Job 30:23

Job expects nothing better than death, which he regards as "the house appointed for all living," or rather as the house for the meeting of all living.

I. THE JOURNEY OF LIFE ENDS IS THE HOUSE OF DEATH. The living are marching to death. In a striking passage of 'The City of God,' St. Augustine, following Seneca, describes how we are always dying, because from the first moment of life we are drawing nearer to death. We cannot stay our chariot-wheels. The river will not cease to flow, and it is bearing us on to the ocean of death. It is difficult for the young and strong to take in the idea that they will not live for ever, and we come upon the thought of death with something of a shock. But this only means that we cannot see the end of the road while it winds through pleasant scenery that distracts our attention from the more distant prospect.

II. THE HOUSE OF DEATH IS IN DARK CONTRAST WITH THE JOURNEY OF LIFE. It is the living who are destined to enter this dreadful house. Here is one of the greatest possible contrasts - life and death; here is one of the most tremendous transitions - from life to death. All our revolutions on earth are as nothing compared with this tremendous change. Death is only the end and cessation of life, while all other experiences, even the greatest and most upsetting, are but modifications of the life which we still retain. It is not wonderful, then, that this dark house of death has strongly affected the imagination of men. The surprising thing is that so many should be indifferent to it.

III. THE HOUSE OF DEATH IS FOR EVERY LIVING MAN. No truism is more hackneyed than the assertion that all men are mortal. Here is a commonplace which cannot be gainsayed, yet its very evident character should emphasize its significance. Death is the great leveller. In life we go many ways; at last we all go the same way. Now some pass through palace gates and others through dungeon-portals; at the end all must go through the same narrow door. Should not this commonness of destiny help to bring all mortals nearer together in life?

IV. THE HOUSE OF DEATH IS A PLACE OF MEETING. It is described by Job as a house of assemblage. Multitudes are gathered there. They who depart thither go to "join the majority." There dwell many whom we have known on earth, some whom we have loved. Much mystery surrounds the house of death; but it cannot be an utterly strange place if so many who have been near to us on earth are awaiting us there. The joy of reunion should scatter the darkness of death. Every dear one lost to earth makes for us more of a home in the Unseen.

V. THE HOUSE OF DEATH LEADS TO THE REALM OF LIFE FOR ALL WHO SLEEP IN CHRIST. It is no gloomy prison. It is but a dark ante-chamber to a realm of light and blessedness. Indeed, death is not an abode, but a passage. We have no reason for thinking that death is a lasting condition in the case of those whose souls do not die in sin; for the impenitent, indeed, it is a fearful doom of darkness. But for such as have the new life of Christ in them death may be but the momentary act of dying. Certainly it is not their eternal condition. We talk of the blessed dead; we should think of the glorified living, born into the deathless state of heavenly bliss. - W.F.A.

To the house appointed for all living.
What were the definite grounds on which Job formed this conclusion?

1. What he saw around him on every side.

2. Job's bodily sufferings intimated also the same result. These increased and accumulated, and plainly tended, unless arrested, in the providence of God, to dissolution.

3. Creation around him impressed on him the same conclusion.

4. Job learned the lesson from Divine teaching. Learn who is the dispenser of death. We are prone to attribute all to second causes. Notice Job's personal application and appropriation to the truth in the text. We must translate Christianity from the impersonal to the personal. We have a description of that change of which the patriarch was thus personally assured. He calls it "death," and the "house appointed for all living." Death is the child of sin, though grace has made it the servant of Jesus. It is not annihilation. There is nothing natural or desirable in death itself. This is the only house that may be called the house of humanity. It is a dark house, a solitary house, a silent house, an ancient house. Even this house has a sunlit side. It is not an eternal prison house, but a resting place, a cemetery or sleeping place.

(John Cumming, D. D.)

1. Consider those whom we esteem pious. Of these, in the time of death, there are three classes, widely differing from each other in their dying experiences. Some are agitated by terror, doubts, and apprehensions. Some are exulting and triumphant. Some, without any extraordinary raptures, have a sweet calm and tranquillity of spirit, a filial confidence and trust in their Redeemer. We refer, of course, only to those whose rational powers are unimpaired. We are not to judge of the future state of a man merely by his death-bed exercises. This is an error to which we are far too prone; an error that in its consequences is most pernicious.

2. The deathbeds of those who have lived impenitent and unbelieving without God, and without Christ in the world. Here we find similar diversity. Some are filled with agony and horror, some have a false joy, and an unwarranted exultation; and some are stupid, insensible, and unconcerned.

(H. Kollock, D. D.)

Man's life is a stream, running into death's devouring deeps. Doctrine — All must die. There is an unalterable statute of death, under which men are concluded. This is confirmed by daily observation. The human body consists of perishable materials. We have sinful souls, and therefore have dying bodies; death follows sin, as the shadow follows the body.

