2732. Believers Tested By Trials

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Believers Tested By Trials

No. 2732-47:289. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, October 17, 1880, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, June 23, 1901.

Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: on the left hand, where he works, but I cannot behold him: he hides himself on the right hand, so that I cannot see him: but he knows the way that I take: when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. {Job 23:8-10}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2098, “Where Are You Going” 2099}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2732, “Believers Tested by Trials” 2733}
   Exposition on Job 23; 24 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2732, “Believers Tested by Trials” 2733 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Job 23 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2272, “Longing to Find God” 2273 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Job 23 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2546, “Message to the Glad and the Sad, A” 2547 @@ "Exposition"}

1. Job, as we noticed in our reading, was at that time in very deep distress. I commend this fact to the notice of any here who are very severely tried. You may be the people of God, and yet be in a terrible plight, for Job was a true servant of the Most High, yet he sat down among the ashes, and scraped himself with a potsherd because he was covered with very sore boils, and, at the same time, he was reduced to absolute poverty. The path of sorrow has been trodden by thousands of holy feet; you are not the first one who could sit down, and say, “I am the man who has seen affliction.” You were not the first tried one, you are not the only one, and you will not be the last one. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous”; so let this be some comfort to you, — that you are one of the Lord’s suffering children, one of those who has to pass through rough roads and fiery places in the course of their pilgrimage to heaven.

2. Job had to experience one trial which must have been very keen indeed, for it was brought about by his three best friends, who were evidently men of mind and mark, for their speeches prove that they were by no means second-class men. Job would not have selected for his close friends any but those who were of high character, estimable in disposition, and able to converse with him on high and lofty themes. Such, no doubt, those three men were; and I expect that, when Job saw them coming towards him, he looked for a measure of comfort from them, imagining that they would at least sympathize with him, and pour out such consolations as their own experience could suggest, in order that he might be somewhat relieved. But he was utterly disappointed; these friends of his reasoned that there must be some extraordinary cause for such unusual distress as into what Job had fallen. They had never seen wrong in him; but, then, he might be a very cunning man, and so have concealed it from them. As far as they had known him, he seemed to be a generous, liberal soul; but, perhaps, after all, he was one of those who squeeze the uttermost farthing out of the poor. They could not read his heart, so they put the worst construction on his sorrows, and said, “Depend on it, he is a hypocrite; we will apply caustic soda to him, and so we will test him, and see whether he really is what he professes to be. We will rub salt into his wounds by bringing various charges against him”; and they did so in a most horrible way. That is a cruel thing for anyone to do, and one that cuts to the quick. Possibly, some people, who used to court your company, and would not let you go down the street without bowing to you, now that your circumstances are changed, do not recognise you; or if they cannot help seeing you, they appear to have some distant memory that, years ago, you were a casual acquaintance; or, perhaps, if they do speak in a kind, friendly way, though their words are smoother than butter, war is in their heart; though their words are softer than oil, yet they are drawn swords. You must be a bad man because you have come down in the world; it cannot be that you are the respectable person they thought you were, or you would not have lost your estate; for, in the estimation of some people, to be respectable means to have a certain amount of cash. The definition was once given, in a court of law, that if a man kept a gig, {a} it was proved by that fact that he was respectable. That is the way of the world; respect and respectability depend on so much money; but the moment that is gone, the scene changes. The man is the same; indeed, he may be a better and a nobler man without the money than with it; but it is only noble men who think so. It is only right-minded people who do not judge by the coat or the purse, but who say, with Burns, —

    “A man’s a man for a’ that, — ”

whatever may be his condition. Character is the thing to which we ought to look; — the man himself, and not merely his surroundings. But Job had to bear just that ignoble kind of scorn that some men seem to delight to pour on the sorrows of others.

3. I want, first, to call your attention to Job’s desire in the time of his trouble. It was his earnest desire to get to his God. Secondly, we will notice Job’s distress because he could not find him: “Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him.” And, thirdly, we will consider Job’s consolation: “He knows the way that I take: when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.”

4. I. First, then, notice JOB’S DESIRE IN THE TIME OF HIS TROUBLE.

5. He wanted his God; he did not long to see Bildad, or Eliphaz, or Zophar, or any earthly friend; but his cry was “Oh that I knew where I might find HIM! so that I might come even to his seat!” This is one of the marks of a true child of God, — that, even when God strikes him, he still longs for his presence. If you get to the very bottom of all Job’s calamities, you will see that God sent them; or, at least, permitted Satan to afflict him. “Yet,” says Job, “I will not turn in anger against God because of this. ‘Though he kills me, yet I will trust in him.’ Let him do what he wishes with me, I will still seek to get near to him, and this shall be my heart’s desire, ‘Oh that I knew where I might find him!’ ” An ungodly man, if he has made any pretence of fellowship with God in his days of prosperity, forsakes him as soon as adversity comes; but the true child of God clings to his Father however roughly he may deal with him. We are not held captive to God by a chain of sweets, nor are we bought with cupboard love, nor bribed in any other way to love him; but now, because he first loved us, our heart has loved him, and rested in him; and if adverse providences and strange dealings come from the hand of the Most High, our cry shall not be, “Oh that we could get away from him!” but, “Oh that we knew where we might find him, so that we might come even to his seat!” This is the sign of our regeneration and adoption, — that, whatever happens, we still cling to our God.

6. For, beloved friends, when a man is in trouble, if he can only get to God, in the first place, he is quite sure of justice. Men may condemn us falsely, but God never will. Our character may be cruelly slandered; and, doubtless, there have been good men who have lived for years under false accusations; — but God knows the way that we take. He will be the Advocate for his servants when their case is laid before the heavenly Court of King’s Bench. We need not be afraid that the verdict will not be just: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

7. We also know that, if we can get to God, we shall have an audience. Sometimes, men will not hear us when we are pleading for justice. “I do not want to hear a word you have to say,” says the man who is so prejudiced that he will not listen to our plea. But there is an ear that no prejudice ever sealed; there is a heart that is always sympathetic towards the griefs of a believer. You are sure to be heard, beloved, if you pour out your heart before the God who hears prayer. He will never be weary of your cries; they may be poor, broken utterances, but he takes the meaning of the sighs of his saints, he understands the language of their groans. Go, then, to God because you are sure of an audience.

8. What is more, in getting near to God, a man is sure to have strength. You notice how Job puts it: “Will he plead against me with his great power? No; but he would put strength into me.” When once we get to realize that God is with us, how strong we are! Then we can bear the burden of poverty or pain, or even the sharp adder’s tongue of slander. The man who has God with him is a very Samson; he may fling himself against a troop of Philistines, and strike them hip and thigh; he may lay hold of the pillars of their temple, rock them to and fro, and bring down the whole building on them. I do not say that we shall work miracles, but I do say that, as our days, so shall our strength be.

    I can do all things, or can bear
    All sufferings, if my Lord be there.

9. And, once more, he who gets to his God is sure of joy. There was never a soul, that was right with God, and that was unhappy in the presence of God. Up there in glory, how gladly they smile! How I would like to photograph their beaming faces! What a group that would be, — of angel faces bathed in everlasting light, and the faces of those redeemed from among men, all radiant with celestial joy. What gives them that gladness? It is because God is there that they are so happy.

    Not all the harps above
       Can make a heavenly place,
    If God his residence remove,
       Or but conceal his face.

Just as the sun makes the landscape bright and fair, so the light of God’s countenance makes all his people glad. It would not matter to a man whether he were in a dungeon or a palace if he had the constant presence of God; I am not speaking at random when I make that assertion. Read the record of the martyr days of the Church, and you will understand that the presence of God caused his persecuted people to be the happiest in the whole world. No minstrels in royal halls ever sang so sweetly as did the prisoners of the Lord who were confined in deep, dark, underground dungeons, where they could scarcely breathe. Indeed, that is not all; for some have been happy even on the rack. Think of brave Lady Anne Askew {b} sitting on the cold stones after the cursed inquisitors had torn her poor feeble frame almost limb from limb; and when they tempted her to turn from the faith, she answered, —

    I am not she that lyst
       My anker to let fall
    For every dryslynge myst;
       My shippe’s substancyal.

