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Job in this chapter is again entering upon his defense. He complains of the unkindness of his friends; pleads for more tenderness from them; shows the pitifulness of his case: and again, as to the charge of hypocrisy, contends that he is not guilty.
(1) ¶ Then Job answered and said, (2) I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all.
The retort Job makes on Eliphaz, is to the same amount as before. He had already heard much reasoning of the same kind; but what can reasoning do to assuage the sorrows of an heavy heart. He had before told both Eliphaz and his companions, that they were physicians of no value, (chap. 13:4.) and here he adds that they were miserable comforters. But, Reader! is not the same kind of observation still more applicable, when considered as referring to a soul seeking salvation; to an awakened sinner, who is truly anxious to be informed how to find peace with GOD: are not those miserable comforters, who would send the poor distressed creature to his best endeavours, to his repentance, tears, and the like, instead of directing him to JESUS, to GOD'S pardoning love and mercy in the blood and righteousness of his dear Son, and to the sweet comforts and influences of the HOLY GHOST? Can anything be more plain, than that a guilty sinner needs a holy Saviour; and short of this, the enquiring soul comes short of all! Precious LAMB of GOD! be thou my consolation, for without thee I should be miserable forever.
(3) Shall vain words have an end? or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest? (4) I also could speak as ye do: if your soul were in my soul's stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake mine head at you. (5) But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage your grief. (6) ¶ Though I speak, my grief is not asswaged: and though I forbear, what am I eased?
There is a very sweet expression of Job in these verses, in which he intimates, that he would not have served his friends as they have him, had a reverse of circumstances been their portion. Reader! do not overlook it, for it is a blessed token of grace. And how beautiful and lovely is the same feature in JESUS, as the apostle hath marked it; Who when he was reviled, reviled not again. 1 Peter 2:23 .
(7) But now he hath made me weary: thou hast made desolate all my company. (8) And thou hast filled me with wrinkles, which is a witness against me: and my leanness rising up in me beareth witness to my face. (9) He teareth me in his wrath, who hateth me: he gnasheth upon me with his teeth; mine enemy sharpeneth his eyes upon me. (10) They have gaped upon me with their mouth; they have smitten me upon the cheek reproachfully; they have gathered themselves together against me. (11) God hath delivered me to the ungodly, and turned me over into the hands of the wicked. (12) I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder: he hath also taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for his mark. (13) His archers compass me round about, he cleaveth my reins asunder, and doth not spare; he poureth out my gall upon the ground. (14) He breaketh me with breach upon breach, he runneth upon me like a giant. (15) I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin, and defiled my horn in the dust. (16) My face is foul with weeping, and on my eyelids is the shadow of death; (17) ¶ Not for any injustice in mine hands: also my prayer is pure. (18) O earth, cover not thou my blood, and let my cry have no place.
Perhaps in no part of Job's complaints doth the torrent with which his whole frame was overwhelmed rise higher, than in what is contained in this discourse. His heart seemed to have been full, and he gives it vent. How exercised in his family, in his person, by the enemy of souls the unkind and unjust reproaches of his friends; and to sum up all, his GOD looking on, and yet to his earnest cries returning no answer. Job knew not the blessed issue which awaited the whole, and therefore only spoke while under the full pressure of the accumulated burthens. There is a great elegance in the figure of Job's leanness, when he considered the wrinkles of his wasted body, as carrying about with him an unceasing witness to his grief. And the close of the complaint, in crying to the earth to cover not his blood, but to be above the ground in testimony for him; these are most striking expressions of the mind of Job.
(19) Also now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high. (20) My friends scorn me: but mine eye poureth out tears unto God. (21) O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbour! (22) When a few years are come, then I shall go the way whence I shall not return.
But the greatest beauty of Job's discourse, and what I would above every other call upon the Reader to remark with me is, the earnest longing contained in the close of his address, in which he is so passionately looking out for the Mediator. Let the Reader look over again and again what Job here saith, Oh that one might plead for a man with God! Then let him see that prayer answered, in the appointment of JESUS, as our Great High Priest and Intercessor; and then let him determine for himself, (for to his own heart under the blessed SPIRIT'S teaching, I leave the subject for decision), whether Job had not an eye to JESUS; who is not only our Advocate with the FATHER, but is such in the very way which Job desired, even as the man CHRIST JESUS pleading for his neighbor, his poor brethren, his kinsmen after the flesh, and whom he is not ashamed to call brethren. Hebrews 2:11 .
READER! while we behold Job bowed down under the very heavy load of sorrow, and hear the complaints issuing from him, as related in this chapter; let us not be too hasty, in charging the poor man with impatience. Alas! What can the coolness of reason accomplish, in the hour of warm distresses. No doubt it is our unbelief, which is at the bottom of all our rash conclusions, and unbecoming thoughts. And had Job instead of looking at second causes, been able to have had his faith always exercised, in resting upon GOD'S faithfulness, and GOD'S promises; faith would have triumphed more nobly. But where, blessed JESUS, where shall we look for this perfection of faith, but in thee the author of it? Oh! that had but grace in all my lesser exercises, to remember that thou art everlastingly pursuing one plan, and that a plan of pure love and mercy, in all the events which take place in thy church; and among thy people! Thou hast thine eyes upon them for good. And all is working together for good, even in the very moment when outward circumstances, or inward trials, seem to be most distressing. This we know by the sequel of Job's history, to have been the case in his instance. And it is the same in the instance of all the redeemed. How many a precious soul hath found cause in the close of some heavy trial, to look back through the dark passage he hath been brought, and then he could discern, though he could not while passing through it, the clear marks of JESUS'S presence, and his leadings in the way! How many have kissed the rod, at the moment it hath been taking from them, which while exercising in GOD'S hand, they have trembled under? Reader! let our improvement from this chapter, and indeed from all Job's history, be to arrive to this most certain conclusion; whom the LORD loveth he chasteneth. Precious JESUS! never, never remit those tokens of thy love to me, however painful to flesh and blood! Under the blessed teachings of thy HOLY SPIRIT, I am every day learning more and more, (though one of the most wayward scholars in thy school), that they are necessary. I see, gracious LORD, that the greatest enemy I have to contend with my spiritual warfare, is my own fleshly, sinful, corrupt, and unbelieving heart. I see that this flesh is always seeking ease and enjoyment, and forever opposing the holy pursuits, and desires of my better part. LORD! undertake for me. Stir up my soul. Unsettle my rest; hedge up my path with thorns if thou seest it needful, so that if I seek after my lovers in any corrupt affection, I may not find them. And dear LORD, allure me, and bring me into the wilderness, and there speak comfortably unto me, according to thine own most sweet and gracious promise, that I may return unto thee, my Ishi, my first, and best, and truest husband, at length, perfectly convinced that in thee only, present peace and everlasting happiness are found.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Job 16". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19