Job 2:13
Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights, but no one spoke a word to him because they saw how intense his suffering had become.
Silence, not Speech, the Best Service of Friendship in SorrowHomilistJob 2:13
Silent SympathyVictor Hugo.Job 2:13
The CalamityRichard Clover.Job 2:13
The Trials of Job, and His Consolations Under ThemA. Bonar.Job 2:13
A Picture of FriendshipE. Johnson Job 2:11-13
Human Impotence in Presence of Great SorrowR. Green Job 2:11-13
Job's ComfortersW.F. Adeney Job 2:11-13
In this short section we have a beautiful picture of true friendship in its prompt sympathy, its ready offices. The three intimate friends of Job, on hearing of his troubles, arrange to visit him and offer the comfort of their presence and condolence. We are reminded -

I. OF THE BLESSING OF FRIENDSHIP. Sympathy is the indispensable need of the heart. It deepens the colour of all our pleasures; it throws a gleam of light athwart our deepest gloom. "Rejoice with them that do rejoice; and weep with them that weep." Our joys do not burst into flower till they feel the warm atmosphere of friendship. Our heaviest griefs only cease to be crushing when we have poured our tale into the ear of one we love. One of the humblest, yet best offices a friend can render to a sufferer is to be a good listener. Draw him out; get him to talk; movement and change of mind are what he needs. Exertion, if only the exertion of speech, will do him good. Do not pour upon him a cataract of well-meaning but stunning commonplaces. Imitate the kindness of Job's friends, but not their want of tact and perception. Let him only feel that in your presence he can relieve himself of all that is on his mind, and will not fail to be kindly understood.

II. SEASONABLE SILENCE IN THE PRESENCE OF SORROW. On the arrival of the friends, seeing the heart-rending condition of the noble chieftain, whom they had last seen in the height of his health and prosperity, now sitting in the open air, banished by disease from his dwelling, defaced by that disease beyond recognition, an utterly broken man, they express their grief by all the significant gestures of Eastern manners - weeping, rending their clothes, sprinkling dust upon their heads. They then take their places by his side, and keep a profound and mournful silence for a week, as Ezekiel did when he visited his countrymen captives by the river Chebar. What exquisite manners are taught us in the Bible! And the great superiority of its teaching in this respect over the common teaching of the world is that it founds all manners upon the heart. It is truth, love, sympathy, which can alone render us truly polite, refined, and delicate in our relations to others, teaching us always to put ourselves in thought in the other's place. "There is a time to keep silence." In great grief we recognize the hand of God, and he bids us be still and own him. Our smaller feelings bubble, our deeper ones are dumb. There are times when reverence demands silence, and a single word is too much. Leave the sufferer alone at first. Let him collect himself; let him ask what God has to say to him in the still, small voice that comes after the earthquake and the storm. "Sacred silence, thou that art offspring of the deeper heart, frost of the mouth, and thaw of the mind!" Sit by your friend's side, clasp his hand, say simply, "God comfort you, my brother!" In the earlier stage of a fresh and sudden grief this will be enough. We cannot doubt that the wounded heart of Job was greatly comforted by the silent presence of his sympathizing friends. It was better than all their spoken attempts at consolation. Let us thank God for friendship and for true friends; they are messengers from him. "God, who comforteth them that are cast down, comforted me by the coming of Titus!" - J.

And none spake a word unto him.
Here is a demonstration of true friendship. Note the way in which these friends at first endeavoured to comfort Job. They did not speak.


1. The comforting power of a friend lies in the depth of his sympathy.

2. Silence is a better expression of deep sympathy than speech.

II. SILENCE IS MOST CONSISTENT WITH OUR IGNORANCE OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE TOWARDS OUR SUFFERING FRIEND. How little we know of God's procedure in the affairs of human life: So long as these friends kept silence they acted as comforters; but as soon as they launched into speech they became Job's tormentors.

III. SILENCE IS MOST CONGENIAL WITH THE MENTAL STATE OF OUR SUFFERING FRIEND. The soul in deep sorrow seeks silence and solitude. Mere word-condolers are soul- tormentors. Then be silent in scenes of sorrow; overflow with genuine sympathy, but do not talk.


Bishop Myriel had the art of sitting down and holding his tongue for hours, by the side of the man who had lost the wife he had loved, or of a mother bereaved of her child.

(Victor Hugo.)

For they saw that his grief was very great.
"They saw that his grief was very great." Job was the friend of God, and the favourite of heaven: a person known in the gates as an upright judge, and a public blessing; his seasonable bounties made the widow's heart rejoice, and his liberal charities were as eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame. Yet of him it is said: "his grief was very great." But the faithful and compassionate God, in whom this patriarch placed all his confidence, sustained his fainting mind, and strengthened his heart in his agonising struggles.

I. THE NATURE, VARIETY, AND SEVERITY OF JOB'S CALAMITIES. His trials began with the loss of all his wealth and property. His afflictions came with an accumulating force. From his honours and usefulness he was driven, with as much rapidity as from his other sources of comfort. The mournful consequences of being visited with a singular distemper, and of his being stripped of his property and bereaved of his children, was the desertion of those who had formerly professed to venerate his character, and the total loss of influence and reputation in the places of concourse. The general opinion was that God had forsaken him, and therefore men might despise and revile him. Even the wife of his bosom added to his distress. And Job sometimes in Ills depression lost all sense of God's favour.

II. THE CAUSES ASSIGNED WHY AN UNERRING AND RIGHTEOUS GOD PERMITTED SO GREAT AND GOOD A MAN AS JOB TO BE SO SINGULARLY AFFLICTED. Afflictions cannot come upon us without the Divine permission. But Job's friends perverted this sentiment.. They urged that all calamities are the punishments of sin secretly allowed, or freely indulged in. Job must have been living in the transgression of the Divine commandments or he would not have been so sorely afflicted. It is made an argument against religion, that its highest attainments cannot exempt the godly from calamities. The just are often more tried than other men. But the truth is, that God is glorified by the afflictions of His children, and their best interests are promoted thereby.

1. Job's trials were designed and calculated to convince him, and to convince the saints in every age, that God is sovereign in His dispensations. He claims it as His right to order the lot of His children on earth according to His own unerring wisdom. So important is the habitual persuasion of the Divine Sovereignty, that in chapter 38, the Almighty is represented as pleading His own cause in this respect. He is the great First Cause, of whom and for whom are all things. His people may well trust in God, though He hides His countenance; venerate their Heavenly Father, though He corrects them; and walk by faith, not by sight. Much of religion lies in submitting to the sovereignty of God, especially when the events of Providence appear to us peculiarly mysterious.

2. Job was tried in order to correct and remove his imperfections, and to promote in his soul that spiritual life which Divine grace had already begun. History represents Job as devoted to God, eminent for holiness, and distinguished for the most active benevolence and extensive usefulness. But there were certain blemishes which needed the powerful influence of the fiery furnace to purify and eradicate. There was a spirit of dejection, fretfulness, and distrust, which at times prevailed over his heroic patience. And there was a self-righteous opinion of his own goodness. With too presumptuous a confidence he wishes to argue matters even with a holy God. His arrogant language he penitently confesses and laments in the last chapter of the book. His tribulation wrought humility and self-abasement, so did it also work patience. His sufferings also increased his compassion for the afflicted.

3. Job's trials were intended to convince him, and to convince mankind, that though God afflicts the dearest of His children, yet He most seasonably and graciously imparts to them both support and deliverance. We cannot expect temporal deliverance and exaltation, like that of Job, but we may be sure that we shall receive of the Lord's hand a double recompense of joy for all our sorrow.


1. Seeing the hand of God in all his afflictions. "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away."

2. The full persuasion that his Redeemer would never abandon him.

3. The prospect of resurrection from the dead, a believing persuasion, and a lively hope of eternal happiness beyond the grave. Although immortality was not then brought to light by any outward revelation, the Spirit of God wrought in this illustrious patriarch that genuine faith which is the evidence of things not seen, and which enabled him to connect humble faith in an ever-living Redeemer with the lively hope of an inheritance in the heavens.