Some who were tortured, not accepting deliverance, declared, as in the case of Lawrence, {c} that the gridiron was a bed of roses, and that they never were so joyful as when their body was being consumed in the fire, — every finger being like a lit candle, — for they were able even then to cry, “No one but Christ! No one but Christ!” It is amazing how the presence of God seems to be a liniment that kills all pain; — an uplifting, like an angel’s wing, that bears upward one who, without it, would be utterly crushed. The martyr is torn in pieces, and full of agonies, and yet all his sufferings are transformed, until they become sweet harmonies of intense delight because God is with him. Oh! give me God, give me God, and I do not care what you withhold from me. “Whom have I in heaven but you? and there is no one on earth whom I desire besides you.”

10. II. The brightness of the first part of my subject will help to make the second portion all the darker. We are now to consider JOB’S DISTRESS, — the agony of a true child of God who cannot find his Father.

11. Your experiences are not all alike, brethren, and I do not want you to try to make them all alike. Some of you have very happy experiences, and very little spiritual trial. I am glad it is so; I only hope you will not be superficial, or conceited, or censorious of others. But there are some who know the darker paths in the heavenly pilgrimage, and it is to those whom I especially speak just now. Dear friends, please remember that a man may be a true servant of God, and even an eminent and distinguished servant of God like Job, and yet he may sometimes lose the light of God’s countenance, and have to cry out, “Oh that I knew where I might find him!” There are some special, superfine, hot-pressed Christians around, nowadays, who do not believe this. They say, “You ought to be joyful; you ought never to be depressed; you ought to be perfect”; all which is quite true, but it is a great deal easier to say so than to show how it is to be experienced; and these brethren, who talk as if it were a very simple matter, like counting your fingers, may someday find that it is more difficult than they think, as some of us have sometimes done.

12. Job could not find his God; this is apparently strange. He was an especially good man, one who did what he could for everyone around him, — a very light in the city where he lived, — a man famous in all the country, yet in great trouble; — one might have thought that God would certainly comfort him. He has lost everything; surely, now the Lord will return to him, and be gracious to him, and more than at any other time he will be cheered now with the presence of God. Yet it was not so. He was a man who valued the company of God, and who cried, “Oh that I knew where I might find him!” Yet he could not find him. It is incredibly strange; or, at least, it appears to be so.

13. Yet notice, next, that it is essentially necessary for some trials that God should withdraw the light of his countenance. Our Lord Jesus Christ, with all the woes that he endured, could not have been made perfect through sufferings unless he had learned to cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When God intends to strike any child of his with the rod, he cannot do it with a smile. Suppose a father is chastening his son, and all the while is comforting him, where is the chastening? No; the very essence of the medicinal sorrow that is to do good to our souls will lie in our having to bewail the absence of the smile of God.

14. This is essential for our trial, but it is greatly perplexing. I do not know of anything that so troubles a Christian man as when he does not know where his God is. “God is everywhere,” one says. I know he is, but yet there is a special presence which he reveals to his people, and sometimes it seems to them as if he were nowhere at all. So Job exclaimed, “Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him.” Tried children of God, you have had this experience; and it is very perplexing because, when you cannot find your God, you cannot figure out why you are being troubled. An affliction that will talk is always a light one; but I dread most of all a dumb affliction, that cannot tell me why it has come. When I look around it, and ask, “Why is this?” and I cannot get an answer, that is what plagues me much. And when you cannot find God, you yourself do not know what to do; for, in losing him, you have lost your Guide. You are in a maze, and do not know how to get out of it. You are like a man in a net; the more you pull, this way or that, the more you tighten the bonds that hold you prisoner. Where you hoped to have relieved yourself, you only brought yourself into further difficulties in another direction; and this bewilderment is one of the worst of sorrows.

15. The loss of God’s presence is also inexpressibly painful to a believer. If you can live without God, I am afraid you will die without God; but if you cannot live without God, that proves that you are his, and you will bear me out in the assertion that this is the heaviest of mortal griefs, — to feel that God has forsaken you, and does not hear your prayer; — indeed, does not seem even to help you to pray, so that you can only groan, “Oh that I knew where I might find him! … Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him.”

