I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees you.…
The Lord hath many messengers by whom He solicits man. But none despatcheth His business surer or sooner than affliction. If that fail of bringing a man home, nothing can do it. Job was not ignorant of God before, when he sat in the sunshine of peace. But he says that in his prosperity, he had only heard of God; now, in his trial, he had seen Him. When we hear a man described, our imagination conceives an idea or form of him but darkly; if we see him, and intentively look upon him, there is an impression of him in our minds. Such a more full and perfect apprehension of God did calamity work in this holy man. Here is a Jacob's ladder, but of four rounds. Divinity is the highest. "I have seen Thee; therefore." Mortality is the lowest. "Dust and ashes." Between these sit two others, "shame," and "sorrow"; no man can abhor himself without shame, nor repent without sorrow. "Wherefore." This refers to the motive that humbled him; and that appears by the context to be a double meditation — one of God's majesty, another of His mercy. Put both these together, and here is matter of humiliation. "Even to dust and ashes." Humility is not only a virtue itself, but a vessel to contain other virtues. The children of grace have learned to think well of other people, and to abhor themselves. He that repents truly, abhors himself. "I repent." Repentance hath much acquaintance in the world, and few friends; it is better known than practised, and yet not "more known than trusted. It is every man's medicine, a universal antidote. Repentance is the fair gift of God. There is no other fortification against the judgments of God but repentance. "In dust and ashes." An adorned body is not a vehicle for a humbled soul. Repentance gives a farewell not only to wonted delights, but even to natural refreshings. In both dust and ashes we have a lesson of our mortality. I call you not to cast dust on your heads, or to sit in ashes, but to that sorrow and compunction of soul whereof the other was but an external symbol. Let us rend our hearts, and not our garments.
Parallel VersesKJV: I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.