Job 3:17

I. TROUBLE ANTICIPATES THE PEACE OF THE GRAVE. There is a famous picture of Orcagna's in the Campo Santa at Florence, representing Death suddenly appearing in a motley crowd of men and women, and producing the most opposite effects. The rich, the young, and the gay flee in terror; but the poor, the miserable, and the sick stretch forth arms of longing welcome to their deliverer. When life is despaired of, death is sweet. Seeing that all must die, this is some compensation for the inequalities of life. The sleep of the tired toiler is deep and calm; and the footsore pilgrim on life's highway looks forward at times to his final rest with unspeakable eagerness. He can endure in view of the delicious repose which he sees beyond all his sufferings - a repose, however, which has no attraction for the healthy end happy. It is only a false sentimentalism that leads vigorous young people to apply the well-known words of the text to themselves.

II. WICKEDNESS IS AT THE ROOT OF THE TROUBLE THAT MAKES THE PEACE OF THE GRAVE DESIRABLE. Job's first thought is that the wicked cease from troubling in the land of the dead. There the captive no longer hears the odious voice of his oppressor. Injustice and heartless selfishness make a hell of this earth, which would be a very paradise if all men lived in the atmosphere of 1 Corinthians 13. It is horrible to think how often man's cruelty to man has turned the natural love of life into a yearning for the release of death. Certainly this wrong cannot continue beyond the grave. And yet there is a deeper and more personal truth. Our own sin is our greatest trouble. Too often we are ourselves the wicked who trouble our own hearts.

III. CHRISTIANITY OFFERS SOMETHING BETTER THAN THE PEACE OF THE GRAVE. We must remember that we have not here a complete Divine oracle concerning the future. Job is merely giving utterance to his despair. There is a certain truth in what he says, but it is not the whole truth. It is true that "there remaineth a rest to the people of God" (Hebrews 4:9). But Christ offers more than negative relief from the troubles of this life. He brings to us eternal life. To the Christian death is not sinking into silence for ever, but sleeping in Christ to awake in a new resurrection-life. Job looked forward to the still grave. We can anticipate the blessed heaven,

IV. THE CHRISTIAN HOPE RESTS ON MORE THAN THE EXPERIENCE OF DEATH. To die was all that Job hoped for; to die as an embryo dies who has never known life seems to him far better than to drag out such a weary existence as he now sees before him. Thus the mere dying and ceasing to be are enough. But for the larger Christian hope more is needed. Death is not the door to heaven; Christ is that Door. There is no certain road to peace through death; for death may lead to darker distress in a future of banishment from God. There is no peace in the "outer darkness," but "weeping and gnashing of teeth." For future rest even, and for the life eternal which is better than rest, we have to be born from above, and w be walking on earth in the footsteps of Christ. If we are doing this, it is not for us to long for death, but to "work while it is day; for the night cometh, wherein no man can work." - W.F.A.

There the wicked cease from troubling.
True rest and wickedness never meet; rest and the wicked meet but seldom. And it is but half a rest, and it is rest but to half a wicked man, to his bones in the grave; and it is rest to that half but for a little time, only till the resurrection. The word here used, and in divers other places, signifieth wickedness in the height, and men most active in wickedness. So that when Job saith, There the wicked are at rest, he means those who had been restless in sin, who could not sleep till they had done mischief, nor scarce sleep for doing mischief; he means those who had outrun others in the sinful activity (Acts 26:11).

1. Wicked men are troublers both of themselves and others. There the wicked cease from troubling; as if the wicked did nothing in the world, but trouble the world. Wicked ones are the troublers of all; they are troublers of their own families, troublers of the places and cities where they live, the troublers of a whole kingdom, troublers of the Churches of Christ, and the troublers of their own souls.

2. Wicked men, by troubling others, do as much weary and tire out themselves.

3. Wicked men will never cease troubling until they cease to live. In the grave they cease troubling, there they are at rest. If they should live an eternity in this world, they would trouble the world to eternity. As a godly man never gives over doing good, he will do good as long as he lives, though he fetches many a weary step; so wicked men never give over doing evil, until they step into the grave. And the reason of it is, because it is their nature to do evil. The wicked will sin while they have any light to sin by; therefore God puts out their candle, and sends them down into darkness, and there they will be quiet. The wicked shall be silent in darkness.

(J. Caryl.)

