Job 6:4


The first thought that occurs to Job when he attempts to describe his trouble to his misjudging friend is that that trouble has been produced by shafts from heaven. Here is the exceeding bitterness of his grief. He regards his calamities as more than natural mischances; such a terrible conjunction of disasters points to a superhuman source. Thus Job is Scourged by his faith. His theism adds an agony which the materialist would not feel.

I. THE TERROR OF THE ARROWS OF THE ALMIGHTY.

1. They are impelled by an irresistible power. They are shot by "El Shaddai." God in his power is conceived of as the Source of the troubles. But none can resist the might of God. No wonder Job is prostrate in despair. It is useless for him to stand up against his adversary. The shield of faith may "quench all the fiery darts of the wicked" (Ephesians 6:16); but no shield can keep off the piercing arrows of the Almighty If God is against us, we are utterly undone.

2. They come from the Source of light and blessing. God had been showering blessings on the head of the patriarch, who had learnt to honour him as his Benefactor. It was hard, indeed, to find his great Friend turned into a Foe. This fact made the wounds pain as with deadly venom. It is fearful to think that our Father in heaven is shooting wrath against his children. No arrows are so keen as the arrows of love.

3. They penetrate to the heart. Earthly calamities strike the outer life. We may have ramparts and bastions that keep them off from our true self. But God's arrows penetrate to the citadel of the soul He reaches the heart whenever he smites. We can bear outside distresses so long as we keep up a stout heart; but the wounds of the inner man are deadly.

II. THE MISAPPREHENSION OF THE ARROWS OF THE ALMIGHTY.

1. The error of ascribing to God what he has not sent. Job thinks that God is his Adversary, but the prologue shows that the adversary is Satan. Of the Satanic cause of his trouble Job has not the least conception. He ascribes it all to God. Thus he is mistaken, unjust, and needlessly dismayed. If he had but known that he was suffering from the arrows of Satan, he would have been more courageous and hopeful. May we not be in error in ascribing to God what he never sends? The evil state of society causes many troubles to the poor, which God does not wish them to suffer from- We cannot charge him with the terrible wrongs of a corrupt civilization which darken the slums of great cities. Our worst woes come from the devil within - from our own heart of sin.

2. When God does smite, his purpose is good. Job was so far right that God had some hand in his sufferings, for God had permitted Satan to go to the great length in tormenting Job that he had now reached.

(1) There is a smiting to heal Grievous chastisement is a discipline of love. We think that the arrow poisons us; what it really brings is a needed astringent.

(2) There must be a smiting of judgment. God cannot suffer his rebellious creatures to sin with impunity. Though Job had not felt them, God has terrible arrows of judgment for the impenitent. It is well if we learn the lesson of the milder wounds of chastisement before those terrors burst over us. - W.F.A.







For the arrows of the Almighty are within me.
Arrows are —

1. Swift.

2. Secret.

3. Sharp.

4. Killing.

(J. Caryl.)

By "poisoned arrows" we must understand, not only his boils, the heat and inflammation of which had dried up Job's moisture, vigour, and strength, but all his other outward troubles also, which stuck fast in him; and his inward temptations, and sense of God's wrath flowing therefrom, which, like the inward deep wound of the arrow, had, by the furious poison thereof, so exhausted him that he was ready to faint, and give it over. Learn —

1. Though to quarrel and complain of God, in any case, be a great fault, yet it pleads for much compassion to saints when they do not make a stir about their lot, except when their trouble is extreme.

2. It is the duty of those in trouble to turn their eyes off all instruments, that they may look to God.

3. As it is our duty always to entertain high and reverent thoughts of God, so trouble will cause men to know His almighty power.

4. It is a humbling sight of God Almighty's power in trouble, when His strokes are like arrows, and do not only pierce deep, and come suddenly and swiftly upon men, as an arrow doth, but especially do speak God angry at them, in that He makes them His burr (target) at which He shoots.

5. In this case of Job, the number of troubles doth contribute much to afflict the child of God, every particular stroke adding to the weight.

6. Albeit sharp troubles, inflicted by the hand of God, be very sad to the people of God, yet all that is easy in comparison of the apprehension of God's anger in the trouble and perplexities of spirit, and temptations arising upon those troubles.

7. Temptations, and sense of Divine displeasure under trouble, will soon exhaust created strength, and make the spirits of men succumb.

