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JOB’S REPLY TO BILDAD—CONTINUED
His speech takes the form rather of an expostulation with God in regard to his afflictions. The vehemence of his spirit reaches its height in this chapter. Does not renounce God, but takes great liberty in addressing Him. The liberty, however, rather that of a child with a father whose clouded and averted face he can neither understand nor endure.
I. His impatience of life, and his resolution to give free vent to his complaints (Job 10:1).
“My soul is weary of (or, ‘loathes,’ or ‘bursts in’) my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself (I will give loose reins to my complaint): I will speak,” &c. The language of a deeply distressed and even desperate man. Contrasted with Psalms 39:1, and Lamentations 3:39; and especially with New Testament experience (Philippians 4:5-7; Romans 5:3; 1 Peter 1:6-8). In Job’s words we have—
(1) An unhappy state of mind allowed—“My soul is weary of my life.” So Rebekah (Genesis 27:46); Elijah (1 Kings 19:4); and Jonah (Job 4:3). Believers in trouble are to possess their souls in patience. A mind stayed on God is kept “in perfect peace.”—
(2) An unwise resolution formed—“I will leave my complaint upon myself, &c.” Safer and wiser to check than to indulge complaints regarding God’s dealings with us. The impatience of the flesh makes men sit under Elijah’s juniper tree and Jonah’s gourd. Yet a troubled soul, familiar with God, pours out its complaints into His ear without sin (Psalms 42:6-11). Life in itself a mercy; yet sometimes would be little better than hell but for the hopes of heaven [Trapp].
II. His desire not to be treated as guilty, without knowing the grounds of it (Job 10:2).
“I will say unto God.” Implies—
(1) Deep distress, extorting the language.
(2) A childlike confidence and freedom towards God.
(3) Peevishness and want of reverence.—“Do not condemn me” (or, treat me as a guilty person). A father’s displeasure is a generous child’s greatest grief. A single sin sufficient to make us guilty before God (James 2:10; Galatians 3:10). Only one way for a sinner to be freed from condemnation (Romans 8:1; Romans 8:34). Christ the Righteous suffers in the place of the condemned sinner (2 Corinthians 5:21). A believer, however, still sometimes either really or apparently under God’s displeasure (Isaiah 54:7-9; Isaiah 57:17-18).—“Show me wherefore thou contendest with me.” Job’s trial, that God seemed to have a controversy with him while he was ignorant of the cause. A spiritually enlightened man apprehends God has a controversy with him when there is none; an unrenewed man does not believe in it when it actually exists.—With different classes and individuals God may have various
Grounds of Controversy
1. With nations and unconverted men. The grounds—
(1) Rebellion against his authority;
(2) Unthankfulness for His mercies;
(3) Apostacy from His religion;
(4) Persecution of His cause and people;
(5) Contempt of His ordinances;
(6) Rejection of His Son.
2. With churches and individual Christians. The grounds may be—
(1) Departure from first love (Revelation 2:4-5);
(2) Formality and hypocrisy (Revelation 3:1);
(3) Pride and self-satisfaction (Revelation 3:1-7);
(4) Lukewarmness (Revelation 3:15-16);
(5) Unfaithfulness and unfruitfulness (John 15:2);
(6) Covetousness and wordly-mindedness (Isaiah 57:17). Troubles laid on believers may be—
(1) On account of past or present sin;
(2) For trial and manifestation of grace;
(3) For purification and spiritual growth;
(4) For exhibition of Divine support.
III. Appeal to God against His present treatment (Job 10:3-12).
The grounds of this appeal:
1. Its inconsistency with God’s nature and honour (Job 10:3). “Is it good unto thee that thou shouldst oppress, that thou shouldst despise the work of thine hands, and shine upon the counsel of the wicked?” Three things apparently involved in Job’s afflictions:—
(1) Oppression on the part of God;
(2) Contempt of His own works;
(3) Countenance given to the sentiments and practice of ungodly men who deny His providence if not His very existence, and maintain the uselessness of religion. In Job’s case there appeared no ground for such severe treatment. Though God’s own creature, he seemed to be treated as unworthy of regard. As a religious man, his great afflictions might give occasion to the ungodly to harden themselves in their irreligion. All this is inconsistent with God’s nature and honour. God’s nature is love. A God of truth and without iniquity. Afflicts none willingly. Despises not any. Ungodliness His abomination. Observe:—
(1) God’s procedure sometimes apparently at variance with His nature and character.
