Job 7:16
This seems to be one of the symptoms of Job's terrible disease, elephantiasis. Sleep even does not give him rest from his sufferings. The bodily torments of the day only give place to horrible dreams and alarming visions at night.

I. DREAM-TERRORS ARE REAL IN EXPERIENCE. Look at the man in a nightmare, how he groans and shrieks! We smile at his fancied troubles. Yet to him, while he endures them, they are very real. We feel according to our subjective state, not according to our objective circumstances. Souls are tortured by day-dreams which have no better foundation than those of the night, yet are not their distresses the less acute. Superstition peoples the heavens with dream-fancies of horror. There are no corresponding realities. Yet the victims of superstition are in real agony. An enormous amount of terrible mental suffering seems to be experienced by the heathen in their superstitious terrors of malignant divinities. One happy result of Christian missionary work is to sweep away those gloomy dreams, and bring the peace and confidence of Christian daylight to the benighted regions of the world.

II. SOME OF OUR WORST DISTRESSES HAVE NO BETTER FOUNDATION THAN IDLE DREAMS. They are terrible so long as we are under their spell; but if we only knew they were but fancies of the diseased mind, we should be relieved of their incubus. Note some of these.

1. The idea that God is opposed to us. This was Job's thought. He thought that even his ill dreams came from God, and that it was God who was scaring him. The too common notion in religion was and is that God is averse to us, and that we have to do something to win his favour, whereas the Scriptures tell us that he loves us and seeks us to be reconciled to him, and that, instead of our needing to do something to make him gracious, he has given his Son to redeem us to himself.

2. The notion that our sins are incurable. People will not believe that holiness is possible; therefore of course they do not have it, because they have not the heart of hope to seek it. We scare ourselves with ugly dreams of our own irretrievably ruined condition. Our sin is not a dream, but our despair is one.

3. The terror of death. To the Christian this is but an idle dream. Death is no hideous Miltonic monster, but the servant of Christ, Dying is the advent of Christ to the soul that lives in Christ's service.

III. CHRIST HAS COME TO DISPEL IDLE DREAMS. We are troubled about God's dealings with us because we do not know him. We have but to acquaint ourselves with him in order to be at peace (Job 22:21). Christ reveals God in his Fatherhood. There are reasonable fears that are no dreams, but which spring from our consciousness of guilt. Often the dream is found in the illusion that ignores or excuses sin. Christ dispels that dream by revealing a dread reality, but only that he may lead us through repentance to pardon. Then all terrors of the night flee away in the glad daylight of God's love. - W.F.A.







I would not live alway.
We are led to say with Job, "I would not live alway."

I. FROM THE STATE OF THINGS AROUND US. They are subject to dissolution, and are actually dissolving. Every year we behold proofs and symptoms of this. Years as they pass speak to us of the consummation of all things. Is it a thing desirable to live alway in the dissolving scene?

II. FROM THE CONDITION OF MANKIND. "One generation goeth and another cometh." "The fathers, where are they?"

III. FROM THE NATURE OF HUMAN ENJOYMENTS. Human enjoyments there are, but they are fluctuating, and the memory of our early joys is all of them that remains. Human enjoyments not only fade and decay; they are often blasted in the bud or the blossom. Besides the real disappointments and evils of life there are imaginary evils. Some have hours of deep and awful melancholy. There is a time of life with every thinking person, when he looks no more forward to worldly objects of desire, when he leaves these things behind, and meditates the evening of his day. Then he thinks on the mercies of a past life, and takes up songs of praise.

IV. FROM DIFFICULTY IN THE DUTIES OF LIFE. Favourable circumstances often attend our entrance into the world. By and by difficulties arise. It is sometimes difficult to fulfil the demands of justice. Even in a high station honours are apt to fade, and cares to multiply.

V. FROM THE REMAINS OF SIN. At first the Christian says, "I will keep all Thy commandments." Then temptation prevails. Experience convinces him that human resolution is weak, that the heart is deceitful, that sin is wedded to mortality.

