Sermon 2505. Deliverance From the Pit
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, FEBRUARY 21, 1897.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, JUNE 21, 1885.
"Then He is gracious unto him, and says, Deliver him from going down to the Pit: I have found a ransom." Job 33:24.
LET it never be forgotten that in all that God does, He acts from good reasons. You observe that the text, speaking of thesick man, represents God as saying, "Deliver him from going down to the Pit: I have found a ransom." If I understand the passageas relating solely to a sick man and take the words just on the natural common level where some place them, I would stillsay that the Lord, here, gives a reason why He suspends the operations of pain and disease and raises up the sufferer-"I havefound a ransom." There is always a reason for every act of Grace which God performs for man. He acts sovereignly and, therefore,He is not bound to give any reason for His actions, but He always acts wisely and, therefore, He has a reason for so acting.Writing to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul says that God "works all things after the counsel of His own will." It is not anarbitrary will, but a will arising out of the wisdom and holiness of His Character. So God has a reason for raising men upfrom their sickness, but that reason is not found in them, but in Himself. The sick man does not give God a reason for restoringhim, but God finds it, Himself. "I have found a ransom." Possibly, the man does not even know the reason for his restoration-hemay be so blind of heart that he does not care to think whether there is any reason for it or not-but God finds a reason forHis mercy and finds it entirely in Himself. He is gracious to whom He will be gracious and He has compassion on whom He willhave compassion. So let each one of us think, "If I have been raised from sickness. If my life, which was almost gone, hasbeen spared, I may not know why God has done it, but certainly He has done it in infinite wisdom and compassion. And it isonly right for me to feel that a life which has been so remarkably prolonged ought to be entirely dedicated unto Him who hasprolonged it."
Having begun my sermon with that thought, I shall take a deep dive and go to another and a fuller meaning of our text, ifnot more true than this which I have first mentioned. Beloved Friends, there is a higher restoration than recovery from bodilysickness! There is such a thing as sickness of the soulwhich is, in God's esteem, far worse than disease of body and, blessedbe His name, there is such a thing as recovery from soul-sickness even to those who are so far gone that they appear to begoing down into the Pit! God can deal with sinners when they are on the very brink of Hell! He can deal in love with themwhen the soil slips from under their feet and they, themselves, are about to dash into that Pit that is bottomless. He cancome in, even then, and rescue them to the praise of the glory of His Grace!
I. Now, coming to our text, I shall ask you, first, to look with me upon A MAN IN GREAT PERIL. That man is here tonight-lethim look to himself and may God help him to see himself as a man in great peril! This is his peril-he is "going down to thePit." That phrase describes his whole life-going down, down, down-and the end of that going down, unless the Lord shall deliverhim, will be that, before long, he will go finally down into the Pit of destruction!
Notice, first, that this is a daily and common danger. In some respects this man in peril is a representative of each oneof us. If we are unconverted, if we are unrenewed by Divine Grace, every one of us is in danger of going down into the Pitof woe! Think of it, there may be, my Friend, but a step between you and death! Only the other morning there was one, wellknown to many of us, who spoke with his Friends apparently in health. He retired from the room for a moment and they wonderedwhere he was as he did not come back. They sought him out and found that he was dead! He was gone, as in a moment. Blessedbe God, we have a sure and certain hope that though he has gone down into the grave-he could go no lower, for his soul wasat once with his Savior-and out of that grave his body shall arise at the sounding of the last trumpet! But as for unconvertedmen and women, they may be in Hell before the clock ticks again! It is a terrible reflection, my unsaved Friend, to thinkhow little there is between you and eternity. How thin is the wall! "Wall?"-Did I call it a wall? Rather let me say, how thinthe gauze "Gauze"-did I call it? There is no word in our own or any other language that can adequately express the nearnessof eternity! We are here-and we are gone-gone into the Presence of God in a single instant! Gone to render to the Judge ofAll our last account! You are going, Friend, you are going down to the Pit unless Sovereign Mercy shall step in and preventit!
