Section 3.

The third addresses of the friends — conclusion of their argument. Job answers them all, and remains unmoved by them, but still in darkness and self-satisfaction (Job 22 — 26).

With the present series we reach the conclusion of the controversy so far as the friends were concerned. Beyond a wearisome reiteration of their former arguments, if such they can be called, there is nothing of importance advanced by them. Eliphaz, indeed, who opens this third section of the controversy, continues to maintain his original contention, and speaks with dignity and much poetic beauty, with some slight return to graciousness. But the address is marred by a painful spirit of gross unfairness. Bildad, the second speaker, closes feebly and briefly. Zophar remains silent. This, their last attempt, is fragmentary therefore, and may without injustice be considered a failure.

On the other hand, Job waxes stronger and stronger. He replies with vigor and a good deal of conclusiveness to the remarks of his friends, and in a way which effectually closes their mouths. But his own mouth remains open to pour forth the misery of his unrelieved heart; and the dark cloud still hangs between himself and God. All this will appear as we take up each address and its reply. These fall into two parts — Zophar, as we have said, taking no part.
1. Eliphaz: False charges against Job; the promise of restoration if he is penitent. Job's reply (Job 22-24).
2. Bildad: Renewed statement of God's greatness and man's sinfulness. Job's reply (Job 25, 26).

Eliphaz's Address.

This may be divided into seven parts, a complete summing up from his point of view of the entire argument:
(1) Job's sin in view of God's greatness (Job 22:1-5).
(2) The direct charge (vers. 6-11).
(3) All is known to God (vers. 12-14).
(4) The way of the wicked (vers. 15-18).
(5) Their just punishment (vers. 19, 20).
(6) Final call to repentance (vers. 21-25).
(7) Prophecy of a bright future (vers. 26-30).

(1) In this first portion Eliphaz dwells upon God's infinite greatness and sufficiency unto Himself. Is man profitable to God? Does he add anything to the infinite fulness of the Creator? A wise man is profitable to himself, but in no sense is God dependent upon him. His righteousness is of no special profit to God (not "pleasure," for surely He does take pleasure in His saints). As the self-emptied One declares, "My goodness extendeth not to Thee" (Ps. 16:2). If therefore Job refuses to repent of his sin, he is not injuring God, but himself, and must reap the consequences. Eliphaz asks Job, does not his chastisement prove his sin? For would God rebuke a man for piety — his godly fear? Therefore Job's sin is proven! Surely an easy way, in a world of suffering, to prove man a sinner. But it proves too much, for it includes every sufferer — the righteous as well as the wicked.

We must, however, take exception to the first part of this declaration, as well as to the manifestly mistaken character of the second part. Has not God suffered, not in His blessed nature, but in what should have displayed it — righteousness in His creature? All has been created for His glory and pleasure. God is therefore a loser by the failure of man to exhibit in his life that which manifests the wisdom and goodness of his Creator. Judgment is not vindictive, therefore, but retributive, and wrath is for actual sin against God. Such is the conviction of sin brought home to the conscience by the Spirit of God: "Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned." We get but a cold view of God as Eliphaz describes Him. On the contrary, the word of God presents Him as deeply concerned in all our affairs, as intimately associated with His creation. There would be no room for the gospel in the partial statements of Eliphaz. God is not simply holding the balances of justice as a disinterested observer, to mete out punishment to the one who comes short. If such teaching obtained, where would we find find place for, "Like as a Father pitieth His children;" "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth;" "He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness? "

(2) Having laid down his erroneous principle with such positiveness, and having declared that Job's sin was infinitely great (for God does not punish a pious man) Eliphaz opens up a most startling series of statements as to Job's actual conduct. It is no longer implied sin in the call to repentance, or innuendos in likening Job's suffering to those of the wicked, but as outrageous accusations of actual sin as could be imagined. Job has taken away his brother's goods on a false claim! He has stripped the poor of his last covering! He has refused water to the languishing and bread to the starving! By sheer power he has taken the lands of others and dwelt there himself as a great and honorable man! Widows and orphans have been driven away by this heartless monster! Proofs? Witnesses? What need of these, when the theory proves all so satisfactorily without going to the trouble of establishing facts! Thus, out of his "inner consciousness," does the grave and gray-haired Eliphaz evolve conclusive proof that the suffering friend and patriarch before him is a monster of iniquity! From such friendship and perversions of truth, may God deliver us.