(2) That inconsistency only in appearance. God cannot act but in accordance with His nature, which is love and light, goodness, purity, and justice.
(3) God’s glory and honour involved in His dealings with His creatures, and especially with His servants.
(4) God’s nature and character a rock for our feet under the most trying dispensations.
2. God’s Omniscience (Job 10:4). “Hast thou eyes of flesh? or seest thou as man seeth?” (Job 10:7) “Thou knowest that I am not wicked.” Conscious of innocence we can appeal to Divine omniscience for a favourable verdict. Man looks on the outward appearance; God’s eyes penetrate the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Man deceived by appearances. Sees imperfectly into character and conduct. Requires lengthened observation to arrive at the truth. Often swayed by passion and partiality. God takes all into one view at once (Acts 15:18). His eyes a flame of fire (Revelation 1:14). His servants’ character and conduct often misjudged by men. Perfectly known to God. Job’s comfort (ch. Job 16:19; Job 23:10). His trial that his friends read his character in his sufferings. His Antitype similarly misjudged (Isaiah 53:4; John 7:23). God’s knowledge of Job’s innocence already shewn in the history. Job’s own knowledge of it as yet only from his own consciousness. This consciousness his confidence towards God. “If our hearts condemn us not,” &c. (1 John 3:21). Job a sinner, but not a “wicked” sinner. Sinned not deliberately and from choice. Not guilty of hypocrisy and secret sin. Not to love sin or allow ourselves in it, is with God not to sin at all (1 John 3:6; 1 John 3:8-9).
3. God’s eternity (Job 10:5). “Are thy days as the days of man? Are thy years as man’s days?” [God’s eternity marked by “years” in contrast with man’s days.] (Job 10:6).—“That thou inquirest after mine iniquity, and searchest after my sin.” Shortlived man requires haste to investigate and punish crime. His few years afford him but few opportunities of fully ascertaining character. The judge may die or the criminal escape. God’s eternity excludes all need of haste, and secures all opportunity for knowledge. No need with God of torture to elicit confession. The severity, rapid succession, and long continuance of Job’s afflictions, apparently inconsistent with this.
4. His omnipotence (Job 10:7). “Thou knowest (or, ‘Although thou knowest’—margin,—“It is upon thy knowledge’) that I am not wicked, and there is (or, ‘and that there is’) none that can deliver out of thine hand.” No fear of a rescue on behalf of God’s prisoners. Hence no need of vehement urgency in inflicting punishment. Solemn truth for the impenitent. “How shall we escape,” &c? (Hebrews 2:3). “Consider this, all ye that forget God,” &c. (Psalms 9:17). Precious comfort for Christ’s sheep. None able to pluck them out of his hand (John 10:29-30).
5. His relation to man as his Creator (Job 10:8). “Thine hands have made me (or, ‘elaborated me,’—margin, ‘took pains with me’), and fashioned (—exquisitely moulded and adorned) me together round about (—every part of me); yet thou dost destroy me.” Powerful plea. Workmen respect their own work. The more pains bestowed, the more regard will be shown. The heavens the work of God’s fingers; man the work of his “hands.” Man the most exquisite piece of Divine workmanship even in his body, still more in his soul, most of all in the union of both. The “human face Divine” an example of this exquisite moulding and adorning. The head apparently designed by nature as the cupola to the most glorious of her works [Addison]. Galen, the physician, converted to the belief of a Divine Creator by the wisdom displayed in the structure of the human frame. Man God’s glory as His work in creation; still more as his work in redemption (Isaiah 29:23; Isaiah 45:11; Isaiah 60:21).
6. Man’s frailty and mortality (Job 10:9). “Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt thou (or, thou wilt) bring me unto dust again?” Reference to the Creation, and to the sentence pronounced on man at the Fall. Similar terms to those in Genesis 2:7; Genesis 3:19. Written documents or traditionary records of the events probably then in existence, and afterwards employed by Moses. Man’s frail and shortlived existence used by Job as a plea for milder treatment. Similar plea in Psalms 89:47. An availing one with God (Psalms 103:14; Genesis 6:3). God’s nature compassion. Our frailty pleads with God for forbearance, with man himself for earnestness (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
7. God’s kindness already manifested.
(1) In our conception (Job 10:10). “Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese?” God the careful and beneficent Agent in our conception (Psalms 139:15-16; Ecclesiastes 11:5). The process of nature in the womb His own, as instituted, sustained and controlled by Him. Milk coagulated into cheese an image of the formation of the embryo of the future man.