Further, there are some who, of set purpose, are going down to the Pit. In this chapter, Elihu said of some that God sendssickness to them that He may withdraw them from their purpose. Some seem to be desperately bent on mischief, as if they weredetermined to ruin themselves. How often do we see it in the case of a young man who has been well brought up, when he comesinto possession of his money and gets what he calls his liberty-nothing that he has learned in his youth appears to restrainhim! No tearful admonitions are any check upon him-he appears to be resolved to destroy himself! We have known some casesof that kind and we know others now. Oh, if they were as determined to be right as they are resolved to be wrong, they mightgreatly help to turn the world upside down! But, alas, they seem to spare no expense to ensure their own destruction-theyare in a dreadful hurry to be rid of all their property, to bring their body into a state of disease-and to bring their soulinto a state of damnation! They cannot do enough to secure their own destruction! They even lay violent hands upon their owncharacters, as if they were insatiably at enmity with their own souls. Many of you know such people as I am describing andyou know that they are going down to the Pit. By what are called amusements, by what are said to be pleasures-but which arereally only groveling degradations of the soul to the worst purposes of the flesh-all these men are going down to the Pit.It is a dreadful state for anyone to be in, yet I am even now addressing some who are in just such a condition-I feel surethat I am. May the description, brief as it is, be complete enough to let the sinner see himself as he really is-in imminentperil of going down into the Pit!
There are some, also, who are going down to the Pit through their pride. They are not doing anything positively vicious, butthey are so good in their own estimation, or so indifferent to the claims of God, that they do not want to hear about salvation.They stand entirely in their own strength and they seem to defy the humbling Gospel of the Grace of God-they will not hearit-they say by their actions, if not in so many words, "Who is God that we should servo Him? What is death that we shouldhave any fear concerning it? What is eternity that we should ever let our spirit be depressed at the thought of it?" If Iwere just now to try to describe the Day of Judgment and to picture the Great White Throne with the Judge of All sitting uponit, there are many in such a condition of heart that they would merely smile at it all and continue in their sin! A sinnermay perish through pride just as easily as through any other sin. A man may, in his pride, hang himself on a gallows as highas that of Haman. And he will perish as surely as another who casts himself down into the Pit by some groveling loathsomesin.
There are others who feel some present apprehension of coming judgment. They are not your merry men and women who count itone of the wisest things to drive dull care away, for they are eaten up with care. They feel that they are going down to thePit-I do not say that all have felt this apprehension as I did-but this is how it came to me. I knew that I was guilty. Iknew that I had offended God. I knew that I had transgressed against light and knowledge and I did not know when God mightcall me to account. But I did know this-when I awoke in the morning, the first thought I had was that I had to deal with ajustly angry God who might suddenly require my soul of me! Often, during the day, when I had a little time for quiet meditation,a great depression of spirit would come upon me because I felt that sin, sin, SIN had outlawed me from my God! I wonderedthat the earth bore up such a sinner as I was and that the heavens did not fall and crush me-and the stars in their coursesdid not fight against such a wretch as I felt myself to be. Then, indeed, did I seem as if I should go down to the Pit! IfI fell asleep, I dreamt of that Pit, and if I woke, I seemed to wake only to endure the tortures of the never-dying worm ofconscience that was perpetually gnawing at my heart!
I went to the House of God and heard what I supposed was the Gospel, but it was no Gospel to me. My soul abhorred all mannerof meat-I could not lay hold upon a promise, or indulge a hope-and I felt that I was going down to the Pit. If anyone hadasked me what would become of me, I would have answered, "I am going down to the Pit." If anyone had entreated me to hopethat mercy might come to me, I would have refused to entertain such a hope, for I felt that I was going down to the Pit! Well,dear Friends, it was while I was in that dreadful state of mind that Infinite Mercy met with me and saved me! And I wish thatI had, in my present congregation, many wounded, broken spirits. Many weary, heavy-laden souls, for it is sweet work to preachthe Gospel to such people!-
"A sinner is a sacred thing,
The Holy Spirit has made him so"
-that is, a really convicted sinner, not a sham sinner, but one who acknowledges that the title belongs to him and says, "Putthat label upon me, for that is what I am! I deserve the wrath of God and I feel as if the first spattering drops of the fierytempest have already fallen upon me." This is the man who sees a true description of himself in the words of our text, "goingdown to the Pit."
If you add to all this the fact that the man, as Elihu describes him, was suffering from a fatal sickness, so that he dreadedthe actual nearness of death, you have, indeed, an unhappy case before you. See that young woman whom consumption has markedfor its victim-it is not with her the thought that she shall go down to the Pit in 20 years' time, but her feet are alreadyfar on the road! Or, look at that young man who cannot delude himself with the idea that he will go down to the Pit at theend of threes-core years and ten, but who fears that he may not even live three-score days! He has a mortal malady withinhim that is dragging him down from all hope and joy-this dread fear has settled like a vampire upon his soul-that he is goingdown to the Pit! This is the man whom I want to point out, for he is somewhere in this building. God help him to listen whileI say some words which, perhaps, will bring comfort to him in this state of peril in which he is at present found!
II. Now let us notice, in the second place, A NEW PRINCIPLE IN ACTION-"Then He is gracious unto him." What does that expressionmean? That word, "gracious," has more music in it than all the oratorios of Handel, though they are the chief of earthly music.
"Then He is gracious unto him." What does that mean? Well, "gracious" means, first, free favor. It means that when this manis as full of sin as an egg is full of meat. When he is as black with iniquity as a foul chimney which hangs festooned withsoot-it means even then God's favor shall come to him and look upon him just as he ism all his defilement and ill-desert-andGod shall be gracious to him! Our text does not say, "God shall deal with him in justice. He shall charge, accuse, condemnand punish him." No, the message is, "He is gracious unto him." The Lord comes to this poor lost wretch and says, "I haveblotted out, as a thick cloud, your transgressions, and as a cloud your sins: return unto Me, for I have redeemed you." TheLord comes to such guilty souls and just when they think that His next words will be, "Depart, you cursed," He says, "Comeunto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Now this is not what the man deserves-it is the very opposite of his deserts! He has no natural right to such treatment asthis-it is the gift of Divine Sovereignty, not the purchase of man's merit. "He is gracious unto him." The prisoner is justlycondemned to death, but the King is gracious and gives him a free pardon! The prisoner is ready to be executed, but therecomes to him undeserved deliverance from all punishment, for the King's own Son has borne the penalty of all his iniquities!Does not this Truth of God make your mouths water, you who feel that you are going down to the Pit? I am sure it does, ifyou have ever known the bitterness of sin! "Oh," you say, "is there such a God as this?" Yes, there is! A God, "merciful andgracious, long-suffering and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgressionand sin." "He delights in mercy." His compassions fail not, therefore we are not consumed!
That is the first meaning of Grace, that free and undeserved favor of God which forgives and blots out sin and iniquity.
But Grace has another meaning in Holy Scripture-it means saving interference-a certain Divine operation by which God worksupon the wills and affections of men so as to change and renew them! When God is gracious to a man, He does something to thatman as well as for that man. The Lord comes in the power of His Grace and takes out of the sinner's heart, the stone thatwas there, and makes tender that heart which once was hard as the northern iron and steel. He comes and takes the iron sinewout of the neck and makes the obstinate man to be yielding and pliable. He comes and changes the affections so that the manhates what he once loved, and loves what he once hated. In a word, where the Grace of God comes, it makes a man to be born-againeven when he is old, so that, spiritually speaking, his flesh becomes fresher than that of a little child. He begins lifeanew, for he is a new creature in Christ Jesus! All his past sin is blotted out and his future is brightening up into thefull blaze of eternal glory!
