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THE CONTRAST.—JOB’S SOLILOQUY, CONTINUED
With his former state of happiness and honour Job now contrasts his present misery and degradation. His object as well to show the grounds he has for complaint as to ease his burdened spirit. Probably now sitting in the open air, near his own residence, outside the city. Still among the ashes, and covered from head to foot with the worst form of leprosy. Abandoned by his wife and domestics, and viewed by his pious visitors as suffering the penalty of past transgressions perhaps secretly committed, he is at the same time frequently surrounded by a rude rabble, especially of younger persons, who now, like the young men who mocked Elisha, deride him for his former piety and present affliction; perhaps taking a spiteful revenge for his former reproofs. These persons, whose character and condition, as well as that of their fathers, Job describes, probably the remains of the Horites who had been conquered and dispossessed by the Idumdans, to whom Job’s ancestors belonged, and who had now for some time been in possession of the country (Genesis 14:6; Genesis 36:20-21; Deuteronomy 2:12; Deuteronomy 2:22). Some of those Horites had probably been enslaved by their conquerors, while others, to preserve their liberty, had fled into the desert and taken refuge among the mountains.
I. Job describes the class of persons by whom he was now treated with scorn and insult (Job 30:1-8). These were—
1. Younger than himself. Job 30:1.—“But now they that are younger than I have me in derision.” Derision a bitter aggravation of affliction. Christ’s experience (Matthew 27:27-31; Luke 23:34-37). Such treatment from juniors an aggravation of the trial. Seniors habitually treated with respect, and veneration paid to age among the orientals, especially in Arabia. Another aggravation in Job’s case that he had formerly been treated with deference, not only by the youth but even by aged men, himself being still comparatively young (chap. Job 29:8). A sign of great corruption in morals when seniors are treated with disrespect, still more with derision—especially when these are in affliction and distress. Sad state of society when the youth are rude and insolent, and particularly towards those who suffer, whether from age, poverty, or affliction. David’s prayer (Psalms 144:11-12).
2. Base-born. “Whose fathers I would have disdained to set with (in the same employment; or ‘to set over,’ as keepers; or ‘to rank in equality with’) the dogs of my flock.” A large number of dogs required for Job’s seven thousand sheep. Dogs anciently employed, as now, both for watching flocks and dwellings (Isaiah 56:10). Job’s language in reference to these men probably from their character and conduct rather than their condition. Observe—
(1) Sad when men, made in the image of God and capable of engaging along with angels in the highest and most honourable services, are inferior in usefulness and condition to the dogs that guard a flock of sheep, and from want of principle unfit to be entrusted even with such an employment. Dogs in the east esteemed unclean and treated with little consideration (Psalms 59:14-15).
(2) The character of sin to degrade men beneath the brutes. Job 30:8.—“They were the children of fools (or ‘worthless, wicked men’—both by birth and imitation); yea, children of base men” (Heb., “of men without a name”—with no reputation except a bad one—men of low birth and still lower character). Parentage of great account in the east. Felt to be a disgrace, as well as a loss, to be born of base and wicked parents. Children unable to help their birth; yet often “like father like child.” Persons supposed to bear the character as well as the features of their parents. The education and moral training of the children of bad or base men usually neglected. Such children grow up in a morally poisonous atmosphere. The taint of the parent usually attaches more or less to the children. A man’s parentage and education often indicated by his character and conduct. Children often inherit both the parents’ vices and their consequences. To exult over the wretched sufficient evidence of a base extraction. An aggravation of Job’s trial and degradation, to be “held in derision” by youths of such low and base parentage. The contempt of the vile a bitter trial to an ingenuous spirit. David’s experience (Psalms 35:15). Verified in that of Christ (Matthew 27:27-31). The class of persons here described such as, from their character, were unable to obtain any respectable—however humble—employment. Job’s example in regard to them to be imitated. Important for masters and heads of families to look well to the character of those whom they employ, even in the humblest situations. David’s resolution (Psalms 101:6-7).
3. Feeble and useless. Job 30:2.—“Yea whereto might the strength of their hands profit me, in whom old age was perished?” (or, “in whom the vigour of manhood was lost;” or, “in whom there was no expectation of their ever reaching old age,” whether from their vices or their mode of life,—neither having strength to work themselves nor wisdom to direct others). Job’s reason for treating them as he did;—in this case the clause applied rather to the fathers than to the sons. Observe—
(1) No uncommon thing for vices, as well as inadequate means of life, to enfeeble the frame and induce premature old age and death. Races by such means often stunted in stature as well as enfeebled in mind, and often die out. Often the case with the aborigines of lands taken into possession by a foreign race. Well if the vices, as in the case of the North American Indians and others, have not been imported by the foreigners themselves.
(2) True religion favourable to physical as well as spiritual growth and development. Muscularity the natural outcome of a healthy Christianity. God’s truth and service beneficial to man in all his aspects.
(3) Godliness no less profitable to races than to individuals. Humanity itself either deteriorated by vices and their consequences, or elevated by religion and morality.
(4) Physical vigour and longevity among the features of the millennial period and the reign of righteousness upon earth. “The child shall die an hundred years old, and the sinner, being an hundred years old, shall be accursed. As the days of a tree shall be the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands” (Isaiah 65:20-22).
