Job continues as the speaker in this chapter also, and here he talks of human life under several very striking similitudes. In the opening verses of this chapter, he endeavored to point out that just as a poor laboring man looks forward to the evening of the day with a kind of joy, because then he shall have rest; so also, he might be excused in his wishing for the grave, so that he might enjoy an end of not only his labors, but also his sorrows and sufferings. Man’s short life is a warfare; and we are like day-laborers, who have a day’s work to finish before nightfall. Job thought that he had as much reason to wish for death, as a poor tired servant has to wish for the shadows of the evening, when he shall go to rest.
Job complained that his days were useless, and that they had been so for a long time; but it is a comfort to know that when we are not able to work for God, we shall still be accepted if we quietly sit still for Him. But in addition to Job’s “months of vanity” (verse 3), his nights were also restless and sleepless. When we have comfortable nights, we must see them as being appointed to us by the Lord, and we ought to be thankful for them.
Job also said that his life was hastening away, faster than a weaver’s shuttle – that is, the piece of a loom which passes back and forth among the threads, carrying along with it the yarn with which the fabric is woven. Every day that we live is like such a shuttle, leaving another thread in the woven pattern. If we spend our lives living unto the Lord in works of faith and labors of love, we may be assured that we shall have the benefit thereof; for every person shall reap as he sowed, and wear as he wove.
Plain truths concerning the shortness and vanity of man’s life, as well as the certainty of death, do us good when we think and speak of them with application to ourselves. Death will certainly come upon us before we even realize it; and once it has come, there is no going back or making amends for mistakes that ought to have been rectified in our lifetime. Glorified saints shall return no more to the cares and sorrows of their earthly houses, nor shall condemned sinners return to the mirths and pleasures of theirs. Therefore, it ought not to be a light matter with us to be sure that we have an inheritance in heaven when we pass away out of this earth.
Beginning in verse 7, Job appeared to be turning away from man and addressing himself unto God. O that in all the afflictions of the Lord’s faithful ones, this plan was more adopted! If a child of God would only cease to seek out earthly companions, and pour out his afflictions into their ears; and if he was to go with his sorrows and pour them into the heart of Jesus – O how different would the relief be!
Job also expressed his desire to rest in his grave. Although a good man would choose death rather than sin, yet he should be content to live as long as God pleases; for life is our opportunity of glorifying Him, and preparing for heaven. It will be abundantly more to our relief, when we are under sorrow of any kind, to bring our case before the throne of grace and wait for the Lord’s time of deliverance, rather than to presumptuously prescribe when the hour of our relief shall be. A child of God will be more afraid that he might come out of the furnace unpurged, and that the Lord’s purpose for putting him there might be unfulfilled, rather than that he should be there too long. And hence we may remember this as a sure maxim: until we see God’s wisdom and love in our afflictions, we shall never be reconciled to them as we ought to be. But when a believer in the furnace can and does say, “My Savior is exercising me; I know all is right, and all shall be well” – O how sanctified is that sorrow!
Those who know the affliction of pain and restless nights will best enter into an understanding of the suffering man’s complaints in the latter portion of this chapter. But amidst these expostulations of Job, the most pleasing part of his prayer is that expression where he confessed that he had sinned (verse 20). This showed that the Lord’s grace was still alive in his heart, and so we know that he was a child of God. From this precious evidence, we may understand the apparent intentions of the Holy Spirit in recording the life and trials of Job. God described him to Satan as “a perfect and an upright man” (chapter 1:8), but Satan contended that Job would prove himself to be a hypocrite. And to demonstrate the reverse of this, the Lord permitted His righteous servant to be severely tried. Therefore, when we find Job’s integrity unimpeached, and when we hear him confessing that he had sinned, we see that the testimony of Jehovah was confirmed to be true.
In verse 20, Job referred to the Lord as the Preserver of our lives. Truly, He is the Savior of the souls of all who believe. Job seriously inquired how he might be at peace with God, and he earnestly begged forgiveness for his sins. He asked for more than the mere removing of his outward troubles, for he was earnest for the return of God’s favor to Him. Wherever the Lord removes the guilt of sin, He also breaks its power. But in order to strengthen his prayer for pardon, Job pleaded the prospect that he had of dying soon; for if our sins are not pardoned while we live, we are lost and undone forever. O how wretched is sinful man without a knowledge of the Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ!
Lord, help us remember that when You send us trials in life, it is only because Your gracious hand is in them, and there are blessed outcomes to come from them. Amen.
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