1. Man's life is a vain and empty thing. Our life, in the several parts of it, is a heap of vanities.

2. Man's life is a short thing; a short-lived vanity.

3. Man's life is a swift thing; a flying vanity. Having thus discoursed of death, let us improve it in discerning the vanity of the world in bearing up, with Christian contentment and patience, under all troubles and difficulties in it; in mortifying our lusts; in cleaving unto the Lord with full purpose of heart at all hazards, and in preparing for death's approach.

(T. Boston, D. D.)

The certainty of death. "All must die."

1. There is an unalterable statute of death, under which men are included.

2. If we consult daily observation. Everyone seeth that "wise men die, likewise the fool and brutish person."

3. The human body consists of perishing principles.

4. We have sinful souls, and therefore have dying bodies.

5. Man's life in this world is but a few degrees removed from death. Scripture represents it as vain and empty, short in continuance, and swift in its passage.Improvement —

1. Let us hence, as in a glass, behold the vanity of the world; look into the grave, and listen to the doctrine of death.

(1)This world is a false friend, who leaves a man in time of greatest need.

(2)That hold as fast as thou canst, thou shalt be forced to let go thy hold.

2. It may serve as a storehouse for Christian contentment and patience under worldly crosses and losses.

3. It may serve as a bridle to curb all manner of lust.

(1)To remit our inordinate care of the body.

(2)To abate our pride.

(3)It may check our worldly lust.

(4)And our worldly-mindedness.

(5)It may serve as a spur to incite us to prepare for death.

(T. Hannam.)

Since we know assuredly that God will bring us to death, consider —

I. THE CERTAINTY OF ITS APPROACHING SOON. All the works of nature, in this inferior system, seem only made to be destroyed. Man is not exempted. Our life is forever on the wing, although we mark not its flight. Even now death is doing its work. If death be certainly approaching, let us learn the value of life. If death be at hand, then certainly time is precious.

II. THE TIME AND MANNER OF THE ARRIVAL OF DEATH. Death is called in Scripture "the land without any order." And without any order the king of terrors makes his approaches in the world. He wears a thousand forms, marking out the unhappy man for their prey.

III. THE CHANGE WHICH DEATH INTRODUCES. When we pass from the living world to the dead, what a sad picture do we behold! The periods of human life passing away, the certainty of the dissolution that awaits us, and the frequent examples of mortality which continually strike our view, lead us to reflect with seriousness upon the house appointed for all living. Death is the great teacher of mankind.

(J. Logan, F. R. S. E.)

The Coptic version reads thus: — "I know now that death will destroy me, for the earth is the house of all the dead." We have in the text two personifications. "Death will destroy me." "The grave is the house for all the dead." The power to wound and the pleasure of victory are figuratively ascribed to death and the grave. Death is said to be the extinction of life, but that neither defines nor explains it. We know death by its results. Life! Is it important to us, and wherein is its value and importance? The importance of life to every one of us is for our virtue, religion, happiness, and usefulness among our fellowmen, and to determine the character of our responsibility, our afterlife, our destiny. Life, as connected with this world only, is the precious time for the discipline of the passions and affections, the elevation of our nature, the accumulations of virtue, the influence, principles, and power of religion, the happiness that ordinarily accompanies them, and the usefulness suggested and sustained by them. Our virtue, our religious character, the state of our hearts, veiled and unveiled, and the actions of our lives, will determine our everlasting destiny. Our responsibility relates to the honest convictions of our minds and hearts.

(R. Ainslie.)

I. THE DIVINITY OF DEATH. "I know that Thou wilt bring me to death." Men ascribe death to one of three causes — disease, accident, or age; but the Bible ascribes it to God. "Thou wilt bring me to death."

1. Nothing else can bring me to death unless Thou wilt. My existence depends every moment on Thy will.

2. Nothing else can prevent me from dying if Thou wiliest that I should depart; all is with Thee. "Thou turnest man to destruction. Thou changest his countenance and sendest him away." There are no premature deaths.

II. The ORDINATION of death. "The house appointed." Death is no chance matter. "It is appointed unto all men once to die."

1. This appointment is very natural; all organic life dies: all sublunary life finds the "house" of mortality. To this "house" all plants, reptiles, insects, birds, fishes, beasts direct their steps.

2. This appointment is very settled. This appointment is kept as immutably as the ordinances of heaven or any of the laws of nature.

III. The UNIVERSALITY of death. "For all living." Men, when living, have houses of various shapes, sizes, value, according to their tastes and means, but in dying they have only one "house." All go to one place. What a "house" is this grave! ancient — desolate — spacious — crowded.


The text suggests some thoughts of Job concerning his own death.

I. There will be nothing UNNATURAL in my death. It is "appointed" as the death of every other kind of organised life on earth: it is the natural law of all organised bodies to wear out, decay, dissolve. As the earth takes back to itself all the elements that have entered into the composition of vegetables and animals, why should I refuse or dread the demand? I may rest assured that kind nature will make a benign and beneficent use of all the elements that have entered into my corporeal existence. Let me be ready to yield them up unreluctantly, ungrudgingly, thanking the Infinite for their use.

