Job 4:9

We have now reached the kernel of the controversy with which Job and his friends are to be engaged. While - as the prologue shows - the primary purpose of the Book of Job is to refute Satan's low, sneering insinuation implied in the words, "Doth Job serve God for nought?" and to prove that God can and does inspire disinterested devotion, the long discussion among the friends is concerned with the problem of suffering, and the old orthodox notion that it was just the punishment of sin, showing the inadequacy of that notion, and the deep mystery of the whole subject. Now we are introduced to this perplexing question. It comes before us in the form of a principle that is undoubtedly true, although the application of it by Job's friends turned out to be egregiously false.


1. This is communicated in the New Testament by St. Paul, "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6:7).

2. This is in accordance with experience. Eliphaz had seen it. We need not suppose that he had been deceived by some strange hallucination. We must all have observed how men make or mar their own fortunes. We know what will be the end of the career of the idle and dissipated. We are constantly watching the triumph of diligence and prudence.

3. This is after the analogy of nature. Then the harvest is according to the sowing, and it is determined by absolute laws. But there is no chaos in the human sphere. Moral causation works there as strictly as physical causation in the outer world. There is no escaping from the natural consequences of our deeds. He who sows the wind will most assuredly reap the whirlwind.

4. This is just. Job's friends were right in feeling that the wicked ought to suffer and that the good ought to be blessed. The attempt to evade the great law of causation in the spiritual sphere is as immoral as it is futile. Why should any one expect to be saved firm the harvest which he has himself sown?

II. THE FALSE APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE. The whole Book of Job demonstrates that Job's friends were wrong in applying this principle to the case of the patriarch. But why was it not applicable?

1. They anticipated the harvest. The harvest is the end of the world. Some firstfruits may be gathered earlier; often we see the evil consequences of misdeeds ripening rapidly. But this is not always the case. Meanwhile we can judge of no life until we have seen the whole of it. In the end Job reaped an abundant harvest of blessings (Job 42:10-17).

2. They ignored the variety of causes. It is a recognized rule of logic that while you can always argue from the cause to the effect, you cannot safely reverse the process and reason back from the effect to the cause, because the same effect may come from any one of a number of causes. Job might bring calamity on himself, and if he did wrong he would bring it - in the long run. But other causes might produce it. In this case it was not Job, but Satan, who brought it. It was not the husbandman, but an enemy, who sowed tares in the field.

3. They mistook the nature of the harvest. The man who sows iniquity will not necessarily reap temporal calamity. He will get his natural harvest, which is corruption, but he may have wealth and temporal, external prosperity on earth. And the man who sows goodness may not reap money, immunity from trouble, etc.; for these things are not the natural products of what he sows. They are not "after its kind." But he will reap "eternal life." Nothing that had happened to Job indicated that he would not gather that best of all harvests. - W.F.A.

Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.
Eliphaz speaks of himself here as an observer of God's providence; and the result of his observations is, the discernment of the law, that "they who plow iniquity and sow wickedness, reap the same." Was Eliphas wrong in this? No. He perceived a very great and important law of the kingdom. Where, then, was he wrong? It was in applying this to Job, and in so easily concluding that his severe sufferings were the consequence of his own individual sins. The friends often expressed most beautiful and important truths, and only failed because they misapplied them. For this law, compare Hosea 8:7; Hosea 10:12, 13; Galatians 6:7, 8. We see the operation of this law in the natural world. There, in that world, as people sow, so they reap; nor do they ever expect it to be otherwise. But in the moral and spiritual world, nothing is more common than to meet with those who sow iniquity, and yet do not expect to reap of the same, either in this world or in the world to come. Men do not expect any consequences to follow a life of carelessness and impenitence. It may be that you have seen solemn and affecting instances of the operation of this law; if not, ministers of Christ will tell you that they have seen them only too often. They have seen those who have lived careless and self-indulgent lives struggle at last in vain. The hardened heart was but the fulfilment of the solemn law of God's kingdom. Amongst the many ways of sowing to the flesh, there is one which we cannot omit. It is the indulgence of pride and self-confident feelings. St. Paul speaks of sowing to the Spirit. In which way have you been sowing? Do you wish to escape the consequences — the harvest of misery — which, in the very nature of things, will follow your sowing to the flesh? Through grace you may do it.

(George Wagner.)

There was truth underlying the proposition set forth by Eliphaz, applicable to all ages and states of the world. The axiom is a very old one as propounded by Job's expostulator; it may have been older than he; but it is not so old now as to have become obsolete; nor will it ever become so while the world is the same world, and its Governor is the same God. As St. Paul reproduced it in his day, so may we in ours. Its principle is incorporated with this dispensation as much as with the last. It is its application that is modified under the Gospel; the principle is just the same. It is as true now as it was of old time, that men reap as they sow; that the harvest of their recompense is according to the agriculture of their actions. The difference in the truth, as propounded during the age of Moses, and as recognised in "the days of the Son of Man," is, that during the latter, its confirmation and realisation are thrown further forward. The distinction is indicated by the respective forms into which the axiom is cast by Eliphaz and St. Paul. The one saith, "They that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same." The other, "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Eliphaz makes both portions of this moral process, present, palpable, perspicuous. The apostle severs the two; projecting the latter portion into the future. With the Jew, this truth was a fact of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. With us, it is rather a matter of faith for the future, the far off, the eternal. Eliphaz states the subject in accordance with the order of the past dispensation; as doth St. Paul with the genius of this. In the eyes of the ancient Israelite, the doctrine of Divine retribution was like some mountain of his native country, which upreared its brow close over against him, overshadowing him whithersoever he went; its rugged aspect being all the more sharply defined through the sunshine of temporal prosperity in which his nation reposed, so long as the people were "obedient unto the voice of the Lord their God." As to us, the mountain is in the distance; far away, as Sinai itself is, from many a shore on which the standard of the Redeemer's Cross hath been planted; but visible in the distance still, though its outline be rendered indistinct in the twilight of that mystery which now encompasseth God's government of our world. At the period when Eliphaz reasoned, a state of things had just been inaugurated, under which, as a rule, retribution of a temporal kind was to follow "every transgression and disobedience"; when punishment was to be contemporaneous with the commission of crime; and when a man would begin to reap the fruit of his deeds shortly after his sowing. And the reasoner could not understand how the patriarch, or anyone else, could be an exception to the rule; still less, that a state of things inaugurated by both the teaching and the history of Jesus Christ, under which the rule itself would become the exception, was to succeed. That was a state under which God judged men for their sins continually and instantaneously; this a state under which God is not judging them; seeing "He hath appointed a day in which He will judge them by that Man whom He hath ordained"; through whose intercession at the right hand of the Father, judgment is at present suspended. Now it is our consolation to know that whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth; then the man whom the Lord chastened, He might have had a controversy with, and was visiting for his misdeeds.

(Alfred Bowen Evans.)

? —

1. It is so far true as to assure us that there is a righteous Governor and a just Judge of the world. We cannot apply the rule laid down by Eliphaz. It is a rule to us no longer. We have no right to fix upon any individual or nation upon earth, and to affirm that Almighty God is dealing with the one or the other in a way of retribution, because they may be suffering such and such things. But, notwithstanding this, there is a principle at work in the affairs of men, so far manifest as to show that the world is not left to take its chance, and that the children of men cannot do as they please.

2. It is so far true as it hath respect to the natural constitutions of men. Men cannot transgress the principles of their nature with impunity, nor run counter to the rules of their constitution unharmed. Nature is not to be trifled with. And the retribution that followeth the violation of physical laws is a sure pledge of a retribution that will follow the infringement of moral.

3. It is true so far as to obviate the necessity of our ever taking vengeance into our own hands. God repayeth that we need not. Vengeance is His, that it may not be ours. It has been said, "God avengeth those that do not avenge themselves."

4. It is true so far as to inspire us with a salutary fear for ourselves. There is to be a resurrection of action as well as of agents; of deeds as well as of doers; of works as well as of men. And we know not how soon, as to some of its details, this resurrection may take place. The transgressor is never safe. Whatsoever wrong any man hath done may be required of him at any time.

(Alfred Bowen Evans.)

I. HUMAN LIFE IS A SOWING AND A REAPING. All the actions of a man's life are inseparable, united by the law of causation. One grows out of another as plants out of seed. The sowing and the reaping, strange to say, go on at the same time. In reaping what we sowed yesterday, we sow what we shall have to reap tomorrow.

II. LIFE'S REAPING IS DETERMINED BY ITS SOWING. "I have seen, they that plow iniquity," etc. Like begets like everywhere, the same species of seed sown will be reaped in fruit. He that soweth hemlock will not reap wheat, but crops of hemlock. All moral actions are moral seeds deposited in the soul.

III. THE REAPING OF THE SINNER IS A TERRIBLE DESTINY. What a destiny this: to be reaping wickedness, to be reaping whirlwinds of agony. From this subject learn —

1. The great solemnity of life. There is nothing trifling. The most volatile sin is a seed that must grow, and must be reaped. Take care!

2. The conscious rectitude of the sinner's doom. What is hell? Reaping the fruit of sinful conduct. The sinner feels this, and his conscience will not allow him to complain of his fate.

3. The necessity for a godly heart. All actions and words proceed from the heart: out of it are the issues of life. Hence the necessity of regeneration.


1. That to be a wicked man is no easy task; he must go to plough for it. It is ploughing, and you know ploughing is laborious, yea, it is hard labour.

2. That there is an art in wickedness. It is ploughing, or, as the word imports, an artificial working. Some are curious and exact in shaping, polishing, and setting off their sin. So to say such a man is an abomination worker, or a lie maker, notes him not only industrious, but crafty, or (as the prophet speaks) "wise to do evil."

3. That wicked men expect benefit in ways of sin, and look to be gainers by being evil-doers. They make iniquity their plough; and a man's plough is so much his profit, that it is grown into a proverb, to call that (whatsoever it is) by which a man makes his living or his profit, his plough. Every man tills in expectation of a crop; who would put his plough into the ground to receive nothing? It is even so with wicked men, when they are stoning, they think themselves thriving, or laying up that in the earth a while, which will grow and increase to a plentiful harvest. What strange fancies have many to be rich, to be great, by ways of wickedness! Thus they plough in hope, but they shall never be partakers of their hope.

4. That every sinful act persisted in shall have a certain sorrowful reward.

5. That the punishment of sin may come long after the committing of sin. The one is the seedtime, and the other a reaping time; there is a great distance of time between sowing and reaping. The seeds of sin may lie many years under the furrows.

6. That the punishment of sin shall be proportionable to the degrees of sin. He shall reap the same, saith the text, the same in degree. If ye sow sparingly, ye shall reap sparingly; on the other side, if ye sow plentifully, ye shall reap plentifully.

7. Punishment shall not exceed the desert of sin.

8. That the punishment of sin shall be like the sin in kind. It shall be the same, not only in degree, but also in likeness. Punishment often bears the image and superscription of sin upon it. You may see the father's face and feature in the child. Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap (Galatians 6:7).

(J. Caryl.)

Eliphaz, Job
Anger, Blast, Breath, Consumed, Cut, Destroyed, Destruction, Nostrils, Perish, Spirit, Takes, Wind, Wrath
1. Eliphaz reproves Job that the innocent do not suffer
7. He teaches God's judgments to be not for the righteous, but for the wicked.
12. His fearful vision to humble the excellency of creatures before God.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Job 4:9

     4804   breath
     5790   anger, divine

Job 4:7-9

     5203   acquittal

Job 4:8-9

     5853   experience, of life

November 17 Evening
Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.--GAL. 6:7. They that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.--They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.--He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption. To him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.--He that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path

