TITLE. This Psalm is apparently intended to accompany the third, and make a pair with it. If the last may be entitled THE MORNING PSALM, this from its matter is equally deserving of the title of THE EVENING HYMN. May the choice words Psalms 4:8 be our sweet song of rest as we retire to our repose!
“Thus with my thoughts composed to peace,
I’ll give mine eyes to sleep; Thy hand in safety keeps my days,
And will my slumbers keep.”
The Inspired title runs thus: “To the chief Musician on Neginoth, a Psalm of David.” The chief musician was the master or director of the sacred music of the sanctuary. Concerning this person carefully read 1 Chronicles 6:31-32; 1 Chronicles 15:16-22; 1 Chronicles 25:1; 1 Chronicles 25:7. In these passages will be found much that is interesting to the lover of sacred song, and very much that will throw a light upon the mode of praising God in the temple. Some of the titles of the Psalms are, we doubt not, derived from the names of certain renowned singers, who composed the music to which they were set.
On Neginoth, that is, on stringed instruments, or hand instruments, which were played on with the hand alone, as harps and cymbals. The joy of the Jewish church was so great that they needed music to set forth the delightful feelings of their souls. Our holy mirth is none the less overflowing because we prefer to express it in a more spiritual manner, as becometh a more spiritual dispensation. In allusion to these instruments to be played on with the hand, Nazianzen says, “Lord, I am an instrument for thee to touch.” Let us lay ourselves open to the Spirit’s touch, so shall we make melody. May we be full of faith and love, and we shall be living instruments of music. Hawker says: “The Septuagint read the word which we have rendered in our translation chief musician Lamenetz, instead of Lamenetzoth, the meaning of which is unto the end. From whence the Greek and Latin fathers imagined, that all psalms which bear this inscription refer to the Messiah, the great end. If so, this Psalm is addressed to Christ; and well it may, for it is all of Christ, and spoken by Christ, and hath respect only to his people as being one with Christ. The Lord the Spirit give the reader to see this, and he will find it most blessed.
DIVISION. In Psalms 4:1 David pleads with God for help. In Psalms 4:2 he expostulates with his enemies, and continues to address them to the end of Psalms 4:5. Then from Psalms 4:6 to the close he delightfully contrasts his own satisfaction and safety with the disquietude of the ungodly in their best estate. The Psalm was most probably written upon the same occasion as the preceeding, and is another choice flower from the garden of affliction. Happy is it for us that David was tried, or probably we should never have heard these sweet sonnets of faith.
Ver. 1. This is another instance of David’s common habit of pleading past mercies as a ground for present favour. Here he reviews his Ebenezers and takes comfort from them. It is not to be imagined that he who has helped us in six troubles will leave us in the seventh. God does nothing by halves, and he will never cease to help us until we cease to need. The manna shall fall every morning until we cross the Jordan.
Observe, that David speaks first to God and then to men. Surely we should all speak the more boldly to men if we had more constant converse with God. He who dares to face his Maker will not tremble before the sons of men.
The name by which the Lord is here addressed,
God of my righteousness, deserves notice, since it is not used in any other part of Scripture. It means, Thou art the author, the witness, the maintainer, the judge, and the rewarder of my righteousness; to thee I appeal from the calumnies and harsh judgments of men. Herein is wisdom, let us imitate it and always take our suit, not to the petty courts of human opinion, but into the superior court, the King’s Bench of heaven.
Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress. A figure taken from an army enclosed in a defile, and hardly pressed by the surrounding enemy. God hath dashed down the rocks and given me room; he hath broken the barriers and set me in a large place. Or, we may understand it thus:ï¿½”God hath enlarged my heart with joy and comfort, when I was like a man imprisoned by grief and sorrow.” God is a never-failing comforter.
Have mercy upon me. Though thou mayest justly permit my enemies to destroy me, on account of my many and great sins, yet I flee to thy mercy, and I beseech thee hear my prayer, and bring thy servant out of his troubles. The best of men need mercy as truly as the worst of men. All the deliverances of saints, as well as the pardons of sinners, are the free gifts of heavenly grace.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 1. Hear me when I call, etc. Faith is a good orator and a noble disputer in a strait; it can reason from God’s readiness to hear: “Hear me when I call, O God.” And from the everlasting righteousness given to the man in the justification of his person: O God of my righteousness. And from God’s constant justice in defending the righteousness of his servant’s cause: “O God of my righteousness.” And from both present distresses and those that are by-past, wherein he hath been, and from by-gone mercies received: Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress. And from God’s grace, which is able to answer all objections from the man’s unworthiness or ill-deserving: Have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer. David Dickson, 1653.
Ver. 1. Hear me. The great Author of nature and of all things does nothing in vain. He instituted not this law, and, if I may so express it, art of praying, as a vain and insufficient thing, but endows it with wonderful efficacy for producing the greatest and happiest consequences. He would have it to be the key by which all the treasures of heaven should be opened. He has constructed it as a powerful machine, by which we may, with easy and pleasant labour, remove from us the most dire and unhappy machinations of our enemy, and may with equal ease draw to ourselves what is most propitious and advantageous. Heaven and earth, and all the elements, obey and minister to the hands which are often lifted up to heaven in earnest prayer. Yea, all works, and, which is yet more and greater, all the words of God obey it. Well known in the sacred Scriptures are the examples of Moses and Joshua, and that which (James 5:17) particularly mentions of Elijah, whom he expressly calls keraunoboloz, a man subject to like infirmities with ourselves, that he might illustrate the admirable force of prayer, by the common and human weakness of the person by whom it was offered. And that Christian legion under Antonius is well known and justly celebrated, which for the singular ardour and efficacy of its prayers, obtained the name of keraunoboloz, the thundering legion. Robert Leighton, D.D., Archbishop of Glasgow, 1611-1684.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1. Is full of matter for a sermon upon, past mercies a plea for present help. The first sentence shows that believers desire, expect, and believe in a God that heareth prayer. The titleï¿½God of my righteousness, may furnish a text (see exposition), and the last sentence may suggest a sermon upon, “The best of saints must still appeal to God’s mercy and sovereign grace.”
WORKS UPON THE FOURTH PSALM
Choice and Practical Expositions on four select Psalms: namely, the Fourth Psalm, in eight Sermons, etc. By THOMAS HORTON, D.D. 1675
Meditations, Critical and Practical, on Psalm IV., in Archbishop Leighton’s Works.
Ver. 2. In this second division of the Psalm, we are led from the closet of prayer into the field of conflict. Remark the undaunted courage of the man of God. He allows that his enemies are great men (for such is the import of the Hebrew words translatedï¿½ sons of men), but still he believes them to be foolish men, and therefore chides them, as though they were but children. He tells them that they love vanity, and seek after leasing, that is, lying, empty fancies, vain conceits, wicked fabrications. He asks them how long they mean to make his honour a jest, and his fame a mockery? A little of such mirth is too much, why need they continue to indulge in it? Had they not been long enough upon the watch for his halting? Had not repeated disappointments convinced them that the Lord’s anointed was not to be overcome by all their calumnies? Did they mean to jest their souls into hell, and go on with their laughter until swift vengeance should turn their merriment into howling? In the contemplation of their perverse continuance in their vain and lying pursuits, the Psalmist solemnly pauses and inserts a Selah. Surely we too may stop awhile, and meditate upon the deep-seated folly of the wicked, their continuance in evil, and their sure destruction; and we may learn to admire that grace which has made us to differ, and taught us to love truth, and seek after righteousness.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 2. O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah. Prayer soars above the violence and impiety of men, and with a swift wing commits itself to heaven, with happy omen, if I may allude to what the learned tell us of the augury of the ancients, which I shall not minutely discuss. Fervent prayers stretch forth a strong, wide-extended wing, and while the birds of night hover beneath, they mount aloft, and point out, as it were, the proper seats to which we should aspire. For certainly there is nothing that cuts the air so swiftly, nothing that takes so sublime, so happy, so auspicious a flight as prayer, which bears the soul on its pinions, and leaves far behind all the dangers, and even the delights of this low world of ours. Behold this holy man, who just before was crying to God in the midst of distress, and with urgent importunity entreating that he might be heard, now, as if he were already possessed of all he had asked, taking upon him boldly to rebuke his enemies, how highly soever they were exalted, and how potent soever they might be even in the royal palace. Robert Leighton, D.D.
Ver. 2. O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? etc. We might imagine every syllable of this precious Psalm used by our Master some evening, when about to leave the temple for the day, and retiring to his wonted rest at Bethany (Psalms 4:8), after another fruitless expostulation with the men of Israel. And we may read it still as the very utterance of his heart, longing over man, and delighting in God. But, further, not only is this the utterance of the Head, it is also the language of one of his members in full sympathy with him in holy feeling. This is a Psalm with which the righteous may make their dwellings resound, morning and evening, as they cast a sad look over a world that rejects God’s grace. They may sing it while they cling more and more every day to Jehovah, as their all-sufficient heritage, now and in the age to come. They may sing it, too, in the happy confidence of faith and hope, when the evening of the world’s day is coming, and may then fall asleep in the certainty of what shall greet their eyes on the resurrection morning ï¿½
“Sleeping embosomed in his grace,
Till morning-shadows flee.
Andrew A. Bonar, 1859
Ver. 2. Love vanity. They that love sin, love vanity; they chase a bubble, they lean upon a reed, their hope is as a spider’s web.
Leasing. This is an old Saxon word signifying falsehood.
Ver. 2. How long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? “Vanity of vanities, and all is vanity.” This our first parents found, and therefore named their second son Abel, or vanity. Solomon, that had tried these things, and could best tell the vanity of them, he preacheth this sermon over again and again. “Vanity of vanities, and all is vanity.” It is sad to think how many thousands there be that can say with the preacher, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity;” nay, swear it, and yet follow after these things as if there were no other glory, nor felicity, but what is to be found in these things they call vanity. Such men will sell Christ, heaven, and their souls, for a trifle, that call these things vanity, but do not cordially believe them to be vanity, but set their hearts upon them as if they were their crown, the top of all their royalty and glory. Oh! let your souls dwell upon the vanity of all things here below, till your hearts so thoroughly convinced and persuaded of the vanity of them, as to trample upon them, and make them a footstool for Christ to get up, and ride in a holy triumph in your hearts.
Gilemex, king of Vandals, led in triumph by Belisarius, cried out, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” The fancy of Lucian, who placeth Charon on the top of a high hill, viewing all the affairs of men living, and looking on their greatest cities as little bird’s nests, is very pleasant. Oh, the imperfection, the ingratitude, the levity, the inconstancy, the perfidiousness of those creatures we most servilely affect! Ah, did we but weigh man’s pain with his payment, his crosses with his mercies, his miseries with his pleasures, we should then see that there is nothing got by the bargain, and conclude, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” Chrysostom said once, “That if he were the fittest in the world to preach a sermon to the whole world, gathered together in one congregation, and had some high mountain for his pulpit, from whence he might have a prospect of all the world in his view, and were furnished with a voice of brass, a voice as loud as the trumpets of the archangel, that all the world might hear him, he would choose to preach upon no other text than that in the Psalms, O mortal men, ‘How long will ye love vanity, and follow after leasing?'” Thomas Brooks, 1608-1680.
Ver. 2. Love vanity. Men’s affections are according to their principles; and every one loves that most without him which is most suitable to somewhat within him: liking is founded in likeness, and has therefore that word put upon it. It is so in whatsoever we can imagine; whether in temporals or spirituals, as to the things of this life, or of a better. Men’s love is according to some working and impression upon their own spirits. And so it is here in the point of vanity; those which are vain persons, they delight in vain things; as children, they love such matters as are most agreeable to their childish dispositions, and as do suit them in that particular. Out of the heart comes all kind of evil. Thomas Horton, 1675.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 2. Depravity of man as evinced
(1) by continuance in despising Christ, (2) by loving vanity in his heart, and (3) seeking lies in his daily life.
Ver. 2. The length of the sinner’s sin. “How long?” May be bounded by repentance, shall be by death, and yet shall continue in eternity.
