Job 9
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
Now, for the first time, Job admits the great principle for which Eliphaz and Bildad have contended, but in a bitter and sarcastic sense. True, he says, it is not for man to contend against God. But why? Because he is absolute Power, and hence there is no possibility of a flail mortal prevailing in his plea. His might is his fight. It is a dark conception of God to which Job's despair now drives him. He looks upon God simply as omnipotent Force, arbitrary and irresistible Will. Take the thought of power, and separate it from that of justice and of compassion, and we have the idea of an almighty Fiend rather than of a good and gracious Father. Yet the spark of true faith still lives, as we shall see, in the recesses of his awakened heart, - J.

Job resumes. He knows, as truly as does Bildad, that God doth not pervert justice. His work is always right, while man is erring, vain, and sinful. How shall the creature "answer" to the Creator? Were the Holy One to condescend to enter into controversy with his frail creature man, the poor sinner would be dumb. Out of the mouth, even of the guilty, God would extort the confession of his own righteousness, and by his manifested glory compel the proud and self-conceited one to acknowledge his own sinfulness and error. This confession finally comes from the lips of his faithful "servant Job." The present words are the first notes of that final triumphant confession. The inability of man to answer God arises -

I. FROM THE FACT OF THE ABSOLUTE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE DIVINE WAYS, Job acknowledges this; and this makes his own suffering lot, as the servant of God, so inexplicable both to himself and to his mistaken friends, who are bent, at all hazards, on finding an answer. It is possible for man to pretend an answer to God; and, with wicked boldness, to enter into contention with him. But, in presence of the perfectly holy work of the Most High, he must ultimately be silenced.

II. BUT MAN IS EQUALLY UNABLE TO ANSWER TO GOD BY REASON OF THE SINFULNESS OF HIS DOINGS. Even Job, commended of God, does not hide his sinfulness. On the lowest ground, it must be complained of man's work that it is imperfect. His best deeds, done with his utmost strength and with an intention as pure as he can summon, are but imperfectly done. The strength is but feebleness; the motive lacking in the highest qualities, and the performance but irregular. The unsteadiness of the human hand may be traced through all Therefore -

III. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR MAN TO MAINTAIN HIS OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS BEFORE GOD. The measure of moral apprehension left even in the most faulty is sufficient to convince every one in presence of the Divine holiness - the true standard - that he is verily guilty. Even Job, when he saw God, abhorred himself, repenting "in dust and ashes." In humility he confesses, "How should man be just with God?" If vain man, who is foolish enough at times to attempt any presumptuous work, should dare to "contend" with the eternal Ruler, it must only end in his utter defeat; for "he is wise in heart, and mighty in strength."

IV. THE HARDENING OF THE HEART TO APPEAR IN CONTENTION MUST ONLY END IN SHAME AND DISGRACE TO HIM. To this all experience bears witness; for who hath done so "and hath prospered"? Man is puny, ignorant, weak, vain, and sinful. How shall he appear in the presence of the Almighty, the All-wise, the Eternal? Lowliness and contrition describe the true attitude for man to assume before God. Then will he be gracious, and lift up him that is bowed down. But "if he withdraw not his anger, the proud helpers stoop under him." - R.G.

I. THE HELPLESSNESS OF MAN IN PRESENCE OF HIS OMNIPOTENCE. (Vers, 1-3.) What avails right on one's side against him who has all heaven's artillery at his command? "It is idle to argue with the Master of thirty legions." Out of a thousand questions with which the Almighty might overwhelm my mind, there is not one which I could answer with the chance of a fair hearing. Indeed, this in a sense is true, as the thirty-eighth chapter will presently show. It is idle to argue with God concerning the constitution of things. But it is never idle to plead the right. This, God, by the very nature of his Being, by his promises, is bound to attend to. Job thinks of God as the Almighty and the All-wise (ver. 4), and he finds in this combination of attributes only reason for despair. He leaves out his justice; his faith in his love is suspended for a time. Hence he sees him only through the distorted dream of suffering, and his dark inferences are wrong.


1. In nature's destructive forces. Here he would rival and outvie Eliphaz in the sublimity of his pictures. The more terrible phenomena of nature are produced as evidences of a blind, tyrannic might: the earthquake (ver. 5), which topples over the giant mountains like a child's plaything, and rocks the solid foundations of the earth (ver. 6); the eclipse of sun and stars the universal darkness of the heavens (ver. 7), Here is the origin, according to some philosophers, of religion - man's terror in the presence of the vast destructive forces of nature. But it is the origin only of a part of religious feeling - of awe and reverence. And when man learns more of nature as a whole, and more of his own heart, he rises into loftier and happier moods than that of slavish fear.