(2) In the growth of the fætus (Job 10:11). “Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and fenced me with bones and sinews.” The development of the embryo another of God’s mysterious and beneficent operations. The order in the text that of Nature,—first the skin, then the flesh, lastly the harder parts gradually added, Among other important purposes, “bones and sinews” serve for protection to the more vital parts.
(3) In the bestowment of life (Job 10:12). “Thou has granted me life.” Life imparted to the embryo in the womb as a gift of God. Natural life a precious gift; how much more spiritual and eternal! That life also originally imparted to man, but lost in Adam (Romans 5:17; 1 Corinthians 15:21). Restored in Christ who is the Life (John 14:6; John 11:25; 1 Corinthians 15:21; Romans 5:17; Romans 5:21; 1 John 5:11-12.
(4) In the favour and kindness accompanying life. “Life and favour.” The kindness of God visible in every stage of our natural life. Conspicuous in infancy. “Cast upon him from the womb.” Kindly watched over in a long-continued period of helplessness. Beneficent provision made in parental affection. Each individual the recipient of ten thousand mercies every day he lives. Divine goodness smiles on us in every sunbeam, and fans in every breeze.
(5) In the continued presercation of life. “And thy visitation (providential care) hath preserved my spirit.” Natural life preserved by a careful and watchful Providence. The hand that put the heart in motion sustains its pulsations. Provides the means necesary for life’s support. The petition answered even before it is offered—“Give us this day our daily bread.” Protects life and organs from constantly surrounding dangers. An unseen hand averts a thousand accidents each day we live. The mind preserved from derangement and disease as well as the body. The same Divine care that protected the brain, the seat of life and thought, by a strong, spherical, bony skull, still continued in preserving the spirit. Sleep, as needful for the mind as the body, the daily gift of a beneficent Providence.—An object of so much regard not likely to be soon despised or lightly cast away. Neither natural nor becoming for so much kindness to terminate in cruelty.
IV. Complaints against God and His procedure (Job 10:13-18).
1. That his sufferings were in God’s secret purpose amidst all His past kindness (Job 10:13). “And these things hast thou hid in thine heart; I know that this is with thee.” The comfort of believers that all events in our lot are part of God’s secret counsel (Psalms 139:16; Ecclesiastes 3:14). A truth of natural religion that what God does in time He purposed in eternity (Acts 15:18). Necessary and desirable in a Being infinite, eternal, and unchangeable; omnipresent, omniscient, and almighty; holy, wise, and good. Job’s predetermined afflictions in his view an apparent contradiction to God’s former kindness. Life seemed given only to make him miserable. Such ungenerous thoughts his own infirmity. God neither fickle nor cruel. All things made, according to His purpose, to work together for good to them that love Him (Romans 8:28). Predestined sufferings no contradiction to experienced kindness. Joseph’s imprisonment under a false abominable charge was in God’s secret counsel while delivering him from the pit and placing him in Potiphar’s palace. Observe—
(1) The nature of the flesh is to put a wrong construction upon God’s dealings.
(2) The object of Satan is to misrepresent God, as arbitrary, cruel and tyrannical.
(3) Hard thoughts of God a special temptation in time of trouble.
2. Complains of God’s excessive strictness in marking and punishing offences (Job 10:14). “If I sin (rather, ‘have sinned’), then Thou markest (or hast marked) me, and Thou wilt not acquit me from mine iniquity.” This perhaps the secret counsel complained of in preceding verse. In ignorance Job views his afflictions as the effect of God’s strictness in marking his sin. As yet no frank and humble confession. Observe—
(1) Sin often brought to mind in time of affliction.
(2) As a fact, the sins of God’s children often visited when those of others are not so.
(3) The views of the flesh in regard to God always perverted. According to the flesh, God is either—
(1) Indifferent to men’s conduct; soft and indulgent to their sins; or
(2) Stern and inexorable; strict in marking and punishing every offence.
(4) In a believer, the flesh speaks at one time, and the spirit at another. Job’s present language uttered under the influence of the flesh and the promptings of Satan. Yet, in itself, in a certain sense true, as
(1) Men’s sins are observed and marked by God. Men judged at last “out of those things which are written in the books.” For every idle word account to be given in the day of judgment. Men receive according to the things done in the body—good or bad. The secrets of men to be one day judged by Jesus Christ (Romans 2:16). Every evil work and secret thing to be brought into judgment.