VI. THE DEATH OF FRIENDS MAKES US SAY WITH JOB, "I WOULD NOT LIVE ALWAY." Friendship sweetens life; but the course of human affection is often interrupted, is often varied, is often embittered. The happiest union on earth must be dissolved, and the love of life dissolves with it. A beautiful view of providence opens. That which constitutes our greatest felicity on earth makes us most willing to depart. The friends of our youth have failed. The hour of departure rises on the soul, for we are going to a land peopled with our fathers, and our kindred, and the friends of our youth, Already our spirits mingle with theirs.

(S. Charters.)

"I would not live alway." The preference of death to life is the utterance, not of a devout and hopeful but of a despairing and repining spirit. With such a load of misery pressing upon him, and with no earthly comfort to relieve his anguish, it is not surprising that this godly man should give vent to his sorrows in a manner which cannot be wholly justified, and for which we find him afterwards expressing his contrition. It is right for a man to choose death rather than sin, but it can never be right for a man to choose death rather than life, when it is the will of God that he should live. A restless and rebellious longing for dissolution must always have the nature of sin: but the deliberate preference of heaven to earth may be characteristic of the Christian. Death is a change desirable to the believer.

I. BECAUSE IT IS THE TERMINATION OF ALL THE EVILS AND TEMPTATIONS BY WHICH HE IS SURROUNDED HERE UPON EARTH. The evil, even in the happiest life, outweighs the good. There are but two things really profitable and desirable upon earth, — godliness and contentment; and even these, although they make earthly sorrow tolerable, can neither wholly remove it, nor deprive it altogether of its power to disquiet us. The great work of sanctification is never wholly completed in this life. The holiest man is daily exposed to manifold temptations, and falls under them daily. Such is the power of remaining corruption, that the best man living upon earth is guilty of frequent departures from the requirement of God, and constantly falls short of it. Is this then a state in which a reasonable being would wish to remain forever? There is, in every child of God, a moral necessity of dying, that he may be fitted for eternal life.

II. BECAUSE IT IS THE APPOINTED ENTRANCE INTO A STATE OF PERFECT HOLINESS AND INALIENABLE JOY. The change from earth to heaven is not indeed fully completed till the resurrection. A Christian cannot die. Death to the believer is but a shadow of death. It is wrong to think of the eternal life and happiness which is assured after death to the faithful in Christ, as nothing more than an expansion to all eternity of the life which we now have, exempted from all pain and sorrow, and fed with a continual supply of such pleasures as we are now capable of enjoying. That is a very low and very unscriptural view of the excellency of the glory which is to be revealed. The life which is promised to the believer is nothing less than a participation, through the Incarnate Son, in that fulness of life which makes the eternal being and infinite blessedness of God Himself. Such being the prize of our high calling, let us give all diligence to make our calling sure, lest, having this great hope held out to us, we should fall short of it.

(W. Ramsay.)

These words may signify a preference for immediate death, but they are capable of a modified and Christian sense; that this life would be undesirable if it were perpetual; that it would be better to die than to live here always. We have no sympathy with that sour, repining, self-torturing, mood, that selects and combines all that is dark and sad and discouraging in the present existence, and calls it a picture of human life. That is an unchristian mood. It is a false view. This world is full of beneficence to all creatures that inhabit it. Man cannot move or think but he experiences the arrangements of the Divine love. True, we meet with much to dishearten and sadden us. If our anxieties and sorrows were all brought together in one view, and it were forgotten how many alleviations and respites there were, how many mercies mingled with sorrows, what strength given for the occasion, what kind remembrance of our frames, and what tempering of the wind to the shorn lamb, the picture would be a black one indeed. But when we further reflect on the end of these chastenings, the wise purposes they serve in our moral education, the blessed results they accomplish for our minds and hearts, then we can bow contentedly to the appointments of God's love. If good was not educed out of evil, evil would be a problem beyond our power to solve. Though troubled, then, by earthly ills, they shall not extinguish our love of life, or make us murmur under its wholesome corrections, its blessed ministries and teachings. Though we would not live alway, it is not because life's cup has no sweetness to delight us, nor is it because it has in it bitterness and tears. The hopes, friendships, and privileges of existence are great, substantial, and noble things. They yield pure, elevated, and entrancing enjoyments. We would live for what of good and fair and affectionate and true there is in the present lot. And, on the other hand, we would live also for its purifying afflictions, its humbling reverses, its spiritualising bereavements, and healthy, though severe discipline. But though we would live, and live contentedly and joyfully, yet would we not live alway here. The whole arrangement of things, and the whole constitution of man, show that this world could not be a final home for us — that we could not endure to be immortal below. Even the most worldly would tire of the world, if they believed that they must abide in it always. The body, too, — exquisite in its construction, but frail, feeble, fatigued, — this could not be immortal here. We would not live alway, for friends have left us, and gone hence. From the bright and holy scenes of the upper world, from mansions of rest and glory, from bowers of beauty and bliss, they bend to invite us to ascend and dwell with them. That the future state is to be a social state, there can be no doubt. Moreover, our intellectual nature demands a finer culture, a wider range, and fewer lets and hindrances than it has here. With must of us the intellectual possibilities largely remain uncultivated. We wish, for ourselves and for the race, in the good time of our Father's will, a removal to a condition better fitted than this to refine, unfold, and exalt our mental powers, in accordance with the manifest design of their Author, and their own ceaseless aspirations. Then again, we seek a nearer communion with Jesus and with God, higher excellence and virtue, a greater expansion of the moral and spiritual part of our nature. Much may be done, indeed, in this state. Our higher nature, with all its powers and aspirations, will be called into a new and happy exercise, of which the most blessed moments on earth have given us hardly any idea There is a faith that plucks out the sting of death, a resurrection that brings life and immortality to light.

(A. A. Livermore.)

Essex Remembrancer.
The love of life is natural to all men. For the wisest purposes it has been implanted within us. But the Gospel has brought life and immortality to light, and has shown us that the valley of the shadow of death forms a passage for the believer to a world of light and glory everlasting. The reception of this Gospel into the heart changes both the scenes of mortality and the state of the mind, so as to regulate the love of life, produce a subjection to the will of God, and lead to a certain and cheery prospect of felicity beyond the grave.

I. THE REASONS WHICH LEAD THE CHRISTIAN TO DESIRE A CONTINUANCE IN LIFE. There are some who, through fear of death, are all their lifetime subject to bondage. This may be owing to the natural character and habit of the mind, to bodily indisposition, or to the power of temptation; or it may arise from a consciousness that they are destitute of the necessary meetness for heaven. Some desire life that they may yield themselves to Satan as servants. The Christian's desire for continuance may arise —

1. From our relative connection with others. We are all bound by strong and tender ties.

2. It may arise from a sense of former slothfulness, or backslidings from the ways of God. Then, when death appears to be approaching, fear is excited.

3. It may arise from love to the Redeemer's cause.

II. THE REASONS WHICH LEAD GOOD MEN, NOTWITHSTANDING THEIR NATURAL LOVE OF LIFE, TO DESIRE A DEPARTURE FROM THE PRESENT STATE. They know that there is a state of immortality and glory actually in existence beyond the grave.

1. A prospect of perfect freedom from suffering leads believers to entertain this desire.

2. So does a sense of the evil of sin.

3. The believer longs to quit this mortal state, because death will introduce him to a better Sabbath, and a perfect society.

4. The anticipated enjoyment of God and the Lamb is a strong reason why the righteous would not live alway. Learn what gratitude is due to God for His Gospel. Hence all our hopes arise; and by its cordial reception the believer is delivered from the love of life, and from the fear of death.

(Essex Remembrancer.)

Evangelical Preacher.
A truth may sometimes be uttered in a bad spirit. This is. But it may be expressed with an intelligent submission to the Divine will, and be cherished in harmony with the Christian principles. There are reasons which induce the believer to utter this sentiment.

1. He knows it is not the will of God that he should live always. "It is appointed unto all men once to die."

2. Because here the work of grace is but imperfectly developed. At present his piety is only elementary. "Now we know in part."

3. Here the full blessing of justifying righteousness cannot be enjoyed. This blessing is now enjoyed by faith, and faith is fluctuating.

4. Here God is at best but imperfectly worshipped. The holy soul desires to worship God with undivided thought and affection. This outer court worship is too often interrupted by the din and bustle of worldly traffickers. Thoughts and affections are often intruders when the mind would be engaged in God's worship.