Yet this is the very man whom I described just now as going down to the Pit! But the Lord has been gracious to him. He hassaid to him, "I have loved you with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn you." The Lord has saidto him, "Your sins, which are many, are all forgiven you. Go, and sin no more." Is not this a most comforting message? Notethat the text says, "then." In the very extremity of his going down to the Pit, "then," when he has come almost to the laststep down to that fearful gulf and a cruel hand seems pushing him down to eternal destruction, "then," at that moment, theLord is gracious to him! Infinite pleasure flashes into his face, for the almighty loving kindness of God pulls him back fromthe Pit and sets his feet on a new track towards the land of Glory and the face of God above!
III. This brings me to my third point, which is concerning how this Grace operates. It operates by A WORD OF
This man was going down to the Pit, but God said, "Deliver him." To whom is this command spoken? It appears to be addressedto the messengers of Divine Justice. They have grasped the guilty man, they have bound him, they are taking him off to theplace of death and well does he deserve to die-but the great King upon the Throne says to His ministers ofjustice, "Deliverhim, let him go, deliver him from going down to the Pit." And, in an instant, his chains are snapped, his bonds drop off andthe man is free-freed by the word of the King, Himself. No sheriffs officer can arrest him, now. None of all the police ofthe universe can lay a finger on him, now, for God has said to all of them, "Let him go. Deliver him from going down to thePit." Here is a clean jail delivery for the prisoners of hope-they are set free by the mandate of the eternal God!
More than that, the man was not only bound by justice, but he was fettered by his sin. His sins held him captive and theywere dragging him down to the Pit. There was drunkenness, for instance, which held him as in a vice, so that he could notstir hand or foot to set himself free. His thirst followed his drinking and his drinking followed his thirst-and then histhirst returned after his drinking till he brought himself to a delirium from which he could not possibly escape by his ownpower! Perhaps it was the foul-mouthed demon of blasphemy that held him in bondage, or the black demon of vice and licentiousness,but, whatever was the band by which the man was held, every hour kept putting about him a fresh and a stronger rope till hewas bound, like Samson of old, to make sport for those who had him in captivity! But just as he seemed about to be draggeddown to Hell, a voice came from the excellent Glory, "Deliver him from going down to the Pit"-and Infinite Mercy dragged offhis evil habits, snapped his bands and set him free! Now the man no longer loved the lusts of the flesh and the passions ofhis body, but he was God's free man seeking to do only his Lord's will! And if God shall make you free, you shall be free,indeed! It is a grand thing to get rid of drunkenness-with all my heart I advise you to try total abstinence-but it is a betterthing to get rid of all sin at once! I mean, the reigning power of every sin by yielding yourself up to the supreme Graceof God who is able to work in you at such a rate that all sin shall be made detestable to you and you shall rise above itto the praise of the glory of His Grace.
Brothers and Sisters, I see this same man, in later life, attacked by his old sins. There is a certain, "Cutthroat Lane" onthe way to Heaven. I have been down it, myself, and I am afraid I may have to go down it yet again. It is a place where thehedges meet and it is very dark-and it is also very miry and muddy-and when a man is slipping about and can hardly see hisown hand, there are certain villains that come pouncing upon him, not with the highwayman's cry, "Your money or your life,"but they seek to seize his treasure, his life and all that he has! At such a moment as that, it sometimes happens that theman puts his hand to his side to draw his sword, but he finds that it is gone! He determines to fight as best he can, butwhat can he do against such terrible odds when he is alone and unarmed? But oh, what a blessed thing it is for him, just then,to hear, as Bunyan says, the sound of a horse's hoof and to know that there is a patrol going down the King's Highway! Andhe cannot only hear the ring of His horse's hoofs, but he can hear the King's own voice, crying out from the Throne, itself,"Deliver him! Deliver him! Deliver him from going down to the Pit."
That voice you shall always hear, if you are a child of God, when you get into a fix, when you are brought into peril andtrouble. God has given commandment to save you and you shall be saved-saved from yourself and from all the attacks of yourold sins! Saved from the devil! Saved from evil company, for God has said it, "Deliver him from going down to the Pit." Thatdeliverance of God is an eternal one, nor shall the infernal lion ever be able to rend one sheep or lamb that the Great Shepherddeigns to keep!