4. Wretched and famished. Job 30:3.—“For want and famine they were solitary (or, ‘afflicted,’—‘desolate,’ as in Isaiah 49:21; or, in ‘extreme want and hunger’); fleeing into the wilderness (as unfit for civilized life, or as loving the solitude and independence of the desert, or finally from a sense of guilt and shame as evil-doers; or, ‘gnawing’ and feeding on the wilderness), in former time desolate and waste (or, ‘the night or darkness of the solitary waste’); who cut up mallows (or purslain, a species of halimus; a saltish plant growing in deserts, beside hedges, and by the sea-shore, and used as food by the poor) by the bushes, and juniper roots (or, ‘roots of the broom,’ a plant abundant in the sandy plains of Arabia) for their food” (or ‘to warm themselves,’—the stems of the juniper or broom being used for fuel, as the berries and roots were for food). These men probably worse off for food than were Job’s dogs. No fault however of Job’s. Some prefer the most wretched fare to following an honest calling. One of the effects of sin, somewhere, that men are in any degree destitute of the proper means of life. Abundant provision originally made by the Creator for man’s comfortable subsistence (Genesis 1:29). Man, continuing in obedience, would have eaten of the good, not only of Paradise, but of every land. The finest of the wheat and honey out of the rock the promised portion of obedient Israel (Psalms 81:16). The earth in consequence of man’s sin, made to yield him thorns and thistles (Genesis 5:18). Vice and indolence in some, with tyranny and oppression in others, still continue want and misery in the world. Among the blessings of the better time coming under the Prince of Peace, is, that “the earth shall yield her increase,” and men “shall eat and be satisfied” (Psalms 68:6; Psalms 68:22; Psalms 68:26; Isaiah 65:21-22).
5. Excluded from civilized society. Verse.
5.—“They were driven from among men,—to dwell in the cliffs (or ‘clefts,’—perhaps rather ‘the horrid gloom’) of the valleys (ravines or torrent-beds), in caves of the earth and in the rocks. Among the bushes they brayed (like wild asses, for thirst or hunger; or ‘groaned’ from want and misery): under the nettles (or brambles) they were gathered together” (they huddled together; or “stretched themselves,” as all the resting-place they had). To dwell in valleys in the East a mark of vileness. The rocks of stony Arabia abundant in caves. The text descriptive both of the country and the manners of the inhabitants. A people in that region anciently known as Troglodytes, or dwellers in caves. Such places the usual resort of some at least of the inhabitants of a subjugated mountainous country, as well as of the lowest and most lawless among the people. The fastnesses of the mountains in Wales the last resource of the ancient Britons. Dens and caves the refuge of the persecuted worshippers of Jehovah in the days of Ahab and at other times (1 Kings 17:4; Hebrews 11:38). The retreat of the Christians of Madagascar. The parties mentioned in the text expelled from the cities and inhabited parts of the country on account of their vicious conduct and disreputable character. Evil-doers in a state to be improved or expelled. The diseased limb, however, only to be cut off when all means of cure have failed. Time not to be lost in purging either Church or State of corrupt and incorrigible members. “One sinner destroyed much good.” “Evil communications,” &c. David’s resolution as king of Israel and type of Messiah: “I will early cut off all evil-doers from the city of the Lord” (Psalms 101:8).
6. Depraved in character and conduct. Job 30:5.—“They cried after them as after a thief” (in the way of threatening, or in order to their apprehension, or to warn others of their character). Job 30:8.—“They were viler than the earth” (or, “they were whipped out of the land,” viz., for their evil deeds) perhaps one of the results of Job’s careful administration of justice, for which the wretched vagabonds, or their sons, now make retaliation on the humbled magistrate (Proverbs 20:8; Proverbs 20:26).
The section brings us face to face with a portion of the lowest stratum of humanity and the dregs of society. Such found in most countries, Britain not excepted. The result not merely of vice and indolence in themselves and their fathers, perhaps for generations, but also probably of oppression and neglect on the part of their superiors. Their existence in a country often, under Divine Providence, a retribution. Probably due to Christianity that the description in the text was not verified in the British refugees among the mountains of Wales, and even in the Saxons after the Norman possession. The waifs and roughs, thieves and city Arabs, in the slums of London, perhaps as much the result of harsh treatment and neglect as of personal depravity. Church and State in general only now beginning to wake up to a sense of duty in regard to this class of society, when the case has become next to unmanageable. The great problem of the present day—What is to be done for the reclamation and elevation of the sunken masses? Much capable of being done both by Church and State, under the impulse of loving hearts and the direction of enlightened heads. The Gospel of the grace of God, suitably presented and lovingly applied, the Divinely-appointed, and therefore the most efficient, means of restoring fallen humanity. Embraces in the contemplated objects of its operation the lowest grades of society in every land. The commission of its Divine Author: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.” Possesses in itself, and along with its faithful ministration, a power sufficient to elevate the lowest and reclaim the most utterly lost of the human family. “The power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” “Mighty through God to the pulling down of the strongholds” of ignorance and vice. Has already proved itself adequate to this end. Has achieved its triumphs both among the profligates of Corinth, and the Bechuanas of Caffraria. The glory of Christianity, that its greatest, and perhaps most numerous, trophies have been from among the lowest classes of society. “Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty: and base things of the world, and things which are despised hath God chosen, yea and things which are not, to bring to nought things which are” (1 Corinthians 1:26-28).
Christianity suited to all classes and conditions of men. Views all men as brethren. Teaches the unity of the race. “God hath made of one blood all nations of men” (Acts 17:26). The Gospel an enemy to caste of every description. All nations and all classes represented by it as equally the purchase of the same precious blood of the Son of God (1 Timothy 2:6). The countless multitude of the redeemed before the throne gathered out of every nation, and kindred, and people, and tongue (Revelation 7:9). One of the precepts of Christianity, “Honour all men” (1 Peter 2:17. “Fraternity,” and “equality,” as well as “liberty,” emblazoned on the Gospel banner. Corresponding responsibility involved in regard to its possessors. Only a Cain asks: “Am I my brother’s keeper.”
