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In which Job being further afflicted in his person, his wife tempts him g and his three friends visit him.
1 \ GAIN there was a day when the sons of God came to. il present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also, among them to present himself before the Lord, desirous to gee
2 his commission against Job enlarged. And the Lord said unto, Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the Lqrd, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and fron* walking up and down in it, to find opportunity to exercise my
3 power. And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered ray servant Job ? upon trial, art thou not convinced that [there is] none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one. that feareth God and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause; notwithstanding his sore trials, he
4 continues still as dutiful to me, and as fearful of sin as ever. And Satan answered the Lqrd., and said, Skin for skin, that is, one skin of his cattle after another, fin which a great deal of their wealth consisted), yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life; he will submit to any loss or evil to save his life; Job is not yet touched in
5 the tenderest part; while in health, he is still easy andhapfB). But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, afflict him severely in his body, and he will curse thee to thy face; he
$ will renounce his allegiance to thee, and deny thy providence. And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold; he [is] in thine hand; but, or only, save his life.
7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils, or fiery blisters, from the sole of his foo»
8 unto his crown, all over him. And he took him a potsherd, or broken pitcher, to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among
9 the ashes, as an expression of his sorrow and humiliation.'* Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? jis if she had said, thy religion is certainly vain ,• what folly is if. to persist in God's service, when thou wilt get nothing by it, but thus miserably perish? curse God, and die; bid farewell to him,
'10 though thou die for it.f But he, instead ofrepining against God, gave her a very severe and just rebuke, and said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish wpmen speaketh, like one of no religion, like an infidel or an idolater. What! shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? not take afflictions patiently, yea, thankfully, considering all tltat prosperity) ve have so long enjoyed together ?. In all this did not Job sin with his lips, but spake like a vrise and good man.
• Wc meet with a similar Usance to this in Homer; and the custom ii still retained among the eastern nations.
t This perhaps was his greatest affliction; his wife, who should have been a comfort t* him, being exasperated at her own share in this calamity* behaved in such a ss-,i«'.t.:i ar.d iurious manner, that Chrysostom. one of the fathers, verj^tomplaisantly supposes, that it sva« impossible any w» could behave so, and that it was the Dcvii bimieli in the shape of Job's wife.
11 Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that -wa» come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathiteî* for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him, not-withstanding
12 the poverty to which ht ivas reduced. And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not till they were told who he ivas, (so much was he transformed by his sorrows) they lifted up their voice, and wept, cried aloud for astonishment and grieff and they rent every one his mantle ; and eprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven ; sprinkled dust toward heaven, which Jell upon their heads; an usual token of mourning and sympathy
13 vrith the afflicted; So they sat down with him upon the ground •»even days and seven nights till his grief was a little assuaged, and none spake a word unto him, by -way of argument or dispute? for they saw that [his] grief was very great; this showed their affecting sense of his afflictions.
I. T E T us reflect on the malice of Satan. What attempts lie i. A makes to destroy the comfort and peace of God's people; how desirous he is to have a further commission. What methods did he use to torment this holy man! he leaves him indeed his tongue, in hope that he would blaspheme God with it. Though this story is a parable, yet we have the greatest reason to believe that Satan is restless and busy to tempt and hurt us. St. Peter intimates this, and grounds upon it that important advice, Бе sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil goeth about like a roaring /¡он, seeking whom he may devour.
2. The principle of self preservation is very strong in the human mind; and those evils which afflict our persons are most grievou* and intolerable. This needs not to be enlarged upon, only observe, that when visited with pain and sickness, we have great need, with peculiar care and earnestness, to watch and pray, that vie enter not into temptation.
3. How unhappy is their case whose nearest relations aggravate their afflictions, and are their counsellors to do evil. Job's termagant wife used him very xinkindly ; and not only so, but she advised him to renounce his religion. It is too common for husbands and wives to charge the calamities of the family upon one another. None are greater objects of pity than they who are thus unequally yoked. Satan's policy is to tempt us by those who are dearest to us ; but let us all be upon our guard, and never be led by the persuasion« and entreaties, much less the violence and passions, of our nearest relations, to do or say that which is evil, or give up any branch "f
• These wrrr person of note in neighbouring provinces, and drtctndantt et Ьул ТшаЬ and &buah, who wer« his gr
religion. If those who are dearest to us speak wickedly, or attempt to weaken our regard to religion, let us faithfully reprove them, as Job did his wife, and not suffer sin upon them.
4. A sense of the divine goodness in the many mercies we have enjoyed, and do enjoy, should make us patient and contented under affliction. It was a noble sentiment and a just expostulation of Job; What! shall we receive so much good from the hand of God; good that we never deserved, and have often forfeited ; and shall чае not receive evil? evil that bears so small a proportion to our mercies, and is so much less than our iniquities deserve? It is very ungrateful and base to forget the goodness and mercy we have enjoyed, and murmer under afflictions. Let us be willing to receive evil as well as good ; since bbth come from the hand of a Being of perfect justice, power, wisdom, and goodness, who intends all/or eurfirojity that we may be partakers of his holiness.
5. To visit and comfort the afflicted is a necessary part of friendship and religion. Job's friends came to mourn with him, and to comfort him; this was particularly commendable, because he needed their assistance, and was poor, and could not reward it. They made an appointment to come, which shewed great respect. It •was peculiarly agreeable, because the rest of his friends forsook him; and he met with ill treatment from others. Let us cultivate a tender, compassionate spirit; esteem it better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting ; and weefi with those that toeep. Thus only can we be esteemed true friends. Nay, without this tenderness and sympathy, we are strangers to that pure and imdefiled religion, of which James speaks, and which consists in visiting the afflicted, the widow, and the fatherless: but by imitating this example, we serve our friends, we satisfy conscience, and we please our great Master, who will make this a part of his commendatioa of the righteous in the great day, / was sick, and ye visited me.