Ver. 3. But know. Fools will not learn, and therefore they must again and again be told the same thing, especially when it is such a bitter truth which is to be taught them, viz.: ï¿½ the fact that the godly are the chosen of God, and are, by distinguishing grace, set apart and separated from among men. Election is a doctrine which unrenewed men cannot endure, but nevertheless, it is a glorious and well-attested truth, and one which should comfort the tempted believer. Election is the guarantee of complete salvation, and an argument for success at the throne of grace. He who chose us for himself will surely hear our prayer. The Lord’s elect shall not be condemned, nor shall their cry be unheard. David was king by divine decree, and we are the Lord’s people in the same manner: let us tell our enemies to their faces, that they fight against God and destiny, when they strive to overthrow our souls. O beloved, when you are on your knees, the fact of your being set apart as God’s own peculiar treasure, should give you courage and inspire you with fervency and faith. “Shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him?” Since he chose to love us he cannot but choose to hear us.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 3. The Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself. When God chooseth a man, he chooseth him for himself; for himself to converse with, to communicate himself unto him as a friend, a companion, and his delight. Now, it is holiness that makes us fit to live with the holy God for ever, since without it we cannot see him (Hebrews 12:14), which is God’s main aim, and more than our being his children; as one must be supposed a man, one of mankind, having a soul reasonable, ere we can suppose him capable of adoption, or to be another man’s heir. As therefore it was the main first design in God’s eye, before the consideration of our happiness, let it be so in ours. Thomas Goodwin, 1600-1679.
Ver. 3. What rare persons the godly are: “The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour.” Proverbs 12:26. As the flower of the sun, as the wine of Lebanon, as the sparkling upon Aaron’s breastplate, such is the orient splendour of a person embellished with godliness … The godly are precious, therefore they are set apart for God, Know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself. We set apart things that are precious; the godly are set apart as God’s peculiar treasure (Psalms 135:4); as his garden of delight (Song of Solomon 4:12); as his royal diadem (Isaiah 43:3); the godly are the excellent of the earth (Psalms 16:3); comparable to fine gold (La 4:2); double refined (Zechariah 13:9). They are the glory of the creation. (Isaiah 46:13). Origen compares the saints to sapphires and crystals: God calls them jewels (Malachi 3:17). Thomas Watson.
Ver. 3. The Lord will hear when I call unto him. Let us remember that the experience of one of the saints concerning the verity of God’s promises, and of the certainty of the written privileges of the Lord’s people, is a sufficient proof of the right which all his children have to the same mercies, and a ground of hope that they also shall partake of them in their times of need. David Dickson, 1653.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 3. Election. Its aspects toward God, our enemies, and ourselves.
Ver. 3. The Lord will hear when I call unto him. Answers to prayer certain to special persons. Mark out those who can claim the favour.
Ver. 3. The gracious Separatist. Who is he? Who separated him? With what end? How to make men know it?
Ver. 4. Tremble and sin not. How many reverse this counsel and sin but tremble not. O that men would take the advice of this verse and commune with their own hearts. Surely a want of thought must be one reason why men are so mad as to despite Christ and hate their own mercies. O that for once their passions would be quiet and let them be still, that so in solemn silence they might review the past, and meditate upon their inevitable doom. Surely a thinking man might have enough sense to discover the vanity of sin and the worthlessness of the world. Stay, rash sinner, stay, ere thou take the last leap. Go to thy bed and think upon thy ways. Ask counsel of thy pillow, and let the quietude of night instruct thee! Throw not away thy soul for nought! Let reason speak! Let the clamorous world be still awhile, and let thy poor soul plead with thee to bethink thyself before thou seal its fate, and ruin it for ever!
Selah. O sinner! pause while I question thee awhile in the words of a sacred poet, ï¿½
“Sinner, is thy heart at rest?
Is thy bosom void of fear?
Art thou not by guilt oppress’d?
Speaks not conscience in thine ear?
Can this world afford thee bliss?
Can it chase away thy gloom?
Flattering, false, and vain it is;
Tremble at the worldling’s doom!
Think, O sinner, on thy end,
See the judgment-day appear,
Thither must thy spirit wend,
There thy righteous sentence hear.
Wretched, ruin’d, helpless soul,
To a Saviour’s blood apply;
He alone can make thee whole,
Fly to Jesus, sinner, fly!”
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 4. Stand in awe and sin not. Jehovah is a name of great power and efficacy, a name that hath in it five vowels, without which no language can be expressed; a name that hath in it also three syllables, to signify the Trinity of persons, the eternity of God, One in Three and Three in One; a name of such dread and reverence amongst the Jews, that they tremble to name it, and therefore they use the name Adonai (Lord) in all their devotions. And thus ought every one to “stand in awe, and sin not,” by taking the name of God in vain; but to sing praise, and honour, to remember, to declare, to exalt, to praise and bless it; for holy and reverend, only worthy and excellent is his name. Rayment, 1630.
Ver. 4. Commune with your own heart. The language is similar to that which we use when we say, “Consult your better judgment,” or “Take counsel of your own good sense.” Albert Barnes, in loc.
Ver. 4. If thou wouldst exercise thyself to godliness in solitude, accustom thyself to soliloquies, I mean to conference with thyself. He needs never be idle that hath so much business to do with his own soul. It was a famous answer which Antisthenes gave when he was asked what fruit he reaped by all his studies. By them, saith he, I have learned both to live and talk with myself. Soliloquies are the best disputes; every good man is best company for himself of all the creatures. Holy David enjoineth this to others, Commune with your own hearts upon your bed, and be still.
Commune with your own hearts; when ye have none to speak with, talk to yourselves. Ask yourselves for what end ye were made, what lives ye have led, what times ye have lost, what love ye have abused, what wrath ye have deserved. Call yourselves to a reckoning, how ye have improved your talents, how true or false ye have been to your trust, what provision ye have laid in for an hour of death, what preparation ye have made for a great day of account.
Upon your beds. Secrecy is the best opportunity for this duty. The silent night is a good time for this speech. When we have no outward objects to disturb us, and to call our eyes, as the fools’ eyes are always, to the ends of the earth; then our eyes, as the eyes of the wise, may be in our heads; and then our minds, like the windows in Solomon’s temple, may be broad inwards. The most successful searches have been made in the night season; the soul is then wholly shut up in the earthly house of the body, and hath no visits from strangers to disquiet its thoughts. Physicians have judged dreams a probable sign whereby they might find out the distempers of the body. Surely, then, the bed is no bad place to examine and search into the state of the soul.
And be still. Self-communion will much help to curb your headstrong, ungodly passions. Serious consideration, like the casting up of earth amongst bees, will allay inordinate affections when they are full of fury, and make such a hideous noise. Though sensual appetites and unruly desires are, as the people of Ephesus, in an uproar, pleading for their former privilege, and expecting their wonted provisions, as in the days of their predominancy, if conscience use its authority, commanding them in God’s name, whose officer it is, to keep the king’s peace, and argue it with them, as the town-clerk of Ephesus, “We are in danger to be called in question for this day’s uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this day’s concourse;” all is frequently by this means hushed, and the tumult appeased without any further mischief. George Swinnock, 1627-1673.
Ver. 4. Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. When we are most retired from the world, then we are most fit to have, and usually have, most communion with God. If a man would but abridge himself of sleep, and wake with holy thoughts, when deep sleep falleth upon sorrowful labouring men, he might be entertained with visions from God, though not such visions as Eliphaz and others of the saints have had, yet visions he might have. Every time God communicates himself to the soul, there is a vision of love, or mercy, or power, somewhat of God in his nature, or in his will, is showed unto us. David shows us divine work when we go to rest. The bed is not all for sleep: “Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.” Be still or quiet, and then commune with your hearts; and if you will commune with your hearts, God will come and commune with your hearts, too, his Spirit will give you a loving visit and visions of his love. Joseph Caryl.
Ver. 4. Stand in awe.
With sacred awe pronounce his name, Whom words nor thoughts can reach.
John Needham, 1768.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 4. The sinner directed to review himself, that he may be convinced of sin. Andrew Fuller, 1754 – 1815.
Ver. 4. Be still. Adviceï¿½good, practical, but hard to follow. Times when seasonable. Graces needed to enable one to be still. Results of quietness. Persons who most need the advice. Instances of its practice. here is much material for a sermon.
Ver. 5. Provided that the rebels had obeyed the voice of the last verse, they would now be crying,ï¿½”What shall we do to be saved?” And in the present verse, they are pointed to the sacrifice, and exhorted to trust in the Lord. When the Jew offered sacrifice righteously, that is, in a spiritual manner, he thereby set forth the Redeemer, the great sin-atoning Lamb; there is, therefore, the full gospel in this exhortation of the Psalmist. O sinners, flee ye to the sacrifice of Calvary, and there put your whole confidence and trust, for he who died for men is the LORD JEHOVAH.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS None
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 5. The nature of those sacrifices of righteousness which the Lord’s people are expected to offer. William Ford Vance, 1827.
Ver. 6. We have now entered upon the third division of the Psalm, in which the faith of the afflicted one finds utterance in sweet expressions of contentment and peace.
There were many, even among David’s own followers, who wanted to see rather than to believe. Alas! this is the tendency of us all! Even the regenerate sometimes groan after the sense and sight of prosperity, and are sad when darkness covers all good from view. As for worldlings, this is their unceasing cry.
Who will shew us any good? Never satisfied, their gaping mouths are turned in every direction, their empty hearts are ready to drink in any fine delusion which impostors may invent; and when these fail, they soon yield to despair, and declare that there is no good thing in either heaven or earth. The true believer is a man of a very different mould. His face is not downward like the beasts’, but upward like the angels’. He drinks not from the muddy pools of Mammon, but from the fountain of life above. The light of God’s countenance is enough for him. This is his riches, his honour, his health, his ambition, his ease. Give him this, and he will ask no more. This is joy unspeakable, and full of glory. Oh, for more of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, that our fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ may be constant and abiding!
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 6. Where Christ reveals himself there is satisfaction in the slenderest portion, and without Christ there is emptiness in the greatest fullness. Alexander Grosse, on enjoying Christ, 1632.
Ver. 6. Many, said David, ask who will shew us any good? meaning riches, and honour, and pleasure, which are not good. But when he came to godliness itself, he leaves out “many,” and prayeth in his own person, Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us; as if none would join with him. Henry Smith.
Ver. 6. Who will shew us any good? This is not a fair translation. The word any is not in the text, nor anything equivalent to it; and not a few have quoted it, and preached upon the text, placing the principal emphasis upon this illegitimate. The place is sufficiently emphatic. There are multitudes who say, Who will shew us good? Man wants good; he hates evil as evil, because he has pain, suffering, and death through it; and he wishes to find that supreme good which will content his heart, and save him from evil. But men mistake this good. They look for a good that is to gratify their passions; they have no notion of any happiness that does not come to them through the medium of their senses. Therefore they reject spiritual good, and they reject the Supreme God, by whom alone all the powers of the soul of man can be gratified. Adam Clarke.
Ver. 6. Lift thou up, etc. This was the blessing of the high priest and is the heritage of all the saints. It includes reconciliation, assurance, communion, benediction, in a word, the fulness of God. Oh, to be filled therewith! C.H.S.
Ver. 6-7. Lest riches should be accounted evil in themselves, God sometimes gives them to the righteous; and lest they should be considered as the chief good, he frequently bestows them on the wicked. But they are more generally the portion of his enemies than his friends. Alas! what is it to receive and not to be received? to have none other dews of blessing than such as shall be followed by showers of brimstone? We may compass ourselves with sparks of security, and afterwards be secured in eternal misery. This world is a floating island, and so sure as we cast anchor upon it, we shall be carried away by it. God, and all that he has made, is not more that God without anything that he has made. He can never want treasure who has such a golden mine. He is enough without the creature, but the creature is not anything without him. It is, therefore, better to enjoy him without anything else, than to enjoy everything else without him. It is better to be a wooden vessel filled with wine, that a golden one filled with water. William Secker’s Nonsuch Professor, 1660.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 6. The cry of the world and the church contrasted. Vox populi not always Vox Dei.
Ver. 6. The cravings of the soul all satisfied in God.
Ver. 6-7. An assurance of the Saviour’s love, the source of unrivalled joy.
Ver. 7. “It is better,” said one, “to feel God’s favour one hour in our repenting souls, that to sit whole ages under the warmest sunshine that this world affordeth.” Christ in the heart is better than corn in the barn, or wine in the vat. Corn and wine are but fruits of the world, but the light of God’s countenance is the ripe fruit of heaven. “Thou art with me,” is a far more blessed cry than “Harvest home.” Let my granary be empty, I am yet full of blessings if Jesus Christ smiles upon me; but if I have all the world, I am poor without him.
