Blessed indeed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
I. A WISE CORRECTION. A good purpose will always be held in view. "Not willingly," "not for his pleasure," does he afflict. His aim is to promote our good - " that we may be partakers of his holiness."
II. A GRACIOUS CORRECTION. Mercy will temper it. "He remembereth we are but dust."
He will no load of grief impose III. A BENIGN CORRECTION. Happy fruits follow it. If he afflicts, he heals. He delivers in six, yea, seven troubles. He redeems the famishing from death. He hides from the scourge of the tongue. He screens from the stroke of destruction. He draweth men into good ways; then, when they please the Lord, he maketh even their enemies to be at peace with them. Beautifully is this illustrated: "Thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field; and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee." He who keeps the commandments of God is in harmony with the whole kingdom of God. This encourages to patience under trials. 1. It is the Lord's chastisement. 2. It is controlled and regulated by a Divine hand. 3. It has a wise and worthy end in view. 4. It cometh to its blessed fruition in the sanctity and perfectness of human character. - R.G.
III. A BENIGN CORRECTION. Happy fruits follow it. If he afflicts, he heals. He delivers in six, yea, seven troubles. He redeems the famishing from death. He hides from the scourge of the tongue. He screens from the stroke of destruction. He draweth men into good ways; then, when they please the Lord, he maketh even their enemies to be at peace with them. Beautifully is this illustrated: "Thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field; and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee." He who keeps the commandments of God is in harmony with the whole kingdom of God. This encourages to patience under trials.
1. It is the Lord's chastisement.
2. It is controlled and regulated by a Divine hand.
3. It has a wise and worthy end in view.
4. It cometh to its blessed fruition in the sanctity and perfectness of human character. - R.G.
1. That afflictions to the children of God at sorest are but corrections. Blessed is the man whom God corrects. You will say, But what is a correction? And how differenced from judgments and punishments, and wherein do they agree? They agree, first, in the efficient cause. God lays His hand on man in both. Secondly, they agree in the matter; the same evil, the same trouble to one man is a correction, to another a judgment. Thirdly, they may agree also in the degree; a trouble or an affliction may fall and lie as heavy, and be as painful to sense upon a child of God, as upon the vilest wretch in the world; he may be as poor, as friendless, as sick as any wicked man. What, then, is this correction? And where will the correction and the judgment part? I conceive that the infirmities of the saints, and the Sins of the wicked differ, as judgments and corrections differ. Then, where do they part? Surely, where corrections and judgments part. Especially in two things.(1) In the manner how;(2) In the end why they are inflicted. First, the Lord never corrects His children with such a heart as He carries in laying trouble upon wicked men. The heart of God is turned toward His children when He corrects them; but His heart is turned from a wicked man when He punishes him. Secondly, the difference is as broad about the end. When God lays the rod of correction upon His child, He aims at the purging out of his sin, at the preventing of his sin, at the revealing of a fatherly displeasure against him for his sin. The Lord would only have him take notice that He doth not approve of him in such courses. When these ends are proposed, every affliction is a correction. But the afflictions of the ungodly are sent for other ends. First, to take vengeance on them. Secondly, to satisfy offended justice.
I. THE LORD CORRECTS HIS PEOPLE. By "correct" understand "rebuke." It is a rebuke that He sendeth, and that to detect our sins. Forget not that those whom He corrects are His children. If you ask why He chastens them, it is because they are but children. Do not imagine that because God thus dealeth with His children, He does not deal with them in apparent severity. Look at the instance of Job. But though there may be an appearance of severity, it is always in tenderness. It is but "in measure." Remember this, whatever God may take away from His child, He never takes away Himself.
Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth.
(J. M'Cann, D. D.)
II. AN EXHORTATION. "Despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty." By the term "Almighty" we are to understand "God all-sufficient." All-sufficient in everything, power, tenderness, sympathy, all we want. The word "despise" is used in the sense of loathing, a feeling of disgust at the chastening of the Almighty. God makes the ingredients of the cup sometimes very bitter. We may despise the chastening by forgetting whose chastening it is. We despise it when we slight it.
III. THE CONSOLATION. The same God that gives the wound, can alone bind it up. This truth we should be learning every day.
(J. H. Evans.)
2. A child of God is in a happy condition under all corrections. Corrections are not sent to take away his comforts, but to take away his corruptions. Again, corrections are not manifestations of wrath, but an evidence of His love (Revelation 3:21). And if any doubt, can a man be happy when his outward comfort is gone? Doubtless he may: for a man is never unhappy, but when he hath lost that wherein happiness doth consist. The happiness of a godly man doth not consist in his outward comforts, in riches, in health, in honour, in civil liberty, or human relations; therefore in the loss of these he cannot be unhappy. His happiness consists in his relation to and acceptance with God, in his title to and union with Jesus Christ. He hath not lost anything discernible out of his estate. Suppose a man were worth a million of money, and he should lose a penny, would you think this man an undone man No: his estate feels not this loss, and therefore he hath not lost his estate.
3. A godly man cannot be unhappy while he enjoys God. And he usually enjoys God most, when he is most afflicted.
1. Restoration. "He maketh sore, and bindeth up," etc. When brought to repentance, by God's correction, the sinner is tenderly nursed back to health.
2. Assurance of God's unwearied kindness. God does not grow tired of the work of rescue. His loving kindness is signally displayed in His deliverance of the trusting soul from the greatest and most tremendous calamities. The best earthly friend has limitations to his power to help.
3. A relation of amity between the soul and the powers that have injured it. The transgressor of God's laws is chastised, but the man who puts himself in harmony with God's will, and yields submission to His laws, finds all nature tributary to his welfare.
4. Deliverance from anxiety over small and common ills of life. Such are hard to bear. As the heart is, so is the man. Tranquillity of heart comes in answer to prayer, or as a fruit of the Spirit, which God gives to comfort and strengthen His afflicted ones. Faulty as human nature is and needing correction, the chastisement which God administers to accomplish it is indispensable to the highest type of character.
(Albert H. Currier.)
I. HE TOUCHES UPON THE FACTS IN THE MATTER.
1. The chief fact before him is that suffering is real. The reality of it is the very substructure of his thought. It is not well for us to brood over sorrows. But it is not well for us to deal with them by shutting our eyes to them. A large part of the Scripture is occupied with the trials of life. Pain is here a colossal, awful fact.
2. Another fact patent to Eliphaz was that suffering comes from God. It is "the chastening of the Almighty." God is not responsible for everything which He permits. He is not responsible for sin. Nor is He responsible for suffering as a whole, which has come into the world as the result of sin. But He is responsible for the method of the application of individual sufferings, now that suffering is here. The saint can look up out of his sorrows and say, "God means something by this for me." From God's point of view no suffering is intended to be wasted.
II. ELIPHAZ PROCEEDS TO SHOW THE PURPOSE OF SUFFERING.
1. Its purpose is to lead one to self-inspection, confession of sin, and repentance.
2. But the true intention of it, of course, lies back of the thing itself. Suffering is not for suffering's sake. There is always in God's thought a sequence to come.
III. THE RESULT OF GOD'S CORRECTIVE AFFLICTIONS IS SHOWN.
1. Eliphaz shows it to be an advance for the soul, which is led by them to penitence.
2. He shows that outward prosperity comes to those who accept God's correction and turn from their sins. In his words we find an idealisation of the prosperity of the righteous. There may be a literal reference to the present life. It may refer to the blessedness in the future life of the saint who patiently accepts God's correction here. Righteousness as a rule pays, and wickedness as a rule does not pay. The conclusion of the whole matter is set forth in the words, "Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth."
(D. J. Burrell, D. D.)
I. WHEN DOES THE CHASTISEMENT OF THE ALMIGHTY CONDUCE TO OUR HAPPINESS? l. When it induces thoughtfulness. It is surprising how little we think, i.e., think seriously and well. Of eternal things we hardly think at all. The correction of the Almighty leads us to say, Wherefore hath the Lord done this? Hence thoughtfulness deepens and increases.
2. When it reminds us of our frailty. The consideration of our latter end avails much to moderate our attachment to a world the fashion of which passeth away, and from which we ourselves are hastening.
3. When it induces more earnest prayer. It is no easy matter to keep alive the power of religion in the soul. Nothing but habitual watchfulness and prayer will do it. To this we are naturally averse, and this natural aversion doth remain even in them that are regenerate. There are few who do not know how cold and formal, how negligent and careless we can become in prayer. Happy is it when our trouble leads us to greater and more importunate earnestness in prayer.
4. When it raises our minds above sublunary things. The soul, chastened and corrected here, will affect the rest which remains for her hereafter.
5. When it endears to us the Lord Jesus Christ. When our sin is discovered to us, how all-desirable does Jesus Christ become. Never do we so fully appreciate this gift as when we are racked with pain, worn with disease, and when, standing on the verge of time, we are about, expectantly, to launch away into the eternal world.
II. WHY, THEREFORE, SHOULD CHASTISEMENT NOT BE DESPISED?
1. Because it is the correction of a tender Father. A loving father does not willingly afflict his child. Amidst our severest sufferings God is our Father still.
2. Because God is almighty to save and to deliver. A father may make as though he heard not the cry of a corrected child: nevertheless, the cry of a broken and contrite heart will move and interest him.
3. Because God designs our spiritual good thereby. The Lord woundeth and maketh us sore, purposely for the fuller and more glorious manifestation of His own power and goodness, first in the humiliation, and then in the salvation of our souls. He empties us of self-love and carnal complacency, to fill us with His grace and Spirit. He tries our faith to prove its preciousness. Shall we then dread the fire that refines?
4. Because Christ went before us to glory through sufferings. Nothing should be undervalued that tends to make us like Jesus Christ.