We are noto entering on the fioetical fiart of this tool-. It is tc be remembered that these words were not actually sfioken by Job and his friends; he uttered sonic mournful complaints, and his friends argued •with him on the ta/iics here insisted ufion; but they are dressed ufi in fioetical language, which is sometimes difficult to be explained; the anguish of Job's spirit increased to such a degree, that in this chapter he breaks out into passionate complaints.
1 /% F T E R this opened Job his mouth and cursed his day, UTjL his birth day. It had used to be a day of joy, but now he
2 3 -wished he had never been born. And Job spake and said, Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night [in which] it was said, There is a man child conceived ; /«• -wishes it might be
4 forgotten) as if it never had Ьссл. Let that day be darkness, a thick horrible darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither
5 let the light shine upon it. Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it, claim it as their own, let a cloud dwell upon it; let
6 the blackness of the day terrify it, render it terrible to men. [ As for] that night, let darkness seize upon it; an extraordinary darkneta without the least glimmering of light; let it not be joined unto the days of the year, let it not come into the number of
7 the months; let it be blotted out of the calendar. Lo, let that night be solitary, let no joyful voice come therein; let none ever
S meet to /cast or make merry in it. Let them curse it that curse the day, thoae whose business it is to say the most fiat hetic things against an unfortunate day, let them dart out all their arrows against that day; who are ready to raise up their mourning, that is, who raise ufi against a man the most terrible evils, which, like that destructive animal leviathan, »r the cracodile as in the mar
9 gin, are ready to swallow him ufi. Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark; let it look for light, but [have] none; neither let it see the dawning of the day; let not one star afifiear, nor
10 the smallest gleam of light : Because it shut not up the doors of my [mother's] womb, nor hid sorrow from mine eyes; because
11 it did not keefi me from feeling this bitter sorrow. Why died I not from the womb ? why was I not buried in the womb ? or [why] did I [not] give up the ghost when I came out of the
12 belly? Why did the knees prevent me? or why the breasts that I should suck? Why was any care taken, or sustenance given,
13/o sufifiort a life that would be so miserable? For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept ; then had I
14 been at rest, and felt none of these miseries; With kings and counsellors of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves; / should have been buried among noble and firinccly an
15 cestors; Or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver; who had chains and crowns buried with t/irm, and
16 who lay in fiomfi and quiet: Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants [which] nes'er saw light ; as a still
17 born child, not numbered among men. There the wicked cease[from] troubling; and there the weary be at rest: in the grave cruel o/i/iressors cannot trouble, nor the o/iprcssed be troubled.
18 [There] the prisoners rest together; the ca/i'ive and slave have rest there, though they had none on earth; they hear not the .voice of the oppressor, to check and threaten and torment them.
19 The small and great are there ; and the servant [is] free from
20 his master; there all distinctions cease. Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter [in] soul;
21 Which long for death exceedingly, but it [cometh] not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures ; who would be glad to dig their own graves, and be better fileased to find a grave than to find a
22 mine of gold; Which rejoice exceedingly, [and] are glad when they can find the grave and as it were dance in their own funeral
23 firocession? [Why is light given] to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in ? who knows not which way to
24 turn himself andjinds no comfort but in the grave? For my sigh* ing cometh before I eat, before my meat j I dread to take that which -will support such a wretched life; or, it brings to mind the happy hours when my children were feasting around me; and then my roarings are poured out like the waters, in the greatest
25 abundance. Far the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me; I was always afraid of a change in my circumstances, and of being"
26 censured as an hypocrite, and, lo, it is come to /lass. I was not in safety, neither had I rest* neither was I quiet; yet troubla came ; in my greatest prosperity I did not live secure, as wicked inen do, nor promise myself the continuance qfit, but rather was in continual expectation of trouble.*
1. T I *HE absurdity and folly of a fretful, complaining temper, J is beautifully exposed in this chapter, by the words which, the poet puts in to Job's mouth. Those wishes, strictly speaking, were senseless. Yet something like this is too often the language of many who, when they meet with trouble, are perpetually complaining and wishing those things had never been, which are, and that things were which never will be. All this arises from ignorance, pride, and impatience; it is quarrelling with the supreme Governor of the World, dishonouring human nature, teazing themselves, and making their own wounds wider and deeper. Yea, ■many utter such complaints under afflictions which they have brought on themselves, and wish eagerly for death, when they above all others, would be shocked at its approach, and most willing to have it delayed.
2. We may reflect on the providence of God in the helpless state in which children are born; and the care of them which he has put into the hearts of parents. Did not the knees prevent them from falling, and the breasts give them suck, how soon would the spark of life be quenched. Human creatures are brought forth and continue long in helpless circumstances, to strengthen their parents' affections to them, by the services they are obliged to do them, to give them an opportunity of forming their minds as reason opens, and to promote the gratitude and duty of children. The care of ■Providence in preserving us through the helpless state of infancy should be thankfully acknowledged; and next to God, gratitude is due to our parents, whom we ought with all tenderness and affection to requite.
3. The thoughts of a perfect repose in the grave, is some comfort to those in affliction. There the body rests, free from pain, sickness, and sorrow, from hardships and sufferings, from oppression and persecution. And the thought will indeed be comfortable, if we take care to secure the happiness of the soul, that it may Ctiter into peace, and enjoy the rest that rcmainethfor the fieople of Cod.
• Some understand it, that he could not rr-ollect and settle his spirits after one calinv ity, but was terrified with the report of anothrr; he had noc time to pause and consider, b-r">rr a new shock came. This is mentioned *» an aggravation of hisdicucss, -wd the reason, vt'lii complaints.