Solemn inquiry for every possessor and professor of the Gospel: Am I faithfully attempting to perform my part, however humble, in raising up the sunken masses of my brethren at home and abroad, by communicating to them that Gospel which has already done so much for many and for me? Am I, like the Master I profess to follow, while contemplating, whether with the eye of the body or of the mind, the multitudes that are as sheep without a shepherd, “moved with compassion towards them,” and so moved as, like Him also, to reach forth a helping hand? or, Am I still verily guilty concerning my brother?
II. The treatment received from these persons (Job 30:9-14). Enlarged on by Job, as indicating how deeply he felt it. Particulars specified.
1. His sufferings and afflictions made the subject of their coarse jests and ribald mirth. Job 30:9.—“And now I am their song (accompanied with a musical instrument): yea, I am their byword” (or jest, probably both from his former piety and present sufferings; perhaps, also, as the rich man brought low, the proud Emir humbled, and the secret oppressor punished). Similar treatment experienced by David, and by David’s Lord and antitype (Psalms 35:15; Psalms 69:12). Christ, in His deepest affliction, taunted with His former trust in God and charity to men, while now neither delivered by God nor able to deliver Himself (Matthew 27:43; Luke 23:35). The prophet Jeremiah in his humiliation also the song of his ungodly countrymen (Lamentations 3:14; Lamentations 3:63). In Job’s case this treatment from the rabble less to be wondered at after the conduct of his pious friends. Note—The lower classes of the Arabs addicted to scurrility and abuse. Indulge freely in the streets and bazaars in satirical and abusive songs upon their rulers and superiors. Clever in extemporising verses, which they usually accompany with the music of a drum, tambourine, or lute.
2. Shunned with abhorrence. Job 30:10—“They abhor me; they flee far from me.” Their abhorrence of him from—
(1) His loathsome disease.
(2) His lying apparently under the Divine malediction.
(3) His supposed wickedness and oppression as the cause of it. His miserable disease, instead of evoking sympathy, caused him only to be avoided as a pestilence or a sight too loathsome and shocking to be looked upon.
3. Treated with insult and contempt. “They spare not (either as doing it abundantly and repeatedly, or as casting off all restraint) to spit in my face” (or, in my presence). Note: Orientals seldom spit but for the purpose of insult, and much more frequently spit on the ground before the party they wish to insult than on his face or person, though both are done. To spit out before another an expression of the greatest contempt (Deuteronomy 25:9). Frequently done by Mohammedans in respect to Christians, whom they regard as infidels and dogs. So great the affront in the East, that when done even by a father in regard to his daughter, the shame of the thing required her to shut herself up in her tent or apartment for a whole week (Numbers 12:14). Sad contrast in Job’s case with his former honour (chap. Job 29:8-11). This deep insult put more than once upon the Son of God while standing as our substitute. Predicted (Isaiah 50:6). Realized (Matthew 26:67; Matthew 27:30).
4. All restraint in regard to him cast off by the rabble around him, in consequence of his affliction. Job 30:11.—“Because he (the Almighty) hath loosed my cord (dissolved my strength and authority; or, according to another reading, ‘his cord,’—giving loose reins to his anger), and afflicted (or humbled) me, they have also let loose the bridle before me” (have cast off all restraint in my presence, and treat me with unbridled insolence). All Job’s afflictions ascribed by him to God as their first Author. His cord now loosed by Him, a sad contrast to his fond anticipation (chap. Job 39:8-11). Observe—The wicked sometimes allowed to say and do whatever their pleasure may suggest or their malice invent. This now done by Job’s enemies—
(1) As if it were a merit to treat with insult one who appeared the object of Divine execration.
(2) From the absence either of power in himself or inclination in others to restrain them. The same experienced by the Saviour from the soldiers, servants, and others, when in the hands of his enemies (Mark 14:65; Mark 15:16-20).
5. Violently pushed by rude youths, who employed every method to annoy and distress him. Job 30:12.—“Upon my right hand (—the place of accusers; also where he should otherwise have been most able to defend himself,—thus chosen for greater insult and contempt) rise the youth (Hebrew, ‘brood,’—so called in disdain); they push away my feet (probably stretched out as he sat or lay among the ashes), and raise up against me the ways of their destruction” (or, “their destructive ways,”—the ways by which they may attack and destroy me, like the raised ways or banks of a besieging army, 2 Kings 19:32). A wicked and mischievous band of city youths, like those who mocked Elisha at Jericho, now surround and assault him on set purpose to annoy and do him injury, as an army employing every means they can contrive to overthrow the beleaguered fortress. A picture of deeper degradation and misery hardly conceivable; all the darker from the contrast afforded by the previous chapter. Yet, even this only a shadow of the outrages endured by the King of kings when “made a curse for us” (Matthew 25:3-4, to the end of that and the following chapter).
6. His sufferings increased by the rabble, who seemed to take pleasure in adding to his affliction, and completing his overthrow. Job 30:13.—“They mar (cut up) my path (annoying me whenever I attempt to walk, and preventing all escape or access to me from without), they set forward my calamity [as if it afforded them profit as well as pleasure], they have no helper” (persons of the lowest and most worthless character). So Christ in His last sufferings reviled by the thieves that were crucified with Him (Matthew 27:44). Observe—A mark of deepest depravity to take pleasure in another’s calamity, and to add affliction to those already afflicted. Edom and other nations severely threatened for similar conduct in regard to humbled Israel (Obadiah 1:10-15; Zechariah 1:15). The experience also of David and David’s son (Psalms 69:26).
7. His utter ruin eagerly sought by the rabble multitude about him. Job 30:14.—“They came (or come) upon me as a wide breaking-in of waters (or, ‘as by a wide breach’—the figure of a siege still continued); in the (or, like a) desolation (or, ‘under the crash or ruin,’ as of the falling walls and buildings of the breached fortress; or, ‘with a tumult,’ or ‘shout’ of triumph) they rolled (or roll) themselves upon me” (as a storming party entering the breach). Implies—
(1) The number of those seeking to distress and overthrow him.
(2) Their eagerness in their wickedness.
(3) Their actual mischief.
The section affords an affecting view of the depths of Job’s aggravated and accumulated sufferings. As if the sudden and peculiarly melancholy death of his whole ten children; the loss of his entire property; his personal suffering from a most loathsome and distressing disease; his being made the object of aversion by his wife and domestics, and of suspicion and reproach by his friends—as if all this had not been enough, he is subjected to the coarsest treatment and most unfeeling mockery from a low rabble, who take a fiendish pleasure in insulting him and adding to his affliction. Observe—
1. Impossible to say to what suffering a child of God may be subjected in this world. Sometimes all the powers of wickedness in earth and hell apparently let loose against him, while at the same time suffering under distressing dispensations of Divine Providence. No trial so sharp but a godly man may meet with it. If Satan has one dart in his quiver more fiery than another, he may shoot it at him. In respect to outward trials and sufferings, but for the inward comfort and future hope afforded them, believers, sometimes, of all men the most miserable (1 Corinthians 15:19). Tribulation and persecution promised by the Master. This, at times, abundantly and amazingly realized. Witness the sufferings of the martyrs of Lyons, Smyrna, and elsewhere, in the second century. “Tortures by racks, by pincers, by faggots, by the tossings of wild beasts, by being seated in burning [iron] chairs, that the fumes of their roasting flesh might come up about them, amid scoffs and jeers from the rabble, when a word of retraction would have saved them.” See Dickinson’s Theological Quarterly, July, 1875, p. 389.
2. Nothing strange for a child of God to fall from esteem into contempt and disgrace (Matthew 5:11). Hatred and reproach their promised fare. Mockery not the least painful and effective species of persecution (Hebrews 10:32-33; Genesis 21:9 compared with Galatians 4:29).
3. The depravity of the human heart, which is capable of conduct such as is ascribed to Job’s rabble persecutors. “Murder,” in its worst form, proceeding out of it (Matthew 15:19). Capable of inflicting deliberate injury on those already deeply afflicted and suffering, from the mere gratification of a fiendish pleasure in witnessing it, or from a diabolical hatred of moral excellence in the sufferer.
4. The intense malevolence and cruelty of Satan, the author of these aggravated sufferings on the part of Job, and the instigator of those wretched creatures whom he found or made his ready tools, in rendering his suffering as bitter as it could possibly be. Nothing wanting on Satan’s part if men are not as wretched and miserable as himself.
5. The mutability of outward happiness and popular favour. None ever enjoyed both in a higher degree than Job, and none ever, for a time, so entirely stripped of them. The fickleness of “fortune” and popular applause proverbial. The “Hosanna” of to-day the “crucify Him” of to-morrow. To-day a silken couch—to-morrow a scaffold. To-day Paul is ready to be worshipped as a divinity; to-morrow he is dragged out of the city and all but stoned to death. The believer’s comfort—
(1) That all these vicissitudes are under his Heavenly Father’s appointment.
(2) That his real happiness is elsewhere and far above the reach of change.
6. The love of Christ in submitting, for our sake, to sufferings and indignities which are only foreshadowed in those of the Patriarch. In the last eighteen hours of His life on earth all the bitter ingredients indicated in this chapter were infused into the cup of suffering appointed for Him as our substitute to drink. “He was made a curse for us,” and therefore abandoned to every species of human endurance. The Gospel narrative presents us with a scene of suffering which only finds anything approaching a parallel to it in the case of the Patriarch, as exhibited in this and preceding chapters.
III. Reverts to his personal affliction, more especially as from the hand of God (Job 30:15-18). Laments.—
1. The sad reverse in his condition. Job 30:15.—“Terrors are turned upon me (or, ‘things are changed’—tables are turned with me; or, ‘I am overthrown,’ like a stormed fortress; or, ‘trouble,’—carrying consternation with it, like the terror in a city taken by storm,—‘pursues me’); they (the terrors or calamities) pursue (like the besiegers when entering the breach they have made in the walls; or, ‘thou pursust’) my soul (Heb., ‘my nobility’ or princely state—perhaps a term for the soul from its nobler nature) as the wind [pursues and drives along the chaff—i.e. vehemently and irresistibly]; my welfare (all the happiness and comfort of my life) passeth away as a cloud” [which leaves no trace of its former presence and can no more be recalled]. Observe:—
(1). Sad reverses from a happy and prosperous condition among the most painful of human trials.
(2) Soul terrors the greatest troubles. These not unknown to a child of God (Psalms 88:15-16). Amazement and consternation among the ingredients of Christ’s cup (Mark 14:33-34).
2. His inward grief, expressing itself in continual groans and lamentations. Job 30:16.—“And now my soul is poured out upon me (or, ‘within me,’ as if dissolved in grief; Heb., pours itself out,’ i.e., in tears and groans); the days of affliction have taken hold (or fast hold) of me” (like armed men entering a besieged city—denoting the violence of his troubles; “days of affliction,” as indicating its continuance and the sad contrast with his former happy experience). Observe—Days of affliction, sooner or later, and of longer or shorter continuance, to take hold of each (Ecclesiastes 11:8). Happy then to have one with us who “in all our afflictions is afflicted” (Isaiah 63:9). His promise (Isaiah 43:2). Christ’s presence with us in the furnace quenches the violence of the fire (Daniel 3:25; Hebrews 11:34).
3. His bodily sufferings. Job 30:17.—“My bones are pierced in me (Heb., ‘from off me’) in the night season (or, ‘night pierceth my bones from off me,’—i.e. with acute pains, usually most severe in the night); and my sinews (or ‘my gnawing pains’) take (or find) no rest.” Acute and gnawing pains added to all Job’s other afflictions. Satan accomplishes his wish and goes the full length of his permission,—“Touch his flesh and his bones.” The bones sensible of the most acute and severe pain. The affliction carried into his very bones. Severe suffering usually expressed by reference to the bones (Psalms 51:8; Isaiah 38:13). An aggravation of pain and suffering when endured in the night while others enjoy rest, and when one’s own exhausted nature requires repose. Night also the season in which sorrow sinks deepest.
4. The pollution of his garments and the changed appearance of his skin in consequence of his disease. Job 30:18.—“By the great force of my disease is my garment (either literally, in consequence of the purulent discharge from his sores; or figuratively, his skin so changed in its appearance that he could scarcely be recognized): it bindeth me as the collar of my coat” (vest, tunic, or inner garment—his loose outer garment being now so stiff with gore and matter as to sit as close to his person as his tunic; or, ‘it—the disease—bindeth me about like my vest;’ sitting as closely, constantly, and completely upon me as my tunic). A sore aggravation of disease—
(1) When it pollutes our garments and disfigures our persons—
(2) When it appears likely to yield neither to time nor treatment.
5. Degradation coupled with extreme debility. Job 30:19.—“He (God, or, ‘it,’ the disease) hath cast me into the mire (as a wrestler seizing his antagonist by the throat and throwing him to the ground; or, hath rendered me filthy and abominable as one cast into the mire), and I am become like dust and ashes” (as low and mean, as weak and powerless, as the ashes on which I sit; or, I am reduced to dust and ashes, deprived of vital energy, and more like a corpse than a living man; his disease such as to give his body the appearance of clods and ashes, from its dried scabs and filthy ulcers). Observe—Piety enables us to keep an eye upon God as the supreme and sovereign Author of all our troubles. In one sense our troubles as truly from God, as in another from Satan, the world, or ourselves. God the ultimate Author, whoever or whatever may be the immediate instrument or occasion. No trouble but by His purpose and permission. Satan and the world only God’s hand in afflicting and chastening His children. Satan’s demand in regard to Job: “Put forth thy hand upon him;” God’s answer, “He is in thine hand.” Paul’s thorn in the flesh from Satan, yet given by God (2 Corinthians 12:7). Better to think of God the first cause in our trouble, than of man or any other second cause. “I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because Thou didst it” (Psalms 39:9).
IV. Directs his complaint against God Himself (Job 30:20-22).
1. As disregarding his prayer in his affliction. Job 30:20.—“I cry unto thee, and thou dost not hear (or hearken, so as to help and deliver) me; I stand up (in frequent and earnest supplication; or, I stand, continue waiting and expecting an answer), and thou regardest me not” (or “thou considerest me” [and my case], but dost not answer or afford relief). Observe—
(1) Crying to God a familiar exercise with Job. Good for us to have the path to the mercy-seat a well-trodden one.
(2) Job not only prayed in his affliction, but continued to do so. Unlike the hypocrite (chap. Job 27:10).
(3) Standing a usual and Scriptural posture in prayer (Genesis 18:22; Jeremiah 15:1; Matthew 6:5; Luke 18:11-13). The early Christians usually knelt in prayer on every day of the week, except the Lord’s day, when they stood, as a posture more befitting a day of joy and triumph.
(4) Sometimes one of the most painful trials to an afflicted child of God, to pray, and continue praying, without any apparent attention to his prayer on the part of God. The trial of David and of David’s Lord in his deepest affliction (Psalms 22:1-2; Matthew 27:46).
(5) God’s regard to our prayer not to be judged by immediate appearances.
Answers to Prayer
Believing prayer heard, though followed by no immediate or direct answer. Prayer offered through the Holy Spirit’s assistance never unheard or unanswered. Answers to prayer not restricted to time or form. Sometimes, the thing itself not granted, but something better in its stead. So with Paul (2 Corinthians 12:8-9). With Christ (Luke 22:42-43). Sometimes petitions for temporal benefits not granted, that those for spiritual and better ones may be so. The withholding an answer sometimes a greater blessing than the answer itself. God not a mere force, but an intelligence acting according to infinite wisdom and judgment in the bestowment of His mercies. “The absurdity of Tyndall’s famous ‘prayer-test’ was, that it regarded God as simply a force in nature, and proposed to experiment with it to see just what it would do.… The impossibility of knowing the motives which actuate God must for ever render the expectation of receiving an invariable answer to any prayer absurd in the extreme. The very fact that our prayers are sometimes answered and sometimes denied, and that the answers when granted are sometimes modified and often delayed, is itself proof that we are dealing with a great intelligence, whose acts are governed only by his own will and purposes.”—Rev. Jacob Todd, M.A., in Dickinson’s Theological Quarterly, July, 1875, p. 369. True and acceptable prayer carries in it submission to the Divine will. A part of every such prayer, understood if not expressed,—Not my will, but thine be done. Christ our exemplar in prayer (Luke 22:24). Himself the example of His own teaching (Matthew 6:10). Believing prayer like seed. whose temporary disappearance in the earth is necessary to its production of fruit. All the tears of God’s people put into His bottle, and all their prayers recorded in His book (Psalms 56:8). All Job’s prayers at length abundantly answered, even in this life. Perhaps the most of believers’ prayers only to be answered after they have ceased both to pray and live. Better, in trouble, to pray for patience to endure it, and grace to improve it, than for deliverance out of it.