(A. Bonar.)

Someone says, "God had one Son without sin, but no Son without sorrow." The line of saints has been a striking one. Men burdened with terrific duties, overwhelmed with affliction, stoned and sawn asunder, persecuted, afflicted, tormented. There is a matter of subsidiary but yet striking interest to which we must advert, namely, the prominence given to Satan in connection with this affliction. The gospel theory of affliction does not name him. "Whom God loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth." But here Satan is the accuser, the adversary, and he, with God's permission, brings upon Job all his troubles. But although in the early twilight of truth all things are not discerned so clearly as in gospel noonday, it is striking how near the fullest truth the writer comes. There have been darkling thoughts in the minds of men on this matter. Some few shallow spirits have never sufficiently resisted temptation to feel its reality and force; nor sufficiently sympathised with the sorrow of the world to feel the mystery of evil. There have been three great lines of thought on this matter of the principle of evil. There have been those who have thought that the Evil One was the Great God, the Lord Almighty. Sometimes they have developed this into the basis of religion, like the devil worshippers in Santhalistan, in Southern India, and in Ceylon. Sometimes they have made it only the basis of their practical life, as the fraudulent, who, in England, in the nineteenth century, believe the god of falsehood and of fraud a stronger providence than the God of truth and honour; or the despairing and remorseful, who think God vengeance only. Sometimes, as in the old Manichean doctrine, men have shrunk from believing in the supremacy of an Evil Deity, but have believed him equal in power to the Good God, and have explained all the mixing of human conditions by the divided sovereignty which governs all things here. And Ormuzd, the god of light, and Ahriman, the god of darkness, have sat on level thrones, confronting one another in constant but unprogressive conflict. The writer of the Book of Job had never lapsed into the despair that deemed evil supreme, nor into that alarm which feared it was equal in power to God. According to him, Satan is powerless to inflict outward trouble or inward temptation, excepting as permitted by the Lord. Substantially, the doctrine of this book on the power of evil is the doctrine of Christ, the doctrine of the devout in all ages. Give heed to it. Evil is not Divine in its power, nor eternal in its mastery over men. It works within strictest limits; the enemy only by permission can touch either soul or body. Be not afraid, nor yield to despair. Love is the supreme and the eternal thing; therefore rejoice. Accusing Job — God gives Satan liberty and power to afflict. The affliction is suggested by Job's enemy, with the hope of destroying his integrity. It is permitted by God with an intent very different; namely, that of developing it. It is no vivisection of a saint that is permitted merely to gratify curiosity as to the point at which the most vigorous vitality of goodness will break down. Little knowing the Divine issue which would proceed from his assault, the enemy goes forth to his envious and hateful task. There is an awful completeness about this calamity of Job. The strokes of it are so contrived that, although some interval may be between them, they are all reported in the same day.

1. Observe that affliction is by God's ordinance part of the general lot of man. A state of perfect happiness, if such were possible, would not be suitable for a world of imperfect virtue.

2. We should not be astonished when afflictions touch us. We all get into the way of assuming that somehow we are to be exempt from the usual ills.

3. Remember that a universal experience has testified that affliction has its service, and adversity its sweetness. Without affliction who could avoid worldliness? It is the sorrows of this life that raise both eye and expectation to the joys of the life to come. Without affliction there would be but little refinement — no tender ministries, no gracious compassion, no self-forgetful sympathy. All the passive virtues, which are so essential to character, thrive under it — such as endurance, patience, meekness, humility. Prosperity coarsens and scars the conscience; affliction gives it tenderness. The necessity for stronger faith itself strengthens it.

4. It is but a deduction from this to add: Remember, therefore, affliction is not hate, but love. "Whom God loveth He chasteneth." Lord Bacon forgot Job when he uttered his fine aphorism: "Prosperity was the blessing of the Old Testament, but adversity of the new."

(Richard Clover.).