2. In nature's splendour and general effect. The vastness of the "immeasurable heavens," and the great sea of clouds (ver. 8), the splendid constellations of the northern and the southern sky (ver. 9), lead the mind out in wonder, stretch the imagination to its limits, fill the soul with the sense of the unutterable, the innumerable, the infinite (ver. 10). This mood is happier than the former. It is one of elevation, wonder, delighted joy in the communion of the mind with Mind. It is stamped upon the glowing lines of the nineteenth psalm. But Job draws from these sublime spectacles at present only the inference of God's dread and irresistible power.


1. It is invisible and swift in its errand of terror (ver. 11). Sudden death by lightning, or by a hasty malady, naturally produces an appalling effect. Hence the prayer of the Litany.

2. It is irresistible. (Vers. 12. 13.) No human hand can stay, no human prayer avert, its overpowering onset. The monsters, or Titans ("helpers of Rahab"), were overcome, according to some well-known legend; how much less, then, can I resist with success (ver. 14)?

3. The consciousness of innocence is therefore of no avail. Supplication alone is in place before a Disputant who knows no law but his will (ver. 15). I cannot believe that he, from his height, would give attention to my cry (ver. 16). He is Force, crushing Force alone, guided only by causeless caprice (ver. 17); stifling the cry of the pleader in his mouth, and filling him with bitterness (ver. 18).

4. The human dilemma. Man in presence of an absolute Tyrant must always be in the wrong. If he stands on might, he is a fool; if he appeals to right, he has no court of all appeal - for who can challenge the Judge of heaven and earth? Right will be set down as wrong, innocence will be pronounced guilt (vers. 19, 20). We see, from this picture of Job's state of mind, that there is no extremity of doubt so dim as when man is tempted to disbelieve in the principle of justice as the law of the universe, which cannot be broken. The thought of God turns then only into one of unmitigated horror and despair. - J.

It is very doubtful how far Job conceived of this great problem as it has presented itself to us since the time of St. Paul. The whole question was confused to his apprehension by the inexplicable perplexity of his situation and the grossly unfair insinuations of his friends. It appeared as though God were his Adversary, and it seemed hopeless to attempt to set himself right with One whose power was so vastly greater than his own. We have not Job's peculiar difficulties in regard to Divine providence. Yet to us the problem of justification is not less serious because we have been made to see the moral difficulties more closely. Let us, then, consider the Christian view of the problem of justification and its solution.

I. THE PROBLEM. The question which Job propounds is of a universal character. He does not ask how he, as one individual in special circumstances, can be justified; but his own case leads him to think of man generally. He feels that his difficulty is his share of a general difficulty of the race. What is this?

1. To be just with God is to stand right with God. The expression implies a certain relationship. It goes beyond subjective righteousness; it is more than internal holiness. It is a standing in right relations to God, in such relations as admit of his treating us as just men.

2. The character o/the relations depends on God's view of us. We may appear just in the eyes of men and yet not be just with God. He knows us as we are, and he can be deceived by no cloak of hypocrisy. Therefore we have to lay aside all shams and appearances when we come to consider the question of our justification before God.

3. Sin puts us all in wrong relations with God. We start with the fact that we need to be justified. The justification cannot be a clearing of our character from false imputations, as Job's was largely; for many accusations are true - we are guilty. Hence the tremendous difficulty of the problem.

4. It is unspeakably important that we should be in right relations with God. This is not a question of abstract dogmatics, but one of personal experience. It does not merely touch our feelings, and concern itself with our peace of mind; it is vital to our soul's salvation.

II. ITS SOLUTION. Job propounds the question as though no answer could be given. With him it is a case of despair. But Christ has brought an answer, which St. Paul has expounded in the Epistle to the Romans.

1. We cannot justify ourselves with God. It is necessary to see this first of all The Jews made the experiment with their Law, and failed. Many now make it, either by attempting to excuse themselves or by trying to better themselves. But they always fail.

2. God has made a method of justification. This is the great wonder of redemption, that our Judge provides our Advocate; that he who might condemn us finds a way by which we may be forgiven.

3. This justification is in Christ. (Romans 3:22.) Christ brings forgiveness of past sin and recovery to God. Thus he puts us in right relations with our Father.