We should not fail to remark that this verse is the saying of the righteous man, in opposition to the saying of the many. How quickly doth the tongue betray the character! “Speak, that I may see thee!” said Socrates to a fair boy. The metal of a bell is best known by its sound. Birds reveal their nature by their song. Owls cannot sing the carol of the lark, nor can the nightingale hoot like the owl. Let us, then, weigh and watch our words, lest our speech should prove us to be foreigners, and aliens from the commonwealth of Israel.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 6-7. Lest riches should be accounted evil in themselves, God sometimes gives them to the righteous; and lest they should be considered as the chief good, he frequently bestows them on the wicked. But they are more generally the portion of his enemies than his friends. Alas! what is it to receive and not be received? to have none other dews of blessing than such as shall be followed by showers of brimstone? We may compass ourselves with sparks of security, and afterwards be secrures in eternal misery. This world is a floating island, and so sure as we cast anchor upon it, we shall be carried away by it. God, and all that he has made, is not more than God without anything that he has made. He can never want treasure who has such a golden mine. He is enough without the creature, but the creature is not anything without him. It is, therefore, better to enjoy him without anything else, than to enjoy everything else without him. It is better to be a wooden vessel filled with wine, than a golden one filled with water. William Secker’s Nonsuch Professor, 1660.
Ver. 7. What madness and folly is it that the favourites of heaven should envy the men of the world, who at best do but feed upon the scraps that come from God’s table! Temporals are the bones; spirituals are the marrow. Is it below a man to envy the dogs, because of the bones? And is it not much more below a Christian to envy others for temporals, when himself enjoys spirituals? Thomas Brooks.
Ver. 7. Thou hast put gladness in my heart. The comforts which God reserves for his mourners are filling comforts (Romans 15:13); “The God of hope fill you with joy” (John 16:24); “Ask that your joy may be full.” When God pours in the joys of heaven they fill the heart, and make it run over (2 Corinthians 7:4); “I am exceeding joyful;” the Greek is, I overflow with joy, as a cup that is filled with wine till it runs over. Outward comforts can no more fill the heart than a triangle can fill a circle. Spiritual joys are satisfying (Psalms 63:5); “My heart shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips;” “Thou hast put gladness in my heart.” Worldly joys do put gladness into the face, but the spirit of God puts gladness into the heart; divine joys are heart joys (Zechariah 10:7 John 16:22); “Your heart shall rejoice” (Lu 1:47); “My spirit rejoiced in God.” And to show how filling these comforts are, which are of a heavenly extraction, the psalmist says they create greater joy than when “corn and wine increase.” Wine and oil may delight but not satisfy; they have their vacuity and indigence. We may say, as Zechariah 10:2, “They comfort in vain;” outward comforts do sooner cloy than cheer, and sooner weary that fill. Xerxes offered great rewards to him that could find out a new pleasure; but the comforts of the Spirit are satisfactory, they recruit the heart (Psalms 94:19), “Thy comforts delight my soul.” There is as much difference between heavenly comforts and earthly, as between a banquet that is eaten, and one that is painted on the wall. Thomas Watson.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 6-7. An assurance of the Saviour’s love, the source of unrivalled joy.
Ver. 7. The believer’s joys.
(1) Their source, Thou; (2) Their seasonï¿½even nowï¿½Thou hast; (3) Their position, in my heart; (4) Their excellence, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.
Another excellent theme suggests itselfï¿½”The superiority of the joys of grace to the joys of earth;” or, “Two sorts of prosperityï¿½ which is to be the more desired?”
Ver. 8. Sweet Evening Hymn! I shall not sit up to watch through fear, but I will lie down; and then I will not lie awake listening to every rustling sound, but I will lie down in peace and sleep, for I have nought to fear. He that hath the wings of God above him needs no other curtain. Better than bolts or bars is the protection of the Lord. Armed men kept the bed of Solomon, but we do not believe that he slept more soundly than his father, whose bed was the hard ground, and who was haunted by blood-thirsty foes. Note the word only, which means that God alone was his keeper, and that though alone, without man’s help, he was even then in good keeping, for he was “alone with God.” A quiet conscience is a good bedfellow. How many of our sleepless hours might be traced to our untrusting and disordered minds. They slumber sweetly whom faith rocks to sleep. No pillow so soft as a promise; no coverlet so warm as an assured interest in Christ.
O Lord, give us this calm repose on thee, that like David we may lie down in peace, and sleep each night while we live; and joyfully may we lie down in the appointed season, to sleep in death, to rest in God!
Dr. Hawker’s reflection upon this Psalm is worthy to be prayed over and fed upon with sacred delight. We cannot help transcribing it.
“Reader! let us never lose sight of the Lord Jesus while reading this Psalm. He is the Lord our righteousness; and therefore, in all our approaches to the mercy seat, let us go there in a language corresponding to this which calls Jesus the Lord our righteousness. While men of the world, from the world are seeking their chief good, let us desire his favour which infinitely transcends corn and wine, and all the good things which perish in the using. Yes, Lord, thy favour is better than life itself. Thou causest them that love thee to inherit substance, and fillest all their treasure.
“Oh! thou gracious God and Father, hast thou in such a wonderful manner set apart one in our nature for thyself? Hast thou indeed chosen one out of the people? Hast thou beheld him in the purity of his nature,ï¿½as one in every point Godly? Hast thou given him as the covenant of the people? And hast thou declared thyself well pleased in him? Oh! then, well may my soul be well pleased in him also. Now do I know that my God and Father will hear me when I call upon him in Jesus’ name, and when I look up to him for acceptance for Jesus’ sake! Yes, my heart is fixed, O Lord, my heart is fixed; Jesus is my hope and righteousness; the Lord will hear me when I call. And henceforth will I both lay me down in peace and sleep securely in Jesus, accepted in the Beloved; for this is the rest wherewith the Lord causeth the weary to rest, and this is the refreshing.”
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 8. It is said of the husbandman, that having cast his seed into the ground, he sleeps and riseth day and night, and the seed springs and grows he knoweth not how. Mr 4:26,27. So a good man having by faith and prayer cast his care upon God, he resteth night and day, and is very easy, leaving it to his God to perform all things for him according to his holy will. Matthew Henry.
Ver. 8. When you have walked with God from morning until night, it remaineth that you conclude the day well, when you would give yourself to rest at night. Wherefore, first, look back and take a strict view of your whole carriage that day past. Reform what you find amiss; and rejoice, or be grieved, as you find you have done well or ill, as you have advanced or declined in grace that day. Secondly, since you cannot sleep in safety if God, who is your keeper (Psalms 121:4-5), do not wake and watch for you (Psalms 127:1); and though you have God to watch when you sleep, you cannot be safe, if he that watcheth be your enemy. Wherefore it is very convenient that at night you renew and confirm your peace with God by faith and prayer, commending and committing yourself to God’s tuition by prayer (Psalms 3:4-5, Psalms 92:2), with thanksgiving before you go to bed. Then shall you lie down in safety. Psalms 4:8. All this being done, yet while you are putting off your apparel, when you are lying down, and when you are in bed, before you sleep, it is good that you commune with your own heart. Psalms 4:4. If possibly you can fall asleep with some heavenly meditation, then will your sleep be more sweet (Proverbs 3:21; Proverbs 3:24-25); and more secure (Proverbs 6:21-22); your dreams fewer, or more comfortable; your head will be fuller of good thoughts (Proverbs 6:22), and your heart will be in a better frame when you awake, whether in the night or in the morning. Condensed from Henry Scudder’s Daily Walk, 1633.
Ver. 8. I will both, etc. We have now to retire for a moment from the strife of tongues and the open hostility of foes, into the stillness and privacy of the chamber of sleep. Here, also, we find the “I will” of trust. I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep; for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety. God is here revealed to us as exercising personal care in the still chamber. And there is something here which should be inexpressibly sweet to the believer, for this shows the minuteness of God’s care, the individuality of his love; how it condescends and stoops, and acts, not only in great, but also in little spheres; not only where glory might be procured from great results, but where nought is to be had save the gratitude and love of a poor feeble creature, whose life has been protected and preserved, in a period of helplessness and sleep. How blessed would it be if we made larger recognition of God in the still chamber; if we thought of him as being there in all hours of illness, of weariness, and pain; if we believed that his interest and care are as much concentrated upon the feeble believer there as upon his people when in the wider battle field of the strife of tongues. There is something inexpressibly touching in this “lying down” of the Psalmist. In thus lying down he voluntarily gave up any guardianship of himself; he resigned himself into the hands of another; he did so completely, for in the absence of all care he slept; there was here a perfect trust. Many a believer lies down, but it is not to sleep. Perhaps he feels safe enough so far as his body is concerned, but cares and anxieties invade the privacy of his chamber; they come to try his faith and trust; they threaten, they frighten, and alas! prove too strong for trust. Many a poor believer might say, “I will lay me down, but not to sleep.” The author met with a touching instance of this, in the case of an aged minister whom he visited in severe illness. This worthy man’s circumstances were narrow, and his family trials were great; he said, “The doctor wants me to sleep, but how can I sleep with care sitting on my pillow?” It is the experience of some of the Lord’s people, that although equal to an emergency or a continued pressure, a re-action sets in afterwards; and when they come to be alone their spirits sink, and they do not realise that strength from God, or feel that confidence in him which they felt while the pressure was exerting its force. … There is a trial in stillness; and oftentimes the still chamber makes a larger demand upon loving trust than the battle field. O that we could trust God more and more with personal things! O that he were the God of our chamber, as well as of our temples and houses! O that we could bring him more and more into the minutiae of daily life! If we did thus, we should experience a measure of rest to which we are, perhaps, strangers now; we should have less dread of the sick chamber; we should have that unharassed mind which conduces most to repose, in body and soul; we should be able to say, “I will lie down and sleep, and leave to-morrow with God!” Ridley’s brother offered to remain with him during the night preceeding his martyrdom, but the bishop declined, saying, that “he meant to go to bed, and sleep as quietly as ever he did in his life.” Philip Bennett Power’s `I Wills’ of the Psalms.
Ver. 8. Due observation of Providence will both beget and secure inward tranquillity in your minds amidst the vicissitudes and revolutions of things in this unstable vain world. I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep; for the Lord only maketh me dwell in safety. He resolves that sinful fears of events shall not rob him of his inward quiet, nor torture his thoughts with anxious presages; he will commit all his concerns into that faithful fatherly hand that had hitherto wrought all things for him; and he means not to lose the comfort of one night’s rest, nor bring the evil of to-morrow upon the day; but knowing in whose hand he was, wisely enjoys the sweet felicity of a resigned will. Now this tranquillity of our minds is as much begotten and preserved by a due consideration of providence as by anything whatsoever. John Flavel, 1627-1691.
Ver. 8. Happy is the Christian, who having nightly with this verse, committed himself to his bed as to his grave, shall at last, with the same words, resign himself to his grave as to his bed, from which he expects in due time to arise, and sing a morning hymn with the children of the resurrection. George Horne, D.D., 1776.
Ver. 8. Sleep,
“How blessed was that sleep The sinless Saviour knew! In vain the storm-sinds blew, Till he awoke to others woes, And hushed the billows to repose.
How beautiful is sleepï¿½ The sleep that Christians know! Ye mourners! cease your woe, While soft upon his Saviour’s breast, The righteous sinks to endless rest.”
Monthly Archives: October 2014
Read PSALM 3.
David, although driven from his kingdom, and pressed down with utter despair of relief from every earthly quarter, ceases not to call upon God, and supports himself from his promise against the greatest terrors, against the mockery and cruel assaults of his enemies; and, finally, against death itself, which then forced itself upon his consideration. In the end of the psalm, he congratulates himself and the whole Church on the happy issue of all.
A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his Son 35
How bitter David’s sorrow was under the conspiracy of his own household against him, which arose from the treachery of his own son, it is easy for every one of us to conjecture from the feelings of nature. And when, in addition to this, he knew that this disaster was brought upon him by God for his own fault in having defiled another man’s wife, and for shedding innocent blood, he might have sunk into despair, and been overwhelmed with anguish, if he had not been encouraged by the promise of God, and thus hoped for life even in death. From his making no allusion here to his sins, we are led to infer, that only one part of his prayers is comprised in this psalm; for as God punished him expressly on account of his adultery, and his wicked treachery towards Uriah, there can be no doubt that he was at first distressed with grievous and dreadful torments of mind. But after he had humbled himself before God, he took courage; and being well assured of having obtained forgiveness, he was fully persuaded that God was on his side, and knew that he would always preside over his kingdom, and show himself its protector. 36 But he, nevertheless, complained of his son, and of the whole faction involved in the conspiracy, because he knew that they wickedly rose up for the purpose of frustrating the decree of God. In like manner, if at any time God makes use of wicked and mischievous men, as scourges to chastise us, it becomes us first diligently to consider the cause, namely, that we suffer nothing which we have not deserved, in order that this reflection may lead us to repentance. But if our enemies, In persecuting us, rather 37 fight against God than against us, let the consideration of their doing so be immediately followed by the confident persuasion of our safety under the protection of him, whose grace, which he hath promised to us, they despise and trample under foot.