16. Then, dear friends, in closing what I have to say about this dark side of the subject, let me remind you that it is marvellously arousing, because the true child of God, when he finds that his Father has forsaken him for a while, gets to be terribly unhappy. Then he begins to cry and to seek after God. Look at Job; he hunts for God everywhere, — forward, backward, on the left hand, on the right hand. He leaves no quarter unvisited; no part of the earth is left without being searched over so that he might find his God. Nothing brings a real Christian to his bearings, and awakens all his faculties, like the consciousness of his Lord’s absence. Then he cries, “My God, where are you? I have lost the sense of your presence; I have missed the light of your countenance.” A man, in such a case as this, goes to the prayer meeting, in the hope that other people’s prayers may help to make his sad heart happy again. He reads his Bible, too, since he has not read it for months. You will also find him listening to the gospel with the utmost eagerness, and nothing but the gospel will satisfy him now. At one time, he could listen to that pleasant kind of talk that lulls the hearers to slumber, but now he wants a heart-searching ministry, and a message that will go right into him, and deal faithfully with him; and he is not content unless he gets it. Besides this, he is anxious to talk with Christian friends of more mature experience than his own; and he deals seriously and earnestly with these eternal matters which, before, he perhaps trifled with as mere technicalities. You see a man, who once lived in the light of God’s countenance, and you will find him wretched indeed when the light is gone. He must have his God.

17. III. Now, lastly, I want to speak, for a little while, concerning THE TRIED BELIEVER’S CONSOLATION. It is a very sweet consolation: “He knows the way that I take: when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.”

18. God knows and understands all about his child. I do not know his way, but he knows mine. I am his child, and my Father is leading me, though I cannot see him, for all around me it is so misty and dark. I can scarcely feel his hand that grasps my little palm, so I cry to him, “Where are you, my Father? I cannot see my way; the next step before me threatens to plunge me into imminent peril. I know nothing, my Father, but you know.” That is just where knowledge is of most use; it does not so much matter what you do not know as long as God knows it, for he is your Guide. If the guide knows the way, the traveller under his care may be content to know very little. “He knows the way that I take.” There is nothing about you, my brother, which God does not perfectly understand. You are a riddle to yourself, but you are no riddle to him. There are mysteries in your heart that you cannot explain, but he has the clue of every maze, the key of every secret drawer, and he knows how to get at the hidden springs of your spirit. He knows the trouble that you could not tell to your dearest friend, the grief you dare not whisper into any human ear.

19. I find that the Hebrew has this meaning, “He knows the way that is in me.” God knows whether I am his child or not; whether I am sincere or not. While others are judging me harshly, he judges me truly; he knows what I really am. This is a sweet consolation; take it to yourself, tried believer.

20. Next, God approves of his child. The word “know” often has the meaning of approval, and it has that sense here. Job says “God approves of the way that I take.” When you are in trouble, it is a grand thing to be able to say, “I know that I have done what is right in the sight of God, although it has brought me into great trial. ‘My foot has held its steps, I have kept his way, and not turned aside.’ ” If you have a secret and certain sense of God’s approval in the time of your sorrow, it will be a source of very great strengthening for your spirit.

21. But Job meant more than this. He meant that God was considering him, — and helping him even then. The fact that he knows about our needs guarantees that he will supply them. You remember how our Lord Jesus Christ expresses this truth: “Take no thought, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or, ‘What shall we drink?’ or, ‘With what shall we be clothed?’ for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.” Does he know all about our need? It is all right then; the Head of the house knows the need of all the members of his family, and that is enough, for he never yet failed to supply all the needs of those who depend on him. When I need guidance, he will himself be my Guide. He will supply me when I lack supplies, he will defend me when I need defence, he will give me all things that I really require. There is an old proverb that says, “Where God is, nothing is lacking”; and it is blessedly true. Only remember that there is an ancient precept with a gracious promise attached to it, “Delight yourself also in the Lord; and he shall give you the desires of your heart.” Believe it, and obey it, and you shall find it true in your case.