After this opened Job his month, and cursed his day.
In regard to this chapter, containing the first speech of Job, we may remark that it is impossible to approve the spirit which it exhibits, or to believe that it was acceptable to God. It laid the foundation for the reflections — many of them exceedingly just — in the following chapters, and led his friends to doubt whether such a man could be truly pious. The spirit which is manifested in this chapter is undoubtedly far from that calm submission which religion should have produced, and from that which Job had before evinced. That he was, in the main, a man of eminent holiness and patience, the whole book demonstrates; but this chapter is one of the conclusive proofs that he was not absolutely free from imperfection. We may learn —

1. That even eminently good men sometimes give utterance to sentiments which are a departure from the spirit of religion, and which they will have occasion to regret. Here there was a language of complaint, and a bitterness of expression, which religion cannot sanction, and which no pious man, on reflection, would approve.

2. We see the effect of heavy affliction on the mind. It sometimes becomes overwhelming. It is so great that all the ordinary barriers against impatience are swept away. The sufferer is left to utter language of murmuring, and there is the impatient wish that life was closed, or that he had not existed.

3. We are not to infer that, because a man in affliction makes use of some expressions which we cannot approve, and which are not sanctioned by the Word of God, that therefore he is not a good man. There may be true piety, yet it may be far from perfection; there may be a general submission to God, yet the calamity may be so overwhelming as to overcome the usual restraints on our corrupt and fallen nature; and when we remember how feeble our nature is at best, and how imperfect is the piety of the holiest of men, we should not harshly judge him who is left to express impatience in his trials or who gives utterance to sentiments different from those which are sanctioned in the Word of God. There has been but one model of pure submission on earth — the Lord Jesus Christ. And after the contemplation of the best of men in their trials we can see that there is imperfection in them, and that if we would survey absolute perfection in suffering we must go to Gethsemane and Calvary.

4. Let us not make the expressions used by Job in this chapter our model in suffering. Let us not suppose that because he used such language, therefore we may also. Let us not infer that because they are found in the Bible, that therefore they are right; or that because he was an unusually holy man, that it would be proper for us to use the same language that he does. The fact that this book is a part of the inspired truth of revelation does not make such language right. All that inspiration does in such a case is to secure an exact record of what was actually said; it does not, of necessity, sanction it, any more than an accurate historian can be supposed to approve all that he records. There may be important reasons why it should be preserved, but he who makes the record is not answerable for the truth or propriety of what is recorded. The narrative is true; the sentiment may be false.

(Albert Barnes.)

1. The holiest person in this life doth not always keep in the same frame of holiness. "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?" This was the language we lately heard; but now cursing — certainly his spirit had been in a more holy frame, more sedate and quiet, than now it was. At the best in this life we are but imperfect; yet at some time we are more imperfect than we are at another.

2. Great sufferings may fill the mouths of holiest persons with great complainings.

3. Satan, with his utmost power and policy, with his strongest temptations and assaults, can never fully attain his ends upon the children of God. What was it that the devil undertook for? was it not to make Job curse his God? and yet when he had done his worst, and spent his malice upon him, he could but make Job curse his day, — this was far short of what Satan hoped.

4. God doth graciously forget and pass by the distempered speeches and bitter complainings of His servants under great afflictions.

(J. Caryl.)

The calamities and the suffering have wrought upon the weakened man. Depressed in spirit, perplexed in mind, in great bodily pain, Job opens his mouth and lifts up his voice. Great suffering generates great passions, and great passions are oft irrepressible, and hence the danger of extravagant speech. "Better," says Trapp, "if Job had kept his lips still." Surely that were impossible in an human being! One, and only One, was silent "as a sheep before her shearers is dumb." Brooks says, "When God's hand is on our back our hand should be on our mouth."

(H. E. Stone.)

Job's tongue is loosened and his words are many. And what other form of speech was so true to his inmost feeling as the form which is known as malediction? The speech is but one sentence, and it rushes from a soul that is momentarily out of equipoise. Our friends often draw out of us the very worst that is in us. We best comment upon such words by repeating them, by studying the probable tone in which they were uttered. Thank God for this man, who in prosperity has uttered every thought appropriate to grief, and has given anguish a new costume of expression.

1. Notice how terrible, after all, is Satanic power. Look at Job if you would see how much the devil can, under Divine permission, do to human life. Perhaps it was well that, in one instance at least, we should see the devil at his worst.

