But now they that are younger than I have me in derision.
Homilist.Man's happiness as a social being is greatly dependent upon the kind feeling and respect which is shown to him by his contemporaries and neighbours. The social insolence from which he suffers, and of which he complains, was marked by the following circumstances: —
I. It came from the MOST CONTEMPTIBLE CHARACTERS. He regarded them as despicable in their ancestry. "Whose fathers I would have disdained to have set with the dogs of my flock." "They were driven from among men, and people cried after them as after a thief." "Among the bushes they brayed." These were the creatures amongst whom the patriarch now lived, and whose insolence he had to endure. They had no faculty to discern or appreciate his moral worth, and so utterly destitute of any power to compassionate distress that they treated him with a heartless cruelty and revolting insolence. Men may say that a man of his high character ought not to have allowed himself to have been pained with the conduct of such wretches. But who has ever done so? Even Christ Himself felt the reproaches of sinners, and was not indifferent to their revilings and their sneers. "He endured their contradictions."
II. It was manifested in PERSONAL ANNOYANCES. "Now I am their song," he says, "I am their byword."
III. IT WAS SHOWN TO HIM ON ACCOUNT OF HIS PROVIDENTIAL REVERSES. Not because he had become contemptible in character, or morally base and degraded. Only because his circumstances were changed, great prosperity had given way to overwhelming adversity. Learn —
1. The worthlessness of mere social fame. What is it worth? Nothing. Its breath of favour is more fickle than the wind.
2. The moral heroism of the world's Redeemer. Christ came into a social position far more heartless and insolent than that which the patriarch here describes. "Of the people there was none with Him, He was despised and rejected of men."
3. The importance of habitual reliance on the absolute. Do not trust in man.
Upon my right hand rise the youth.I. THE PROSPECTS OF LIFE ARE GENERALLY BRIGHT. Young people are full of buoyancy, animal spirits, ardent desire, sanguine expectation, high hope: all that is before them takes a colouring from themselves. There is little or no experience of life, by the use of which exaggerated views may be modified, and a correct estimate of the future ensured. Youthful hope often anticipates long life, and it fills up that life with many visions of success and happiness.
II. THE PROSPECTS OF LIFE, TO WHICH HOPE GIVES SUCH A COLOURING ARE OFTEN ILLUSIVE. A fine morning often ends in a wet and stormy day. Projects begun under favourable auspices frequently come to nought. Young people live in a realm of illusions. The young are liable to misapprehension, and need to be prepared for some measure of disappointment. Men at fifty often find that they have failed to reach the height to which at twenty they aspired. Often the secret of failure has been lack of ability, or of perseverance, or of character.
III. A FEW COUNSELS.
1. The present is a season of preparation for the future. Life is very much what we make it. Then sow now the seeds that shall grow up, and blossom, and fruiten into a good and blessed future.
2. Prepare for the future by the exercise of fidelity to yourself and to God in the present.
3. You need physical preparation for the future. A man's body has much to do with his mind and character. Courage and fortitude derive much support from a healthy physical constitution.
4. You need mental preparation for the future. I have had many opportunities of seeing what men lose for want of education and mental culture, and what they gain by their possession. Increase your knowledge by reading and observation. Strengthen your mental powers by use.
5. Moral and spiritual preparation. Set before yourself a noble object in life. Form a purpose, and seek to fulfil it. Place yourself under the teaching and government of conscience. Have right and fixed principle to guide you. Consecrate yourselves to God, and commit your life to His care. Have faith in Him.
The days of affliction have taken hold upon me.
Homilist.In these verses the patriarch sketches his great corporeal sufferings, his physical anguish. Probably man's capability of bodily suffering is greater than that of any other animal existence. His nerves are more tender, his organisation is more exquisite and complicated.
I. It tends to stimulate INTELLECTUAL RESEARCH. "Pain," says a modern author, "has been the means of our increasing our knowledge, our skill, and our comforts. Look to the discoveries made in science — in botany, in chemistry, in anatomy: what a knowledge have we gained of the structures and uses of plants, while we were seeking some herb to soothe pain or cure disease! What a knowledge have we gained of drugs, and salts, and earths, useful for agriculture, or for the fine arts, while we have been seeking only to find an ointment or a medicine! We have sought a draught to allay the burning thirst of a fever, and we have found a dozen delicious beverages to drink for our pleasure or relief. We studied anatomy to find out the seat of disease, and how to attack it, and we found what we did not seek — a thousand wonderful works of God, a thousand most curious contrivances, most admirable delights! We found a model for the ribs of a ship; we found the pattern of a telescope in the eye; we found joints and straps, strutting and valves, which have been copied into the workshop of the mechanic and the study of the philosopher. Yes, we may thank our liability to pain for this — for if pain had not existed, who can tell whether these things would have been so soon, if at all discovered."
