An Interpretation of the English Bible THE POETICAL BOOKS OF THE BIBLE by B. H. CARROLL
An Interpretation of the English Bible
THE POETICAL BOOKS
by B. H. CARROLL
Late President of Southwestern Baptist
Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas
J. W. Crowder
BAKER BOOK HOUSE
Grand Rapids, Michigan
New and complete edition
Copyright 1948, Broadman Press
Reprinted by Baker Book House
with permission of
First Printing, September 1973
Second Printing, September 1976
PHOTOLITHOPRINTED BY GUSHING _ MALLOY, INC.
ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
I. General Introduction – Hebrew Poetry 1
II. An Introduction to the Book of Job 11
III. The Prologue of Job 30
IV. An Introduction to the Poetical Drama
and Job’s Complaint 41
V. The First Round of Speeches 49
VI. The Second Round of Speeches 58
VII. The Third Round of Speeches 66
VIII. Job’s Restatement of His Case 72
IX. Elihu’s Speech, God’s Intervention and the Epilogue 78
X. The Book of Job in General 86
XI. And Introduction to the Book of Psalms 94
XII. An Introduction of the Book of Psalms (Cont.) 100
XIII. The Psalm of Moses and the Psalm of David’s
Early Life 108
XIV. The Psalms of David’s Early Life (Cont.) 115
XV. Psalm After David Prior to the Babylonian Captivity 120
XVI. The Messianic Psalms and Others 125
XVII. The Messiah in the Psalms 131
XVIII. An Introduction to the Book of Proverbs 144
XIX. The Instruction of Wisdom 154
XX. The Instruction of Wisdom (Cont.) 159
XXI. The Instruction of Wisdom (Cont) 165
XXII. Miscellaneous Proverbs 169
XXIII. The Proverbs of the Wise 172
XXIV. Other Proverbs of Solomon and the Appendices 176
XXV. An Introduction to the Book of Ecclesiastes 180
XXVI. The Prologue and Three Methods Applied 187
XXVII. Other Methods Applied 193
XXVIII. The Means Used to Solve the Problem Condemned
and the Final Conclusions 196
XXIX. An Introduction to the Song of Solomon 202
XXX. An Interpretation of the ‘Song of Solomon as an
GENERAL INTRODUCTION – HEBREW POETRY
As we are to deal with poetry, in the main, in the following
discussions, it becomes necessary that we should here give at_
tention briefly to some important matters relating to the poetry
of the Bible. This is essential as the principles of interpreta_
tion are so different from the principles of the interpretation of
Hebrew poetry, rich and multifarious as it is, appears to be
only a remnant of a still wider and fuller sphere of Semitic
literature. There are references to this poetic literature in sev_
eral places in the Old Testament, viz: Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel
1:18, where it is expressly said that they were written in the
book of Jashar which was most probably a collection of nation_
al songs written at various times.
The character of the poetry of the Hebrews is both deeply
truthful and earnestly religious. Much of the contents of the
Scriptures has all the ordinary characteristics of poetry.
Though prosaic in form) it rises, by force of the noble sentiment
which it enunciates and the striking imagery with which these
sentiments are adorned, into the sphere of real poetry. Exam_
ple, Ruth 1:16_17:
„And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, and to return
from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go;
and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my
people, and thy God my God; where thou diest, will I die,
and there will I be buried; Jehovah do so to me, and more also,
if aught but death part thee and me.” This passage arranged
in poetic form would appear as follows:
Entreat me not to leave thee,
And to return from following thee;
For whither thou goest I will go,
And where thou lodgest I will lodge;
Thy people shall be my people,
And thy God shall be my God;
Where thou diest I will die,
And there will I be buried;
Jehovah do so to me and more also,
If aught but death part thee and me.
We find the first poetry in our Bible in Genesis 4:23_24, the
Song of Lamech, a little elegiac poem (See the American
Standard Version), reciting a lamentation about a domestic
And Lamech said unto his wives:
Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;
Ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech:
For I have slain a man for wounding me,
And a young man for bruising me:
If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold,
Truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.
For an interpretation of this passage, see Carroll’s Interpre_
tation, Vol. 1.
We now note all poetry found in the Pentateuch, as follows:
Genesis 4:23, the Song of Lamech, already referred to;
Genesis 9:25_27, a little poem reciting Noah’s curse and
blessing on his sons;
Genesis 25:23, a single verse, forecasting the fortunes of
Jacob and Esau;
Genesis 27:27_29, a beautiful gem, reciting Isaac’s blessing
Genesis 27:39_40, another gem recording Isaac’s blessing on
Genesis 49:2_27, Jacob’s blessings on his sons;
Exodus 15:1_18, Moses’ song of triumph over Pharaoh;
Numbers 6:24_26, the high priest’s benediction;
Numbers 21:14_15, a war song of Amon;
Numbers 21:17, 18, a song at the well of Be_er;
Numbers 21:27_30, a song of victory over „Sihon, king of
Numbers 23:7_10, Balaam’s first prophecy;
Numbers 23:18_24, Balaam’s second prophecy;
Numbers 24:3_9, Balaam’s third prophecy;
Numbers 24:15_24, Balaam’s fourth prophecy;
Deuteronomy 32:1_43, Moses’ song;
Deuteronomy 33:2_29, Moses’ blessing on Israel.
The poetry found in the historical books (Josh._Esther) is as
Joshua 10:12_13, Joshua’s little song of victory;
Judges 5:1_31, Deborah’s song;
Judges 14:14, Samson’s riddle;
Judges 14:18, Samson’s proverb;
Judges 15:16, Samson’s song of the jawbone;
I Samuel 2:1_10, Hannah’s song of exultation;
I Samuel 21:11, the song of the women about Saul and
2 Samuel 1:19_21, David’s lamentation over Saul and Jona_
2 Samuel 3:33_34, David’s lamentation over Abner;
2 Samuel 22:2_51, David’s song of triumph over his enemies;
2 Samuel 23:1_7, David’s last words;
I Chronicles 16:8_36, David’s song of thanksgiving.
A great deal of the writings of the prophets is highly poetic,
and many quotations from them in the New Testament are
given in poetic form in the American Standard Version, but
only a few passages appear in poetic form in the books of the
Old Testament. These are as follows:
Isaiah 38:9_20, Hezekiah’s song;
Jonah 2:2_9, Jonah’s prayer;
Habakkuk 3:1_19, the prayer of Habakkuk.
Besides these passages, the great bulk of Hebrew poetry
found in the Old Testament is in the poetical books – Job,
Psalms, Proverbs, Eccesiastes, and Song of Solomon – prac_
tically all of which is poetical in form, except Ecclesiastes
which is poetic prose. These books constitute the basis of our
There is quite a lot of poetry in the New Testament, consist_
ing of original poems and many quotations from the Old Testa_
ment and some other writings, for the citations of which I refer
the reader to the American Standard Version of the New Testa_
ment. These passages are in poetic form wherever they occur.
This will give the reader some idea of the mass of poetical
literature found in our Bible and it should impress him with
the importance of understanding the principles by which it may
be rightly interpreted.
On the distinguishing characteristics of Hebrew poetry, I
commend to the reader most heartily Dr. John R. Sampey’s
Syllabus of the Old Testament. Dr. Sampey was a great Hebrew
scholar and his discussion on any point touching the Hebrew
language must be considered authoritative. Since there is no
better statement on these matters to be found anywhere, I give
you in the following paragraphs a brief summary of his dis_
cussion on the forms and kinds of Hebrew poetry, noting es_
pecially what he says about parallelism, the grouping of lines,
the stanza, the meter, and the kinds of Hebrew poetry.
The general characteristics of Hebrew poetry are: (1) verbal
rhythm, (2) correspondence of words, (3) inversion, (4) ar_
chaic expression and (5) parallelism.
Recent research goes to show that the Hebrew poets had
some regard for the number of accented syllables in a line.
They were guided by accentual beats rather than by the num_
ber of words or syllables. The most common form called for
three accents to each line. The difficulty in getting an appre_
ciation of the verbal rhythm in Hebrew lies in the fact that
there is almost a complete loss of the true pronunciation of the
By correspondence of words is meant that the words in one
verge, or member; answer to the words in another, the sense
in the one echoing the sense in the other, the form correspond_
ing with form and word with word. Some examples, as follows:
Why art thou cast down, 0 my soul?
And why art thou disquieted within me?
– Psalm 43:5
He turneth rivers into a wilderness,
And watersprings into a thirsty ground.
– Psalm 107:33
The memory of the righteous is blessed;
But the name of the wicked shall rot.
– Proverbs 10:7
By inversion is meant to invert the grammatical order or
parts in a sentence for the purpose of emphasis or for adjust_
ment. Though inversion holds a distinguished place in the
structure of Hebrew poetry, it is only a modified inversion that
prevails and by no means does it compare favorably with that
of the Greeks and Romans in boldness, decision, and prev_
In thoughts from the visions of the night,
When deep sleep falleth on men.
– Job 4:13
Unto me men gave ear, and waited,
And kept silence for my counsel.
– Job 29:21
And they made his grave with the wicked,
And with a rich man in his death;
Although he had done no violence,
Neither was any deceit in his mouth.
– Isaiah 53:9
The archaical character of Hebrew poetry refers to the an_
tiquity of the poetical elements as found in the Hebrew poetry,
to the license, poetic hue and coloring, which cannot be con_
founded with simple, low, and unrhythmical diction of prose.
Two elements, a poetical temperament and a poetical history,
which are necessary to the development of a poetic diction, the
Hebrews had as perhaps few people have ever possessed.
Theirs was eminently a poetic temperament; their earliest his_
tory was heroic while the loftiest of all truths circulated in their
souls and glowed on their lips. Hence their language, in its
earliest stages, is surpassingly poetic, striking examples of
which may be found in Genesis and Job.
By parallelism in Hebrew poetry is meant that one line cor_
responds in thought to another line. The three most common
varieties of parallelism are: (1) synonymous, (2) antithetic, (3) synthetic. We will now define and illustrate each variety, thus:
(1) By synonymous parallelism is meant that in which a
second line simply repeats in slightly altered phraseology the
thought of the first line. Examples:
He that sitteth in the heavens will laugh:
The Lord will have them in derision. – Psalm 2:4
And these lay wait for their own blood;
They lurk privily for their own lives. – Proverbs 1:18
Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous?
Or is it gain to him that thou makest thy ways perfect?
– Job 22:3
For thou hast taken pledges of thy brother for naught,
And stripped the naked for their clothing.
– Job 22:6
But as for the mighty man, he had the earth;
And the honorable man, he dwelt in it. – Job 22:8
Therefore snares are round about thee,
And sudden fear troubleth thee. – Job 22:10
(2) By antithetic parallelism is meant that in which the
second line is in contrast with the first. Examples:
A wise son maketh a glad father;
But a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother;
– Proverbs 10:1
He that gathereth in summer is a wise son;
But he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame;
– Proverbs 10:5
The memory of the righteous is blessed;
But the name of the wicked shall rot.
– Proverbs 10:7
Most of the 376 couplets in Proverbs 10:1 to 22:16 are an_
(3) By synthetic parallelism is meant that in which the sec_
ond line supplements the first, both together giving a complete
My son, if sinners entice thee,
Consent thou not.
– Proverbs 1:10
Withhold not good from them to whom it is due,
When it is in the power of thy hand to do it.
– Proverbs 3:27
Say not unto thy neighbor. Go, and come again,
And to_morrow I will give:
When thou hast it by thee.
– Proverbs 3:28
Devise not evil against thy neighbor;
Seeing he dwelleth securely by thee.
– Proverbs 3:29
Strive not with a man without cause,
If he hath done thee no harm.