(2) The guilty by no means acquitted by God. Yet sin is forgiven and the guilty are pardoned. The gracious provision of the scheme of Redemption. Through the substitution and satisfaction of Christ, God can punish and yet pardon. God a just God and yet a Saviour; just and the justifier of the ungodly that believe in Jesus. Millions of sins forgiven, yet not one unpunished. The iniquities of men laid on the one righteous man, Christ Jesus. The Just One “bruised and put to grief” as a sacrifice for the sins of the unjust. The guiltless takes the place of the guilty, and the guilty that of the guiltless (2 Corinthians 5:21). The blood of Jesus able to cleanse from all sin, because the blood of God’s Son (1 John 1:7). Every sin marked against the sinner answered and atoned for by the Surety. The only thing now required for the sinner’s pardon is his humble and hearty acceptance of the Substitute. God is satisfied with the Surety. It only remains that the sinner be so too. Confessing his guilt and accepting the Substitute, he is at once forgiven (1 John 1:9-10). Observe—
(1) The peculiarity of the Gospel age is that its provision is revealed with a clearness and fulness before unknown.
(2) The Gospel a blessed contradiction to the latter part of Job’s present utterance. The Law declares, God cannot and will not acquit the guilty; the Gospel points to Calvary and says, the guiltless One became the guilty and suffered the penalty.
(3) The sinner who refuses the Surety retains his guilt, and suffers himself the punishment of it.
3. Complains of being treated as he is though a righteous man (Job 10:15). “If I be wicked (—sin deliberately; or, ‘be guilty’) woe unto me: if I be righteous, yet will I (or may I) not lift up my head.” A dictate of natural religion that the guilty transgressor must be punished. “This man is a murderer whom vengeance suffereth not to live” (Acts 28:4). Also the teaching of nature that the just man may lift up his head with confidence and joy. “Be just, and fear not.” None, however, in himself, able to do this before God. The most upright still guilty in God’s sight. Standing righteous in Christ, a man lifts up his head before God. Job unable at present to do this—
(1) As not realizing his standing in the Surety;
(2) Keeping his eyes on his affliction;
(3) His sufferings, according to the popular view, seemed to proclaim him a guilty man.—“I am full (or, ‘being full’) of confusion (reproach or ignominy); therefore see thou (or, ‘seeing as I do’) mine affliction.” Job’s other trials greatly aggravated by reproaches from his friends. Confusion, perplexity and shame, natural results of his affliction, especially in the time in which he lived. A natural tendency to judge of a man from his circumstances. An aggravation to a good man’s sufferings, that himself and religion are misjudged from them. Hence Paul’s anxiety in regard to his sufferings as an apostle (Ephesians 3:13; 2 Timothy 1:8). Himself not ashamed of them (2 Timothy 1:12).
4. Complains that his sufferings only increased in number and intensity. Three trying circumstances in Job’s afflictions.
(1) Their continual increase from the commencement (Job 10:16). “For it increaseth” (rears itself up like a swelling wave; or, “should it [my head] lift itself up”). Terrible climax in Job’s sufferings. Commenced with loss of oxen and asses, and increased to extreme bodily affliction, inward darkness, and apprehension of Divine wrath. Probably his disease itself increased in violence as it continued.
(2) Their intensity. “Thou huntest me as a fierce lion; and again thou showest thyself marvellous upon me?” God’s purpose seemed to be to hunt him down as a dangerous animal; or as if He Himself were a fierce lion intent on tearing him to pieces, as Isaiah 38:13; Hosea 5:14; Hosea 13:7; Psalms 50:22. His afflictions appeared like a display of what God could inflict. His plagues made wonderful (Deuteronomy 28:59).
(3) Their variety and constant change (Job 10:17). “Thou renewest thy witnesses (or, ‘weapons;’ margin, ‘plagues’) against me; and increasest thine indignation upon me; changes and war (or, ‘successions and a host,’ i.e., one host scuceeding another) are against me.” God appeared to be employing all his weapons against him, each attack a fresh “witness” produced to confront and confound him as a guilty man. One troop of troubles seemed only to succeed another, equally bent on his destruction. Observe—
(1.) A child of God views all his troubles as from the Divine hand.
(2.) This often an exaggeration rather than an alleviation of them.
(3.) A fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
(4.) Blessed to have God for a friend, terrible to have him for an enemy.
(5.) Believers not to be staggered at the heaviest troubles succeeding each other.
(6.) No troubles to a believer but what a Father’s love permits and a Father’s hand metes out.