4. It is realized by means of faith. (Romans 3:28.) When we put our trust in Christ, we receive from him the grace of pardon and renewal. The condition of faith is absolutely necessary. We must avoid the mistake of supposing that this is faith in our own state of justification, i.e. a believing ourselves to be justified. It is not that; but it is a personal trust and loyalty in relation to Christ himself.

5. This condition results in a real state of right relations with God. Justification is not a legal judgment, a mere pretence, affirming that we are what we are not. That would be a lie. It is an actual fact; a putting as in right relations with God. Thus it is the root and promise of righteousness. - W.F.A.

Job makes a suitable reflection on the almightiness of Jehovah, seen in his control over the visible world. The lofty and deep-seated mountains, the very types of might and stability, he "removeth" without their knowing, and "overturneth in his wrath." He "shaketh" the whole "earth out of her place," and maketh the "pillars thereof to tremble." In the high heavens "he commandeth the sun, and it riseth not;" and "the stars" he "sealeth up" in darkness. The earth and the heavens obey him; and he "treadeth upon the waves of the sea." He doeth hidden and numberless things, and none can hinder him. Job, in view of this, and with a lowly recognition of his own powerlessness before the Lord of all, bows himself down in the attitude most becoming to the feeble, afflicted, and sinful child of man. It is -

I. AN ATTITUDE OF LOWLY HUMILITY. How becoming! How just! Let the creature bow low before the Creator. Let the feeble thing of a day humble himself before the Eternal and the Almighty. Let him who is powerless before the mountains and the sea, who cannot touch the stars, take his place in the dust, whence he is, in presence of him who by his power setteth fast the mountains; who by his word Created the heavens and the earth, and upholdeth all by his own unaided strength. Lowliness will be followed by -

II. AN ATTITUDE OF SELF-DISTRUST. Knowing himself as he only can who reflects on the greatness of the Most High, the wise, afflicted one will not trust to an arm of strength; but, in the painful consciousness of his own weakness, will commit himself to the strong Lord who is over all. Job knows, as every afflicted one, that his suffering holds him as in a net, from which he cannot break loose. He has no power. He is chained, held down. His own flesh triumphs over him. He is a prisoner to disease. In his helplessness, with self-distrustfulness he casts himself into the arms of God. He would not pretend to make answer, or to "choose out words to reason with him." His self-distrust is followed by -

III. PENITENCE - the one attitude of all the most becoming to man. In penitence he acknowledges his unrighteousness. And so deep is that penitence, that he declares, "Though I were able to establish my righteousness, yet I could not presume to answer." Penitence is the pathway to heaven's gate. He who lowly walks, walks surely. And God lifteth up them who thus bow themselves down. But he rises -

IV. TO THE ATTITUDE OF PRAYER. He lifts his voice to God. He makes his "supplication." He who is led to pray is led to the feet of him who casts away no needy suppliant. It is his high prerogative to hear prayer. Therefore all flesh, in their want, their sorrow, their sin, or with their songs of praise, come to him. Man's safety is here. The lowly, self-distrustful, humble penitent cannot raise his voice on high without the gracious response of the Divine mercy reaching him. To this men are driven

(1) by their sense of impotence;

(2) by the consciousness of sin;

(3) by the assurance of the Divine mercy.

Happy he who thus learns! - R.G.

I. THE NEED TO BE JUSTIFIED. The burning necessity of justification lies at the root of Job's terrible agony. Yet even he does not feel it in its deep moral and spiritual significance, as it would have been felt by one who was conscious of sin rather than of undeserved suffering and unjust accusations. We cannot endure to be out of right relations with God. Though our lost state may not trouble us as yet, the time will come when we shall see its terrible and fatal character.

II. WE ARE TEMPTED TO JUSTIFY OURSELVES. The very need causes the temptation. Moreover, a self-flattering vanity urges us in the same direction. It is most painful and humiliating to have to own that we are sinners, deserving nothing but wrath and condemnation. When we feel ourself in danger, we are at once urged by very instinct to put ourselves in an attitude of self-defence.

