Job 26:1
Then Job answered:
Sermons
Praises of the EternalE. Johnson Job 26:1-14
The Transcendent Greatness of GodHomilistJob 26:1-14

I. REPARTEE AND REPROOF. (Vers. 2-4.) The tone seems to be ironical: "How well hast thou helped feebleness, supported the arm of him that has no strength, counselled unwisdom, and in fulness given utterance to good sense! To whom hast thou offered words, and whose breath went forth from thee? By whose inspiration?" possibly pointing to the borrowed character of Bildad's speech. Words may be good in themselves, yet not pleasant or profitable if not spoken in good season. It would have been more to the purpose had Bildad spoken to the wounded spirit of his friend of the tenderness and the compassion rather than the majesty and greatness of God. The minister of God should know how to speak a word in season to the weary (Isaiah 50:4). "We are often disappointed in our expectations of our friends who should comfort us; but the Comforter, who is the Holy Ghost, never mistakes in his operations, nor misses his ends." Job takes a noble revenge by painting in far more glowing and noble language the sublime greatness of God, thus showing how true in faith was his heart at bottom. His petulance and outcries are the involuntary irritation of pain; they are superficial; at the core of his being piety lives in all its intensity.

II. JOB'S SURPASSING DESCRIPTION OF THE MAJESTY OF GOD. (Vers. 5-14.) "Truth, like a torch, the more it's shook, it shines." "It were well if all disputes about religion might end thus, in glorifying God as Lord of all, and our Lord, with one mind and one mouth (Romans 15:6), for in that we are all agreed."

1. Hell and heaven. (Vers. 5-7.) Job begins at the opposite end of the great scale of creation from that with which Bildad began; with the lower world the region of shadows thence to rise to the heavenly world. "The shadows are made to tremble below the water and its inhabitants" (ver. 5). By the shadows are meant the ghostly, bloodless forms as Homer has described them in the eleventh book of the 'Odyssey,' leading a joyless, melancholy existence, deprived of the light of the sun (Psalm 88:11; Proverbs 2:18; Proverbs 9:18; Isaiah 26:14, 19; comp. Job 14:9, 10). Even in Hades the vast power of the Almighty is felt, and its inhabitants own it and tremble (Psalm 139:8; Proverbs 15:11; James 2:19). This lower world is naked to the eyes of God (Hebrews 4:13), and the chasm of Hades has no covering (Proverbs 15:11; ver. 6). The Northern heaven - taken here by a figure, as the part for the whole - is stretched over the void, and the earth hangs upon nothing (ver. 7). The expression "nothing" here denotes the same as the "void" - the vast emptiness of space in which the earth with its heavenly canopy is placed. Compare the classical parallels in Lucret., 2:600, sqq.; Ovid, 'Fast.,' 6:269, sqq. A Persian poet says -

"He stretches out the heaven
without pillars as the tent of the earth ....
What doth the air bear? it beareth nothing,
and nothing on nothing, and absolutely nothing." And an Arab poet, "He has made the heaven out of smoke." And in the Koran, "It is Allah who has built high the heaven, without supporting it on visible pillars." The poets say that Atlas bore the heaven on his shoulders; but we confess the true Atlas, the Lord our God, who by his word upholds both heaven and earth (Brenz). As the work witnesses of the master, so does the universe testify of its Creator, Sustainer, and Governor (Psalm 19:1-6); and no faint-hearted one has contemplated the eternal order which here confronts him and its secret but ever-blessed sway, and no sinner longing for salvation has tarried in the hails of this great temple of God, without being richly blessed with heavenly blessings (Wohlfarth).

2. The clouds and the heavenly region. (Vers, 8-10.) Waters are firmly bound up in the clouds as in vast water-skins, according to the conception of the poet, without their bursting with the weight, if God wills to retain the rain (ver. 8; Genesis 7:11; Genesis 8:2). God veils the "outer side" of his heavenly throne, the side turned towards earth, by drawing the clouds between (ver. 9). He has drawn a circling boundary over the water's surface to the crossing of the light with the darkness (ver. 10; Proverbs 8:27). In both passages the idea is that the earth is surrounded by water (in Homer, by the flowing stream of ocean). Above is the circle of the hemisphere, where sun and stars run their course. Within this circle is the region of the heavenly bodies and of light, and outside it begins the realm of darkness.