But even now, is not suspicion of others all too common? One is not successful in business, has illness in his family, loses loved ones, and the hasty conclusion is that he is being chastened for some imaginary faults. How cruel this is, and contrary to the plain direction, "In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established." Let us be slow to suspect, and slower to charge unknown evil, leaving that to the Searcher of hearts. If He calls upon us to declare evil, it is of what He has unmistakably manifested.

Concluding his charge, Eliphaz declares these sins explain why Job is caught as in a snare, and overwhelmed with fear. Can he not see the darkness which envelops him, and the flood of waters in which he is engulfed?

(3) This portion continues the unfair suspicions of Eliphaz. He makes Job say that God dwells in heaven, and has His abode among the stars, therefore how can He see what is taking place beneath the clouds which hide the earth from His view? He walks about in the vault of heaven in satisfied ignorance of everything that goes on in the world below! Has Eliphaz forgotten Job's strong declaration of the omnipotence and omniscience of God in Job 9? The title of this section is rightly given however as "All is known to God," for Job's imagined unbelief is intended to bring out into all the bolder relief the great truth that nothing can be hid from the Searcher of hearts.

(4) Recurring to the oft-repeated example of the wicked and their punishment, Eliphaz depicts their temporal prosperity and the inevitable judgment which overtakes them. Like the grass which groweth up only to be cut down and withered, they perished before their time. Their apparently solid foundations were swept away by a flood (or, perhaps more accurately, turned into a flood). The meaning is the same in either case, and there may be a reference to the days of Noah, when they ate and drank, married, and were given in marriage, "until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all." As samples of the ungodly at all times, these men before the flood had defied the God who had bestowed His blessings upon them: "Depart from us!" and what can the Almighty do to them? From such impiety Eliphaz — we may believe with all sincerity — turns in horror; "The counsel of the wicked be far from me." He is quoting the very words of Job (Job 21:16) why will he not allow to his former friend the same abhorrence of evil as himself? Instead of this, it would almost seem that he is expressing his repulsion from Job, associating him with those who defy God.

(5) This godlessness can receive but its merited punishment, at which all the righteous shall rejoice. "The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily He is a God that judgeth in the earth" (Ps. 58:10-11). There is, however, this difference between the position of Eliphaz and that taken in many of the psalms: these give us the final cleansing of the kingdom "of all things that offend and them which do iniquity" (Matt. 13:41), after full space has been given for repentance, and when evil shall have been manifested as incurable rebellion against God, as the absolute barrier to all full blessing upon the earth. Therefore the righteous rejoice at the deliverance rather than the mere judgment, although all will be seen as perfectly in accord with the full character of God. So, too, there is joy in heaven when Satan is cast out (Rev. 12:10-12), and when Babylon receives her long-deferred judgment (Rev. 18:20; 19:1-3).

But we can see how unfair Eliphaz's judgment is, in view of the admittedly various life and end of wicked men, and especially in view of the suffering of many of the righteous. It is particularly painful, as it seems to be spoken with a relish by Eliphaz, in reference to Job's state, which is all too apparent.

(6) But the oldest of the friends is going to bring his remarks to a decorous end. He will once more hold out the offer of restoration to the offender — if he will but repent. The language is of great beauty, and we might well wish it had been used in a worthier way. "Acquaint now thyself with Him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee." This might well serve as a gospel text for is it not eternal life to know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent? And what peace is found through this knowledge — "peace by the blood of the Cross" — peace preached and peace possessed by faith! What good, for time and eternity, flows from this acquaintance! But he is addressing one who does know God — that is, according to the Old Testament revelation — and therefore the apparent tenderness of the exhortation is turned to gall. "Receive, I pray thee, the law (instruction) from His mouth, and lay up His words in thy heart." The comfort to God's people, "We glory in tribulations also," or the "weeping with them that weep," is not found in Eliphaz's words: "If thou return to the Almighty thou shalt be built up, if thou shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles."

Again, we must warn God's people of the snare into which Eliphaz has fallen. All pious exhortations to repent, to give up sin, to judge a course of evil, if not based upon known facts, are but insults, and savor of a pharisaic spirit, which, as with Eliphaz and his friends, must itself be repented of.