– Proverbs 3:30
The less common varieties of parallelism found in Hebrew
poetry are: (1) climactic, (2) introverted, and (3) emblematic.
These are defined and illustrated as follows:
(1) In the climactic parallelism the second line takes up
words from the first and completes them. Example:
Ascribe unto Jehovah, 0 ye sons of the mighty,
Ascribe unto Jehovah glory and strength. – Psalm 28:1
The rulers ceased in Israel, they ceased,
Until that I Deborah arose,
That I arose a mother in Israel. – Judges 5:7
(2) In the introverted parallelism the first line corresponds
with the fourth, and the second with the third. Example:
My son, if thy heart be wise,
My heart will be glad, even mine;
Yea, my heart will rejoice,
When thy lips speak right things.
– Proverbs 23:15
3) In the emblematic parallelism the second line brings
forward something similar to the first, but in a higher realm.
Take away the dross from the silver,
And there cometh forth a vessel for the refiner;
Take away the wicked from before the king,
And his throne shall be established in righteousness.
– Proverbs 25:4
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in network of silver.
As an ear_ring of gold and an ornament of fine gold,
So is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.
As the cold snow is the time of harvest,
So is a faithful messenger to them that send him;
For he refresheth the soul of his masters.
– Proverbs 25:11_13
As clouds and wind without rain,
So is he that boasteth himself of his gifts falsely.
– Proverbs 25:14
Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble
Is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.
– Proverbs 25:19
As one that taketh off a garment in cold weather,
and as vinegar upon soda,
So is he that singeth songs to a heavy heart.
– Proverbs 25:20
For lack of wood the fire goeth out;
And where there is no whisperer, contention ceaseth.
As coals are to hot embers, and wood to fire,
So is a contentious man to inflame strife.
– Proverbs 26:20_21
The lines in Hebrew poetry are grouped as follows:
(1) Monostichs (Ps. 16:1; 18:1);
(2) Distichs (Ps. 34:1; Prov. 13:20) ;
(3) Tristichs (Ps. 2:2; 3:7);
(4) Tetrastichs (Gen. 49:7; Ps. 55:21; Prov 23:15f);
(5) Pentastichs (Prov. 25:6f);
(6) Hexastichs (Gen. 48:15f);
(8) Octostichs (Prov. 30:7_9),
A stanza in Hebrew poetry consists of a group of lines or
verses upon the same subject or developing the same thought.
There are four kinds of these stanzas, viz: the couplet, or a
group of two lines; the tristich, or a group of three lines; the
tetrastich, or a group of four lines; and the hexastich, or a
group of six lines. In Psalm 119 we have the strophe consisting
of eight verses, each verse in this strophe beginning with the
There are four kinds of Hebrew poetry, viz: (1) lyric, (2)
gnomic, (3) dramatic, (4) elegiac. These are defined and illus_
(1) Lyric is derived from the word, „lyre,” a musical instru_
ment to accompany singing. There are many snatches of song
in the historical books from Genesis to Esther. The Psalms are
an imperishable collection of religious lyrics.
(2) By „gnomic” is meant proverbial. Proverbs, part of
Ecclesiastes, and many detached aphorisms in other books of
the Old Testament are examples.
(3) By „dramatic” is meant that form of literature that
gives idealized representations of human experience. Job is a
splendid example of this kind of literature.
(4) By „elegiac” is meant that form of poetry which par_
takes of the nature of the elegy, or lamentation. Lamentations
is a fine example of this kind of poetry. There are other dirges
in the historical books and in the prophets. 2 Samuel 1:19_27
and Amos 5:1_3 are examples. Much of Isaiah’s writing is
poetic in spirit and some of it in form. (See Isa. 14:53.) So
of the early prophetic writers, especially the early prophets.
Now, according to this classification of Hebrew poetry, it
should be an easy and profitable work for the reader to classify
all the poetry of the Bible. This can be readily done with the
American Standard Revised Version in hand. All the poetry of
the Bible is written in poetic form in this version, and every
student of the Bible should have it.
1. What can you say, in general, of the Hebrew poetry aa we have it
in the Bible?
2. What of the character of the poetry of the Hebrews?
3. Where do we find the first poetry in our Bible and what ia the
nature of this little poem?
4. Locate all the poetry found in the Pentateuch.
5. Locate all the poetry found in the historical books (Josh.; Esther).
6. Locate the poetic passages in the prophets.
7. Where do we find the great bulk of Hebrew poetry in the Bible?
8. What of the poetry of the New Testament and how may it be
9. What book commended by the author on the forms and kinds
of Hebrew poetry?
10. What the general characteristics of Hebrew poetry?
11. What is meant by rhythm and what renders an appreciation of
verbal rhythm in the Hebrew now so difficult?
12. What is meant by correspondence of words? Illustrate.
13. What is meant by inversion? Illustrate.
14. What is meant by the archaical character of Hebrew poetry?
15. What is meant by parallelism and what the three most common
varieties? Define and illustrate each.
16. What the less common varieties of parallelism? Define and illus_
17. How are the lines in Hebrew poetry grouped? Give example of
18. What is a stanza in Hebrew poetry? How many and what kinds
19. How many kinds of Hebrew poetry? Name, define, and illustrate
20. What suggestion by the author relative to classifying all the poetry
of the Bible?
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF JOB
This book is one of the most remarkable in all literature.
When we fairly consider the loftiness of its themes; the pro_
fundity of its philosophy; the simplicity of its arrangement;
the progress, power, and climax of its argument; the broadness
of its application; we must, in many respects, give it prece_
dence in rank over Homer’s Iliad, Virgil’s Aeneid, Dante’s In_
ferno, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Goethe’s Faust, or any other
uninspired production. In philosophy it surpasses Socrates,
Plato, Zeno, Epicurus, yea, all the finest productions of Greek
and Roman classics. Even apart from its inspiration, every
section is worthy of profound study.
Strangely enough this book is one of the volumes of the
Jewish Sacred Scriptures whose place and inspiration have
never been questioned by them though it treats of God’s deal_
ings with and acceptance of one of another nation on the
broadest lines of humanity. Its usual position in the Jewish
Bible is in the third great division of their sacred oracles, viz:
The Law, The Prophets, and The Holy Writings. It is the
third book of that division – Psalms, Proverbs, Job. In our
English Bible it follows Esther and precedes the Psalter.
It treats of patriarchal times. The proof is manifold:
1. Religious. The head of the family is the priest and the
offerings and worship as in the days of Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob. (See 1:5; 42:8_9.) There was no Bible or authoritative
written standard clearly defining men’s relations and duties
toward God and authoritatively disclosing the methods and
principles and purposes of the divine government. Indeed for
such a revelation Job prays (31:35). All appeals in the argu_
ment bearing on this point are made to the traditions of tho
fathers. There was, as yet, no particular nation set apart as
God’s people and the custodians of his oracles. In every na_
tion, tribe, or clan descended from Noah, God was worshiped
according to traditional preservations of past revelations. We
see an illustrious example in Melchizedek, King of Salem and
priest of the most high God. God himself, in all the poetic
discussion) with one exception, is El Sheddai, the Almighty,
and not Jehovah (Cf. Ex. 6:3). The form of idolatry cited
in the book (31:26_28) is the earliest in historic development,
the worship of the heavenly bodies.
2. The length of Job’s life, more than 200 years (Cf. 1:2;
32:6; 42:16) places him in the patriarchal days long before
the time of Moses. Indeed every reference in the book calls
for an early age.
3. The manners, customs, institutions, and general mode of
life are all patriarchal. The city life (chap. 28) is exactly
that of the earliest settled communities, with councils of gray_
bearded elders, judges in the gate (29:17), the chieftain at
once judge and warrior (29:25), yet with written indictments
(31:35) and settled forms of legal procedure (9:33; 17:3;
31:28), all of which belong to the patriarchal times.
Some place these times between Genesis II and 12, but it
seems better to place them somewhere between Abraham and
the Egyptian bondage. The events herein described should
immediately follow those of Genesis 22, and the book must
have been written in or near the patriarchal times, since no
man living in a later age could have written a book that so
minutely enters into and describes the manners, customs, and
institutions of that age.
The probable author of the book was Moses. The argu_
ments tending to prove that Moses in Midian wrote the book
of Job as the first Bible book written are as follows:
1. As Midian, where Moses lived forty years, touched Job’s
country, as there was much intercommunication, as both were
occupied by Semite population, Moses had exceptional oppor_
tunity to learn of Job.
2. All the internal evidence shows that Job lived in patriar_
chal times, anywhere between Abraham and Moses, and all
the idioms of speech in the book show that the author lived
near the times of the scenes described. No late author could
have so projected his style so far back.
3. The correspondence between the Pentateuch and the
book of Job is abundant and marvelous.
4. The man who wrote the song of deliverance at the Red
Sea and the matchless poems at the close of Deuteronomy (32_
33) is just the man to write the poetic drama of Job.
5. The problem of the book of Job, the undeserved afflic_
tions of the righteous, was the very problem of the people of
6. The profound discussions in the book call for just such
learning, wisdom, philosophy, and Oriental fire as Moses alone
of his age possessed.
7. The existence and malevolence of a superhuman evil
spirit (Job 1_2) alone could account for these afflictions, a
being of whom Job himself might be ignorant, but well known
to Moses in the power behind the magicians and idolatries of
8. The purpose of the book is to show: (a) the necessity
of a written revelation (Job 31:35); (b) the necessity of a
daysman, mediator, redeemer (Job 9:33) to stand between
God and sinful man – both point to a period when there was
no written revelation and no clear understanding of the office
of the daysman in the plan of salvation, and the necessity of
a manifestation of God, visible, audible, palpable and ap_
proachable (Job 23:3_9) – all indicate a period when there
was no Bible, but a desire for one, revealing the daysman and
forecasting his incarnation, and make the presumption strong
that Job was the first book of the Bible to be written – and
such a book could find no author but Moses.
9. The book must have been written by a Jew to obtain
a place in the canon of the Scriptures. All the conditions
meet in Moses and in him alone of all men.
This book is history, not a moral lesson based on suppositi_
tious characters. There is no rational interpretation except
as history. Ezekiel (14:14, 20) and James (5:11) refer to it
only as such. The poetical parts are too true to nature, realis_
tic, and personal to be regarded as a mere philosophical dis_
The problems of the book are two:
1. The prologue contains the problem of disinterested right_
2. The poetry, the problem of undeserved afflictions of the
righteous, and undeserved prosperity of the wicked of this
The objects of the book are to suggest the necessity of and
to prepare the way for a wider revelation from God:
1. A revelation of God incarnate. Job felt that God was
too far away, too vague for him to know. Hence his prayer,
„Oh, that I could find him!” is for a revelation that would
reveal God as visible, palpable, audible, approachable, and
2. A revelation, a book setting forth God’s will, explaining
the problem of human suffering, man’s duties to God and of
future judgments in the next world. This is seen in the prayer,
„Oh, that mine adversary had written a book!” Job’s case was
very different from Paul’s. Job, suffering without a full reve_
lation) complains; Paul, suffering in the splendor of a com_
plete revelation, glories.
The prose sections and their relations to the poetical parts
are as follows:
1. The prologue, chapters 1_2, introduces and gives the oc_
casion of this division;
2. Chapter 32:1_6, introducing Elihu;
3. Chapter 38:1, introducing God;
4. Chapter 40:1, introducing God;
5. Chapter 42:7_17 is the epilogue which gives the outcome.
The poetical sections constitute a most remarkable drama,
but the poetry is very archaic and simple.
Some questions have been raised against the integrity of
1. It is objected that the prologue and epilogue do not fit
the poetry and must belong to a later time.
Reply: To any fair_minded student they do fit admirably
and the whole work would be unintelligible without them.