1. It is dishonest for me to object to this; for my body was only borrowed property, a temporary loan, nothing more.

2. It is ungrateful for me to object to this. Though I never had a claim to such a boon, it has been of great service to my spiritual nature.

3. It is unphilosophic for me to object to this. Whatever my objections and resistance, it must come.

II. There will he nothing UNCOMMON in my death. "The house appointed for all living." Were I one of a few, amongst the millions of the race, singled out for such a destiny, I might complain; but since all, without any exception, must die, who am I that I should complain?

III. There will be nothing ACCIDENTAL in my death. "I know that Thou wilt bring me to death."


Job suffered from a terrible sickness, which filled him with pain both day and night. He says in the eighteenth verse, "By the great force of my disease is my garment changed: it bindeth me about as the collar of my coat." When our God by our affliction calls upon us to number our days, let us not refuse to do so. Yet Job made a mistake in the hasty conclusion which he drew from his grievous affliction. Under depression of spirit he felt sure that he must very soon die. But he did not die at that time. He was fully recovered, and God gave him twice as much as he had before. It is a pity for us to pretend to predict the future, for we certainly cannot see an inch before us. It is the part of a brave man, and especially of a believing man, neither to dread death nor to sigh for it; neither to fear it nor to court it. Job made a mistake as to the date of his death, but he made no mistake as to the fact itself. He spake truly when he said, "I know that Thou wilt bring me to death." "Oh," saith one, "but I do not feel called upon to think of it." Why, the very season of the year calls you to it. Each fading leaf admonishes you. Oh! you that are youngest, you that are fullest of health and strength, I lovingly invite you not to put away this subject from you. Remember, the youngest may be taken away.

I. I call your attention to a piece of PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE: "I know that Thou wilt bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living." A general truth here receives a personal application.

1. Job knew that he should be brought to the grave, because he perceived the universality of that fact in reference to others.

2. He knew it also because he had considered the origin of mankind. We were taken out of the earth, and it is only by a prolonged miracle that this dust of ours is kept from going back to its kindred. If we had come from heaven we might dream that we should not die. Thus we have affinities which call us back to the dust.

3. Further, Job had a recollection of man's sin, and knew that all men are under condemnation on account of it. Does he not say that the grave is a "house appointed for all living"? It is appointed simply because of the penal sentence passed upon our first parent, and in him upon the whole race.

4. Once more, Job arrived at this personal knowledge through his own bodily feebleness. Those who die daily will die easily. Those who make themselves familiar with the tomb will find it transfigured into a bed: the charnel will become a couch. The man who rejoices in the covenant of grace is cheered by the fact that even death itself is comprehended among the things which belong to the believer.

II. Having thus discoursed upon a piece of personal knowledge, I now beg you to see in my text the shining of HOLY INTELLIGENCE. Job, even in his anguish, does not for a moment forget his God. He speaks of Him here: "I know that Thou wilt bring me to death."

1. He perceives that he will not die apart from God. He does not say his sore boils or his strangulation will bring him to death; but, "Thou wilt bring me to death." He does not trace his approaching death to chance, or to fate, or to second causes; no, he sees only the hand of the Lord. Let us rejoice that in life and death we are in the Lord's hands.

2. The text seems to me to cover another sweet and comforting thought, namely, that God will be with us in death. "I know that Thou wilt bring me to death." He will bring us on our journey till He brings us to the journey's end: Himself our convoy and our leader.

3. It may not be in the text, but it naturally follows from it, that if God brings us to death, He will bring us up again.

III. I pass on to notice the QUIET EXPECTATION which breathes in this text. I want to reason with those disciples of our Lord Jesus who are in bondage from fear of death. What are the times when men are able to speak of death quietly and happily?

1. Sometimes they do so in periods of great bodily suffering. I have on several occasions felt everything like fear of dying taken from me simply by the process of weariness.

2. The growing infirmities of age work in the same way, beloved, without falling into sickness.

3. By being filled with an entire submission to the will of God. Delight in God is the cure for dread of death.

4. Next, I believe that great holiness sets us free from the love of this world, and makes us ready to depart.

5. Another thing that will make us look at death with complacency is when we have a full assurance that we are in Christ, and that, come what may, nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Live in such a way that any day would make a suitable topstone for life. Let me add that there are times when our joys run high, when the big waves come rolling in from the Pacific of eternal bliss; then we see the King in His beauty by the eye of faith, and though it be but a dim vision, we are so charmed with it that our love of Him makes us impatient to behold Him face to face.

IV. I conclude by saying that this subject affords us SACRED INSTRUCTION. "I know that Thou wilt bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living."

1. Let us prepare for death.

2. Live diligently.

3. Next to that, let us learn from the general assembly in the house appointed for all living to walk very humbly. A common caravansary must accommodate us all in the end; wherefore let us despise all pride of birth, rank, or wealth.

4. Be prompt, for life is brief.

5. Men and women, project yourselves into eternity; get away from time, for you must soon be driven away from it. You are birds with wings; sit not on these boughs forever blinking in the dark like owls; bestir yourselves, and mount like eagles.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

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