Job 7:17
The answer to this question must come from afar. No sudden or hasty conclusion must be made. The whole conditions under which life is held, the influence which life exerts, the final issue of life with all other considerations, must be regarded. Here frail, perishing man is seen to be magnified by God, who sets his heart upon him and visits him every moment. Why is so much made of life? "What must man be that thou takest such knowledge of him?" The answer is only to be found in a just view of the real greatness of human life. The human greatness is seen -

I. IN THE CAPABILITIES OF THE HUMAN MIND. All truth may be stored in it. It is exalted by its great capacities for knowledge, memory, reason, judgment, etc.

II. IN THE CAPACITY OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Every holy emotion may find a home in the human soul. Every lofty sentiment sweep across it as any strain across a lyre. All holy affections may be cherished. Man may know and love the highest objects of knowledge and affection. He may illustrate nobleness, patience, charity, faith, hope, gentleness - every grace.

III. HUMAN GREATNESS IS FURTHER SEEN IN THE WIDESPREAD INFLUENCE OF HUMAN ACTION. To-day the world is living in the light of the deeds of Job's life. The impulses of the deeds of past millenniums are felt to-day. A wide illustration possible.



VI. IN THE DESTINY OF MAN, AND ESPECIALLY IN HIS ENDOWMENT OF IMMORTALITY. Although of earth, he aspires to heaven; though a child of time, he rises to eternity; though sinful, he can illustrate all holiness.

VII. THE HIGHEST EVIDENCE OF THE GREATNESS OF THE HUMAN LIFE SEEN IN THE INCARNATION, wherein the Divine life could manifest itself through the medium of the human. When life is thus duly estimated, and when it is known that the sorrows of life are used for its chastening and perfecting, then the answer is found to the question Ñ Why dost thou "try him every moment"? It is because life is so precious and so capable of culture and deserving of it, that he thus seeks to discipline, refine, instruct, and perfect it. - R.G.

What is man, that Thou shouldst magnify him?
Here is a question that is both answered and unanswerable.


1. What is man as a creature? A piece of modified dust, enlivened by the breath of God (Genesis 2:7). An earthen vessel (2 Corinthians 4:7). He is grass (Isaiah 40:6, 8). A drop of a bucket, or dust that will not turn the scale (Isaiah 40:15). Vanity (Job 7:16; Isaiah 40:17).

2. What is man as a fallen creature? An ignorant creature (Isaiah 1:3). A guilty (Romans 3:23). A condemned (John 3:18, 19). A polluted (Job 15:16; Isaiah 1:16). A diseased (Isaiah 1:6). Impotent (Ezekiel 16:4, 6). Rebellious (Numbers 20:10; Isaiah 1:2).

II. IN WHAT RESPECTS IT MAY BE SAID THAT THE LORD MAGNIFIED MAN. He magnified man at the creation. By the care He showeth towards him in the course of His providence. By assuming human nature. By giving us such great and precious promises. By making man a sharer of His throne. Observe —

1. How amazing that the Lord should thus notice sinful man! He who is the High and Lofty One.

2. The base ingratitude of sinners who rebel against so kind a Benefactor.

3. If God thus magnify man, ought not man to endeavour to magnify God, i.e., praise and extol Him?

(T. Hannam.)

The doctrine of this text seems to be that man is a creature of such insignificance, so sinful, frail, and unimportant, that he is utterly unworthy of the care and attention that God pays to him. That this is true, none of us doubt. Infidels have often used this truth in their attempts to prove that God cannot pay the regard to man that the Bible declares He does. Yet these words of the text clearly and distinctly teach other truths — the greatness of man, because God has magnified him; the duty of man, because God has blessed him; the possibilities of man, because God has set His heart upon him. View man in the light of his privileges, in the light of his possibilities, in the light of Calvary, he then becomes a creature of infinite worth; and the highest service which a servant of God can be engaged in, is that of seeking the elevation, the conversion of men. It is the nobler aspect of man we are to study. I would lead you young men to self-respect. Distinguish between self-respect and self-conceit. One is the child of ignorance, the other the fair daughter of knowledge.