Whether the Evil of Fault Can be in the Angels?
Objection 1: It would seem that there can be no evil of fault in the angels. For there can be no evil except in things which are in potentiality, as is said by the Philosopher (Metaph. ix, text. 19), because the subject of privation is a being in potentiality. But the angels have not being in potentiality, since they are subsisting forms. Therefore there can be no evil in them. Objection 2: Further, the angels are higher than the heavenly bodies. But philosophers say that there cannot be evil in
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether Human Nature was More Assumable by the Son of God than any Other Nature?
Objection 1: It would seem that human nature is not more capable of being assumed by the Son of God than any other nature. For Augustine says (Ep. ad Volusianum cxxxvii): "In deeds wrought miraculously the whole reason of the deed is the power of the doer." Now the power of God Who wrought the Incarnation, which is a most miraculous work, is not limited to one nature, since the power of God is infinite. Therefore human nature is not more capable of being assumed than any other creature. Objection
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether the Contemplative Life is Continuous?
Objection 1: It would seem that the contemplative life is not continuous. For the contemplative life consists essentially in things pertaining to the intellect. Now all the intellectual perfections of this life will be made void, according to 1 Cor. 13:8, "Whether prophecies shall be made void, or tongues shall cease, or knowledge shall be destroyed." Therefore the contemplative life is made void. Objection 2: Further, a man tastes the sweetness of contemplation by snatches and for a short time only:
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether the Sin against the Holy Ghost Can be Forgiven?
Objection 1: It would seem that the sin against the Holy Ghost can be forgiven. For Augustine says (De Verb. Dom., Serm. lxxi): "We should despair of no man, so long as Our Lord's patience brings him back to repentance." But if any sin cannot be forgiven, it would be possible to despair of some sinners. Therefore the sin against the Holy Ghost can be forgiven. Objection 2: Further, no sin is forgiven, except through the soul being healed by God. But "no disease is incurable to an all-powerful physician,"
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether Christ Received Knowledge from the Angels?
Objection 1: It would seem that Christ received knowledge from the angels. For it is written (Lk. 22:43) that "there appeared to Him an angel from heaven, strengthening Him." But we are strengthened by the comforting words of a teacher, according to Job 4:3,4: "Behold thou hast taught many and hast strengthened the weary hand. Thy words have confirmed them that were staggering." Therefore Christ was taught by angels. Objection 2: Further, Dionysius says (Coel. Hier. iv): "For I see that even Jesus---the
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

The Difference Between Union and Rapture. What Rapture Is. The Blessing it is to the Soul. The Effects of It.
1. I wish I could explain, with the help of God, wherein union differs from rapture, or from transport, or from flight of the spirit, as they speak, or from a trance, which are all one. [1] I mean, that all these are only different names for that one and the same thing, which is also called ecstasy. [2] It is more excellent than union, the fruits of it are much greater, and its other operations more manifold; for union is uniform in the beginning, the middle, and the end, and is so also interiorly.
Teresa of Avila—The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus

God Far Above Creatures. Job 4:17-21.
God far above creatures. Job 4:17-21. Shall the vile race of flesh and blood Contend with their Creator God? Shall mortal worms presume to be More holy, wise, or just than he? Behold, he puts his trust in none Of all the spirits round his throne: Their natures, when compared with his, Are neither holy, just, nor wise. But how much meaner things are they Who spring from dust, and dwell in clay! Touched by the finger of thy wrath, We faint and vanish like the moth. From night to day, from day to
Isaac Watts—The Psalms and Hymns of Isaac Watts

What is Meant by "Altogether Lovely"
Let us consider this excellent expression, and particularly reflect on what is contained in it, and you shall find this expression "altogether lovely." First, It excludes all unloveliness and disagreeableness from Jesus Christ. As a theologian long ago said, "There is nothing in him which is not loveable." The excellencies of Jesus Christ are perfectly exclusive of all their opposites; there is nothing of a contrary property or quality found in him to contaminate or devaluate his excellency. And
John Flavel—Christ Altogether Lovely