2. As acting towards him with apparent cruelty and hostility. Job 30:21.—“Thou art become cruel to me (Hebrew, ‘Art turned into a cruel one unto me’); with thy strong hand thou opposest thyself against me,” (or, ‘carriest on a bitter hostility against me;’ or ‘liest in wait for me’). One of the severest things Job ever uttered in regard to God, indicating the bitterness of his grief at being thus treated by Him as an enemy. Observe—
(1) The flesh has never, any more than Satan, anything good to say of God.
(2) The flesh makes the most grievous mistakes in its judgments of God and of Divine things. Says of God what is exactly true of the devil, and the very opposite of what is true of God. God is love, and Satan the impersonation of vruelty. His name Satan denotes “an adcersary,” and is closely allied to the word Job employs in speaking of God. Satan the opposer of every man’s happiness, and especially the adversary of believers (1 Peter 5:8).
(3) God may, for wise purposes, in a little wrath hide his face from his children “for a moment,” and in apparent wrath may “smite them,” though really in love (Isaiah 54:8; Isaiah 57:17; Revelation 3:19). Even this not the case at present in regard to Job. While Satan was bruising, God was praising him.
(4) Job’s experience in the text, without the sin, realized by his great Antitype when uttering the cry, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me (Matthew 27:46). For our sakes, that satisfaction might be made for man’s sins, God obliged to assume the aspect of “a cruel one” to His own beloved Son. The bitterest element of the cup given him, as our surety, to drink.
3. As sporting with his sufferings, and giving him up to destruction. Job 30:22.—“Thou liftest me up to the wind (like the grain thrown up from the threshing-floor by the winnowing shovel against the wind) thou causest me to ride (tossest me up and down, or carriest me away) upon it” (as the chaff of the threshing-floor when separated from the wheat, or as any light substance made the sport of the wind and carried away by it). Observe—
(1) Job, under the misleading suggestions of the flesh, views God as sporting with his sufferings, while, in reality, glorying in him before principalities and powers as his faithful servant, who had not his like upon earth.
(2) What Job here ignorantly and unbelievingly ascribes to God, very like what Satan desired to do with the disciples of Jesus in the night of their Master’s betrayal (Luke 22:31-32). The thing Satan was actually doing now with Job.
4. As filling him with terror and making an utter end of him. “Thou dissolvest my substance” (or, my health and soundness, as well from terror as disease; or “Thou dissolvest me, Thou terrifest me;” or, according to another reading, “Thou dissolvest me in the tempest’s crash”). A tragic picture of inward as well as outward distress. Vague terror and deep depression of spirits among the effects of Job’s peculiar disease. Trouble of soul the soul of all trouble. Terrible experience, when in affliction and trouble God is viewed as dealing with us in anger. Sometimes the temporary experience of a believer. Sure to be the unending experience of every impenitent unbeliever. God’s terrors able to dissolve the firmest substance, and to terrify the stoutest heart. “A fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
V. Reflects upon the future (Job 30:23-24).
1. Anticipates death as the result of his present sufferings. Job 30:23.—“For I know that thou wilt bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living” (the grave, or the earth, according to Genesis 3:19; the book of Genesis, in some form or other, most probably in Job’s hands). Job’s language that of dejection and despondency, not without an alloy of petulance. Faith again at the ebb. Despondency one of the effects of his disease. Sense and sight said: “He will slay me—this disease must be fatal;” only faith could say: “I shall not die but live.” Observe—
(1) The flesh ever apt to draw hasty and wrong conclusions from God’s dealings in Providence.
(2) God acknowleged by Job as the dispenser of all His afflictions, and as the disposer of all events. None go down to the grave till God brings them there, though some are brought, before their time. The keys of death and the eternal world in Christ’s hands.
The grave the house appointed for all living
Declares the general law relating to humanity. Only two known exceptions. More to be made at the Lord’s second advent. Believers then changed without tasting of death (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17). Till Christ shall come, the grave the appointed receptacle for humanity. Job mistaken as to the time and occasion of his death; no mistake as to the fact of it. Every disease, if not strictly “unto death,” yet brings us nearer to it. In regard to the issue of our trouble, God often better than our fears. Paul’s case (2 Corinthians 1:8-10). God as able to bring up from the grave as to bring down to it. The times of each in His hand. Useful in affliction to remember our mortality, and to regard death as the possible, if not the certain, result of it. From the universality of the grave as “the house appointed for all living,” we learn—
(1) A lesson of humility. Pride ill becoming in any creature,—preposterous in those who in a few years at most will have only a dark chamber in the earth of a few cubic feet for their dwelling, with the worms as their nearest companions, and actually making a banquet of their flesh. Such a dwelling awaiting the prince equally with the peasant.
(2) Earnestness in attending to present and important duty, more especially in seeking the eternal welfare of ourselves and others connected with us. Opportunity for attending to the concerns of eternity confined to this life. The exhortation of Divine wisdom—“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, &c., in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). “The night cometh when no man can work.”
(3) The evil of sin. The grave not originally “the house appointed for all living.” Death to mankind the result of transgression. “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” “By one man sin entered the world, and death by sin.” “The wages of sin is death.” No grave but sin has dug it. Terrible evil which has filled the world with sepulchres and dead men’s bones. Sad to be in love with that which has proved the murderer of the race. So great an evil must require a corresponding means for its expiation and removal.
