Job 12:7


It is not the peculiar possession of those fancied wise friends. It is a truth impressed on all nature and on the experience of man.

I. APPEAL TO THE LIVING CREATURES. (Vers. 7-10.) The beasts, the birds of the air, the earth with all its living growths, the creatures of the sea, - all bear traces of his skill, all receive from him their life and sustenance, all are subject to his omnipresent power (comp. Psalm 104:26-30).

II. APPEAL TO THE EXPERIENCE OF AGE. As the palate tries and discriminates between the different dishes on the table, so does the ear try the various opinions to which it listens, and selects the best, the ripest, as its guide (ver, 11). Long life means large experience, and largo experience gives the criterion of truth and the guide of life. Yet experience is but the book of common experiences. It fails us when we have to deal with the peculiar and the exceptional, which is the present situation of Job (ver. 12).

III. ELOQUENT DESCRIPTION OF THE POWER AND WISDOM OF GOD. (Vers. 13-25.) Here Job rivals and surpasses his friends. With repeated blows, as of the hammer on the anvil, he impresses the truth that the might and intelligence of the Supreme are irresistible, and before him all human craft and power must be reduced to impotence. The power and the wisdom of God alternately occupy his thought, appear and reappear in a variety of images. - J.







But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee.
Rosenmuller supposes that this appeal to the inferior creation should be regarded as connected with verse 3, and that the intermediate verses are parenthetic. Zophar had spoken with considerable parade of the wisdom of God. He professed to have exalted views of the Most High. In reply to this, Job says that the views which Zophar had expressed were the most commonplace imaginable. He need not pretend to be acquainted with the more exalted works of God, or appeal to them as if his knowledge corresponded with them. Even the lower creation — the brutes, the earth, the fishes — could teach him knowledge which he had not now. Even from their nature, properties and modes of life, higher views might be obtained than Zophar had. Others suppose the meaning is that in the distribution of happiness, God is so far from observing moral relations that even among the lower animals, the rapacious and the violent are prospered, and the gentle and innocent are the victims. Lions, wolves, and panthers are prospered — the lamb, the kid, the gazelle are the victims. The object of Job is that rewards and punishments are not distributed according to character. This is seen all over the world, and not only among men, but even in the brute creation. Everywhere the strong prey upon the weak; the fierce upon the tame; the violent upon the timid. Yet God does not come forth to destroy the lion and the hyena, or to deliver the lamb and the gazelle from their grasp. Like robbers, lions, panthers, and wolves prowl upon the earth; and the eagle and the vulture from the air pounce upon the defenceless; and the great robbers of the deep prey upon the feeble, and still are prospered. What a striking illustration of the course of events among men, and of the relative condition of the righteous and the wicked.

(Albert Barnes.)

1. The great lesson which the animal creation, regarded simply as the creature and subject of God, is fitted to teach us, is a lesson of the wisdom and power and constant beneficence of God. Job reminds the friends that what they had been laying down to him in so pompous a manner constituted only the mere elements of natural religion, and that a man had only to look around him and observe and ponder the phenomena of the visible universe, to be abundantly convinced that God, the maker of all things, was also the upholder of all things, and the supreme disposer of all events. Job sends us to the animal creation that we may gather from it instances of the greatness of the Creator's hand, and the constancy of the Creator's providence. Himself invisible, God is revealed in all the work of His hands, and it needs but the observing eye and the candid judgment to satisfy every one of His being and His perfections. God reveals Himself no less in the lapse of events than in the arrangements of creation. There is no nation, there is no household, but has in the record of its own experience abundant manifestations of His constant, and wise, and gracious superintendence of the affairs of earth. In the lesson which is thus taught to us concerning God, the animal creation bears its part. Not one of the creatures but is "fearfully and wonderfully made"; not one of them but is wisely and mercifully provided for. For every one of them there is a place, and to this each is adapted with transcendent skill and beneficence. Even the lower animals may be our teachers and speak to us of God.

2. The way in which the creatures spend their life, and use the powers which God has given them. In many respects they are examples to us, and by the propriety of their conduct rebuke the folly and wickedness of ours. The beasts, etc., will teach us the following things as characteristic of their manner of life.(1) They constantly and unceasingly fulfil the end of their being.(2) They are seen always to live according to their nature.(3) They teach us to seek happiness according to our nature and capacity, and with a prudent foresight to avoid occasions of disaster and sorrow. Man stands rebuked by "the brutes that perish."

(W. Lindsay Alexander, D. D.)

Homilist.
? —

I. THE EXPERIENCE OF HUMAN LIFE. The fact that Job here refers to — the prosperity of wicked men, may be regarded —

1. As one of the most common facts of human experience. All men in all lands and ages have observed it, and still observe it. It is capable of easy explanation: the conditions of worldly prosperity are such that sometimes the wicked man can attend to them in a more efficient way than the righteous. As a rule, the more greed, cunning, tact, activity, and the less conscience and modesty a man has, the more likely he is to succeed in the scramble for wealth.

2. One of the most perplexing facts in human experience. What thoughtful man in passing through life has not asked a hundred times, "Wherefore do the wicked prosper?" and has not felt, with Asaph, stumbling into infidelity as he saw the prosperity of the wicked?

3. One of the most predictive facts in human experience. This fact points to retribution.

II. THE HISTORY OF INFERIOR LIFE. "But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee," etc. Solomon sends us to the ant; Agur to the coney, the locust, the spider; Isaiah to the ox and the ass; Jeremiah to the stork, the turtledove, the crane, the swallow; and the Heavenly Teacher Himself to the fowls of the air. Job's argument is that the same lack of interference on God's part in the free operations of men in this life, in punishing the wicked and rewarding the good, you see around you in all the lower stages of life. Look to the beasts of the field. Does the Governor of the world interfere to crush the lion, the tiger, the panther, or the wolf from devouring the feebler creation of His hands? Does He come to the rescue of the shrieking, suffering victims? Behold the "fowls of the air." See the eagle, the vulture, the hawk pouncing down on the dove, the thrush, the blackbird, or the robin. Does He interfere to arrest their flight, or curb their savage instincts? "Speak to the earth." See the noxious weeds choking the flowers, stealing away life from the fruit trees, does He send a blast to wither the pernicious herb? Not He. Turn to the "fishes of the sea." Does He prevent the whale, the shark, and other monsters from devouring the smaller tenants of the deep? No; He allows all these creatures to develop their instincts and their propensities. It is even so with man. He allows man full scope here to work out what is in him, to get what he can.

III. THE MAXIMS OF PHILOSOPHIC LIFE. "Doth not the ear try His words? and the mouth taste His meat? With the ancient is wisdom, and in length of days is understanding." There is some. thing like a syllogism in this verse.

1. That the more the mind exercises itself upon moral questions, the more capable it is to pronounce a correct judgment. Just as the gourmand gets a nicer appreciation of the qualities of wines and viands as he exercises his palate, so the mind gets a clearer conception of things the more it makes them the subject of reflection.

2. That the ancients did greatly exercise their minds on these subjects, and therefore their judgment is to be taken, and it confirms Job's conclusions.

(Homilist.)

In order to enforce the moral and religious duty which we all owe to the inferior creatures, consider —

I. THE NATURE OF OUR AUTHORITY OVER THEM.

1. It arises out of that capacity of reason which places us above them. And as reason is our great distinction and prerogative, it is that alone which is to influence us in the exercise of the power which it has entrusted to our hands. As these creatures are endowed with a capacity to enjoy pleasure, and as abundant provision is made for the gratification of their several senses, reason teaches us to conclude that the Creator wills their happiness, and that our nobler faculties are to be employed, not in counteracting, but in furthering His benevolent purpose. Whatever unnecessarily deprives them of any portion of their enjoyment, violates the authority of reason, and deposes the sovereign of the lower world from that throne which he converts into an engine of tyranny and oppression.

2. This, likewise, is constituted authority. Man has received the creatures by an original grant from the hands of their Maker. In virtue of this all-comprehensive endowment, the investiture of property is added to the natural authority of reason, so that we have an unquestionable right to make all the tribes of being subservient to our interest. But our authority is limited — it is the authority of men over dependents, not of demons over their victims. We are not at liberty to use the creatures as we please. Where necessity ends, inhumanity begins. The meanest reptile on earth has its inalienable rights, and it is at our peril that we immolate them on the altar of our hard-hearted selfishness. The persecuted, injured, suffering children in nature's universal family are not forgotten by their beneficent Parent, nor will their wrongs remain unredressed.

II. THEIR CLAIMS UPON OUR HUMANITY AND KINDNESS. The creatures who are beneath us ought not only to be protected from ill-treatment, but they are entitled to humane and benevolent consideration, as parts of the great family specially committed to our guardianship. Many, who would shrink from the imputation of cruelty, by a constitutional indifference to the wants and sufferings of the beings around them, are really chargeable with all the wretchedness which it is in their power to prevent and alleviate. A wise and considerate humanity in its direct operation is most beneficial to universal happiness; and in its indirect influence as an example, fails not to deter many an incipient offender from the premeditated act of cruelty, while it gently diffuses its own benignant spirit through the circle in which it unostentatiously moves, protecting, saving, blessing all. And nothing tends to our felicity so much as cherished feeling of enlightened benevolence. Many reasons may be assigned why the inferior creatures ought to excite in us such a spirit.

1. They are the creatures of God.

2. They have the same origin with ourselves.

3. They are the care of Divine providence.

4. Their claims arise out of the lessons they teach.

5. They confer on us innumerable benefits of another kind. Of the general usefulness of the creatures we have the most palpable evidence every day.

6. Remember their susceptibility to pain. And we may add —

7. That these creatures owe all their natural sufferings to the fall of man; and to him therefore they have a right to look for sympathy.

(J. Styles, D. D.)

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