IS THE WORLD OUT OF CONTROL?
Poet Robert Browning wrote, “God’s in his heaven–all’s right with the world.” Where in the world was he? As we look at reality, we have to question Browning. God is in heaven, but all is not right with the world!
Since the beginning of time, the world has known strife. The history of man is essentially the history of war. One of the earliest of all historical records, a Sumerian bas-relief from Babylon (ca. 3000 B.C.), shows soldiers fighting in close order, wearing helmets and carrying shields (James Boice, The Last and Future World [Zondervan], p. 98). There have been almost non-stop wars ever since.
In our century, World War I was supposed to be the war to end all wars. About 20 million people were killed. Soon after the world was locked into World War II, which claimed 60 million lives. The December 25, 1967, U. S. News & World Report wrote, “Since World War II [there have been] at least 12 limited wars in the world, 39 political assassinations, 48 personal revolts, 74 rebellions for independence, 162 social revolutions, either political, economical, racial, or religious” (the figures and quote are from Boice, p. 99).
Obviously these figures would have to be revised upward significantly in the 25+ years since then. We’ve seen war between Russia and Afghanistan, China and Vietnam, Vietnam and Cambodia, Iraq and Iran, Iraq and Kuwait, and the current war in Bosnia. There have been and still are numerous regional conflicts and violence: Northern Ireland, South Africa, Lebanon, Israel, Azerbaijan, India, Panama, Peru, Colombia, etc. Our own country faces continued racial tensions, a rising crime rate, gang wars, random violence, and increasing moral degeneracy. Instead of agreeing with Browning that “all is right with the world,” we would probably be more inclined to side with the guy who wrote
God’s plan made a hopeful beginning, But man spoiled his chances by sinning, We trust that the story
Will end in God’s glory,
But at present the other side’s winning. (Boice, pp. 124-125.)
We may chuckle at the limerick, but deep down inside we know that the present world scene is no laughing matter. Man is not “in every day and in every way getting better and better.”
Is the world out of control? How should we view the present world chaos? A wife said to her husband, “Shall we watch the six o’clock news and get indigestion or wait for the eleven o’clock news and have insomnia?” (in Reader’s Digest [4/86], p. 2). Should we sink into depression and despair? Should we ignore the world and its news, ostrich-style? Psalm 2 gives us an answer. In it, the author, King David (see Acts 4:25), views the rebellion of the nations against God. He looks at the chaos of the world scene in his day and says that
Though the nations have rebelled against God, He is sovereign; thus, we must submit to Him while there is time.
Even though the world scene looks as if God has been on an extended vacation, David shows us that God’s plans have not failed and shall not fail. Everything is under His sovereign control and He will ultimately triumph in His ordained time. Thus David appeals to the rebellious nations to bow before the Almighty God while they still have time.
Structure and background of the Psalm:
Psalm 2 is the most frequently quoted psalm in the New Testament. It fits together in an interesting way with Psalm 1 to introduce the Book of Psalms. Psalm 1 begins with, “How blessed”; Psalm 2 ends with the same word (in Hebrew). Psalm 1 ends with a threat; Psalm 2 begins with a threat. In Psalm 1, the godly man meditates on God’s law; in Psalm 2, the wicked
meditates (NASB = “devising,” NIV = “plot”; same Hebrew word) on how to cast off the rule of God. In Psalm 1 the theme is the contrast between the righteous and the wicked person; in Psalm 2 the theme is the contrast between the rebellion of wicked rulers and nations and the rule of God’s righteous Messiah. Psalm 1 consists of two stanzas and six verses. Psalm 2 is twice as long, consisting of four stanzas and 12 verses.
The Psalm is structured as a dramatic presentation in four acts. In Act One (2:1-3), David raises the question about the chaos in the world, and the kings and rulers come forth in a chorus to say their lines (2:3). In Act Two (2:4-6), God calmly sits upon His throne in heaven and speaks His line against the rulers (2:6). In Act Three (2:7-9), God’s Anointed One speaks and reveals God’s decree or predetermined plan for dealing with man’s rebellion. In Act Four (2:10-12), the psalmist speaks out again, giving a closing appeal in light of the previous acts.
For purposes of grasping the message of the psalm, Acts Two and Three may be grouped together so that the psalmist is saying three things: 1. The nations have rebelled against God (2:1-3). But, 2. God is sovereign and has a predetermined plan to judge man’s rebellion (2:4-9). Thus, 3. We must submit to Him while there is time (2:10-12). Let’s examine these three thoughts:
1. The nations have rebelled against God (2:1-3).
To understand this psalm, we must realize that on one level it applies to King David. The schemes of these rulers against the Lord and His anointed are rooted in a time in David’s reign when some of his vassal nations sought to rebel (such as 2 Samuel 10, when the Ammonites and Syrians rebelled). David, the Lord’s anointed king over His people, Israel, writes this song to show the folly of rebellion against God’s anointed king because of the promises God had made to that king. Thus, on one level, 2:1-3 refers to those rebel kings and their attempts to shake off David’s rule over them.
But it is also obvious that the psalm goes far beyond David’s experience. It is ultimately fulfilled only in God’s Anointed
(Hebrew, “Messiah”), God’s Son who is also David’s son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, David wrote this psalm not only about himself, but in a deeper and much more complete way, about Messiah Jesus. Thus just as these kings rebelled against King David, so all men have rebelled against King Jesus. The Bible teaches that:
A. Satan is the author of this rebellion.
Isaiah 14:12-14 describes the rebellion of Satan in heaven against God. When he fell, he led a portion of the angels with him. Under his authority, these demons now wage war against God and the righteous angels. The world was created as the theater for this great conflict to take place. Man was created in the image of God and placed on earth to reflect God’s image and rule as His representatives over His creation. But the Scriptures also teach that …
B. All people have followed Satan in his rebellion against God.
When Adam and Eve succumbed to Satan’s temptation and disobeyed God, the human race fell into sin and thus came under God’s judgment. This rebellion took on an organized form at the tower of Babel, when proud men came together and proposed to build a tower into heaven to make a name for themselves (Gen. 11:4). The Lord confused their languages and scattered them, which was the beginning of the nations. The pride of those at Babel, who sought to make a name for themselves, was diluted by being divided among the various nations of the earth. But Satan works through the pride of world rulers to weaken the nations through conflict and keep them from submitting to God (Isa. 14:12). As biblical prophecy shows, in the end times, the nations will come together under a single world ruler in defiance of the Lord and His Anointed. Satan is the main force behind this world ruler, the antichrist.
But even in His curse upon the serpent, God pointed to the way of redemption that He had planned for fallen man: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He [the woman’s seed] shall bruise you [the serpent] on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel” (Gen. 3:15). Messiah Jesus, born of a woman, would be bruised on the heel by Satan in death as the sin- bearer for the fallen race, but He would bruise Satan upon the head in His triumphant victory over sin and death in His resurrection from the grave. By bringing people from every nation under the lordship of God’s Anointed, Jesus, the rebellion of Satan is thwarted.
Thus in His eternal decree, the Father invites the Son, “Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession” (Ps. 2:8). Either through their willing submission to the message of the gospel now or through their forced subjection under the rod of the Messiah when He comes to judge the nations, their rebellion will be quelled.
Meanwhile, where is God in all this rebellion? Did He go to sleep? Has He lost control? No, the psalmist goes on to show that even though the nations have rebelled against God …
2. God is sovereign (2:4-9).
God doesn’t even get up from His throne to deal with the vain schemes of rebellious kings: “He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them” (2:4). This doesn’t mean that God gets a kick out of man’s rebellion or its devastating results. “‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live’” (Ezek. 33:11). Rather, God’s laughter shows the folly of rebelling against Him. It shows us that …
A. God has a calm assurance in the face of man’s rebellion (2:4-6).
Mighty men rise up and proudly think that they’re so great and powerful. God laughs: “You’ve got to be kid- ding!” Who is puny man to try to stand against the Sovereign God? “He removes kings and establishes kings” (Dan. 2:21) according to His will. The mighty Nebuchadnezzar, the greatest ruler on the earth in his day, grew proud and attributed his greatness to himself. God humbled him with a strange disease, so that he lived in the fields and ate grass like a beast, until he learned that “the Most High is the ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whomever He wishes” (Dan. 4:25).
Napoleon Bonaparte, when intoxicated with success at the height of his power, is reported to have said, “I make circumstances.” God laughs: “Oh, really?” God let him go on for a while, and then He spoke to him in His anger and terrified him in His fury (Ps. 2:5), and Napoleon came to nothing.
Did you know that God is not worried about man’s rebellion against Him? He isn’t sitting on the edge of heaven, biting His nails, and saying, “Oh, what am I going to do?” He lets man go on for a while in his rebellion, but then His anger and judgment will come, and man’s proud plans will come to nothing. The psalmist thus goes on to show that …
B. God has a predetermined plan to deal with man’s rebellion (2:7-9).
This plan centers on the person and the power of God’s Messiah, His Anointed one.
*The person of Messiah (2:7): Verse seven obviously goes beyond David to Christ. The verse is quoted several times in the New Testament with reference to Jesus
(Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5). It plunges us into some deep theological waters that we can never fathom. We can never fully understand the Trinity and the nature of the relationship between the members of the godhead. If we could, God would not be God. We can only go as far as the Scriptures reveal, and no farther.
While probably somewhat anthropomorphic (using human terms to describe God) so that we can understand it to some degree, the relationship between the First and Second Persons of the Trinity is expressed as that of Father and Son. This does not imply any inequality, or that there was a point in time in which Jesus was begotten of the Father (in which case He would not be eternal). The scriptures teach, and orthodox theologians for centuries have agreed, that Jesus is eternally the unique Son of God, second person of the Trinity.
The Athanasian Creed puts it: “The Son is from the Father alone; neither made, nor created, but begotten … generated from eternity from the substance of the Father.” The Nicene Creed expresses it: “The only begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Lights, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father” (quoted in Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology [Dallas Seminary Press], I:316).
When Psalm 2:7 says, “You are My Son, today I have begotten You,” there are two possible interpretations. Either it refers to the day of the eternal decree, when Christ was declared to be the Son of God and begotten (John Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord [Moody Press], p. 41). Since the decree is eternal, Christ’s Sonship is eternal. Or, “this day” refers to the time when Christ’s identity was manifested, when the Father bore witness to Christ as being His own Son, which was primarily through the resurrection (Rom. 1:4; this is Calvin’s view, Calvin’s Commentaries [Associated Publishers & Authors],
2:129-130). But both views hold that Christ is eternally the Son of God.
God’s predetermined plan for dealing with man’s rebellion involves the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, whom God sent into the world to pay the penalty for man’s rebellion (John 3:16; Gal. 4:4). He died according to the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God at the hands of godless men (Acts 2:23; 4:27-28). But God raised Him from the dead and He ascended to heaven, where He is now waiting to return with power. That’s the second part of God’s plan:
*The power of Messiah (2:8-9): Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, will return bodily to this earth in power and glory to crush all opposition and to reign in righteousness from David’s throne. John describes his vision of the Lord Jesus in that great day in Revelation 19:15-16: “And from His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the winepress of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.’” At the end of Christ’s 1,000 year reign, Satan and all who followed him will be thrown into the lake of fire where they will be tormented forever and ever (Rev. 20:10-15).
That is God’s plan for dealing with rebellious man and with Satan and His forces. His plan involves the Second Person of the Trinity, the eternal Son of God, who is going to return to this earth in power to put down all rebellion and to rule in righteousness. How should we respond to this fact?
3. We must submit to God and His Anointed while there is time (2:10-12).
It is not just the proud kings of David’s day who have rebelled against the Lord and His Anointed. “All have sinned
and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). We have all, in our own way, said toward God, “Let us tear His fetters apart, and cast away His cords from us” (Ps. 2:3). We’ve all said, “I’ll do it my way!”