22. Furthermore, when Job says, “When he has tried me, I shall come out as gold,” he comforts himself with the belief that God times and manages all things, — that his present distresses are a trial, by which God is testing him. A man who is like solid gold is not afraid to be tested. No tradesman is afraid to put into the scales what is full weight; for, if it is weighed, it will be proved to be what he says it is. When the inspector of weights and measures comes around, the gentleman who does not like to see him is the man of short weights and incorrect scales. He who knows he is upright and sincere dares say even to the Lord, himself, “Search me, oh God, and know my heart: try me, and know my ways: and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” We do not profess to be perfect, but we dare claim to be sincere, and he who is sincere is not afraid of being tested and tried. Real gold is not afraid of the fire; why should it be? What does it have to lose? So Job seems to say, “I know that God has put integrity within my spirit, and now that he is testing me, he will not carry the test further than, by his grace, I shall be able to bear.”

23. Lastly, Job’s comfort was that God secures the happy result of a trial. He believed that, when God had tried him, he would bring him out as gold. Now, how does gold come out of the crucible? How does a true Christian man come out of the darkness and obscurity of missing his God for a while? How does he come out like gold? In the Hebrew, the word has an allusion to the bright colour of the gold; so, when a Christian is tried, is there not a bright colour about him? Even though he may have lost, for a while, the bright shining of God’s countenance, when that brightness returns, there is a lustre about him which you cannot help seeing. He will speak of his God in a more impressive way than he ever spoke before. Examine the books that are most comforting to believers, and that satisfy their souls, and you will find that the men who wrote them were those who had been severely tried; and when they came out of the fire, there was a brilliance about them which would not otherwise have been there. If you walk in darkness, and see no light, believe that, when God has tried you, you shall come out with the brightness of newly-minted gold.

24. But brightness is of little value without preciousness, and the children of God grow more precious through their trials; and, being precious, they become objects of desire. Men desire gold more than almost everything else, yet the Lord has said, “I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.” There are some godly men whose company we court, and some Christian women whose company, when they talk about spiritual things, is worth a Jew’s eye {d} to one who is in distress. Happy are those whom God has passed through the fire, who become precious and desirable when they come out of it.

25. And they become honourable, too. “When he has tried me,” said Job, “even though my friends despise me now, when I come out, they shall have different thoughts concerning me.” They thought a great deal more of Job when God was angry with them, and would not restore them to his favour until the patriarch had prayed for them, than they thought of him when they went to find fault with him; and the day shall come for you, true child of God, when those who now persecute you, and look down on you, shall look up to you. Joseph may be cast into the pit by his brothers, and sold into Egypt, but he shall yet sit on the throne, and all his father’s sons shall bow before him.

26. Once more, you shall come out of the fire uninjured. It seems very hard to believe that a child of God should be tried by the loss of his Father’s presence, and yet should come out uninjured by the trial. Yet no gold is ever injured in the fire. Stoke the furnace as much as you like, let the blast be as strong as you wish, thrust the ingot into the very centre of the white heat, let it lie in the very heart of the flame; pile on more fuel, let another blast torment the coals until they become most vehement with heat, yet the gold is losing nothing, it may even be gaining. If it had any alloy mingled with it, the alloy is separated from it by the fire, and to gain in purity is the greatest of gains. But the pure gold is not worth one penny less; there is not a single particle of it that can be burned. It is still there, all the better for the fiery trial to which it has been subjected; and you, dear child of God, whatever may befall you, shall come out of the fire quite uninjured. You are under a dark cloud just now; but you shall come out into brightness, and you shall have lost nothing that was worth keeping. What is there that you can lose? When death comes, what will you lose?

       Corruption, earth, and worms
       Shall but refine this flesh,
    Till my triumphant spirit comes
       To put it on afresh.

When we put on our new clothes, this body that shall have passed through God’s transforming hand, — shall we be losers? No, we shall say, “What a difference! Is this my Sabbath garment? The old one was dark and dingy, dusty and defiled; this is whiter than any fuller could make it, and brighter than the light.” You will scarcely know yourselves, my brothers and sisters; you will know other people, I daresay; but I think you will hardly recognise yourselves when once you have put on your new array. You cannot really lose anything by death. You will not lose the eyes you part with for a while; for, when Christ shall stand on the earth at the latter day, your eyes shall behold him. You shall lose no faculty, no power, but you shall infinitely gain even by death itself; and that is the very worst of your enemies, so that you shall certainly gain by all the rest. Come then, pluck up courage, and march boldly on. Fear no ghosts, for they are only spectres, there is no reality about them.