II. It tends to heighten man's ESTIMATE OF DIVINE GOODNESS. The physical sufferings of men, however aggravated and extensive, are not the law of human life, but the exception. They are but a few discordant notes in the general harmony of his existence, a few stormy days and nights in his voyage through life. We appreciate the dawning of the morning, because we have struggled fiercely with difficulties in the night. We appreciate the full flow of health because we have felt the torture of disease. Inasmuch, therefore, as human suffering, which is an exception in the general life of mankind, helps to heighten our estimate of God's goodness to our race, it is anything but an unmitigated evil. Nay, it is a blessing in disguise.
III. IT TENDS TO IMPROVE OUR SPIRITUAL NATURE. Physical sufferings have led many a man to a train of spiritual reflections that have resulted in the moral salvation of the soul. As by the chisel the sculptor brings beauty out of the marble block; as by the pruning knife the gardener brings rich clusters from the vine; as by the bitter drug the physician brings health to his patient; as by the fire the refiner brings pure gold out of the rough ore — so by suffering the great Father brings spiritual life, beauty, and perfection into the soul. "Affliction," says quaint old Adams, "is a winged chariot, that mounts up the soul toward heaven."
I cry unto Thee, and Thou dost not hear me.1. There is no state so low but a godly man may have a freedom with God in prayer. Though a poor soul be in the mire, though he be but dust and ashes, yet he hath access to the throne of grace.
2. It is our duty to pray most, and usually we pray best, when it is worst with us; when we are nigh the mire and dust, prayer is not only most seasonable, but most pure.
3. Affliction provokes a soul to pray to the utmost, to pray not only in sincerity, but with fervency, not only to pray with faith, but with a holy passion, or passionately.
4. When prayer is sent out with a cry to God in affliction, it is a wonder if it be not presently heard.
5. Not to be heard in a day of trouble and affliction is more troublesome to a gracious heart than all his afflictions. Job thought he was not heard, because he had not present deliverance; and in that sense, indeed, he was not heard. And thus many of the saints may pray and not be heard; that is, they may pray, and not have present deliverance. How may we know that we are heard at any time?(1) By the quietness of our spirits.(2) Though we receive not the mercy presently, yet if we receive fresh strength to bear the want of it, that is an answer.(3) We are answered when, though the evil be not removed, yet we have faith and patience to wait and tarry the Lord's leisure for the removal of it.(4) He is answered in prayer that is more heavenly, or more in heaven after prayer. He that is edified in his holy faith, hath certainly prayed in the Holy Ghost, and, sure enough, every such prayer is heard. Godly men are always heard of God, yet they often think that they are not heard.
Thou art become cruel to me.
1. It is the way of God's people to take up God as their chief party in all their troubles.
2. God may seem, for a time, not only not to hear godly supplicants, but even to be a severe foe to them. "Thou art become cruel."
3. It is a character of a godly man, that he is sadly afflicted with any sign of God's indignation, or even with the want of an evidence of God's favour and affection in trouble. Wicked men look rather to their lot in itself, without minding God's favour, or anger, in it.
4. Whether the wicked think of God's favour, who never knew it, yet the want of it will be sad to the godly, who have tasted by experience how sweet it is.
5. As God's power, when He lets it forth in effects, is irresistible and unsupportable for any creature to endure it, however fools do harden themselves, so godly men will soon groan under the apprehension thereof. It is indeed a characteristic of godly men that they are sensible of their own weakness, and therefore are soon made to stoop under the mighty hand of God. Learn —(1) All men by nature are apt to have hard thoughts of God in trouble.(2) Temptation may overdrive, even such as are truly godly, to speak that which is unbecoming, yea, worse than they think.(3) When godly men are ready to complain of God without cause, or to give credit to sense, they will readily find their complaints grow upon their hand.
Christian Age.The only safe, sure way of avoiding this terrible peril is to study reverently and carefully what He has told us about Himself. It is a common temptation to accept the statements of others when they have the semblance of authority, and are asserted stoutly, as if they must be true. We may, and we ought, each of us, to become personally acquainted with our Heavenly Father. But our only hope of learning to know Him lies in patiently, lovingly, studying His character as revealed to us in Jesus Christ. His providences, too, often are such that we misunderstand them. Few of us are allowed to walk only in the light of conscious, joyous peace. Most of us sometimes are at a loss how to interpret the Divine dealings with us. There are occasions in some lives when God Himself seems to render it almost impossible to obey Him. Undoubtedly the object of such trying experiences is to develop a mightier faith. There must be always one possible next step forward in the path of duty; or, if there be actually none, this must be because the time to take it has not come, and patient, prayerful waiting is the present duty. We may misunderstand the meaning of what is ordained for us, but we need not misunderstand its purpose. Those who have a faith strong enough to feel that behind the tangled scheme of human affairs God sits calmly directing all things, are wisest and happiest. His providences are meant to teach this, at the least. When the last analysis has been worked out it becomes apparent that the great central, fundamental evil which we most need to guard against, is this of misunderstanding our Heavenly Father. If we can learn to see things from His point of view, to look upon life, duty, pleasure, eternity, as He looks upon them, we shall be assured of safety and peace. Otherwise we never can be.
To the house appointed for all living.
1. What he saw around him on every side.
2. Job's bodily sufferings intimated also the same result. These increased and accumulated, and plainly tended, unless arrested, in the providence of God, to dissolution.
3. Creation around him impressed on him the same conclusion.
4. Job learned the lesson from Divine teaching. Learn who is the dispenser of death. We are prone to attribute all to second causes. Notice Job's personal application and appropriation to the truth in the text. We must translate Christianity from the impersonal to the personal. We have a description of that change of which the patriarch was thus personally assured. He calls it "death," and the "house appointed for all living." Death is the child of sin, though grace has made it the servant of Jesus. It is not annihilation. There is nothing natural or desirable in death itself. This is the only house that may be called the house of humanity. It is a dark house, a solitary house, a silent house, an ancient house. Even this house has a sunlit side. It is not an eternal prison house, but a resting place, a cemetery or sleeping place.
(John Cumming, D. D.)
1. Consider those whom we esteem pious. Of these, in the time of death, there are three classes, widely differing from each other in their dying experiences. Some are agitated by terror, doubts, and apprehensions. Some are exulting and triumphant. Some, without any extraordinary raptures, have a sweet calm and tranquillity of spirit, a filial confidence and trust in their Redeemer. We refer, of course, only to those whose rational powers are unimpaired. We are not to judge of the future state of a man merely by his death-bed exercises. This is an error to which we are far too prone; an error that in its consequences is most pernicious.
2. The deathbeds of those who have lived impenitent and unbelieving without God, and without Christ in the world. Here we find similar diversity. Some are filled with agony and horror, some have a false joy, and an unwarranted exultation; and some are stupid, insensible, and unconcerned.
(H. Kollock, D. D.)
1. Man's life is a vain and empty thing. Our life, in the several parts of it, is a heap of vanities.
2. Man's life is a short thing; a short-lived vanity.
3. Man's life is a swift thing; a flying vanity. Having thus discoursed of death, let us improve it in discerning the vanity of the world in bearing up, with Christian contentment and patience, under all troubles and difficulties in it; in mortifying our lusts; in cleaving unto the Lord with full purpose of heart at all hazards, and in preparing for death's approach.
(T. Boston, D. D.)
1. There is an unalterable statute of death, under which men are included.
2. If we consult daily observation. Everyone seeth that "wise men die, likewise the fool and brutish person."
3. The human body consists of perishing principles.
4. We have sinful souls, and therefore have dying bodies.
5. Man's life in this world is but a few degrees removed from death. Scripture represents it as vain and empty, short in continuance, and swift in its passage.Improvement —
1. Let us hence, as in a glass, behold the vanity of the world; look into the grave, and listen to the doctrine of death.
(1) (2) 2. It may serve as a storehouse for Christian contentment and patience under worldly crosses and losses. 3. It may serve as a bridle to curb all manner of lust. (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (T. Hannam.)
(2) 2. It may serve as a storehouse for Christian contentment and patience under worldly crosses and losses. 3. It may serve as a bridle to curb all manner of lust. (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (T. Hannam.)
2. It may serve as a storehouse for Christian contentment and patience under worldly crosses and losses.
3. It may serve as a bridle to curb all manner of lust.
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (T. Hannam.)
(5) (T. Hannam.)
(5) (T. Hannam.)
I. THE CERTAINTY OF ITS APPROACHING SOON. All the works of nature, in this inferior system, seem only made to be destroyed. Man is not exempted. Our life is forever on the wing, although we mark not its flight. Even now death is doing its work. If death be certainly approaching, let us learn the value of life. If death be at hand, then certainly time is precious.
II. THE TIME AND MANNER OF THE ARRIVAL OF DEATH. Death is called in Scripture "the land without any order." And without any order the king of terrors makes his approaches in the world. He wears a thousand forms, marking out the unhappy man for their prey.
III. THE CHANGE WHICH DEATH INTRODUCES. When we pass from the living world to the dead, what a sad picture do we behold! The periods of human life passing away, the certainty of the dissolution that awaits us, and the frequent examples of mortality which continually strike our view, lead us to reflect with seriousness upon the house appointed for all living. Death is the great teacher of mankind.
(J. Logan, F. R. S. E.)
Homilist.I. THE DIVINITY OF DEATH. "I know that Thou wilt bring me to death." Men ascribe death to one of three causes — disease, accident, or age; but the Bible ascribes it to God. "Thou wilt bring me to death."
1. Nothing else can bring me to death unless Thou wilt. My existence depends every moment on Thy will.
2. Nothing else can prevent me from dying if Thou wiliest that I should depart; all is with Thee. "Thou turnest man to destruction. Thou changest his countenance and sendest him away." There are no premature deaths.
II. The ORDINATION of death. "The house appointed." Death is no chance matter. "It is appointed unto all men once to die."
1. This appointment is very natural; all organic life dies: all sublunary life finds the "house" of mortality. To this "house" all plants, reptiles, insects, birds, fishes, beasts direct their steps.
2. This appointment is very settled. This appointment is kept as immutably as the ordinances of heaven or any of the laws of nature.
III. The UNIVERSALITY of death. "For all living." Men, when living, have houses of various shapes, sizes, value, according to their tastes and means, but in dying they have only one "house." All go to one place. What a "house" is this grave! ancient — desolate — spacious — crowded.
Homilist.The text suggests some thoughts of Job concerning his own death.
I. There will be nothing UNNATURAL in my death. It is "appointed" as the death of every other kind of organised life on earth: it is the natural law of all organised bodies to wear out, decay, dissolve. As the earth takes back to itself all the elements that have entered into the composition of vegetables and animals, why should I refuse or dread the demand? I may rest assured that kind nature will make a benign and beneficent use of all the elements that have entered into my corporeal existence. Let me be ready to yield them up unreluctantly, ungrudgingly, thanking the Infinite for their use.
1. It is dishonest for me to object to this; for my body was only borrowed property, a temporary loan, nothing more.
2. It is ungrateful for me to object to this. Though I never had a claim to such a boon, it has been of great service to my spiritual nature.
3. It is unphilosophic for me to object to this. Whatever my objections and resistance, it must come.
II. There will he nothing UNCOMMON in my death. "The house appointed for all living." Were I one of a few, amongst the millions of the race, singled out for such a destiny, I might complain; but since all, without any exception, must die, who am I that I should complain?
III. There will be nothing ACCIDENTAL in my death. "I know that Thou wilt bring me to death."
I. I call your attention to a piece of PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE: "I know that Thou wilt bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living." A general truth here receives a personal application.
1. Job knew that he should be brought to the grave, because he perceived the universality of that fact in reference to others.
2. He knew it also because he had considered the origin of mankind. We were taken out of the earth, and it is only by a prolonged miracle that this dust of ours is kept from going back to its kindred. If we had come from heaven we might dream that we should not die. Thus we have affinities which call us back to the dust.
3. Further, Job had a recollection of man's sin, and knew that all men are under condemnation on account of it. Does he not say that the grave is a "house appointed for all living"? It is appointed simply because of the penal sentence passed upon our first parent, and in him upon the whole race.
4. Once more, Job arrived at this personal knowledge through his own bodily feebleness. Those who die daily will die easily. Those who make themselves familiar with the tomb will find it transfigured into a bed: the charnel will become a couch. The man who rejoices in the covenant of grace is cheered by the fact that even death itself is comprehended among the things which belong to the believer.
II. Having thus discoursed upon a piece of personal knowledge, I now beg you to see in my text the shining of HOLY INTELLIGENCE. Job, even in his anguish, does not for a moment forget his God. He speaks of Him here: "I know that Thou wilt bring me to death."
1. He perceives that he will not die apart from God. He does not say his sore boils or his strangulation will bring him to death; but, "Thou wilt bring me to death." He does not trace his approaching death to chance, or to fate, or to second causes; no, he sees only the hand of the Lord. Let us rejoice that in life and death we are in the Lord's hands.
