Then Job replied to the LORD:
I. THE HUMBLE ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF GOD'S POWER. (Ver. 2.) God can do everything; and no "beginning," no germinating or budding thought, is hidden from him; he sees it alike in its origin, development, and end. Both the fearful forms of force in the animal life of nature, and the striking destinies of individual men, are constant proofs of the presence of him who governs the world in power and in justice.
II. AS ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF HIS OWN IGNORANCE AND WEAKNESS. (Ver. 3.) Justly did God rebuke him in the question, "Who darkeneth counsel without understanding?" He has been passing judgment on matters he did not understand, drawing conclusions from imperfect premisses, dealing with things that are and must remain to us mysterious, as if they could be explained by the rules of a limited experience. [t is this haste, this childish impatience of suspense, which drives some into discontent and murmuring, others into unbelief and atheism. A haste to speak before our thought is ripe, a haste to judge before the materials of judgment are at hand, - these lead in human intercourse and in Divine relations to false positions, which must be sooner or later abandoned. But we see in Job -
III. THE EXPRESSION AND THE ACT OF PENITENT. (Vers. 4-6.) Quoting (ver. 4) the summons of Jehovah at the beginning of his discourses (Job 38:3 and Job 40:7), he gives the answer alone befitting and required. He had before heard of God, i.e. had had an indirect and imperfect acquaintance with God. There is a knowledge of God at second hand which is insufficient to bring us to the sense of our true relations to him (comp. Psalm 48:9). We hear about God from the sources of early instruction, parents, teachers, pulpits, and books, and yet may thus not be brought into personal communication with God. In contrast to this is the personal vision of God. Not with the eyes of the body, but with the deeper view of the mind - the intellectual intuition, the contemplation of the Invisible through his creative manifestations (Romans 1:19, 20). This immediate view of God produces at once a new view of sell. To see that God is infinite is to see that we are finite; to behold his perfection is to be sensible of our own imperfection; to acknowledge him to be in the right is to confess that our thoughts are wrong; to be amazed and enraptured with his glory is to loathe our own meanness. Yet these thoughts may exist in the mind, and yet be without result except that of conscious misery. But their tendency and their purpose are to produce repentance, as we see in the example of Job. And here we mark the traits of a true repentance. It is to" recall" the idle word, the impious thought; and it is to reverse the attitude of the mind from that of presumption and pride to that of submission and humility. So in dust and ashes, with pride abased, overcome by the Divine majesty, would Job offer those sacrifices which God does not despise (Psalm 51.). In returning to God he returns to his true spirit and attitude of patience. Out of this, by the provocation of his friends, he had allowed himself to be mused. But now hearing the rod, and who hath appointed it, kissing the hand that hath smitten, he waits in silence until the blessing of the Most High anew exalts the sincere penitent. - J.
Then Job answered the Lord, and said.I. JOB'S ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF GOD'S GREATNESS. Throughout his speeches Job had frequently asserted the majesty of God. But now he has a new view of it, which turns awe into reverence and fear into adoration.
II. JOB'S CONFESSION OF HIS IGNORANCE. He felt that in his past utterances he had been guilty of saying that which he understood not. It is a very common fault to be too confident, and to match our little knowledge with the wonders of the universe. "Behold, we know not anything," is man's truest wisdom.
III. JOB'S HUMBLENESS BEFORE GOD. A great change had passed over his spirit. At the beginning he had sought to vindicate himself, and to charge God — with the strangeness and the mystery of His ways. Now, at the close, he repents in dust and ashes, and even abhors himself for his effrontery and impatience.
IV. GOD'S CONDEMNATION OF JOB'S FRIENDS. The friends of Job had not spoken the thing that was right of God and His ways. They had ascribed a mechanical severity to His administration of human affairs. In addition to that they had shown an acrimonious spirit in their denunciation of Job. So God reproved them, and ordered that they should prepare a burnt offering of seven bullocks and seven rams to offer for their sin.
V. JOB'S ABUNDANT PROSPERITY. Great End prosperous as Job had been before his afflictions, he was still greater and more prosperous afterwards. God gave him twice as much as he had before.
(S. G. Woodrow.)
I. THE RESULT INWARDLY.
1. Job's new knowledge.(1) He has a new knowledge of God — not new in its facts, exactly, but new in his appreciation of them. It was not so much a knowledge that God is, as that He is omnipotent, and wise in His providence. Every revelation of God to our hearts has for its contents, above the fact of God's existence, the facts of His character. God is never shown to us except with His attributes. This new knowledge came to Job because he suffered. When Job sees God, and learns of his attributes, the cue attribute which he has questioned, and which he would naturally want to know about — justice — remains in the background. When God shows Himself to us we are satisfied, even though He does not show that part of Himself which we have most wanted to see.(2) A new knowledge of himself. He says frankly that he had been talking about which he was ignorant. All along Job had been discussing God with his friends upon two assumptions — that he was able to know all about Him, and that he did know all about Him. He now finds that he was mistaken in both. How difficult it is to know ourselves, even negatively. A sight of the Infinitely Holy convicts us of sin. We learn what we are by contrast with something else.
2. In connection with Job's new knowledge there came a new state of heart.(1) He was willing to have his questions unanswered. All thought of the vexing problem of suffering seems to be forgotten. Faith has silenced doubt. We are not made to know some things. The question is, how to be satisfied while not knowing.(2) The appearance of God brought to Job the rare virtue of humility. We cannot truthfully say that heretofore Job had shown any excess of this virtue. Now he sees that the attitude of mind out of which his bold words Godward had arisen was unbecoming one who was but a creature. It is no mark of greatness to fancy oneself infallible. To acknowledge mistake is a sign of progress.(3) Job goes beyond humility to repentance. He says that dust and ashes are the best exponent of his state of mind. Repentance is open to any man who thinks. No one, not even righteous Job, needs to hunt long for reasons for repentance.
II. THE RESULT OUTWARDLY OF JOB'S COMING INTO CONNECTION WITH GOD.
1. His misfortunes were reversed. We cannot infer from this that God will always literally restore earthly prosperity for those who are afflicted by its loss. What we may reasonably infer is that God controls outer things for good ends to us. We are not to infer that the Lord's hand is shortened, but He chooses His own way.
2. God transforms Job's sorrow into joy. Some time or some where He will do the same for us if we are His. It may be largely in this life, as in the case of Job. The area of vision has been enlarged by our blessed Lord, who brought life and immortality to light.
3. Job was able to be of service to his friends. Jehovah was angry against the three friends. God's coming to Job was a means of his being a blessing to others. It is so with ourselves.
III. GENERAL LESSONS.
1. The conclusion of the Book of Job shows to us the mercy of God. God sometimes seems unmerciful, but it is only seeming.
2. Job's questions remain unanswered. The mystery of Providence is unsolved.
3. Yet Job was satisfied. It was better for him to have Jehovah reveal Himself and His glory to him, than to know all things he wanted to know. There is something better than knowledge, something for which knowledge would be no substitute, the peace of the soul in fellowship with God.
4. The supreme lesson of this sublime Book is that joy comes through submission to God. happiness for the human soul is not in conquest, but in being conquered; not in exaltation, but in humiliation.
(D. J. Burrell, D. D.)
(C. A. Dickinson.)
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