27. Beloved, note well this closing word. God is here. You need not go forward to find him, or backward to hunt after him, or on the left to search for him, or on the right to see him. He is still with his people, as he said, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” “Do not fear: for I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned; neither shall the flame scorch you.”

28. Oh, seek him, then, every one of you, and may God bless you all, for Christ’s sake! Amen.

{a} Gig: A light two-wheeled one-horse carriage. OED. {b} Anne Askew: (1520/1521-July 16, 1546) was an English poet and Protestant who was persecuted as a heretic. She is the only woman on record to have been tortured in the Tower of London before being burnt at the stake. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Askew" {c} Lawrence: Martyred in 268 AD. See Explorer "http://www.westsrbdio.org/prolog/my.html?day=10&month=August" {d} Jew’s eye: Proverbial expression for something valued highly. OED.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Job 23; 24}

Always remember, dear friends, that one of the great lessons of the Book of Job is this, — that we may never judge a man’s character by his condition. The best of men may have the most suffering and poverty, while the worst of men may prosper in everything. Do not imagine, because a man suddenly becomes very poor or a great sufferer, that therefore he must be a great sinner; otherwise, you will often condemn the innocent, and you will, at the same time, be guilty of flattering the wicked. Job’s friends had cruelly told him that he must be a hypocrite, or else he would not have lost his property, and have been struck with such a remarkable sickness; so he appeals to God against their unrighteous judgment.

23:1, 2 Then Job answered and said, “Even today my complaint is bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning.

“Although my groaning is heavy, yet it is not so burdensome as my griefs might warrant.”

3. Oh that I knew where I might find him! so that I might come even to his seat!

“To his judgment seat, so that I might plead my cause, and vindicate my character even there.”

4-6. I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments. I would know the words which he would answer me, and understand what he would say to me. Will he plead against me with his great power?

“Being the great God, will he silence me by a display of his omnipotence? Oh, no! he is too just to do that.”

6. No; but he would put strength in me.

“He would help me to argue my case; he would deal fairly with me; he would not be like you so-called friends of mine, who sit there, and gloat over my weakness and my griefs, and torture me with your cruel words.”

7-10. There the righteous might dispute with him; so I should be delivered for ever from my judge. Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: on the left hand, where he works, but I cannot behold him: he hides himself on the right hand, so that I cannot see him: but he knows the way that I take:

“If I cannot find him, or see him, he can see me, and he knows all about me.”

10. When he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.

This is beautiful faith on the part of Job. It is very easy for us to read these lines, and to say, “No doubt, tried men do come out of the furnace purified like gold”; but it is quite another thing to be in the crucible ourselves, and to read such a passage as this by the light of the fire, and then to be able to say, “We know it is true, for we are proving its truth even now.”

This is the kind of chapter that many a broken heart has to read by itself alone. Many a weeping eye has scanned these words of Job, and truly blessed has that troubled one been who has been able to chime in with the sweet music of this verse: “He knows the way that I take: when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.”

11. My foot has held his steps, I have kept his way, and not turned aside.

It is a great thing to be able to say that, as Job truly could, for we have the witness of the Spirit of God that Job was “perfect and upright, and one who feared God, and shunned evil.” It was not self-righteousness that made him speak as he did; he had the right to say it, and he did say it.

12, 13. Neither have I departed from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food. But he is unique, and who can make him change?

“His mind is made up to chasten me; he intends to afflict me again and again; so what can I do but yield to his will?”

13. And whatever his soul desires, even that he does.

There is, on Job’s part, a reverential bowing before the supreme power an acknowledgment of God’s right to do with him as he wishes.

14. For he performs the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with him.

“More arrows to pierce me, more sorrows to grieve me.”

15-17. Therefore I am troubled at his presence: when I consider, I am afraid of him. For God makes my heart soft, and the Almighty troubles me: because I was not cut off before the darkness, neither has he covered the darkness from my face.”

He wished that he had died before those evil days had happened to him; and that is the way that a good man, an undoubted saint of God, is sometimes driven to speak. There are, perhaps, some who will say, “Then we do not want to be children of God if that is how they are tried.” Ah! but that was only the sorrow of an hour. See where Job is now; think of what he was even a few days after he made this mournful complaint, when God had turned his sighing into singing, and his mourning into morning light.

In the next chapter, Job speaks of those who were the opposite of himself, — wicked and ungodly men, who nevertheless prospered in this life.

24:1. “Why, since times are not hidden from the Almighty, do those who know him not see his days?

“Why do they live so long? Why do they appear to have such prosperity?”

2-4. Some remove the landmarks; they violently take away flocks, and feed on them. They drive away the donkey of the fatherless, they take the widow’s ox for a pledge. They turn the needy out of the way: the poor of the earth hide themselves together.

“They are hard-hearted enough to rob even poor widows and orphan children.”

5. Behold, as wild donkeys in the desert, they go out to their work; —

Like wild donkeys, their work consists in going out to do mischief.

5. Rising early for a prey: the wilderness yields food for them and for their children.

For there are some so hard that they would skin a flint, and out of the wilderness would manage to get food. Yet such hard oppressors of others sometimes seem to prosper for a while.

6-12. Everyone of them reaps his grain in the field: and they gather the vintage of the wicked. They cause the naked to lodge without clothing, so that they have no covering in the cold. They are wet with the showers of the mountains, and embrace the rock for lack of a shelter. They pluck the fatherless from the breast, and take a pledge from the poor. They cause him to go naked without clothing, and they take away the sheaf from the hungry; who press oil within their walls, and tread their wine-presses, and suffer thirst. Men groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded cries out: yet God does not charge them with folly.

He leaves them alone, leaves them to do as they please. So it seems; but this is not the day of judgment, and this is not the place of final retribution. Now and then, God flashes out his anger against some gross sinner or some national crime; but as for most men’s sins, he bears with them until that tremendous day shall come, which is quickly coming, when he shall hang the heavens in sackcloth, and hold the last assize, and every man shall receive according to his works.

13-17. They are those who rebel against the light; they do not know its ways, nor remain in its paths. The murderer rising with the light kills the poor and needy, and in the night is like a thief. The eye also of the adulterer waits for the twilight, saying, ‘No eye shall see me: and disguises his face.’ In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the daytime: they do not know the light. For the morning is to them even as the shadow of death: if one knows them, they are in the terrors of the shadow of death.

These are the men who plunder secretly, who rob, yet cannot bear to be known as thieves.

18. He is swift as the waters; their portion is cursed in the earth:

There was no curse on Job, and no curse can come near the true child of God; his scanty portion is still blest. But the large portion of the ungodly is cursed even while he is in the earth.

18-20. He does not behold the way of the vineyards. Drought and heat consume the snow-waters: so does the grave those who have sinned. The womb shall forget him; the worm shall feed sweetly on him;

What a sarcastic utterance! This man, who lorded it over others, — how glad the worm shall be to get at him! This fat worldling shall be a rich feast for the worms.

20. He shall be remembered no more; and wickedness shall be broken as a tree.

It shall snap off, and be brought to an ignominious end.

21-24. He preys on the barren who does not bear, and does no good to the widow. He also draws the mighty with his power: he rises up, and no man is sure of life. Though it is given him to be in safety, in which he rests; yet his eyes are on their ways. They are exalted for a little while, but are gone and brought low; they are taken out of the way as all others, and cut off as the tops of the ears of grain.

In the East, they generally reap their harvest by just taking off the tops of the ears of grain, and leaving the straw. So the wicked will be cut off.