2. It is objected that the part of Job’s speech in 27:8_23
does not fit into Job’s speech and that this must be the lost
third speech of Zophar. Mediating critics say that it is Job’s
language, but that he retracts some things said prior to this.
Reply: No such jumbling parts could have occurred. It is
not a speech of Zophar, for he had no third speech. It is the
language of Job in the restatement of his case, and applies to
the wicked after death and is not a retraction.
3. It is objected that chapter 28 is not the language of Job
because it is not in line with his theme, but is a choral inter_
lude, written by the author.
Reply: To thus designate this passage is sheer fancy with_
out a particle of proof. It thoroughly harmonizes with Job’s
contention that God’s providence is beyond human comprehen_
4. It is objected that the five chapters attributed to Elihu
are out of harmony with the rest of the book, and that nothing
is said of him in the closing part of the book nor at the be_
Reply: The interposition of Elihu was altogether proper
and essential to the full development of the subject. The whole
book follows the same general plan. The other characters are
not mentioned till there is need for them and only then are
5. It is objected that God did not explain the problem of
the book when he came upon the scene.
Reply: To have done this would have been to anticipate,
out of due time, the order of the development of revelation:
Job must be content with the revelation of his day, and trust
God, who, through good and evil, would conduct both Job and
the world to proper conclusions.
This book shares the singularity with the book of Jonah in
that they are the only books of the Jewish Bible that speak
of other nations as accepted of God.
It may here be noted that the modern commentaries are best
for the exegesis of Job but the older ones are best for the ex_
position. Some valuable helps are now commended:
1. The common version to be compared with the Standard
Version, Leeser’s Translation, and Conant’s Translation;
2. Sampey’s Syllabus to be compared with Tanner’s Sylla_
bus and the author’s analysis;
3. Two books are especially commended, viz: (a) Rawlin_
son’s Commentary (Pulpit Commentary) and (b) Green’s
Argument of the Book of Job Unfolded.
Now we give, not an analysis, but a brief introductory out_
line of the book, as follows:
1. Introduction: Historical setting in prose, chapters 1_2.
2. The poetical discourses, chapters 3:1 to 42:6:
(1) Job’s complaint (3)
(2) Debate of Job with his three friends (4_26)
(3) Job’s restatement of his case (27_31)
(4) The interposition of Elihu (32_37)
(5) The intervention of Jehovah (38:1 to 42:6)
3. The epilogue, or concluding prose (42:7_17).
For purposes of comparison I here give the „Syllabus of the
Book of Job” by John S. Tanner of Baylor University, for his
students in Baylor University.
SOME INTRODUCTORY MATTERS
1. Purpose and Method of Study
(1) Better understanding and appreciation of the book
(2) More especially, method of Scripture_study
2. Fundamentals in Method:
(1) To the book itself rather than to treatises about
it. The latter only for suggestion and after_study
of difficult points
(2) To the book itself rather than to the professor.
Studies, not lectures. Teacher gives method, not
matter; only directs the student’s energies to
(3) To the book itself rather than to the studentù
„Let the Word mean what it wants to mean”
(4) To the book itself rather than to other scriptures,
referring to them only as they assist toward the
meaning of this
II. Some Helpful Literature
(1) Revised Version (Best text and indispensable.
Use the marginal readings)
(2) Moulton’s Modern Reader’s Bible, volume on Job
(modern printing and notes helpful)
(3) Best commentary is that of A. B. Davidson in
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
(4) Driver’s Introduction to the Literature of the Old
Testament, chapter 9
(5) Introductory chapter in Moulton’s Literary Study
of the Bible
(6) Article (especially good) by Dickinson in Bibli_
otheca Sacra, for January, 1900
III. General Questions to Be Answered by the Study
1. Is the book primarily history, philosophy, science, or
aesthetics? If philosophy, what the problem? What
2. What the final purpose of the book?
3. Is the plan didactic or artistic? If artistic, wherein?
4. If any poetry, how much? And wherein do the poetic
content and form consist?
5. If poem, is it lyric, epic, or drama?
6. When, where, and by whom written?
7. Evidence for and against unity and integrity of the
8. Teaching of the book about:
(3) Future life
(7) Proper attitude toward current beliefs
9. Element of truth and of error in the position of each
10. Literary merit of the book?
11. Religious value?
From each study preserve classified notes on these questions
for summing up at the close.
THE PROLOGUE (PROSE) JOB 1_2
I. Narrative (master the events in order and detail). Fact
1. Uz (Cf. Gen. 36:21; I Chron. 1:38, 42; Lam. 4:21)
2. Teman. (See Gen. 36:15; Jer. 48:7, 20; Ezek. 35:13;
Obad. 9; Amos l:llf.)
3. „The East.” (See Gen. 25:6; Jer. 49:28.)
1. Job. (Cf. Ezek. 14:14; James 5:11). Was he an Is_
raelite? Note social, industrial, and religious customs.
2. Job’s wife. (Job 2:9; Cf. Job 19:14_17).
3. „Sons of God” – men or angels? (Cf. Job 38:7.)
4. Satan. The devil or a prosecuting angel? (See Job 2;
3b; Cf. I Kings 22:21f.; I Chron. 21:1; Zech. 3:lf.;
Luke 22:31f.; 2 Chron. 12:7; Rev. 12:10.)
5. The three friends.
IV. The Trials.
Order, progression, severity. Differing purposes of God
and Satan? What trial overcame Job?
V. Proposed Solutions of the Mystery of the Sufferings of
1. That revealed in the transaction, viz: God’s permis_
(1) To convict and conquer Satan (Job 2:3)
(2) To test and improve Job (Cf. Luke 22:32; I Peter
1:7; James l:2f, 13f)
(3) To glorify God in both
2. That of Job’s wife (Job 2:9), viz: Tyranny of God
3. That of Job (Job 1:21; 2:10), viz: God’s exercise of
his sovereignty in severity within the limits of his grace
VI. Remarkable Literary Features:
1. Theme of profoundest and universal practical interest,
viz: The problem of sufferings of the righteous.
2. The hero chosen is of such character as to illustrate
the problem and its solution in extreme and yet most
fair and impressive form.
3. The blessed state of the hero at the opening of pro_
logue is a fit climax for a good novel; the moral tri_
umph at the close would be a peerless climax in secular
literature. At such dizzy heights this drama begins.
4. By the narrative in the prologue the reader is taken
into confidence and given the secret while the actors
in the drama are in the dark. By this the interest of
the plot is rather increased than diminished.
ANALYSIS OF THE DRAMA
Act 1. Job’s Complaint, Job 3
1. That he was ever born (3:1_10)
(1) Curses the day of his birth (3:4f.)
(2) Curses the night of his conception (3:6_10)
2. That he had not died at birth (3:11_19)
3. That he cannot now die (3:20_26)
This complaint the three friends understand to imply
accusation against God.
Act II. Debate with the Three Friends, Job 4:26
Scene 1. First Round of Speeches (4_14)
1. Speech of Eliphaz (4_5)
(1) You show weakness to break down under afflic_
tions wherein you have comforted others (4:1_5)
(2) Your integrity is ground for hope, since only the
wicked are utterly destroyed (4:6_11)
(3) It is folly to question God’s providence (4:12 to 5:7)
(a) It is irreverent (4:12_21)
(b) It is through impatience self_destructive (5:1_5)
(c) It is erroneous, since trouble is conditioned by
man’s own moral nature (5:6f.)
(d) God is good, and will therefore deliver you
since you are really a righteous man (5:8_27)
2. Job’s Reply (6_7)
(1) My impatience has adequate cause in my afflic_
(a) My affliction is exceedingly heavy (6:1_7)
(b) I am not rebellious but undone (6:8_13)
(2) Sympathy from you as a friend would be more
timely than blame (6:14_27)
(3) Likewise from God my helplessness should elicit
pity rather than this continued torture (6:28 to 7:21)
3. Speech of Bildad (8)
(1) You wrongfully imply injustice in God (8:1_3)
(2) If you will go to God aright in prayer he will give
(8) For only the wicked are permanently cut off (8:
(4) Because you are a ]ust man God will surely re_
store you (8:20_22)
4. Job’s Reply (9_10)
Proposition: I cannot get a fair trial of my case (9:1f).
(1) Because my adversary (God) is too powerful for me (9:3-13).
(2) Because my adversary is judge in the case; my right is not heard (9:14-21).
(3) He is an unjust judge, dispensing rewards and punishments without moral discrimination (9:22-24).[This marks the climax of the moral tragedy.
And this is the tragedy of tragedies. It is the
deepest depth of the moral world. The climax of
the debate and of the drama are reached later.]
(4) There is no use for me to try; moral improvement
will do no good (9:25_31)
(5) Oh, for a third party to act as umpire and pro_
tect me against God’s tyranny (9:32_35)
(6) God made me weak and yet takes advantage of
this to afflict me (10:1_22)
5. Speech of Zophar (11)
(1) Your arrogant speech is provoking and deserves
(2) God’s wisdom is beyond your grasp (11:7_12)
(3) But if you will turn to God and pray he will
deliver you (11:13_20)
6. Job’s Reply (12_14)
(1) Your attempt to explain and defend God to me is
contemptible presumption (12:1 to 13:12)
(2) I will dare to plead my cause before God and
challenge him to convict me (13:13_28). (Read
12:15a, „Though he . . . I will not wait”)
(3) Man’s natural weakness, the brevity of life, and
the uncertainty of a future life call for leniency
in the Almighty (14:1_22)
[Thus far the friends have made no attempt to ex_
plain the cause or purpose of Job’s affliction. The only
charge they bring is that of a wrong spirit toward
God in the affliction. The debate centers in the nature
and conduct of God.]
Scene 2. Second Round of Speeches (15_21)
1. Speech of Eliphaz (15)
(1) Your talk is imprudent and self_condemnatory
(2) It is preposterous that you, iniquitous fellow,
should justify yourself before God in whose sight
good men and even angels are unclean (15:14_16)
(3) The explanation of your calamities is the doctrine
of retribution. Your terrible forebodings verify it
2. Job’s Reply (16_17)
(1) Your speech is vain; the matter cheap, and the
method cruel (16:1_5)
(2) My awful affliction is not punishment for sin (16:
(a) That men think so according to an accepted
doctrine only intensifies my sorrow (16:6_8)
(b) There were no forebodings – all was sudden
(c) I am innocent, both in deed and thought (16:16f.)
(3) I turn from men to God; my only hope is that
God will vindicate me after death (16:18 to 17:9)
(4) To talk of restoration in this life is foolish (17:10_16)
3. Speech of Bildad (18)
(1) You are talking senseless rage (18:1_4)
(2) Retribution is the clear explanation of your case.
The extent and severity of your calamities prove
4. Job’s Reply (19)
(1) You are doing me no good (19:1_4)
(2) The occasion of my affliction is not in me, but God
(3) I am more sure that I shall be vindicated beyond
the grave (19:23_29)
5. Speech of Zophar (20)
Certainly your sorrow is the fruit of sin. The brevity
of your dashing prosperity and the suddenness and
completeness of your fall, prove it so before reason and
6. Job’s Reply (21)
Your theory is not supported by the facts; the wicked
often prosper indefinitely and pass away in peace
[In the second round the interest has centered in the
moral perversity of Job as cause of his sorrows. While
the conflict of debate is sharper, Job’s temper is more
calm; and he is perceptibly nearer a right attitude
toward God. He is approaching a victory over his op_
ponents, and completing the more important one over
Scene 3. Third Round of Speeches (22_26)
1. Speech of Eliphaz (22)
(1) Your sin is the only possible ground for your suf_
fering; for God does not afflict you for any sel_
fish interest, and certainly not because you are
(2) Denial only aggravates your original guilt. Yours
is highhanded wickedness, well known to God and
(3) It is mad folly for you to persist in the wicked
way whose course and end are an old story (22:15_20)
(4) Repent and reform, and God will forgive and
greatly bless you (22:21_30)
2. Job’s Reply (23_24)
(1) The weight of my affliction I have not adequately
expressed (23: If.)