Eliphaz holds out, in an almost prophetic way, the prospect of a restoration of all Job's former prosperity — wealth and happiness. Verses 24 and 25 have been rendered in different ways. The Authorized Version begins the promises with the close of verse 23, "thou shalt put away iniquity," etc., "Then thou shalt lay up gold as dust," etc. The ordinarily excellent version of Delitzsch makes all conditional up to the close of verse 24: "If thou lay by in the dust the gold ore, and under the pebbles of the brooks the gold of Ophir, so shall the Almighty be to thee gold ore in abundance, and silver to thee of the brightest lustre."

The usual rendering, however, seems to be preferred. Old Testament usage, and particularly that of the book of Job, associates the enjoyment of temporal wealth with the favor of God. Thus Eliphaz promises restoration of all the wealth that Job had lost. Then, too, it would seem nothing short of satire to exhort a man who had been already deprived of his wealth, to lay it aside in the dust, or as worthless stones of the brook. It has been therefore contended that Eliphaz is speaking figuratively, and that Job is told to lay aside the covetous love of gold in the dust. We leave therefore the rendering of our excellent version largely as it is. The Almighty will be a high place of defence for the penitent, and abundance of wealth will be his.

(7) Eliphaz now reaches his peroration, picturing the joys that await Job if he will only —? acknowledge that his false accusers are right! Then he will enjoy communion with the Almighty, basking in the sunlight of His countenance. Prayer will receive its answer, and the vows he has made in his affliction will be accepted. He shall make plans which will not be frustrated, and the light will fall upon all his paths. If these paths should seem to take a downward course (ver. 29) Job will need but to say, "Arise," or "a lifting up," and all will be well. For he will be one of the humble whom God exalteth. Yea, Job shall be a succorer of others, the once guilty (not, "island of the innocent") will be rescued by him whose hands have become clean.

Thus the friend closes. He has sought to make out his case, and to mingle promises with denunciations. Sometimes it would seem that he was foretelling the recovery of Job, but all is marred by his wrong principle, and is therefore in itself valueless. And yet there are many noble and beautiful utterances here. How important it is therefore to have the true point of view, that the opening of our mouth may be right things.

Job's Reply to Eliphaz (Job 23, 24).

Job does not trouble himself to reply to the grievous charges of Eliphaz; the time for that has passed, and he has so repeatedly declared his righteousness that there is little need to reiterate it here. He will, before he is fully done, go completely into his self-vindication (Job 31). Here his concern is with God. The cloud has again fallen and obscured Him from the view of faith which had shone out brightly a little while before. This sad eclipse leads Job to utter hard things against the Lord but we can see it is from having lost sight of God, not the malice of one who turns against Him. But until God has probed into the recesses of Job's self-righteousness we may expect a recurrence of these clouds of unbelief.

When he comes to take up the argument of Eliphaz regarding the wicked, Job has the better of the contention, as will appear when we reach that part of his reply (Job 24). The position of the friends is untenable, and while job offers no true solution to the problem, he closes their mouths.

The reply may be divided, as many of the others, into seven parts:
(1) His longing to lay his case before God (Job 23:1-9).
(2) Protestations of righteousness (vers. 10-12).
(3) Afraid of God as his enemy (vers. 13-17).
(4) God's apparent failure in government (Job 24:1-12).
(5) The wicked described (vers. 13-17).
(6) Their escape into Sheol (vers. 18-21).
(7) God seemingly their protector (vers. 22-25).

(1) "Even today" (after so much discussion and accusation by the friends) "my complaint still biddeth defiance" — so it has been rendered, rather than, "is bitter." It is the bitterness of resistance against their charges, rather than the bitterness of grief. He brings forth his groaning in protest against the unfairness of his treatment. This rendering seems in accord with the thought of protest on Job's part. It is not," My stroke is heavier than my groaning," as in our version, — he is not complaining of the bitterness of his suffering, but of its injustice. Ah, did he but know it, Job's acknowledgment would have been, "He hath not dealt with me after my sins." If we got our deserts, where would we be!

With this sense of outrage, Job desires to go before God and lay charges against Him! He would come boldly into His presence, in His very abode, and lay his case before Him, with his mouth full of arguments. He even challenges any reply from God, "I would know the words which He would answer me." So can a righteous man speak when at a distance from God. How different it was when he had his desire and God appeared to him!