Whether Every Punishment is Inflicted for a Sin?
Objection 1: It would seem that not every punishment is inflicted for a sin. For it is written (Jn. 9:3, 2) about the man born blind: "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents . . . that he should be born blind." In like manner we see that many children, those also who have been baptized, suffer grievous punishments, fevers, for instance, diabolical possession, and so forth, and yet there is no sin in them after they have been baptized. Moreover before they are baptized, there is no more sin
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether after the Resurrection the Saints Will See God with the Eyes of the Body? [*Cf. Fp, Q , a ]
Objection 1: It would seem that after the resurrection the saints will see God with the eyes of the body. Because the glorified eye has greater power than one that is not glorified. Now the blessed Job saw God with his eyes (Job 42:5): "With the hearing of the ear, I have heard Thee, but now my eye seeth Thee." Much more therefore will the glorified eye be able to see God in His essence. Objection 2: Further, it is written (Job 19:26): "In my flesh I shall see God my Saviour [Vulg.: 'my God']." Therefore
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Necessity of Contemplating the Judgment-Seat of God, in Order to be Seriously Convinced of the Doctrine of Gratuitous Justification.
1. Source of error on the subject of Justification. Sophists speak as if the question were to be discussed before some human tribunal. It relates to the majesty and justice of God. Hence nothing accepted without absolute perfection. Passages confirming this doctrine. If we descend to the righteousness of the Law, the curse immediately appears. 2. Source of hypocritical confidence. Illustrated by a simile. Exhortation. Testimony of Job, David, and Paul. 3. Confession of Augustine and Bernard. 4. Another
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Certain Heavenly Secrets, visions, and Revelations. The Effects of them in Her Soul.
1. One night I was so unwell that I thought I might be excused making my prayer; so I took my rosary, that I might employ myself in vocal prayer, trying not to be recollected in my understanding, though outwardly I was recollected, being in my oratory. These little precautions are of no use when our Lord will have it otherwise. I remained there but a few moments thus, when I was rapt in spirit with such violence that I could make no resistance whatever. It seemed to me that I was taken up to heaven;
Teresa of Avila—The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus

Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners:
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

The Promises of the Law and the Gospel Reconciled.
1. Brief summary of Chapters 15 and 16. Why justification is denied to works. Argument of opponents founded on the promises of the law. The substance of this argument. Answer. Those who would be justified before God must be exempted from the power of the law. How this is done. 2. Confirmation of the answer ab impossibili, and from the testimony of an Apostle and of David. 3. Answer to the objection, by showing why these promises were given. Refutation of the sophistical distinction between the intrinsic
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion

On the Animals
The birds are the saints, because they fly to the higher heart; in the gospel: and he made great branches that the birds of the air might live in their shade. [Mark 4:32] Flying is the death of the saints in God or the knowledge of the Scriptures; in the psalm: I shall fly and I shall be at rest. [Ps. 54(55):7 Vulgate] The wings are the two testaments; in Ezekiel: your body will fly with two wings of its own. [Ez. 1:23] The feathers are the Scriptures; in the psalm: the wings of the silver dove.
St. Eucherius of Lyons—The Formulae of St. Eucherius of Lyons

The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit as Revealed in his Names.
At least twenty-five different names are used in the Old and New Testaments in speaking of the Holy Spirit. There is the deepest significance in these names. By the careful study of them, we find a wonderful revelation of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. I. The Spirit. The simplest name by which the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the Bible is that which stands at the head of this paragraph--"The Spirit." This name is also used as the basis of other names, so we begin our study with this.
R. A. Torrey—The Person and Work of The Holy Spirit

A Few Sighs from Hell;
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

Annunciation to Joseph of the Birth of Jesus.
(at Nazareth, b.c. 5.) ^A Matt. I. 18-25. ^a 18 Now the birth [The birth of Jesus is to handled with reverential awe. We are not to probe into its mysteries with presumptuous curiosity. The birth of common persons is mysterious enough (Eccl. ix. 5; Ps. cxxxix. 13-16), and we do not well, therefore, if we seek to be wise above what is written as to the birth of the Son of God] of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When his mother Mary had been betrothed [The Jews were usually betrothed ten or twelve months
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The book of Job is one of the great masterpieces of the world's literature, if not indeed the greatest. The author was a man of superb literary genius, and of rich, daring, and original mind. The problem with which he deals is one of inexhaustible interest, and his treatment of it is everywhere characterized by a psychological insight, an intellectual courage, and a fertility and brilliance of resource which are nothing less than astonishing. Opinion has been divided as to how the book should be
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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