III. WE MAY BE DELUDED INTO A MISTAKEN BELIEF THAT WE ARE JUSTIFIED. No delusions are so powerful as those which flatter us. It is so easy to put things in a favourable light to ourselves. While we are our own judges, every motive of self-esteem urges us to a favourable judgment. Then there comes in the terrible mistake of determining according to our feelings rather than according to objective reality, so that when we have argued or soothed ourselves into a comfortable assurance that all is well, that very assurance is regarded as a proof of the fact on which it is supposed to be grounded. But this may be a pure hallucination. It is possible to be justified before God and yet to be tormented with needless fears of condemnation, and it is equally possible to be still under condemnation while we fancy ourselves in a state of justification.

IV. SELF-JUSTIFICATION MUST FAIL. We cannot get outside ourselves or transcend our own experience. No lever by which a man can lift himself has ever been invented. We may make a fair show in the flesh, but we cannot change our own hearts. We have sinned against God; it is useless for us merely to forgive ourselves; we need God's pardon. If sin were not real, we might find a defence which would clear our reputation. But it is real, most terribly and unquestionably real. This fact makes self-justification impossible.

V. OUR OWN CONDUCT DEMONSTRATES THE DELUSION OF SELF-JUSTIFICATION, Job seems to think he is so hardly dealt with, and God so much greater than he is, that whatever he says in self-justification will be turned against him. That is a mistake, for God is just and merciful. But in a deeper sense God's words are true. We may say we are just, but our deeds belie our words. Nay, our very mouth, that proclaims our justice, denies it; for our words arc often sinful, ungenerous when they are not untrue.

VI. THE FAILURE OF SELF-JUSTIFICATION SHOULD DRIVE US TO GOD'S JUSTIFICATION IN CHRIST. We need not despair like Job, for we have a gospel to the unrighteous. Christ has brought a perfect justification, in pardon and renewal, for all who own their sin and trust his grace. - W.F.A.

A reaction comes; for the clear testimony of consciousness may be obscured for a time, but cannot be denied. In that clear consciousness, it seems that Job will turn against the injustice (as he thinks) of God, and boldly denounce it.

I. A GOOD CONSCIENCE LIFTS THE MIND ABOVE ABJECT FEAR. (We take ver. 21 as a declaration of innocence renewed.)


III. IT STIMULATES TO BOLDNESS IN PLEADING ONE'S CAUSE. We must think of Job, according to a leading conception of the book, as within his right in pleading against his (supposed) adversary as in a court. He argues, as again showing that God is merely an absolute Tyrant, that the innocent are punished along with the guilty (ver. 22). There are two examples of this:

1. The scourge, or pest, which quickly sweeps away whole populations, making no discrimination between the good and evil, the hoary sinner and the helpless babe (ver. 23).

2. The dominion of the wicked in the world. Their faces are covered; they do not distinguish between right and wrong. And who else can be the Cause of this but God (ver. 24)? - J.

Job complains that the same doom is meted out to the perfect and the wicked; this seems to be unjust. Our modern complaints are of the injustice of the terrible inequalities of life. But Job's position suggests to us that justice is not simple equality. Equal dealing may be unjust dealing. To be fair to all, we must not treat all alike. Yet the injustice of equality is apparently a common thing in the experience of life, and even in the dispensations of Providence. Thus special providence seems to be lost, and one broad, rough treatment appears to serve for the greatest variety of people.

I. IT WOULD BE UNJUST TO TREAT ALL ALIKE. This much may be conceded if we think of the whole of life, not of external experience alone, nor only of this temporal and limited sphere of existence. To look for absolute equality is to ignore variations of requirements and distinctions of character. But if this be so, what are we to understand by the apparent disregard of those differences? The world is governed by general laws. Events have widespread influences. Calamities come in a swelling tide, not in a meandering stream, and when they sweep over the land, weeds and fruitful plants suffer from the same devastation.


1. We only see the outside of life. The events which are common to all alike are external. They are visible objects of superficial observation. But these events do not constitute the whole of experience. The blow that breaks stone only toughens iron. The calamity that is a crushing judgment to one man is a healing tonic to another. When a flood sweeps over a district it leaves behind very different effects; for while it only brings ruin to houses, it brings fertility to fields. So the trouble is only equal externally. If only we could follow it into the experience of different men, we should discover that the inequality has ceased, and that a different effect is produced according to character and condition. While it is a curse to one life, it is a blessing to another.

2. We only see the present experience. Now, and on earth, there seems to be a rough, indiscriminate treatment of men. Here the injustice of equality is too often seen. Bat we must wait for the end. In Job's case the end brought about a complete reversal of the whole course of events. Now God makes his sun to shine and his rain to fall on good and bad alike - favouring equally, as he sometimes chastises equally. But this equality will not continue after death. Wheat and tares grow together, but only until the harvest. There will be a great inequality of treatment, when the one is gathered into the barns, and the other is burned. Surely men should learn to bear the common troubles of life patiently, if they know that beyond them all there is more than compensation: there is fruitful increase, with richest blessings, for the true servants of God who endure patiently. - W.F.A.

I. SELF-CONTEMPLATION IN REFERENCE TO THE PAST. His life has sped swiftly - like a courier, or the swift boat of the Euphrates or the Nile, or the swooping eagle (vers. 25, 26), and without seeming prosperity. Here he perverts the history of the past; but memory as welt as reason is poisoned.

II. IN REFERENCE TO THE FUTURE. (Vers. 27, 28.) Hope has broken its wing. The effort to remove the gloom from his brow is useless, unless he could remove the weight frown his heart. That - the sense of the disfavour of God - comes roiling back from every effort, like the stone of Sisyphus.

III. THE VANITY OF MORAL ENDEAVOUR. (Vers. 29-31.) He feels himself as under an absolute decree of guilt which no earthly power can possibly remove. Should he use snow-water and lye, i.e. employ all means to justify himself, still his absolute Judge would plunge him back into a state of horrible pollution.

IV. THE INEQUALITY OF THE STRIFE BETWEEN MAN AND GOD. Were it between man and man, he has no doubt of the success of his cause.

V. THE WANT OF A COUNT OF APPEAL. (Vers. 32, 33.) There is no "daysman," or arbitrator, who can lay the hand of authority upon both of us, and, by determining the cause, bring the strife to an end.

VI. PASSIONATE APPEAL AND RESOLVE. The appeal is for freedom of speech (vers. 34, 35; Job 10:1, 2). The last, or one of the last, boons that honourable men can be disposed to deny to the oppressed; one that God will never deny to his intelligent creatures. Yet Job, overcome by the dogmatism of his friends, seems to think it is now denied him. The resolve is that since life has now become a weariness and a disgust, he will give free way to words, regardless of consequences. In reviewing this wild complaint of an unhinged intelligence, we may learn the following lessons:

1. God is not to be thought of as absolute Power, but rather as absolute Justice and Love. The former is the conception of a demon, the latter that of the Father of spirits.

2. All sides and aspects of nature must be viewed as equally revelations of God.

3. Man is never weak when he has right on his side, and, though he seems to be crushed, he will be exalted for ever.

4. Darkness in the reason is no proof of the withdrawal of God's favour. Our subjection and personal sufferings do not affect the eternal objective realities. The clouds may hide, but cannot efface, the sun.

5. God is merciful to our misunderstandings, and detects the spark of faith in the heart of sufferers who may be unconscious of it themselves. - J.

Job compares his days to what is swiftest-on earth, the running messenger; in the sea, the boat of reeds; in the air, the eagle darting down on its prey. We must not look for a difference in the suggestiveness of these several illustrations. Gathered from every region of existence, they give great emphasis to the one significant fact of the brevity of life.

I. OUR DAYS ARE SWIFT IN COMPARISON WITH NATURE. The course of nature moves on slowly. Geology tells of innumerable vast ages of antiquity. Evolution presupposes an even longer stretch of time. By the side of the gradual movements of nature, our little days are swift and brief. Each man's life registers but a moment on the great dial of time. The old world rolls on, while we children of a day come and go in a rapid march of succeeding generations.

II. OUR DAYS ARE SWIFT IN RELATION TO OUR DESIRES. We crave for long experience. Extinction of being is a horror to us. There are within us great instincts of immortality. Thus, while we live our little earthly day, we are reaching forward to God's great eternity. We cannot be satisfied with an ephemeral existence.

III. OUR DAYS ARE SWIFT IN REGARD TO OUR POWERS. It takes us long to train those powers. Half a lifetime is not enough to perfect them. But before they are perfected, the shadows begin to lengthen and the melancholy afternoon is upon us. Surely, if God has given us faculties that take so long to develop, and that seem capable of great achievements if only they had full scope, it is sad that they should begin to wither as soon as they have reached maturity.

IV. OUR DAYS ARE SWIFT IN CONNECTION WITH OUR DUTIES. There is so much to be done and so little time to do it in. Our tasks grow upon us, and our opportunities are cramped and cut short. Do we not all plan out more work than we can ever accomplish? Thus we labour with a sad consciousness that we can never overtake our intentions.