2. See what miracles may be wrought in human experience. In Job's malediction, existence was felt to be a burden; but existence was never meant to be a heavy weight. It was meant to be a joy, a hope, a rehearsal of music and service of a quality and range now inconceivable. But under Satanic agency even existence is felt to be an intolerable burden. Even this miracle can be wrought by Satan. He can turn our every faculty into a heavy calamity. He can so play upon our nerves as to make us feel that feeling is intolerable. But the speech of Job is full of profound mistakes, and the mistakes are only excusable because they were perpetrated by an unbalanced mind.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

At the ebb. As soon as the tide turned, numbers of crows and jackdaws came down upon the shore. While the beautiful waves were splashing over the sand there was no room for these black visitors; but as soon as the waters left, the harvest of these scavengers began. It seemed as though they must have carried watches, so well did they know the time of the receding tides. When the tide of grace runs low, how infirmities come upon us! If the tide of joy ebbs, the black birds of discontent soon appear, while doubts and fears always make their appearance if faith sinks low.

(Footsteps of Truth.)

Life at its best has a crack in it. Somehow the trail of the serpent is all over it. The most perfect man is imperfect, the most innocent man has his weak point. The infant Achilles in the Greek legend is dipped in the waters of the Styx, and the touch of the wave makes him invulnerable; but the water has not touched the heel by which his mother held him, and to that vulnerable heel the deathly arrow finds its way. Siegfried, in the "Nibelungen Lied," bathes in the dragon's blood, and it has made him, too, invulnerable; but, unknown to him, a lime tree leaf has fluttered down upon his back, and into the vital spot where the blood has not touched his skin the murderer's dagger smites. Everything in the Icelandic Saga has sworn not to injure Balder, the brightest and most beloved of all the northern gods; but the insignificant mistletoe has not been asked to take the oath, and by the mistletoe he dies. These are the dim, sad allegories by which the world indicates that even the happiest man cannot be all happy, nor the most invincible altogether safe, nor the best altogether good.

(Dean Farrar.)

Albeit Job's weakness do thus for a time break forth, when his reason and experience are at under, and he is sensible of nothing but pain and sorrow, yet he doth not persist in this distemper, nor is it the only thing that appears in the furnace, but he hath much better purpose afterward in the behalf of God. And therefore, as in a battle men do not judge of affairs by what may occur in the heat of the conflict, wherein parties may retire and fall on again, but by the issue of the fight; so Job is not to be judged by those fits of distemper, seeing he recovered out of them at last; those violent fits do serve to demonstrate the strength of grace in him which prevailed at last over them all.

1. There are, in the most subdued child of God, strong corruptions ready to break forth in trial. The best of men ought to be sensible that they have, by nature, an evil heart of unbelief, even when they are strong in faith; that they have lukewarmness under their zeal, passion under their meekness.

2. Albeit natural corruptions may lurk long, even in the furnace of affliction, yet long and multiplied temptations will bring it forth.(1) Every exercise and trial will not be a trial to every man, nor an irritation to every corruption within him.(2) The length and continuance of a trial is a new trial, and may discover that which the simple trial doth not reach.(3) When men get leisure in cold blood to reflect and pore upon their case it will prove more grievous than at first it doth.(4) When men are disappointed of what they expect under trouble (as Job was of his friends' comfort), it will grieve them more than if they, in sobriety, had expected no such thing. Doctrine — The Lord, in judging of the grace and integrity of His followers, doth afford many grains of allowance, and graciously passeth over much weakness, wherein they do not approve themselves.

(George Hutcheson.)