And just here, when his almost insane defiance of God is at its height, there bursts forth a glance of that confidence in God which we have already had occasion to note. "Will He plead against me with His great power! No! but He would put strength in me," or "regard me with compassion." These are surely not the words of an unbeliever. He doubts God's ways, accuses Him, but is confident that if he could only see Him all would be cleared. God would consider his "weak and wandering cries," and vindicate him from divine injustice! But what an anomaly — the righteous man disputing with Him, and delivered by the Judge Himself from His unjust severity! Strange contradiction it all is; yet better far thus to long to go before God, than the pride which would say to Him, "Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of Thy ways." It is always better to bring even our doubts of God to Himself, if we have nothing else to bring.

But where can God be found? Job rushes forward, but He is not there; backward, but he cannot perceive Him. Turn to the right or the left, God still escapes him. He is left alone
"Upon the great world's altar stairs
That slope through darkness up to God" —

But God is not there! He can only
"Grope, and gather dust and chaff,
And cry to what I feel is Lord of all."

It is all most tragic; and if it were only Job seeking God, he might well sink in despair. But, all unknown to himself, God is seeking Job, and will find him too, ere long.

(2) Not finding God, Job turns in self-occupation to himself, and renews his protestation of righteousness. God knows his way, "the way of the righteous" (Ps. 1:6), and after due trial, he will come forth as gold. It is all true, and yet the evident self-righteousness in it vitiates the nobility of the words. It is not, "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold which perisheth." We feel the real trial has not yet come. It is his personal uprightness that is maintained — not the sense of grace; he thinks it comes from his own heart. He has kept God's commands, has held fast to the words of His mouth more than to his "necessary food." Job has valued God's will more than his own.

(3) But how true it is that if we commend ourselves we condemn God. Thus Job adds that God is determined to punish him, and nothing can swerve Him from this purpose! Good it is for Job and ourselves that we have One with whom is "no variableness, neither shadow of turning." He has said, "I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." Job thought that the thing appointed for him was but the misery and suffering through which he was passing, while it was rather the "needs be" which was to work patience. Job did not see the appointed "end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy" — the end of a love too great to be swerved from His purposes of blessing by our complaint and unbelief. Yes, "many such like things are with Him:" the path for each of His children is different, but the end is the same.

The "patience of Job" is not apparent here. On the contrary, fears fill his heart. He dreads God as an enemy, and would shrink from the very presence which so lately he craved. He blames God with thus overwhelming him, and throwing his thoughts into utter confusion.

The closing verse of this section is somewhat obscure. In our Authorized Version, Job wishes he had been cut of before this darkness came upon him, that he might not have seen it. Another view, following more closely the context, makes him emphasize the dread of God; he does not shrink from his calamities, terrible as they are, but from this dread Being who fills his soul with dread. "I have not been destroyed before the darkness [of present affliction], and before my countenance [all disfigured with disease], which thick darkness covereth." Blessed be God, His perfect love in Christ has been revealed; all is bright there, and the darkness is but a passing cloud which cannot hide the glory of the love that shines down upon us.

(4) "Wherefore are not bounds reserved by the Almighty, and they who honor Him see not His days?" (Job 24:1). Such is the rendering of a very competent scholar, which gives a clearer meaning than the somewhat obscure translation of our Version, although the meaning in both cases is similar. Job is about to dwell upon the apparent failure of God to judge the wicked, and begins by asking why God does not allow His saints to see a righteous judgment visited upon them. Why does He not set a limit to their impiety and wicked oppression? Job enumerates some details of their evil course, which violate every principle of right: landmarks are removed; they steal their neighbor's flocks, and shepherd them as their own; the fatherless and widow are victims of their rapacity; they drive away the poor and the needy.

Then, in thought, Job follows these poor sufferers driven from their houses by the wicked, and describes their wretched struggle for existence in the nomad state into which they have been thrust (vers. 5-8). In a few bold strokes, of one familiar with the scene, Job depicts these poor starving sufferers, driven out like beasts, to gather a bare subsistence for their children as best they may. They seek employment even from their oppressors, and reap their fields and glean in their vineyards. Scarcely covered with rags, they shiver in the cold and rain as they seek for shelter in the rocks. "The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel," and the oppression of the poor and needy has cried to God throughout all man's history; yet God heareth not!

