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JOB'S PAST GREATNESS
In this chapter Job dwells upon the honour and dignity that had been his in the past. While he was sincere in what he said, and no doubt spoke truthfully, yet there is far too much of "sell" in what he says, so that in this way Chapter 29 is a contrast to Chapter 28, where he had given the Lord His place of supreme excellence. Nor had Job learned the truth of Ecclesiastes 7:10, "Do not say, Why were the former days better than these? For you do not enquire wisely concerning this." In fact, Paul goes further than this in saying, "But what things were gain to me, these have I counted loss for Christ" (Philippians 3:7), so that he could add, "One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14). We surely ought to give God credit for knowing just what we need and at what time. If He has blessed us in the past, let us thank God, and therefore trust him for the present and the future.
Thinking of his circumstances at home, Job well remembered the days of his prime (v.4), when God's evident blessing was that of friendly counsel (though he now thought that God had virtually changed from a friend to an enemy). "When the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were around me" (v.5). His circumstances were so pleasant that he considered this as an evidence of God's presence with him, but now his children were gone: his home life had been virtually desolated, and even his wife had been no help to him in his adversity (ch.19), though he does not even mention her. But in contrast to his present circumstances, his steps were bathed with cream and he was figuratively blessed with "rivers of oil."
HONORED BEFORE MEN
Now Job speaks of his going out to the gate of the city, the place of public administration (v.7), taking his seat there, his dignity being such that young men instinctively retired and aged men rose up in his honour (v.8). Authorities would not take the lead in speaking, for everyone would wait upon Job (vv.9-10). If someone other than Job had said this, it would be impressive, but when Job speaks this way, he exposes the pride of his self-importance in such a way as to reveal why it was necessary for God to bring him down. Though these things might be perfectly true, yet he ought not to have dared to glory in such honour. Actually, the honour men give to us should only humble us to the dust. In fact, how good it is for every believer to take to heart the words of the Lord Jesus, "I do not receive honour from men" (John 5:41).
JOB'S GOOD DEEDS APPROVED BY OTHERS
However, it was not merely Job's outward position of dignity that caused people to honour him, but his consistent kindness toward others. People blessed him because he "delivered the poor," the fatherless, and those who had no other source of help (v.12). If one was dying, Job was there to give help, and he gave widows cause to sing for joy (v.13). He was zealous for the cause of righteousness and justice (v.14), and was in effect "eyes to the blind and feet to the lame" (v.15). He was in practice "a father to the poor," searching out the truth of a case that might not be easily apparent (v.16). He opposed the wicked, breaking their fangs, their ability to gain by oppression; and rescuing victims from their clutches (v.17).
No wonder God says of Job, "there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil" (ch.1:8). Yet how deeply did Job need to learn the lesson of the words of the Lord Jesus, "do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing" (Matthew 6:3). There is never a reason that we should advertise the good things that we do. If we do it as "unto the Lord," (which ought to always be the case), we should remember that He knows and estimates its value far more accurately than we might do.
JOB'S CONFIDENCE IN HIS GOODNESS
Because Job had been exemplary in his conduct and his reliability, he had felt quite confident that this prosperity would continue unabated, his days being greatly multiplied and his death one of comfort in his nest (v.18). His root and his branch would be well watered, even in the night (v.19), and the freshness of vibrant life would continue as it had, and his ability for conflict (his bow) would be constantly renewed (v.20). How differently things turned out than he thought! Do we also consider that we may depend on past experience to sustain us for the future? If so, we forget that we are totally dependent on the grace of God always.
RESPECTED FOR HIS KINDNESS
Job returns here to speak similarly to what he did in verses 11 to 17, dwelling on the effects that had been produced in his hearers in days past when men listened carefully to him, not interrupting. Nor was this because of a forceful character that demanded men's attention, but because of the apparently gentle wisdom of his counsel (v.21). When he spoke, they had no rebuttal (v.22), for his words were as dew, having a calming effect, rather than as an irresistible storm. Evidently his words were with such weight that men would wait upon his counsel, and when they opened their mouth wide, it was not to speak, but to drink in the counsel Job provided (v.23).
Verse 24 may be somewhat obscure in its meaning, but rather than, "If I mocked at them," J.N.Darby's translation reads, "If I smiled at them when they were without courage." At any rate, Job is speaking of the way he helped those who lacked other help. When people were in confusion, Job was there to choose their way for them (v.25). He even felt himself as a king in the army," able to order matters for the people in a way the people knew was good for them. How unusual a man he was!
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Job 29". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13