(2) Conscious of my integrity, I expect final vindica_
tion, but am puzzled and grieved to be held in
the dark at this helpless distance from God (23:3_17)
(3) As for your doctrine of universal and even retri_
bution, the facts utterly disprove it and puzzle
me (24:1_25). [Climax of the debate.]
3. Speech of Bildad (25)
Ignore your facts. You have no right to be heard be_
fore the majesty of God.
4. Job’s Reply (26)
You help me not; it is not the fact of God’s power that
I seek to know, but his use of it.
[Job’s victory is complete; Zophar does not speak;
the debate is closed. The traditional and prevalent
doctrine that all sin is punished in this life and that all
suffering is punishment of specific sin, is confuted by
Job. This result, however, is negative; the explanation
of his calamities he has not found. It is clear that
along with Job’s struggle for theoretical solution of the
mystery, a far more significant one is waging in his
moral attitude toward God in the affliction. With
calmer temper and hopefulness, he is steadily ascend_
ing from the depths (9_10) to this practical heart so_
lution of the problem.]
Act III. Job’s Formal Restatement of His Case (27_31)
Introduction: My statement shall be in conscious in_
tegrity and the fear of God (27:1_12)
1. I maintain the ‘great doctrines which I have been sup_
posed to deny (27:13 to 28:28)
(1) God’s justice in punishing the wicked (27:13_23)
(2) God’s wisdom in ordering the universe (28:1_27)
(3) That the highest human wisdom is to fear God
and live righteously (28:28)
2. Now my experience I will place side by side with this
current creed which I also hold (29_30)
(1) My former blessed state (29)
(2) My present miserable state in contrast (30)
3. The experience is not explained by the doctrines.
These would point to moral obliquity in me which I
solemnly deny. There must be a hitherto unrecognized
principle in God’s providence (31)
Act IV. Interposition of Elihu (32_37)
The author’s narrative prose introduction (32:1_5)
The speaker’s introduction (32:6 to 33:7)
(1) In spite of my deference to age I must speak, im_
periled by the failure of these distinguished men
to convict Job of his guilty error (32:6_22)
(2) My speech will be sincere and candid (33:1_5)
(3) Job, I will discuss with you in God’s stead (33:6f.)
1. Job, you are very wrong; God’s concealed and severe
providences are to wean men from their evil and work
their good (33:8_33)
2. You wise men have allowed Job to triumph in his re_
bellious implications of injustice in God. His facts are
not pertinent, since God’s plans are inscrutable to men (34)
3. Human conduct affects only men, not God. Your chal_
lenge is arrogance, which it is well for you that he has
not visited with due punishment (35)
4. God’s works are mighty, his dispensations just, his de_
signs merciful, his counsels inscrutable. Therefore, fear
[Elihu makes a distinct advance on the three friends
toward the true meaning of the mystery. They claimed
to know the cause; he, the purpose. They said that
the affliction was punitive; he, beneficent. His error is
that he, too, makes sin in Job the occasion at least of
his sorrow. His implied counsel to Job approaches the
final climax of a practical solution.]
Act V. Intervention of God (38:11-42:6)
[Out of the stormcloud which has been gathering
while Elihu spoke, God now addresses Job.]
Scene 1. First Arraignment and Reply (38:11040:5)
1. God’s arraignment of Job (38:1 to 40:2)
It is foolish presumption for a blind dependent crea_
ture to challenge the infinite in the realm of providence.
The government of the universe, physical, and moral,
is one; to question any point is to assume understand_
ing of all. Job, behold some of the lower realms of
the divine government and realize the absurdity of
2. Job’s Reply (40:3_5)
I see it; I hush.
Scene 2. Second Arraignment and Reply (40:6 to 42:6)
To criticize God’s government of the universe is to
claim the ability to do it better. Assuming the role
of God, suppose, Job, you try your hand on two of
your fellow creaturesùthe hippopotamus and the
2. Job’s Reply (42:1_6)
This new view of the nature of God reveals my wicked
and disgusting folly. Gladly do I embrace his dispen_
sations in loving faith.
[Here is completed Job’s moral triumph, and this is
the practical solutionùof the great problem and the
climax of the drama.]
The Epilogue (Prose) Job 42:7_17
1. God’s rebuke of the three friends (42:7f.)
God commends Job’s earnest, honest, though impa_
tient, search for the truth rather than the friends’ ve_
hement unthinking defense of him upon a popular
half_truth that has become an accepted creed. Ap_
parently Elihu’s position is so nearly correct as not to
call for censure.
2. Job’s Exaltation (42:9_17)
1. There seems no ground to question the integrity of the
book. The portions refused by some – part of Job’s re_
statement and the whole of Elihu’s discourse – are
thoroughly homogeneous and essential to the unity of
the book. Likewise the prose portions.
2. It has been complained that the problem of the book –
that of the suffering of the righteous – receives no
solution at the close from Jehovah. The truth of life
and the master stroke of the production is that the
theoretical solution is withheld from the sufferer while
he is led to the practical solution which is a religious
attitude of heart rather than an understanding of the
3. The final climax is the highest known to human heart
or imagination. A vital, personal, loving faith in God
that welcomes from him all things is the noblest exer_
cise of the human soul. Dr. Moulton is not guilty of
extravagance when he says that the book of Job is the
greatest drama in the world’s literature.
4. The moral triumph came by a more just realization of
the nature of God. This gives motive to all good and
from all evil. It is a cure for most human ills.
Much helpful literature on this book is cited by Dr. Tan_
ner, but the author cautions the student to bear in mind that
Davidson and Driver are radical critics.
This syllabus is the best analysis of the book of Job in
literature, but there are two serious faults with it, or objec_
tions to it:
(1) In the first speech of Eliphaz, his interpretations are
rather weak and not very clear. The reader will do well to
compare these with those of the author which are given at the
proper place in his interpretation of the book.
(2) The main objection is that he failed to see the necessity
of a revelation from God to man.
1. In general terms what of the book of Job?
2 Where do we find this book?
3. Of what times in the world’s history does it treat and what the
4. In the Genesis early world history where would you place these
5. Was it written in or near the times of which it treats?
6. Who the probable author and what the arguments tending to prove
7 Is it history or a moral lesson based on supposititious characters
and what the proof?
8. What the problems of the book?
9. What the objects of the book?
10. What the prose sections of the book and what their relations to
the poetical parts?
II. What the literary character of the poetical sections?
12, What questions have been raised against the integrity of the book
and the author’s reply to each of them?
13. What singularity does this book share with the book of Jonah?
14. In general, what may be noted of the commentaries on this book?
15. In particular, what helps commended by the author?
16. Give a brief introductory outline to the book.
17. Whose syllabus on this book is given here and why?
18. What Tanner’s express purpose and method in his treatment of the
19. What helpful literature on the book cited by Tanner and what
caution with respect to some of these by the author?
20. According to Tanner what important questions to be answered
in the study of this book?
21. What the author’s criticism of this syllabus, both favorable and
THE PROLOGUE OF JOB
The book of Job divides itself into three parts: The Pro_
logue, the Poetical Drama, and the Epilogue. The Prologue is
a prose narrative but intensely dramatic in form and recites
the occasion of the poetical drama which constitutes the body
of the book. The Epilogue, also dramatic in prose, recites the
historical outcome of the story.
The analysis of the Prologue consists of chapters Job 1_2
with forward references elsewhere in the book.
I. Two scenes and a problem.
1. An earth view of a pious, prosperous, and happy man
(1:1_5; with 29:1_25; 31:1_34)
2. An earth view in which his piety is considered in the
crosslights of divine and of satanic judgment (1:6_12)
3. A problem: Can there be disinterested piety?
II. First trial of Job’s piety – Satan permitted to conduct the
trial – under limitations (1:13_22)
1. Satan’s stroke on Job the farmer (1:14_15)
2. Satan’s stroke on Job the stockman (1:16)
3. Satan’s stroke on Job the merchant (1:17)
4. Satan’s stroke on Job the father (1:18_19)
5. Result of first trial (1:20_22)
III. Second trial of Job’s piety (2:1_10)
1. Another heaven view in which Job is vindicated and
the malice of Satan condemned, but further trial per_
mitted under limitation (2:1_6)
2. Satan’s fifth stroke – Job’s person smitten with leprosy (2:7_8)
3. Satan’s sixth stroke on Job the husband (2:9)
4. Result (2:10)
IV. Satan’s continued trial (2:11_13; and other references in
1. Satan’s seventh stroke on Job the kinsman, neighbor,
and master (19:13_19)
2. Satan’s eighth stroke on Job’s social position (30:1_15)
3. After long interval Satan’s ninth stroke on Job the
4. Satan’s tenth and master stroke in leading Job to at_
tribute the malice of these persecutions to God and to
count him an adversary without mercy or justice. (See
9:24, „If it be not he, who then is it?”; 19:11; 30:35.)
The Prologue opens with two remarkable scenes, an earth
view, a heaven view, and a problem. (See the analysis of the
The earth view (1:1_5) presents a pious, prosperous, and
happy man. The length, extent, and unbroken character of
this prosperity, Job’s ascription of it to God, the healthful ef_
fect on his piety and character, are all marvelous. It had
lasted all his life without a break. It gave him great wealth,
a numerous and happy family, health for every member, great
wisdom, extensive knowledge and power, high honor among
men, and yet did not spoil him. He was a model husband and
father, successful merchant, farmer, and shepherd, benevolent
and just toward men, pure in life, and devout toward God.
(See chapters 29_31.)
The heaven view (1:6_12) in which Job’s piety is considered
in the contrasted light of divine and of satanic judgment, is
every way marvelous and instructive. It reveals the fact that
on stated occasions, angels, both good and bad, must report
their work to the sovereign God; that Satan’s field of move_
ment is restricted to this earth. He has no work in heaven but
to report when God requires it, and then under inquisition he
must tell where he has been, what he has seen, what he has
even thought, and what he has done. It must not be supposed
that he attends this angelic assembly from curiosity or from
audacity, but is there under compulsion. Though fallen and
outcast he is yet responsible to God, and must account to hia
The bearing of this Prologue on the chief object of the book,
namely, to suggest the necessity of and to prepare the way for
a wider revelation, is as follows:
1. None of the actors or sufferers on earth know anything
of this extraneous origin, purpose, and limitation of his fiery
ordeal through which Job and his family must pass. Hence the
need of a revelation that man may understand how the spirit_
ual forces of heaven and hell touch his earthly life.
2. How far short all the several philosophies of Job and his
friends in accounting for the cause, purpose, or extent of the
great suffering which befell Job. Hence the conclusion that
unaided human philosophy cannot solve the problem of human
life, and therefore a revelation is needed.
Satan’s power is manifested in four simultaneous scenes of
(1) The stroke on Job, the farmer (1:14_15) ;
(2) The stroke on Job, the shepherd, or stockman (1:16) ;
(3) The stroke on Job, the merchant (1:17) ;
(4) The stroke on Job, the father (1:18_19).
The cunning, malice and cumulative power of Satan’s strokes are seen, as follows:
(1) The mockery of the date of all these disasters, the elder
son’s birthday, the gathering of all the children in one house,
and the joyous feasting.
(2) The timing of Job’s reception of the news of the several
disasters shows that it was stroke upon stroke without inter_
(3) The sparing of one survivor alone from each disaster,
and him only that he might be a messenger of woe.
