« AnteriorContinua »
Job, abhorring himself and repenting, is accepted of God. i Then Job answered the and offer up for yourselves a LORD, and said,
burnt offering; and my servant 2 I know that thou canst do Job shall pray
for him every thing, and that no thought will I accept : lest I deal with can be withholden from thee.
you after your folly, in that ye 3 Who is he that hideth coun- have not spoken of me the thing sel without knowledge ? there- which is right, like my servant fore have I uttered that I un- Job. derstood not; things too wonder- 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite, ful for me, which I knew not. and Bildad the Shuhite, and
4 Hear, I beseech thee, and I Zopbar the Naamathite went, will speak: I will demand of and did according as the Lord thee, and declare thou unto me, commanded them : the LORD
5 I have heard of thee by the also accepted Job. hearing of the ear: but now 10 And the LORD turned the mine eye seeth thee.
captivity of Job, when he prayed 6 Wherefore I abhor myself, for his friends: also the LORD and repent in dust and ashes. gave Job twice as much as he
7 And it was so, that after the had before. LORD had spoken these words 11 Then came there unto him all unto Job, the LORD said to Eli- his brethren, and all his sisters, phaz the Temanite, My wrath and all they that had been of his is kindled against thee, and acquaintance before, and did eat against thy two friends : for ye bread with him in his house : have not spoken of me the thing and they bemoaned him, and that is right, as my servant Job comforted him over all the evil hath.
that the Lord had brought upon 8 Therefore take unto you
every man also gave him now seven bullocks and seven a piece of money, and every rams, and go to my servant Job, one an earring of gold.
LECTURE 829. That we should count them happy which endure. The declaration of God's great might and glory ended, Job owns in all humility, his deep conviction that God can do all things, and must know all things. He then repeats the first words of the Lord's answer out of the whirlwind, “Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge ?” see Ch. 38. 2; as though he would say, I am the man, I am he that has thus offended, but I am now made fully sensible, that in all my questionings and murmurings, I have « uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.” I have spoken, I confess it, in language fit only for Thee, O God, to use, and such as Thou hast actually made use of, saying, “ I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.” See Ch. 38. 3; 40. 7. All my former conceptions of thy greatness were faint, compared
with those which now occupy my mind, even as those of hearing compared with those of sight. No information previously derived from others, no former revelation made to myself, has ever wrought in me such deep conviction of thy greatness and of my own vileness, as this sight of thy glory which Thou hast now vouchsafed. “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes."
Job being thus effectually humbled and made penitent, the Lord next addresses Eliphaz, and declares, that he and his two friends had not spoken concerning Him the thing that was right as Job had. This must refer to the chief point discussed between them; the friends of Job having done wrong to the attributes of God, in maintaining that none except the wicked are afflicted; and Job having held, as the truth really is, that the righteous often suffer even for a time, though he failed, in his own case, to derive the entire resignation which he might have done, from the hope of gaining thereby hereafter. The Lord therefore bids these three friends go to Job, and offer sacrifice for themselves, and says that Job shall pray for them, and that He will accept Job, and implies that He will also pardon them. And hereby we may conceive Him to teach us, that instead of wrangling with each other on points in which we differ, we ought to join in prayers and mutual intercessions, and so agree to walk together, according to his word, in the paths of peace and piety.
As to Job himself, “ The Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends : also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.” It was “when he prayed for his friends,” when he had thoroughly forgiven them, then God both released him from his sufferings, and doubled his former joys. His relations and acquaintances then came with presents to contribute to his wealth, and with genuine sympathy to weep over his past afflictions, and to rejoice in his returning, prosperity. Let us, then, with St. James, “ count them happy which endure.” We have heard, as he tells us, “of the patience of Job,” how meekly he at first submitted to the loss of children, goods, and health. And when under the agony of his distress, and under the false imputations of the friends that came to comfort him, he lost his temper, and became perplexed in his mind, and went so far as to murmur against God, we “have seen the end of the Lord ; that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy.' As long as Job suffered patiently he had peace. When he began to murmur he began to be unhappy. When he was brought to a more perfect state of resignation, by a more full discovery of God's greatness, he was made happier than he had ever been before. Let us, then,“ count them happy which endure." James 5. 11.
The Lord giveth Job twice as much as he had before. 12 So the Lord blessed the of the third, Keren-happuch. latter end of Job more than his 15 And in all the land were beginning: for he had fourteen no women found so fair as the thousand sheep, and six thou- daughters of Job : and their sand camels, and a thousand father gave them inheritance yoke of oxen, and a thousand among their brethren. she asses.
16 After this lived Job an hun13 He had also seven sons and dred and forty years, and saw three daughters.
his sons, and his sons' sons, even 14 And he called the name of four generations. the first, Jemima ; and the name 17 So Job died, being old and of the second, Kezia; and the name full of days.
LECTURE 830. The chief lessons which we learn from this whole book. On comparing the numbers of Job's cattle before and after bis affliction, we find that they were exactly doubled by the blessing of the Lord. See Ch. 1. 3. Sons also and daughters he had now as many as before. And considering what pains he had taken that those whom he had lost by death should not be lost eternally, he might rejoice in them that were departed, as well as in these whom God gave him afresh. His life also was prolonged to a great length; so that when he died he was "old and full of days." And this was the latter end of him, who had once wished that he had never been born! Oh the folly of wishing otherwise than as God appoints! Oh the happiness of having God to overrule our wishes, to choose for us, and to teach us to prefer his choosing to our own!
Job had wished too that his words might be engraven on a rock. See Ch. 19. 24. God, who ordered otherwise, ordered better; fulfilling the wish of Job in the more enduring record of this written book. And what are the chief points of wisdom, which we learn from them ? not those which Job and his three friends chiefly inquired after, but those on which both they and we chiefly needed information. We know but little better than when we began to read this book, whence sin and suffering originally proceed, why the severest sufferings are sometimes allotted to them that have sinned the least, or, what is still more strange, why such as these are sometimes allowed to fall into the most grievous sins. But this we have learnt, that questions such as these must be inquired into, if at all, by man, with the most profound reverence towards God. And whilst we have seen that He does not willingly afflict us, and that He is ready to forgive us, and gracious to reward our imperfect services; we have learnt also to believe implicitly, that though none of these things were visible in his dealings, yet seeing He is the almighty Creator of the universe, He cannot but be, beyond all question, perfectly holy, and just, and good.
THE BOOK OF PSALMS.
The happiness of the good, and misery of the wicked. i Blessed is the man that walks wither; and whatsoever he doeth eth not in the counsel of the shall prosper. ungodly, nor standeth in the 4 The ungodly are not so: but way of sinners, nor sitteth in are like the chaff which the wind the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law 5 Therefore the ungodly shall of the Lord; and in his law not stand in the judgment, nor doth he meditate day and night. sinners in the congregation of
3 And he shall be like a tree the righteous. planted by the rivers of water, 6 For the Lord knoweth the ihat bringeth forth his fruit in way of the righteous : but the his season; his leaf also shall not way of the ungodly shall perish.
LECTURE 831. The psalms expressive of devotional meditation. The Book of Psalms is a collection of hymns, or short religious poems, adapted to be sung to music as an exercise of devotion. Most of them have titles prefixed, setting forth either the name of the writer of the psalm, or the person to whose charge it was committed to be sung, as well as in many instances the occasion of writing it. But though it is certain that these titles are of great antiquity, they are not to be considered as of the like infallible authority with the psalms themselves. In many of these titles there are found certain Hebrew words, about the meaning of which there is so much uncertainty, that they are not translated at all in our version of the Scriptures. There is reason to think that some of these words mean different instruments of music, and some signify different kinds or styles of poetry. There is the like difficulty in ascertaining what is meant by the word Selah, which occurs at intervals in several of the psalms, and which is in like manner left untranslated. Doubtless that of which it seems so hopeless to find out the real meaning, is something which there is no necessity for us to understand. And if after reading the variety of opinions urged on subjects such as these, we feel unable to come to any definite conclusion, let us turn to matters of deeper interest; and let us thank God for having made so much more clear, and so much less disputable, the things which belong to our eternal peace.
Although then the titles of the psalms may be obscure, the psalms themselves are in general perspicuous. For though many passages in the psalms are hard to be understood, these bear a small proportion to the great extent and amazing variety of the whole.' The book taken as a whole is remarkable for the
clearness and simplicity of language, in which it sets forth God's might, and majesty, and love, and expresses man's weakness, and his wants, and his thankfulness unto God for the supply of them. This is indeed the peculiar feature of this portion of the Bible, that it not only instructs us by the way of history and prophecy, not only awakens us by means of warning and exhortation, but it also supplies us with a form of sound words, in wbich to express such prayers and praises, as the mind rightly instructed, and the heart duly awakened, cannot but long to utter before the throne of grace. God be praised for having thus given us patterns as well as precepts, to shew us how to praise Him and to pray to Him! God grant, that by the study of these sacred psalms, we may better learn to do as St. Paul resolved, to pray with the spirit, and to pray with the understanding also, to sing with the spirit, and to sing with the understanding also ! See 1 Cor. 14. 15.
The first psalm begins, like our Lord's sermon on the mount, with the declaration of a blessing. And the whole psalm is on so comprehensive a subject, the blessedness of the good, and the misery of the wicked, that it may well be considered as purposely placed first by way of an introduction to the rest
. here pronounced blessed, is he who avoids that which is evil, and delights in that which is good. He will not act upon the plan of those who live without God in the world, neither will be enter upon the course of those who are guilty of notorious sins, neither will he settle down in the society of those who are in the habit of scoffing at the faithful and devout. Nor is it enough that he renounces these evil ways; lie also follows after holiness, he delights in the word of God, in studying its meaning, in believing its doctrines, and in fulfilling its commandments. The blessedness of such a man is a growth in holiness and happiness and meetness for heaven, vigorous and healthful, like the fourishing of a tree planted by the waterside. And like unto the abundance of its fruit, and the unfading beauty of its foliage, is his prosperity in all that he undertakes, being all undertaken according to God's will. Not such is the case with the ungodly. They may rather be compared to the chaff which is left to be scattered by the wind, or which is sentenced to be burnt with unquenchable fire. See Luke 3. 17. For though at present they may mingle, undiscerned by man, in the same congregation as the righteous, yet “ the Lord knoweth them that are his;" 2 Tim. 2. 19; and the day of judgment is at hand, in which “ the way of the ungodly shall perish.”
It is one chief feature in the character of the righteous, as here pourtrayed, that “ his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” This may remind us, that there is one other special use of the Book of Psalms; besides serving for the expression of our prayers and praises, it