(4) The inflexible character of the Divine law. The sentence against transgressors of that law fulfilled, though a whole race must be reduced to death. Adequate satisfaction to be made to it before the grave can close its mouth or yield up its dead to an eternal life. That satisfaction, through Divine compassion, already made. “By man came death; by man came also the resurrection from the dead.” “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” “I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” “He suffered for our sins, the just One in the room of the unjust.” “All we like sheep have gone astray; and the Lord hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all. He was wounded for our transgressions. By His stripes we are healed. For the transgression of My people was he stricken. He hath made his soul an offering for sin. He bare the sin of many” (1 Corinthians 15:21; Romans 6:23; John 11:25; Isaiah 53:5-12).
(5) True wisdom to seek a better than an earthly portion. The ‘house appointed for all living’ the end of all mere earthly enjoyments and possessions. Sad to spend our time only in the pursuit of such, and to be found at last with nothing we can carry with us beyond it.
(6) The grave the vestibule to two other houses, both eternal in their duration, but immensely different in their character. The one of these a home of light and beauty, peace and purity, life and health, joy and song, where death is unknown and no tear is shed. The other one of darkness and despair,—‘weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.’ Solemn and important question for each—which of these shall be my home? “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.”
2. Despairs of help being afforded in answer to his prayers, and looks only for relief in the grave. Job 30:24.—“Howbeit (or surely) he will not stretch out his hand (in the way of help and deliverance) to the grave (now when I am already on the verge of it; or, ‘surely prayer avails nothing when he stretches forth his hand,’ viz., to smite or to slay); though they (or men) cry in his destruction” (the destruction sent by him—while he is visiting with destruction). The verse, however, may also be read as expressing the assurance of rest in the grave: “Howbeit he will not stretch out his [afflicting] hand to the grave (so as to afflict in or beyond it); in the destruction He sends there is deliverance.” Or even as justifying prayer in such circumstances as this: “Howbeit, do not men [still] stretch out the hand [imploring help] in ruin, and utter a cry on account of it in the destruction which is sent by Him?” Observe—
(1) The language of unbelief—“There is no hope.” The flesh, even in a believer, ever ready in protracted trial and disappointed hope, to say, with Ahab: “Why should I wait any longer?”
(2) Faith in a believer has its ebbs and flows. Low water with Abraham’s faith when he spoke to God of Eliezer of Damascus being his heir, and when he prayed that Ishmael might live before him,—as if he were to have no other son. Mounts and triumphs when he goes forth at God’s command to offer up to God the heir of promise, believing that He was able even to raise him from the dead. Faith in its ebb with David when he said: “I shall one day fall by the hand of Saul.” At its flow, when he wrote in the 118th Psalm: “I shall not die but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” Faith high in Elijah when he sent for Ahab and told him to gather together all the prophets of Baal; low, when he fled from the face of Jezebel and sat down under the juniper tree, with the prayer “Take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” Hard to believe when all appearances are, and continue to be, clean contrary to our prayers. The part of faith to hope against hope, having to do with a God to whom all things are possible, and who adopts as his title—“Thou that hearest prayer” (Psalms 65:2).
(3) Sweet consolation to a suffering child to know that he has at least rest and deliverance in the grave. “Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord, for they do rest from their labours” (Revelation 14:13). Man cannot lay on his afflicting hand in the grave, and God will not. A believer’s faith may not be able to see deliverance on this side of death, but clearly sees it on the other.
(4) A believer prays, although answers are withheld and there appears little prospect of any. Prayer a necessity of his nature. A latent faith always in the renewed heart that God is gracious, and that He is the hearer and answerer of prayer.
VI. Expresses his disappointment and the grounds of it (Job 30:25-26).
1. The grounds of his disappointment. Job 30:25.—“Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? Was not my soul grieved for the poor?” His sympathy deep and real. Conscience bore its testimony to the sincerity of his charity. Could appeal to those around him for the general and genuine character of his compassion. The question affirmed by the admission of Eliphaz (chap. Job 3:3-4). Having shown sympathy and compassion to others when in trouble, he calculated on experiencing the same himself when in similar circumstances. The same thought expressed by the Psalmist, speaking as the type of Messiah (Psalms 35:13-14). A natural as well as Scriptural law—“With the same measure that ye mete withal, it shall be measured to you again (Luke 6:38). True in respect to God, though sometimes for a time apparently otherwise. One of the laws of His kingdom,—“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). Generally, though not always, true in relation to men. Job and Job’s Antitype remarkable examples of the contrary. In Christ’s case, unbounded compassion and tenderest sympathy repaid with cruelty and insult. An aggravation of trouble when sympathy and compassion are withheld where there is a just right to expect them. Mark of monstrous depravity when the sympathizing and compassionate are treated With unkindness and cruelty.
Job, according to the text, a beautiful example of Christian sympathy. The exemplification of the precept: “Weep with them that weep” (Romans 12:15). Remarkable manifestation of the grace of the Spirit in patriarchal times. May well put many living under the Christian dispensation to the blush. The great want in the Church of Christ, the Master’s sympathy and compassion for the poor and afflicted. Yet the glory of Christianity and the evidence of its Divine character, that such a spirit has been so largely produced under it. Among its characteristic precepts are: “Be pitiful;” “Put on bowels of mercies” (1 Peter 3:8; Colossians 3:12). Christ’s compassionate spirit, in a greater or less degree, infused into all His members. The privilege as well as duty of believers, to be filled and pervaded with it (Ephesians 5:18). Provision made for this in the present dispensation by the full bestowment of the Holy Spirit. Such sympathy and compassion the necessary qualification for Christian usefulness.