25. And if it is not so now, who will make me a liar, and make my speech worth nothing?”

Job challenges all men to contradict what he affirms, — that the righteous may be greater sufferers, and the wicked may for a while prosper, but that God will, in the end, overthrow the ungodly, and establish the righteous.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 73” 73 @@ "(Part 2)"}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Conflict and Encouragement — Sins And Sorrows Laid Before God” 617}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Conflict and Encouragement — Hoping In God” 631}

Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 73 (Part 1)
1 Lord, what a thoughtless wretch was I,
   To mourn, and murmur, and repine,
   To see the wicked placed on high,
   In pride and robes of honour shine.
2 But, oh their end! their dreadful end!
   Thy sanctuary taught me so:
   On slipp’ry rocks I see them stand,
   And fiery billows roll below.
3 Now let them boast how tall they rise,
   I’ll never envy them again;
   There they may stand with haughty eyes,
   Till they plunge deep in endless pain.
4 Their fancied joys, how fast they flee!
   Just like a dream when man awakes:
   Their songs of softest harmony
   Are but a preface to their plagues.
5 Now I esteem their mirth and wine
   Too dear to purchase with my blood;
   Lord, ‘tis enough that thou art mine;
   My life, my portion, and my God.
                           Isaac Watts, 1719.

Psalm 73 (Part 2)
1 God, my supporter and my hope,
   My help for ever near,
   Thine arm of mercy held me up,
   When sinking in despair.
2 Thy counsels, LOrd, shall guide my feet
   Through this dark wilderness;
   Thy hand conduct me near thy seat,
   To dwell before thy face.
3 Were I in heaven without my God
   ‘Twould be no joy to me;
   And whilst this earth is mine abode,
   I long for none but thee.
4 What if the springs of life were broke,
   And flesh and heart should faint?
   God is my soul’s eternal rock,
   The strength of every saint.
5 Still to draw near to thee, my God,
   Shall be my sweet employ;
   My tongue shall sound thy works abroad,
   And tell the world my joy.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.

Psalm 73 (Part 3)
1 Whom have we, Lord, in heaven but thee,
   And whom on earth beside;
   Where else for succour shall we flee,
   Or in whose strength confide?
2 Thou art our portion here below,
   Our promised bliss above;
   Ne’er can our souls an object know
   So precious as thy love.
3 When heart and flesh, oh Lord, shall fail,
   Thou wilt our spirits cheer;
   Support us through life’s thorny vale,
   And calm each anxious fear.
4 Yes, thou, our only guide through life,
   Shalt help and strength supply;
   Support us in death’s fearful strife,
   Then welcome us on high.
                     Harriett Auber, 1829.

The Christian, Conflict and Encouragement
617 — Sins And Sorrows Laid Before God
1 Oh that I knew the secret place,
      Where I might find my God!
   I’d spread my wants before his face
      And pour my woes abroad.
2 I’d tell him how my sins arise,
      What sorrows I sustain;
   How grace decays and comfort dies,
      And leaves my heart in pain
3 He knows what arguments I’d take
      To wrestle with my God;
   I’d plead for his own mercy’s sake,
      And for my Saviour’s blood.
4 My God will pity my complaints,
      And heal my broken bones;
   He takes the meaning of his saints,
      The language of their groans.
5 Arise, my soul, from deep distress,
      And banish every fear;
   He calls thee to his throne of grace
      To spread thy sorrows there.
                        Isaac Watts, 1720.

The Christian, Conflict and Encouragement
631 — Hoping In God <8.7.4.>
1 Oh my soul, what means this sadness?
      Wherefore art thou thus cast down?
   Let thy griefs be turn’d do gladness,
      Bid thy restless fears be gone:
         Look to Jesus,
      And rejoice in his dear name.
2 What though Satan’s Strong temptations
      Vex and tease thee day by day?
   And thy sinful inclinations
      Often fill thee with dismay?
         Thou shalt conquer,
      Through the Lamb’s redeeming blood.
3 Though ten thousand ills beset thee,
      From without and from within;
   Jesus saith, he’ll ne’er forget thee,
      But will save from hell and sin;
         He is faithful
      To perform his gracious word.
4 Though distresses now attend thee,
      And thou tread’st the thorny road;
   His right hand shall still defend thee,
      Soon he’ll bring thee home to God:
         Therefore praise him,
      Praise the great Redeemer’s name.
5 Oh that I could now adore him,
      Like the heavenly host above,
   Who for ever bow before him,
      And unceasing sing his love!
         Happy songsters!
      When shall I your chorus join?
                        John Fawcett, 1782.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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