V. OUR DAYS ARE SWIFT BY THE, SIDE OF OUR EXPECTATIONS. A child sees eternity before him. In his estimation, one year - a whole year - is a vast epoch. Even in later youth time seems to be an abundant commodity. There is little need to economize it, for have we not enough and to spare? Presently we are surprised to see how quickly its unheeded moments are slipping away from us. Every year it goes faster, till the silent stream has become a headlong torrent, and days fly past us with terrible speed.

VI. OUR DAYS ARE SWIFT IN THE LIGHT OF ETERNITY. Here is the explanation of the whole mystery. We are not creatures of a day, although our earthly life is so short. God has given us a spark of his own immortality. In view of that the largest earthly life is a fleeting shadow. Yet the ample leisure of eternity must not make us careless of the work of the day, for this day will never return. How valuable is time in the outer world! The messenger runs with swiftest paces, the little skiff darts about on the waters, the fierce eagle drops on its prey like a thunderbolt. Though eternity is long, let us hasten to use our glorious prospects as an inspiration for a like eagerness in making the most of our brief earthly days. - W.F.A.

Job is possessed by a terrible thought. He imagines that God is so determined to have him as an object of condemnation that nothing he can do can set him right; even if he makes himself ever so clean, God will plunge him back in the mire, God will overwhelm him with guilt. This is, of course, a wholly false view of God, though it is not altogether inexcusable with Job in his ignorance and awful distress.

I. GOD ONLY DESIRES OUR PURIFICATION. We may not be tempted to fall into Job's mistake, for we have more light, and our circumstances are far more hopeful than his were. Still, it is difficult for us to conceive how entirely averse to making the worst of us God is. He cannot ignore sin, for his searching glance always reveals it to him, and his just judgment always estimates it rightly. He must bring our sin home to us; for this is for our own good, as well as necessary in regard to the claims of righteous-neat. Thus he seems to be forcing out our guilt. But in doing so he is not plunging us into the mire, but only making apparent the hidden evil of our heart. The process is like that of a photographer developing a picture, like that of a physician bringing a disease to the surface. The result makes apparent what existed before, unseen but dangerously powerful.

II. IT IS HOPELESS TO ATTEMPT OUR OWN PURIFICATION. Here Job was right. We may wash ourselves, but we shall not be clean. Sin is more than a defilement; it is a stain, a dye, an ingrained evil. It is like the Ethiopian's skin and the leopard's spots; sin has become a part of the sinner's very constitution. Tears of repentance will not wash it out. Blood of sacrificed victims will not cleanse it away. Penance and good deeds will not remove it. We cannot undo the past, cannot do away with the fact that sin was committed. Therefore we cannot remove the guilt of our sin, nor its contaminating, corrupting influence from our consciences.

III. GOD PROVIDES PURIFICATION FROM SIN. We need not despair. Job is not only mistaken; the truth is the very opposite to what he imagines it to be. God himself, instead of aggravating guilt, has provided the only efficacious means for its removal. This was promised in the Old Testament: "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord," etc. (Isaiah 1:18). It is accomplished in the New Testament. Christ offered forgiveness of sin (Matthew 9:2). By his death on the cross he made that forgiveness sure to us. What no tsars or works of ours can do is effected by the blood of Christ, which "cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). That is to say, Christ's death is the great purifying sacrifice. When we trust in him the cleansing of guilt that is given, on condition of the perfect sacrifice, is ours. Our despair of purification outside Christ should only drive us to Christ that we may receive it. - W.F.A.

The object desired by Job - and here he speaks for all sinful ones - is to obtain reconciliation with Jehovah, against whom he acknowledges himself to have sinned. He cries for a mediator, an arbiter, an umpire; one able to "lay his hand upon us both' - to bring us together, mediating between us.


1. From Job's consciousness of sin. In his prayer (ver. 28) he confesses to God, "I know thou wilt not hold me innocent." "I am not innocent," is the first confession of guilt. "If I justify myself, my own mouth shall condemn me."

2. From Job's inability to "answer" to God. Of this he has made both complaint and confession. "Whom, though I were righteous, yet would I not answer" (ver. 15). Fear and just humility seize him. "How much less shall I answer him?" (ver. 14). Man cannot order his own cause before the eternal Judge. "He cannot answer him one of a thousand" (ver. 3).