5. The change is absolutely necessary for the completion of our blessedness and the perfection of the Divine glory. We must go home to be happy. In the consolations, hopes, and joys the believer realises in death God is glorified.

(Evangelical Preacher.)

The sentiment of the text is not unfrequently the breathing of a guilty soul — racked with remorse, stung by an accusing conscience, haunted by the recollection of deeds of guilt, and prompted by the hope, if not the sober belief, that death shall prove the end of all. The words of the text, however, do not necessarily imply either impiety or impatience. Even good men may be weary of life, and long for its close.

1. Good men may be so fax reconciled to death, from their experience of the evils of life, and the unsatisfactory nature of all earthly enjoyments. In infancy, we rejoice in parental care: in youth, our imagination is gladdened by the beauty and novelty of the scene around us; we live in hope, and are ignorant of the evil to come; in the maturity of life, we exercise, with peculiar satisfaction, our ripened powers, and draw liberally on the stores of friendship and affection. Yet is this world termed a vale of tears; and they who have lived the longest, and enjoyed the greatest portion of the world's good, have with one voice declared their days to have been both few and evil.

2. Good men may be led to look forward with desire to the termination of life, from the changes taking place around them, and particularly the deaths of companions and friends.

3. Good men may be reconciled to death, and may be led even to desire it, from the remains of sin and their growing desire after perfection.

(James Grant.)

I. WHERE A CHILD OF GOD WOULD NOT LIVE ALWAYS. On earth. The utmost to be enjoyed or expected on this side heaven, cannot make him wish that it may be always with him as now, that this may be his everlasting abode.

1. You that are men of the world, would you live always?

2. You that have much of this world's goods, would you live alway?

II. WHY A CHILD OF GOD WOULD NOT LIVE ALWAY IN THIS PRESENT STATE. It is common for men in distress to wish for death, as having no other notion of it than of its being a freedom from their present pain and misery.

1. Because it is the will of God that the child of God should not live alway.

2. Saints would not live alway, from the concern and zeal they have for God's glory.

3. From love to Christ the saint is willing to depart.

4. A child of God would behave after the example of Christ.

5. As feeling the evils of the present state, and having the believing prospect of a better.(1) Those on earth that are even got nearest to heaven in preparation for it, are imperfect as to grace, and have much of the remains of corruption in them.(2) Saints, while on earth, are in a state of sorrow as well as sin.(3) Saints are in a state of warfare.(4) They are here on trial as probationers for eternity, and so must be full of care and solicitude, how it shall go with them, and lest they should miscarry.(5) In the present state, saints are at a distance from Christ.(6) A child of God has foretastes of a better life.

III. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN THIS SAYING?

1. That the saint believes he is one who is already, through grace, prepared for a better life.

2. While in this world, a child of God should think and speak, not as an inhabitant of it, but as a traveller through it; not as one fixed here, but as one in motion towards a better country, that is, a heavenly.

IV. IN WHAT MANNER SHOULD A CHILD OF GOD THUS SPEAK?

1. With a deep sense of the evil of sin, which hath made this world so undesirable.

2. With great seriousness, upon the consideration, how awful a thing it is to die.

3. Not as peremptorily fixing the time to what date he would have his life drawn out, or when cut off, but with entire resignation, referring the matter to God.

V. TO WHOM MAY A SAINT SPEAK THUS?

1. To God by way of appeal.

2. To others we may utter this, when speaking of the concerns of our souls, and of eternity, to engage them to regard us as those who are dying, and well satisfied in the choice we have made, of God for our portion, and heaven as our home.

3. To himself. Application —(1) How admirable is the grace of God in the change it makes in His people!(2) What reason have we to bless God for the discoveries of the Gospel.(3) Make sure of a title to a better life and state.

(D. Wilcox.)

Christian Endeavour Times.
The Quiver contains a paper on "Butterflies," by the late Rev. Dr. Hugh Macmillan. This must have been one of the last papers written by that charming writer, and most cultured of men, and it is a curious coincidence that just before the great change came to him he should have written thus, "Death is 'the shadow feared by man,' as apparent destruction; but should we live always as we now live upon the earth, should we never pass through the experience of death, we should remain mere human embryos, undeveloped beings forever. It is only through death that the mortal can put on immortality. It is only undergoing a metamorphosis as complete as and at present more inexplicable than that which the caterpillar undergoes when it passes through the apparently lifeless condition of the chrysalis and becomes a butterfly, that we can pass from the seeming hopeless condition of the grave to the winged condition of the angel, acquire the full power of our being, and soar from earth to heaven."