Now to come back to my own story. I remember when I felt that I was going down to the Pit and I cannot forget one blessed,blessed day. The snow-flakes fell thick and heavy that morning and I was going, according to my habit, to a certain very respectableplace of worship where I should hear a very respectable minister who might have left me in my misery to this day. But it wastoo cold and the snow was too deep for me to go so far. So I turned into the little Primitive Methodist Chapel in Colchesterand sat there feeling that I was going down to the Pit, although I was sitting in the House of God to hear the Gospel. Theclock of mercy struck in Heaven the hour and moment of my deliverance, for the time had come! Thus had the eternal purposeof Jehovah decreed it! And when the preacher opened the Book and gave out his text, "Look unto Me, and be you saved, all theends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else," and when he began to cry in simple terms, "Look! It is all you haveto do! Look out of yourself and away from yourself, and look to Christ! Not to forms and ceremonies, or works, or feelings,but look to what Christ has done!" I did look and in that moment went out this word, "Deliver him from going down to the Pit,"and I was delivered! For, as the moment before there was none more wretched than I was, so, within that second, there wasnone more joyous! It took no longer time than does the lightning-flash! It was done and never has it been undone! I lookedand lived and leaped in joyful liberty as I beheld sin punished upon the great Substitute and put away forever from all thosewho will only trust Him!
That is what looking to Christ means-trusting in His One Great Sacrifice! O dear Friends, I do pray the Lord to speak in greatGrace concerning some of you and to say, "Deliver him from going down to the Pit." You may think that when I speak like this,there is some of the excitement of enthusiasm about my language, but I reckon that I talk cold icicles about a thing thatis hotter than the furnace! Oh, the blessedness, the joy, the exquisite peace, the overflowing happiness of believing in Christ!If you know anything about the darkness, you are the very person to know something about the Light of God! If you know anythingof sorrow for sin, you are the very man or woman to understand the joy of sin being put away! And it will be all done foryou if you will but look to Jesus-if you will simply trust Him!
III. I finish by noticing that in this case God supplies us with His reason for delivering a soul and it is AN ARGUMENT OFLOVE-"Deliver him from going down to the Pit: I have found a ransom."
This is the only reason why any man shall be delivered from going down to the Pit-because God has found a ransom. There isno way of salvation but by the Ransom-all who are ever saved are saved by the Ransom. And if you, dear Friend, would be saved,it must be by the Ransom-and there is but one.
Observe that the text says, "I have found a ransom." This ransom is an invention of Divine Wisdom. I do not think it wouldever have occurred to any mind but the mind of God, Himself, to save sinners by the substitutionary Sacrifice of Christ. Themost astonishing novelty under Heaven is the old, old story of the Cross of Christ! That ever God should take upon Himselfthe sin of His own creatures, that, in order to be able to justly forgive, God, Himself, should bear the punishment whichHe must inflict for the creatures' sin-this is something marvelous to the last degree! The rebel sins and the King Himselfsuffers the penalty for the rebellion! The offender commits the trespass and the Judge bears the punishment! Such a plan wasnever heard of in human courts of law-or if it has ever been spoken of there, it was because, first of all, both the earsof him who heard it had been made to tingle while God revealed it out of His own heart. "I have found a ransom." Nobody wouldhave thought of that way of the deliverance of a sinner from the pit of Hell through a ransom if God had not thought of it!
