How much less, then, when you say that you do not see Him, that your case is before Him and you must wait for Him,
habeas corpus; and he had despaired of ever being brought face to face with his Accuser, who, as he thought, was also his Judge. Now Elihu tells him that God is already attending to his case, and therefore that he should have faith.
I. THE SUFFERER'S DESPAIR. Job despairs of seeing God. He has indeed expressed a confident assurance that he will behold his Redeemer with his own eyes; he himself, and not another (Job 19:25-27). We need not be startled at the contradiction. In such darkness as that of Job's faith ebbs and flows. For a moment the clouds break and a gleam of sunshine falls on the sufferer's path, and at the sight of it he leaps up triumphant; but soon the blackness closes in again, and then the despair is as deep as ever.
1. God is not seen by the bodily eye. We may sweep the heavens with the most powerful telescope, but we shall never discover their King seated on his throne among the stars.
2. God does not give an immediate solution of our difficulties. We ask him to decide our case, to justify the right, and to destroy the false. Yet he does not seem to be interfering; for the confusion and the injustice remain. Then the weary waiting leads us to think that he will never appear. "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick," and in its sickness it loses its hope.
II. THE ENCOURAGEMENT TO FAITH.
1. God is not neglecting us. Elihu assures Job that his case is already before his Judge. It is neither forgotten nor postponed. It is now being tried. Elihu was quite justified in making this statement, as we know from the prologue (Job 1:8-12). Job was being tried before God throughout; and so also were his friends, as the conclusion of the book shows (Job 42:7-9). Perhaps one lesson to be taught by this great poem is that God is watching man, and dealing justly with him, even when no indication of Divine interest or activity is vouchsafed to him. The verdict is not yet given nor the judgment pronounced; but the case is proceeding, and the Judge is carefully attending to it. That is what this book teaches concerning the great problem of life.
2. We should learn to trust God. We cannot see cur Judge as yet. We must wait for the verdict. All is dark to the eye of sense. But if we know that God is watching over us and considering our condition, we ought to be assured that we cannot suffer from neglect. The special region for faith is this present scene of darkness, and we are to expect the darkness to continue as long as the faith is to be exercised. But this will not be for ever. Job was right when, in a moment of strange elation, he leaped to the assurance that his Redeemer lived, and that he would see him at the latter day. - W.F.A.
1. These words suppose that there are seasons and situations, in which the ways of heaven seem dismaying and inexplicable. This is abundantly evident to whatever department of the Divine government we turn our eyes. If we look on the natural world we shall not always find unobscured the God of nature. If we look into the social department, here, too, we shall find His ways mysterious. There are times when the protection of His providence would seem to be withdrawn from society. Its interests appear subject to the caprices of fortune and the passions of men. If we turn our attention to the normal department, here, too, we shall find occurrences to astonish and perplex us. Affliction maintains a powerful and oppressive dominion among the sons of men. It is not uncommonly the lot of the righteous to bear the heaviest burdens, and experience the severest trials of life. In the management of their allotments, the ways of the Deity are inscrutable. When we compare the terrors of nature with His benevolence who rules her movements; when we contrast the triumphs of iniquity in the world, with His power and holiness by whom it is governed; when we combine the afflictions of the virtuous, and the trials of the Church, with His love to whom they are devoted: it must be confessed that there are seasons when he whose faith is most firmly fixed, may be ready to exclaim with the amazed prophet, "Verily, Thou art a God that hidest Thyself, Oh God of Israel, the Saviour!" Of this, however, we may be sure. His government must be as pure, just, and benevolent, as His nature; and consequently, righteous in every measure of it; seeking unceasingly the manifestation of justice, and the melioration and happiness of the creature. "The Lord is righteous in all His ways and holy in all His works." We ought to maintain, in every situation in which His providence places us, an unshaken trust in His goodness, and obedience to His will. Nothing more frequently distresses the feelings, and disturbs the principles of men, than the inscrutableness of the dealings of God. But are the measures of His government wrong, because they do not coincide with our partial views? Are the methods of His providence to be condemned, because they cannot be comprehended by our limited understandings? That His ways are mysterious should fill us with humility. It should inspire us with reverence and godly fear; but it ought not to excite our surprise. We are assured by reason and by Scripture, that His government is infinitely and uniformly righteous. In the gift of His Son for our salvation, He has offered us the greatest pledge we are capable of receiving, that His aim, His wish, His constant care is the preservation and happiness of His offspring. In men assured of the perfection of a governor, and of the principles by which he acts, it is absurd to be dissatisfied with measures which they can see but in part. The most afflictive and inexplicable dispensations may often be the springs of the most important and happy operations. Let us learn, from what has been said, to preserve in every situation an unshaken reliance on the love of the Almighty, and a steadfast obedience to His will.
Therefore trust thou in Him.
I. IF WITHOUT FAITH IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE GOD, WE MIGHT INFER THAT FAITH IS EMINENTLY PLEASING. There is in Scripture no list of those who distinguished themselves for zeal, or humility, or hope; but the eleventh of Hebrews emblazons the names of men and women who through faith did marvellous things. Faith is the crowning glory of the Christian character.
II. A PRINCIPAL DESIGN OF THE OLD TESTAMENT IS TO TEACH US FAITH. A wonderful illustration in connection with the text. God meant to teach mankind by this book, that the great business of man in this world is to trust God. "In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly."
III. THE COUNSEL OF ELIHU IN THE TEXT IS PROFITABLE TO A SINKING HEART. The meaning is, "Although you say you will never see Him appear for you, yet He will exercise judgment when to do so; therefore trust thou in Him." There are times, when a dark providence has settled down like a cloud on our prospects. Something has happened which is the very worst thing which it seems to us God could have chosen wherewith to afflict us. There is no explanation, no mitigation, no cheerful outlook. Friends are mistaken if they tell us not to weep. Nature finds comfort in cries, groans, tears. There is no use in argument, we say, God was my friend once, now He has set me up as His mark. To such afflicted souls: the Word of God says, "Although thou sayest thou shalt not see Him, yet, judgment is before Him." You think that you will never see His design to accomplish good in you and by you in this affliction. It seems to you without plan, confused, reckless. But judgment is for Him, whenever a child of His suffers; the arrow that pierces us wounds His heart ere it reaches ours.
IV. OUR DUTY IN DARK HOURS IS HERE MADE PLAIN. "Therefore trust in Him." This is done by special heartfelt address to God by word of mouth. To rise and go upon our knees, implies a serious determination to seek God, and the act of framing our speech, shows that we are in earnest. Having committed our prayer to God, declaring our trust in Him, we must show our sincerity by a quietness of mind which, be it remembered, is not inconsistent with importunity. We should never abandon ourselves to grief in the darkest hours. God takes pleasure in those who, against hope, believe in hope, taking part with God by insisting that He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. Did We but know it, God is wooing those whom He is afflicting. "He scourgeth, every son whom He receiveth." Therefore be of good courage, desponding souls. Submit yourselves under His rod. Finally — Everything which has been said of trust in God in times of despondency is eminently true of faith in the Saviour.
(N. Adams, D.D.)
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