Acquaint now yourself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come to you.
Here, if our received version is correct, Eliphaz hits upon one of the profoundest thoughts in religion, the significance and value of which each new step in the revelation of God to men has more and more disclosed. The principle is, that a more true and full knowledge of God is the cure for every phase of human unrest. Spiritual disquiet lies outside of God. He who does not know God as He is at all, lies open to every incursion of religious disquietude; whether through superstitious fear, or through conscience, or through doubt, or through passion, or through discontent, or through any other of the numberless and sometimes nameless alleys by which disturbance is forever assailing the souls of men. On the other hand, the more truly and the more fully anyone knows by acquaintance the personal God, the more is he rid of sources of inward dispeace.
1. Of what sort must our knowledge of God be? It is possible to know as a friend by personal intercourse, one whom we are by no means able fully to understand. A little child knows his father; but he does not comprehend, or embrace in his knowledge, the fulness of that father's capacities. It is not through the intellect alone, or best, that the Infinite God is knowable by any creature. It is through the personal affections, through conscience, and through the spiritual faculty of faith. There are three stages to be observed in a man's knowledge of God.
(1) Certain true notions respecting the Divine Being and His character must be presupposed, before I can approach Him with that personal approach which is the basis of acquaintanceship.
(2) Given a fairly correct notion of the almighty and righteous God, whose name is Love, the man must not suffer sin to hold him back from moral intercourse with God, else his knowledge will be only a knowledge about God, not a knowing of God. To worship, to love, and to obey, is the road to real acquaintance with Him.
(3) Such a moral acquaintanceship with God ekes out even the imperfection of our intellectual notions regarding Him. Much must forever remain that we cannot know. Intimacy with a good person breeds confidence, and confidence gives peace. Those who know God as a friend will put their trust in Him.
2. Show, by two or three instances, how God's growing revelation of Himself to man has been followed in experience by a corresponding increase of peace in their souls. Take, for illustration, two items from the Old Testament manifestation of Jehovah to the Hebrew people, and two from the better revelation in His Son, which, as Christians, we enjoy.
(1) The fundamental truth, which it took nearly a thousand years to teach the chosen nation, is the unity of God. So entirely has this splendid truth taken possession of the modern world, Christian, Jewish, and Mohammedan — that we absolutely fail to conceive of the ancient heathen habit of thought on the subject. This doctrine of the unity of God brought a beginning of peace to the world's heart.
(2) The unrest created by the heathen creed of many gods, with limited powers and overlapping provinces, was immensely increased by the selfish partiality, venality, and passionateness generally ascribed to the Divine character. To the gods were imputed the passions of men, and of very bad men, too; so that anything was worship which could be supposed to influence a fickle, corrupt, or facile will. This wretched degradation of deity bred dispeace of soul. It is impossible to know the secret mind of one who is unfair, or open to unrighteous influence. I cannot count on his friendship. But Jehovah is just, impartial, Consistent. What may be called God's absolute integrity, embracing His truth or faithfulness; His justice, or the equality of His administration and its coincidence with law; and His unchangeableness, as one inaccessible to unfair influence — this is the grand moral discovery of the Old Testament. To such a God, upright men do not appeal in vain.
(3) Until God was pleased to make, through Christ, a further disclosure of Himself, we never could be perfectly at peace. Through all pre-Christian religions, and in the religion of every man still who has not acquainted himself with the Gospel of Christ, there ran, and there runs, some unquiet effort to solve the problem of atonement. The idea which rules them all, the only idea possible till God taught us better, is that man has to work on God through some means or other, so as to change repulsion or aversion into favour. This false and heathenish notion is still widespread among us. But it brings no peace. We can never be sure that our effort has succeeded. Expiation does not come by our successful efforts to work on Divine placability, or to deserve Divine grace, or to buy off or beg off Divine resentment. It is God's own act, dictated by His sole charity, wrought by His sole passion.
(4) We are led still nearer to perfect peace by a more recent revelation, that of the Third Person. God is the Holy Ghost, who freely, gladly stoops to inform our warring and sin-sick souls. With infinite patience He stays by us while we fight or sin. God, the Third Person, broods like a dove of peace over the tumultuous chaos of a passionate heart, glimmers like a star of hope in our blackest night. With Him let us acquaint ourselves. Then we shall have the full repose that follows conquest.
(J. Oswald Dykes, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee.