Job 42:5
My ears had heard of You, but now my eyes have seen You.
Sermons
The Soul's Experience of GodW.F. Adeney Job 42:5
ContritionR. Green Job 42:1-6
Job's Answer and ConfessionE. Johnson Job 42:1-6
Job's Confession and RestorationS. G. Woodrow.Job 42:1-10
Job's Confession and RestorationD. J. Burrell, D. D.Job 42:1-10
Job's Confession and RestorationC. A. Dickinson.Job 42:1-10
A View of the Glory of God Humbling to the SoulJ. Witherspoon, D. D.Job 42:5-6
Changed Views of GodJ. Orr, M.Job 42:5-6
Clear Views of God Correct ErrorsA. Hastings Ross, D. D.Job 42:5-6
Experiences of the Inner LifeE. Garbett, M. A.Job 42:5-6
God Known in Various MannersT. Kennion, M. A.Job 42:5-6
Hearsay and ConvictionF. M'Adam Muir.Job 42:5-6
Humiliation and ExaltationGeorge Wagner.Job 42:5-6
Humility and Self-AbhorrenceW. Richardson.Job 42:5-6
Job Among the AshesSpurgeon, Charles HaddonJob 42:5-6
Job's Knowledge of GodJ. Orr, M.Job 42:5-6
Job's RepentanceDean Vaughan.Job 42:5-6
Knowing by the Ear and the EyeJ. B. Patterson, M. A.Job 42:5-6
Knowledge of God and Self SimultaneousS. Charnock.Job 42:5-6
Man's Worse SelfAlfred Bowen Evans.Job 42:5-6
On Being Brought to See GodJ. Slade, M. A.Job 42:5-6
Self-RenunciationJ. Bolton, B. A.Job 42:5-6
Sell-Abasement for SinF. Orpen Morris, B. A.Job 42:5-6
The Hearing of God by the Hearing of the EarEdward Girdlestone, M. A.Job 42:5-6
The Knowledge of God Producing RepentanceChristian ObserverJob 42:5-6
The Second-Hand and the Primary Knowledge of GodHomilistJob 42:5-6
The Sinner's Mourning HabitT. Adams.Job 42:5-6
Tradition and ExperienceWalter Ross Taylor.Job 42:5-6


This is a grand experience for Job to attain to. It is worth all the agony and mystery of his bitter affliction. Suddenly the black clouds break open and the glorious vision of God appears beyond them. Job now contrasts his new, direct seeing of God with his former hearsay knowledge.

I. A HEARSAY KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. This is what Job possessed in the old days. Not that he was without any religious experience in those prosperous times. But the shallowness of it in comparison with what he has now attained makes it look of little worth. Most of us begin in this way. We hear of God "by the hearing of the ear." This is especially true in a Christian country. Here we seem to breathe a Christian atmosphere, and Christian ideas float in upon us unsought. But the faint perception of God that is acquired in this way cannot be of very great value to us. Historical facts can only be known by testimony, and the facts of the gospel must reach us through "the hearing of the ear." But we have got a very little way when we have only come to understand and believe in the historical character of those facts. We are still only among the antiquarian relics at a museum. There is no life in such a knowledge, and it has little influence over us.

II. A PERSONAL VISION OF GOD. "Now mine eye seeth thee." Job had longed for a revelation of God; at length he has received one. But this was not in a vision like those of Jacob at Bethel or Moses at Horeb. It was not after the manner of the startling apparition that Eliphaz describes with so much pomp and self-importance (Job 4:12-21). It was the calm inward vision of spiritual experience, which is indeed an experience of God.

1. This has been brought about through trouble. In his great distress Job has been continually seeking God. His grief has strengthened his hold upon the unseen world by making him feel that world to be most real.

2. God has spoken and manifested himself, Religion is not a one-sided effort of man to reach after God. God descends to man, and the communion of God's Spirit with man's spirit is the deepest fact in religious experience.

3. This interior vision of God is what all our souls need. We have to go beyond the hearing of sermons to our own personal experience of God. Then we begin to understand him; then he becomes real to us; then we can say with Tsuler, "I am more certain of the being of God than I am of my own existence."

III. THE EFFECT OF THE NEW EXPERIENCE.

1. It leads to self-humiliation It is vain any longer to boast of our own rights and to make the most of ourselves. We cannot think of ourselves but with shame and. confusion of face in the light of the new vision of God. When once he manifests himself to us, he is everything.

2. It awakens repentance. In the light of God we not only see our littleness, we perceive our sire This vision had done for Job what all the harangues of his three friends had failed to effect. They had charged him falsely, and his pride had been hardened by their unjust accusations. God had not charged him at all, but the very vision of the Divine at once revealed his mistaken position to Job. He saw that he had been wrong in arraigning the justice of God. So it will ever be. We never know ourselves till we see ourselves in the light of God. - W.F.A.







I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear.
The text shoots a ray of light athwart the dark problem discussed in the earlier portion of this Book. How are the afflictions of a righteous man to be reconciled with moral government? How can God be just, and yet leave His righteous servants to be visited with every form of trial? The text discloses at least part of "the end of the Lord" in such mysterious procedure. No discipline can be unjust, no trials too severe, through which a soul is brought, as Job's was, to a clearer knowledge of God, which is its life. Once the end was reached, Job would have been the last man to have wished one pang of that painful experience recalled.

I. A GENERAL CONTRAST BETWEEN TWO KINDS OF KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. We know the difference which there is in ordinary matters between a knowledge which rests on testimony and a knowledge gained by personal experience and observation. There is a contrast in vividness between the two kinds of knowledge: a battle, a thunderstorm, foreign scenery. There is a contrast also in certainty. We may distrust or question what comes to us only as report — we may reject it as unsupported by sufficient evidence; but we cannot doubt what we have seen with our own eyes. Job's knowledge of God had hitherto been the traditional knowledge common to himself and his friends. Now he knew God for himself, as if by direct personal vision. He saw. Can man, then, see God? or is Job using here merely the language of strong metaphor? Certainly in one sense God is not and cannot be seen. He is not an object of sensuous perception; we cannot see Him with the natural eye, as we see the forms and hues of objects around us. But that may be true, and yet man be able to "see God." Job had heard God speaking to him in the whirlwind, but it is not of that he is thinking here. It was the "eyes of his understanding (Gr., heart)" which had been enlightened. Whereas formerly he had heard of God by the hearing of the ear, he had now a direct spiritual intuition of His presence, of His nearness, of His majesty, of His omnipotence, of His holiness. We need not, therefore, hesitate to affirm that in man's soul there abides a power enabling him spiritually to apprehend God, and in some measure to discern His glory; a kind of Divine faculty, buried deep, it may be, in sense, filmed over by manifold impurities, and needing to be quickened and cleansed by an outward revelation, and by the inward operation of the Spirit; but still there. Happy the misfortunes which, like Job's, help to clear the spiritual vision, and enable us to see God better.

II. THIS CONTRAST ONE WHICH DISCLOSES ITSELF IN A SERIES OF ASCENDING STAGES.

1. And first the text may be taken to express the contrast between the knowledge which a converted man and the knowledge which an unconverted man has of God. The one, the unconverted man, has heard of God with the hearing of the ear, as the blind man hears of the splendour of the landscape and the glory of the flowers, without being able to attach any definite ideas to what he hears; the other, the converted man, in comparison with this, has seen God with the seeing of the eye. A light has broken in on him to which the other is a stranger He cannot perhaps explain very clearly the rationale of the change — as who can? but the fact itself he knows, that whereas he was blind, now he sees. How many have heard of God with the hearing of the ear, have acquired notions about Him, have learned of Him from books, from the creed, from catechisms, in church! But how few comparatively walk with Him, and commune with Him as a living Presence! Ah! that is a never-to-be forgotten moment in a man's life when first the reality of God's presence breaks in on him like a revelation. He will not always he able to keep alive those vivid, soul-thrilling views of God which he had in the hour of his conversion; still, God can never again he the same to him as before his eyes were opened. God is a reality, not a mere name to him. The light of life has visited his soul, and its illumination never wholly deserts him. The contrast in his experience is broad and unmistakable.

2. The text expresses the contrast between the knowledge of God which a good man has in his prosperity, and the revelations which are sometimes made to him in his adversity. The former was the contrast between nature and grace; this is the contrast between grace and higher grace. Up to this time Job seems to have been remarkably prosperous. His sky bad scarcely known a cloud. But what Job knew of God in his prosperity was little compared with what he knew of God now in the day of his adversity. And is not this always the effect of sanctified affliction? All love the sunshine and the smooth way. No one prays for adversity, yet few who have come through the furnace will question its purifying power. When real affliction comes, a man can't live on hearsays and hypotheses, but is driven back on the great realities, and compelled to keep a tight hold upon them.

3. The text fitly expresses the contrast between the knowledge which Old Testament saints had of God and that which we now have in Jesus Christ. Compared with ours, theirs was but the hearing of the ear; compared with theirs, ours is the seeing of the eye. The Scripture itself strongly emphasises this contrast. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." No revelation which God ever gave of old can for a moment compare with that now vouchsafed in the person, character, and work of Christ. Job himself, were he to return to earth, would be the first to say to us, "Blessed are your eyes that ye see, and your ears that ye hear," etc.

4. Lastly, the text may be taken as expressive of the contrast between the state of grace and the state of glory, and in this view its meaning culminates. It can go no higher. "Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." Earth at its best, in comparison with that, is but hearing with the ear; in heaven alone the eye seeth God. Conclusion: Every step upward in the knowledge of God will be attended by a downward step in humility and consciousness of sin (ver. 6).

(J. Orr, M.)

These words were uttered by Job at a very remarkable period of his affecting history. Up to this moment his sorrows had been unassuaged: the Almighty seemed fiercely to contend with him, and his arrows drank up his spirit. His friends also had bitterly reproached him, and he remained unvindicated from their charges; and no ray of hope had hitherto burst through the gloom that surrounded him. But the verses that follow our text point out a most favour, able change in his condition. "The Lord," it is said, "turned the captivity of Job." This change in the conduct of God towards Job was preceded by a change in the mind of Job himself; the nature of which change is shown in the words of our text. Formerly he had justified himself, as we find up to the thirty-first chapter; after which he begins to condemn himself; he is humbled on account of his transgressions. "He answered the Lord," it is said in the first verse of the chapter before us, but not as he had formerly spoken, in the language either of self-applause, or of repining against the dispensations of God, for he had wisely determined to speak no longer in this manner; "Behold," said he, "I am vile; what shall I answer Thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken, but I will not answer again; yea twice, but I will proceed no further."

I. LET US INQUIRE WHAT WE ARE TO UNDERSTAND IN THE TEXT BY SEEING GOD; for Job says that he had heard of Him before by the hearing of the ear, but now his eye saw Him. He does not mean through his bodily senses; for in this manner, says our Saviour, "no man hath seen God at any time." "God is a spirit"; "the king invisible," "dwelling in the light, which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, or can see." Even when God revealed Himself to the people of Israel, "they saw no manner of similitude." It was not so much a new or miraculous knowledge of God which he had obtained, as a practical conviction and application of those truths respecting Him which he had known before, but which had not been before brought home to his heart and conscience with their due force, so as to produce the fruits of repentance, humility, and submission to the will of God. He had heard of the wisdom, the power, and the providence of the Creator; of His justice, His mercy, and the veneration due to Him. His friends, especially Eliphaz, and even Job himself, had uttered many admirable maxims on these subjects; but now his knowledge had become more than ever practical in its effects. He felt assured that God could do all things; that none could resist His will; yet that it was never too late to hope for His mercy. His knowledge was attended with such a lively faith as made it, according to the definition of the apostle, "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." He had known and confessed many important doctrines and precepts of true religion at an earlier period of his history. He had acknowledged, in the first place, his infinite obligations to God, "Thou hast granted me life and favour, and Thy visitation hath preserved my spirit." He had, further, confessed his sinfulness in the sight of God; for, though he vindicated his character against the unjust suspicions of his fellow creatures, he knew that his righteousness extended not to his Creator: "I! I justify myself," said he, "mine own mouth shall condemn me; if I say I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse." He could trust to no merit of his own: for he felt so forcibly the imperfection of his best observances in the sight of art infinitely holy God, that he says, "If I be righteous, yet will not I lift up my head"; and again, "If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean, yet shalt Thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me." He knew that God could, and would, deliver him, and in the end make all things, and not least his severe afflictions, work together for his good. "When He hath tried me," said he, "I shall come forth like gold"; elsewhere adding, with the most exalted faith and confidence, "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though, after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." Yet all his former knowledge of these things, clear and accurate as it once seemed, appeared now to him but like a verbal report, compared with the vivid distinctness of his present convictions. He had heard, he now saw; he had believed, but his faith now became more than ever active and influential on his character. Before, he mourned chiefly for his afflictions; now, he mourns for his sinfulness in the sight of God: and he exhibits his penitence by the most expressive emblems; he repents "in dust and ashes."

II. TO APPLY THE SUBJECT TO OUR OWN TIMES AND CIRCUMSTANCES. We also have heard of God by the hearing of the ear. We were born in a Christian country; we have, perhaps, had the benefits of early Christian education; of frequent instruction in the Word of God; of the prayers and example of religious friends: we cannot therefore be wholly ignorant of our obligations to God Yet, with all our advantages, our professed religion and knowledge of God may have been hitherto but "the hearing of the ear." It was by this faith that "Moses endured, as seeing Him who is invisible." Now, there are too many, even of those who call themselves Christians, who "live without God in the world." He is as much unseen by the eye of their mind as by their bodily senses. Far from "setting the Lord always before them," the practical language of their conduct is rather, "Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of Thy ways." But is not this a heinous sin? Is it not also the height of folly? Will it profit us, at the Last Day, that we have heard of God by the hearing of the ear, if we have no true practical knowledge of Him, like that of Job in our text? Let us, then, "acquaint ourselves with God, and be at peace; and thereby good shall come unto us." And let us ever remember that the only medium of this peace and intercourse between God and man is Christ Jesus the Mediator.