Job takes other cases to illustrate the same heartlessness. The wicked tear the fatherless from the breast; they defraud the poor. Why do his friends insinuate that he was guilty of such conduct, when glaring cases were manifest to them? The poor are robbed of their very garments; they toil hungering among the sheaves; at the oil press, and in the vintage they are repressed from partaking; there is groaning of the oppressed in the city — and God takes no heed to it! It is an awful picture of facts only too well-known to them — and to us. How can Eliphaz make such facts fit in with his theory that evil is always punished in this life? But, oh, how can God close His eyes to these things, and afflict a faithful man instead of these wrong doers? This is Job's great trouble, and for this he has found no solution.

(5) There is a morbid fascination about such themes as now occupied Job's mind, and he continues his description of the unrestrained course of the wicked. Here are men who hate the light, "because their deeds are evil." They choose the night for their "unfruitful works of darkness." The murderer lies in wait for the workman going at dawn to his labor, and turns to steal in the night. The adulterer lurks about for his abominations "in the twilight, in the evening, in the black and, dark night" (Prov. 7:9) — like other beasts of prey. "By day they shut themselves up" (ver. 16), and, how solemn, "they know not the light" — it manifests their shame and sin. "The morning is to them even as the shadow of death; if one know them they are in the terrors of the shadow of death" (ver. 17). This has been rendered, "The depth of night is to them even as the dawn of the morning" — they are at home in the night — it is their day.

(6) And how does this course of wickedness end? Does God come in and make an example of them? Not always; on the contrary they pass away like a swiftly flowing stream, leaving their heritage to receive the curse of men instead of getting the just vengeance themselves? — "the gallows is cheated," and the evil doers have departed from their vineyards where they might have been dealt with as they deserved. As drought and heat dry up snow-waters, so Sheol causes the wicked to pass suddenly from view. They pass away, forgotten even by their mother, to be the food of worms! Such is the end of the wicked oppressor. The general thought of this part of Job's reply is that in this life, and often up to the very end, men escape the penalties they deserve. He does not lift the curtain behind which the awful future is disclosed his purpose is to reply to the contentions of his friends, and he answers them effectually.

(7) Job concludes with another feature of this awful anomaly. God seems to be on the side of the ungodly, preserving them by His almighty power when they might have been smitten down: "He preserveth the mighty by His strength; such an one rises again, though he despaired of life" (ver. 22). How often have we seen the ungodly brought low in sickness and then raised up almost from the grave. We know it is the goodness of God that would lead them to repentance, but in Job's disordered view it seemed to be an indication of favor from God. They live on in security, and God's eye seems to rest favorably upon them. This seems more in accord with Job's argument than the implication that, though God apparently sustains them, His eye is on their ways, and that He will judge them. Job dwells rather upon the absence of any special judgment. They are exalted in their life, and when the inevitable hour of death comes — appointed for all they are no more; they are sunken away (in the grave), snatched away like all others. They are cut down like the ears of the ripe corn (ver. 24).

Job closes with a demand for an answer. Who can charge him with misrepresenting the truth, or rob his speech of its force as a reply to the arguments of the friends?

It is a solemn conclusion. Not that Job has misstated facts: indeed, these are incontrovertible; but his deductions are dreadful. He follows his logic to the very brink of the precipice — that God deals unfairly. If so, He is not God. What a triumph would such a conclusion be to the malicious enemy who had instigated all this, and declared that if his prosperity were withdrawn, Job would "curse Thee to thy face." Job has not done so, and Satan is defeated; but so far as the natural reasoning of Job goes, he might have done as Satan predicted and his wife advised. All unknown to himself, grace had wrought, for he was a child of God: he was not permitted to go where his unbelieving thoughts led him. What a triumph too for the friends would such a conclusion be. They could have said, "We have stood for God, while Job has assailed His character." But neither side has convinced the other. While the advantage remains with Job, the disappointing character of his closing words makes necessary what we find in the last part of the book. But we have still to hear him pour forth all his heart, before God can be heard.

2. — The Third Address of Bildad — Job's Reply (Job 25, 26.)

