Job 39:10
Can you hold him to the furrow with a harness? Will he plow the valleys behind you?
Sermons
Will He Harrow the Valleys After TheeW. Clayton.Job 39:10
The Creatures not Dependent Upon ManR. Green Job 39:1-30
The special characteristic of the wild ass is said to be untractability. While no animal is more tame than the poor, ill-treated donkey of the London street, no animal is more essentially untamable than the Syrian ass of the desert. It is said that though one of these creatures bad been captured when young and kept for three years in confinement, it remained "as untractable as when it was first caught, biting and kicking furiously at every one who approached it." It is the type of the untamable.

I. GOD RULES OVER THE WILDEST CREATURES. When we look at the wild ass we see a creature that is quite beyond the range of man's dominion. The "lord of creation" has no authority here. His dominion ceases at the border of the wilderness. His will is scorned by the free animals of the desert. Yet they are under the rule of God, who has implanted in them their instincts; they live only according to the laws of the nature that he has made. Men break from God's laws in self-will and thus they fall into sin. Untractable as the wild ass is to man, it is absolutely obedient to the will of God, like the sea that obeys the laws of waves and tides.

II. GOD IS THE AUTHOR OF LIBERTY. The very wildness of the creature is a gift of God. He has given it its high spirits, its fleet running, its love of the wilderness. God does not keep his creatures like cowed and tamed beasts in a menagerie. He aires them a wide field, and he permits them to enjoy a large freedom. To beings of spiritual nature he also gives liberty, and that of a higher order. Men are set free from external constraints. God treats us not as slaves, but as children. Further, God gives the highest liberty - liberty of soul. He sets men free from the chains of ignorance anti the crushing burden of sin. In his glorious grace he deals most liberally with his children. Not like the despot who fears a whisper of the word "liberty," God grieves over the self-made slavery of souls, and sends his gospel for the very purpose of giving "liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound" (Isaiah 61:1). Surely liberty is a prize to be eagerly sought and jealously guarded in government, in thought, and in spiritual life. Dryden writes -

"The love of liberty with life is given,
And life itself th' inferior gift of Heaven."

III. GOD INTENDS US TO USE OUR LIBERTY IN OBEDIENCE. We must combine the two previous thoughts to see how the wild ass is provided for by God. It follows tire laws of its nature, and so obeys God absolutely, albeit unconsciously, while it enjoys the largest liberty. Thus it cannot be said to abuse its liberty, but only to use it. Roaming over the desert on its swift feet, it espies the green oasis and revels in the fresh pasturage. God expects us to use our liberty in obedience to his will. He does not poor food into our mouths; we must seek it. He does not force iris grace upon us; we have to follow the method he has laid down, and turn to him in faith. But in doing this we are to use the utmost freedom of thought, and to be absolutely independent of the constraints of man on our religion, while we ask for help to be free from the bondage of evil, in obedience to the will of God. - W.F.A.







Will he harrow the valleys after thee?
? — What more humiliating proof have we of the depravity of the human heart, than the arrogant assumption of deciding on God's plans, and censuring His providential government, when we are so entirely ignorant of the most simple and ordinary occurrences in Nature? This was the error into which Job had fallen. Harrowing so tears and disturbs the ground, that it has, from the earliest ages, been considered as a fit emblem of very heavy and complicated trial. Here it suggests the necessity and benefits of frequent adversity.

1. The human heart, naturally haughty, requires much to reduce it, and break it into subjection to Christ; events adverse to our wishes, and which cross our inclinations, graciously effect this useful purpose. As the ground is torn and reduced by the harrow, so adversities administered by the Almighty lower the haughty temper and subdue the unhallowed dispositions of His people.

2. By this method of tillage the surface of the earth is smoothed and rendered level. Our minds are brought into an orderly and submissive state by trials of extraordinary severity and pressure. So ruffled and rugged are our tempers that, for our own sakes, this chaos must be brought to order, this confusion into regularity. The unequality of a ploughed field is too feeble a representation of this state of mind.

3. Adverse providences occasion the good seed of the Word to be covered and hidden in our hearts, as the grain literally is covered from injury, and concealed from the birds, by the process of harrowing. An analogy may be traced between the field sown and yet unharrowed, and the mind stored with moral and even religious instruction, but undisciplined by trial.

4. The resemblance between the usefulness of harrowing, to collect the dead weeds, and cleanse the land of old roots, and the good effects of holy trouble, to detach those many moral weeds and those pernicious roots of evil which yet remain in our hearts.

(W. Clayton.)

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