(J. Orr, M.)

Christian Observer.
In the warmth of the debate which took place between Job and his friends, and in the anguish of his sufferings, Job had used some impatient expressions respecting the conduct of God towards him. For these he was first reproved by Elihu, and then by God Himself, who, with unspeakable force and majesty, displays the glory of the Divine perfections. Job was deeply humbled, and acknowledges in the strongest terms his own vileness and insignificance. The impressions he now had of the majesty and glory, the wisdom and holiness, of God, were far stronger and more distinct than any he had felt before. From this passage of Scripture we learn that a clear view of the perfections of God has a powerful effect in producing repentance. But the view of the Divine perfections which has this tendency, it ought to be understood, is not a speculative knowledge of the natural attributes of the Deity, but a spiritual and affecting discovery of it is moral excellencies; of the glory of His infinite purity, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

1. It convinces us of sin, by bringing to light those evils which the deceitfulness of our own hearts is apt to hide from our view. There is a light and glory in the presence of God which exposes the works of darkness, and tends to produce a deep sense of our sinfulness. Nor is it difficult to explain how it is that a view of the Divine glory produces this effect. By applying a straight rule to a line we discover all its unevennesses. What is deformed appears more frightful when compared with what is beautiful. In the same way, a clear view of the purity of God, and of His constant presence with us, and inspection over us, tends to bring those sins to light, and to cover us with confusion on account of them, which before we contrived to justify, excuse, or conceal. This truth may be further illustrated by the different behaviour of vicious persons, when in society like themselves, and when in that of men eminent for piety.

2. A view of the glory of God serves to point out the evil of sin, with its aggravations, and to take away all excuse from the sinner. When the law of God shows us our sins, and condemns us for them, we may be ready to complain of it as severe; but when we see that law to be but a copy of the moral perfections of God, and when we contemplate those perfections, we must be convinced that all sin must be hateful to God, and must necessarily be opposed to His nature. A view of the glory of God produces such a conviction of His rights as our Creator, and of our obligations as the creatures of His hand, as constrains us to acknowledge His justice in the punishment of sin. When we reflect on the omnipresence and omniscience of God, how great appears to be the folly of thinking to veil even our most secret sins from Him! When we reflect on His power, how does it add to the guilt and madness of presumption! This is in a more especial manner the effect of a view of the glory of God as it shines forth in Jesus Christ. The unparalleled love shown to sinners in the Gospel greatly heightens their ingratitude. It may be said in general, that it is a light sense of the evil of sin which leads men to commit it; and when they have committed it, to frame excuses for it; and also to indulge a hope that the threatenings against sin will not be executed. But a discovery of the glory of God, and particularly of His infinite holiness and justice, by showing the evil of sin in its true colours, sweeps away all such delusions.

3. A proper view of the glory of God serves further to point out the danger of sin.

4. Lastly, a view of the glory of God tends to produce repentance, because, by setting before us His infinite mercy, it encourages us to turn to Him.

1. We may learn from this subject the force of those passages of Scripture in which the knowledge of God is put for the whole of religion — "Know the Lord." "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." On the other hand, the wicked are described as those "that know not God." The truth is, God is either wholly unknown to wicked men, or greatly mistaken by them.

2. From what has been said we may also learn the great danger of a state of ignorance. If repentance take its rise from a knowledge of the perfections of God, does it not follow that those who are ignorant of Him must be in a deplorable state, strangers to the power and practice of religion, and that if they die in this state they must perish everlastingly?

3. We may learn also, from what has been said, the absolute necessity of regeneration, or an inward change of heart. It is not, as has been already observed, a speculative knowledge of the nature and perfections of God that leads to repentance, but an affecting view of His excellence and amiableness. This none can have, but those who are in some measure changed into the same image. And true Christians will see, from what has been said, how closely connected the right knowledge of God — in other words, true religion — is with humility and self-abasement.

(Christian Observer.)

These are the words of one of the most virtuous of our race. This is the language of one who added to moral virtues the noblest beneficence; and who added to a charity almost unbounded a piety the most sincere and consistent. Exalted as were his attainments in the school of religion, he had much more yet to learn. There appears through the whole of his conversations with his friends the indications of a mind claiming too unqualified a freedom from guilt, and yielding to a spirit of impatience. The Lord appears, and answers Job out of the whirlwind. He makes such a glorious display of His greatness and majesty; of the multitude and stupendous character of His works, interspersed with notices of the littleness and short-sightedness of man, that Job seems now to know more than he had ever known before. Evidently, then, there are various manners in which God may be known; various degrees in the clearness, the certainty, and the satisfaction of knowing Him. Discoveries of God produce effects upon the mind proportionably to their nature. The men who have a speculative knowledge of God, which is defective and false. They speak of the heavenly Father; the claims of the Ruler they overlook. They dwell on the mercies of the God of grace; they pass by the awfulness of the avenger of sin. Such persons may glow with enthusiasm as they contemplate the vast or the beautiful; but all this may be without any beneficial influence on the soul.

2. The speculative knowledge of God that is true. This is the true knowledge of God, which comes to the intellect, and there it is arrested, — which stands in idea and sentiment. Everything is acknowledged. The Divine perfections are not separated and sacrificed. The theological system is correct. Religion has been learned as a science, but with no better a moral and spiritual influence. These men have not seen God; they never had those views of God that are peculiar to a regenerate and purified heart. The report has reached the understanding, but has never been echoed through the soul. Bare knowledge does but "puff up."

3. A knowledge of God which is spiritual and true, but an incipient acquaintance with God. This is a higher description of knowledge, yet is it only a beginning. Such a knowledge is as decided in its effects as it is Divine in its nature. But in its first degrees, although it brings salvation into the soul, this knowledge of God is but as the distant, though well-established report of what is true. We come now to the consideration of an advanced stage in the spiritual knowledge of God; that which constitutes its ripeness in the present world. Such a maturity in grace is not to be attributed to more abundant instruction, or to any new method of instruction. It was a purifying of his heart by the influences of the Holy Spirit. The perfection of the knowledge of God must not be hoped for in the present world. Examine, then, into the nature of that knowledge of God which you possess.

(T. Kennion, M. A.)

What is suggested through the ear does, of necessity, affect the heart more languidly than what is presented to the faithful eye. What was the change in Job's impression of his own moral character and condition produced by his being placed in the immediate presence of the Almighty, and how the alteration in his circumstances was fitted to produce the alteration in his feelings. Job had conducted his part of the controversy in a spirit which prompted him to palliate and diminish the sins which he confessed, to exalt and magnify the virtues which he claimed. It carried him so far as once and again to implore, to demand, of the Sovereign Judge that He would vouchsafe to him the opportunity of arguing the whole cause before Him. The Almighty had granted his request. Jehovah's own voice came forth upon the patriarch's ear, challenging, indeed, and reproving the proud presumption with which a mortal man had ventured to dispute, as it were, on terms of equality with Him of whose infinite grandeur and absolute perfection all this wondrous universe is one vast type. But what a change has been effected on the spirit and demeanour of that presumptuous challenger of the Almighty, by the simple fact of the Almighty presenting Himself to abide the challenge, the answer, the appeal. There is no more palliation of his own sins, — no more boasting of his own excellencies. What was there in the uttered perceptions of Jehovah now enjoyed by Job to produce and to account for the altered emotions with which he now contemplated himself? He was placed in personal contact with the Father-spirit of the universe, and the effect was to impart a sudden accession of force and vividness to all those impressions of the holiness of God which, while God Himself was absent, had been comparatively faint and languid and ineffective. The impression of adoring reverence and awe which the contemplation of Jehovah's wondrous works in the kingdoms of nature and providence is fitted to produce mingles well and naturally with that of lowly self-abhorrence of which the comparison of His moral character with ours is the parent and the source. And the physical greatness of the Deity affords to the overwhelmed and prostrate soul a ready and a most impressive standard by which to estimate His moral excellence.

1. How strong a resemblance there is between the estimate which Job formed of his own character before the vision and the voice of God had met him, and that which the multitude of men are wont to entertain and to express regarding themselves.

2. All that I implore of you, in prospect of that solemn entrance which awaits us all into the sphere of Jehovah's more peculiar residence, and on the consciousness of a more present Deity, is to judge from the recorded example of Job what will be the effect on all your conceptions of Jehovah's awful holiness, and of your own contrasted sinfulness.

(J. B. Patterson, M. A.)

Who amongst us has not heard of God thus? No doubt, Job had been religiously brought up. The great truths of religion had been impressed upon his mind. He displayed an almost more than human measure of patience and resignation. Though he had heard by the hearing of the ear, at an advanced period of life he declared that his eye had, for the first time, seen God. Then, he embraced in his mind's eye, one vast and comprehensive view of the majesty, of the glory, of the goodness, of the purity of Jehovah. He gazed upon Him, as it were, in the length and the breadth of His infinite perfection. It is not enough to have the means and opportunities of grace afforded to us, or even to make use of them. Not a few of us fall short of one thing, a full, and comprehensive, and Christian view of the nature and attributes of God. We do not conceive rightly of His power, His wisdom, His goodness, His holiness, His love. The first thing Job did, as soon as his eye had seen God, was to abhor himself. He had hitherto looked upon himself with complacency and satisfaction. He betook himself immediately to repentance; a humble, abasing, sincere, heartfelt sorrow for sin. That godly sorrow which worketh reformation. Happy are those among us, whose abhorrence of their own selves, and earnest repentance of their sins, attest that their eyes have been permitted to see the Almighty in all His goodness and His glory.

(Edward Girdlestone, M. A.)

Job, though the most patient of men, had been betrayed, under the pressure of his severe sufferings, into some unreasonable and rebellious murmurs. He had acknowledged the providence and the power of God, but not with a full submission of heart. On the occasion now before us, he is brought to a juster sense of his own unworthiness, and the omnipotence and omniscience of Jehovah. His meaning in what he says may be this: that he had before obtained some knowledge of God from various opportunities afforded him; from education, from instruction, from his own researches, and the conference of his friends; but a scene, which he had lately witnessed, had made such discoveries to him of the Divine glory, and had so deeply affected his heart, that all he ever felt or knew before was nothing as compared with his present perception and knowledge. This fuller knowledge had produced, as it is always calculated to do, the fruit of humility in the heart. As a humble penitent, he desired to lie low in self-condemnation, and in the frame of his spirit before God, casting himself wholly on His mercy, and submitting unreservedly to His will...Far indeed should we be from supposing that religion consists in feelings and experiences; a more false and delusive standard than this cannot be proposed to mankind; the true faith and the true principle must always be measured by the fruit. Yet still there may have been a fair appearance of fruit without the full establishment of the principle; there may have been a considerable and hopeful profession without a vital communion with God in the Gospel. Though our guilt is washed away by the regenerating influence of the Holy Spirit, yet this does not prevent the necessity of our afterwards feeling a deep and distressful sense of sin, as often as it is committed, together with the dreadfulness of its consequence; we still need the profoundest humiliation at the foot of the throne of mercy, a thorough abasement of soul. in the presence of a just and holy God. Not only must there be a habit of sincere repentance on all occasions of actual transgression, but a positive abhorrence of all evil, in thought, and word, and deed, must be rooted in the heart; accompanied, as it surely will be, with a constant unfailing love of our God and Redeemer, such as will incline our hearts to keep His law in all its holiness and integrity. Wherever this change has taken place, this enlightenment been vouchsafed, this true view of the Gospel been formed, this life of God in the soul established, there will have been a result and experience similar to the case of the patriarch of old. "Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." I perceive the wretchedness of my condition by nature; and though my profession was fair, and my conduct not immoral, my heart was not spiritual, my affections not purified, nay will not brought into a self-denying and total subjection to the Divine law. This conviction and confession would doubtless lead to a deep repentance "in dust and ashes." Leave two questions with you.

1. Are there any here who have never needed such an alteration in their views, and principles, and conduct? Let them pour out their hearts in grateful thanksgiving for this singular benefit and mercy.

2. The other questions relate to those who are conscious that there was a period at which their hearts were not right with God. Have they now turned to God in sincerity and truth? Do they now see God in the fulness of His grace and power and blessing? To find ourselves lodged in the ark of His salvation is a consolation for all ills, a constraining motive to all duty, the sweetest food for the immortal soul, and a "joy unspeakable and full of glory."

(J. Slade, M. A.)

This is the moral of the whole story. Job had maintained his innocence all along. He had indignantly protested against the supposition that his calamities were the direct result of his evil life. And he was regarded with the Divine approval. But Job's words at the last indicate that,, after all, he had not been altogether' right, and the arguments of his friends had not been altogether wrong. What produced this great change? It was that he no longer measured himself by human standards, that he no longer compared himself with other men, but with the perfect holiness of the law of God. "Now mine eye seeth Thee." How had this great sight been granted him? It was by bringing before him the blindness and ignorance of man, and the marvels of the universe, and the majesty of Him by whom the universe was governed. What did he know of that power, that government which he had been impugning? Job was summoned to consider the mysteries which lay round about him, the events and things in which he had been accustomed to think there was any mystery at all. He saw around him so much that he could not understand; he saw around him powers with which he could not contend; what must be the power which embraced and controlled them all? How foolish, how presumptuous, to make of his own weak sight, of his own insignificant case, the measure of the mighty whole! There was order, though he might not see it; there was law, though he might not understand it. This conclusion was come to simply because he saw more clearly what had always been visible. The volume of nature outspread before him revealed to him, wherever he turned, the infinite wisdom, and power, and righteousness. It was God whose presence and whose working he discerned in everything — nowhere could he look but God was visible. In seeing God he saw himself. When he looked from himself to God, when he saw the eternal holiness and purity, the new sight awoke within him a knowledge of himself which all his self-inspection had been unable to produce. The greatest earthly wisdom became as foolishness, the greatest earthly virtue became as vileness by the contrast. There are many who can bear witness to a change like that which took place in Job having taken place in themselves. They have passed from a belief which is the result of hearsay to a faith which is the result of personal conviction; and this experience in some form is needful for us everyone. The modes in which it may be attained are very various, but no one can be right till that vision has been granted to him, till the God of whom he has been taught becomes a reality, is seen and known by the eye of faith. There comes a crisis, a distinct period, in the lives of some, when God speaks to them out of the whirlwind, out of the storm of affliction which has broken over them, out of the storm of agitation by which their spirits are convulsed. It is the vision of Divine love and power and forgiveness which strikes our doubting dumb, which alone affords relief to the spirit longing to believe that all is well, that human hopes and aspirations are not a mockery and an illusion. But it is a vision which each must see for himself. One cannot communicate to another what he has seen. We must not rest content until spiritual things become realities.

(F. M'Adam Muir.)

Homilist.
I. HERE IS IMPLIED A SECOND-HAND KNOWLEDGE OF GOD.

1. This second-hand knowledge is very common.

2. It is spiritually worthless. There is no moral value in it. Its influence on the soul is that of the lunar ray, cold and dead, rather than that of the solar beam, warm and life-giving.

II. HERE IS IMPLIED A PRIMARY KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. "Now mine eye seeth Thee." The Great One came within Job's horizon.

1. This primary knowledge silenced all controversy. Job, under the influence of a secondhand knowledge, had argued long and earnestly; but as soon as he is brought face to face with his Maker, he felt Him as the greatest fact in his consciousness, and all controversy was hushed. Experimental knowledge of God disdains polemics. It is second-hand knowledge that breeds controversies.

2. This primary knowledge subdued all pride. Hast thou this primary knowledge? Is God Himself thy teacher, or art thou living on second-hand information?

(Homilist.)

The theme of this book is the old, yet ever new problem which meets each thoughtful man, the problem of this strange chequered life of ours, and of God's relation to it.

I. THE REAL ROOT OF JOB'S PERPLEXITIES. They sprung from the traditional but inadequate conception of God's moral government accepted in his day. The Book represents a transition period in Jewish religious thought, and one of much interest and importance. Men's minds were passing from an older and simpler faith to the fuller recognition of the facts of the Divine government. The old creed was this — the outward lot is an index to the inward character. This is true in its essence, but rudimentary in its form. But, according to the ways of human nature, the form became stereotyped, as though the letter rather than the spirit of the law were the abiding and essential element. Presently the question arose, How is this creed to be reconciled with facts? What about the prosperity of the wicked? What as to the sore troubles and afflictions of the righteous? Men of honest purpose could not shut their eyes to the seeming contradiction. Must they then yield up their trust in Jehovah as the supreme and righteous Ruler? It was the emerging out of. comparative childhood, an advance to a theology at once more spiritual, more true to the facts of life, and charged, moreover, with new sympathies for human sorrow and need; an advance, indeed, of no insignificant character towards that highest point of prophetic thought — the conception of the ideal servant of Jehovah, as "marred in His visage more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men." In this poem we have the lasting record of this immense transition — this passing of the old faith into the new. As to the three friends and their characteristic talk, at every period of advance in men's conceptions of Divine truth these same good men have reappeared — with the same appeal to traditional beliefs, the same confidence that their hoary formulae express the whole of truth, the same inability to conceive it possible that they may be mistaken, the same dark suspicion of those who question their conclusions, and the same disposition to wax bitter, and to use hard words against the apostles of advance. On the other side we have Job. He had accepted the traditional view, but he sees plainly that in his case the belief does not square with the facts. And he is too honest and too fearless to shut his eyes to the contradiction. He will neither be untrue to his own consciousness of integrity, nor yet will he "speak unrighteously for God." Like many a man after him, Job found himself adrift on the surging waves of doubt. He asks, Can it be that the God I have trusted is simply force, resistless force, indifferent to moral distinctions? Or can it be that He has pleasure in the misery of His creatures? Or can it be that He sees as man sees, is capable of mistake, of confounding innocence with guilt?

II. How was THE DELIVERANCE OBTAINED? "Now mine eye seeth Thee." He clings to God even when most keenly sensible that His ways were harsh and repelling. He is resolved to hold on to God. From the traditional conception he presses upward to the thought that, somehow and somewhere, the righteous God will ultimately vindicate and honour righteousness. The answers of God did not deal directly with his problem, but they gave him such a vision of the glory of God, that his whole being was stilled into reverent trust. "Now mine eye seeth Thee"; — there is faith's foundation.

(Walter Ross Taylor.)

Job's afflictions were charged to secret sins; he defended his innocence with great power; but not till God answered him from the whirlwind, did he know either himself or God's dealings. Seeing God, he abhorred himself.

1. Clear views of God correct errors touching His character. Caught in some speculation, we are whirled about as in an eddy, till, in bewilderment, we may deny that there is a God, or deny some attribute — His justice or His grace, His goodness or His power. But let a man's eyes be opened by the Holy Spirit so that he shall see God, as did Job, Moses, Paul, and error vanishes.

2. Clear views of God correct errors touching God's providence. Here all men are staggered at times, their steps well-nigh slip; the wicked prosper, the righteous suffer. The wise man dies even as the fool. Does it not seem wrong that our lot is cast, and our wishes not regarded? Our purposes are baffled, our plans miscarry, our way is hedged, till hope lies crushed. Does ever an accident distinguish between the innocent and the guilty? Does not a mistake kill as quickly as an intent? Does death spare the child or the mother? We cannot escape these agonising questions; can we find relief in them? With all the light shining from another world on the dark spots of this, tormenting doubts will not be allayed until we come into a clearer view of God. Let the Spirit reveal God, and doubts dissolve in the fulness of the light.

3. Clear views of God correct errors touching our moral condition. They convict of sin. Even the most godly then abhor themselves. The elder Edwards wrote, "I had a view that for me was extraordinary, of the glory of the Son of God." "My wickedness, as I am in myself,...looks like an abyss infinitely deeper than hell."

4. Clear views of God correct errors touching Jesus and His salvation. Shall men never have done with the question, What think ye of Christ? Yes, men are slowly exalting Him to the throne of His glory. Have we had these clearer rays of God? We may see Jesus, and yet nail Him to the Cross. Men seeing God in the face of Christ may turn their backs on Him. But when Christ is accepted, forgiveness, peace, life eternal are sure.

(A. Hastings Ross, D. D.)

We need not all be as Job in the depths of affliction and self-renunciation. There was an intensity about his case which was peculiar to it. But in our measure, and according to our position as members of the body of Christ, we should be able to sympathise with Job.

I. JOB'S EARLIER AND SUPERFICIAL EXPERIENCE. "I have heard of Thee with the hearing of the ear." I have heard of Him as the God of creation, the God of providence, the God of Israel, the God of the universe, the God who, in Christ, was incarnate for my salvation. But not what we hear is the thing, but what we read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest.

II. JOB'S PRESENT VIVID REALISATION. "Now mine eye seeth Thee." Note the emphasis of this short phrase; what awe, what closeness, what personality, what a majestic presence they imply. There is no escape, no evasion, not an attempt at it. He stands or lies before God, "naked and open."

III. THE GRACIOUS CONSEQUENCES. "I abhor myself, and repent." Those are gracious consequences. The unconverted may shrink from them, but the people of God covet them. Job had been entertaining a vast amount of self-complacency, which generated pride and a refined idolatry. He had been petulant, impatient, imperious. This is what he alludes to when he says, "I abhor myself." Now I perceive myself to be loathsome, corrupt, brutish, guilty, miserable. Was not that a gracious consequence of his vivid realisation of God? Then he adds, "I repent." He repented of his self-sufficiency, of his charging God foolishly, of his irritation under His rebukes, of his exalting himself above his fellows, of his hastiness in speech with them, etc. The regenerate amongst you will not limit your repentance to your grievous offences, you will mourn over what defiles the white linen within, our sinful aims, motives, desires, our opposition to God, reproaches of God, murmurings against God.

(J. Bolton, B. A.)

Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
Though Job had supported the truth on the subject of Divine providence, yet in the heat of the debate and the anguish of his own sufferings he had let fall some expressions, not only of impatience, but of disrespect to the conduct of the Lord his Maker. For these he was first reproved by Elihu, and then by God Himself, who asserts the dignity of His power and the righteousness of His providence. Perhaps God gave Job some visible representation of His glory and omnipotence.

I. THE EFFECT OF A DISCOVERY OF THE GLORY OF GOD. Attend to the following preliminary remarks.

1. This truth (that a view of the glory humbles the soul) will hold equally certain in whatever way the discovery is made. God manifests Himself to His people in very different ways. In miraculous ways; by affecting dispensations of providence; by His ordinances, or instituted worship, accompanied with the operation of His Spirit; and sometimes by this last alone, without the help or accession of any outward mean.

2. We may add the manifestations given us in the Gospel of the Divine glory.

3. When I speak of the influence of a discovery of the glory of God, I mean an internal and spiritual discovery, and not such a knowledge as is merely speculative, and rests in the understanding without descending into the heart. A barren speculative knowledge of God is that which fixes chiefly on His natural perfections. The true knowledge of God is an inward and spiritual discovery of the amiableness and excellence of His moral perfections.What influence has such a discovery of the glory of God in producing a repentance, and increasing humility?

1. It tends to convince us of sin, and particularly to bring to light those innumerable evils which a deceitful heart often hides from our view. There is a light and glory in the presence of God which discovers and exposes the works of darkness. Nothing makes any quality appear so sensibly as a comparison with its opposite.

2. It serves to point out the evil of sin, the aggravations of particular sins, and to take away the excuses of the sinner.

3. It serves to point out the dangers of sin. It is the hope of immunity that emboldens the sinner to transgress, and to persist in his transgressions. But a discovery of the Divine glory at once destroys the foundation of this stupid security and impious presumption. "All things are naked before Him," so that there is no hope of lying concealed. God in Scripture reveals the glory of His own nature as the effectual means of restraining us in the commission of sin, or turning us from it; plainly supposes that nothing but ignorance of Him can encourage sinners in their rebellion.

4. It tends to lead us to repentance, as it sets forth His infinite mercy, and affords encouragement to, as well as points out the profit of repentance. Just and proper conceptions of God cannot be given us without including His great mercy. It is in the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ that we have the brightest and clearest display of Divine mercy.

II. PRACTICAL IMPROVEMENT.

1. Learn the force and meaning of those passages of Scripture, in which the whole of religion is expressed by the knowledge of God.

2. The great danger of a state of ignorance.

3. The necessity of regeneration, or an inward change of heart, in order to real religion. Finally, address those who are strangers to true religion. See also the reason why every truly good man, the more he groweth in religion, the more he groweth in humility.

(J. Witherspoon, D. D.)

Other knowledge discovers other things, but not a man's self; like a dark lantern, which shows us other persons and things, but obscures ourselves from the sight of ourselves; but the knowledge of God is such a light whereby a man beholds himself as well as the Way wherein he should walk.

(S. Charnock.)

The moral of this book is, that man must be abased, and God alone exalted. Humility and self-abhorrence form so essential a part of the Christian temper, that no person can be a real Christian who is destitute of them. Job was on the side of truth so far as related to his own sincerity and the dispensations of providence. But his importunate wishes after death, his confident appeals to God for the perfect innocence of his heart and ways, his peevish exclamations in the heat of the debate, and his rash arraignment of the Divine justice in afflicting him so severely, are quite unjustifiable, and plainly prove that he was unacquainted with the evil of his own heart, and had too good an opinion of his own righteousness. On the discovery of the Divine glory and perfections, the sufferer is deeply humbled. He no longer stands upon his vindication with God, but his pleas are silenced, and he is abased in the dust with a sense of his guilt and unworthiness. This is a truth which we are all unwilling to learn. It is with the utmost difficulty we are brought to see and confess that we are such sinners as the Word of God declares us to be. Salvation by Christ was contrived on purpose, that no flesh should glory in themselves, but in the Lord. The reason why so many have slight views of the evil of sin, and continue in the practice of it, without any apprehension of danger, is, because they are ignorant of God.

(W. Richardson.)

No one can be perfect who commits sin at all, and "all have sinned," so we must include Job among the number. He was sincere, but when he was brought into more close communion with God, he saw his own vileness in a degree in which he had never perceived it before. Similar has been the happy experience of many of God's children in every age. The more we are humbled under a sense of our own sinfulness, the more we shall see the need of the perfect and completed work of Christ. Let us examine ourselves, and see what we can say to our own consciences and to God, as to the state of our souls before Him. Have we grown in grace? Has improvement kept pace with knowledge? Have you been content with the mere acknowledgment of yourself as a sinner? Or is the remembrance of your sins grievous to you, and the burden of them intolerable? Let me exhort you to "think on these things, and to consider your latter end."

(F. Orpen Morris, B. A.)

The intervention of the Deity in the magnificent last act of the drama is an intervention rather of majesty than of explanation. In the revelation of God in any one of His attributes, in the manifestations of the fountain of being in any form of reality, lies the germ at least of all satisfaction and of all comfort...The point and moral of the book does not lie in the sinfulness of the chief actor. All else is subordinated to this main point, the beautiful and glorious steadfastness of the godly man under temptation. If this is so, how shall we read, and how interpret the words of the text itself? It might be thought that the thing which God accepted in Job was this self-abasement and self-abhorrence before the manifested glory. The text carries us from the godly or Godward sorrow which worketh repentance, to that repentance itself, which is unto salvation.

1. The very narrow and limited view commonly taken of repentance. As though repentance were either a regretful and sorrowful backward looking upon some particular sin or sins; or, at best, an altered mind towards that particular kind and shape of sinning. But repentance is not the necessity of some; it is the necessity of all. Repentance is not an act, but a state; not a feeling, but a disposition; not a thought, but a mind. Repentance is too real a grace to live in the ideal. Of course, if there are sins in sight, past or present, repentance begins with these. It is of the nature of repentance to be quick-sighted, and quick-souled, and quick-conscienced; she cannot dwell complacently with evil, be it but in memory. But she goes far, far deeper than any particular exhibition or ebullition of evil. Repentance is the consciousness. not of sins, but of sin — the consciousness of sinfulness as the root and ground of all sinning. The new mind, the "after-mind," according to the Greek word for repentance, is the mind which eschews the fallen state, the taint and bias of evil, which is what we mean, or ought to mean, by original sin. Thus a deep, pervading humility, a lowly self-estimate, what our Lord speaks of as "poverty of spirit," takes a possession not to be disturbed of the very thought and soul of the man. This is one part of the grace.

2. The connection of repentance with what is here called the sight of God. This is contrasted with another thing which is called the hearing of God by the hearing of the ear. We are not to dream of any literal sight. It is a figurative contrast between hearing of and seeing. The former is a hearer hearing; the latter is a direct communication, like that face to face vision, which has nothing between the person seeing and the person looked upon. The experience spoken of is always the turning point between the two kinds of repentance. We have all heard of God by the hearing of the ear. The Godward sorrow, before it reaches repentance, has had another experience. It has seen God; it has realised the Invisible. The Godward sorrow will grow with each access to the God who breathes it, and repentance itself will be seen as the gift of gifts, foretaste of heaven below, and atmosphere of heaven above.

(Dean Vaughan.)

Human sin is the prime fact with which the Gospel deals, and to which all its provisions of grace are adapted. Whatever estimate we form of it must, therefore, necessarily extend throughout the whole of our religion, both doctrinal and practical. Enlarge your estimate of sin, or depreciate it, and you either raise or lower in the same degree your estimate of the Gospel, alike as regards the work of atonement accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ in His life and death, and as regards the work of conversion and sanctification by the Holy Spirit of God. The general estimate of human sin falls much below the positive language of the Church. The objection to the Church doctrine of sin appears to be three fold. The doctrine of the utter corruption of human nature offends self-respect, and is thought not only to lower, but even to degrade the man, of whose faith it forms a part. Extending this feeling of the individual to mankind at large, it is supposed to affront the conscious dignity of human nature and the nobility of the soul of man. And further extending the thought from ourselves to the scheme of God's saving love towards us, it is thought to deprive the Gospel of its genial beauty, and to make it harsh, distasteful, and unloving. The estimate of sin implied in these difficulties is a profound mistake. A true doctrine of sin elevates the man, not degrades him; the sense of sin is a sign of strength and knowledge, not of weakness and ignorance, exalting human nature, and making it greater, alike in the memories of the past, the magnificent hopes of the future, and the condition of the present. It gives loveliness and glory to the whole Gospel scheme, and invests it with a captivating power over the human heart otherwise unknown.

I. LOOK AT THE SENSE OF SIN IN THE INDIVIDUAL. Place in as sharp a contrast as our personal experience may enable us to do, the two states of the man, converted and unconverted. What is the difference that has been made between them? The man has lost nothing except his pride. He has not deteriorated one whit since the change. He has gained a new ideal, a higher conception of moral goodness, a loftier standard by which to measure himself. A man grows into his aims, and rises or sinks with them. The man satisfied with his own work can never be great. It is the same with the conscience that it is with the intellect. The same laws pervade all our nature. The man who has acquired a sense of sin has simply grown. How has this conception been gained? The text gives the answer. The soul of Job was filled with deepest humiliation. Now there had flashed upon his soul an actual vision of God. The words "now mine eye seeth Thee" express inward sight, not outward. It is remarkable that Job saw God mainly in His immensity and sovereignty, for to these, rather than His moral attributes, the words of God refer. In that sight Job saw the infinite distance between God and himself.

II. WHEN WE LOOK TO THE AGGREGATE OF MANKIND THE SENSE OF SIN SUGGESTS THE GRANDEUR OF HUMAN NATURE. The human nature is a fallen thing, sadly different to what it was when it came first from the Creator's hand, the finite reflection of His own infinite perfections, if human nature be not fallen, then all its sins and sorrows are an essential part of itself, and never can be otherwise. The man was made thus. What hope can there ever be of change?

III. THE DOCTRINE OF SIN GIVES SUCH A HEIGHT AND DEPTHS OF GLORY TO THE GOSPEL AS IT CAN POSSESS IN NO OTHER WAY. From this alone we understand the occasion of the Gospel, and see the necessity for it. The greatness and value of a remedy can only be commensurate with the evil that it cures. I do not say that sin is a good or noble thing. The sense of sin is a prelude to the song of triumph.

(E. Garbett, M. A.)

Something more was needed to be wrought in Job's heart. A great work had been wrought there, when he was brought to exclaim, "Behold, I am vile." But still he must descend a step lower. The valley of humiliation is very deep, and the sufferer must go down to its very lowest point. This Job did when he spoke the words of the text. But how do these words show more humiliation than the preceding ones, "Behold, I am vile"? It is a question which may well be asked. Something was still wanting in him. And as the last confession was the end of his trial, we may still further conclude that what was wanting before was then attained. It must strike us that the last is in every respect a more full expression — a manifest expansion of the former. In that Job acknowledged his exceeding sinfulness, and was silent before God. But in this be confesses what he had overlooked before, the power and omniscience of God, and he enters into a more detailed acknowledgment of his sins. Look a little, first, into the progress of Job's inner life. His former knowledge he compares to the hearing of the ear, his latter experience to the sight of the eye. Job does not mean to express that, before this affliction, he was entirely destitute of all saving knowledge of God. The words, "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear," taken by themselves, and without reference to Job's history, might mean this. His words must be understood in a comparative, not in an absolute sense. Job means to describe his progress in the knowledge of God, and this he does by comparing it to the two senses of hearing and sight. And this comparison is very instructive; for the ear, as compared with the eye, is a very imperfect medium of knowledge. Do you see, then, the difference between the two degrees of knowledge? in the first there may be tolerably clear apprehensions of God, accompanied by some fear and love. The characteristic of the second is that God's presence impresses the heart. It is the precious knowledge of God in Christ which those have who walk by living faith — who enjoy constant communion with God, who live on Jesus. Some there are who, through grace, walk in this blessed vision of God; God is near them, and they realise His nearness. To see God, remember that you must behold Him in Christ Jesus. But the increase of light, in Job's case, was followed by a depth of humiliation. Job was a believer, and therefore a penitent man long before this. It was a repentance for sins committed after he knew God — for sins of self-righteousness, of impatience, of murmuring. It is not enough to repent once only, when we are first brought to God. We need Constant repentance.

(George Wagner.)

After all, were the charges brought by the three friends against the patriarch just? Was he in the end proved to be the transgressor and the self-deceiver which they had affirmed from the beginning he was? If not, what means this confession, "I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes, extorted from him at this late hour?" "I abhor myself, and repent," sounds very differently from his former asseverations. How are we to explain the incongruity? This confession, in the text, is unquestionable evidence that in no respect was Job hypocritical. Considering what had come to pass, the abhorrence of himself which he now expressed was a stronger testimony that there was no unrighteousness in him than all his previous self-justification. Had there been a doubt of his integrity before, there could have been none now. But was it the same person who said, I abhor myself and repent," and was he in the same state when he said it, as when he said, "My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go"? Yea, the very same. The very opposition of the language, coupled with the variation of the accessories, demonstrates the identity of the speaker. What had happened? God appeared, walking upon the wings of the wind, had confronted the patriarch, and pleaded His cause; hence, the subdued and self-despising tone of his reply; and hence, neither by his Divine Justifier, nor his human accusers, could anything be added to it, nor anything be taken from it. It was the free confession of a perfect man, humble and abasing as it was: How is the apparent discrepancy to be explained? In the presence of God man is very differently affected by the sight of himself than when in the presence of his fellows. The difference of self-estimate here is the difference between man in man's sight and in God's, and this alone. In the presence of his fellows man doth not clearly see himself, any more than he seeth them clearly. We know neither the worst about the bad in this world, neither the best about the good. Overhanging the world is a moral haze. If it hinder us from the perception of some excellence, it also prevents our seeing much depravity. When a man "cometh to God," or rather God come to him, the man "cometh to the light." When a man seeth himself in the blaze of that "Sun of Righteousness," compared with whose brightness the sun in the material heavens is as a dark ball, he is at once made conscious of a number of flaws and failings, faults and fallacies in the moral constitution, of which he may have had no previous knowledge; and which, had not He who is the source of light and love darted His heavenly beams into the secret corners of "the chambers of his imagery" within, he might have remained ignorant forever. Man is a two-sided being. In his moral aspects he is by turns a dwarf and a giant. He possesses a better self and a worse. He hath a sincere and an evil double. No man ever had his good self built up within him, who was not constantly upon his guard against his bad self. What then is the difference between man and man? It is that one man is duly mindful of the phenomenon, and another is not. It behoves us then to determine which side of our nature we will take; and having taken it, to beseech of God that we may never desert it, or go over to the other. According to the side we habitually take, we are what we are; and such do we appear to the world, and the world to us. On the sunny side of the road all things look sunny; on the opposite all things look shaded. He who acts from the worst side is against God; and he who is against God is against himself; as he who is not on God's side is no longer on his own.

(Alfred Bowen Evans.)

The Lord hath many messengers by whom He solicits man. But none despatcheth His business surer or sooner than affliction. If that fail of bringing a man home, nothing can do it. Job was not ignorant of God before, when he sat in the sunshine of peace. But he says that in his prosperity, he had only heard of God; now, in his trial, he had seen Him. When we hear a man described, our imagination conceives an idea or form of him but darkly; if we see him, and intentively look upon him, there is an impression of him in our minds. Such a more full and perfect apprehension of God did calamity work in this holy man. Here is a Jacob's ladder, but of four rounds. Divinity is the highest. "I have seen Thee; therefore." Mortality is the lowest. "Dust and ashes." Between these sit two others, "shame," and "sorrow"; no man can abhor himself without shame, nor repent without sorrow. "Wherefore." This refers to the motive that humbled him; and that appears by the context to be a double meditation — one of God's majesty, another of His mercy. Put both these together, and here is matter of humiliation. "Even to dust and ashes." Humility is not only a virtue itself, but a vessel to contain other virtues. The children of grace have learned to think well of other people, and to abhor themselves. He that repents truly, abhors himself. "I repent." Repentance hath much acquaintance in the world, and few friends; it is better known than practised, and yet not "more known than trusted. It is every man's medicine, a universal antidote. Repentance is the fair gift of God. There is no other fortification against the judgments of God but repentance. "In dust and ashes." An adorned body is not a vehicle for a humbled soul. Repentance gives a farewell not only to wonted delights, but even to natural refreshings. In both dust and ashes we have a lesson of our mortality. I call you not to cast dust on your heads, or to sit in ashes, but to that sorrow and compunction of soul whereof the other was but an external symbol. Let us rend our hearts, and not our garments.

(T. Adams.)

In the confession that now lies before us, Job acknowledges God's boundless power. He sees his own folly, Notwithstanding, the man of God proceeds to draw near unto the Lord, before whom he bows himself. Foolish as he confesses himself, he does not therefore fly from the supreme wisdom.

I. WE HAVE SOMETIMES VERY VIVID IMPRESSIONS OF GOD. Job had long before heard of God, and that is a great matter. If you have heard God in the secret of your soul, you are a spiritual man; for only a spirit can hear the Spirit of God. Now Job has a more vivid apprehension of Him. Notice that in order to this close vision of God affliction had overtaken him. In prosperity God is heard; in adversity God is seen, and that is a greater blessing. Possibly helpful also to this seeing God, was Job's desertion by his friends. Still, before Job could see the Lord, there was a special manifestation on God's part to him. God must really come and in a gracious way make a display of Himself to His servants, or else they will not see Him. Your afflictions will not of themselves reveal God to you. If the Lord does not Himself unveil His face, your sorrow may even blind and harden you, and make you rebellious.

II. WHEN WE HAVE THESE VIVID APPREHENSIONS OF GOD, WE HAVE LOWLIER VIEWS OF OURSELVES. Why are the wicked so proud? Because they forget God.

1. God Himself is the measure of rectitude, and hence, when we come to think of God, we soon discover our own shortcomings and transgressions. Too often we compare ourselves among ourselves, and are not wise. If thou wouldest be right, thou must measure thyself with the holiness of God. When I think of this, self-righteousness seems to me to be a wretched insanity. If you would know what God is, He sets Himself before us in the person of His own dear Son. In every respect in which we fall short of the perfect character of Jesus, in that respect we sin.

2. God Himself is the object of every transgression, and this sets sin in a terrible light. See then the impertinence of sin. How dare we transgress against God! The fact that sin is levelled at God makes us bow in lowliness. When God is seen with admiration, then of necessity we are filled with self-loathing. Do you know what self-loathing means?

III. SUCH A SIGHT FILLS THE HEART WITH TRUE REPENTANCE. What did Job repent of?

1. Of that tremendous curse which he had pronounced upon the day of his birth.

2. Of his desire to die.

3. Of all his complaints against God.

4. Of his despair.

5. Of his rash challenges of God.According to our text, repentance puts man into the lowest place. All real repentance is joined with holy sorrow and self-loathing. But repentance has comfort in it. The door of repentance opens into the halls of joy. Job's repentance in dust and ashes was the sign of his deliverance.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

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