Bildad, in this third address, is the last of the friends to speak. Zophar remains silent, having poured out all his impetuous heart in his former addresses.

Judging from the brevity of Bildad's address, and the fact. that it contains practically nothing new, it would seem that the friends have exhausted all the arguments that their position permitted them to advance. And this is saying a great deal, for they were men of sober thoughtfulness, with abilities for expression rarely excelled. Their language is noble and elevated, their metaphors of rare beauty and force, but their position and contention were wrong, narrow, and untenable. Hence the brevity of these closing words.

Yet we cannot speak contemptuously of these few sentences, for they state the two great basic facts which stand out in their clearness at the close of the book. They may almost be said to be prophetic of "the end of the Lord," which Job himself will acknowledge at the last. But Bildad is scarcely conscious of the force of what he says, for he links it with his theory, and thus tries to prove that Job is the evil man they have all along maintained he was. But his words were as true for himself and the other friends as for Job. The address may be divided into two parts, which give prominence to the two great facts which will yet stand out.
(1) God's greatness (vers. 1-3).
(2) Man's nothingness (vers. 4-6).

(1) "Dominion and fear are with Him." Who can declare the infinite greatness of God, who fills heaven and earth, and transcends all His limitless creation? "The heavens, even the heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee." Nor is this infinitude of being powerless; He reigns over all things, the government is His —
"He everywhere hath sway,
And all things serve His might."

Well may we pause and meditate with reverent awe upon the majesty and power of God. "Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? … It is He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth … that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in … Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their hosts by number: He calleth them all by names; by the greatness of His might, and strength of His power, not one faileth" (Isa. 40:12, 22, 26).
"Great God, how infinite Thou art!
What helpless worms are we!"

Who would not fear such an infinite Being? And yet what an awful proof of man's apostate, fallen condition we have in the well-nigh universal lack of the fear of God. He before whom the seraphim veil their faces, is ignored and blasphemed by puny sinners!

"He maketh peace in His high places." Those heavenly orbs display not only His power, by their immensity, but His wisdom and skill in the harmony with which they pursue their appointed courses, held fast in their orbits of unthinkable greatness by Him who created them. "Not one faileth." There is no discord, no clash — all makes melody as they declare His glory,
"Forever singing as they shine,
The Hand that made us is divine."

Similarly the angelic hosts, who are associated with these "morning stars," are kept in peace, with one purpose, to "do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His word." There is no strife or discord among those exalted beings: all is maintained in peace. Or if we think of the discord which did intrude when Satan fell from his high place, and when the angels kept not their first estate, God was not thwarted, His throne was not shaken. The rebellious angels were "delivered into chains of darkness;" and if Satan was allowed freedom for a time, we see that it is only for a limited period; the time is coming when he will be cast out of heaven, bound and cast into the abyss, and eventually, with all who follow him, be eternally confined in "the lake of fire." Peace will be maintained in the high places.

Among the asteroids there seems to be evidence of a collision among some of the planets, but all has become quiet, and each body has found its right place — all is at peace. One day the heavens about us will pass away with a great noise. But "we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." Thus at the last all creation will vindicate the statement of Bildad, "He maketh peace in His high places."

"Who can number His armies?" At one word our Lord could have received "more than twelve legions of angels." "The number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands." The "innumerable company of angels … the general assembly." What are the armies of men compared with these? The prophet prayed that his servant's eyes might be opened to see the mountain "full of horses and chariots of fire" (2 Kings 6:17).

"God is light," and His hosts are hosts of light; they shine in a glory not their own: "Whom doth not His light surpass?" Let any of these sons of the morning vaunt themselves, and their brightness would become dim. "Thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness" (Ezek. 28:17). Of God it must ever be said, "Who dwelleth in light unapproachable." His light surpasses that of all His creatures, be they never so exalted. It rises above and exceeds infinitely the light of the brightest of them all. This gives a meaning more in accord with the context than that of our version — "Upon whom doth not His light arise?"

(2) Having in a few grand strokes depicted the greatness of God, Bildad turns to the littleness of man. "How then can (mortal, frail) man be justified with God?" How can one whose very mortality is a witness of his sinfulness stand before the Almighty? How can one born of woman, with a nature inherited from the disobedient one, be clean in God's sight? Is it not true that all right apprehension of the greatness and majesty of God begets a sense of sin and uncleanness? It was so with Job and with these friends at the last.