1. We are dignified because magnified of God. So far as we know, man is the consummation of creative skill. Man is both material and spiritual, presenting a marvellous combination of the two. He is a middle link in the chain of being, holding both ends together. He partakes much of the grossness of earth, yet much of the refinement of heaven. Without man, between the atom and the angel there would be a chasm, Man is the golden chain between the two. He is a little world in miniature, for in his frame there is an epitome of the universe. Truly, in the character of his being he is magnified. No one who thinks of his capabilities can dispute it. The capabilities of some men must be enormous. The dignity of man is further enhanced, if we consider that he possesses an immortal soul. He has a life that must run parallel with the life of the Eternal; a life that neither sin, death nor hell can quench. How awful does this make the importance of even a single man! Notice also man's exalted position in this world. He is lord of creation. This world was built as a house, for which man is the tenant.

2. We are dignified, because beloved of God. Our text says that God has set His heart upon man. This glorious truth is written on the page of inspiration with the clearness of a sunbeam (John 3:16). Surely such love must make man the envy of the angels. It seems as though man had received more care, attention, and love than all other parts of His dominion put together. On our weal the Deity has expended Himself, communicated to us in Christ Jesus all that was communicative in His being and character.

II. WHAT CONDUCT IS WORTHY OF THE DIGNITY OF MAN? I take a high standard of appeal, and ask you, in the light of your noble faculties, in the light of all the mercies bestowed on you in creation and providence, in the light of God's infinite love, what conduct becomes you? What should be your bearing towards yourselves, your Saviour, your God? You are unanimous in your verdict that a sinful, sensual life is utterly beneath the dignity of manhood. Take another kind of life. A life of mere self-gratification. Perhaps more promising young men are ruined through this kind of living than any other. But it is unworthy of a man. The end of a life that is true is not happiness in any shape or form, but character that shall fit us for eternity. In every man that has not this as his supreme desire, his one aim, only a fraction of manhood is awakened. The portions of his nature which make it worth while to be, are dormant. The trembling anxiety about our privileges, our welfare, our debt to God — which leads us to trust in Him — this makes a life true.


1. There is a possibility of any lost self-respect being restored. Some of you may have started wrong. This has destroyed self-respect. This is one of the most potent evils incident to a sinful life. Remember that character is under a law of perpetuity. It has an element in it which will make it almost immutable. "Evil tends to evil permanence." Then let me tell you the glad news of the Gospel. There is a possibility of self-conquest. Self-control, for real usefulness, is as necessary as self-respect. How are we to exercise it? Will resolution, will determination do? My only hope is in God the Holy Spirit; in seeking Divine grace and power. To all of us there is the joyous possibility of a sublime life. Then, talk not of destiny, but believe in your own, and working like men, trusting like children, fulfil it.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

