But he said to her, You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God…
Under the distresses of human life, religion performs two offices: it teaches us how we ought to bear them; and it assists us in thus bearing them. Three instructions naturally arise from the text.
I. THIS LIFE IS A MIXED STATE OF GOOD AND EVIL. This is a matter of fact. No condition is altogether stable. But the bulk of mankind discover as much confidence in prosperity, and as much impatience under the least reverse, as if providence had first given them assurance that their prosperity was never to change, and afterwards had cheated their hopes. What reason teaches is to adjust our mind to the mixed state in which we find ourselves placed; never to presume, never to despair; to be thankful for the goods which at present we enjoy, and to expect the evils that may succeed.
II. BOTH THE GOODS AND THE EVILS COME FROM THE HAND OF GOD. In God's world, neither good nor evil can happen by chance. He who governs all things must govern the least things as well as the greatest. How it comes to pass that life contains such a mixture of goods and evils, and this by God's appointment, gives rise to a difficult inquiry. Revelation informs us that the mixture of evils in man's estate is owing to man himself. His apostasy and corruption opened the gates of the tabernacle of darkness, and misery issued forth. The text indicates the effect that will follow from imitating the example of Job, and referring to the hand of the Almighty the evils which we suffer, as well as the goods which we enjoy. To dwell upon the instruments and subordinate means of our trouble is frequently the cause of much grief and much sin. When we view our sufferings as proceeding merely from our fellow creatures, the part which they have acted in bringing them upon us, is often more grating than the suffering itself. Whereas if, instead of looking to men, we beheld the cross as coming from God, these aggravating circumstances would affect us less; we would feel no more than a proper burden; we would submit to it more patiently. As Job received his correction from the Almighty Himself, the tumult of his mind subsided; and with respectful composure he could say, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away," etc.
III. WE WHO RECEIVE GOOD FROM THE HAND OF GOD, SHOULD RECEIVE WITH PATIENCE THE EVILS WHICH HE IS PLEASED TO INFLICT. Consider —
1. That the good flyings which God has bestowed afford sufficient evidence for our believing that the evils which He sends are not causelessly or wantonly afflicted. In the world which we inhabit, we behold plain marks of predominant goodness. What is the conclusion to be thence drawn, but that, in such parts of the Divine administration as appear to us harsh and severe, the same goodness continues to preside, though exercised in a hidden and mysterious manner?
2. That the good things we receive from God are undeserved, the evils we suffer are justly merited. All, it is true, have not deserved evil equally. Yet all of us deserve it more or less. Not only all of us have done evil, but God has a just title to punish us for it. When He thinks proper to take our good things away, no wrong is done to us. To have enjoyed them so long was a favour.
3. The good things which at different times we have received and enjoyed are much greater than the evils which we suffer. Of this fact it may be difficult to persuade the afflicted. Think how many blessings, of different sorts, you have tasted. Surely more materials of thanksgiving present themselves than of lamentation and complaint.
4. The evils which we suffer are seldom, or never, without some mixture of good. As there is no condition on earth of pure, unmixed felicity, so there is none so miserable as to be destitute of every comfort. Many of our calamities are purely imaginary and self-created; arising from rivalship or competition with others. With respect to calamities inflicted by God, His providence has made this merciful constitution that, after the first shock, the burden by degrees is lightened.
5. We have even reason to believe that the evils themselves are, in many respects, good. When borne with patience and dignity, they improve and ennoble our character. They bring into exercise several of the manly and heroic virtues; and by the constancy and fidelity with which we support our trials on earth, prepare us for the highest rewards in heaven.
(Hugh Blair, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.