I was at ease, but he has broken me asunder: he has also taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for his mark.
This was Job's awful fate. All was calm when the thunderbolt fell and dashed him to the ground.
I. GOD GIVES TIMES OF EASE. This should be acknowledged even in the hours of suffering. Take life as a whole, and the intervals of ease are with most people much longer than the periods of trouble. Yet we are tempted to neglect them when giving the story of our life, and, like Jacob, to describe our days as "few and evil" (Genesis 47:9). Quiet times come from God quite as much as troublous times. It is an unjust view of providence to suppose that our ease comes from ourselves and the world, and only our trouble from God.
II. TIMES OF EASE WILL NOT ENDURE FOR EVER. It is needless to be anticipating future trouble. Christ bids us not be anxious for the morrow. But we should be prepared for trouble. The man who has insured his house against a fire need not be always dreaming that it is in flames. Having made a proper provision, he can set aside all thoughts of danger. We require to have just so much perception of the uncertainty of life as to lead us to make the requisite provision for a reverse of fortune. The storm may come. Where shall we be when it is upon us?
III. TIMES OF EASE ARE NOT IN THEMSELVES SECURITIES AGAINST TIMES OF TROUBLE. As they may give place to very different times, they cannot ward off the unacceptable succession. The great temptation of the rich man is to trust in his wealth for what it can never purchase. Seeing that its range is wide, he is in danger of missing its limits. So the prosperous man is tempted to trust to his good fortune, as though the mere occurrence of what is agreeable were a cause of the same in the future. But trouble comes from outside a man's circumstances, or from his own heart, which may be bankrupt while his estate is perfectly sound.
IV. TIMES OF EASE SHOULD HELP US TO PREPARE FOR TIMES OF TROUBLE. Joseph laid up stores during the seven years of plenty in preparation for the coming seven years of famine. The prudent man will always try to put something by for a rainy day. Old age must be provided for by the forethought of earlier years. Thrift is a duty a man owes to his family whom he ought to support, and to his neighbours to whom he ought not to become a burden. Higher considerations require the same method of conduct. These present calm days afford us good opportunities for spiritual preparation. It is rare indeed that a man has power and disposition to enter into the deeper religious experiences on his death-bed if he has not made himself acquainted with them during the days of health and strength. Then death may surprise us at any time, and the only safety is in being always ready. A good use of the long, quiet, prosperous summer-time of life should leave us prepared to meet whatever wintry storms it may please God to send us. If we have the peace of God in our hearts, the most shattering blows will not destroy it, and that peace even in trouble will be far more precious to us than the times of ease of the lotus-eaters, with whom it was "always afternoon," but who knew not the deeper blessedness of peace in sorrow. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder: he hath also taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for his mark.