2. The text seems to me to cover another sweet and comforting thought, namely, that God will be with us in death. "I know that Thou wilt bring me to death." He will bring us on our journey till He brings us to the journey's end: Himself our convoy and our leader.
3. It may not be in the text, but it naturally follows from it, that if God brings us to death, He will bring us up again.
III. I pass on to notice the QUIET EXPECTATION which breathes in this text. I want to reason with those disciples of our Lord Jesus who are in bondage from fear of death. What are the times when men are able to speak of death quietly and happily?
1. Sometimes they do so in periods of great bodily suffering. I have on several occasions felt everything like fear of dying taken from me simply by the process of weariness.
2. The growing infirmities of age work in the same way, beloved, without falling into sickness.
3. By being filled with an entire submission to the will of God. Delight in God is the cure for dread of death.
4. Next, I believe that great holiness sets us free from the love of this world, and makes us ready to depart.
5. Another thing that will make us look at death with complacency is when we have a full assurance that we are in Christ, and that, come what may, nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Live in such a way that any day would make a suitable topstone for life. Let me add that there are times when our joys run high, when the big waves come rolling in from the Pacific of eternal bliss; then we see the King in His beauty by the eye of faith, and though it be but a dim vision, we are so charmed with it that our love of Him makes us impatient to behold Him face to face.
IV. I conclude by saying that this subject affords us SACRED INSTRUCTION. "I know that Thou wilt bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living."
1. Let us prepare for death.
2. Live diligently.
3. Next to that, let us learn from the general assembly in the house appointed for all living to walk very humbly. A common caravansary must accommodate us all in the end; wherefore let us despise all pride of birth, rank, or wealth.
4. Be prompt, for life is brief.
5. Men and women, project yourselves into eternity; get away from time, for you must soon be driven away from it. You are birds with wings; sit not on these boughs forever blinking in the dark like owls; bestir yourselves, and mount like eagles.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Did I not weep for him that was in trouble.
(J. M'Connell Hussey, B. A.)
I. HUMAN SYMPATHY, ITS COMMENDATIONS.
1. We may say of it, first, that even nature dictateth that man should feel a sympathy for his kind. Humanity, had it remained in its unfallen estate, would have been one delightful household of brothers and sisters. Alas! for us, when Adam fell he not only violated his Maker's laws, but in the fall he broke the unity of the race, and now we are isolated particles of manhood, instead of being what we should have been, members of one body, moved by one and the same spirit. Called with a nobler calling, let us exhibit as the result of our regenerate nature a loftier compassion for the suffering sons of men.
2. Further, we may remark that the absence of sympathy has always been esteemed, in all countries, and in all ages, one of the most abominable of vices. In old classic history who are the men held up to everlasting execration? Are they not those who had no mercy on the poor?
3. Sympathy is especially a Christian's duty.
4. Remember the blessed example of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich."
5. Sympathy is essential to our usefulness.
6. Here I must supplement that thought with another; sympathy may often be the direct means of conversion.
7. And I shall say here, that this sympathy is sure to be a great blessing to yourselves. If you want joy — joy that you may think upon at nights, and live upon day after day, next to the joy of the Lord, which is our strength, is the joy of doing good. The selfish man thinks that he has the most enjoyment in laying out his wealth upon himself. Poor fool!
II. THE HINDRANCES TO CHRISTIAN SYMPATHY.
1. One of the great impediments to Christian sympathy is our own intense selfishness. We are all selfish by nature, and it is a work of grace to break this thoroughly down, until we live to Christ, and not to self any longer. How often is the rich man tempted to think that his riches are his own.
2. Another hindrance lies in the customs of our country. We still have amongst us too much of caste and custom. The exclusiveness of rank is not readily overcome.
3. Much want of sympathy is produced by our ignorance of one another. We do not know the sufferings of our fellows.
4. No doubt the abounding deception which exists among those who seek our help has checked much liberality.
III. THE FRUITS OF CHRISTIAN SYMPATHY.
1. The fruit of Christian sympathy will be seen in a kindly association with all Christians: we shall not shun them nor pass them by.
2. It will be seen next, in a kindly encouragement of those who want aid, constantly being ready to give a word of good advice, and good cheer to the heart which is ready to faint.
3. Show it, also, whenever you hear the good name of any called into doubt. Stand up for your brethren. 'Tis an ill bird that fouls its own nest, but there are some such birds.
4. But still, there is no Christian sympathy in all this if it does not, when needed, prove itself by real gifts of our substance. Zealous words will not warm the cold; delicate words will not feed the hungry; the freest speech will not set free the captive, or visit him in prison.
( C. H. Spurgeon.).