(Christian Endeavour Times.)

There is nothing to which human nature is more averse than to dissolution. Death presents himself to the imagination of every man, clothed with terrors.

1. A due respect to the Divine will would deter us from wishing to "live alway." Our life is not made transient by any malignant power. Why should we turn with regret from any allotment to which it is the will of God we should submit? There is, in submission to the laws to which the all-wise Creator hath subjected our nature, both safety and virtue.

2. We may be reconciled to the necessity of dying by considering who have passed through the gate of death.

3. The condition of this present state is such that no Christian can wish to live in it always. Not that it becomes us to find fault with the circumstances of our present existence. It is problematical whether our virtue or our trials would prevail, if our probation were prolonged; but discretion would seem to plead for the shortest exposure to evil. Death releases us from the temptations, ignorance, and sorrows of this probationary existence.

4. A just consideration of the future life will reconcile us entirely to the transitoriness of this. If to die were to cease to be, we might with a desperate tenacity cling to this present existence, chequered and unsatisfactory as it is.

5. By His death, the "Captain of our salvation" hath overcome death, and made the passage through the grave the ordinary entrance to the reward of our inheritance. What a body of motives is here to induce you, when your Creator shall call you out of this life, to depart willingly! Lay them up in your memories.

(Bishop Dehon.)

There are few stronger principles in the human breast than the love of life. The desire of self-preservation is instinctive, and operates long before reason dawns, or experience attaches us to the pleasures of existence. Nor are men attached to life merely by the principle of instinct. "I could willingly die," said an expiring Christian, "were there not friends to whom it is hard to say farewell." Life is made pleasant, and attachment to it is strengthened by friendship and the social relations. And then our fears have exhibited death with terrific aspect, and surrounded it with horrid drapery. The coffin, the shroud, the darkness and dampness, the silence and coldness of the grave, the worm and the corruption, and the untried and eternal state into which death introduces the soul, are circumstances calculated to make the stoutest heart recoil, and cling with closest grasp upon its hold of life. But these attachments and apprehensions are incident to our frailty. Through the grace of God, they may be overcome and renounced. The believer in Christ can say, "I would not live alway."

I. There is the greatest wisdom in this choice, since should he live alway, THE EVILS OF THE PRESENT LIFE COULD BE PROLONGED AND PERPETUATED.

1. I would not live alway, exposed to the evils incident to this mortal body — under the continual infliction of God's original curse upon man, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread"; or perpetually exposed to the ravages of the "pestilence that walketh in darkness," and to the violence of the "sickness that wasteth at noonday"; — to be forever a partaker of that nature whose beauty is a "fading flower," whose "strength" is "labour and sorrow," whose eyes fail through dimness, and whose ears grow dull of hearing, and whose head totters with infirmity, and whitens with the frosts of age, whose limbs are scorched with fever, and racked with pain, and then chilled with ague, and shaken with anguish, — to be frozen by the severity of winter and burn by the fervour of summer.

2. I would not live alway, the subject of mental infirmity. What ignorance beclouds the mind of wretched man! How much carefulness and painstaking must be expended before he can be taught things the most necessary to be known! How often is his judgment, even in its most vigorous exercise, erring and imperfect! Frequent are his mistakes, and erroneous his conclusions, even in affairs of the utmost importance, and which intimately concern his own welfare.

3. I would not live alway, in the midst of a selfish and malignant world, where my conduct is misrepresented, my motives misunderstood, my character assailed, and my best interests injured and obstructed; where envy displays her malignant features, and detraction employs her envenomed tongue to destroy my reputation; where jealousy invents, and malice contrives, their cruel purposes to disturb my peace.