Behold the moon; its light is dim in His holy presence. The sparkling stars are not clean in His sight. How much less is sinful man — a worm of the dust! Bildad selects the heavens at night rather than the sun by day for this noble comparison. "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him?" (Ps. 8:3-4). While not so intense, the light of moon and stars is more brilliant by contrast with the surrounding darkness; and this is especially the case with the eastern skies over the dry lands bordering the deserts. The moon and stars speak of God in a special way, and by contrast bring home to man his nothingness. We have, thank God, the divine answer to the question, "What is man?" We see Jesus, who was crucified, crowned with glory and honor.

Thus, while apparently repeating the words of Eliphaz (Job 4:18; Job 15:15-16), Bildad's close is far beyond his thoughts and suspicions. We will rest in what he says, rather than in what he thinks of his poor, suffering friend. We will not charge him with weakness or imitation, but subdue our own spirits under the quiet light of those heavens which witness to our nothingness, and turn us to Him who is our "Strength and our Redeemer."

Job's Reply (Job 26).

Viewed from the personal standpoint, Job's reply is adequate and conclusive. He declares that Bildad's words, in the present circumstances, are utterly beside the mark. They do not touch Job's case. He then continues in the lines of his friend's words, and mounts even higher than he had, taking also a deeper and wider view of the greatness of God. It is all most admirable from a literary point of view — grand, sublime poetry; and it is much more, as the inspired record of the thoughts of a soul seeking after God.

The reply may be divided into seven parts.
(1) The futility of Bildad's words (vers. 1-4).
(2) God's domain in the depths beneath (vers. 5, 6).
(3) His sway in the heavens (ver. 7).
(4) He rules the clouds and the waters (vs. 8–10).
(5) The earth and the sea (vers. 11, 12).
(6) His victory in the sky (ver. 13).
(7) More beyond (ver. 14).

The brevity and conciseness of these words of Job enhance their beauty and force. He shows himself equal or superior to his friends in compass of thought and beauty of expression; for he also has pondered upon God in the night seasons.

(1) He first replies to Bildad's argument as it refers to himself. Admitting that he is the one "without power," of what good are the lofty words of Bildad? Do they help to solve the dark enigma of present suffering? Has he given any counsel to Job, or unravelled the tormenting mystery of God's treatment of him? The last verse seems to intimate that Bildad may have been repeating the thoughts of Eliphaz — Whose spirit, or breath, came from thee?" Or it may be that Job asks if this manner of speech comes from God. In these few caustic questions he fully disposes of the argument of his friend, if it could be called that.

(2) Bildad had dwelt upon the glories of God as displayed in the heavens; Job declares His domain in the depths. It is not "dead things," but rather the "shades," the "things under the earth" (Phil. 2:10). This may refer to the evil spirits, to infernal things; and, according to the manner of the Old Testament, to Sheol and its inhabitants. (See Ezek. 32:18, etc.) "Dragons and all deeps" tremble at His presence. It is folly to think of the abode of the lost as independent of God. Whether it be "the spirits [now] in prison" (1 Peter 3:19), or the bottomless pit, or the lake of fire, God, not Satan, reigns. His will at last must be obeyed. "If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there" (Ps. 139:8).

(3) Looking upward, Job still traces the footsteps of the Creator's power and wisdom. "He stretcheth out the north over the empty place." The bell-like canopy of the northern skies, where the pole-star is suspended over emptiness, has no pillars to support it. In these few words, and those following, Job seems to have anticipated the great facts of astronomy regarding the earth and the heavens. He "hangeth the earth upon nothing"; how immeasurably above the cosmogonies of the heathen philosophers are these few grand words! In them we have as in germ the discoveries of a Newton and a Keppler. It is a great mistake to think Scripture does not teach scientific truth. It teaches all needed truth, even if not in scientific language, yet with scientific accuracy.

(4) Passing from the starry heavens to those more immediately connected with the earth, Job describes in beautifully poetic, and yet scientifically accurate language,the clouds as the containing vessels for the waters above the earth. It is God who gathers the vapors of the firmament and condenses them into the thick clouds. If these waters were to be poured upon the earth without restraint, a destructive flood would be the result. He binds these waters in the clouds, and sends them down in gentle showers according to His will, and as needed by the thirsty earth.

