I abhor myself - Compared with thine, my strength is weakness; my wisdom, folly; and my righteousness, impurity.
"I loathe myself when thee I see;
And into nothing fall."
Repent - I am deeply distressed on account of the imaginations of my heart, the words of my tongue, and the acts of my life. I roll myself in the dust, and sprinkle ashes upon my head. Job is now sufficiently humbled at the feet of Jehovah; and having earnestly and piously prayed for instruction, the Lord, in a finishing speech, which appears to be contained in Job 40:1-14, perfects his teaching on the subject of the late controversy, which is concluded with, "When thou canst act like the Almighty," which is, in effect, what the questions and commands amount to in the preceding verses of that chapter, "then will I also confess unto thee, that thy own right hand can save thee." In the fifth verse of the fortieth chapter, Job says, "Once have I spoken." This must refer to the declaration above, in the beginning of this chapter, (42). And he goes on to state, Job 40:5; : "Yea, Twice; but I will proceed no farther." This second time is that in which he uses these words: after which he spoke no more; and the Lord concluded with the remaining part of these fourteen verses, viz., from Job 40:7-14, inclusive. Then the thread of the story, in the form of a narration is resumed at Job 42:7.
Wherefore I abhor myself - I see that I am a sinner to be loathed and abhorred. Job, though he did not claim to be perfect, had yet unquestionably been unduly exalted with the conception of his own righteousness, and in the zeal of his argument, and under the excitement of his feelings when reproached by his friends, had indulged in indefensible language respecting his own integrity. He now saw the error and folly of this, and desired to take the lowest place of humiliation. Compared with a pure and holy God, he saw that he was utterly vile and loathsome, and was not unwilling now to confess it. “And repent.” Of the spirit which I have evinced; of the language used in self-vindication; of the manner in which I have spoken of God. Of the general sentiments which he had maintained in regard to the divine administration as contrasted with those of his friends he had no occasion to repent, for they were correct Job 42:8, nor had he occasion to repent “as if” he had never been a true penitent or a pious man. But he now saw that in the spirit which he had evinced under his afflictions, and in his argument, there was much to regret; and he doubtless saw that there had been much in his former life which had furnished occasion for bringing these trials upon him, over which he ought now to mourn.
In dust and ashes - In the most lowly manner, and with the most expressive symbols of humiliation. It was customary in times of grief, whether in view of sin or from calamity, to sit down in ashes (see the notes at Job 2:8; compare Daniel 9:3; Jonah 3:6; Matthew 11:21); or on such an occasion the sufferer and the penitent would strew ashes over himself; compare Isaiah 58:5. The philosophy of this was - like the custom of wearing “black” for mourning apparel - that the external appearance ought to correspond with the internal emotions, and that deep sorrow would be appropriately expressed by disfiguring the outward aspect as much as possible. The sense here is, that Job meant to give expression to the profoundest and sincerest feelings of penitence for his sins. From this effect produced on his mind by the address of the Almighty, we may learn the following lessons:
(1) That a correct view of the character and presence of God is adapted to produce humility and penitence; compare Job 40:4-5. This effect was produced on the mind of Peter when, astonished by a miracle performed by the Savior which none but a divine being could have done, he said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord;” Luke 5:8. The same effect; was produced on the mind of Isaiah after he had seen Yahweh of Hosts in the temple: “Then said I, Wo is me, for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the king, the Lord of Hosts;” Isaiah 6:5. No man can have any elevated views of his own importance or purity, who has right apprehensions of the holiness of his Creator.
(2) Such a view of the presence of God will produce what no argument can in causing penitence and humility. The friends of Job had reasoned with him in vain to secure just this state of mind; they had endeavored to convince him that he was a great sinner, and “ought” to exercise repentance. But he met argument with argument; and all their arguments, denunciations, and appeals, made no impression on his mind. When, however, God manifested himself to him, he was melted into contrition, and was ready to make the most penitent and humble confession. So it is now. The arguments of a preacher or a friend often make no impression on the mind of a sinner. He can guard himself against them. He can meet argument with argument, or can coolly turn the ear away. But he has no such power to resist God, and when “he” manifests himself to the soul, the heart is subdued, and the proud and self-confident unbeliever becomes humbled, and sues for mercy.
(3) A good man will be willing to confess that he is vile, when he has any clear views of God. He will be so affected with a sense of the majesty and holiness of his Maker, that he will be overwhelmed with a sense of his own unworthiness.