(4) The variety, adaptation, and thorough naturalness of
these means, none of them so out of character as to suggest
the supernatural: the Sabeans, the fire of God (a Hebraism),
the Chaldeans, the desert tornado. Why suspect supernatural
agents when the natural causes are all possible, evident, and
(5) The refinement of cruelty in sparing Job’s wife that she
might add to his wretchedness by her evil counsel.
(6) The making of his kindred, neighbors, friends, servants,
and the rabble instruments of torture by their desertion, re_
proach, and mistreatment.
(7) Knowing that Job’s intelligence must perceive that such
a remarkable series, even of natural events, could not result
from chance, but must have been timed and directed by one
endowed with supernatural power, and full of malice, he re_
veals the very depths of his wickedness and cunning in lead_
ing Job to attribute this to God.
The scene of Job’s reception of the direful news (1:14_20)
is very remarkable. See the cumulative power of blow on blow
without intermission for breathing. Job’s grief is great, but
his resignation is instant. He ascribes all the disasters to the
divine Sovereign, without a thought of Satan, and without any
knowledge of the divine purpose. Here ends Job’s first trial
in complete victory for him.
The second scene, in heaven, shows angels, good and bad,
reporting divine and satanic judgment on Job’s piety and
Satan rebuked for malice against Job but permitted a further
test (2:1_6), in which he was given power over Job’s person
with one limitation. Satan’s power over Job’s person, and yet
hidden from Job, may be seen by comparison of 2:7 with other
references in the book. The nature of this affliction is found
to be elephantiasis, a form of leprosy, usually attributed to
the direct agency of God. Yet, it was a well_known disease
in that country, and might be explained by natural causes. So
Satan’s agency is again hidden and Job has no thought of him.
The awful pain and loathsomeness of this disease, then and
now, isolated the patient from human association and sympa_
thy, and human judgment said it was incurable. The law of
Moses on the isolation and treatment of lepers is found in
Leviticus 13:45f.; Numbers 5:1_4; 12:14. Their degredation
and isolation in New Testament times, Christ’s sympathy for
them, and his healing of them may be seen in Luke 17:11_19
and other references. Lew Wallace, in Ben Hur, Book VI,
chapter 2, „Memorial Edition,” gives a vivid description of
leprosy in the case of Ben Hur’s mother and sister:
Slowly, steadily, with horrible certainty, the disease spread,
after a while bleaching their heads white, eating holes in their
lips and eyelids, and covering their bodies with scales; then it fell
to their throats, shrilling their voices, and to their joints, hard_
ening the tissues and cartilegesùslowly, and, as the mother well
knew, past remedy, it was affecting their lungs and arteries and
bones, at each advance making the sufferers more and more loathe_
eorne; and so it would continue till death, which might be years
He sets forth the awful state of the leper thus:
These four are accounted as deadùthe blind, the leper, the
poor, and the childless.
Thus the Talmud.
That is, to be a leper was to be treated as dead – to be ex_
cluded from the city as a corpse;. to be spoken to by the best
beloved and most loving only at a distance; to dwell with none
but lepers; to be utterly unprivileged; to be denied the rites
of the Temple and the synagogue; to go about in rent garments
and with covered mouth, except when crying, „Unclean! Un_
clean!” to find home in the wilderness or in abandoned tombs;
to become a materialized specter of Hinnom and Gehenna; to
be at all times less a living offense to others than a breathing
torment to self; afraid to die, yet without hope except in
N. P. Willis in his poem on the leper (The Poetical Works
of N. P. Willis, pp. 5_9) gives a fine poetic description of the
leper, the progress of the disease and a typical leper healed by
Jesus. The substance of this poem is as follows:
In the first section is a description of the approach of the
leper, at which the cry is heard,
Room for the leper I Room I And as he came
The cry pass’d on – Room for the leper! Room!
Then the response by the leper, „Unclean! Unclean!” In the
second section is a description of a young man before the at_
tack of the disease and then a leper after the disease had laid
hold upon him. The blighting effect, of the disease is here de_
picted very forcefully. In the next section we find the most
horrifying denunciations of the leper. He makes his way to
the temple and, standing before the altar, he hears his doom: –
Depart! depart, 0 child
Of Israel, from the temple of thy God I
For He has smote thee with His chastening rod:
And to the desert_wild,
From all thou lov’st away, thy feet must flee,
That from thy plague His people may be free.
Depart I and come not near
The busy mart, the crowded city, more;
Nor set thy foot a human threshold o’er;
And stay thou not to hear
Voices that call thee in the way; and fly
From all who in the wilderness pass by.
Wet not thy burning lip
In streams that to a human dwelling glide;
Nor rest thee where the covert fountains hide;
Nor kneel thee down to dip
The water where the pilgrim bends to drink.
By desert well or river’s grassy brink;
And pass thou not between
The weary traveller and the cooling breeze;
And lie not down to sleep beneath the trees
Where human tracks are seen;
Nor milk the goat that browseth on the plain,
Nor pluck the standing corn, or yellow grain.
And now, depart! and when
Thy heart is heavy, and thine eyes are dim,
Lift up thy prayer beseechingly to Him
Who, from the tribes of men,
Selected thee to feel His chastening rod.
Depart! 0 Leper I and forget not God!I
Then follows a description of the leper departing and going
into the wilderness where Jesus found him and healed him.
The closing lines of the poem are as follows:
His leprosy was cleansed, and he fell down
Prostrate at Jesus’ feet and worshipp’d Him.
The counsel of Job’s wife and Job’s reply to it are found in
Job 2:9_10. Here ends Job’s second trial in victory as complete
as in the first trial. Satan drops out of the story after the second trial. Now, the question is, How do we know he is yet taking part? The answer is, we see his tracks. Job’s wife in 2:9 quotes the very words of Satan in 2:5. Satan, though hidden, uses Job’s wife against him as Eve was used against Adam (Cf. 2:5; 2:9). Washington lrving, on a wife’s influence in helping her husband to recover from a great misfortune, says,
I have often had occasion to remark the fortitude with which
women sustain the most overwhelming reverses of fortune. Those
disasters which break down the spirit of man, and prostrate him
in the dust, seem to call forth all the energies of the softer sex,
and give such intrepidity and elevation to their character, that at
times it approaches to sublimity. Nothing can be more touching
than to behold a soft and tender female, who had been all weak_
ness and dependence, and alive to every trivial roughness, while
treading the prosperous paths of life, suddenly rising in mental
force to be the comforter and support of her husband under mis_
fortune, and abiding with unshrinking firmness the bitterest blasts
of adversity. – Sketch Book.
In this sifting of Satan, Job’s piety surpasses that of Adam’s
in that Adam with eyes open, through love of his wife, heeded
her advice and fell, but Job, blind to many things that Adam
was not, withstood the temptation of his wife, and held fast
his integrity. In another part of this book Job himself claims
to be superior to Adam (See Job 31:33), in that he did not
attempt to hide his sin as did Adam.
Satan further appears to be taking part, though he now os_
tensibly disappears from the story. He is really present, using
Job’s friends and tempting Job himself.
Now, Job’s words in 1:21, and his reply to his wife in 2:10
solve the first problem suggested by Satan, „Can there be sin_
cere and disinterested piety?” Hypocrites may serve for the
loaves and the fishes, but the true children of God serve him
even in the loss of all things and in excruciating sufferings.
See case of Paul in the New Testament.
The results of Satan’s three trials are as follows: Job’s com_
plete triumphs in the first and second; the third was a dog_
fall. Satan failed in the main point, but he got Job into a heap
There are proofs from the book that a considerable time
elapsed between the smiting with leprosy and the visit of the
three friends, so that the time of the intervening events prepares the mind to understand the subsequent debates, and enables it to appreciate this man’s heroic fortitude and patience before he uttered a word of complaint. Their coming by appointment or previous arrangement has a bearing on the lapse of time since he was smitten with leprosy. The time necessary for each friend to hear of Job’s calamity, and then to arrange by communication with each other for a joint visit, and then for the journey, show that considerable time elapsed in this interval.
On the same point the time necessary for the intervening
events set forth in 19:13_19; 30:1_15, namely, desertion by
wife, brothers, sisters, and friends, and the horrible treatment
he received from young people, from criminals whom he had
punished, and from the cruel rabble, all of which preceded the
visit of his three friends – must be considered here in order to
maintain the thread of the story.
What he himself says on the length of time since his last
affliction may be noted (7:3): „So am I made to possess
months [literally moons] of misery”; and (29:2): „Oh that I
were as in the months of old.” The time intervening between
the last scene with his wife and the visit of his friends could
not have been less than two months and was doubtless three
or four; so we correlate his sufferings and losses in their order
thus: loss of all his property, loss of all his children, loss of
his health, alienation of wife and kindred, loss of honor among
men and every exalted position, followed by contempt and
disgust of the rabble. As he himself puts it (12:5): „In the
thought of him that is at ease there is contempt for misfor_
Now the reader must connect all these things and vividly
see them following in order for so long a time, a time of unre_
mitting pain, horrible by night and by day, in order to grasp
the idea of this man’s heroic patience before he uttered a word
The last straw that broke down the fortitude of Job, that
broke his spirit, was the seven days’ silence of his friends,
staring upon his wretchedness without a word of comfort.
Comparing the Satan of Job with the serpent (Gen. 3) ; the
Satan of David (2 Sam. 24:1; I Chron. 21:1); the Satan of
Joshua, the high priest (Zech. 2:1_5); the Satan of Jesus
(Matt. 4:1_11); the Satan of Peter (Luke 22:31 with I Peter
5:8_9) ; the Satan of Paul (I Cor. 5:5; 2 Cor. 12:7; Eph. 6:11,
16); the Satan of John (Rev. 12:7_13), and the scene in I
Kings 22:19_23, we find:
1. That the case of the Satan of Job is in harmony with the
other cases of the Bible.
2. That when Satan is permitted to try men he is an agent
3. That there are several scriptural names of him and that
each one has its own meaning, thus:
(1) „Satan” which means adversary, suggesting that
he is the adversary of God and his people.
(2) „Devil,” which means an accuser and slanderer;
he is the cunning and malignant suspecter and ac_
cuser of the righteous; he accuses men to God and
slanders God to men.
(3) „Apollyon,” which means „destroyer” and indi_
cates the nature of his work.
(4) „Be_elzebub” which means prince, or chieftain. He
is the prince, or chief, of demons.
(5) „Dragon” which means serpent, and refers to his
slimy work in the garden of Eden where he took
the form of a serpent.
4. That his field of operation is restricted to the earth.
5. That he is limited in power.
6. That he must make stated reports to God.
7. That he can touch the righteous only by permission.
8. That he can touch them only in matters that try their
9. That he cannot take them beyond the intercession of the
10. That he cannot touch their lives.
11. That he cannot touch them except for their good, and
therefore his trials of the righteous are included in the „all
things” of Romans 8:28.
12. That no philosophy which knows only the time life of
men and natural causes can solve the problem of life.
1. What the natural divisions of the book, and what the relation
of these parts to each other?
2. Give an analysis of the Prologue.
3. What the two scenes and the problem of the Prologue?
4. Describe the earth view,
5. What of the heaven view and ita revelations?
6. What bearing has this Prologue on the chief object of the book,
namely, to suggest the necessity of and to prepare the way for a wider revelation?
7. How is Satan’s power manifested here?
8. Show the cunning, malice, and cumulative power of Satan’s strokes.
9. Describe the scene of Job’s reception of this news.
10. Describe the second scene, in heaven.
11. What the further test of Job permitted to Satan?
12. How was Satan’s power on Job’s person manifested and yet hid_
den from Job?
13. Describe this disease and its effect on Job’s social relations.
14. Compare the law of Moses on the isolation and treatment of
15. Show their degradation and isolation in New Testament times,
Christ’s sympathy for them, and his healing of them.