How can Job be set up with so much admiration for a mirror of patience, who makes such bitter complainings, and breaks out into such distempered passions? He seems to be so far from patience that he wants prudence; so far from grace, that he wants reason itself and good nature; his speeches report him mad or distracted, breaking the bounds of modesty and moderation, striking that which had not hurt him, and striking that which he could not hurt — his birthday. Some prosecute the impatience of Job with much impatience, and are over-passionate against Job's passion. Most of the Jewish writers tax him at the least as bordering on blasphemy, if not blaspheming. Nay, they censure him as one taking heed to, and much depending upon, astrological observations, as if man's fate or fortune were guided by the constellations of heaven, by the sight and aspect of the planets in the day of his nativity. Others carry the matter so far, on the other hand, altogether excusing and, which is more, commending, yea applauding Job, in this act of "cursing his day." They make this curse an argument of his holiness, and these expostulations as a part of his patience, contending —

1. That they did only express (as they ought) the suffering of his sensitive part, as a man, and so were opposite to Stoical apathy, not to Christian patience.

2. That he spake all this not only according to the law of sense, but with exact judgment, and according to the law of soundest reason. I do not say but that Job loved God, and loved Him exceedingly all this while, but whether we should so far acquit Job I much doubt. We must state the matter in the middle way. Job is neither rigidly to be taxed of blasphemy or profaneness, nor totally to be excused, especially not flatteringly commended, for this high complaint.It must be granted that Job discovered much frailty and infirmity, some passion and distemper, in this complaint and curse; yet notwithstanding, we must assert him for a patient man, and there are five things considerable for the clearing and proof of this assertion.

1. Consider the greatness of his suffering: his wound was very deep and deadly, his burden was very heavy, only not intolerable.

2. Consider the multiplicity of his troubles. They were great and many — many little afflictions meeting together make a great one; how great, then, is that which is composed of many great ones!

3. Consider the long continuance of these great and many troubles: they continued long upon him — some say they continued divers years upon him.

4. Consider this, that his complainings and acts of impatience were but a few; but his submission and acts of meekness, under the hand of God, were very many.

5. Take this into consideration, that though he did complain, and complain bitterly, yet he recovered out of those complainings. He was not over. come with impatience, though some impatient speeches came from him; he recalls what he had spoken, and repents for what he had done. Look not alone upon the actings of Job, when he was in the height and heat of the battle; look to the onset, he was so very patient in the beginning, though vehemently stirred, that Satan had not a word to say. Look to the end, and you cannot say but Job was a patient man, full of patience — a mirror of patience, if not a miracle of patience; a man whose face shined with the glory of that grace, above all the children of men. Learn —(1) The holiest person in this life doth not always keep in the same frame of holiness.(2) Great sufferings may fill the mouths of holiest persons with great complainings,(3) God doth graciously pass by and forget the distempered speeches and bitter complainings of His servants under great afflictions.

(Joseph Caryl.)