2. The disappointment itself. Job 30:26.—“When I looked for good, then evil came unto me; and when I waited for (or expected) light (happiness and joy), there came darkness” (trouble and distress). Natural to expect happiness as the result of piety. Godliness has the “promise of the life that now is as well as of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). Wisdom’s ways pleasantness, and all her paths peace. Experienced as a matter of fact. The experience of Job himself previous to his calamities, and again after they were past. Promises of temporal happiness and comfort to be understood with an exception of needful trials. Fear of future trials not foreign to Job in the time of his prosperity (chap. Job 3:25-26; Job 1:5; Job 2:10). Observe—
(1) Trials as well as comforts necessary in a state of discipline. Darkness as well as light needful in the spiritual as in the natural world.
(2) A believer’s expectation, if good, always realized, though not always in this life or in the things of it. His trials and disappointments blessings as well as his comforts.
VII. Enlarges on his troubles (Job 30:27-31).
1. Incessant inward as well as outward affliction. Job 30:27.—“My bowels boiled (with inward distress, as Lamentations 1:20, or as the physical effect of his disease), and rested not (continued to do so without intermission, night and day); the days of affliction prevented me” (met me or came upon me suddenly and unexpectedly—an aggravation of the trouble).
2. Continued grief. Job 30:28.—“I went (moved about) mourning (or black, in person or attire) without the sun.” Not as the effect of exposure to the heat; or, in gloomy solitary places; or, in a state of dejection and sorrow. Reference perhaps to his experience previous to his disease, which probably kept him confined to his dwelling or the vicinity of it; enough in the loss of his ten children to occasion it.
3. Public and unrestrained complaint. Job 30:28.—“I stood up [through deep earnestness and anguish], and I cried (as the expression of deep and uncontrollable grief, or as imploring relief and aid) in the congregation” (assembled for public business or Divine worship). Here also probable reference to the period in which he was still able to mingle with others and to appear in the public assemblies, and hence previous to his being smitten with his leprosy. Lepers excluded from society (Leviticus 5:2-3). Miriam, under the same disease, shut out from the camp seven days (Numbers 12:15). King Azariah, when a leper, obliged to dwell in a “several,” or separate house, and “cut off from the house of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 26:20-21. Usual for Orientals to give vent to their feelings in public.
4. Solitary moaning. Job 30:29.—“I am a brother (by close resemblance) to dragons (or jackals, which roam in solitary places and utter doleful and hideous cries, especially in the night), and a companion to owls” (or ostriches, also remarkable for their loud nocturnal cries (Micah 1:8).
5. The disfigurement of his person, and internal physical suffering. Job 30:30.—“My skin is black upon me (or, becomes black [and falls] from off me, among the effects of his disease, hence called the black leprosy: the skin, however, also blackened by grief, Psalms 119:83; Jeremiah 8:21; Lamentations 5:16); and my bones are burned with heat” (as the result of internal inflammation, or expressive of inward distress, Psalms 102:3).
6. His whole experience one of sorrow and lamentation. Job 30:31.—“My harp also is turned to mourning, and my organ (or pipe) into the voice of them that weep” (as at funerals—the early practice of funereal wailing still continued in the East). The harp, and organ or pipe, instruments of music earliest in use. Mentioned Genesis 4:21. Indicative of the period in which the patriarch lived. Especially employed on joyful occasions. The language descriptive of a melancholy change from a joyous to a sorrowful experience. The sudden transition from previous joy an aggravation of present sorrow. Observe—
(1) Job’s previous life one rather of gaiety than gloom. True piety the sister of innocent pleasure. Wisdom’s ways those of pleasantness. The voice of rejoicing and salvation heard in the tabernacles of the righteous.
(2) The holiest heart and the happiest home liable to be overtaken by sudden and overwhelming sorrow. The major key often exchanged for the minor, and the song of gladness for the wail of grief. His Father’s “house” the only place where the believer’s sun never goes down, and his moon never withdraws itself. Heaven the only land where the harp and the organ are always in use, and the garments are always white.
Job held up in these tragic verses as an affecting picture of human distress. The inquiry suggested—why such grief and trouble under the administration of a benevolent Creator? Why its existence at all? Why in connection with comparative innocence? Why in the experience of a child of God?
(1) The existence of suffering easily accounted for on the ground that sin is in the world. Sorrow and suffering the shadow cast by sin. Sin and suffering inseparably linked. Absence of sorrow impossible in a world of sin. Suffering to be viewed either—(i.) As the necessary and inevitable accompaniment of sin, as pain accompanies inflamation; or (ii.) as the infliction of a penalty, as punishment follows transgression in the state; or (iii.) as a kind and salutary discipline, like that employed by a father with his children. No absolutely innocent person in the world. The comparatively innocent necessarily suffer along with the guilty. Often suffer in consequence of the sin and suffering of others.
(2) Suffering in a child of God part of the treatment necessary for his perfection and preparation for his eternal inheritance. A need-be for his heaviness through manifold temptations. Gold necessarily tried and purified in the fire. The believer’s troubles necessary for the exercise and development of the graces of the Spirit. Made to conduce to the glory of God and the benefit of others. God sometimes glorified more in His patient than in His prosperous children. Suffering a theatre for the display both of the excellence and reality of true religion. Often the very result of the character and condition of a child of God. Such the special object of Satan’s temptations and the world’s persecution. By his renewed nature, made more sensible of the evil of sin within himself, and more deeply affected with the sufferings and sins of others. The glory and privilege of a child of God to be made a partaker of the afflictions of Christ, and for the same object (Colossians 1:24).
(3) Suffering and sorrow to be expected in the world as long as Satan is permitted to go up and down in it (chap. Job 1:7). This not always to be the case (Revelation 20:1-3).
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Job 30". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27