From the East proceeded first the light of Divine knowledge, of art, and of science, that threefold cord with which the loins of our civilisation are girded. In what boasted philosopher of heathendom do we find a single sentiment, on the subject in point, equal to the one contained in our text? To a Father the patriarch Job confidently looked, both in his prosperity and adversity; it was not to a God afar off that he poured out the feelings of his heart. It is true he was deeply awed at the infinity and consequent mysteriousness of his Divine Father; but while, on the one hand, he was overwhelmed with majesty and incomprehensibility, on the other, he was soothed and cheered with condescension and love. The Divine character, and the ways of providence, appear to have occupied the thoughts of this large-minded and holy man, to the exclusion of almost everything else. It was not a thing, it was a person towards whom his thoughts and affections rationally and instinctively turned. The law which influenced this good man was moral. The grand centre of attraction, and source of all spiritual life and glory, was God Himself, "the Father of lights." Now wherefore did Job thus seek after God, and look upon righteousness, or moral excellence, as the chief concern of his existence? Because something within prompted him to do so. There are two great generic ways in which God reveals Himself to man. Objectively, or through any physical medium such as His works, or assumed experiences, and subjectively, or in the conscious spirit. There was something more than mere figure in these words of our blessed Saviour, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." "What is man that Thou shouldst magnify him?" The patriarch appears to have been astonished that so vile, impotent, and short-lived a creature as man, should be specially noticed and favoured by his Maker. Whatever his ideas may have been of human dignity and worth, it is quite obvious that they were associated with a strong conviction of human degradation and vanity. And is not this a true estimate, the proper mean between two extremes, one of which exalts man far too high, whilst the other debases him far too low? If we looked no further than the outward nature and condition of man, we could only regard him as a unique kind of animal, inferior in some respects, though superior in others, to his fellow tenants of the earth. Were his animal nature the whole of man, in what would consist his preeminence over "the beasts that perish"? And yet this animal nature is all that our senses can take cognisance of. Considering him, however, in the light of analogy, it is clear that there may be undeveloped faculties and destinies, Of a high and inconceivable order, slumbering in his breast, but concealed from all inspection. Such was the pleasing theme of poetic song and philosophic speculation. These are by no means adequate effectively to counteract the sceptical conclusions of sense respecting the nature and destinies of man. Hence the uncertainty of the wisest and best of the old heathen philosophers. The plain truth is that the world by wisdom knew nothing conclusively about these things. The vantage ground on which the Bible places our feet, has raised us immeasurably higher than the wisest heathen, as such, ever stood. Guided by the torch of heaven, let us consider why God may be said to "magnify man, and set His heart upon him."

1. Man is magnified by the gift of an intellectual nature.

2. In the possession of a moral nature.

3. In being the object of a Divine redemption.

4. In the omnipresent and omniactive superintendence of Divine providence over human affairs.

5. Immortality and future blessedness strikingly illustrate the text. If you believe these things, what manner of persons ought you to be?

(Jabez Cole.)

It is the character of almost all speculative systems of unbelief, that, whilst they palliate or excuse the moral pravity of our nature, they depreciate and undervalue that nature itself. Some deny that there is a "spirit in man." Others deny man an immortality. Some would persuade us that we are but atoms in the mass of beings; and to suppose ourselves noticed by the Great Supreme, either in judgment or in mercy, is an unfounded and presumptuous conceit. The Word of God stands in illustrious and cheering contrast to all these chilling and vicious speculations. As to our moral condition, it lays us deep in the dust, and brings down every high imagination. But it never abases our nature itself. Man is the head and chief of the system he inhabits, and the image of God. He is arrayed in immortality, and invested with high and awful capacities both of good and evil.


1. God hath "magnified" man by the gift of an intellectual nature. We see unorganised matter without life; matter organised, as in vegetables, with life, but without sensation; and, in the inferior animals, with life, sense, and a portion of knowledge, but without reason. But, in man, the scale rises unspeakably higher. His endowments are beyond animal life and sensation, and beyond instinct. Man is the only visible creature which God, in the proper sense of the word, could "love." No creature is capable of being loved, but one which is also capable of reciprocal knowledge, regard, and intercourse.

2. By the variety and the superior nature of the pleasures of which He has made him capable. His are the pleasures of contemplation. These the inferior animals have not. The pleasures of contemplation are inexhaustible, and the powers we may apply to them are capable of unmeasurable enlargement. His are the pleasures of devotion. Can it be rationally denied that devotion is the source of even a still higher pleasure than knowledge? His are the pleasures of sympathy and benevolence. His are the pleasures of hope.

3. The text receives its most striking illustration from the conduct of God to man considered as a sinner. If under this character we have still been loved; if still, notwithstanding ingratitude and rebellion, we are loved; then, in a most emphatic sense, in a sense which we cannot adequately conceive or express, God hath "set His heart" upon us. Mark the means of our reconciliation to God, and mark the result.

