There the wicked cease from raging, and there the weary find rest.
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.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.
And the weary are at rest.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.
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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