At first glance, you would have thought that everyone would welcome God’s Messiah, who came to save us from our sins. But the issue isn’t just salvation. Jesus didn’t come to save us so that we could get a free ticket to heaven and then go our own way. The issue is one of lordship. The Lord’s Anointed is the King who will reign, if not by our willing submission now, then by forced submission when He comes again. He does not take second place to anyone. Every knee shall bow!
Thus the exhortation of 2:10-12 applies to each person: All people must show discernment and take warning. All people should bow in submission and fear before God and give the kiss of obeisance to His Son. The picture is that of bowing and expressing submission before a monarch so as not to incur his displeasure. We must submit to Christ as Savior and Lord before He returns in judgment, so that we do not “perish in the way.”
The urgency of submitting to Christ is expressed by the phrase, “His wrath may soon be kindled” (2:12). The signs of our times point to the soon coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The first time He came in mercy, to save. The second time He comes in wrath, to judge. The end time events predicted in the Bible are all lining up, just as predicted. But even if His coming is delayed, you have no guarantee that you will have another day on this earth. If you do not submit to Jesus Christ before you die, you will face the wrath of His judgment (Heb. 9:27)! As Matthew Henry put it, “Those that will not bow shall break.”
You can’t find peace and safety anywhere in the world, but only in Christ. A few years ago, a retired couple, alarmed by the threat of nuclear war, studied all the inhabited places on earth, looking for
the place where they could most likely escape the threat of war. They studied and traveled and traveled and studied. Finally they found the perfect place: a small, obscure island off the coast of South America. They moved to the Falkland Islands just before Britain invaded to reclaim that territory from Argentina!
World chaos and war will only increase as His coming draws near. If we can’t escape it, what can we do? The last line of the Psalm is God’s gracious invitation: “How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” Don’t run from God; run to Him! Derek Kidner aptly says, “And there is no refuge from Him: only in him” (Psalms [IVP], 1:53). As we see the chaos in the world, we can be truly happy and blessed by taking refuge in our God. The early church took refuge in Him by praying Psalm 2 as they faced persecution (Acts 4:23-35). In our troubled times, when it looks as if the enemy is winning, we can do the same. Let’s join the early church in doing everything we can to make Christ Lord of all the nations! Even if we should die a martyr’s death, our sovereign God will ultimately triumph!
A cartoon shows a fearful couple, huddled together in bed as they watch TV. The announcer is saying, “And that’s the news. Good night and pleasant dreams!” The only way we can watch the news of this troubled world and have pleasant dreams is if we’ve taken refuge in our sovereign God, who has even the proud rebellion of wicked men under His control.
HOW TO LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER
“And so they lived happily ever after.” So ends many a fairy tale. We enjoyed hearing such stories when we were young, but we all grow up to realize that real life isn’t like that. Life’s too complex. There are too many problems. Nobody lives happily ever after.
Just look around. We’re a nation founded upon the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Ask almost any person what they want out of life, and they will reply, “I want to be happy.” And yet for a people bent on pursuing happiness, we’re not doing so well. Many try to find happiness in love and marriage, but the divorce rate shows that we’re not finding happiness there. Couples hope that having a family will bring them happiness, but often their children cause them more pain than pleasure. Others try to find happiness in a career or in recreational activities. Many try to deaden their pain with alcohol or drugs. But few would admit that they’ve found lasting happiness.
Even many Christians lack happiness. Christian psychologist Larry Crabb tells of a friend whom he describes as “a committed Christian, a gifted counselor, and an unusually clear thinker,” who has not had a difficult life. “Everyone agrees he’s a solid, well- adjusted Christian.” And yet, after an hour of reflective rambling in Crabb’s office, this man quietly asked out loud, “I wonder what it would be like to feel really good for just ten minutes” (Inside Out [Navpress], pp. 26-27). Crabb goes on to say that if we were really honest with ourselves, most of us would admit that we struggle with these same feelings. We aren’t truly happy people.
I must be in denial and totally out of touch with my feelings, because most of the time, I’m a happy man. I don’t say that to boast in myself, but to point you to God’s Word, which promises true happiness to all who follow what it says. Either it’s a fairy tale
which, as adults, we shouldn’t take seriously, or it speaks truth which tells us how to have lasting happiness and why we don’t if we don’t. Psalm 1 shows us that …
To live happily ever after, we must build our lives on God and His Word.
Things can never satisfy us; only God can. Even relationships cannot ultimately satisfy apart from God. Pursuing pleasure, self- fulfillment, or self-centered goals cannot satisfy. Only a life built on God and obedience to His Word will bring true happiness. That’s what this psalm declares.
The first verse begins with “blessed,” which in Hebrew is a plural of intensity and may be rendered, “Oh, how truly happy is the person!” or “Oh, the happiness of the person!” The word stems from a verb meaning to go on or advance. If you want to advance to the fullest measure of happiness, the psalmist is going to tell you how.
It’s significant that he begins by telling us some things that the happy person does not do. Your happiness, both now and in eternity, depends upon your choice of one of two ways. Choosing one means rejecting the other. The psalm begins with that which the happy person must reject:
1. True happiness is not found in a life that leaves God out (1:1).
If you leave God out of your life and reject His ways as revealed in His Word, you will not have true happiness. The psalmist shows three ways it is possible to leave God out of your life:
A. You leave God out by walking in the counsel of the wicked.
This refers to a person who lives his life based upon the
world’s wisdom. The word “wicked” comes from a Hebrew word meaning loose or out of joint. In our modern vernacular, it refers to a person who “hangs loose about God.” He doesn’t take God seriously and thus disregards God’s Word.
We need to be on guard, because the “counsel of the wicked” has flooded into the church today. I confess that I myself was tainted by it for a number of years, until the Lord began to open my eyes. I’m referring to the many books purporting to be Christian which are nothing more than worldly psychology, often with a few Bible verses sprinkled in it to make it look Christian. Even some of the most popular Bible teachers of our day endorse these books. But they are endorsing the counsel of the wicked, to the great harm of God’s people.
How can you discern the counsel of the wicked from the wisdom of God? I can only sketch a bare outline. But let me suggest five tests:
(1) The counsel of the wicked denies the sufficiency of Scripture for dealing with the problems of the soul. The Bible claims to be adequate to equip the believer for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17) and to produce in us true happiness by dealing with the problems of the soul (Ps. 1). It provides answers for problems of guilt, anxiety, depression, anger, bitterness, and relational conflicts. “Christian” psychology brings the world’s wisdom to bear on these problems, thus implying that the Bible is not sufficient and often stating “solutions” opposed to what the Bible prescribes.
(2) The counsel of the wicked exalts the pride of man and takes away from the glory of God. The Bible humbles the pride of man and exalts the glory of God (Isa. 42:8; 1 Cor. 1:31). The world’s wisdom builds the
self and minimizes the need for absolute trust in God, whether for salvation or for daily living.
(3) The counsel of the wicked denies or minimizes the need for the cross of Christ by asserting either the basic goodness of man or by downplaying the extent and impact of the fall. The Bible teaches that we are all utterly wicked and self-seeking. None of us could or would seek God if left to ourselves (Rom. 3:10-18). The cross humbles human pride and wisdom and exalts Christ alone (1 Cor. 1:18-2:5).
(4) The counsel of the wicked denies God’s moral absolutes and substitutes relative human “goodness.” God is absolutely righteous and His standards of holiness as revealed in His Word are absolute (1 Pet. 1:16). Worldly wisdom rationalizes away God’s absolutes as being too “idealistic” or “harsh” and substitutes some human standard, such as “love.” In other words, human wisdom makes a god in its own likeness, rather than submitting to the true God.
(5) The counsel of the wicked focuses on pleasing self rather than on pleasing God and others. The world’s wisdom does not promote self-denial and love for God and others as of first importance (Mark 8:34; 12:29-31). Often the world’s wisdom provides “help” for a person (relief from the symptoms of his problem) without leading him to confess sin, depend on God, and live in obedience to God. The world’s wisdom counsels you to live first of all for yourself. In “Christian” form, it tells you that if you don’t love yourself, you can’t love God and others.
I could say much more, but that brief outline should give some help in discerning and avoiding the counsel of the wicked. Take note! The psalmist says, “How truly happy is the person who does not walk in the counsel of the
B. You leave God out by standing in the path of sinners.
The path of sinners refers to their way of life or behavior. To stand in the path of sinners means involvement with sinners in their sinful behavior. The word “sinners” comes from a Hebrew word meaning to miss the mark. It refers to deviating from the standard of God as revealed in His Word.
In that sense, we’re all sinners. We’ve all missed the mark by deviating from God’s Word. But when we trust in Christ as Savior and Lord, we become converted sinners. Instead of living to please self, the converted sinner seeks to please God (Col. 1:10). He grows in learning how to deny self (Mark 8:34) and to love God and others (Mark 12:28-31).
The Bible teaches that the objective of our relationship with lost sinners needs to change after we come to Christ. On the one hand, “Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33). If we run with worldly people in their godless way of life, we will be wrongly influenced by them. That is why a new Christian needs to cut off close relationships with many former friends: They will draw you back into the old way of life. You may not think so, but, “Do not be deceived”!
On the other hand, we are not supposed to cut ourselves off completely from sinners (unless they make claim of being Christians). Otherwise, you would have to go out of the world (1 Cor. 5:9-11). Rather, your objective changes. Whereas before you associated with sinners as one of them to join in their evil deeds, now you associate with them as a sinner saved by grace to seek to bring them to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Take note:
How truly happy is the person who does not stand in the path of sinners!
C. You leave God out by sitting in the seat of scoffers.
Scoffers have rejected God and His Word. They now seek to justify themselves by openly deriding that which they’ve rejected. Scoffers think they know more than God. They’re too smart to believe in the Bible. Many scoffers come from church backgrounds, but they’ve cast it off as too “repressive.” Although they almost always hide under an intellectual smoke screen, invariably scoff- ers have cast off the Bible because they want to be their own god so that they can follow their own lusts. They don’t want God interfering in their sinful lifestyles.
“The seat” of scoffers refers to the assembly or place where such men gather to reinforce their godless philos- ophy. Birds of a feather flock together. Those who scoff at God love to get together to reinforce their prejudices. To sit in their seat means to belong to such a crowd. Take note: How truly happy is the person who does not sit in the seat of scoffers!
Before we leave verse 1, please note the downward progression in the life of sin. Satan doesn’t cause a person to fall away and spurn the faith all at once. There are degrees of departure from God, as implied in three sets of three words:
(1) Walk > Stand > Sit. First, you walk–you’re still moving, but now in the wrong direction. Then, you stand–you’re lingering in sin. Finally, you sit–you’re at ease in the company of scoffers.
(2) Wicked > Sinners > Scoffers. First, you’re with the wicked–those who hang loose about God. Then you’re with sinners–those who openly violate God’s commands
by missing the mark. Then you’re with scoffers–those who openly reject the truth.
(3) Counsel > Path > Seat. First, you listen to counsel–you begin thinking wrong thoughts. Then, you stand in the path–you engage in wrong behavior. Finally, you sit in the seat–you belong to the wrong crowd and have adopted the fatal attitude of the scoffer. And Satan’s got you!
Two lessons: (1) Guard your mind! Satan begins there, as he did with Eve (“Has God said …?”). Wrong thoughts lead to wrong behavior which leads to rejection of God and His truth. Guarding your mind doesn’t mean that you become a non-thinker. It means that you critique everything by the unchanging standard of God’s Word of truth.
(2) Guard your friends! Those whom you choose as close friends should be committed to the things of God. “What fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14). Bad company will corrupt good morals. In my fourth year at Dallas Seminary, Dr. Howard Hendricks said, “The two factors which will most influence where you will be ten years from now are the books you read and the friends you make.” Guard your mind! Guard your friends!
But, the negative is not enough in and of itself to produce true happiness. The psalmist goes on to show, positively, that…
2. True happiness is found in a life built on God and His Word (1:2-3).
Perhaps many of us can claim a negative sort of purity, because we do not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. But how many can say that we delight in the Word of God and
meditate on it continually?
There is both a responsibility (1:2) and a result (1:3) described here. To the extent that we fulfill the responsibility, we can expect to see the result.
A. The responsibility: to delight in and meditate on God’s Word continually (1:2).
What does it mean to delight in God’s Word. The word is used in the Old Testament (Gen. 34:19; Esther 2:14) of a man delighting in a woman. Ah! That tells us something! Have you noticed that when a young man delights in a woman, he rearranges his priorities so that suddenly he has plenty of time to spend with her? And he doesn’t do it because he has to; he wants to! Nothing interferes with his time with the object of his delight!