Notice, next, that God has not only invented a way of deliverance, but he has found a ransom. So that it is a gift of DivineLove. "Deliver him from going down to the Pit"-it does not say, "because there is a ransom," or, "I will accept one if hefinds it, and brings it"-but the Lord, Himself, says, "I have found a ransom." It is the man who sinned, but it is God whofound the ransom! It is the man who is going down to the Pit, but it is God who finds a ransom! Surely, if you have sold yourselfto sin and Satan, you must find the ransom to get yourself set free, must you not? "No," says Sovereign Grace, "the man hassold himself into slavery, but Ihave found a ransom. I have broken the bonds from his neck and set him free by an immenseprice which I, Myself, have found-found it in My own bosom where My only-begotten and well-beloved Son was lying. I foundit in Myself, for I have given up Myself to bleed and die for mortal men." Oh, this is wonderful Grace, indeed-that God shoulddeliver and should deliver through a ransom-and should deliver through a ransom that He has, Himself, found!
And is there not something very wonderful in the assurance of this Truth of God "Deliver him from going down to the pit: Ihave found a ransom." God does not say "There may be a ransom for the poor soul. Possibly I may find a ransom somewhere."No, He says, "I have founda ransom." Now, if a slave were in the bitterest of bondage, yet if his master said to him, "I havethe ransom for you," that man must feel certain of his liberty because if he who held him in bondage has found a ransom, hecertainly will hold him in bondage no longer! Sinner, do not doubt your deliverance, for God has said it-"I have found a ransom."If you had only heard this sentence uttered by a mortal man, you might have questioned the truth of it, but when God Himselfproclaims concerning him who is going down to the Pit, "I have found a ransom," then is the deliverance certain! Indeed, itis already accomplished! Therefore, go you free and rejoice in the liberty that God has given you!
To my mind, and with this thought I will finish, there is the ring of heavenly music in this message. "Deliver him from goingdown to the Pit: I have found a ransom." I suppose you never heard a man who had found a treasure cry out to let everyoneknow what he had found. Perhaps he would not mention it to anyone but his wife. When he wished to make her heart glad by sharingthe fortune with her, he said to her, "I have found a treasure." But you may have heard a mother say, when her child had beenlost in the woods, perhaps, and had been sought for by many, when at last she has discovered him, "I have found my boy!" Oh,it is wonderful, the joy of a mother's heart when she has found her child! But to me there is the sound of bells, there isthe music of a marriage peal in this verse as God, looking on a sinner slipping down to Hell, says, "Deliver him from goingdown to the Pit: I have found a ransom." Almighty love seems to sing out with all her might and rocks, hills, and valleyssuffice not to repeat the echo of the strain, "I have found, I have found, I have found a ransom!" This is God's "Eureka!""I have found a ransom. I did not look for a ransom among the angels, for I knew they were too weak to furnish it. I lookednot for it among the sons of men, for I knew it was not to be found there-they were too fallen and guilty. The sea said, 'Itis not in me.' All creation cried, 'It is not in me.' But I looked on my Well-Beloved and I heard Him say, 'Lo, I come: inthe volume of the Book it is written of Me, I delight to do Your will, O My God: yes, Your Law is within My heart.' I sawHim descend to earth and hide Himself in an Infant's form; I saw Him toiling on in holy servitude to My perfect Law; I sawHim give His hands to the nails, and His side to the spear. I heard Him cry, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?' Ibowed the ear of My Glory and I drank in His conquering cry, 'It is finished,' and then I, the Infinite, the Eternal, theEver-Blessed, the Just, the Gracious, said, 'I have found a Ransom.'" Thus, the Lord rejoices over you and over me with singingas He cries, "I have found a Ransom!" How greatly did He rejoice over the finished work of His well-beloved Son! Therefore,sing, O heavens, and be joyful, O earth, for the Lord, Himself, delights in the message He delivers to us, "I have found aRansom!"
Now, dear Hearts, if God has found a Ransom and speaks thus joyously about it, I do pray you to accept it. "If you are willingand obedient, you shall eat the good of the land." Receive Christ and you have the proof that God has received you. Only takeHim-you have nothing else to do! Put out that empty hand of yours, black though it is, and receive in it the Pearl of GreatPrice, even the Christ of God, Himself! Receive Him, accept Him, believe Him, trust Him! That is all you have to do. Oh, willyou not trust Him? Can you doubt Him? If God takes upon Himself our nature and in that nature, dies, I cannot only trust Himwith my soul, but if I had all your souls within my body, and all the souls of the millions of London all gathered beneaththis breast-and if I had besides that the souls of all the sinners who have ever lived, all compressed within this one frame-Icould believe that the dying Christ could blot out all that mass of sin! I believe it and so confide in Him-will not you?Verily, if you will not believe, neither shall you be established! But he that believes shall not be ashamed nor confounded,world without end! May God add His own blessing, for Jesus' sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: JOB 33.