4. Consider the means by which God's gracious purpose of "magnifying man," by raising him out of his fallen condition, is pursued and effected.(1) He has, with the kindest regard for our higher interests, attached emptiness to worldly good, and misery to vice.(2) He has been pleased to establish a constant connection between our discipline and correction, between His providential dispensations and moral ends.(3) He has opened His ears to our prayers, and invites them both by command and promise.(4) To bring men to feel their own wants, He sends forth His Gospel, accompanied by His quickening Spirit, thus to render it, what in the mere letter it could not be, "the Word of fife," the "Gospel of salvation."


1. We are taught the folly and voluntary degradation of the greater part of the unhappy race of mankind.

2. The subject affords an instructive test of our religious pretensions.

3. To form a proper estimate of our fellow men, and of our obligations to promote their spiritual and eternal benefit.

(R. Watson.)

The heathen sage, who bid us know ourselves, might give the precept, but it was out of his power to put us in a way of obtaining the proper information. The present state of man can only be understood from the history of man, as the best natural philosophy must be built upon the history of nature. When man came first from the hands of his Creator, he was neither sinful nor mortal; but as the happiness of a rational being must be the object of his free choice, and cannot possibly be otherwise, life and happiness were proposed to man on such terms as put him to a trial. There can be no reward but to obedience, and there can be no obedience without liberty, that is, without the liberty of falling away into disobedience and rebellion. As man consists of soul and body, and is allied to the visible and invisible world, no transactions pass between God and man without some intermediate visible figure; therefore life and death were proposed to Adam, under the two symbols of the tree of life, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The latter was the instrument of temptation. By partaking of the tree of life, the nature of man would have been refined and spiritualised upon earth. The enemy of God's glory and man's happiness was permitted to enter into paradise in the form of a serpent, who having prevailed first upon the weaker sex, deceived Adam by her means. Thus the life of paradise was forfeited. It appears then that man is now in a state of banishment from his native paradise, and driven out into the wide world. The tempter who first seduced him into sin, is carrying on the same plan of enmity and opposition to this day. We find such contrarieties in the nature of man as can never be accounted for but from the history of his fall. In the fall of man there are two things to be considered, the sin and the punishment. The act of disobedience proceeded from a sinful desire, suggested by the devil, of rising by forbidden means, and without any dependence upon God, to a state of superior wisdom and greatness. Look attentively into this original act of man's disobedience, and you will discover that every lust and passion of which man is capable, prevailed on that occasion. The "lust of the flesh" was indulged in eating; the "lust of the eye" in coveting what was forbidden; and the "pride of life" in the affectation of a superior condition, to which there was no title. Man cannot now sin by the same act as Adam did; but all his sin is after that pattern. His three vices are, intemperance, covetousness, and pride. There is an irregular conflict in human nature which we cannot account for, but upon the principle of original sin. The effect of original sin is evident from that lamentable symptom of it, an alienation of the mind from God: for there certainly is in man, such as he is now, a distaste of God, and of all that relates to Him. This cannot be nature, it must be a depravation of nature. The other evidences of the fall of man are to be found in its punishment, which comprehends the several particulars of labour, poverty, sickness, and death. It appears then that man is in a fallen state, subject to the power of sin, and the penalty of disobedience. In consequence of this evil nature, it is good for man to be afflicted, as it is necessary that his dross should be separated by a fiery trial in the furnace.

(W. Jones, M. A.)

Pride is the great besetting sin of our corrupt nature. This it is which unfolds man's self-righteousness, self-seeking, self-dependence, and self-complacency, in all their varied forms. It will show itself as family pride, professional pride, intellectual pride, yea, and in that low and contemptible exhibition of it, even the love of personal attraction.

I. MAN'S LITTLENESS. As a creature. As a fallen creature. Is it too much to say that he is lower than the beasts? It is a strong expression. Is it too much to say that sin has sunk man as low as Satan? Man is a sinful, guilty, and condemned creature. The law condemns him. All that is in God condemns the impenitent, unbelieving sinner. Man is a proud, self-righteous sinner. There is no man but what has some apparently good qualities — at least, he thinks he has them — and these blind him to all his bad qualities, and he thinks he can blind God with them.

II. GOD'S MOST WONDROUS DEALINGS WITH MAN. Out of these materials does God choose a people and erect a temple to His own glory. How wonderful is the exhibition of God's grace in the conversion of a sinner! Look at the wondrous display of grace in redemption, and in bringing all the redeemed ones safe to glory. See in this subject the greatness of God: notice how contemptible is our pride when we can look down upon others. Though our Lord shows us our littleness, yet we ought not to forget that He has magnified us.

(J. H. Evans, M. A.)

The question must have been asked by Job in the profoundest earnestness. The sudden shocks of sorrow had been bringing him face to face with the awful mysteries of eternal providence, and making him feel their power as he had never felt it before. The question expresses each of the first of those great mysteries which the stern reality of trouble had forced upon his thoughts. It was no curious inquiry on his part; it was one which the agony of his life had compelled him to meet. You will perceive this by considering the experience he had recently passed through. He had reached that desire for death which sometimes rises from the strong pressure of deep and sorrowful thought. Then arose the mysterious question, Why did God prolong his life? To live amid the desolation of his great sorrow: and struggling with awful doubts, was a constant trial, and why did God thus "try him every moment" by keeping him alive? Remember, too, that Job had remained for days and nights in silence under the open sky. Looking at nature in his sorrow, the mighty march of the stars, in the far-off wilderness of space, and the solemn glory of the day as it rose and faded, and the voices of the winds as they came and went through the land, would all make him feel the majesty of God and the insignificance of man. Taking the words in their broadest meaning, the subject presented by them is God's perpetual providence in life.

I. ITS MYSTERY. We shall not feel it as Job felt it unless we accept his belief in the incessant action of God's providence in human history. He did not regard life as governed by general laws usually, and by the living God only occasionally. He said God "visited man every morning." Job's view of human life was that the souls of men were surrounded and influenced by the ever-present, ever-acting God, How common is the belief that "in the beginning" God created certain general laws, and that He has retired into His eternity, leaving them to govern the universe, interfering Himself now and then, when a great crisis demands His action. We speak of general and special providence as if there were some real distinction between the two, and as if all providence were not the activity of the living God, equally present everywhere. Now this distinction is unscriptural and unreasonable. If God directs the great events, He also directs every event, for all are bound together. Besides, how do we know which are great and which are small? We must go back to the strong, simple faith of such men as Job and David before we can realise the mystery which they felt in life. Accepting, then, that view of an incessant providence, the difficulty which Job felt must have risen from two sources: the greatness of God, "What is man, that Thou shouldst magnify him?" and the nature of the discipline through which He conducted life, "That Thou shouldst try him every moment?"

1. Take the first source of the mystery which Job felt in the unceasing providence of God: the greatness of God compared with the insignificance of man. He felt God was so great, that for Him to visit man in sorrow was to magnify the frail child of time by exalting it to even a moment's notice of the Infinite One. We do not feel the mystery of God's dealings with man with the same intensity as Job and the men of old time must have felt it.