16. Give Ben Hur’s vivid description of leprosy in the case of his
mother and sister and the substance of N. P. Willis’ poem on the leper.
17. What the counsel of Job’s wife and what Job’s reply?
18. Since Satan drops out of the story after the second trial, how do
we know he is yet taking part?
19, What has Washington lrving (Sketch Book) to say on a wife’s
influence in helping her husband to recover from a great misfortune?
20. In this sifting of Satan where does Job’s piety surpass that of
21. Where else, in the book of Job, does Job himself claim to be
superior to Adam?
22. How does Satan further appear to be taking part?
23. How is the first problem, as suggested by Satan, solved?
24. What was the result of Satan’s three trials?
25. Give proofs from the book that a considerable time elapsed be_
tween the smiting with leprosy and the visit of the three friends, so
stating in order the intervening events as to prepare the mind to understand the subsequent debates, and enable it to appreciate this man’s heroic fortitude and patience before he uttered a word of complaint.
26. What the last straw that broke down the fortitude of Job?
27. Give a summary of the Bible teaching relative to Satan.
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE POETICAL DRAMA
AND JOB’S COMPLAINT
The names and lineal descent of the human persons in the_
drama, their relationship, and their religious ideas are as
1. Job was a descendant of Uz, the son of Nahor, who was
the brother of Abraham (Gen. 22:20_21). The father of
Abraham and Nahor was an idolater, but Nehor shared in
the light given to Abraham. Hence it is said, „The God of
Abraham and the God of Nahor.” So, also, Nahor’s descend_
ants shared the knowledge of the true God.
2. Eliphaz was a descendant of Teman, the son of Esau,
the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham. Hence his knowledge
of God. Eliphaz, himself a prophet, received revelations
(4:12_17). Teman, his country, ages later, was renowned for
wisdom (Jer. 49:7).
3. Bildad was a descendant of Shuah, the son of Abraham
and Keturah (Gen. 25:1_2). Hence his traditional knowledge
4. Zophar was a Namathite. Naamah in Joshua’s time
was a city bordering on Edom and included by conquest in
Judah’s territory. Hence, probably, Zophar was also a
descendant of Esau, or possibly one of the Amorite confeder_
ates of Abraham ‘ (Gen. 14:13).
5. Elihu, the Buzite, was a descendant of Buz, the brother
of Uz the son of Nahor the brother of Abraham (Gen. 22:20).
Hence his knowledge of the true God.
The religious ideas of these men were founded on the tradi_
tion of special revelations from God. Eliphaz was a prophet
and probably received revelations direct from God. The
agreement of their ideas doubtless was due to their common
source and wherein they disagreed was due to deviations
caused by not having a written revelation and the different
points of view from which they made observations) as indi_
viduals. It is probable that Job’s ideas with reference to sin
and suffering were the same as these three friends which were
commonly accepted as the theory till his experience upset
them and put Job to thinking. Elihu was most correct of all,
but not that he had more light than the others but because,
in all probability, he was more balanced in his observations,
and thus formed better conclusions.
In view of the striking and distinguishing characteristics of
these five men, the peculiarities of mind, temper, and creed,
the good and bad elements of their respective arguments, so
clearly brought out in the development of this discussion,
and in view of their peculiarities of style, idioms of speech
and local references, bearing on the times, country, and habi_
tat assigned to each, and in view of subsequent Old Testament
and New Testament references to the story, to which one of
these two conclusions are we driven:
1. Are they fictitious persons, children of the writer’s crea_
tive brain, who weaves his background of story in the drapery
of a parable, and then sets forth in the literary form of a
poetical drama his philosophy concerning divine providence?
2. Is this history; are these real persons voicing their own
actual experiences, observations, and convictions; is every_
thing true to character – the time, the persons, the events,
the style, and the idioms of speech?
They are not fictitious persons, children of the writer’s
creative brain, like the characters of a novel, but are real
persons, voicing their own actual experiences, observations,
convictions, and their several philosophies of life. They are
all descendants of Shem and of the two brothers, Abraham
and Nahor, though none of them in the promised line through
Abraham which developed into the chosen nation.
The place of the book is Uz, a district of central Arabia,
southeast of Palestine, touching or connecting with Edom on
the south, the lower Euphrates on the east, and on the north_
east the mountains east of the Jordan. In loose terms, it is
known as the East Country, a country largely desert, tra_
versed by caravans, largely pastoral, but with agricultural
sections and with settled communities here and there that in
that time were called cities.
The time in general and in particular is as follows:
1. In general, the patriarchal days somewhere between the
time of Jacob and the bondage in Egypt
2. In particular, some months after Job was smitten with
The theme of the poetical drama is the mystery of divine
Providence in the government of men prior to revelation, and
the three necessities which this trial of Job reveals as relating
to law, worship, the future state, prayer, and the supernatural
interference with men, as illustrated in the case of Job are as
1. The necessity of a revelation
2. The necessity of the incarnation
3. The necessity of a daysman (See Psalm 19; 73.)
Now the following is a good, brief outline of the poetical
drama and epilogue:
THE POETICAL DRAMA, JOB 3:1 TO 42:6
Act 1. Job’s complaint (3)
Act II. Debate with the three friends (4_26)
Scene 1. – First round of speeches (4_14)
Scene 2. – Second round of speeches (15_21)
Scene 3. – Third round of speeches (22_26)
Act III. Job’s formal restatement of his case (27_31)
Act IV. Interposition of Elihu (32_37)
Act V. Intervention of God (38:1 to 42:6)
Scene 1. – First arraignment and reply (38:1 to 40:5)
Scene 2. – Second arraignment and reply (40:6 to 42:6)
THE EPILOGUE, PROSE, (42:7_17)
1. God’s rebuke of the three friends (42:7)
2. Job’s intercession (42:8)
3. Job’s exaltation (42:9_17)
It will be noted that this drama consists of five acts and
many scenes. It commences with chapter 3 and closes with
The several acts are Job’s complaint, the debate with the
three friends, Job’s restatement of the case, Elihu’s interposi_
tion, and Jehovah’s intervention.
The problem of the prose prologue, „Can there be disinter_
ested piety?” having been solved affirmatively, now gives way
for an entirely new and broader problem: The solution of
the mystery of God’s providential dealings with man on earth
and in time, particularly in the undeserved sufferings of the
righteous and in the undeserved prosperity of the wicked.
This problem assumes in the progress of the discussion
many shades of interrogative form, as follows:
1. Is exact justice meted out to man on earth so that we
may infallibly infer his moral character from the blessings or
sufferings which come upon him?
2. If this be true in general, in the case of the individual, to
what extent is the problem complicated by the unity and
responsibility of society as blessings or sufferings come upon
a community, a city, a tribe, or a nation? What becomes of
the individual case in this larger view? How much greater
the complications when the individual is seen to be only an
infinitesimal part of the universe?
3. Can the finite mind solve such a problem? Is this life
the whole of man’s life? If not, what the folly of inferring
character from an imperfect view of a fragment of earth life
and of seeking a final judgment in each passing dispensation
4. Considering man’s ignorance of the extraneous and su_
pernatural forces, both good and bad, which touch man’s life,
can he confidently infer the cause, purpose, and extent of
temporal adversity and prosperity?
5. Are all earth sufferings penal and all of its blessings a re_
ward of desert?
6. Can unaided man find out and comprehend the Almighty
and Omniscient? Can man contend with the Almighty with_
out a Surety? Is there not a necessity for a divine incarna_
tion so that man unterrified may talk to God face to face as
with a friend? Shall not God become visible, palpable, and
human before a solution is possible? In view of human im_
perfection and divine perfection is not a superhuman interpre_
ter needed in order to man’s full understanding? In view of
sin, is not a daysman, or mediator, needed? In view of requi_
site holiness and the dreadfulness of sin, is not a written reve_
lation, and infallible standard of right, needed that man may
authoritatively know the indictment against him and how to
The discussion of these and kindred questions not only set
this book apart as the profoundest philosophy of time, but
also clearly indicates its object, namely, a preparation for a
written revelation and an incarnation which will supply the
needed surety, umpire, daysman, mediator, and redeemer.
Now I will give a summary of Job’s complaint which is a
brief outline of chapter 3. He complains:
1. That he was ever born (3:1_10)
2. That he had not died at birth (3:11_15)
3. That he had not been an abortion, failing of being before
reaching the period of quickening (3:16_19)
4. That he cannot now die (3:20_26)
He means, by cursing the day of his birth, this: Let not
God regard it; let man leave it out of the calendar; let those
who curse days neglect not to curse this one; let it be eclipsed
by darkness and let this darkness be the deepest, even the
shadow of death.
By cursing the night of his conception he means: Let it be
solitary and barren; let it have no dawn; let it be an eternal
Days may become accursed or blessed in the popular mind,
by association with great events. Friday, or hangman’s day,
is counted unlucky for marriages, the undertaking of new
enterprises, or the commencing of a journey. November 5
as long marked for celebration in the English Calendar
because the date of the discovery of the Guy Fawkes’ gun_
powder plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. 60, in the
American Calendar, July 4 becomes Independence Day.
The presumption of cursing one three_hundred_and_sixty_
fifth part of all future time because of one calamity to one
man is an awful presumption, yet Job himself afterward
called these words „rash words,” extorted by great anguish
(6:1_3) and that as „speeches of one that is desperate; they
are as wind” and called not for serious reproof (6:26).
In Job 3:13_19 we have Job’s idea of the peace and rest_
fulness of death, so far as its subjects can be touched by the
living. He says that there they are quiet, asleep, at rest,
with counselors, and princes, like unborn infants; no troubles
from the wicked and no oppression of servants. Though Job
80 thoroughly believed that his disease was incurable, his
restoration to former prosperity impossible, was hopeless of
vindication in his life, and so earnestly longed and begged for
a speedy death, yet he never did think of suicide, and the
bearing of this on the superiority of his religion over all the
great heathen philosophies is tremendous. Compare Hamlet’s
soliloquy commencing, „To be, or not to be, that is the ques_
tion.” Job’s idea of man’s responsibility to God pre_vented
him from thinking of suicide. He believed in the absolute
ownership of God as to human life, and man therefore has
no right to take his own life. He understood the disposition
of life to belong to God. On the other hand, heathen philos_
ophies taught that if life’s ills became unbearable, man had
a right to end his own life under such circumstances by his
own hand. They never realized the sanctity of human life as
taught by the Christian religion. Thus, Job had a better
religion than men attained to by philosophical inquiry.
The meaning of „shadow of death,” in the book of Job, in
the Psalms, and the Prophets is not death itself, but as a
shadow it may fall across the path of life at any point. In
Pilgrim’s Progress Bunyan locates the „Valley of the Shadow
of Death,” early in the pilgrimage and not just before death.
„Death” is one thing, and the „shadow of death” is an entirely
There is a difficulty in the text, translation and meaning of
Job 3:8. The word rendered „leviathan” occurs elsewhere
in the book. What is a leviathan? Does the crocodile of the
Nile come up to the description in chapter 41? Is it possible
that „leviathan” in 3:8 is used figuratively like „the great
dragon” in Revelation 12:7? In the phrase, „let them that
curse the day,” is there a reference to enchanters or to the
power attributed to Balaam by Balack in Numbers 22:6_7?
The Revised Version is in keeping with the Hebrew in this
passage. It is properly translated „who are ready to rouse
up leviathan.” „Leviathan” literally means crocodile, but in
this passage it is used, I think, in a figurative sense, mean_
ing reptile, serpent, the devil.
1. What the names and lineal descent of the human persons in the
drama, showing their relationship and accounting for their religious ideas?