3. From their utter inequality. "He is not a man, as I am" (ver. 32). They could not therefore "come together in judgment." How vain of poor, ignorant, feeble, sinful man to suppose that he can answer to God - that he can "appear before him!" How vain even to imagine himself justified and pure before him! Yet many "appear before" God in the presumptuous, self-excusing, self-justifying thoughts of their minds. All such self-justification condemned by Job's wise words and just views of things.

II. JOB'S CRY IS THE UNCONSCIOUS CRY OF THE UNIVERSAL HEART OF MAN FOR A MEDIATOR. Seen in all religious systems - the faith in the priest - the conscious ignorance of hidden spiritual verities. The uninterpreted apprehension of a spiritual world and government and future, and yet the inability to deal with these and to put one's self in a right attitude respecting them. This cry is heard in all lands, languages, and times. "Oh that there were a daysman!" This cry prepares for and anticipates the true Mediator.

III. THE RESPONSE TO THE UNIVERSAL NEED IN THE "ONE MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MEN." Happily "himself Man." God "hath spoken unto us in his Son" - no longer in prophets, but in a Son, who is at the same time "the effulgence of his glory, and the very image of his substance;" and yet "Man" - "bone of our bone." "God manifested in the flesh," and yet "in all things" "made like unto his brethren." Speaking with Divine authority to us in our language, and of heavenly things on our level And revealing within the compass of a human life, and by means of human acts and human sentiments, the thought and love and pitiful mercy of God. And representing us - doing what Job felt (and all have felt whose views were just) he could not do, "appear before the face of God for us." Now we "have our access through him in one Spirit unto the Father." If we cannot order our speech or our cause, he can. If we cannot answer one of a thousand, he can. For he is able, indeed, to "put his hand upon both." - R.G.

Job regarded it as unfair that his Judge and his Accuser should be one and the same Person, and he craved an umpire to come between. As a matter of fact, he was mistaken. His accuser was not his Judge. Satan was his accuser, and God was the great and just Umpire of the contest. Still, men have ever felt the need of one who should come between them and God, and assist them in coming to a right understanding with God. The feeling has arisen in part from a similar mistake to Job's, but also in part from a spiritual instinct. Leaving Job's misconception, what may we regard as the truth about this idea of the Daysman?

I. WE ARE AT FEUD WITH GOD IN OUR SIN. There is an ancient quarrel between the race and its Maker. Sin is more than disease; it is rebellion. It is more than a stain on our character; it is an offence against God. It is worse than a disarrangement of earthly relations; it is a wrong attitude towards Heaven. These unearthly characteristics of sin give to it a peculiar horror and make it a deadly danger. So long as we are living in sin we are God's enemies.

II. IT IS TIME THIS FEUD WERE BROUGHT TO AN END. It only widens while it is left unchecked. The longer we sin, the deeper our antagonism to God becomes. Thus we "treasure up wrath against the day of wrath." This is no matter of mere unseemliness and impropriety. It is a fearful wrong that the child should be fighting against his Father. It must bring ruin on the child and grief to the Father.

III. WE NEED A DAYSMAN TO SET US RIGHT WITH GOD. The Daysman is our Mediator. Now, the doctrine of mediation is not so popular as once it was. People say, "We want to go straight to God. He is our Father, we are his children. We want no one to come between us. We simply want to go straight home to God." There is much truth and rightness of feeling in this desire. If anything came between us and God, so as to hinder us, that would be a stumbling-block, an idol, and it would be our duty to remove it out of our way. Any abuse of sacraments, any tyranny of priestism, any person the most exalted, if even an angel from heaven, who came between so as to obstruct the way to God, would be an evil to be deplored and avoided. If even Christ stood in this position it would be our duty to forsake him. If Christianity meant a more difficult and roundabout way to God, it would be right to renounce Christianity, and to revert to a simpler theism. But the question is - What is the nearest way back to God? The exile desires to go straight home. You offer to show him on the route fine mountains, ancient cities, picturesque ruins, he will have none of them. He only wants to go home by the most direct way. But alas! he is far from home, and between him and his home there is the broad ocean. How shall he cross it? Not the Mediator is to help us over the ocean that separates us from God. He is between us and God, not as a wall that divides, but as a door in the already existing wail, or as the bridge that crosses a chasm - not to separate, but to unite. We have a Daysman - Christ. Our nearest Way to God, our only Way, is through him (John 14:6). - W.F.A.

The Pulpit Commentary, Electronic Database.
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