Beyond those clouds is His throne, enshrouded from the view of our eyes: "Clouds and darkness are round about Him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His throne" (Ps. 97:2). But, with all his knowledge and skill, man fails to penetrate those clouds and to behold Him who sits upon His throne. Faith alone beholds Him there — the face of Him who rides on to victory.

"He compasseth the waters with bounds." These are the waters of the earth, the "great and wide sea," whose proud waves cannot pass their appointed bounds. "Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth" (Ps. 104:9). "To the boundary between light and darkness." The boundary is far distant, marked only where light merges with darkness, "from the dim verge of the horizon." This gives a more beautiful and appropriate meaning than that of our Version.

(5) Earth with its lofty mountains, seeming to reach the sky as "the pillars of heaven," trembles beneath the word of the Mighty One. The sea is divided* by His power, and by His understanding the proud (Rahab) is pierced.

{*This rendering of our Version, and the "arouseth" of Delitzsch, seems to contain a remarkable reference to the smiting of Egypt and the dividing of the Red Sea. "I am the Lord thy God that divided the sea, whose waves roared" (Isa. 51:15 so also Jer. 31:35). But in Jer. 47:6 the same word is rendered "quiet," and this gives a clear meaning to all these passages. If the Book of Job was reduced to writing in the days after Solomon, the reference to the passage of the Red Sea is natural. But if we retain the thought of its patriarchal date, it is more difficult to think of such a reference — for prophecy would be unlikely — especially as the entire book is singularly free from such allusions. The general thought, therefore, is preserved, which yields a clear meaning: "He stilleth the sea by His power, and by His understanding smiteth through the proud." See also Job 9:13. "Rahab" is the poetic name for Egypt (not, of course, the Rahab of Joshua, a different root), and this is easily derivable from the generic meaning of the word. (See Isa. 51:9.)}

(6) Verse 13 is even more difficult than the preceding one. "By His Spirit He hath garnished the heavens; His hand hath formed the crooked serpent." Delitzsch renders it, "By His breath the heavens become cheerful; His hand hath formed the fugitive dragon." But a clear meaning of the verb here translated "form," is "wound, or pierce." This accords with Isa. 27:1, where the thought is a blending of these two verses, 12, 13. The connection, therefore, would suggest the overthrow of the enemy — Satan, the embodiment of pride, "the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil and Satan" (Rev. 20:2). This would accord, in its spiritual meaning, with the words of Bildad, "He maketh peace in His high places" (Job 25:2).

On the other hand we may, as some do, apply it all to the creative power of God. He has garnished the heavens, and His hands have formed the crooked serpent the constellation Draco, which winds about the northern skies. From the astronomical knowledge displayed in the book, this is a quite possible rendering.

A third explanation, which we mention only to reject it, is the mythological one, that the serpent, "Draco," is trying to eclipse the light of the sun by winding himself about it. God must constantly wound it, to force it to relax its hold, and the serpent flees away, allowing the heavens to shine again in their beauty! Can we think of Job making use of this superstition to express the greatness of God in language of singular beauty and truth?

The general meaning, therefore, seems clear: God is supreme in heaven as on earth; creating, controlling and delivering. Spiritually, He will overthrow all that mars His fair creation which proclaims His glory. This will be found to accord with the latter chapters of our book, where God's creative power, and His control of the elements of hostile pride, are declared by Himself (Job 38 — 41).

(7) But, in his sweeping glance, Job pauses at the heavens and the earth. After all has been said, the half has not been told; these are "parts of His ways," the "edges," outskirts of His vast dominion. "But how little a portion is heard of Him," or," How we hear but a whisper thereof." How little do we know of His greatness! We catch little whispers of His power in every passing breeze; we see some portion of His wisdom in every tiny blade of grass or drop of dew; but, could we understand, all nature is vibrant with its testimony. What a day will that be when we shall "eye to eye look on knowledge." When the majestic harmony of nature shall blend with the sweeter notes of grace, and all shall tell the glories of their Creator, the Lamb that was slain.
"When the praise of heav'n I hear,
Loud as thunder to the ear —
Loud as many waters' noise,
Sweet as harps' melodious voice,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know —
Not till then, how much I owe."