Job 21:11
They send forth their little ones like a flock; their children skip about,
Diverse Interpretations of LifeE. Johnson Job 21:1-34
Job's Third AnswerHomilistJob 21:1-34
The Perverse Misapplication of the Divine GoodnessR. Green Job 21:7-15
The Prosperity of the WickedW.F. Adeney Job 21:7-21

Job is ready with his answer. Although Zophar has correctly represented the judgments that come upon the wicked, and the evils to which wickedness not unfrequently lead, yet many cases of departure from this rule are to be observed. Job therefore proposes a counter-question," Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power? "He then depicts the prosperity which again and again marks the career of the wicked, to whom the Divine bounty is shown

(1) in prolonged life;

(2) in the power and influence they are permitted to gain;

(3) in their family prosperity;

(4) in their freedom from calamity;

(5) in their domestic security;

(6) in their abundance and joy.

This mystery Job does not instantly unravel But what is the effect of all this prosperity on the wicked? It does not humble him nor make him thankful As an uneven glass distorts the fairest image, so their impure and ill-regulated minds turn the goodness of God into an occasion of impious rejection. "Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us." The distortions of the evil mind pervert the goodness of God into -

I. AN OCCASION OF IMPIOUS DESPIAL OF THE DIVINE NAME. They refuse to know God. They shut out the knowledge of God from their hearts. With a wicked "Depart!" they resist the Holy One. They have no aspiration after a holy corn reunion, or the vision of the pure. The Lord is abhorrent to them. Their tastes are corrupt; their preferences are for evil. Truly they pervert and reverse all good things. They put darkness for light, and light for darkness. They put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. The very call to adoration and praise they turn into an occasion of despisal and rejection.

II. In their perversions they make the Divine goodness AN OCCASION FOR A DESPISAL OF THE DIVINE WAYS. This is always the danger of them who have abundance and yet lack the fear of God. This is the basis of a teaching long afterwards touchingly taught concerning the rich, to whom it is so "hard" to "enter into the kingdom of heaven." The satisfied man becomes the self-satisfied, even though indebted to another for his possessions. Then the spirit of independence becomes a spirit of revulsion against all authority that might be raised over it. So they who "spend their days in wealth" say," We desire not the knowledge of thy ways."

III. This same spirit ripens into AN ABSOLUTE REFUSAL TO SUBMIT TO THE DIVINE AUTHORITY. "What is the Almighty, that we should serve him?" So far is the goodness of God from leading him to repentance who is evil in spirit. Wickedness is the fruit of an ill-directed judgment, and it tends to impair the judgment more and more. It distorts all the moral sensibilities, and therefore all the moral processes. If the judgment were accurately to decide in favour of the Divine Law and its obligatory character, the perverted preferences of the mind would reject the testimony, and by a rude rebellion within would prevent a right decision from being arrived at. Even the check and restraint of the enlightened judgment becomes a signal for resistance. Its goad is kicked against; its repressions refused; its warning unheeded; its plain path, narrow and difficult to follow, is rejected, and a broad and easy way, in which the foolish heart finds its pleasure, chosen in preference. So the Divine authority is rejected and despised. The ill effects of rejecting the Divine authority are seen:

1. In the loss of the guidance of the supreme wisdom.

2. In the inevitable injuries resulting from following a false and erroneous judgment.

3. In the demoralization of the life.

4. In the final vindication of the Divine authority. - R.G.

He shall fly away as a dream.
Job, in the text, speaks of life as a "dream," a mere passing phantom of the brain.

I. A DREAM IMPLIES A DORMANCY IN CERTAIN FACULTIES OF OUR NATURE. The flitting visions of the brain at night always imply the slumbering state of certain powers of the soul. The will has but little to do with the creations of the dream world. In what sense is the soul asleep? What are the faculties that lie dormant within us? There are those that consciously connect the spirit with the spiritual universe — God and moral responsibilities. But spiritual sleep is unnatural and injurious.

II. A DREAM FILLS THE MIND WITH ILLUSIVE VISIONS. The mind sees things in the dreams of the night that never will and that never can have any actual existence. Like dreams, our life here is full of fictions and fancies.

1. Man's notions as to what his life here will be are illusions.

2. Man's notions as to what constitutes the dignities and blessedness of life are illusions. Compare the world's ideas of dignity with the dictates of common sense, the teaching of philosophy, to say nothing of the higher light of revelation. All notions of dignity and happiness are illusive which have not —

(1)To do more with the soul than the senses.

(2)To do more with the character than the circumstance.

(3)To do more with the present than the future.

(4)To do more with the absolute than with the contingent.

III. A DREAM IS OF VERY SHORT DURATION. The night dreams of men are very brief, compared with the regular thoughts of their waking hours. Like a dream, life too is brief. This life dream will soon be over.


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