” I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but not mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Job had been rather voluble: he multiplied words.
Chapter upon chapter of the words of Job.
But in my chapter Job discounts the whole of it. Listen to him: “Therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.”
Also in chapter 40:5: “Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea twice; but I will proceed no further.” And in the fourth verse he says: “what shall I answer Thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.”
As voluble as Job was at first, so reluctant he is in speaking now.
It is not so that Job, does not speak at all. No, he does say something. But his words are very few.
Well, that is according to Divine wisdom, for God saith: “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter anything before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. “
Do you know that in this last text you really have an answer to the question as to the meaning of the book of Job?
Yes, Job did use only a few words at his latter end.
Let’s listen to him.
I have chosen the dogmatic statements of Job; the dogmatic statements regarding himself.
In chapter 40 he says of himself: “Behold, I am vile!” And in the text which appears above this meditation: “wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Well, they are a very few words.
The question is: what do those words mean, and particularly the last quoted text. I abhor myself!
Did you note that the word <i<myself< i=””>is written in italics? That means that this work is not in the Hebrew text. Job really says: I abhor! Now, all and everyone of you realize that a statement like that has no sense at all. Suppose I would say to you: I abhor! You would ask me at once: Alright! But what do you abhor? And then I would have to supply the object of my abhorrence. That is the reason why the translators of the Bible have supplied the proper object.</i<myself<>Now, that was not necessary in the Hebrew. For the Hebrews it was clear what Job meant.
You see, the word which is translated abhor has a picture in it, and the picture is sufficient and very clear. I might add also that this picture is very striking.
The word abhor means literally: to melt, to melt away, to run ; and, specifically of a sore which runs with pus, matter. And therefore the idea of loathsomeness is included.
What Job means with this phrase is that he likens himself to a fetid, filthy, running sore.
Neither is this idea foreign to the Bible. You find this idea everywhere. Attend, e.g., to Isaiah 1:6, “From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed (notice! they have not been closed, so these sores are running sores: a continual cause for loathing! G.V.), neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.” Or listen to God’s estimation of mankind: “They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Psalm 14:3.
Everywhere, I said. Listen to Jesus: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness,” Matthew 23:27.
And if you would make answer and say: But these men were the filthy Pharisees whose abominable picture is drawn by Jesus throughout the Gospels! Then I would make answer, first, have you never read this filthy picture of the Pharisees, and trembled? Trembled, because it rang true in your conscience? And, second, does not God call the human race filthy? And, third, does not Job liken himself with a running, fetid, loathsome sore? Are you better than Job? Here is what God said of Job: “And the Lord said unto Satan, hast thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” And yet Job says: “I am a running sore”? (Incidentally, that would be a truer translation too!)
I know, I know, this poses a difficulty: how could Job call himself a running sore, while God calls him a man that is upright and perfect? But we will answer that in its proper place. Just remember this: both are right. Job was a perfect man, and also a running sore.
I abhor myself!
That is the language of self-condemnation.
That is the language, first, of condemnation.
One judges by a certain standard, and the result of such judging is that the object cannot bear the name of good.
Second, it is the language of rejection. We are through with, our judging: the object is bad.
And the result is that one turns away from the object: one cannot stand to look at it anymore because of its vileness. And therefore one rejects it. And this rejection is absolute.
And, third, it ends in abhorrence. The Dutch has a very graphic word for this: <iafzichtelijk< i=””>>. Trembling, shivering, one turns away from this object. And the picture of Holy Scripture is wonderfully correct: a stinking wound from which the matter runs.
Thus Job sees himself.
He judges himself to be bad, thoroughly bad.
He rejects himself. He throws himself away. There is nothing good in himself. He judges that he ought to be thrown away: he ought to be thrown away.
And he abhors himself. He cannot stand to look at himself anymore. Did you ever look at a running, stinking sore, and turn away in disgust? That’s what we have here. And this abominable object is Job.
Such language is foreign to natural man.
Did you ever attend a funeral of a wicked man who was one of the great of the earth? Have you ever read the funeral orations, the eulogies uttered at the departure of the high and mighty?
Yes, they do judge.
But their judgment, their condemnation is of the other man. Classic is the judgment of the hated Pharisee: I am not as the rest of men are: extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican!
They judge all and everything: but not themselves.
They judge themselves to be righteous and they despise others. That’s a text.
But the judgment of the righteous is just the reverse: they esteem the brother better than themselves.
Job is of such caliber. He abhors self.
And the result was that “he repented in dust and ashes.”
What is it?
He sorrowed over his dreadful estate. He did not take the time to count his evil deeds. There was not time enough for that. Hence, he abhors self. That included his abominable nature, his sinful deeds, his lack of righteousness: the picture is complete!
And the measure of his repentance is expressed in the addition of a twofold picture: dust and ashes! That was an Eastern term, and expressed the imagery of death. You cannot grow anything in dust and ashes. Yes, the picture is complete: we belong in the dust of death. What beautiful humility!</iafzichtelijk<>
How did this come about? How does a man arrive there?
Job spoke volubly about his righteousness, and his readiness to appear before the throne of the great Judge.
But all this, is past.
Here we see him groveling in the dust of death.
Here is the answer, beloved reader; they are but a few words.
HE HAD SEEN GOD!
Oh, he had heard of God by the hearing of the ear. His father and mother had told him of God. He did mention the fall of Adam, so he must have heard the story of the first paradise and how man had fallen away from God, etc. Job was acquainted with tradition: there was as yet no Bible. Moses was not yet born. He lived at the time of Abraham, so there was not one page of the written Word of God. But he did hear of God by the “hearing of the ear.”
But after his three friends had spoken, together with that young man, Elihu; and after he had given plentiful answers, a storm arose, a veritable whirlwind; God had come down and shown himself to Job. How, I do not know. But God had come very close to Job. I think it was something like we hear from Paul: “But God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” II Cor. 4:6
Oh, I know that the New Testament quality and quantity of the Spirit of Christ was not yet, but I am persuaded that Job saw the glory of God nevertheless. Is this not in harmony with all the words of God in His wonderful speech to Job in chapters 38 to 41? All this speech of God enhances His wondrous glory and wisdom!
And Job saw it.
And that was exactly the reason why he saw his own stinking, abominable filthiness.
And now the answer to that difficult question: how could Job be at the same time the perfect and upright man of God’s estimation, and also like unto a running, stinking sore?
Have you noticed one thing in Job’s condemnatory speech of self? It is this: it is the speech of truth in the inward parts. God agrees with Job. The light of God’s attractive, lovely, beautiful glory shows us our rottenness.
And the love of God in our heart is true in its evaluation of self.
He that condemneth himself shall not be judged. He was found of God’s mercy. And that mercy is the lovely Son of God! Amen.