the whirlwind, forcing in upon his mind an oppressive and overwhelming conception of the creative and administrative power of the Almighty? Is not the ear the way to the spiritual eye, as surely as the sight of God is the way to repentance, and repentance the way to life?
6. Here, then, is one signal value of the knowledge of God, even of His immense power and greatness. It is the ground and spring of a true conception of ourselves, of our limitations and possibilities, our actual condition and ethical ideal.
7. Such God-inspired penitence swiftly vindicates itself in the pure sincerity and holy brotherliness it creates, and the reconciliations it effects between man and man, and man and his lot. Sin divides; repentance unites. Humbled before the Lord, Job becomes a priest. Set the tree of penitence in such a Divine soil, and it must bear this kind of fruit.
(J. Clifford, D. D.)
1. It is a rough road, up hill, down dale, across rivers, and over mountains.
2. Moreover, the road is long. It is a life-long road.
3. Besides that, the road is so contrary to fallen nature. It is a way of faith.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
LinksJob 18:1 NIV
Job 18:1 NLT
Job 18:1 ESV
Job 18:1 NASB
Job 18:1 KJV
Job 18:1 Bible Apps
Job 18:1 Parallel
Job 18:1 Biblia Paralela
Job 18:1 Chinese Bible
Job 18:1 French Bible
Job 18:1 German Bible
Job 18:1 Commentaries