Job's speech is full of profound mistakes, which are only excusable because they were perpetrated by an unbalanced mind. The eloquent tirade proceeds upon the greatest misapprehensions. Yet we must be merciful in our judgment, for we ourselves have been unbalanced, and we have not spared the eloquence of folly in the time of loss, bereavement, and great suffering We may not have made the same speech in one set deliverance, going through it paragraph by paragraph, but if we could gather up all reproaches, murmurings, complainings, which we have uttered, and set them down in order, Job's short chapter would be but a preface to the black volume indited by our atheistic hearts. Job makes the mistake that personal happiness is the test of Providence. Job did not take the larger view. What, a different speech he might have made! He might have said, Though I am in these circumstances now, I was not always in them: weeping endureth for a night, joy cometh in the morning: I will not complain of one bitter winter day when I remember all the summer season in which I have sunned myself at the very gate of heaven. Yet he might not have said this, for it lies not within the scope of human strength. We must not expect more even from Christian men than human nature in its best moods can exemplify. I know that Christian men are mocked when they complain; they are taunted when they say their souls are in distress; there are those who stand up and say, Where is now thy God? But "the best of men," as one has quaintly said, "are but men at the best." God Himself knoweth our frame, He remembereth that we are dust; He says, They are a wind which cometh for a little time, and then passeth away; their life is like a vapour, curling up into the blue air for one little moment, and then dying off as to visibleness as if it had never been. The Lord knoweth our days, our faculties, our sensibilities, our capacity of suffering, and the judgment must be with Him. Then Job committed the mistake of supposing that circumstances are of more consequence than life. If the sun had shone, if the fields and vineyards had returned plentifully, answering the labour of the sower and the planter with great abundance, who knows whether the soul had not gone down in the same equal proportion? It is a hard thing to keep both soul and body at an equal measure. "How hardly" — with what straining — "shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of heaven." Who knows what Job might have said if the prosperity had been multiplied sevenfold? "Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked." Where is the man who could bear always to swelter under the sun warmth of prosperity? Where is the man that does not need now and again to be smitten, chastened, almost lacerated, cut in two by God's whip, lest he forget to pray? Let suffering be accounted a seal of sonship, if it come as a test rather than as a penalty. Where a man has justly deserved the suffering, let him not comfort himself with its highest religious meaning, but let him accept it as a just penalty. But where it has overtaken him at the very altar, where it has cut him down when he was on his way to heaven with pure heart and pure lips, then let him say, This is the Lord's doing, and He means to enlarge my manhood, to increase the volume of my being, and to develop His own image and likeness according to the mysteriousness of His own way: blessed be the name of the Lord! Why has Job fallen into this strain? He has omitted the word which made his first speech noble. In the first speech the word "Lord" occurs three times, and the word "Lord" never occurs in this speech, for purely religious purposes; he would only have God invoked that God might carry out his own feeble prayer for destruction and annihilation; the word "God" is only associated with complaint and murmuring, as, for example — "Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it" (Job 3:4); and again: "Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in?" (Job 3:23) This is not the "Lord" of the first speech; this is but invoking Omnipotence to do a puny miracle: it is not making the Lord a high tower, and an everlasting refuge into which the soul can pass, and where it can forever be at ease. So we may retain the name of God, and yet have no Lord — living, merciful, and mighty, to whom our souls can flee as to a refuge. It is not enough to use the term God; we must enter into the spirit of its meaning, and find in God not almightiness only, but all-mercifulness, all-goodness, all-wisdom. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Yet we must not be hard upon Job, for there have been times in which the best of us has had no heaven, no altar, no Bible, no God. If those times had endured a little longer our souls had been overwhelmed; but there came a voice from the Excellent Glory, saying, "For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee." Praised forever be the name of the delivering God!

(Joseph Parker, D. D.)

A man's language must be construed according to the mood of his soul. Here we have sufferings forcing a human soul —


1. Great sufferings generate great passions in the soul. Hope, fear, love, anger, and other sentiments may remain in the mind during the period of ease and comfort, so latent and quiescent as to crave no expression. But let suffering come, and they will rush into passions that shake and convulse the whole man. There are elements in every human heart, now latent, that suffering can develop into terrific force.

2. Great passions often become irrepressible. Some men have a wonderful power of restraining their feelings. But passion sometimes rises to such a pitch in the soul that no man, however great his self-control, is able to repress. Like the volcanic fires, it will break through all the mountains that lie upon it, and flame up to the heavens.

3. When great passions become irrepressible they express themselves extravagantly. The flood that has broken through its obstructions does not roll on at once in calm and silent flow, but rushes and foams. He speaks not in calm prose, but in tumultuous poetry.


1. The fact that he existed at all.

2. That, having existed, he did not die at the very dawn of his being. Incidentally, I cannot but remark how good is God in making provision for our support before we enter on the stage of life. The fact that suffering can thus make existence intolerable suggests the following truths —(1) Annihilation is not the worst of evils. Better not to be at all than to be in misery; better to be quenched than to burn. Another truth suggested is —(2) Desire for death is no proof of genuine religion. Another truth suggested is —(3) Hell must be an overwhelmingly terrible condition of existence. Hell, the Bible tells us, is a condition of excruciating and hopeless suffering. There death is sought, but cannot be found.

III. Here is suffering urging a man TO HAIL THE CONDITION OF THE DEAD.

1. As a real rest. Lying still in unconscious sleep, beyond the reach of any disturbing power. How profound is the rest of the grave! The loudest thunders cannot penetrate the ear of the dead. He looked at death —

2. As a common rest. "Kings and counsellors," princes and paupers, tyrants and their victims, the illustrious and obscure — all are there together. The state of the dead, as here described, suggests two practical thoughts.(1) The transitoriness of all worldly distinctions. The flowers that appear in our fields at this season of the year vary greatly in form, size, hues. Some are far more imposing and beautiful than others; but in a few weeks all the distinctions will be utterly destroyed. It is so in society. Great are the secular distinctions in this generation, but a century hence and the whole will be common dust. How egregiously absurd to be proud of mere secular distinctions.(2) The folly of making corporeal interests supreme.