5. Because it tends to meeten us instrumentally for heaven. There must be a preparedness of mind for its society, its converse, its employments. This is nowhere so readily acquired as in the school of affliction.
Homilist.The view of Eliphaz seems to be —
I. THAT AFFLICTION, THROUGH WHATEVER CHANNEL IT MAY COME, IS TO A GOOD MAN A BENEFICENT DISPENSATION. "Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth; therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty," etc. He regards affliction, in these verses, as coming from a variety of sources. He speaks of "famine," of "war," of "the scourge of the tongue" (slander), and points even to the ravages of wild beasts, and the stones of the field. Truly, human suffering does spring up from a great variety of sources, it starts from many fountains, and flows through many channels. There are elements both within him and without that bring on man unnumbered pains and sorrows. But his position is that all this affliction, to a good man, is beneficent. Why happy?
1. God corrects the good man by affliction. "Whom God correcteth."
2. God redeems the good man from affliction. "For He maketh sore, and bindeth up; He woundeth, and His hands make whole. He shall deliver thee in six troubles; yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee." The affliction is only temporary: the Almighty in His time removes it. He that maketh sore binds up, He that woundeth maketh whole.
3. God guards the good man in affliction. "Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue; neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh. At destruction and famine thou shalt laugh; neither shalt thou be afraid of the beasts of the earth." The Eternal is with His people in the furnace: He is a wall of fire round about them, He hides them in His pavilion. "My God hath sent His angel to shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me."
4. God blesses the good man in affliction. These blessings are indicated —(1) Facility in material progress. "For thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field; and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee." Whether the "stones and beasts of the field" here point to the obstructions of the agriculturist, or to the progress of the traveller, it does not matter, the idea is the same, — the absence of obstructions. In worldly matters the great God makes straight the path of His people.(2) Peace and security in domestic life. "Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out."(3) Flourishing posterity. "Thou shalt know also that thy seed shall be great (margin, much), and thine offspring as the grass of the earth." This is a blessing more esteemed in distant ages and Eastern lands than in modern times and Western climes.
5. God perfects the good man by affliction. It will ripen the character and prepare for a happy world, Three ideas —(1) That true religion is a life which grows in this world to a certain maturity.(2) That when this maturity is reached, his removal from the worm will take place.(3) That affliction is one of the means that brings about this maturity.
II. THAT THIS AFFLICTION, AS A BENEFICENT DISPENSATION TO A GOOD MAN, SHOULD BE DULY PRIZED AND PONDERED BY HIM. Reverence the chastening of the Almighty. Do not murmur; do not complain. It would be well if the afflicted saint would ever ponder the origin, the design, the necessity and tendency of his sufferings. Conclusion — This first address of Eliphaz —
1. Serves to correct popular mistakes. It is popularly supposed that the farther back we go in the history of the world, the more benighted are men: that broad and philosophic views of God and His universe are the birth of these last times. But here is a man, this old Temanite, who lived in a lonely desert, upwards of 3000 years ago, whose views, in their loftiness, breadth, and accuracy, shall bear comparison, not only with the wisest sages of Greece and Rome, but with the chief savants of these enlightened times. This old Temanite was outside the supposed inspired circle, and yet his ideas seem, for the most part, so thoroughly in accord with the utterances of the acknowledged inspired men, that they are even quoted by them.
2. Suggests a probable theological misunderstanding. Most biblical expositors and theological writers regard Eliphaz as considering Job a great sinner, because he was a great sufferer. How can this be reconciled with the fact that Eliphaz starts the paragraph with, "Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth"? In the whole of the paragraph, in fact, he shows that it was a good thing for a good man to be afflicted. Does he contradict himself? It may be so, for he was human, and therefore errable; but my impression is, that Eliphaz drew his conclusion that Job was a great sinner, not merely, if at all, from his great sufferings, but from the murmuring spirit which he displayed under them, as recorded in the third chapter.
(Homilist.)1. There is, or possibly may be an averseness in the best of God's children for a time, from the due entertainment of chastenings. Every affliction is a messenger from God, it hath somewhat to say to us from heaven; and God will not bear it, if His messengers be despised, how mean soever. If you send a child with a message to a friend, and he slight and despise him, you will take it ill.
2. The lightest chastenings come from a hand that is able to destroy. When the stroke is little, yet a great God strikes. Although God give thee but a touch, a stripe which scarce grazes the skin: yet He is able to wound thee to the heart. Know, it is not because He wants power to strike harder, but because He will not, because He is pleased to moderate His power; thou hast but such a chastening, as a child of a year old may well bear; but at that time, know, thou art chastened with a hand able to pull down the whole world; the hand of Shaddai, the Almighty gives that little blow. Men seldom strike their brethren less than their power; they would often strike them more, their will is stronger than their arm. But the Lord's arm is stronger (in this sense) than His will. He doth but chasten, who could destroy.
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