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SAFETY IN THE GRAVE, AND JOY AT THE
JOB xiv. 13, 14, 15.
Oh that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that
thou wouldest keep me secret until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man die, shall he live again : All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call; and I will answer thce : thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hanıls.
EFORE we attempt to make any improvement
tion, it is necessary that we search out the true meaning of them. There are two general senses of these three verses, which are given by some of the most considerable interpreters of scripture, and they are exceeding different from each other.
The first is this. Some suppose Job under the extremity of his anguish to long after death here, as he does in some other parts of this book, and to desire that God would cut him off from the land of the living, and hide him in the grave, or, at least, take him away from the present stage of action, and conceal him in some retired and solitary place, dark as the grave is, till all the days which might be designed for his pain and sorrow were finished.; and that God would 'appoint him a time for his restoration to health and happiness again in this world, and raise him to the possession of it, by calling him out of that dark and solitary place of retreat ; and then Jobs would answer him, and appear with pleasure at such a call of providence.
Others give this sense of the words, that though the pressing and overwhelming sorrows of this good man constrained him to long for death, and he entreated of God that he might be sent to the grave as a hiding-place, and thus be delivered from his present calamities, yet he had some divine glimpse of a resurrection or living again, and he hopes for the happiness of a future state when God should call him out of the grave. He knew that the blessed God would have a desire to restore the work of his own hands to life again, and Job would answer the call of his God into a resurrection with holy pleasure
Now there are four or five reasons which incline me to prefer this latter sense of the words, and to shew that the comforts and hope which Job aspires to in this place, are only to be derived from a resurrection to final happiness.
1. The express words of the text are, “O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave !" not in a darksome place like the grave; and where the literal sense of the words is plain and agreeable to the context, there is no need of making metaphors to explain them. There is nothing that can encourage us to suppose that Job had any hope of happiness in this world again, after he was gone down to the grave, and therefore he would not make so unreasonable a petition to the great God. This seems to be too foolish and too hopeless a request for us to put into the mouth of so wise and good a man.
2. He seems to limit the continuance of man in the state of death to the duration of the hea vens, ver. 12th, “ Man lieth down and riseth not till the heavens be no more :" not absolutely for ever does Job desire to be hidden in the grave, but till the dissolution of all these visible things, these heavens and this earth, and the great rising-day for the sons of men. These words seem to have a plain aspect towards the resurrection.
And especially when he adds, “They shall not be wakened nor raised out of their sleep." The brutes when dying are never said to sleep in scripture, because they shall never rise again ; but this is a frequent word used to signify the death of man both in the Old Testament and in the New, because he only lies down in the grave for a season, as in a bed of sleep, in order to awake and arise hereafter.
3. In other places of this book, Job gives us some evident hints of his hope of a resurrection, especially that divine passage and prophecy, when he spake as one surrounded with a vision of glory, and filled with the light and the joy of faith. Job xix. 25. “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth ; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another, though my reins be consumed within me.” parts of this book the good man lets us know, that he had no manner of hope of any restoration to health and peace in this life. Job vii. 6, 7, 8. “ My days are spent without hopé : mine eye shall no more see good : the eye of him that hath seen me shall see me no more : thine eyes are upon me, and I am not." Ver. 21. “ Now shall I sleep in the dust, thou shalt seek me in the morning and I shall not be." Job xvii. 15. “Where is now my hope ? as for my hope, who shall see it?" He and his hope seemed to go
But in many
down to the bars of the pit together, and to rest in the dust. And if Job had no hope of a restoration in this world, then his hopes must point to the resurrection of the dead.
4. If we turn these verses here, as well as that noble passage in Job xix. to the more evangelical sense of a resurrection, the truths which are contained in the one and the other, are all supported by the language of the New Testament: and the express words of both these texts are much more naturally and easily applied to the evangelical sense, without any strain and difficulty.
The expressions in the xixth of Job, “ I know that my
Redeemer liveth. &c. have been rescued by many wise interpreters from that poor and low sense which has been forced upon them, by those who will not allow Job to have any prospect beyond this life : and it has been made to appear to be a bright glimpse of divine light and joy, a ray or vision of the Sun of Righteousness breaking in between the dark clouds of his pressing sorrow ; and that the words of my text demand the same sort of interpretation, will appear further by these short remarks, and this paraphrase upon them.
Job had been speaking, ver. 7, &c. that there is hope of a tree when it is cut down, that it will sprout again visibly, and bring forth boughs; but when man gives up the ghost, he is no more visible upon earth : where is he? Job does not deny his futurg existence, but only intimates that he does not appear in the place where he was ; and in the following verses he does not say, a dying man shall never rise, or shall never be awakened out of his sleep, but asserts that he rises not till the dissolution of these heavens and these visible things : and by calling death a sleep, he supposes an awaking time, though it may be distant and far off.
Then he proceeds to long for death, “O that thou
wouldest hide me in the grave ! that thou wouldest
From the words thus expounded we may draw these several observations, and make a short reflection upon each of them, as we pass along
OBSERVATION I. This world is a place wherein good men are exposed to great calamities, and they are ready to think the anger or wrath of God appears in them.
OBSERVATION II. The grave is God's known hi. ding place for his people.
OBSERVATION III. God has appointed a set time in his own counsels for all his children to continue in death.
OBSERVATION IV. The lively view of a happy resurrection, and a well-grounded hope of this blessed change, is a solid and divine comfort to the saints of