2. Look at the other aspect of God's perpetual providence — The nature of the discipline through which God conducts life. This was evidently the other source of the difficulty that perplexed the patriarch. Life had become to him one overwhelming trial, yet he believed that every element of that trial was sent or permitted by God. Why? Some men have to learn the mystery of discipline in the sternest school of suffering. Now, accepting the Bible faith that God orders all our life, is it not evident He is trying us every moment? Why does He stoop from His vast empire to visit thus the creatures of a day? Christianity has revealed two things, corresponding to the two-fold character of this mystery.(1) The boundless capacities of man. Christianity throughout magnifies man, by representing him as at present but in the childhood of his eternal growth. It is true that men in the old time felt the dignity of humanity, but Christ, by taking it upon Himself, clothed it with a new grandeur. Until He came, men, in a great measure, looked on life from the side of time. Christ dwarfed the temporal by revealing the immortal. At the same time, He made men feel the awfulness of life, by showing how it might be the commencement of an infinite progress towards the holiest. God's infinite eye sees in every man the germ of what he may and will become. Frail, feeble, fading like the grass he may be, but in him is the germ of a nature that will unfold and greaten into an angel of God; and within the sin-scarred and suffering body of humanity, the Divine Eye sees spirits whose capacities only the life of eternity can unfold.(2) The education of man by trial. Christianity brings this out with peculiar force. Our characters must be tested. We fancy we hold the reins of our natures. We think we are strong, and rejoice in our fancied strength. And then God sends us trials, disappointments, bitter lessons of sorrow, and under their startling light we discover our weakness and evil. We grow earth bound, become wrapped in life's transient interests: God sends us suffering, and in the long, lonely watchings of pain, we catch glimpses of eternal realities. This, then, is the meaning of God's perpetual providence in life. Seeing man as he is to be; seeing that his infirmities must be removed by trial, "He visits him every morning, and tries him every moment."

(E. L. Hull, B. A.)

This is a cry wrung from the heart of a man who was passing through a season of awful tribulation. His life, which was formerly smooth and prosperous, had now become, all at. once, a very tragedy of sorrow. Not one gleam of hope was visible throughout the whole range of his earthly circumstances. His misfortunes had indeed come in battalions. What wonder if Job, thus crushed to the very dust by his calamities and by his friends, deserted, as it seemed, both by God and man, and left to wrestle all alone with his sorrow, should, out of his weakness, utter this cry of remonstrance to the Almighty? Here Job, feeling himself overwhelmed by his calamities, is remonstrating with God for taking so much notice of man as even to visit him with trial. Why cannot the Almighty "let" a poor worm "alone"? Surely it is "magnifying" man unduly — it is making altogether too much of a creature so frail — for God thus to "turn His thoughts towards man," and "visit" him with such incessant and overwhelming "trials"! When we ourselves have been passing through some bitter experience, have we not been tempted to feel as if the trial were overdone? Have we not been tempted to think, Surely the Almighty could have effected His purpose with less expenditure of suffering? Thinking of the woes of humanity, we ask, Why is there not more economy of all this pain? Why break a butterfly on the wheel? It is the old thought of Job, born of the old and ever-recurring mystery that attends so much of the earth's sorrow. We must meet the mystery with faith. We ought to believe that He who can keep in their places Orion and the Pleiades; can make no mistake in guiding and overruling human destinies. We ought to believe that the Father of all is as loving as He is wise, and that, in spite of all appearances, there is throughout His universe a true economy of suffering. What God Himself is, remains our best reason for trusting Him in everything He does. Consider some of the ends which are subserved by what we may call the tragic element in our human life.

1. It tends to deliver us from shallow and frivolous conceptions of our own nature. There are many influences at work which tend to give to human nature and life an aspect of littleness. Our very being is itself animal as well as spiritual. We have many needs and cravings in common with the brutes. Our nature, moreover, touches the surrounding world at countless points, many of which are as "pin points." Things which are in themselves but trifles, have often a wondrous power over us. No doubt the comedy of life has also its uses. God has not endowed us with the sense of humour for nothing. Laughter is a kind of safety valve. But there is danger of our life being dwarfed into pettiness, and of our losing a true sense of the inherent dignity of our nature. Precisely here comes in the tragic element of life to counteract this tendency. Just as the loftiest mountains throw the largest and deepest shadows, so these dark shadows of human experience bear witness to the original grandeur of our being. You cannot have tragedy without a certain greatness. Even those tragedies of life which are due directly to human sins, testify to the greatness of the nature which has been so sadly and shamefully perverted. With regard to those terrible calamities which sometimes come into men's experience without any fault of their own, how often is it the case that these ordeals of trial bring to light the noblest traits of character. Is not the Cross of Calvary itself the crowning illustration of how the loftiest greatness of humanity may be revealed against the dark background of the deepest sorrow? Look also at affliction as a means of discipline and education, and we can scarcely fail to be impressed with the greatness of that nature which God subjects to trials so great. This is the thought which lies latent even in poor Job's remonstrance. Whatever we may do with our life, God evidently does not trifle with it; whatever we may think of our nature, God evidently does not think lightly of it. Thus, then, the tragic element in our life tends to redeem it from pettiness, to deliver us alike from prosaic stolidity and shallow sentimentalism, and to inspire us with a sense of the sacredness of our being.