2. What can you say of the character of this book, negatively and
3. What the place of the book?
4. What the time in general and in particular?
6. What the theme of the poetical drama?
6. What three necessities does this trial of Job reveal?
7. Give an outline of the poetical drama and epilogue.
8. What in particular the new problem of the drama?
9. What the various interrogative forms of this new problem?
10. What the purpose of the book as set forth in the discussion of
11. Give a summary of Job’s complaint.
12. What does he mean by cursing the day of his birth?
13. What does he mean by cursing the night of his conception?
14. How many days become accursed or blessed in the popular mind?
15. What can you say of the presumption of cursing one three_hun-dred_and_sixty_fifth part of all future time because of one calamity to one man and how does Job afterward regard it?
16. Why did Job not commit suicide?
17. What was Job’s idea of the peace and restfulness of death, so far
as its subjects can be touched by the living?
18. What the meaning of „shadow of death,” in the book of Job, in
the Psalms, and in the Prophets?
19. What the difficulty in the text, translation and meaning of Job
3:8. The word rendered „leviathan” occurs elsewhere in the book. What is a leviathan? Does the crocodile of the Nile come up to the description in chapter 41? Is it possible that „leviathan” in 3:8 is used figuratively like „the great dragon” in Rev. 12:7? In the phrase, „let them that curse the day,” is there a reference to enchanters or to the power attributed to Balaam by Balack in Numbers 22:6_7?
THE FIRST ROUND OF SPEECHES
This debate extends from chapter 4 to chapter 31 inclusive.
There are three rounds of speeches by all the four except that
Zophar drops out in the last round. Each round constitutes
a scene in Act II of the drama.
In this chapter we will discuss Scene I and commence
with the first speech of Eliphaz (4_5) the points of which are
Introduction (4:1_2). In his introduction he deprecates
grieving one so afflicted but must reprove Job,
1. For weakness and inconsistency. The one who had in_
structed, comforted, and strengthened others in their troubles,
faints when trouble comes to him (4:3_5).
2. Because Job had neither the fear of God nor personal
integrity, for the fear of God gives confidence, and integrity
gives hope, but Job’s complaint implies that he had neither
confidence nor hope, therefore he must be devoid of the fear
of God and of integrity (4:6).
3. Because the observation of the general trend of current
events argued Job’s guilt. The innocent do not perish; those
who reap trouble are those who have sowed trouble and
plowed iniquity. Ravening lions, though strong and terrible,
meet the hunter at last (4:7_11).
4. Because revelation also convicts him. Eliphaz relates
one of his own visions (4:12_17), very impressively, which
scouted the idea that mortal man could be more just than
God, or purer than his maker. But Job’s complaint seemed to
embody the idea. Eliphaz argues from his vision that a pure
and just God crushes impure and unjust men and suggests
the application that Job’s being crushed reproves his im_
purity and injustice (4:18_21).
5. Because Job’s outcry against God was foolish and silly,
and since no angels would hear such complaint, or dare to
avert its punishment (5:1_2) there can be no appeal from the
supreme to the creature.
6. Because observation of a particular case illustrates Job’s
guilt (5:3_5). The circumstances of this case seen by Eli_
phaz, make it parallel with Job’s case; a certain foolish man
took root and prospered for a while, but the curse smote him
suddenly and utterly; his children perished, his harvest was
eaten by the hungry, and all his substance was snatched away.
7. Because these results are not accidental, nor of earthly
origin, but must be attributed to God who punishes sin.
Because man is a sinner he is born unto trouble, as the sparks
fly upward (5:6_7).
The remedy suggested to Job by Eliphaz is as follows:
1. Take your case to God – confession of sin and repentance
are suggested (5:8) – who will exalt the penitent (5:11) as
certainly as he has frustrated their craftiness (5:12_14) and
so the poor may have hope after the mouth of their iniquity
is stopped (5:15_16).
2. Instead of murmuring, count yourself happy in receiving
this punishment, and after penitence expect restoration of
On comparing this analysis with that given by Dr. Tanner
(see his Syllabus on the speech of Eliphaz) it will be
noted that the author here differs widely with Tanner in his
analysis and interpretation of this speech. Tanner presents
Eliphaz as assuming the position that Job was a righteous
man and that God would deliver him. The author presents
Eliphaz as taking the position that Job had sinned, which
was the cause of his suffering and that he should confess and
repent; that he should count himself happy in receiving this
punishment, and thus after penitence expect the restoration
of prosperity. It will be recalled here that the author, in com_
mending the Syllabus of Dr. Tanner noted the weakness of
his analysis at this point.
There are several things notable in this first speech of
1. The recurrence in all his speeches of „I have seen,” „I
have seen,” „I saw,” showing that the experience and observa_
tion of a long life constituted the basis of his argument.
2. The good elements of his arguments are as follows: (1)
He refers to the natural law of sowing and reaping (Cf. Gal.
6:7); (2) the sinner’s way to happiness is through confession
and repentance; (3) chastisement of an erring man should be
recognized as a blessing, since it looks to his profit (Cf. Prov.
3:11 and the use made of it as quoted in Heb. 12:5).
3. The bad elements in his speech are as follows: (1) His
induction of facts ignores many other facts, particularly that
all suffering is not penal; (2) He fails in the application of
his facts, since the case before him does not come in their
classification; in other words, through ignorance he fails in his
diagnosis of the case, and hence his otherwise good remedies
fall short of a cure.
4. The exquisite simplicity and literary power of his de_
scription of his vision, makes it a classic gem of Hebrew
The following points are noted in Job’s reply (6_7) :
1. The rash words of my complaint are not evidence of
previous sins, but the result of immeasurable calamities from
the hand of God. They cannot be weighed; they are heavier
than the sandy shores which confine the ocean; they are poi_
soned arrows from the quiver of the Almighty which pierce
my very soul and rankle there; they are terrors marshalled
in armies by the Almighty (6:1_4).
2. The braying of an ass and the lowing of an ox are to be
attributed to lack of food, not meanness. Let the favorable
construction put upon the discordant noise of hungry animals
be applied to my braying and lowing (6:5), for in my case
also there is the hunger of starvation since the food set before
me is loathsome and without savor (6:6_7).
3. I repeat my prayer to God for instant death, because I have not the strength to endure longer, nor the wisdom to understand (6:8_9, 11_13) but while exulting in the pain that slays me, my consolation still is, that I have not denied the
words of the Holy One (6:10).
4. Instead of moralizing on the causes and rebuking sus_
pected sins, friends should extend kindness to one ready to
faint, even though he forsake the fear of God (or lest he for_
sake, 6:14). This is like the story of the drowning boy who
asked the moralizing man on the bank to help him out first
and then inquire into the causes of his mishap.
5. In your treatment of me, ye are like a deceitful brook,
roaring with water only while the snow on the mountains is
melting, but being without springs, directly you run dry. The
caravans from the desert that come to it hoping, turn aside
from its dusty channels and perish. So you that seemed like
a river when I was not thirsty, put me to shame by your
nothingness now that I thirst. Compare „Wells without water
. . . clouds without rain” in Jude 12_13.
6. Is it possible that you condemn me because you apprehend that otherwise I might ask you for help? In your moralizing are you merely hedging against the expectation of being called on to help a bankrupt sufferer, by furnishing a reward or ransom for the return of my stolen flocks and herds? Do you try to make me guilty that you may evade the cost of true friendship (6:21_23)? I have asked for no financial help, but
for instruction. How forcible are right words !
7. But you, instead of explaining my calamities have been
content to reprove the words of my complaint, extorted by
the anguish of my calamities, words that under the circum_
stances should have been counted as wind, being only the
speeches of one that is desperate.
8. The meanness of such treatment in your case would
prompt in other cases to cast lots for the orphans of the dead
and make merchandise out of a stranded friend by selling him
as a slave (6:27). This is a terrible invective, but more logical
than their argument, since history abundantly shows that some
believers in their creed have done these very things, the argu_
ment being that thereby they are helping God to punish the
9. He begs them to turn from such injustice, look on his
face and behold his sincerity, concede his ability to discern
a thing which is wicked, and accept his deliberate statement
that he is innocent of the things which they suspect (6:28_30).
10. He laments his case as hopeless (7:1_10). Here Job
asks if there is not a warfare to man and his days like the
days of a hireling. His waiting for relief was like a hireling
waiting for his wages, during which time he is made to pass
months (moons) of misery. In this hopeless condition he longs
for relief and would gladly welcome death from which there
is no return to the walks of this life.
11. Job now lifts his voice in complaint to God (7:11_21).
In the anguish of his spirit he could not refrain from com_
plaining that God had set a watch over him and terrified him
with dreams and visions. He was made to loathe his life and
again to wish for death. Then he closes this speech by raising
the question with the Almighty as to why he would not pardon
him if he had sinned (as his accusers had insinuated) and
take away his inquity. Here he addresses God as a „watcher
of men”; as one who had made him a target for his arrows.
Now we take up the first speech of Bildad, the Shuhite (8).
The substance of this speech is as follows:
1. He charges that Job seeks to make himself better than
God, then he hints at the sins of his children and insinuates
that Job does not pray, for prayer of the right sort brings
2. He exhorts Job to learn the lesson from the past. The
wisdom of the fathers must be good. Therefore, learn the les_
son of the ancients (8:8_10).
3. He contrasts the fate of the wicked and that of the right_
eous, reasoning from cause to effect, thus insinuating that
Job’s condition was the result of a cause, and since (to him)
all suffering was the result of sin, the cause must be in Job
The substance of Job’s reply is,
1. True enough a man cannot be righteous with God, since
he is unable to contend with him. He is too wise and power_
ful; he is invincible. Who can match him (9:1_12)?
2. Praying does not touch the case. He is unjust and proves
me perverse. Individual righteousness does not avail to exempt
in case of a scourge. He mocks at the trial of the innocent
and the wicked prosper. Then Job says, „If it be not he, who
then is it?” This is the climax of the moral tragedy (9:13_
3. There is no daysman betwixt us, and I am not able to
meet him in myself for Judgment (9:25_35).
4. I will say unto God, „Why? Thou knowest I am not
wicked.” Here it will be noted that a revelation is needed in
view of this affliction (10:1_7).
5. God is responsible for my condition; he framed and fash_
ioned me as clay, yet he deals with me as milk or cheese; it
is just the same whether I am wicked or righteous; changes
and warfare are with me (10:8_17).
6. Why was I born? or why did I not die at birth? Then
would I have escaped this great suffering, but now I must
abide the time until I go into the land of midnight darkness
The substance of Zophar’s first speech is this:
1. What you have received is not as much as you deserve;
you are full of talk and boastful; you are self_righteous and
need this rebuke from God (11:1_6).
2. You cannot find out God; he is far beyond man; he is
all_powerful and omniscient; man is as void of understanding
as a wild ass’s colt (11:7_12).
3. Put away your wickedness; you need to get right and
then you will be blessed; you should set your heart and house
in order, then all will clear up; then you will be protected
from the wicked (11:13_20).
Job’s reply to the first speech of Zophar embraces three
chapters, as follows:
1. No doubt you are the people and wisdom will die with
you; I am not inferior to you; you mock and do not help; I,
though upright, am a laughingstock and you, who are at ease,
have contempt for misfortune; God brought this about (12:
2. Learn the lessons from nature; the beasts, the birds, the
earth, and the fishes can teach thee; everybody knows these
things; the ear tries words and the palate tastes food, and wis_
dom is learned by age (12:7_12).
3. God is the source of wisdom and power; he deals wisely
with all men; he debases and he exalts (12:13_25).