V. A piteous lament (Job 10:18-22) embraces—
(1) A regret that he had ever been born, or permitted to live (Job 10:18-19). “Wherefore then hast Thou brought me out of the womb? O that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me! I should have been as though I had not been; I should have been carried from the womb to the grave.” The feeling and thoughts of his first outburst return upon him (ch. Job 3:10-16). An advance in the complaint; his birth directly ascribed to God, and charged upon him as an evil. The idea of God extracting the infant from the womb familiar in the Psalms, as Psalms 22:9; Psalms 71:6. With David a matter of praise; with Job one of regret. Unbelief and passion cast reproach on the Author both of our being and our well-being. Job has long ago regretted the blindness and haste which dictated these irreverent and ungrateful words.
2. An impassioned request for a short relief from suffering, on the grounds of his speedy departure (Job 10:20). “Are not my days few? Cease then, and let me alone; that I may take comfort (brighten up, as ch. Job 9:27) a little before I go.” Same sentiment in the conclusion of his reply to Eliphaz (ch. Job 7:19; Job 7:21). Observe—
(1) A saint, though sad and sinning, cannot be restrained from praying. The flesh only lifts up its voice when that of the spirit is silent. The boon of a short relief testifies the depth of Job’s distress.
(2) Brief respite in suffering a mercy to the sufferer. Enables him—(i.) To rally his strength; (ii.) To collect his thoughts; (iii.) To recover calmness; (iv.) To prepare himself for further suffering.
(3) Terrible doom of the lost, which admits of no such respite (Luke 16:24; Mark 9:44; Revelation 14:10-11.
3. Gloomy description of the
State of the Dead
as viewed by Old Testament saints (Job 10:21-22).
1. A place of perpetual exile (Job 10:21). “I go whence I shall not return; a land,” &c. Viewed as a land or country; its inhabitants the shades or spirits of deceased men. Hence the sublime description in Isaiah 14:9-10; Ezekiel 32:21. A land from which is no return to the present world.
2. A place without attraction. Return from it to the present world desirable, but not practicable. Much inferior to the present life for enjoyment. Banishment to it an evil. Hence Hezekiah’s sorrow and regret at the prospect of having so soon to enter it (Isaiah 38:3-18).
3. A place of confusion and disorder (Job 10:22). “Without any order.”
(1) No distinction of classes, as on earth. [Hence David’s prayer, Psalms 26:9.] A place of indiscriminate gathering (1 Samuel 28:19).
(2) No pleasing vicissitude of day and night, summer and winter.
(3) No beauty or orderly arrangement. Chaotic confusion, as on the earth before the six day’s creation (Genesis 1:2).
(4) No exercise of religious worship. No praise or thanksgiving. This part of the prospect especially deplored by the godly (Psalms 6:5; Psalms 30:9; Psalms 88:10-12; Psalms 115:17; Isaiah 38:18).
4. A place of darkness and gloom (Job 10:21). “The land of darkness and the shadow of death,” &c. A funeral pall of midnight darkness ever resting on it. Any light that penetrates it only darkness,—“The light is as darkness.” The view probably borrowed from the places of Oriental sepulture, subterranean grottoes. The darkness of these sepulchral chambers transferred to the spirit world. The experience of the disembodied spirit supposed to bear affinity to the circumstances of the body. The Sun of righteousness had not yet irradiated the world beyond the grave. The Forerunner in human nature had not yet entered within the veil. A blissful Paradise, as a home for the disembodied just, not yet known. The doctrine of a happy intermediate state reserved for the teaching of Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Perhaps the enjoyment of it reserved for the time when He Himself should return to glory, having finished the work of our Redemption (Luke 23:43). It was left for Jesus to dispel the darkness that brooded over the spirit world, and show beyond the grave the hills of celestial bliss. Life and immortality brought to light by Jesus Christ through the Gospel (2 Timothy 1:10). Jesus carried light into the darksome grave and world beyond—
(1) By His teachings (Luke 16:22; Luke 23:43; John 14:2).
(2) By His death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. By His lying in the grave He has left there a perpetual light for the comfort of all His dying people [Caryl]. Blessed contrast between the prospect of death to believers now, and that to those of Old Testament times. The kingdom of heaven with all its glory and beauty, its joy and song, its inhabitants and employments, opened to believers by the death and resurrection of Jesus. Instead of the dreary and confused abode of half-conscious spirits, the world beyond is now the believer’s bright and happy home in his Father’s house. Jesus has taught believers joyously to sing on the bed of death, as well as amid the enjoyments of life: “Yonder’s my house and portion fair,” &c. Hence a threefold duty lying on New Testament believers:—
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Job 10". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26