Now let me ask: Do you delight in God’s Word in that sense? Do you make time to spend in the Word because you delight in it? Or has it become a duty? It’s easy to fall into the duty mentality toward the Word: “A chapter a day keeps the devil away!” Besides, it alleviates your guilt to read it. So you grind through a chapter and check it off on your list, but you didn’t commune with the living God or apply His Word to where you need to change.
The Bible is God’s love letter to you. You’re reading the counsel of a loving, all-wise Heavenly Father as to how you should live. His commandments are for your blessing and good. It should be no more of a duty to spend time in God’s Word than it is for a young man to spend time with an attractive woman. The way to true happiness is to delight in God’s Word.
We are responsible not only to delight in God’s Word, but also to meditate on it continually. To meditate means
to think about what the Word says and how it applies to all of life. Meditation is to reading what digestion is to eating: chewing on it, letting it become part of you. We’re to be doing it continually (“day and night”), which implies knowing the Word well enough to think about it all day long.
As we saw in verse 1, the mind is the first bastion we must defend. Whatever shapes your thinking will shape your life. The only way for a person to reject the counsel of the ungodly which bombards him from every side is to be continually meditating on, thinking about, chewing on in his mind, the Word of God and how it applies to life.
That’s our responsibility: to delight in and meditate on the Word of God. Do you do it? Matthew Henry wisely comments, “We may judge of our spiritual state by asking, “What is the law of God to us? What account do we make of it? What place has it in us?” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary [Revell], 3:239). To the extent that you build your life on God and His Word, you will have true happiness.
B. The result: a fruitful, prosperous life (1:3).
The psalmist describes the person who delights in God’s Word as a tree planted by streams of water. This is a tree that has been deliberately cultivated, surrounded by these canals or streams so that its roots have a continual supply of water. It is solid and able to withstand drought or storms. It is fruitful and has continual evidence of life and vitality–its leaves do not wither. He sums it up by applying it: “In whatever he does, he prospers.” There’s a truly happy person: the person God blesses with His prosperity, no matter what circumstances of life he finds himself in.
God is not promising financial prosperity here, but rather, soul-prosperity. The so-called “health and wealth” teaching being promoted by some TV preachers, which claims that God promises financial prosperity, is false. God’s servants may be poor in this world’s goods and afflicted by many trials. But they are rich toward God (Luke 12:21), which is true prosperity.
But perhaps, if you were honest, you’d admit that you question the truthfulness of Psalm 1. You may know people who leave God out of their lives and who seem to be genuinely happy and prosperous. They seem to have good marriages and happy families. They seem to be doing just fine without God. And you may know others who are godly people, who build their lives on God and His Word, and yet they are hit with adversity and difficulties. What about that? The psalmist goes on to show that…
3. True happiness is found in a life that takes eternity into account (1:4-6).
The psalmist describes the wicked in contrast to the righteous. The righteous is like a sturdy tree–rooted, firm, fruitful. The wicked is like chaff from the wheat–rootless, weightless, useless. This is not man’s view. From our viewpoint, many who leave God out of their lives are glamorous, powerful, exciting people. Rather, this is God’s view, as verse 6 shows. God’s view takes eternity into account and says, “Those who leave Me out of their lives are like chaff.” They have no sub- stance. They may be great before men, but before God they will be blown away like chaff in the final judgment.
The wicked will not stand in the judgment (1:5), which means, they won’t have a leg to stand on. Their case won’t hold up in God’s court. They won’t be in heaven, where those who have been made righteous through faith in Christ will be assembled. Even though it may not look like it at times, “the
Lord knows” (is intimately acquainted with) “the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” The wicked will be condemned to eternal punishment in the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8).
You may say, “Isn’t that a cop-out? That’s the old pie- in-the-sky-when-you-die bit.” No, it’s not a cop-out. It is the plain teaching of God’s Word, which says, “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Heb. 9:27). We all must stand before God. If you take God and eternity out of the picture, all you are is an accident–the chance product of random chance. Your birth was an accident, your death will be an accident. All you are is an accident suspended between two accidents! There’s no happiness in that view.
The Word of God declares that you are not an accident. You are here as the creation of God, made in His image, designed to find true happiness in Him and in His Word. But due to your rebellion, as seen in your running your own life rather than in submitting to Christ as Lord, you are alienated from God. He could rightfully judge you, but because of His love and mercy, He sent Jesus Christ to die in your place on the cross. You must turn from your rebellion, trust in Him and accept the pardon He offers. If you will do that and then build your life on God and His Word, you will live happily ever after, both now and throughout eternity! And that’s no fairy tale!
Job 42 – Job’s Repentance and Restoration
A. Job’s repentance.
1. (1-3) Job confesses his presumption and lack of knowledge.
Then Job answered the LORD and said:
“I know that You can do everything,
And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
a. I know that You can do everything: This wonderful statement from Job was obviously connected to the impressive display of the power and might of God over creation; but it was also connected to the comfort that the sense of the presence of God brought to Job. God indeed could do everything, including bring comfort and assurance to Job, even when Job still did not understanding the origin or meaning of his crisis.
b. And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You: The God who can master Behemoth and Leviathan (Job 40 and 41) can also accomplish every purpose in Job’s life, including the mysterious meaning behind the twists and turns.
c. I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know: Job sad many sad and imprudent things, both in his agonized cry of Job 3 and in the bitter and contentious debate with his friends. At times he doubted the goodness of God and His righteous judgment in the world; at times he doubted if there was any good in this life or in the life beyond. Now Job has come full circle, back to a state of humble contentment with not knowing the answers to the questions occasioned by his crisis and his companions.
i. “Job felt that what he had spoken concerning the Lord was in the main true; and the Lord himself said to Job’s three friends, ‘Ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath’; but under a sense of the divine presence Job felt that even when he had spoken aright, he had spoken beyond his own proper knowledge, uttering speech whose depths of meaning ho could not himself fathom.” (Spurgeon)
ii. Job’s thinking here is well expressed by one of the shortest psalms, Psalm 131:
LORD, my heart is not haughty,
Nor my eyes lofty.
Neither do I concern myself with great matters,
Nor with things too profound for me.
Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a weaned child with his mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the LORD
From this time forth and forever.
2. (4-6) Job repents before God.
Listen, please, and let me speak; You said,
‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’”
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You.
Therefore I abhor myself,
And repent in dust and ashes.”
a. Listen, please, and let me speak: Before Job seemed to want to challenge God (Job 31:35-40) in a confrontational way. Now, after his wonderful revelation of God, He respectfully asked God for the right to speak.
b. I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You: This reminds us that the most powerful aspect of Job’s encounter with God. It was not primarily what God said; but God’s simple, loving, powerful presence with Job that changed him most profoundly.
i. Seeing God – not with his literal eye, but in a way literally real – gave Job what he so wanted: to know that God was with him in his crisis. This wonderful presence of God has humbled Job.
ii. We should not assume that what Job knew of God was necessarily false; yet each fresh and deeper revelation of God has a brightness that makes previous experience of God seem rather pale. What he had just experienced was so real it made his previous experiences seem unreal.
c. Therefore I abhor myself: It is important to understand each phrase of this statement of Job’s. This would seem to be the normal conviction of sin that even a saint like Job senses in the presence of God; yet there is good evidence that Job, with this statement, was really formally retracting his previous statements made in ignorance.
i. “The verb translated ‘I despise myself (Job 42:6) could be rendered ‘I reject what I said.’” (Smick)
ii. “The Hebrew word literally means, from the standpoint of etymology, to disappear; from the standpoint of usage, to retract, to repudiate. As a matter of fact, Job at this point went beyond what he had previously said when he declared, ‘I am of small account,’ and declared that he practically cancelled himself entirely. I disappear, I retract all that has been said; I repudiate the position I have taken up.” (Morgan)
iii. “I despise (and translations usually supply myself as the object not found in the Hebrew). This does not go as far as the abject self-loathing of that radical repentance that requires admitting known sins. If we are to connect it with verse 3, Job could be expressing regret at his foolish words, uttered hastily and in ignorance.” (Andersen)
d. And repent in dust and ashes: It was right for Job to repent. He had done nothing to invite the crisis that came into his life; the reasons for that crisis were rooted in the contention between God and Satan as recorded in Job 1 and 2. Yet he did have to repent of his bad words and bad attitude after the crisis; both for excessively giving into despair in Job 3 and for his unwise and intemperate speech as he contended with his companions.
i. It is important to note that Job did not give into his friends and admit that they had been right all along. That simply was not true. The sins Job repented of here were both general sins, common to all men, which seemed all the darker in the presence of God yet were not the cause of the catastrophe that came into his life; and they were sins committed after the catastrophe came.
ii. What did Job have to repent of? In his sermon, Job Among the Ashes, Charles Spurgeon suggested several things:
· Job repented of the terrible curse he had pronounced upon the day of his birth.
· Job repented of his desire to die.
· Job repented of his complaints against and challenges to God.
· Job repented of his despair.
· Job repented that his statements had been a “darkening of wisdom by words without knowledge”; that he spoke beyond his knowledge and ability to know.
iii. One might say that these words of Job – words of humble repentance and submission before God, for sins that were greatly provoked, sins that come from the godly and not from the wicked – these words that contain no curse of God whatsoever – these words ended the contest between God and Satan, and demonstrated that the victory belonged to God and to Job.
iv. God’s confidence in Job’s faith was completely vindicated. “Job is vindicated in a faith in God’s goodness that has survived a terrible deprivation and, indeed, grown in scope, unsupported by Israel’s historical creed or the mighty acts of God, unsupported by life in the covenant community, unsupported by cult institutions, unsupported by revealed knowledge from the prophets, unsupported by tradition, and contradicted by experience. Next to Jesus, Job must surely be the greatest believer in the whole Bible.” (Andersen)
v. Simply put, “Without anger toward him, God allowed Job to suffer in order to humiliate the Accuser and proved support to countless sufferers who would follow in Job’s footsteps.” (Smick) This was now accomplished.
B. Job’s restoration.
1. (7-9) Job’s friends are rebuked; Job is vindicated
And so it was, after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has. Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the LORD commanded them; for the LORD had accepted Job.
a. My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends: God rebuked Job’s three companions, addressing Eliphaz as their head (he was the first of the three to speak).
i. Curiously, Elihu is not addressed by God in this final chapter. Some people think this is because Elihu was correct in what he said, and was indeed God’s messenger to Job. Taking into account exactly what Elihu said, it is better to think that God did not answer him as a way of dismissing him altogether.
ii. “He is therefore punished (as ambassadors are used to be when they commit undecencies) with silence, which is the way royal to correct a wrong.” (Trapp)
b. You have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has: The friends of Job spoke many general principles that, in their setting, have great wisdom. The problem was that in Job’s circumstance their principles of wisdom did not apply. They presented God as angry and judgmental against Job when He was not. This displeased God.
i. It displeased God so much that He specifically repeated the charge (Job 42:8); He commanded them to sacrifice a burnt offering to make atonement for their sin; and He commanded them to humble themselves and ask Job to pray for them.
ii. We can imagine that they were quite surprised by this. They no doubt thought that God was in agreement with them all along. “And yet they seemed to be all for God; and to plead his cause against Job throughout. But as in some things they were much mistaken, so they had their self-respects, and were much biased in their discourses.” (Trapp)
iii. God’s rebuke of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar was at the same time an explicit vindication of Job. It was true that in his frustration, stubbornness, and misery Job said things that he had to repent of. Yet God could still say of him, “as My servant Job has,” putting forth Job as an example of one who spoke what is right.
c. So Eliphaz . . . Bildad . . . and Zophar . . . went and did as the LORD commanded them; for the LORD had accepted Job: The friends of Job were accepted for Job’s sake, because the LORD had accepted Job. God made Job a mediator to his friends. This must have been a humbling and instructive experience for the friends, and a happy and healing experience for Job.
i. “These men did not say, ‘No, we will not go to Job’; they did not attempt to justify themselves, they did exactly what God told them to, and in so doing they did a grand and noble thing, and took the only chance of getting to know God.” (Chambers)
ii. “They had attempted to restore Job by philosophy. They had failed. He was now to restore them by prayer. The bands of his own captivity were broken, moreover, in the activity of prayer on behalf of others.” (Morgan)
iii. “Job was permitted to take a noble revenge, I am sure the only one he desired, when he became the means of bringing them back to God. God would not hear them, he said, for they had spoken so wrongly of his servant Job, and now Job is set to be a mediator, or intercessor on their behalf: thus was the contempt poured upon the patriarch turned into honor.” (Spurgeon)
2. (10-11) Job is blessed and received by his friends again.