(4) The most holy men may have occasion to repent of their presumptuous manner of speaking of God. We all err in the same way in which Job did. We reason about God with irreverence; we speak of his government as if we could comprehend it; we discourse of him as if he were an equal; and when we come to have any just views of him, we see that there has been much improper boldness, much self-confidence, much irreverence of thought and manner, in our estimation of the divine wisdom and plans. The bitter experience of Job should lead us to the utmost carefulness in the manner in which we speak of our Maker.
When Job heard the voice of the Lord out of the whirlwind, he exclaimed: “I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:6. It was when Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord, and heard the cherubim crying, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts,” that he cried out, “Woe is me! for I am undone.” Isaiah 6:3, 5. Paul, after he was caught up into the third heaven and heard things which it was not possible for a man to utter, speaks of himself as “less than the least of all saints.” 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, margin; Ephesians 3:8. It was the beloved John, who leaned on Jesus’ breast and beheld His glory, that fell as one dead before the feet of the angel. Revelation 1:17. GC 471.1
There can be no self-exaltation, no boastful claim to freedom from sin, on the part of those who walk in the shadow of Calvary's cross. They feel that it was their sin which caused the agony that broke the heart of the Son of God, and this thought will lead them to self-abasement. Those who live nearest to Jesus discern most clearly the frailty and sinfulness of humanity, and their only hope is in the merit of a crucified and risen Saviour. GC 471.2
The sanctification now gaining prominence in the religious world carries with it a spirit of self-exaltation and a disregard for the law of God that mark it as foreign to the religion of the Bible. Its advocates teach that sanctification is an instantaneous work, by which, through faith alone, they attain to perfect holiness. “Only believe,” say they, “and the blessing is yours.” No further effort on the part of the receiver is supposed to be required. At the same time they deny the authority of the law of God, urging that they are released from obligation to keep the commandments. But is it possible for men to be holy, in accord with the will and character of God, without coming into harmony with the principles which are an expression of His nature and will, and which show what is well pleasing to Him? GC 471.3Read in context »
When Job heard the voice of the Lord out of the whirlwind, he exclaimed: “I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6). It was when Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord, and heard the cherubim crying, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts,” that he cried out, “Woe is me! for I am undone” (Isaiah 6:3, 5). Paul, after he was caught up into the third heaven and heard things which it was not possible for a man to utter, speaks of himself as “less than the least of all saints” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4, margin; Ephesians 3:8). It was the beloved John, who leaned on Jesus’ breast and beheld His glory, that fell as one dead before the feet of the angel (Revelation 1:17). Mar 235.4Read in context »
“Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him: ...
He also shall be my salvation.”
“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.” PK 164.1
“The Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind” (Job 38:1), and revealed to His servant the might of His power. When Job caught a glimpse of his Creator, he abhorred himself and repented in dust and ashes. Then the Lord was able to bless him abundantly and to make his last years the best of his life. PK 164.2Read in context »
Brethren and sisters who are well meaning, but who have narrow conceptions and look only at externals, may attempt to help matters of which they have no real knowledge. Their limited experience cannot fathom the feelings of a soul who has been urged out by the Spirit of God, who has felt to the depths that earnest and inexpressible love and interest for the cause of God and for souls that they have never experienced, and who has borne burdens in the cause of God that they have never lifted. 3T 509.1
Some shortsighted, short-experienced friends cannot, with their narrow vision, appreciate the feelings of one who has been in close harmony with the soul of Christ in connection with the salvation of others. His motives are misunderstood and his actions misconstrued by those who would be his friends, until, like Job, he sends forth the earnest prayer: Save me from my friends. God takes the case of Job in hand Himself. His patience has been severely taxed; but when God speaks, all his pettish feelings are changed. The self-justification which he felt was necessary to withstand the condemnation of his friends is not necessary toward God. He never misjudges; He never errs. Says the Lord to Job, “Gird up now thy loins like a man;” and Job no sooner hears the divine voice than his soul is bowed down with a sense of his sinfulness, and he says before God, “I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” 3T 509.2
When God has spoken, my husband has hearkened to His voice; but to bear the condemnation and reflection of his friends who do not seem to discriminate has been a great trial. When his brethren shall have stood under the same circumstances, and borne the responsibilities that he has borne with as little encouragement and help as he has had, then they may be able to understand how to sustain, how to comfort, how to bless, without torturing his feelings by reflections and censures which he in no way deserves. 3T 509.3Read in context »