8. It is a great addition to the present troubles and temptations of saints, when terrors and fears for the future do assault and perplex them; especially when they apprehend that God is pursuing them by these terrors.

9. When once a broken mind is haunted with terrors add fears, their wit and fancy may multiply them beyond what they are, or will be, in reality.

(George Hutcheson.)

Job's affliction was sent to him for the trial of an exemplary and unshaken virtue; and because it was sent for that reason only, and not as any mark of Divine displeasure, therefore how great soever the calamity was in another respect, yet was it by no means insupportable, because there still remained to him the great foundation of comfort, in the assurance of a good conscience, and the expectation of God's final favour. He had in his own mind, even in the midst of his affliction, the satisfaction to reflect with pleasure on his past behaviour, and to strengthen his resolutions of continuing in the same course for the future. Though no calamity could well be heavier than that of Job, yet when the disposition of the person comes also to be taken into the act, there is a trouble far greater than his, namely, when the storm falls where there is no preparation to bear it; when the assault is made from without, and within there is nothing to resist it. In other cases, the spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but when the spirit itself is wounded, who can bear it? There is another state, most melancholy and truly pitiable, and that is of those who, neither by the immediate appointment of Providence, as in the case of Job, nor by the proper effect of their own wickedness, as in the case of an evil conscience, but by their own imagination and groundless fears, by indisposition of body and disorder of mind, by false notions of God and themselves, are made very miserable in their own minds. They fancy, though without sufficient reason, that the arrows of the Almighty are within them. Consider the chief occasions of such religious melancholy.

1. Indisposition or distemper of body. This is by no means to be neglected, slighted, or despised: for, as the mind operates continually upon the body, so the body likewise will of necessity influence and operate upon the mind. It is not unusual to see the good understanding even of a reasonable person, borne down and overburdened by bodily disorder. The principal sign by which we may judge when the indisposition is chiefly or wholly in the body is this, that the person accuses himself highly in general, without being able to give any instances in particular; that he is very apprehensive, of he does not well know what; and fearful, yet can give no reason why. The misery is very real, though without good foundation. In such cases all endeavours ought to be used to remove the bodily indisposition.

2. Want of improvement under the exercise of religious duties is complained of. Many piously and well-disposed persons, but of timorous and melancholy constitutions, are under continual apprehensions that they do not grow better, that they make little or no improvement in the ways of religion, and that they cannot find in themselves such a fervent zeal and love towards God, as they think is necessary to denominate them good Christians. If by want of improvement is only meant want of warmth and affection in the performance of their duty, then there is no just ground for trouble of mind upon that account. In the same person there are sure to be different degrees of affection at different times, according to the varying tempers of the body. No man can keep up at all times an equal vigour of mind. Vain suspicions that our obedience proceeds not from a right principle, from a true and unfeigned love of God, are by no means any just cause for uneasiness of mind, provided that we sincerely perform that obedience, by a life of virtue and true holiness.

3. An apprehension of exclusion from mercy by some positive decree and fore-appointment of God. From nature and reason, this apprehension cannot arise. Nor in Scripture is there any foundation for any such apprehension. There may be some obscure texts, which unstable persons may be apt to misinterpret to their own and others disquiet; but surely the whole tenour, design, and aim of Scripture should be the interpreter of particular passages. The plain texts should be the rule by which the obscurer ones are interpreted. It is quite evident that there is no ground in Scripture for any pious person to apprehend that possibly he may be excluded from mercy by any positive decree or fore-appointment of God.

4. The fear of having committed the sin against the Holy Ghost. But distinguish between sin against the Holy Ghost and blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. Such blasphemy was the sign of an incurably wicked and malicious disposition. It is quite impossible for any truly sincere and well-meaning person to be guilty of this malignity, or to have any reason of apprehending he can possibly have fallen into it.

5. A cause of much trouble to some is found in wicked and blasphemous thoughts. These are not so much sin as weakness of imagination arising from infirmity of body. They may he only signs of a tender conscience, and of a pious disposed mind.

6. Another cause is the conscience of past great sins, and of present remaining infirmities. Infirmities as weaknesses and omissions, are fully allowed for in the Gospel. Forgiveness of them is annexed to our daily prayers. And sins blotted out, ought to be forgotten by us, as God says they are by Him.

(S. Clarke, D. D.)

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