Job 6:1


(Ch. 6., 7.) We have seen that Eliphaz's counsels, though well-meant, were ill-timed. They were right words but not fitly spoken as to person, time, and place. They cause the poor sufferer to wince afresh instead of soothing his pain. The tumult of his spirit is now aggravated into a very tempest of woe. The human spirit is a thing of moods. We have watched the marvellous changes that pass over the surface of a lake beneath a tempestuous sky. And such are the rapid changes of pain that now pass over the mind of Job, relieved here and there by flashes of calmer reflection, of faith and hope. The picture is instructive, teaching us how feeble and unstable a thing is the human mind, and how deeply it needs to look out from itself for a sure support in the Eternal. Let us briefly take note of these moods. Not without profit shall we try to understand them if we thereby cultivate that deeper sympathy with our brethren in adversity which Job seemed to demand at the hand of his friends in vain.

I. THE EXPERIENCE OF THE IMMENSITY OF SUFFERING. (Vers. 1-14.) There are times when every nerve of the sensitive organization seems to be turned into a channel of pain; when the creature, instead of basking in the brilliant ether of unbounded joy, is submerged in a boundless ocean of misery. "All thy waves and billows have gone over me." It is with this feeling that Job exclaims, "Would that a term, a measure, a weight, might be applied to my sufferings!" A day, an hour, of such woe seems as an eternity!

II. THE FEAR OF SINNING WITH THE TONGUE. Ver. 3, which appears to mean, "Therefore my words idly bubbled," like the impatient cries and reproaches of little children against the parents whom they level But this is the only definite sin of which Job is conscious. And he prays that he may be delivered from it in this trying hour. So said the psalmist, "I will take heed to my ways, that I offend not with my tongue." Let Christians imitate this example. Let them bridle their tongues with holy reverence, and cast upon them as a spell the prayer of Jesus in the garden.

"Forgive these wild and wandering cries,
Forgive them when they fail in truth,
And in thy wisdom make me wise!"

III. THE NATURE AND ORIGIN OF HIS SUFFERINGS TRACED TO GOD. (Ver. 4.) It is his arrows which have fastened themselves with poisonous inflammation in his breast; his host of terrors that have beleaguered his soul. Though in such extreme moments it is hard to reconcile our sufferings with the goodness of God, it is well to hold firmly to the clue of Divine causation. That which has not come causelessly will not causelessly remain. This is the one crevice through which light steals into the dungeon: "God is in all I suffer."

IV. APOLOGY FOR HIS COMPLAINTS. (Vers. 5-7.) They are true to nature. God has given to all animals their natural voice of pleasure and of pain. And these voices express natural tastes and repugnances. The ox and the ass are silent at the well-filled stall. It is only when unsavoury food is offered that we hear the cries of complaint. And what an unsavoury mess is this which his friends would place before him, in their rigid application to him of the doctrine that his suffering witnesses his guilt!

V. DEATH CRAVED AS A BOON. (Vers. 8-13.) The very thought of it excites a frantic joy. Whereas Eliphaz had spoken of deliverance from death as one of the privileges of the blessed man, and of its lingering approach in a happy old age, Job would crave a speedy dismissal as the last boon which he feels entitled, in a clear conscience, to ask of God I "I have not denied the words of the Holy One; I shall not pass, an impenitent, rejected soul; grant me this last, this speedy favour, to die!" If such a state of mind excites our keenest pity, what shall we think of the condition of those Buddhists or pessimists among the heathen and ourselves, who have built a doctrine upon this horror-stricken mood, and teach that the highest good for man is absorption in some Nirvana of dreamless, unconscious nothingness? Truly, the gospel of Christ is the only remedy for these melancholy aberrations. M. Naville says that the impassioned earnestness of Lacroix, the great Indian missionary, which he had listened to in earlier years, was only fully understood by him when subsequent study had acquainted him with the gloomy beliefs of the Oriental world.

VI. CONFESSION OF UTTER WEAKNESS AND DESPONDENCY. (Vers. 11-13.) He has neither strength nor patience to look forward to the end which is to reward endurance. Sooner or later death must be the end; and why not sooner rather than later? But weakness cannot wring from his tortured breast the confession of a guilt which conscience refuses to own. He has not denied the words of the Holy One. His heart has been true to God. This consciousness is still a kind of strength in weakness, and enables him to ask this last boon at God's hands - a speedy death. - J.







I would seek unto God.
Nothing could be better than the counsel proffered in the text, nothing more certain than the grounds on which he rests his counsel. To seek unto God, and spread out one's cause before Him, that must be the best thing to do in any emergency. Does not the wonderful actually take place often in human life? Is it only in the great world that marvels occur, unexpected and great elevations, turnings, unfoldings, light, and help? Is it not mere blindness that refuses to see the marvellous in our own sphere, and seeks it far away in old times, or on foreign shores? If we believe that God encompasses and pervades all human life, shall we not see God's hand in all these things, and learn to look to Him with expectation, what, ever our circumstances may be?

I. WHY, THEN, DO WE NOT EXPECT MARVELLOUS THINGS FROM GOD?

1. One reason is that we go too much by past experience. We have difficulty in rising above the familiar.

2. Some think too much of law. The idea of law pervading all things, not only facts and phenomena of nature, but thought and feeling, soul and. heart, has wrought itself deep into many minds. There seems no room for the strange, the marvellous. Men forget two things, freedom and God. A spirit is something not included in the rigid system of law. A spirit is itself a cause, and originates. It produces. That lies in the very nature of a moral being; and God is infinitely free, and deals with the soul in ways unsearchable.

3. Men think only of their own working, and not of God's. Consequently they settle down into small expectations.

4. We fear to lessen our own diligence by the expectation of great and marvellous things being done for us.

II. SOME REASONS WHY WE SHOULD CHERISH THE EXPECTATION OF THE GREAT AND MARVELLOUS. Such an expectation is essential to the praying spirit. Prayer expects great things. Could it not breathe courage and joy into us in our own individual sphere, if we could live habitually in the belief that God may do astonishing things for us — raising us out of difficulties, opening a way for us where none appears?

(J. Leckie, D. D.)

Zachary Macaulay and Wilberforce, the friends of slaves, lived near to each other and were great friends. The latter had such a high opinion of the learning of the former that when he wanted information about any matter he would cry jokingly, "Come, let us look it out in Macaulay." To compare small things with great, this is just what we ought to do when in a moral difficulty. "Come," we should say, "let us look it out in Christ: what would He wish us to say or do in this matter?" It is chiefly because the Bible tells us the mind of God as revealed in Jesus Christ that it is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.

(Quiver.)

Which doeth great things and unsearchable.
Homilist.
He regarded Him as —

I. A TRUSTWORTHY GOD. Four things demonstrate the trustworthiness of the Almighty.

1. His love. We could not trust an unloving God. Before we commit our cause, our interest, our all to any being, we must be assured of his love to us.

2. His truthfulness. Truthfulness lies at the foundation of trustworthiness. It is, alas, too true that we trust the false, but we trust them believing that they are true. God is true in Himself. He is truth. He is the One Great Reality in the universe. God is true in His revelations. It is "impossible for Him to lie."

3. His capacity. Capability of realising what we expect and need in the object in which we confide is essential to trustworthiness.

4. His constancy. Constancy is essential to trustworthiness.

II. That he regarded Him as a WONDER WORKING GOD. His God was not merely a trustworthy, but an active God.

1. Eliphaz refers to His works in general, "which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvellous things without number," or as the margin has it, "till there be no number" — passing beyond the bounds of arithmetical calculation. To all His numerous works he applies the epithets "great," "unsearchable," "marvellous." His works in the material universe are wonderful. Go through all the scientific cyclopaedias in the libraries of the world, and you will only have a few specimens of His marvellous achievements. Take the microscope, and you may, like Leeuwenhoek, discover a thousand million animalculae, whose united bulk will not exceed the size of a grain of sand, and all having distinct, formations, with all the array of functions essential to life. Take the telescope: and survey "the milky way," and you will find the central suns of a million systems all larger than the solar economy to which our little planet belongs. His works in the spiritual world are even more wonderful.

2. Eliphaz refers to His works in particular.(1) He refers to the vegetable sphere. "Who giveth rain upon the earth: and sendeth waters upon the fields." What a blessed thing is rain! In seasons of drought its value is deeply felt. Our little sages ascribe rain to certain laws: they point us to the shifting of winds and changing of temperatures as the causes of rain. But this old sage of Teman referred the showers to God. "He giveth rain upon the earth." This is inspired philosophy.(2) He refers to the human sphere. He sees God in human history. In God's conduct towards mankind he sees two things. He favours the good. He confounds the evil.

(Homilist.)

The works of God answer the style or attributes of God. He is a great God, and His are great works. The works of God speak a God. And here are four things spoken in this one verse, of the works of God, which speak aloud: this is the finger of God. I will first bundle them together, and then both take and weigh them asunder.

1. Great things,

2. Unsearchable.

3. Wonderful.

4. Innumerable; or without number.No works of man or angel are capable of such a fourfold stamp as this; no, nor any one work of all the creatures put together. Man may fathom the works of man, his closest ways are not past finding out. More directly. First, He doth great things. There is a greatness upon everything God doth: the great God leaves, as it were, the print of His own greatness even upon those things which we account little: little works of Nature have a greatness in them considered as done by God; and little works of Providence have a greatness in them, considered as done by God: if the thing which God doth be not great in itself, yet it is great because He doth it. Again, when it is said God doth great things we must not understand it as if God dealt not about little things, or as if He let the small matters of the world pass, and did not meddle with them: great in this place is not exclusive of little, for, He doth not only great, but small, even the smallest things. The heathens said their Jupiter had no leisure to be present at the doing of small things, or it did not become him to attend them. God attendeth the doing of small things, and it is His honour to do so. You will say, What is this greatness, and what are these great things? I shall hint an answer to both, for the clearing of the words. There is a two-fold greatness upon the works of God. There is (so we may distinguish) — First, the greatness of quantity. Secondly, the greatness of quality or virtue. And as these works of creation, so the works of providence are great works: when God destroys great enemies, the greatness of His work is proclaimed. So, great works of mercy and deliverance to His people are cried up with admiration, and hath given us such a deliverance as this, saith Ezra 9:13. The spiritual works of God are yet far greater; the work of redemption is called a great salvation. It is the property of God to do great things: and because it is His property He can as easily do great things as small things. And if it be the property of God to do great things, then it is a duty in us to expect great things.

1. He that doth great works ought to have great praises.

2. Seeing God doth great works for us, let us show great zeal

(J. Caryl.)for great love unto the Lord.

Unsearchable
And these works are unsearchable, two ways. First, in regard of the manner of doing: we cannot find out the ways and contrivances of God's work. His ways are in the deep, and His footsteps are not known. Secondly, His works are unsearchable in their causes or ends; what it is which God aims at or intends, what moves or provokes Him to such a course is usually a secret. He doth such things us no man can give an account of, or render a reason why. If the works of God are unsearchable, then, we are to submit unto the dispensations of God, whatsoever they are; though we are not able, according to reason, to give an account of them.

(J. Caryl.)

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