Behold, we count them happy which endure. You have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord…
We need to be reminded of what we have heard, for we are far too ready to forget. We are also so slow to meditate upon what we have heard that it is profitable to have our memories refreshed. We have, however, I trust, gone beyond mere hearing, for we have also seen in the story of Job that which it was intended to set vividly before our mind's eye. I count it no small enrichment of our mind to have heard of the patience of Job, it comforts and strengthens us in our endurance; but it is an infinitely better thing to have seen the end of the Lord, and to have seen the undeviating tenderness and pity which are displayed even in His sorest chastisements. This is indeed a choice vein of silver, and he that hath digged in it is far richer than the more superficial person who has only heard of the patience of Job, and so has only gathered surface-truth. "The patience of Job," as we hear of it, is like the shell of some rare nut from the Spice Islands, full of fragrance; but "the end of the Lord," when we come to see it, is as the kernel, which is rich beyond expression with a fulness of aromatic essence. Note well the reason why the text reminds us of what we have heard and seen. When we are called to the exercise of any great virtue, we need to call in all the helps which the Holy Spirit has bestowed upon us. All our wealth of hearing and seeing we shall have need to spend in our heavenly warfare. In the present case the virtue we are called to exercise is that of patience, and therefore to help us to do it we are reminded of the things that we have heard and seen, because it is as difficult as it is necessary, and as hard to come at as it is precious when it is gained. The text is preceded by a triple exhortation to patience. We are most of us deficient in this excellent grace, and because of it we have missed many privileges, and have wasted many opportunities in which we might have honoured God, might have commended religion, and might have been exceedingly profited in our souls. Affliction has been the fire which would have removed our dross, but impatience has robbed the mental metal of the flux of submission which would have secured its proper purification. It is unprofitable, dishonourable, weakening; it has never brought us gain, and never will. I suppose we are three times exhorted to patience because we shall need it much in the future. Between here and heaven we have no guarantee that the road will be easy, or that the sea will be glassy. We have no promise that we shall be kept like flowers in a conservatory from the breath of frost, or that, like fair queens, we shall be veiled from the heat of the sun.
I. IT IS NOT AN UNHEARD OF VIRTUE TO BE PATIENT, "Ye have heard of the patience of Job."
1. Observe well that the patience of Job was the patience of a marl like ourselves, imperfect and full of infirmity; for, as one has well remarked, we have heard of the impatience of Job as well as of his patience. The traces of imperfection which we see in Job prove all the more powerfully that grace can make grand examples out of common constitutions, and that keen feelings of indignation under injustice need not prevent a man becoming a model of patience.
2. "Ye have heard of the patience of Job," that is, the patience of a greatly tried man. That is a very trite yet needful remark: Job could not have exhibited patience if he had not endured trial; and he could not have displayed a patience whose fame rings down the ages, till we have heard of it, if he had not known extraordinary affliction.
(1) Reflect, then, that it was the patience of a man who was tried in his estate. All his wealth was taken!
(2) Job was caused to suffer sharp relative troubles. All his children were snatched away without a warning, dying at a festival, where, without being culpably wrong, men are usually unguarded. He sits among the ashes a childless man. "Ye have heard of the patience of Job." Oh, to have patience under bereavements, patience even when the insatiate archer multiplies his arrows!
(3) "Ye have heard of the patience of Job" under personal affliction. It is well said by one who knew mankind cruelly well, that "we bear the afflictions of other people very easily"; but when it touches our bone and our flesh trial assumes an earnest form, and we have need of unusual patience. Such bitter pain Job must have suffered.
(4) In addition to all this, Job bore what is perhaps the worst form of trial — namely, mental distress. The conduct of his wife must have much grieved him when she tempted him to "Curse God, and die." And then those "miserable comforters," how they crowned the edifice of his misery! They rubbed salt into his wounds, they cast dust into his eyes, their tender mercies were cruel, though well-intentioned. Woe to the man who in his midnight hour is hooted at by such owls; yet the hero of patience sinned not: "Ye have heard of the patience of Job." Job's was in all respects a most real trouble, he was no mere dyspeptic, no hysterical inventor of imaginary evil; his were no fancied losses nor minor calamities.
3. The patience of Job was the patience of a man who endured up to the very end. No break-down occurred; at every stage he triumphed, and to the utmost point he was victorious. Traces of weakness are manifest, but they are grandly overlaid by evidences of gracious power. The enemy could not triumph over Job, he threw him on a dunghill, and it became his throne, more glorious than the ivory throne of Solomon. The boils and blains with which the adversary covered the patriarch were more honour to him than a warrior's gilded corslet. Never was the arch-fiend more thoroughly worsted than by the afflicted patriarch, and instead of pitying the sufferer, my pity curdles into contempt for that fallen spirit who must there have gnawed his own heart as he saw himself foiled at all points by one who had been put into his power, and one too of the feeble race of man.
4. We may once more say that the patience of Job is the virtue of one who thereby has become a great power for good. "Ye have heard of the patience of Job," yes, and all the ages have heard of the patience of Job, and hell has heard of it too; and not without results in each of the three worlds. Among men the patience of Job is a great moral and spiritual force. If Job was patient under trial and affliction, why should not I be patient too? He was but a man; what was wrought in one man may be done in another. He had God to help him, and so have I; he could fall back upon the living Redeemer, so can I and why should I not?
II. IT IS NOT AN UNREASONABLE VIRTUE TO BE PATIENT, for according to our text there is great love and tenderness in it, "Ye have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy."
1. We must have seen in Job's story, if we have regarded it aright, that the Lord was in all. God was not away while His servant suffered; in fact, if there was any place where the thoughts of God were centred more than anywhere else in providence at that time, it was where the perfect and upright man was bearing the brunt of the storm.
2. The Lord was ruling too. He was not present as a mere spectator but as still master of the situation,
3. Moreover, the Lord was blessing Job by all his tribulation. Untold blessings were coming to the grand old man while he seemed to be losing all. It was not simply that he obtained a double portion at the end, but all along, every part of the testing process wrought out his highest good.
4. And when we come to look all Job's life through, we see that the Lord in mercy brought him out of it all with unspeakable advantage. He who tested with one hand supported with the other. Such is the case with all afflicted saints. We may well be patient under our trials, for the Lord sends them; He is ruling in all their circumstances, He is blessing us by them, He is waiting to end them, and He is pledged to bring us through. Shall we not gladly submit to the Father of our spirits?
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.