Here we have Job’s reply to Eliphaz’s discourse in the last two chapters, and we find that he still justified himself in his former complaints. In addition to his physical troubles, the inward sense of Jehovah’s wrath took away all his courage and resolution. The experiencing of the wrath of God is harder to bear than any outward afflictions. We cannot even imagine, then, what our Savior endured in the garden and upon the cross – when He carried our sins, and when His soul was made a sacrifice to Divine justice for us!
Job was displeased with his friends for their censures that had been laid against him, in the words of Eliphaz. He explained that even wild animals do not express discontentment, unless they have a good reason for it. And he complained that he had nothing offered for his relief; except only that which was tasteless (like the white of an egg), loathsome, and burdensome. His words expressed the total insufficiency of all earthly comforts. But how differently do our souls feel when our troubled spirits are stilled and calmed by thoughts of our God! We cannot bid the troubled waters to be quiet, but Jesus can. Therefore, let us keep our eyes turned toward Him!
In chapter 3, Job had desired death – reasoning that it would be the happy end of all his miseries. For this, Eliphaz had reproved him; but now Job asked for death again, in verses 8-13, with more vehemence than before. Although we do feel compassion for this afflicted man under his extreme anguish, it was very rash for him to speak as he did of God destroying him. Who could endure – even for one hour – the wrath of Almighty God, if He were to let loose His hand against him? It is much better for us to pray with David, “O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more” (Psalm 39:13).
In his prosperity, Job had formed great expectations from his friends; but now he spoke of how he had been disappointed. He compared them to the waters of a little brook, which are frozen under ice during the winter, run in torrents during the rainy season of spring, and dry up in the heat of the summer. During the abundant fall of spring rains, when water is not scarce, the brooks promise more than enough; but in the scorching summer, when water is really needed, they offer nothing. Those who rest their expectations upon any created being will find out that it will fail them when it should help them, whereas those who make God their confidence may always be assured of certain and speedy help in time of need (Heb. 4:16). It is wise for us to cease from trusting in man. Let us put all our confidence in the Rock of ages, and not in broken reeds; and in the Fountain of Life, and not in broken cisterns.
Job also upbraided his friends with their hard words. Although he was now in poverty and affliction, he desired nothing more from them than a kind look and a cheering word. It often happens that when we expect even just a little from man, we find less; but from the Lord, even when we expect much, we find much more! And although Job differed from the opinions of his friends, yet he was ready to yield as soon as they could convince him that he was in error. But even if Job was truly at fault, his friends ought not to have given him such hard treatment.
The latter part of Job’s speech is uncommonly striking. He apologized for any extreme expressions which had dropped from his lips, due to the desperate state of his afflictions; but he begged his friends to observe that in all of this, he had not condemned God, although he had lamented himself. And thus, although Satan had charged him with hypocrisy, and his friends contended for the same charge – yet there was no hypocrisy with him.
As we hear Job thus expressing himself in the bitterness of his complaints, let us remember that it is not a sin to complain to God when we are under trouble, but it is a sin to complain about God. Therein lies all the difference. And here we may behold the bright example of Jesus, which His followers should imitate. When He was in the midst of His unequalled conflicts; and when His soul was exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death – yet He uttered no complaining word, and no angry expostulation. As the prophet had described Him, so the Evangelist records of Him. He was led as a Lamb to the slaughter; and just as a sheep is silent before her shearers, He did not open His mouth.
O Lamb of God! Cause us to everlastingly keep Your meekness in view! And while we see how You were humbled to the deepest abasement, felt all indignities, carried all our sins, received all Your Father’s wrath, and endured all the contradiction of sinners – all for the sake of working out our redemption from sin – O blessed Jesus, let each of us ask ourselves, “Was it for me that You were oppressed, afflicted, tempted, buffeted, and crowned with thorns – and all for me?” Give us grace to look always unto You when we are under all our lesser trials, which are not even worthy to be mentioned. Help us to take up the cross and follow You wherever You go. And we shall be more than conquerors, through Your grace helping us!
Lord, we repent of times when we have complained about You when we are under our afflictions, instead of taking our complaints and our sorrows to You in prayer. We give thanks to You, Lord Jesus, that we do not need to rest our confidence on fickle and changing men, because we have the Rock of ages to lean on, and the Fountain of Life to drink from! Amen.
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