But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach you; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell you:…
I. THE EXPERIENCE OF HUMAN LIFE. The fact that Job here refers to — the prosperity of wicked men, may be regarded —
1. As one of the most common facts of human experience. All men in all lands and ages have observed it, and still observe it. It is capable of easy explanation: the conditions of worldly prosperity are such that sometimes the wicked man can attend to them in a more efficient way than the righteous. As a rule, the more greed, cunning, tact, activity, and the less conscience and modesty a man has, the more likely he is to succeed in the scramble for wealth.
2. One of the most perplexing facts in human experience. What thoughtful man in passing through life has not asked a hundred times, "Wherefore do the wicked prosper?" and has not felt, with Asaph, stumbling into infidelity as he saw the prosperity of the wicked?
3. One of the most predictive facts in human experience. This fact points to retribution.
II. THE HISTORY OF INFERIOR LIFE. "But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee," etc. Solomon sends us to the ant; Agur to the coney, the locust, the spider; Isaiah to the ox and the ass; Jeremiah to the stork, the turtledove, the crane, the swallow; and the Heavenly Teacher Himself to the fowls of the air. Job's argument is that the same lack of interference on God's part in the free operations of men in this life, in punishing the wicked and rewarding the good, you see around you in all the lower stages of life. Look to the beasts of the field. Does the Governor of the world interfere to crush the lion, the tiger, the panther, or the wolf from devouring the feebler creation of His hands? Does He come to the rescue of the shrieking, suffering victims? Behold the "fowls of the air." See the eagle, the vulture, the hawk pouncing down on the dove, the thrush, the blackbird, or the robin. Does He interfere to arrest their flight, or curb their savage instincts? "Speak to the earth." See the noxious weeds choking the flowers, stealing away life from the fruit trees, does He send a blast to wither the pernicious herb? Not He. Turn to the "fishes of the sea." Does He prevent the whale, the shark, and other monsters from devouring the smaller tenants of the deep? No; He allows all these creatures to develop their instincts and their propensities. It is even so with man. He allows man full scope here to work out what is in him, to get what he can.
III. THE MAXIMS OF PHILOSOPHIC LIFE. "Doth not the ear try His words? and the mouth taste His meat? With the ancient is wisdom, and in length of days is understanding." There is some. thing like a syllogism in this verse.
1. That the more the mind exercises itself upon moral questions, the more capable it is to pronounce a correct judgment. Just as the gourmand gets a nicer appreciation of the qualities of wines and viands as he exercises his palate, so the mind gets a clearer conception of things the more it makes them the subject of reflection.
2. That the ancients did greatly exercise their minds on these subjects, and therefore their judgment is to be taken, and it confirms Job's conclusions.
Parallel VersesKJV: But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: