on Job 3 :26
I was not in safety - If this verse be read interrogatively, it will give a good and easy sense: Was I not in safety? Had I not rest? Was I not in comfort? Yet trouble came. It is well known that, previously to this attack of Satan, Job was in great prosperity and peace. Mr. Good translates, I had no peace; yea, I had no rest. Yea, I had no respite, as the trouble came on; and refers the whole to the quick succession of the series of heavy evils by which he was tried. There is a similar thought in the Psalmist: Deep crieth unto deep at the noise of thy water-spouts; all thy waves and thy billows have gone over me; Psalm 42:7. One evil treads on the heels of another.
In this chapter Job's conflict begins. Now, and not before, Satan appears to have access to his mind. When he deprived him of his property, and, what was still dearer, of his sons and his daughters, the hope of his family, he bore all with the most exemplary patience, and the deepest resignation to the Divine will. When his adversary was permitted to touch his body, and afflict it in the most grievous and distressing manner, rendered still more intolerable by his being previously deprived of all the comforts and necessaries of life; still he held fast his integrity; no complaint, no murmur was heard. From the Lord's hand he received his temporal good; and from that hand he received his temporal evil, the privation of that good. Satan was, therefore, baffled in all his attempts; Job continued to be a perfect and upright man, fearing God, and avoiding evil. This was Job's triumph, or rather the triumph of Divine grace; and Satan's defeat and confusion.
It is indeed very seldom that God permits Satan to waste the substance or afflict the body of any man; but at all times this malevolent spirit may have access to the mind of any man, and inject doubts, fears, diffidence, perplexities, and even unbelief. And here is the spiritual conflict. Now, their wrestling is not with flesh and blood - with men like themselves, nor about secular affairs; but they have to contend with angels, principalities and powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickednesses in heavenly places. In such cases Satan is often permitted to diffuse darkness into the understanding, and envelope the heavens with clouds. Hence are engendered false views of God and his providence, of men, of the spiritual world, and particularly of the person's own state and circumstances. Every thing is distorted, and all seen through a false medium. Indescribable distractions and uneasiness are hereby induced; the mind is like a troubled sea, tossed by a tempest that seems to confound both heaven and earth. Strong temptations to things which the soul contemplates with abhorrence are injected; and which are followed by immediate accusations, as if the injections were the offspring of the heart itself; and the trouble and dismay produced are represented as the sense of guilt, from a consciousness of having, in heart, committed these evils. Thus Satan tempts, accuses, and upbraids, in order to perplex the soul, induce skepticism, and destroy the empire of faith. Behold here the permission of God, and behold also his sovereign control: all this time the grand tempter is not permitted to touch the heart, the seat of the affections, nor offer even the slightest violence to the will. The soul is cast down, but not destroyed; perplexed, but not in despair. It is on all sides harassed; without are fightings, within are fears: but the will is inflexible on the side of God and truth, and the heart, with all its train of affections and passions, follows it. The man does not wickedly depart from his God; the outworks are violently assailed, but not taken; the city is still safe, and the citadel impregnable. Heaviness may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning. Jesus is soon seen walking upon the waters. He speaks peace to the winds and the sea: immediately there is a calm. Satan is bruised down under the feet of the sufferer, the clouds are dispersed, the heavens re-appear, and the soul, to its surprise, finds that the storm, instead of hindering, has driven it nearer to the haven whither it would be.
The reader who closely examines the subject will find that this was the case of Job. The following chapters show the conflict of the soul; the end of the book, God's victory and his exaltation. Satan sifted Job as wheat, but his faith failed not.
on Job 3 :26
I was not in safety - That is, I have, or I had no peace. שׁלה shâlâh Septuagint, οὔτε εἰρήνευσα oute eirēneusa - "I had no peace." The sense is, that his mind had been disturbed with fearful alarms; or perhaps that at that time he was filled with dread.
Neither had I rest - Trouble comes upon me in every form, and I am a stranger wholly to peace. The accumulation of phrases here, all meaning nearly the same thing, is descriptive of a state of great agitation of mind. Such an accumulation is not uncommon in the Bible to denote any thing which language can scarcely describe. So in Isaiah 8:22 :
And they shall look upward; And to the earth shall they look; And lo!
rouble and darkness, Gloom, oppression, and deepened darkness.
So Job 10:21-22 :
To the land of darkness and the death-shade,
The land of darkness like the blackness of the death-shade,
Where is no order, and where the light is as darkness.
Thus, in the Hamasa (quoted by Dr Good), "Death, and devastation, and a remorseless disease, and a still heavier and more terrific family of evils." The Chaldee has made a remarkable addition here, arising from the general design in the author of that Paraphrase, to explain everything. "Did I not dissemble when the annunciation was made to me respecting the oxen and the asses? Was I not stupid (unalarmed, or unmoved, שדוכית), when the report came about the conflagration? Was I not quiet, when the report came respecting the camels? And did not indignation come, when the report was made respecting my sons?"
Yet trouble came - Or rather, "and trouble comes." This is one of the cumulative expressions to denote the rapidity and the intensity of his sorrows. The word rendered "trouble" (רגז rôgez) means properly trembling, commotion, disquiet. Here it signifies such misery as made him tremble. Once the word means wrath Habakkuk 3:2; and it is so understood here by the Septuagint, who renders it ὀργή orgē.
In regard to this chapter, containing the first speech of Job, we may remark, that it is impossible to approve the spirit which it exhibits, or to believe that it was acceptable to God. It laid the foundation for the reflections - many of them exceedingly just - in the following chapters, and led his friends to doubt whether such a man could be truly pious. The spirit which is manifested in this chapter, is undoubtedly far from that calm submission which religion should have produced, and from that which Job had before evinced. That he was, in the main, a man of eminent holiness and patience, the whole book demonstrates; but this chapter is one of the conclusive proofs that he was not absolutely free from imperfection. From the chapter we may learn,
(1) That even eminently good men sometimes give utterance to sentiments which are a departure from the spirit of religion, and which they will have occasion to regret. Such was the case here. There was a language of complaint, and a bitterness of expression, which religion cannot sanction, and which no pious man, on reflection, would approve.
(2) We see the effect of heavy affliction on the mind. It sometimes becomes overwhelming. It is so great that all the ordinary barriers against impatience are swept away. The sufferer is left to utter language of complaining, and there is the impatient wish that life was closed, or that he had not existed.
(3) We are not to infer that because a man in affliction makes use of some expressions which we cannot approve, and which are not sanctioned by the word of God, that therefore he is not a good man. There may be true piety, yet it may be far from perfection; there may be in general submission to God, yet the calamity may be so overwhelming as to overcome the usual restraints on our corrupt and fallen nature: and when we remember how feeble is our nature at best, and how imperfect is the piety of the holiest of men, we should not harshly judge him who is left to express impatience in his trials, or who gives utterance to sentiments different from those which are sanctioned by the word of God. There has been but one model of pure submission on earth - the Lord Jesus Christ; and after the contemplation of the best of men in their trials, we can see that there is imperfection in them, and that if we would survey absolute perfection in suffering, we must go to Gethsemane and to Calvary.
on Job 3 :26
3:26 Quiet - I did not misbehave myself in prosperity, abusing it by presumption, and security, but I lived circumspectly, walking humbly with God, and working out my salvation with fear and trembling. Therefore in this sense also, his way was hid, he knew not why God contended with him.