And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the LORD had brought upon him. Each one gave him a piece of silver and each a ring of gold.
a. And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends: God was good enough to restore Job’s wealth to him, even though Job never asked for this. Job’s agony was always more rooted in the more spiritual aspects of his crisis, much more than the material. Yet once the spiritual was resolved, God restored the material.
i. As the margin in the New King James Version notes, this can also be translated, and the LORD turned the captivity of Job. This is a suggestive phrase; that the act of praying for his friends and restoring his relationship with them in a sense freed Job from captivity.
ii. It does not say that God turned the poverty of Job, nor the health of Job, nor his friendships; rather, literally, He turned the captivity of Job. A man may be poor, sick, and friendless without being captive. Yet until Job had a revelation of God; until he humbled himself before God; until he brought atonement to his friends and prayed for them, he was still in captivity.
iii. This happed after Job’s relationship with his friends was restored (when he prayed for his friends). It would have been a weak restoration if Job’s relationship with Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar remained as contentious and bitter as it was during their debate.
b. Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house: Job was once an outcast even from his own family (as described in Job 19:13-14). Now these relationships were restored.
i. It is interesting to notice that the consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the LORD had brought upon him, and this was even after his losses were restored, his captivity was released. “It is worth dwelling on the fact that, even when everything is set right, Job still feels the hurt of his losses, and needs human comfort for them.” (Andersen)
i. They also gave him generous gifts (a piece of silver and each a ring of gold); probably more to honor his greatness than to make it. “Partly to make up his former losses, and partly as a testimony of their honourable respect to him.” (Poole)
3. (12-17) The happy end to the story of Job.
Now the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first Jemimah, the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-Happuch. In all the land were found no women so beautiful as the daughters of Job; and their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers. After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. So Job died, old and full of days.
a. Now the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning: In the beginning of the story of Job we find a blessed and godly man; at the end of the Book of Job we find a man more blessed and more godly. In the end, all the attack of Satan served to make Job a more blessed and more godly man.
i. “Our sorrows shall have an end when God has gotten his end in them. The ends in the case of Job were these, that Satan might be defeated, foiled with his own weapons, blasted in his hopes when he had everything his own way.” (Spurgeon)
ii. Job had doubled his possessions under the blessing of God, and doubled his children also. “Job had the number of his children doubled; for they are ours still whom we have sent to heaven before us.” (Trapp)
iii. We can also see, as Mason suggests, this chapter as an example of the work of revival.
· God’s people are convicted of their sin (I abhor myself)
· God’s people are broken and repentant (repent in dust and ashes)
· God speaks to hard hearts and they listen (the LORD said to Eliphaz)
· God’s people pray for others and God answers (Job shall pray for you)
· God’s people obey God (Eliphaz . . . Bildad . . . and Zophar . . . went and did as the Lord commanded them)
· God’s people are united and jubilant (all his brothers, all his sisters . . . came to him and ate food with him in his house)
· God’s people are blessed (the LORD blessed)
b. He also had seven sons and three daughters: Nothing could replace the children Job so tragically lost in Job 1; yet these ten children were of true consolation. It also is some evidence that Job’s relationship with his wife was restored to goodness as before.
i. The daughters of Job were also uniquely blessed, noted as being beautiful, and having an inheritance among their brothers. There was, no doubt, some connection between Job’s godly conduct as a family man (Job 31:1-4; 31:9-12) and this blessing on his daughters.
ii. The names of the daughters of Job are of some interest.
· Jemimah: “Turtledove” or “Day-bright.”
· Keziah: “Cinnamon” or “Cassia,” a fragrant scent.
· Keren-Happuch: “A Jar of Eye Paint” or “Horn of Beauty”; the idea was that she was so beautiful that she needed no cosmetics.
c. Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. . . . Job died, old and full of days: Job’s life ended long and blessed. He was well rewarded as a warrior who won a great battle for God’s glory.
i. According to Adam Clarke, the idea behind full of days is that Job died when he was “satisfied with this life.” “Job is now as willing to die as ever he was to dine; he is satisfied with days, saith the text, not as meat loathed, but as a dish, though well liked, that he had fed his full of.” (Trapp)
ii. “The greatest, the most important purposes were accomplished by this trial. Job became a much better man than he ever was before; the dispensations of God’s providence were illustrated and justified; Satan’s devices unmasked; patience crowned and rewarded; and the church of God greatly enriched by having bequeathed to it the vast treasury of divine truth which is found in the BOOK OF JOB.” (Clarke)
iii. “In this great Book there is no solution of problems. There is a great revelation. It is that God may call men into fellowship with Himself through suffering; and that the strength of the human soul is ever that of the knowledge of God.” (Morgan)
iv. “We are not all like Job, but we all have Job’s God. Though we have neither risen to Job’s wealth, nor will, probably, ever sink to Job’s poverty, yet there is the same God above us if we be high, and the same God with his everlasting arms beneath us if we be brought low; and what the Lord did for Job he will do for us, not precisely in the same form, but in the same spirit, and with like design.” (Spurgeon)
A. Contending with Leviathan.
1. (1-7) Mankind is helpless against Leviathan.
“Can you draw out Leviathan with a hook,
Or snare his tongue with a line which you lower?
Can you put a reed through his nose,
Or pierce his jaw with a hook?
Will he make many supplications to you?
Will he speak softly to you?
Will he make a covenant with you?
Will you take him as a servant forever?
Will you play with him as with a bird,
Or will you leash him for your maidens?
Will your companions make a banquet of him?
Will they apportion him among the merchants?
Can you fill his skin with harpoons,
Or his head with fishing spears?
a. Can you draw out Leviathan with a hook? After the discussion of Behemoth in Job 40:15-24, now God called Job to consider another fearful monster, Leviathan. This creature was first mentioned in Job 3:8; Job in that context considered how sailors and fishermen would curse the threatening Leviathan, and with the same passion he cursed the day of his birth.
i. Usually Leviathan is considered to be a mythical sea-monster or dragon that terrorized sailors and fishermen. Yet in the context of Job 41, God does not seem to consider Leviathan to be mythical at all. Some believe that Leviathan describes some ancient dragon-like dinosaur that either survived to Job’s day, or survived in the collective memory of mankind, so that God could refer to it as an example. Others consider that in this context, Leviathan is nothing more than a mighty crocodile.
ii. The name Leviathan means “twisting one” and is also used in other interesting places in Scripture.
· Psalm 74:12-14 refers to Leviathan as a sea serpent, and that God broke the head of the Leviathan long ago, perhaps at the creation.
· Psalm 104:26 also refers to Leviathan as a sea creature.
· Isaiah 27:1 speaks of the future defeat of Leviathan, also associating it with a twisted serpent that lives in the sea.
· Isaiah 51:9 and Psalm 89-8-10 also speak of a serpent associated with the sea that God defeated as a demonstration of His great strength, and identifies this serpent with the name Rahab, meaning proud one.
· Job 26:12-13 also refers to God’s piercing defeat of a fleeing serpent associated with the sea.
b. Can you put a reed through his nose, or pierce his jaw with a hook? God’s point with this description of Leviathan is to show Job just how powerless he is against this creature. There is nothing that Job can do against this mighty monster.
i. This makes the association between Leviathan – obviously, some dragon-type creature, even if it were in this context only a mighty crocodile – and Satan even more interesting. Satan is often represented as a dragon or a serpent (Genesis 3; Revelation 12 and 13). Therefore, Leviathan may be another serpent-like manifestation of Satan.
ii. Indeed, as Adam Clarke says: “The Septuagint has Axeis de drakonta? ‘Canst thou draw out the DRAGON?’ The Syriac and the Arabic have the same.”
iii. Even as Job was powerless against Leviathan (as all men are), so he was also powerless against an unleashed Satan set against him. Only God could defeat Leviathan and Satan. “Satan may be typified here by behemoth and leviathan. Be that as it may, the question left with Job was this: ‘Canst thou?’ Thus he was called to the recognition of his own impotence in many directions, and at the same time to a remembrance of the power of God.” (Morgan)
2. (8-11) If mankind can’t overpower Leviathan, it can’t hope to overpower God.
Lay your hand on him;
Remember the battle;
Never do it again!
Indeed, any hope of overcoming him is false;
Shall one not be overwhelmed at the sight of him?
No one is so fierce that he would dare stir him up.
Who then is able to stand against Me?
Who has preceded Me, that I should pay him?
Everything under heaven is Mine.”
a. Indeed, any hope of overcoming him is false: Job could not hope to defeat Leviathan; it was simply beyond his power to do so.
b. Who then is able to stand against Me? The logical point is made. If Job cannot contend with Leviathan (or even with Satan, whom Leviathan represents), how could he ever hope to stand against the God who made and masters Leviathan? This was another effective way of setting Job in his proper place before God.
i. “Having now said and largely proved that man could not contend with God in power, he now adds, that he cannot do it in justice, because God oweth him nothing, nor is any way obliged to him.” (Poole)
ii. There is a second, also important point: that God Himself was master over Leviathan (everything under heaven is Mine). “By telling of his dominion over Behemoth and Leviathan, the Lord is illustrating what he has said in 40:8-14. He is celebrating his moral triumph over the forces of evil. Satan, the Accuser, has been proved wrong though Job does not know it. The author and the reader see the entire picture that Job and his friends never knew.” (Smick)
B. The description of Leviathan.
1. (12-17) The limbs and skin of Leviathan.
“I will not conceal his limbs,
His mighty power, or his graceful proportions.
Who can remove his outer coat?
Who can approach him with a double bridle?
Who can open the doors of his face,
With his terrible teeth all around?
His rows of scales are his pride,
Shut up tightly as with a seal;
One is so near another
That no air can come between them;
They are joined one to another,
They stick together and cannot be parted.
a. I will not conceal his limbs, his mighty power, or his graceful proportions: To strengthen the point made in the previous section (that Job cannot stand against Leviathan, so he could not hope to stand against God), the LORD will now describe in greater detail the might and glory of this creature.
b. Who can remove his outer coat . . . terrible teeth all around . . . rows of scales . . . joined one to another: This description of Leviathan (especially with the rough, armor-like scaly skin and terrible teeth all around) makes some people believe that whatever Leviathan is in other Biblical and mythological contexts, here God had in mind a mighty crocodile.
i. John Trapp on they are joined one to another, they stick together and cannot be parted: “Let the saints strengthen themselves by close sticking the one to the other, as the primitive Christians did; so that the very heathens acknowledged that no people under heaven did so hold together and love one another as they.”
2. (18-21) Fearful emanations from Leviathan.
His sneezings flash forth light,
And his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning.
Out of his mouth go burning lights;
Sparks of fire shoot out.
Smoke goes out of his nostrils,
As from a boiling pot and burning rushes.
His breath kindles coals,
And a flame goes out of his mouth.
a. His sneezing flash forth light . . . out his mouth go burning lights; sparks of fire shoot out: This description of Leviathan seems definitely beyond that of a crocodile, and leads other commentators to believe that God had in mind much more than a currently known species.
b. Smoke goes out of his nostrils . . . a flame goes out of his mouth: This description of Leviathan seems much more like what we would think of as a dragon. Curiously, the dragon motif is common across cultures and lands, and may point to the actual existence of some creature of this type in pre-history. It may be to this common memory of this fire-breathing, reptilian creature that God refers.
i. “Those who regard these creatures as literal animals must admit that the description given here in Job is an exaggeration of the appearance and power of hippopotamuses and crocodiles.” (Smick)
3. (22-34) The might of Leviathan.
Strength dwells in his neck,
And sorrow dances before him.
The folds of his flesh are joined together;
They are firm on him and cannot be moved.
His heart is as hard as stone,
Even as hard as the lower millstone.
When he raises himself up, the mighty are afraid;
Because of his crashings they are beside themselves.
Though the sword reaches him, it cannot avail;
Nor does spear, dart, or javelin.
He regards iron as straw,
And bronze as rotten wood.
The arrow cannot make him flee;
Slingstones become like stubble to him.
Darts are regarded as straw;
He laughs at the threat of javelins.
His undersides are like sharp potsherds;
He spreads pointed marks in the mire.
He makes the deep boil like a pot;
He makes the sea like a pot of ointment.
He leaves a shining wake behind him;
One would think the deep had white hair.
On earth there is nothing like him,
Which is made without fear.
He beholds every high thing;
He is king over all the children of pride.”
a. Strength dwells in his neck, and sorrow dances before him: In this last extended description of Leviathan, God spoke in terms that more closely connected the concept of Leviathan with Satan. It could be said of Satan as well as Leviathan (if not more so of Satan):
· They are strong (Strength dwells in his neck)
· They are cruel and entertained by sorrow (sorrow dances before him)
· They strongly defended (the folds of his flesh are joined together; they are firm on him and cannot be moved)
· They are unsympathetic and hard of heart (His heart is as hard as stone)
· They cause the mighty to fear (When he raises himself up, the mighty are afraid)
· They cannot be successfully attacked (Though the sword reaches him, it cannot avail . . . he laughs at the threat of javelins)
· They have few vulnerable spots (His undersides are like sharp potsherds)
· They have no worthy adversaries on earth (On earth there is nothing like him)
· They are filled with pride (He is king over all the children of pride)
i. This also means that the description of Behemoth in the previous chapter may also be a representation of the strength and seeming confidence that the apparently unassailable Adversary has. “The use of the two names Behemoth and Leviathan is a poetic repetition, just as Psalm 74 refers to the breaking of the heads of the monster (tanninim) and the heads of Leviathan.” (Smick)
ii. “While it is true that Satan is never named outside the Prologue, this does not mean that the Lord never deals with him. He deals with him here in the form of Leviathan, describing him to Job with the same sort of symbolic picture-language He uses in Revelation.” (Mason)
b. He is king over all the children of pride: This description of Leviathan – especially at this point – is so like that of Satan, that we may fairly suppose that God here was indicating to Job not only His great might and Job’s vulnerability before Satan, but also alluding to Satan’s role in Job’s great crisis.
i. God called Job to consider these unconquerable beasts, who each in their own way were examples of Satan and his power. In this God allowed Job to consider the fact that he could not stand before the power of Satan without God empowering him. Job thought that he was all alone through his ordeal; indeed he felt he was alone. Yet this was God’s way of saying that he was not alone, because if he were then he surely would have crumbled before the power of Leviathan and Behemoth.
ii. “Jonah was swallowed by a whale; but the believer in Jesus Christ swallows the whale. We eat Leviathan for breakfast. It takes a very big God, and a very big faith in God, to be able to absorb so much evil. Leviathan seems to endlessly sprawling, gargantuan, invincible. But the essence of the gospel is that the love of God is greater than any evil.” (Mason)
iii. God ends His words to Job without ever telling him the story behind the story. Job was left ignorant about the contest between God and Satan that prompted his whole crisis (though perhaps God later told him). Though Job did not know the whole story, God did tell him of His great victory over Leviathan/Satan, giving Job assurance for the past, the present, and for the future.
iv. It was important that God did not tell Job the reasons why; then Job can be a continuing comfort and inspiration and example to those who suffer with an explanation. “Once again we emphasize that if the specific and ultimate reason for his suffering had been revealed to Job – even at this point – the value of the account as a comfort to others who must suffer in ignorance would have been diminished if not cancelled.” (Smick)
A. God’s challenge and Job’s response.
1. (1-2) God asks Job: “Will you now challenge Me?”
Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said:
“Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?
He who rebukes God, let him answer it.”
a. Moreover the LORD answered Job: This continued God’s challenge to Job, where God answered Job’s heart without specifically answering Job’s questions. It came after the extended time of fellowship, wonder, and teaching described in Job 38 and 39.
b. Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? Job, speaking from what he felt to be his God-absent agony, longed to contend with God. Yet after God appeared in His love and glory, Job now felt humbled about his previous demand. He rightly felt he was in no place to contend with the Almighty, much less to correct Him or rebuke Him.
i. We might say that Job and God had a wonderful time together in Job chapters 38 and 39; God taught Job all about His greatness using the whole world as His classroom. Yet in it all God remained God and Job remained a man.
2. (3-5) Job is speechless before God.
Then Job answered the LORD and said:
“Behold, I am vile;
What shall I answer You?
I lay my hand over my mouth.
Once I have spoken, but I will not answer;
Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.”
a. Then Job answered the LORD: Job had prayed often throughout the dialogue with his friends; he was the only one of the five to speak to God. Yet now Job spoke after God’s great revelation of Himself, and will speak with a quite different tone than he had before.
i. The different tone was not because Job’s circumstances had substantially changed. He was still in misery and had lost virtually everything. The tone changed because while he once felt that God had forsaken him, now he felt and knew that God was with Him.
ii. Job also spoke with a completely different tone than he had with his companions. “It was Job’s turn to speak again. But there would be no long speeches, no more rage, no more challenging his Creator.” (Smick)
iii. “What a different tone is here! . . . The Master is come, and the servant who had contended with his fellows takes a lowly place of humility and silence.” (Meyer)
b. Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer You? Job once wanted to question God and with great passion demanded to be brought into God’s court (Job 31:35-37). Now, after the revelation of God and the restoration of a sense of relationship with Him, Job sensed his own relative position before God, and that he could not answer God.
i. Behold, I am vile: This “was a perfectly correct translation in the time of King James, because then vile did not mean what it has come to mean in the process of the years. In the Hebrew word there is no suggestion of moral failure. Quite literally it means, of no weight. Job did not here in the presence of the majesty of God confess moral perversity, but comparative insignificance.” (Morgan)
ii. We must all be caused to see our “lightness” next to God. “Surely, if any man had a right to say I am not vile, it was Job; for, according to the testimony of God himself, he was ‘a perfect and an upright man, one that feared God and eschewed evil.’ Yet we find even this eminent saint when by his nearness to God he had received light enough to discover his own condition, exclaiming, ‘Behold I am vile.’” (Spurgeon)
iii. “Job said, ‘Behold, I am vile.’ That word ‘behold’ implies that he was astonished. The discovery was unexpected. There are special times with the Lord’s people, when they learn by experience that they are vile.” (Spurgeon)
iv. All of the arguing of Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu could not bring Job to this place. Only the revelation of God could so humble Job and set him in his right place before the LORD. Job made his strong and sometimes outrageous statements when he felt, to the core of his soul, that the LORD had forsaken him. Now with his sense of the presence of the LORD restored, Job could better see his proper place before God.
v. It is important to remember that God never did forsake Job; that while He withdrew the sense of His presence (and this was the cause of profound misery to Job), God was present with Job all along, strengthening Him with His unseen hand. Job could have never survived this ordeal without that unseen, unsensed hand of God supporting him.
vi. To bring Job to this place, we need not think that God was angry and harsh with Job in chapters 38 and 39. It is still entirely possible – likely, indeed – that God’s manner with Job in those chapters was marked by warm and loving fellowship more than harsh rebuke. We remember that it is the goodness of God that leads man to repentance (Romans 2:4).
vii. “Standing in the midst of the universe, a being conscious of the majesty and the might of the wisdom and power of God, I say with perfect honesty and accuracy, ‘I am of small account.’ Standing in the presence of the Son of God, and listening to His teaching, I find that I am of greater value than the whole world, and to the heart of God of such value, that in order to my recovery He gave His only begotten Son.” (Morgan)
c. I lay my hand over my mouth: Job was now ashamed at the way he spoke about God and his situation. He would use his hand to stop his mouth, and he would proceed no further.
i. “Perhaps one of the most worshipful gestures of all is the uncommon one that Job here performs: covering the mouth with the hand. The act is a demonstration of total submission. One can fall on one’s face and yet continue to blubber and babble. But to yield the tongue is to yield everything.” (Mason)
B. God once again teaches Job.
1. (6-7) God’s challenge to Job.
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:
“Now prepare yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer Me:”
a. Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind: God was still present with Job in the midst of the strong, untamable storm. He had not morphed into a gentler presence.
i. “The whirlwind was renewed when God renewed his charge upon Job, whom he intended to humble more thoroughly than yet he had done.” (Poole)
b. Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you and you shall answer Me: In using the same phrasing that began this encounter (Job 38:3), God indicated to Job that He was not yet finished. There was more to show Job and to teach him from creation.
i. “Resume new strength, and prepare yourself for a second encounter; for I have not yet done with you.” (Trapp)
2. (8-14) God asks, “Job, are you fit to prove Me wrong or to save yourself?”
“Would you indeed annul My judgment?
Would you condemn Me that you may be justified?
Have you an arm like God?
Or can you thunder with a voice like His?
Then adorn yourself with majesty and splendor, and array yourself with glory and beauty.
Disperse the rage of your wrath;
Look on everyone who is proud, and humble him.
Look on everyone who is proud, and bring him low;
Tread down the wicked in their place.
Hide them in the dust together,
Bind their faces in hidden darkness.
Then I will also confess to you
That your own right hand can save you.”
a. Would you condemn Me that you may be justified? Throughout Job’s questioning of God, it could be said that he seemed more concerned with the defense of his own integrity rather than God’s. This was natural (Job’s integrity was under harsh attack), but not good.
i. We might say that Job fell into the trap of thinking that because he couldn’t figure God out, that perhaps God wasn’t fair. Yet in this larger section of God’s revelation of Himself to Job, God has demonstrated that there are many things that Job doesn’t know, and therefore was not a fit judge of God’s ways.
b. Have you an arm like God? God here again reminded Job of the distance between Himself and Job. Yes, the sense of fellowship had been restored to Job; but it did not mean that God and Job were on the same level. There was still the distance that exists between God and man.
i. “In spite of its aggressive tone, this speech is really not a contradiction of anything that Job has said. In many respects it is very close to his own thought, and endorses his sustained contention that justice must be left to God. But it brings Job to the end of his quest by convincing him that he may and must hand the whole matter over completely to God more trustingly, less fretfully. And do it without insisting that God should first answer all his questions and give him a formal acquittal.” (Andersen)
c. Then adorn yourself with majesty and splendor . . . look on everyone who is proud, and humble him . . . tread down the wicked in their place: God challenged Job to do these things that only God can do. As Job recognized his inability, it reminded him of his proper place before God.
i. “ ‘Can he,’ he is asked, ‘assume the royal robe of the Universal Monarch, can he array himself with honour and majesty? Can he with a glance abase the proud, and tread down the wicked? Has he the knowledge, has he the wisdom, has he the power, to seat himself in God’s seat, and right the wrongs of the earth.’ ” (Bradley)
d. Then I will also confess to you that your own right hand can save you: With this, God strongly brought the point to Job. Since he could not do these things that only God could do (described in Job 40:9-13), neither could he save himself with his own right hand.
i. “In other words: Salvation belongeth unto the Lord; no man can save his own soul by works of righteousness which he has done, is doing, or can possibly do, to all eternity. Without Jesus every human spirit must have perished everlastingly. Glory be to God for his unspeakable gift!” (Clarke)
ii. “These verses are presented as an aggressive challenge to Job. . . . But they are lovingly designed to shake Job’s spirit into realizing God is the only Creator and the only Savior there is.” (Smick)
3. (15-24) An example of God’s might and Job’s relative weakness: Behemoth.
“Look now at the behemoth, which I made along with you;
He eats grass like an ox.
See now, his strength is in his hips,
And his power is in his stomach muscles.
He moves his tail like a cedar;
The sinews of his thighs are tightly knit.
His bones are like beams of bronze,
His ribs like bars of iron.
He is the first of the ways of God;
Only He who made him can bring near His sword.
Surely the mountains yield food for him,
And all the beasts of the field play there.
He lies under the lotus trees,
In a covert of reeds and marsh.
The lotus trees cover him with their shade;
The willows by the brook surround him.
Indeed the river may rage,
Yet he is not disturbed;
He is confident, though the Jordan gushes into his mouth,
Though he takes it in his eyes,
Or one pierces his nose with a snare.”
a. Look now at the behemoth: God gave Job a remarkable survey of the wonders of creation in Job 38-39, including a look at many remarkable animals and their ways. Now lastly, God gives Job a look at two remarkable creatures: Behemoth (Job 40:15-24) and Leviathan (Job 41).
i. The precise identity of this animal named behemoth is debated. Most think God had in mind what we would call the hippopotamus, one of the largest, strongest, and most dangerous land creatures in the world.
b. He eats grass like an ox . . . his power is in his stomach muscles: God seems to rejoice in His own creation as He describes the wonder of this remarkable animal, noting its strength, size, appetite, and habits.
i. The picture is clear. If Job cannot contend with this fellow creature, how could he ever contend with the God who created the Behemoth?