A Study in Wisdom:
Job 1:5-6 (pt. 4)
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[Here we continue a reprint of a small portion of Joseph Caryl’s study in Job. Mr. Caryl wrote twelve volumes on the book of Job. His study is a great example of how deep one can dig into the truths of the Bible.]
Job 1:5-6 (part 4) -
Job’s Offering, by Joseph Caryl
5And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning and offered burnt offerings, according to the number of them all. 6For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.
Lastly, where had Job’s sons been that he is thus suspicious? Had they been in any suspected place? No, it was only in their own houses. Had they been about any unlawful thing? No, it was only at a friendly meeting, feasting of brothers and sisters together. Yet Job is afraid lest his sons had sinned. Hence observe that,
We may quickly offend and break the Law while we are about things in their own nature lawful, especially in feasting.
It is an easy matter to sin while the thing you are about is not sinful, nay while the thing you are about is holy. We may suspect ourselves that we have sinned when we have been praying much more than when we have been feasting; we may suspect ourselves that we have sinned when we have been hearing the word, speaking the word; for these reasons, and more, we have to suspect ourselves when we have been trading, buying or selling, and working abroad in the world. Lawful things are oftentimes the occasion of the unlawful. All the sins of the old world are described thus, “they eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted” etc. (see Luke 17:17-18). There is not one of these an act evil in itself; yet they sinned away their peace, and sinned away their souls, in dealing about these things. Therefore as you must be afraid of all things in their own nature unlawful, so be jealous of yourselves in things that are lawful.
Next, “…and cursed God in their hearts” (vs. 6).
Now, it may be wondered, how Job could suspect his sons of this, that they should curse God?
I answer to that. Here we are not to take cursing either for that abominable act (at which heathens blush), the casting of open reproach upon the Name of God; or for a malicious and virulent, though secret blaspheming of God, and sending defiance to Heaven in their hearts. But to “curse God in their hearts”, does signify any irreverent, undue, unfit, unholy thought of God, any thought unbecoming the Glory and Majesty of so great a God. And how quickly may the heart send out such, especially at a feast who feels not, who finds not? God is said to be cursed when He has not that reverence and honor which belongs to him, whose Name is Holy and Reverent. In that sense only we are to understand the word cursing here. And Mr. Broughton gives a translation which lets in some light to this: “It may be my sons have sinned, and little blessed God in their hearts,” that is, they have not had such high, such holy thoughts of God as became them, “they have little blessed God”; careless thoughts of God are “little blessing” of God, and does amount to a cursing of God.
So that the sense which results is this, as if Job should have said, “I am well enough satisfied concerning my sons, that they have not broadly blasphemed God, that they have not been such as have torn His Name with oaths, cursings and execrations; yet notwithstanding I know the heart is a deceitful thing, there are many starting holes in it, it quickly conceives a sin; and therefore I am very doubtful, though my sons have carried it fairly and well in their actions and words while they feasted, that yet their hearts have been loose, and their affections vain, I am afraid they have cursed, lightly regarded, or little blessed God in their hearts.”
That we ought to keep our hearts with all manner of keeping in everything we go about.
If your hearts are disorderly, it is kind of cursing God. Remember not only to keep your hearts when you are praying and when you are hearing, and when you are in holy duties; but remember to keep your hearts when you are feasting and refreshing yourselves, when you are in your callings, when you are buying and selling, etc.
That sins of the heart, sinful thoughts are very dangerous sins.
Job could not accuse his sons of loud blasphemies, he only suspected the silent sins of the heart, yet he offers sacrifice for them.
Again, when Job had nothing to charge his sons with, but only sins of the heart, you see it is with an, “It may be my sons have cursed god in their hearts”, he does speak directly or positively, that they have done so. Whence note,
That no man can positively conclude what is wrought in the heart of another.
The heart is God’s, as He only has the lock and key of the heart, to shut or open it, so He only has a window to look into it; we may guess at the heart, we may say, “it may be”, but further we cannot go. The hearts of men often come forth at their mouths, and appear in their actions, and then indeed we may conclude their hearts are naught, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh, and the hand worketh” (Matt. 12:34); but unless we have that testimony, unless the heart give that witness against itself, we can only suspect it. It may be thus or thus, God alone can tell when we curse Him in our hearts, and (if we go on impenitently in them), irreverent thoughts will be interpreted a cursing of God.
“Thus did Job continually” (vs. 6) – This is the third thing to be opened in this verse, to wit the constancy of Job. We have seen the acts of His spiritual care, and the ground of it, his fear lest His sons had sinned. Now we have the constancy of this duty: “Thus did Job continually.”
“Continually” – The original is, “all the days”, thus did Job. All days, that is all the days that this occasion did offer itself. When his sons went to feasting, then ever Job went to praying and to sacrificing. Continually, or all the days, does not import that Job did offer sacrifice every day. This “continually” is to be understood in the renewed seasons. All the days are those days wherein occasion was given. We are then said to do a thing continually when we do it seasonably, so those places of Scripture are to be understood: “Pray without ceasing” (I Thess. 5:17); not that a man should do nothing else but pray, but that he should labor to have his heart in a praying frame always, and should actually pray as often as duty requires; such an one prays always. So here, Job’s offering sacrifice continually, notes only the constancy and perseverance of Job in the duty, that so often as there was an occasion renewed, Job renewed this service and holy care concerning his sons, for reconciling them to God. Job had many other things to do in the world, he had a calling, yet he offered sacrifice continually.
It is an excellent point of spiritual wisdom, to drive the two trades for Heaven and Earth so, as that one shall not entrench upon another; for a man to pray so as that it may be said he prays continually; and for a man to follow his calling so, as that it may be said, he follows his calling continually. In that he offered sacrifice as oft as his sons did feast. Observe this,
That the heart of man is continually evil.
Do not think that one sacrifice will serve the heart of man, when it has failed once in a duty, and you have humbled your soul for that. Think not thus: now my heart will forbear, when I come to such a duty or to such a business again, now I have taken order with my heart, I need not fear any more; no, the heart will sin over the same sin a thousand times. It will sin continually. You see here Job sacrificing every time his sons feasted, he knew their hearts were apt to conceive those sins at any time, therefore he seeks God for them at all times.
That renewed sins must have renewed repentance. Thus did Job continually. Till you have done sinning you must never give over repenting. If there be a leak in the ship that lets in the water continually, the pump must work continually to carry it out: We are leaking vessels all of us, sin comes in, sin is renewed, there must be the pump of repentance to carry it out again.
Lastly, we may note this: Job did it continually, Job was not good by fits.
That which a man does out of conscience, he will do with perseverance.
Nature will have good moods, but grace is steady. Thus did Job continually, whatsoever his affairs or businesses were, whatsoever was laid by, he would not lay by this duty of sacrificing.
Let this suffice for the 5th verse, containing the care of Job over the souls of his children. And so in these five verses already opened, we have: First, seen the dignity and sincerity of Job’s person. Secondly, the fullness and prosperity of his condition. Thirdly, the holiness and piety of his life. Certainly a man thus raised, thus glorious, set up thus in temporal, and in spirituals, thus furnished with substantials and adorned with circumstantial, abounding in whatsoever could make a man great and happy both in the eye of God and man; surely such a man as this, a man thus complete, wanted nothing but some want, to try his sincerity in this fullness. And now behold this hastening upon him: God having thus fitted and qualified him, will now try him, try him like gold in the furnace of affliction.