Page images
PDF
EPUB

Bildad the Shuhite addresseth Job. i Then answered Bildad the 12 Whilst it is yet in his greenShuhite, and said,

ness, and not cut down, it wither2 How long wilt thou speak eth before any other herb. these things ? and how long shall 13 So are the paths of all that the words of thy mouth be like a forget God; and the hypocrite's strong wind?

hope shall perish: 3 Doth God pervert judg- 14 Whose hope shall be cut off, ment? or doth the Almighty and whose trust shall be a spipervert justice?

der's web. 4 If thy children have sinned a- 15 Heshalllean upon his house, gainst him, and he have cast them but it shall not stand: he shall away for their transgression; hold it fast, but it shall not en5 If thou wouldest seek unto dure. God betimes, and make thy sup- 16 He is green before the sun, plication to the Almighty; and his branch shooteth forth in

6 If thou wert pure and upright; his garden. surely now he would awake for 17 His roots are wrapped about thee, and make the habitation of the heap, and seeth the place of thy righteousness prosperous.

stones. 1 Though thy beginning was 18 If he destroy him from his small, yet thy latter end should place, then it shall deny him, greatly increase.

saying, I have not seen thee. 8 For enquire, I pray thee, of 19 Behold, this is the joy of his the former age, and prepare way, and out of the earth shall thyself to the search of their others

grow. fathers :

20 Behold, God will not cast 9 (For we are but of yesterday, away a perfect man, neither will and know nothing, because our he help the evil doers: days upon earth are a shadow :) 21 Till he fill thy mouth with

10 Shall not they teach thee, laughing, and thy lips with reand tell thee, and utter words out joicing. of their heart?

22 They that hate thee shall be 11 Can the rush grow up with- clothed with shame; and the dwelout mire ? can the flag growling place of the wicked shall without water?

come to nought. LECTURE 774. Our conviction of God's mercy and justice. The argument of Bildad the Shuhite is in the main the same with that of Eliphaz the Temanite. He takes for his general position that God deals with men in this life according to their works. And hence he concludes, that both Job and his children must have sinned grievously against God, or they would not have suffered so severely at his hands. To suppose otherwise would imply, he thinks, as he charges Job with implying, that the Almighty perverts justice. Whereas if Job were pure and upright, God would be sure, he says, to make him prosperous. For the And his great

confirmation of his reasoning he appeals to the wisdom “ of the former age;" by which we may understand the opinions of the patriarchal church, as handed down from father to son. The tenour of such opinions, as here set forth by Bildad, is to this effect, that the wicked, though they may flourish for a time, can no more continue in prosperity, than the flag can grow without water, or the spider's web form an enduring means of support.

Their branches may shoot forth luxuriantly, and their roots strike deep into the earth. But they soon perish and give place to others. Such is sure to be the end of the wicked. Whilst he who serves God with his whole heart, is no less sure to be preserved by the Lord, and to be established by Him in joy.

Now this was the very opinion which rendered Job full of perplexity, at finding himself so marked an object of the divine displeasure. Though he knew himself and owned himself to be a sinner, he could not help to be also well aware, that he had done much to serve God faithfully, that he had not been, as Bildad seemed to think, a profane or ungodly person. difficulty, the great difficulty which for ages troubled all the wisest and the best of men, was to reconcile the acknowledged truth of God's unerring justice, with the undeniable fact, that those who serve Him faithfully do notwithstanding often suffer severely. This was the question that pressed constantly on the mind of Job. This is the question which throughout this book is canvassed in various points of view; and on which this book served to throw no small amount of light, for the edification of those who lived under the Law of Moses.

Considering that according to that Law there was a positive pledge given on the part of God, that He would requite good and evil conduct, by temporal prosperity and adversity, it was doubly necessary to guard the minds of his people against hastily mistaking any measure of affliction, for a violation of this pledge. And the book of Job would always serve the devout Jew for a proof, that God was faithful to his promises, by teaching him to wait with patience, and see the end of the Lord; who even in this present life abundantly made up for Job's affliction. At the same time this book would help to direct attention to that promised redemption from all evil, from all sin and suffering, that future judgment, that future life, which was to be, as Christians know, the true key to every seeming difficulty in the present state of things. We know, with the most infallible certainty, that our “ redeemer liveth.” Ch. 19. 25. We know that He has died to redeem us. We know that He will judge the world in righteousness. The life and immortality which He has brought to light, outweigh beyond all comparison our present momentary affliction. And it is by looking, not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen, that we rest assured, under any circumstances, that God is in all his dealings at once merciful and just.

an

Job acknowledgeth the power and justice of God. i Then Job answered and said, 11 Lo, he goeth by me, and I 2 I know it is so of a truth: see him not: he passeth on also, but how should man be just with but I perceive him not. God ?

12 Behold, he taketh away, who 3 If he will contend with him, can hinder him ? who will

say he cannot answer him one of a unto him, What doest thou? thousand.

13 If God will not withdraw 4 He is wise in heart, and his anger, the proud helpers do mighty in strength : who hath stoop under him. hardened himself against him, 14 How much less shall I and hath prospered?

swer him, and choose out my 5 Which removeth the moun- words to reason with him ? tains, and they know not: which 15 Whom, though I were rightoverturneth them in his

anger. eous, yet would not answer, but 6 Which shaketh the earth out I would make supplication to of her place, and the pillars my Judge. thereof tremble.