And the weary are at rest.
In the grave — where kings and princes and infants lie. This verse is often applied to heaven, and the language is such as will express the condition of that blessed world. But, as used by Job, it had no such reference. It relates only to the grave. It is language which beautifully expresses the condition of the dead, and the desirableness even of an abode in the tomb. They who are there are free from the vexations and annoyances to which men are exposed in this life; the wicked cannot torture their limbs by the fires of persecution, or wound their feelings by slander, or oppress and harass them in regard to their property, or distress them by thwarting their plans, or injure them by impugning their motives. All is peaceful and calm in the grave, and there is a place where the malicious designs of wicked men cannot reach us. The object of this verse and the two following is to show the reasons why it was desirable to be in the grave, rather than to live and to suffer the ills of this life. We are not to suppose that Job referred exclusively to his own case in all this. He is describing, in general, the happy condition of the dead, and we have no reason to think that he had been particularly annoyed by wicked men. But the pious often are; and hence it should be a matter of gratitude that there is one place, at least, where the wicked cannot annoy the good, and where the persecuted, the oppressed, and the slandered, may lie down in peace. For "there the weary be at rest," the margin has "wearied in strength." And the margin is according to the Hebrew. The meaning is, those whose strength is exhausted, who are worn down with the toils and cares of life, and who feel the need of rest. Never was more beautiful language employed than occurs in this verse. What a charm such language throws even over the grave — like strewing flowers and planting roses around the tomb! Who should fear to die, if prepared, when such is to be the condition of the dead? Who is there that is not in some way troubled by the wicked — by their thoughtless, godless life by persecution, contempt, and slander? (comp. 2 Peter 2:8; Psalm 39:1) Who is there that is not at some time weary with his load of care, anxiety, and trouble? Who is there whose strength does not become exhausted, and to whom rest is not grateful and refreshing? And who is there, therefore, to whom, if prepared for heaven, the grave would not be a place of calm and grateful rest? And though true religion will not prompt us to wish that we had lain down there in early childhood, as Job wished, yet no dictate of piety is violated when we look forward with calm delight to the time when we may repose where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the weary are at rest. O grave, thou art a peaceful spot! Thy rest is calm; thy slumbers are sweet.

(Albert Barnes.)

Thorns in our nest make us take to our wings; the embittering of this cup makes us earnestly desire to drink of the new wine of the kingdom. We are very much like our poor, who would stay at home in England, and put up with their lot, hard though it be; but when at last there comes a worse distress than usual, then straightway they talk of emigrating to those fair and boundless fields across the Atlantic, where a kindred nation will welcome them with joy, So here we are in our poverty, and we make the best of it we can; but a sharp distress wounds our spirit, and then we say we will away to Canaan, to the land that floweth with milk and honey, for there we shall suffer no distress, neither shall our spirits hunger any more.

(J. Trapp.)

There the winked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest. The day was, when it was thought fit that the Christian's last resting place should be surrounded by gloomy and repulsive associations. It is not of peaceful rest that the burying place of the Middle Ages would remind you. We all remember the locked up, deserted, neglected churchyard, all grown over with great weeds and nettles, and not like God's acre at all. How much more appropriate are the quiet, beautiful, open, carefully tended cemeteries of today! It is not merely better judgment but sounder faith that is here. It is a thoroughly Christian thing, to scatter the beauties of nature around the Christian grave. In the text I see something that is like turning the ghastly, neglected, nettle-grown churchyard which we may remember in childhood, into the quiet, sweet, thoughtful sleeping place which we find so common now. The text speaks to us over nearly four thousand years. Job lived in days when the light of truth was dim; Jesus had not yet brought life and immortality to light; so it is possible that we are able to understand Job's words more fully and better than he understood them himself. The text may be read first of the grave; but in its best meaning it speaks of a better world, to which the grave is the portal.

I. THESE WORDS AS SPOKEN OF THE GRAVE, "THE HOUSE APPOINTED FOR ALL LIVING." We need not justify the impatient burst in which Job wished, as many others have wished since, that he had never been born. Job speaks of the rest to which he would gladly have gone. He would have slumbered with the wise, the great, and the good: how he would have lain still and been quiet, where trouble could never come, in the peaceful grave. There "the wicked cease from troubling." There is one place into which the suffering can escape, where their persecutors have no power. There is nothing more striking about the state of those who have gone into the unseen world than the completeness of their escape from all worldly enemies, however malignant and however powerful. But there is something beyond the mere escape from worldly evil. Now the busy heart is quiet at last, and the weary head lies still. What a multitude there is of these weary ones. But there is a certain delusion in thinking of the grave as a place of quiet rest. The soul lives still, and is awake and conscious, though the body sleeps; and it is our souls that are ourselves. We have no warrant for believing that in the other world there will be any season of unconsciousness to the soul.

II. TAKE THE WORDS IN THEIR HIGHER AND TRUER MEANING. They speak of a better world, whose two great characteristics are safety and peace.

1. There is safety and the sense of safety. Everything wicked — evil spirits, evil thoughts, evil influences cease from troubling. Everything evil, whether within us or around us, shall be done with. If evil were gone, trouble would go too. The great thing about evil and trouble here is not so much the pain and suffering they cause us, as the terrible power they have to do us fearful spiritual harm.

2. Besides the negative assurance, that trouble will be done with in heaven, we have the promise of a positive blessing. "There the weary are at rest." The peace and happiness of the better world are summed up in that word. "The end of work is to enjoy rest," said one of the wisest of heathen. Doubtless there will be rest from sin, from sorrow, from toil, from anxiety, from temptation, from pain; but all that fails to convey the whole unspeakable truth; it will be the beatific presence of the Saviour that will make the weary soul feel it never knew rest before! In that world the bliss will be restful, calm, satisfied, self-possessed, sublime. The only rest that can ever truly and permanently quiet the human heart is that which the Saviour gives. His peace. And He gives it only to His own.

(A. K. H. Boyd.)

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