Then comes chapter three, the unsuspected man inside is revealed (Job_3:1 to Job_31:40). "After this," this sevenfold cunningly piled-up climax of attack, Job "cursed his day."
That is, tacitly, quite unintentionally in all probability, he cursed God who gave the creative touch that day of birth.
And for bitterness of spirit, biting sarcasm, persistent absorption in his own integrity and in the unfairness of all that's happening to him, for rebellion against God and God's dealings, it would be difficult to match Job in the flood of talk that is now loosened out.
How pain itself, with no touch of grace allowed in, sharpens the tongue, makes picturesque rhetoric, and puts acid in the spittle! It's immensely suggestive.
The three critics, called comforters, go at him in turn. And the burden of their talk is this: all these calamities mean that God is acting in judgment on Job for his wickedness.
They insist that all his godliness is a mere sham to cover up the utter selfishness and actual wickedness underneath. Their talk hangs well together. There's thorough consistency.
It is full of pious phraseology, inaccuracies, half-truths, and positive untruths. It's a queer tangle and mixture. It has a strangely familiar modern sound.
It is not difficult to understand who sent them, or which side they represent in this pathetic conflict going on, on the battlefield of Job's life.
It's the last stroke of that carefully planned attack. One should be careful with quotations from the Book of Job, to note whose words are being quoted.
But Job out-talks them. As the debate goes on their talks get shorter, his longer. He talks nine times, all three of them eight times. He says half as much more as they.
His bitterness increases. At last they quit. They are talked out. The case is hopeless to them because this man Job is so set in believing in his own righteousness. They give Job up as a hopeless incorrigible.
This is the first session of the school. The examinations show Job up in rather bad shape. Job lays himself bare. He is indeed a rare saint in the utter integrity of his heart and life.
But he doesn't understand. He is in the dark. And he blunders badly. That's why the story is put down here, so his spirit kinsfolk need not make the same blunders.
Job questioned God's love, which is always above question or suspicion. Because he doesn't understand he questions God 's love, which means he doubts it.
And in the sore experience, certain unsuspected things that were inside came out. They must have been in or they couldn't have come out. As you see them coming out you know that, all unsuspected, they were hidden away in side.
It's a strange sight indeed this. Saintly Job, rarest of saints in the purpose of his heart, and the uprightness of his conduct, unconsciously letting the seamy side stick out,
Sitting on the ash heap, talking, with the sharp-edged bit of broken crockery in rhythmic motion on his itching scabs, declaring his own righteousness, and reviling God and God's dealings. Cutting sarcastic flings intermingle with insistence on his faith in God.
The examinations go hard with Job. They show up something inside never suspected. He doesn't see it yet. Job's weakness is laid bare. His humility is the last thing in view now. Indeed it's clear out of view, lost sight of.
And where is the proverbial patience of patient Job? All this rebelliousness of spirit against God, this biting, burning sarcasm, this utter absence of the love spirit, this utter depressed absorption in himself, this exaggerated ego, this had all been in, quite unsuspected. Else it couldn't have gotten out.
One begins to understand now about that school of suffering. The graduate, with honours, of many schools is having a final post-graduate course. God wants him up higher, highest, with full honours, but forgetting all about the honours in thinking about his wondrous God.
Now comes chapter four, God's teacher comes (Job_32:1 to Job_37:24). The second session of school opens. God takes a hand in things indirectly. He sends a messenger, Elihu. Elihu is a teacher. And what poor saintly righteous Job needed above all things just now was a teacher.
His heart was all right, but his understanding of things was muddled. The teacher quietly, patiently, gently, plainly, teaches. Then Job's eyes begin to open. New soft light begins to break in.
First of all this teacher explains just why all this has happened to Job. He repudiates utterly what the three critics had been declaring so positively.
God had not been acting in judgment on Job. The whole thing is on a wholly higher level, a love level, a wooing level.
Elihu points out that Job had been insisting on his own integrity. He was rebelling bitterly because of what had happened to him, and against God's dealings with him, and so against God Himself (Job_33:8-12).
Job had been proud of his sanctity, the utter uprightness of his conduct, and the sincerity of his heart. He had become absorbed with himself, his saintliness. He was proud of being so humble, quite unconsciously (Job_33:17).
For pride is simply being taken up with yourself in any degree or any way, and not getting God in, in His own place.
Humility is simply letting God into one's thought and imagination and purpose as big as He really is. All we have is from God, a direct gift to be held in trust.
Talents, gifts, powers, possessions, everything is given by Him. It is a trust in the full legal meaning of that word, and then the higher love meaning.
All these gifts are at their best only as God's touch is upon them in full, which means, is upon you in full.
No one is true to himself, and to his powers, and to his neighbours, except as all is yielded up to God's touch, full constant touch.
And when that's so the mind, the imagination, the will are all absorbed with the thought of God Himself, His love so beyond words, and all that grows out of His love.
Pride is the assertion of one's self. Humility is being so taken up with some One else that one thinks of himself only in relation to that One.
Then in a simple, practical, wholesome way all one's powers, one's relation to his fellows and to the day's task, fall into right place. That's the touch upon you of this One you're so taken up with.
That absorption in God, in Christ, is a very practical thing. You have seen a babe watching intently the mother's face, utterly absorbed, conscious of nothing else. And the sight has caught your heart.
And so the mother with her babe, a lover with his lover, a husband with a wife. This thing of being absorbed in someone else is common enough to know about, blessedly so.
Job was being wooed from absorption in himself up to the higher level, forgetting himself in seeing God. If ever a man really sees God he loses himself at once. And yet he really gets hold of his true self in losing himself in God.
Elihu gently but firmly puts his finger on the sore spot. Job had been taken up with himself. His whole trouble at root was pride, thinking about himself (Job_33:13-18). That's the teacher's first point, tactfully, clearly made.
Then the teacher goes on. Something happens. Sickness comes. Elihu touches only one thing in Job's troubles. But that is enough, and makes things simpler to Job's understanding.
Elihu doesn't go into the matter of the process by which the disease came to Job, just now, as is told in the beginning of Job's story. There's a vivid description of a desperately sick man (Job_33:19-22). That's the teacher's second bit.
Then comes a teacher to make things clear to this sick man (Job_33:23). Elihu modestly speaks of himself only indirectly. A paraphrase helps make the thought clearer, a translation into simple English of the underneath thought.
Elihu says, "If there be with the sick man a messenger, a teacher, one in the close, confidential touch of personal love, to explain things to him patiently and gently and clearly;—"
Then comes prayer, and the healing (Job_33:24-28). Now the healed man frankly says, "I have sinned." There's a vast difference between being told you are a sinner and actually confessing yourself that you are a sinner.
Now, healed, the man goes about singing. He is so absorbed with such a wondrous God as he has found all anew that he goes about telling his neighbours and friends about Him.
This is the heart of Elihu's teaching. There are six links in its chain, pride, disease, a teacher, prayer, healing, telling others about this wondrous God.
And the rest of Elihu's talk, by far the greater part, is taken up chiefly in talking about God. Unconsciously he becomes a fine illustration of what he is talking about.
I can imagine that already a bit of restful sigh escapes Job's lips. His thought is sharply changed. What fine psychology! He turns away from himself (what a relief!) to—God(Job chapters 34-37). That's the close of the second session of school.