This is a speech of young Elihu who had sat quietly listening to the taunting words of the three "candid Friends" of Job-andto the somewhat exasperated replies of the Patriarch. At last, the young man breaks the silence and, with some dignity, andquite sufficient self-content, he thus addresses himself to Job.
Verse 1. Therefore, Job, Ipray you, hear my speeches and listen to all my words. "I am but a young man, but I speak becauseI cannot be quiet. An impulse moves me. I am as a vessel needing vent. I desire to speak impartially and, therefore, hearme, but hear allthat I have to say. Do not listen merely here and there to a part of my speech, but hearken to all my words."Sometimes, it is very necessary to beg our hearers not to run away with only one sentence, or even with one sentiment. "Hearmy speeches and listen to all my words," for there is a proportion in truth, and one truth has to be balanced with all theothers. A statement may be all the better for being unguarded and more forcible because it stands alone-and yet it may needthat another statement should be heard with it lest it should be misunderstood. Therefore the preacher also says to his hearer,"I pray you, hear my speeches and listen to all my words."
2. Behold, now I have opened my mouth, my tongue has spoken in my mouth. That is to say, "I speak with much solemnity, notas one who chatters without sense, or without due consideration, but I have opened my mouth deliberately, as one who has somethingto say-and I speak with my best powers of speech, as one who wishes to persuade those who hear him."
3. My words shall be of the uprightness of my heart: and my lips shall utter knowledge clearly. What a lesson this is to thoseof us who preach to others-that we speak out of the uprightness of our heart and feel that, however others may judge us, weare sincere before God in what we say! How necessary, also, is it, especially in these days, that we should speak plainly,so as to be easily understood! Some men never think clearly and, therefore, they never speak clearly. And, oftentimes, thedarkness of a man's speech is only the result of the darkness of his mind-he has no clearly-defined notion of what he hasto say. Let every young man who has to teach others resolve that this utterance of Elihu shall also be his, "My lips shallutter knowledge clearly."
4. The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty has given me life. That is to say, "I am as much the creatureof God as these three old gentlemen are, these three wise Friends who have spoken so tartly. I am as much endowed with theSpirit of God as you are, O Job, and, therefore, I speak to you in His name." Should not this be a lesson to every one ofus to try and do all that we can for God? Every Christian may say, "'The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of theAlmighty has given me life.' Therefore let me use my very existence, the life that is breathed into me, for that AlmightyCreator who has made me what I am."
5. If you can answer me, set your words in order before me, stand up. He who speaks reason is ready to hear reason. It isonly the unreasonable talker who will not allow others to have a word to say in reply. "If you can answer me," says Elihuto Job, "set your words in order before me, stand up."
6. Behold, I am, according to your wish, in God's place: I also am formed out of the day. Job had wished that someone wouldstand up and speak for God, someone without the terror that seemed inseparable from the Infinite, someone without the powerof Omnipotence, someone who would be more nearly his equal, with whom he could debate the questions which perplexed him. SoElihu says, "I am, according to your wish, in God's place: I also am formed out of the day."
7-11. Behold, my terror shallnot make you afraid, neither shallmy hand be heavy upon you. Surely you have spoken in my hearingand I have heard the voice of your words, saying, I am clean without transgression, I am innocent; neither is there iniquityin me. Behold, He finds occasions against me, He counts me for His enemy, He puts my feet in the stocks, He marks all my paths.Elihu did not make this excuse for Job because he had been slandered by his Friends and that his statement of innocence wasnot so much absolute towards God as it was defensive towards men. Still, there is no doubt that Job had gone too far in thisdirection. Perhaps for this very reason his troubles had come upon him, because he was, in a measure, self-righteous. In somesmall degree, at any rate, he may have prided himself upon his personal excellence. Elihu does well, therefore, in all faithfulness,to point out the blot in what Job had said.