IV. HERE IS SUFFERING URGING A MAN TO PRY INTO THE REASONS OF A MISERABLE LIFE. Has the great Author of existence any pleasure in the sufferings of His creatures? There are, no doubt, good reasons, reasons that we shall understand and appreciate ere long.

1. Great sufferings are often spiritually useful to the sufferer. They are storms to purify the dark atmosphere of his heart; they are bitter ingredients to make spiritually curative his cup of life. Suffering teaches man the evil of sin; for sin is the root of all anguish. Suffering develops the virtues — patience, forbearance, resignation. Suffering tests the character; it is fire that tries the moral metal of the soul.

2. Great sufferings are often spiritually useful to the spectator. The view of a suffering human creature tends to awaken compassion, stimulate benevolence, and excite gratitude. From this subject we learn —(1) The utmost power that the devil is capable of exerting on man.(2) The strength of genuine religion.


The outburst of Job's speech falls into three lyrical strophes, the first ending at the tenth verse, the second at the nineteenth, the third closing with the chapter.

1. "Job opened his mouth, and cursed his day." In a kind of wild, impossible revision of Providence, and reopening of questions long settled, he assumes the right of heaping denunciations on the day of his birth. He is so fallen, so distraught, and the end of his existence appears to have come in such profound disaster, the face of God as well as of man frowning on him, that he turns savagely on the only fact left to strike at — his birth into the world. But the whole strain is imaginative. His revolt is unreason, not impiety, either against God or his parents. He does not lose the instinct of a good man, one who keeps in mind the love of father and mother, and the intention of the Almighty, whom he still reveres. The idea is, Let the day of my birth be got rid of, so that no other come into being on such a day; let God pass from it — then He will not give life on that day. Mingled in this is the old-world notion of days having meanings and powers of their own. This day had proved malign — terribly bad!

2. In the second strophe cursing is exchanged for wailing, fruitless reproach of a long past day, for a touching chant in praise of the grave. If his birth had to be, why could he not have passed at once into the shades? The lament, though not so passionate, is full of tragic emotion. It is beautiful poetry, and the images have a singular charm for the dejected mind. The chief point, however, for us to notice is the absence of any thought of judgment. In the dim underworld, hid as beneath heavy clouds, power and energy are not. Existence has fallen to so low an ebb that it scarcely matters whether men were good or bad in this life, nor is it needful to separate them. It is a kind of existence below the level of moral judgment, below the level either of fear or joy.

3. The last portion of Job's address begins with a note of inquiry. He strikes into eager questioning of heaven and earth regarding his state. What is he kept alive for? He pursues death with his longing as one goes into the mountain to seek treasure. And again, his way is hid, he has no future. God hath hedged him in on this side by losses, on that by grief; behind, a past mocks him, before is a shape which he follows, and yet dreads. It is indeed a horrible condition, this of the baffled mind to which nothing remains but its own gnawing thought, that finds neither reason of being nor end of turmoil, that can neither cease to question, nor find answer to inquiries that rack the spirit. There is energy enough, life enough to feel life a terror, and no more; not enough for any mastery even of stoical resolve. The power of self-consciousness seems to be the last injury — a Nessus shirt, the gift of a strange hate...Note that in his whole agony Job makes no motion towards suicide. The struggle of life cannot be renounced.

(Robert A. Watson, D. D.)

The Puritan mother of Samuel Mills, who, when her son, under the stress of morbid religious feeling, cried out, "Oh, that I had never been born!" said to him, "My son, you are born, and you cannot help it," was more philosophical than he who says, "I am, but I wish I were not." A philosophy that flies in the face of the existing and the inevitable forfeits its name.

(T. T. Munger.)

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