16 If I had called, and he had 7 Which commandeth the sun, answered me; yet would I not and it riseth not; and sealeth up believe that he had hearkened the stars.

unto my voice. 8 Which alone spreadeth out 17 For he breaketh me with the heavens, and treadeth upon a tempest, and multiplieth my the waves of the sea.

wounds without cause. 9 Which maketh Arcturus, 18 He will not suffer me to Orion, and Pleiades, and the take my breath, but filleth me chambers of the south.

with bitterness. 10 Which doeth great things 19 If I speak of strength, lo, he past finding out; yea, and won- is strong: and if of judgment, ders without number.

who shall set me a time to plead?

LECTURE 775. God's power and justice demand resignation on our part. Job begins his reply to Bildad with assenting to his general position, that God favours the righteous, and sets his face against the wicked. “I know it is so of a truth,” he says. But then he adds,“ how should man be just with God?” And in these words we may understand him to argue, that if such perfect righteousness as his friends seem to suppose, were requisite, in order to enjoy God's favour, then no man could stand in his sight. There may be, and there is, a very great difference between one man and another, in point of faithfulness and zeal. But as to contending with God, and claiming happiness as the reward due to obedience, the best of men would not be able to clear themselves of sin in God's sight, for one thing in a thousand. Hence Job proceeds to speak of God's great power; justly viewing it as a weighty argument to humble man; and saying much that is not unlike to that which was afterwards spoken by

the Lord Himself, when He answered Job out of the whirlwind. But whilst he could speak thus justly in reply to Bildad, he was not yet able to see how forcibly his argument applied to his own case; or he would not have given way again, as he did soon afterwards, to the temptation to murmur against God.

Let us however be thankful for the lessons of divine truth, which Job here powerfully teaches us; however reluctant he was to learn them for himself. Let us consider how hopeless a thing it is to contend against the order of God's providence. Let us weigh well how vain a thing it is to strive or murinur against the will of One, who made the earth, and all the universe, and who, according to his own good will and pleasure, can either maintain them, or destroy them. Many as are the uses of studying God's works, there is no one more profitable to us generally than this, namely, the proof wbich they are fitted to impress upon our minds of the great power of our Maker. Whether we turn to the firmament of heaven, and look at the sun and moon, and countless stars, with which it is so thickly studded, or whether we confine our attention to this earth on which we dwell, and examine its mountains, its plains, its rivers, its seas, or any one of the many animals or plants, which fill the whole with life, and with activity; when we consider how exactly every thing is made and fitted for its proper use, and endeavour to conceive the most marvellous point of all, that the whole was created by the Lord out of nothing ; we are compelled to own with Job, that God “ doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number.” And this great God, the doer of these great things, is a Spirit, ever present; going by us, and we see Him not; passing on, and we perceive Him not.

He is the supreme Governor of the world, and of all them that dwell therein ; insomuch that the most high and mighty of mankind “

stoop under him.” However exalted our station may be, however firmly fixed our prosperity may seem, He can at once bring us to nothing; being not only the Maker of things visible, but also the Author of life to our souls, the God of the spirits of all flesh, in whose hands are our health and strength, our continuance, or our death ; our life or death eternal. Such is his boundless power; boundless except so far as He Himself has set it limits, by the exercise of his own equally unbounded goodness. Who then shall dare to say to Him, “ What doest thou ?” Who shall doubt that all which He sees fit to do is right? Even were we righteous, his greatness would demand that we should not reason with Him, but pray. And even should He vouchsafe to answer to our speech, it would be presumption in us to think, that He had condescended so to de. How much less when we feel that we are sinners, and know that He is no less just than He is great, no less holy than mighty; how much less shall we ever dare to murmur against God, or in any thing make attempt to resist his will ?

Job deploreth the hopelessness of his case. 20 If I justify myself, mine heaviness, and comfort myself : own mouth shall condemn me: 28 I am afraid of all my sorif I say, I am perfect, it shall rows, I know that thou wilt not also prove me perverse.

hold me innocent. 21 Though I were perfect, yet 29 If I be wicked, why then would I not know my soul : I labour I in vain ? would despise my life.

30 If I wash myself with snow 22 This is one thing, therefore water and make my hands never I said it, He destroyeth the per- so clean; fect and the wicked.

31 Yet shalt thou plunge me 23 If the scourge slay suddenly, in the ditch, and mine own he will laugh at the trial of the clothes shall abhor me. innocent.

32 For he is not a man, as I am, 24 The earth is given into the that I should answer him, and hand of the wicked: he covereth we should come together in the faces of the judges thereof; judgment. if not, where, and who is he? 33 Neither is there any days25 Now my days are swifter man betwixt us, that might lay than a post: they fee away, they his hand upon us both. see no good.

34 Let him take his rod away 26 They are passed away as from me, and let not his fear the swift ships: as the eagle that terrify me: hasteth to the prey.

35 Then would I speak, and 27 If I say, I will forget my not fear him: but it is not so complaint, I will leave off my with me.

LECTURE 776. Our blessedness in having Jesus for our Mediator. How justly applicable to ourselves are these words of Job, viewed as an acknowledgment of our sinfulness, and as an admission that our case is hopeless, except there be found a Mediator between us and God, to turn away his wrathful indignation from

Our very attempt to justify ourselves convicts us of sin; it is one of the ways in which the pride and perversity of our hearts is most frequently made manifest. And if we were as free from blame as we are apt to suppose, it would be one chief point in our altered character, to be lowly in our own eyes. No wonder, then, that God visits with affliction the righteous as well as the wicked, since none are really righteous in his sight. No wonder that He permits wickedness to flourish for a while at the expense of those who are comparatively innocent. It is for their trial, and their chastisement; and it is therefore for their good. And when we consider how short our time is, how swiftly our days pass away, and are no more, we shall count it but a light thing to suffer wrongfully in this life, so we may be happy in the life which is to come.

us.

« PreviousContinue »