12, 13. Behold, in thisyou are not just: I will answer you, that Godis greater than man. Why do you strive against Him? ForHe gives not account of any of His matters. This man seems to have the very Spirit that rested upon the Apostle Paul whenhe was arguing with an objector against the Lord's way of working, "No but, O man, who are you that replies against God? Shallthe thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why have You made me thus?" The greatness and grandeur of the Eternal should preventour raising objections against anything that He does. Who are we, the moths of a moment, the creatures of an hour, that weshould interrogate the Infinite and question our Maker? What He does must of necessity be right-though we cannot understandhow it is so, we must believe it and meekly bow to the will of the Lord!
14-17. For God speaks once, yes twice, yet man perceives it not. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep fallsupon men, in slumbering upon the bed; then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction, that He may withdraw manfrom his purpose and hide pride from man. It is always one great object of the Divine dealings to make and keep us humble.It is strange that creatures so insignificant as we are should be perpetually infected with the foul disease of pride-thisform of mental scarlet fever continually breaks out in puny man and, therefore, God deals with him that He may "hide pridefrom man."
18, 19. He keeps back his soul from the Pit, andhis life from perishing by the sword. He is chastened also with pain uponhis bed and the multitude of his bones with strong pain. Pain of body is usually looked upon as a great evil and, doubtless,it is so in some respects, but it wraps up within itself great mercy. There are some who can scarcely be taught at all exceptthrough physical pain. And if it were possible to abolish sickness and suffering, where would men go in the wantonness oftheir strength? Does not this very affliction often chide man and bid him think-and cause him to return to his Maker, when,otherwise, he would be as thoughtless as the beasts that perish?
20-24. So that his life abhors bread, and his soul dainty meat. His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen; and hisbones that were not seen, stick out. Yes, his soul draws near unto the grave, andhis life to the destroyers. If there is amessenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to show unto man His uprightness: then He is gracious unto him,and says, Deliver him from going down to the Pit: I have found a ransom. Happy is the messenger who comes with such a messageas that! Such was the Prophet Isaiah to Hezekiah when the king was sick unto death. Such is the minister of God's Word whenhe comes with glad tidings of redemption and God, through him, says of the spiritually sick man, "Deliver him from going downto the pit: I have found a ransom."
25-28. His flesh shall be fresher than a child's: he shall return to the days of his youth: he shallpray unto God and He willbe favorable unto him: and he shall see His face with joy: for He will render unto man His righteousness. He looks upon men,and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not; He will deliver his soul from goinginto the Pit, andhis life shall see the light. See the easy terms of God's love and mercy? The man does but confess that hehas sinned-he admits that he has perverted the right, he confesses that he has gained no profit thereby- and God, seeing himin such a state of heart as this, delivers his soul from going down to the Pit, and his life shall see the light! What a graciousGod we serve! How cruel to continue to offend Him when He is so ready to forgive!
29, 30. Lo, all these things works God oftentimes with man, to bring back his soul from the Pit, to be enlightened with thelight of the living. The chastisement of sickness and the flagellation of pain whip the sinner back to Him, who alone cansave him! These are the black dogs of the Great Shepherd wherewith He brings back wandering sheep till they come again underHis crook and He leads them into green pastures.
31-33. Mark well, O Job, hearken unto me: hold your peace, and I will speak. If you have anything to say, answer me: speak,for I desire to justify you. If not, listen to me: hold your peace, and I shall teach you wisdom. May the Lord graciouslyapply to all our hearts this instructive portion of Old Testament Scripture! There is a message in it to each of us as wellas to the Patriarch, Job, to whom it was specially addressed.