2. This same element in life confronts men directly with the thought of God. Men, in their sinfulness, banish God from their hearts, and try to forget Him in their lives. But God refuses to be forgotten. For our own good, He will, if necessary, simply compel us to recognise His presence. He will make men feel that a higher will than theirs is at work. When there comes some sudden and extraordinary visitation, men are aroused to reflection. The appalling magnitude of the calamity startles them. The very fact that some event presents an inscrutable mystery, awakens them to the sense of an infinite wisdom overruling the projects and actions of mankind.

3. This same tragic element of life tends to deepen our reverence and tenderness towards our fellow. men. Our very experience of the world sometimes tends to make us hard and cold and censorious. Even our own troubles do not always deepen the springs of our charity. We may shut ourselves up in our griefs, and morbidly exaggerate our trials until we become morose and peevish, instead of sympathetic and gentle. But here, too, comes in the tragedy of life to counteract this selfish tendency. Ever and again there occurs some terrible event involving others in a sorrow which dwarfs our own griefs. And a great calamity invests even the meanest with interest. It tends to draw us out of ourselves, and to open the floodgates of sympathy and benevolence. Think, finally, how we are living together under the shadow of the closing tragedy of all. Prince and peasant, master and servant, all are travelling to that. Death gives a tragic touch even to the beggar's personality. Let us cultivate reverence and tenderness towards one another; for we are all of us living in a world that has its terrible possibilities of experience.

(T. Campbell Finlayson.)

So Job speaks out of deep affliction; he is puzzled to know why God heaps sorrows on man and makes his life one long trial. How is it that the Almighty should consider a weak mortal sufficiently important to be made the object of so much interest and the subject of such severe correction? Let us attempt an answer to this question.

I. Man is A CREATURE OF CONSEQUENCE, or God would not thus visit him. The Psalmist asks the same question, but from a very different point of view (Psalm 8:3, 4). It is here that we usually look for the signs of human greatness and royalty — in the direction of man's power, action, rule, and achievement. Job is concerned with man's weakness, perplexity, suffering, humiliation, and failure. What is man, that Thou shouldst magnify him with miseries? Job feels the greatness of man in the greatness of his suffering. The conflict and sorrow of human life are indubitable signs of dignity. We often enough look poor, feel poor, but we cannot be poor. There is a singular greatness about us somewhere, or we should not be distinguished by infinite and endless sorrows. Our importance is demonstrated by the length and depth of the shadows that we make. The shouts of conquerors, the sceptres of princes, the triumphs of scientists, the masterpieces of artists, and the scarlet of merchantmen are so many signs of our status; yet the sense of anxiety, the problems which torture the intellect, our wounded affections, the smart of conscience, our painful sense of limitation and disability, the groan of the afflicted, the burden of living, and the terror of dying are not less signs of our fundamental greatness. Is it not, indeed, often the case that we are more affected by the dignity of men when they suffer than when they are strong? that in misfortune we discern a loftiness and sacredness never discovered in them in their prosperity? and if we never felt their majesty in life, do we not awake to it when they die, and uncover at their grave? It is also true that in deep affliction we realise most vividly the greatness of our own nature. Stripped of outward, meretricious greatness, Job begins to feel that he is great; his sorrows show him his consequence before God. The very humility born of trouble is a sign of greatness.