4. I would not live alway, the witness, as well as the subject of human miseries. It is painful to the benevolent heart to witness the misfortunes and follies of men. It is painful to "discern, among the youth, a young man void of understanding," wasting his patrimony in extravagance and dissipation; degrading the noble faculties of body and mind, with which God has endowed him; and descending prematurely down to the grave, and to the shades of eternal death, the victim of accursed intemperance. It is painful to see the impenitent and prayerless sinner, careless of his rebellion, and thoughtless of his danger, sporting with the menaces of Jehovah, and mocking at the threatenings of the Almighty, and yet to know that between him and eternal burnings there only intervenes — what is liable to be sundered at any moment — the thin fragile veil of flesh.

5. Well may the Christian, the witness of such spectacles, and himself the servant of unholy passions, declare, I would not live alway. When his faith is firm, doubts and obscurities will sometimes arise and weaken it. When his hopes are bright, sin and impenitence will obscure and darken them. When his love to God and men is fervent, unholy feelings will spring up and dampen and allay it. When the Sun of Righteousness shines upon him, his iniquities will often arise like a thick cloud, envelop him in spiritual darkness, and leave him in mental misery.

6. I would not live alway, exposed to temptations and enticements to sin. The alluring example of men whom, for some good qualities, the Christian has been taught to respect, will offer its persuasions to divert him from the path of life. Learning, and intelligence, and wit, and persuasion, will be employed by those who in appearance are angels of light, to weaken his allegiance to his crucified Master.

7. Himself the subject and witness of misery and sin, the Christian will say, I would not live alway, especially since God has otherwise determined. His daily prayer will be, "My Father, Thy will be done"; and acquiescence in the will of God will constitute the perfection of his religious character. He will therefore desire to depart from this wretched life, knowing that God has prepared some better thing for him.

II. There is wisdom in the Christian's choice, for, should his life not terminate, HE WOULD NOT BE ADMITTED INTO THE JOYS OF HEAVEN.

1. His corruptible body would not then put on incorruption, nor his mortal, immortality. "The righteous shall shine forth as the sun; they shall shine as the brightness of the firmament and as the stars forever and ever." The Saviour said that the children of the resurrection will be equal to the angels, and therefore will resemble angels in their glory and beauty.

2. In heaven, the faculties of the mind, as well as those of the body, will in a wonderful measure be strengthened and perfected. The memory, perfected and made retentive, will preserve whatever is committed to its trust. The understanding, thus aided by the other mental powers, redeemed and invigorated, will be making perpetual advances in knowledge. For not only will the faculties of the mind be improved, but the field of investigation will be proportionably enlarged. The scene of observation and improvement will not be this little earth, and its limited productions, but the wonders and glories of the celestial regions. I would not live alway, in prospect of such an increase of knowledge and intelligence, the perpetual subject of mental imperfection, of ignorance and weakness.

3. I would not live alway, away from my home. How many pleasing associations and tender recollections are awakened by the mention of home! Around what place do the affections linger with such strong attachment, or what spot looks bright and happy, when the rest of the world appears dark and cheerless, but that characterised by the expressive word home? Where do the skies wear a peculiar brightness, and nature present peculiar cheerfulness and loveliness, but at home? But heaven is the Christian's home. Here, he is a stranger and a sojourner; but he is travelling to a city which hath foundations, the abode of friendship and peace. Divine love is the sacred principle that animates all hearts in the regions of bliss, from the "rapt seraph" to him who has "washed his robes in the blood of the Lamb." It unites the inhabitants of heaven in an indissoluble bond of harmony, and attaches them to God Himself. Security also is there. Security from the influence of unholy affections, from the temptations and hostility of wicked men, and from the enmity and malice of the great spiritual foe. With the Prince of Peace, peace shall ever reign, and from the right hand of God shall flow the river of His pleasures for evermore.

4. I would not live alway separated from my pious friends, in whose sacred society and holy friendship I found such delight and profit, but who have preceded me in their entrance into glory. For in heaven the pious friendships of this world shall be renewed and perpetuated.

5. I would not live alway, for in the midst of that holy brotherhood is Jesus Christ, their elder brother, the faithful and true witness; that Jesus, the desire and Saviour of all nations; and whom I desire to see; my Saviour I to whom I have so often prayed, and in whom I have so long trusted; Him who has for years been my invisible teacher and defence, and whom, though not seeing, yet have I loved!

(S. Fuller.)

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