3. Mountains; the sea; constellations. (Vers. 11-13.) The heaven's pillars - that is, the great mountains, conceived as bearing up the firmament - fall into trembling, and the earthquake is represented as caused by their affright at his reproof (ver. 11; comp. Psalm 29; Psalm 104:7; Isaiah 50:2; Nahum 1:4; Revelation 6:12-14; Revelation 20:11). He terrifies the sea by his power, and by his understanding breaks in pieces Rahab (ver. 12). Rahab being here not Egypt, as in other places, but some huge monster of legendary fame. His breath makes the heaven bright and clear; and his hand has pierced through the flying serpent (ver. 13). This may, perhaps, allude to the mythical representation of eclipses of sun or moon as the attempt of a monstrous dragon to swallow up the heavenly bodies, The ceremony is practised, among the Turks and others, of beating off this dragon at the time of eclipses by cries and noises. These descriptions of the Creation are founded on astronomical myths belonging to the childhood of the world; but our better knowledge of the mechanism of the heavens need not destroy our sense of the reverence and awe which pervade these descriptions, The wonder of ignorance is replaced by the nobler wonder of intelligence, of reason. CONCLUSION. (Ver. 14.) "Lo, these are ends of his ways" - but the outlines or sketches - the nearest and most familiar evidences of his government of the world; "and what a gently whispering word it is that we hear! - but the thunder of his omnipotence who can understand?" The full unfolding of his power, the thundering course of the heavenly spheres, what mortal ear could bear?

"If nature thundered in our opening ears,
And stunned us with the music of the spheres,
How should we wish that Heaven had left us still
The gentle zephyr and the purling rill?" The whole contemplation is fitted to teach us our ignorance, and to lead to humility, to wonder, to adoration. We see but a small part of the immeasurable kingdom of God. We play with a few pebbles on the verge of the infinite ocean of existence. The knowledge of the greatest philosopher is but the short-sighted glance of a tiny insect! Our earth is but a grain of sand in the vast whole, a drop in the bucket. Thus the discoveries made of God lead us to the depth and height of the undiscovered and unknown. A modern philosopher says that religion and science find their point of union and reconciliation here - in the recognition of the unknown, unknowable Power in the universe. This recognition stills vain rivalries and idle controversies. "When we have said all we can concerning God, we must, even as St. Paul (Romans 11:33), despair to find the bottom; we must sit down at the brink and adore the depth: 'Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!'" (comp. 1 Corinthians 13:9-12). But, again, the sense of what is unknown should lead us to hold the more firmly to that which is known, especially through the gospel of his grace and love. There he speaks to us from out the vastness and splendour of the creation with a voice that we can understand, that touches the heart - "My child!" This everlasting God is ours-our Father and our Love. Without the knowledge of his grace and mercy in Christ, the knowledge of his majesty and purity must drive us to despair. - J.







Man, that is a worm.
1. With peculiar emphasis we may say of the worm, it is "of the earth earthy." Springing out of it, boring into it, and feeding on it, or on that which grows upon it, — it is a singular image of man, who was formed out of the dust of the ground, and is destined to return to it, and who, alas! feeds on it. All men may not be equally represented by that which belongs to the extremely gross in character.

2. In the naturally repulsive character of a worm we have an illustration of sin. The only thing that repels God from man is sin. To man's weakness, ignorance, poverty, and sorrow, the Creator can and does graciously draw near; but from man's sin He recoils. What sin is to God, it should be to us — a repulsive thing — that which we should hate and flee from.

3. The carrion-worm and canker-worm afford us an illustration of the injurious character of man as a sinner. What are the ravages of war but the dread results of human carrion-worms revelling in human blood? What are the restless activities, passions, and pursuits of men, but the ceaseless gnawing of pride, envy, ambition, lust, anger, malice, deceit, and suchlike things — the canker-worms of the soul, and the carrion-worms of the body?

4. Learn a lesson of humility from the different classes and pursuits of worms. Some are great and some small; some attractive and some unsightly.

5. Worms are not without their use in the world, and some — such as silkworms — are of great value.

(Anon.).

But Job answered and said.
Homilist.
I. God appears incomprehensibly great in THAT PORTION OF THE UNIVERSE THAT IS BROUGHT UNDER HUMAN OBSERVATION.

1. In connection with the world of disembodied spirits. "Dead things are formed from under the waters and the inhabitants thereof. Hell is naked before Him, and destruction hath no covering."

2. In connection with this terraqueous globe. "He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing." "It is evident that the true figure of the earth had early engaged the attention of men, and that occasionally the truth on this subject was before their minds, though it was neither brought into a system nor sustained there by sufficient evidence to make it an article of established belief."

3. In connection with the starry universe. "By His Spirit He hath garnished the heavens." W. Herschell observed one hundred and sixteen thousand stars pass the feeblest telescope in one quarter of an hour. But what are they? Only a few drops to the ocean.

II. INSIGNIFICANT COMPARED WITH THOSE PARTS THAT ARE UNDISCOVERED IN IMMENSITY. "Lo, these are parts of His ways; but how little a portion is heard of Him? but the thunder of His power who can understand?" Conclusion —

1. God's greatness is not inconsistent with His attention to little things.

2. God's greatness is a vital subject for human thought. No subject is so soul quickening. No subject is so humbling.

(Homilist.)

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