II. MAN IS A CREATURE OF GUILT, or God would not thus visit him.

1. There is no cruelty in God. Nero condemned men to prison and then treated them as condemned malefactors simply to feast his eyes on their agonies, by, and by releasing them. This world is no laboratory of aimless vivisection. "For He doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men."

2. There is no injustice in God. "The right of a man before the face of the Most High." Nowhere is the right of a man more sacred than before the face of the Most High.

3. There is no levity in God. Some talk as if this world were a mere spectacle, a great theatre of shadows where God watches the long tragedy with an aesthetic eye. But there is no levity in the Ruler of the universe. All revelation teaches how real human sorrow is to God. What, then, is man, that God visits him with endless correction? Why does He fill his soul with anguish? There is only one answer: man is an offender, his sin is the secret of his misery. In vindicating himself against his friends Job denied that he was guilty of any conscious, specific, secret transgression; but he knew that he was a sinner before God. Immediately after the text he confesses, "I have sinned." It was all there: his suffering brought home the sense of guilt. The broken law makes the shadow of death.

III. Man is A CREATURE OF HOPE, or God would not thus visit him. "What is man, that Thou shouldst magnify him?" Sinful and afflicted as he may be, he is yet a creature of hope, or God would not thus lavish discipline upon him. Terrible as this world may be, it is not hell, nor the region of despair. Hope is written with sunbeams on the forehead of the morning; spring writes the lovely word in the grass with flowers; it is emblazoned in the colours of the rainbow. God visits us, then, that He may awake in us the consciousness of sin, and discipline us out of our sin into health of spirit. Again and again Job says, "Let me alone." And that appeal is often on our lips. "Let me alone," cries one, that I may examine this curious world, and do not disturb me with thoughts of infinity and eternity. "Let me alone," pleads another, so that I may enjoy life, and do not harass me about righteousness, guilt, and judgment. "Let me alone," entreats a third, and cease to interrupt my money making by sickness and misfortune. "Let me alone," cry those whose hearths are threatened; leave my friends, and spare me bitter bereavements. But this is exactly what God will not do. He visits us every morning, and tries us every moment, that He may arouse us to our true state, great need, and awful danger. Having awoke in us the sense of sin, through the discipline of suffering God perfects us. Yes, this — this is the grand end. "Behold, I will melt them, and try them" (Jeremiah 9:7). "The Lord hath proved thee and humbled thee, to do thee good at thy latter end."

(W. L. Watkinson.)

And try him every moment.
Why doth God try us every moment? Because we are one moment in one temper, and the next moment in another. The acting frame of a man's heart this hour cannot be collected from the frame it was in an hour before; therefore there is a continual trial. Some things if they be tried once, they are tried forever; if we try gold, it will ever be as good as we found it, unless we alter it: as we try it to be, so it continues to be. But try the heart of man this day, and come again the next and you may find it in a different condition; today believing, tomorrow unbelieving; today humble, tomorrow proud; today meek, tomorrow passionate; today lively and enlarged, tomorrow dead and straightened; pure gold today, and tomorrow exceeding drossy. As it is with the pulse of a sick man, it varieth every quarter of an hour, therefore the physician tries his pulse every time he comes, because his disease alters the state of his body. So it is with the distempered condition of man's spirit. God having tried our pulse, the state of our spirit, by crones or by mercies this day, next day He tries us too, and the third day He tries us again, and so keeps us in continual trials, because we are in continual variations. That sickness and disease within us alters the state and condition of the soul every moment. Our comfort is that God hath a time wherein He will set our souls up in such a frame as He shall need to try us, but that once. Having set us up in a frame of glory, He shall not need to try our hearts for us, or to put us to the trial of ourselves any more, we shall stand as He sets us up to all eternity.

(J. Caryl.)

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