4. I understand it all as well as you; ye are forgers of lies;
ye are physicians of no value; your silence would be wisdom;
you speak wickedly for God, therefore your sayings are prov_
erbs of ashes and your defenses are defenses of clay (13:1_12)
5. Why should I take my life in my hand thus? I want to
be vindicated before I die; „Though he slay me, yet will I
trust him”; I know that I am righteous; therefore I have hope
6. He pleads his cause with God; he asks two things of
God, viz: (1) that he would put an end to his bodily suffer_
ing and (2) that he would abstain from terrifying him; then
he challenges God to call him; then he interrogates God rela_
tive to his sins, God’s attitude toward him and his dealings
with him; and finally charges God with unJust dealings with
7. Man that is born of woman is frail and sinful; man’s
weakness should excite pity with the Almighty; that which
is born of an unclean thing is unclean and since a man’s days
and months are numbered, why not turn from him as an hire_
ling and let him rest (14:1_6).
8. The hope of a tree, though it be cut down, is that it will
sprout again but man’s destiny to lie down in death and rise
no more till the heavens pass away should be a cause for
mercy from God (14:7_12).
9. In despair of recovery in this life Job again prays for
death; that God would hide him in the grave till his wrath be
past; that he would appoint him a day, in the hope that if he
should die he would live again; his destiny is in God’s hands
and therefore he is hopeless for this life (14:13_17).
10. Like the mountain falling, the rock being removed out
of its place and waters wearing away the stones, the hope of
man for this life is destroyed by the providences of God; man
is driven by them into oblivion; his sufferings become so great
that only for himself his flesh has pain and only for himself
his soul mourns (14:18_22).
In this round of speeches the three friends have followed
their philosophy of cause and effect and thus reasoning that
all suffering is the effect of sin, they have, by insinuations,
charged Job of sin, but they do not specify what it is. Job
denies the general charge and in a rather bad spirit refutes
their arguments and hits back at them some terriffic blows.
He is driven to the depths of despair at the climax of the
moral tragedy where he attributes all the malice, cunning, and
injustice he had felt in the whole transaction to God as his
adversary. They exhort him to repent and seek God, but he
denies that he has sinned; he says that he cannot contend
with the Almighty because he is too high above him, too
powerful, and that there is no umpire, or daysman, between
them. Here Job is made to feel the need of a revelation from
God explaining all the mysteries of his providence. In this
trial of Job we have ‘Satan’s partial victory over him _where
he led Job to attribute the evils that had come upon him to
God. This is the dogfall in Job’s wrestle with Satan. He did
not get on top of Job but gave him a great deal of worry. We
will see Job triumphing more and more as he goes on in the
1. What the points of Eliphaz’s first speech?
2. What things are notable in this first speech of Eliphaz?
3. What the points of Job’s reply (6_7)?
4. What the substance of Bildad’s first speech?
5. What the substance of Job’s reply?
6. What the substance of Zophar’s first speech?
7. What Job’s reply?
8. Give a summary of the proceedings and results of the first round
THE SECOND ROUND OF SPEECHES
In this chapter we take up the second round of speeches,
commencing with the second speech of Eliphaz. This speech
consists of two parts, a rejoinder to Job’s last speech and a
continuation of the argument.
The main points of the rejoinder (15:1_16) are as follows:
1. A reflection on Job’s wisdom (1_3). A wise man would
not answer with vain knowledge, windy words, nor reason with
2. An accusation of impiety (4_6). Job is irreverent, binders
devotion, uses a serpent tongue of craftiness whose words are
self_condemnatory. (Cf. what Caiaphas said about Christ,
3. A cutting sarcasm (7_8). Wast thou before Adam, or be_
fore the creation of the mountains, and a member of the Celes_
tial Council considering the creation, that thou limitest wis_
dom to thyself?
4. An invidious comparison (9_10). What knowest thou of
which we are ignorant? With us are the gray_headed, much
older than thy father.
5. A bigoted rebuke (11_16). You count small the consola_
tion of God we offered you in gentle words [the reader may
determine for himself how much „comfort” they offered Job
and note their conceit in calling this „God’s comfort,” and
judge whether it was offered in „gentle” words]. Your pas_
sions run away with you. Here a quotation from Rosenmuller
is in point: Quo te tuus animus rapit? – „Whither does thy
soul hurry thee?” Quid oculi qui tui vibrantes? – „What
means thy rolling eyes?” It turns against God; this is pre_
sumptuous: A man born of woman, depraved, against God in
whose sight angels are imperfect and the heavens unclean.
How much more an abominable, filthy man drinking iniquity
The points in the continuation of the argument are as fol_
1. Hear me while I instruct thee (17). I will tell you what
I have seen.
2. It is the wisdom of the ancients handed down (18_19).
Wise men have received it from their fathers and have handed
it down to us for our special good.
3. Concerning the doom of the wicked (20_30). This is a
wonderful description of the course of the wicked to their final
destruction, but his statements, in many instances, are not
true. For instance, in his first statement about the wicked
(v. 20), he says, „The wicked man travaileth with pain all his
days,” which is in accord with his theory, but does not har_
monize with the facts in the case. The wicked does not tra_
vail with pain „all his days.” They are not terrified „all the
time” as Eliphaz here pictures them. In this passage Eliphaz
intimates that Job may be guilty of pride (v. 25) and of fat_
ness (v. 27).
4. The application (31_35). If what he said about the wick_
ed was true, his application here to Job is wrong. It will be
seen that Eliphaz here intimates that Job was guilty of vanity
and self_deception; that he was, perhaps, guilty of bribery and
deceit, and therefore the calamity had come upon him.
The following is a summary of Job’s reply (16_17) :
1. Your speech is commonplace. I have heard many such
things. Ye are miserable comforters (v. 2).
2. You persist when I have urged you to desist. It is un_
provoked. Your words are vain, just words of wind (v. 3). ½
3. If our places were changed, I could do as you do, but I
would not. I would helo and comfort vou (4_5).
4. You ask me to cease my complaint, but whether I speak
or forbear, the result is the same. I have not ensnared my
feet, but God has lassoed me (v. 6).
5. He gives a fearful description of God’s assault (7_14):
(1) as a hunter with hounds he has harried me; (2) he has
abandoned me to the malice of mine enemies; (3) as a wrestler
he has taken me by the neck and shaken me to pieces; (4) as
an archer he has bound me to the stake and terrified and
pierced me with his arrows; (5) as a mighty conqueror he
opened breach after breach in my defenses with battering_
rams; and (6) as a giant he rushes on me through the breach
in the assault.
6. As a result, I am clothed in sackcloth and my dignity lies
prone in the dust; my face is foul with weeping, my eyelids
shadowed by approaching death, although no injustice on my
part provoked it and my prayer was pure (15_17).
7. I appeal to the earth to cover my blood and to the heav_
enly witness to vouch for me. Friends may scorn my tears,
but they are unto God. (See passages in Revelation and
Psalms.) Note here the messianic prayer, „that one might
plead for a man with God, as a son of man pleadeth for hi9
neighbor.” But my days are numbered and mockers are about
me (16:18 to 17:2).
8. The plea for a divine surety (messianic) but God has
made me a byword, who had been a tabret. Future ages will
be astonished at my case and my deplorable condition (17:
There are several things in this speech worthy of note, viz:
1. The messianic desire which finds expression later as Da_
vid and Isaiah adopt the words of Job to fit their Messiah.
2. Job is right in recognizing a malicious adversary, but
wrong in thinking God his adversary; God only permitted
these things to come to Job, but Satan brought them.
There are two parts of Bildad’s second speech (chap. 18),
viz: a rejoinder (w. 1_4) and an argument (vv. 5_21). The
main points of his rejoinder are:
1. Job hunts for words rather than speaks considerately.
2. Why are the friends accounted as beasts and unclean in
3. Job was just tearing himself with anger and altogether
4. A sarcasm: The earth will not be forsaken for thee nor
will the rock be moved out of its place for thee (1_4).
The argument (5_21) is fine and much of it is true, but it
is wrong in its application. The following are the points as
applied to the wicked:
1. His light shall be put out.
2. The steps of his strength shall be straightened.
3. His own counsel shall be cast down.
4. There shall be snares everywhere for his feet.
5. Terrors of conscience shall smite him on every side.
6. He shall be destroyed root and branch and in memory.
There are also two parts to Job’s great reply: His expostu_
lation with his friends (19:1_6) and his complaint against God
(19:7_29). The points of his expostulation are:
1. Ye reproach me often without shame and deal hardly
2. If I have sinned, it is not against you but my error re_
mains with myself.
3. The snares you refer to are not because of my fault but
they are from God, for he has subverted me and compassed
me with his net.
The items of his complaint against God are as follows:
1. He will not hear me, though I am innocent; surely there
is no justice.
2. He has walled me up and set darkness in my path.
3. He has stripped me of my glory and he has broken me
down on every side.
4. He has plucked up my hope like a tree and his fiery
wrath is against me.
5. He has counted me an adversary and I am besieged by
armies round about.
6. He has put away from me my brethren, friends, kindred,
family, servants, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.
7. I appeal to you, 0 ye my friends, for pity instead of
8. Oh that my words were written in a book or were en_
graved with a pen of iron in the rock forever, but I know that
my redeemer liveth and will at last stand upon the earth, and
I shall behold him in my risen body, then to be vindicated by
9. Now I warn you to beware of injustice to me lest the
sword come upon you, for there is a judgment ahead.
Here it may be noted that verses 23_24 refer to the ancient
method of writing and that Job expresses in verses 25_27 a
great hope for the future. Compare the several English trans_
lations of 19:26 with each other and the context and then
1. Does Job intend to convey the idea that he will see God
apart from his body) i.e., when death separates soul and body?
2. Or does he mean that at the resurrection he will see God
from the viewpoint of his risen body?
3. If you hold the latter meaning, which version, after all,
is the least misleading, the King James, the Revised, the
American Standard Version, or Leeser’s Jewish translation?
The answer is, Job here means that he will see God from
the viewpoint of his risen body, as the King James Version
Zophar’s second speech is harsher than his first, and consists
of a rejoinder (20:1_3) and an argument (20:4_29).
The points of his rejoinder are:
1. Haste is justified because of his thoughts;
2. The reproach of 19:28_29, „If ye say, How may we pur_
sue him and that the cause of the suffering is in me, then be_
ware of the sword. My goel [redeemer] will defend me,” he
answers thus: „Thus do my thoughts answer me and by reason
of this there is haste in me; I hear the reproof that puts me
to shame and the spirit of my understanding gives answer.
The points of his argument are:
1. Since creation the prosperity of the wicked has been short, his calamity sure and utter, extending to his children.
2. The very sweetness of his sin becomes poison to him.
3. He shall not look on streams flowing with milk, butter,
4. He shall restore and shall not swallow it down, even ac_
cording to all that he has taken.
5. In the height of his enjoyment the sword smites him
and the arrow pierces him,
6. Darkness wraps him, terrors fright him, and heaven’s
supernatural fires burn him.
7. Heaven reveals his iniquity and earth rises up against
him. This is the heritage appointed unto him by God.
Certain other scriptures carry out the idea of milk, butter,
and honey, viz: Exodus 3:8; 13:5; 33:3; 2 Kings 18:32;
Deuteronomy 31:20; Isaiah 7:22; Joel 3:18, and several clas_
sic authors refer to them, also, as Pindar, Virgil, Ovid, and
Horace. It will be noted that Zophar intimates that Job might
be guilty of hypocrisy (v. 12), of oppressing the poor (v. 19)
and of greediness (v. 20).
Job’s reply (chap. 21) is more collected than the former,
and the points are as follows:
1. Hear me and then mock. This is only fair and may after_
ward prove a consolation to you.
2. Do I address myself to man for help? My address is to
God and, because I am unheard, therefore I am impatient?
3. Mark me and be astonished. What I say even terrifies
4. The prosperity of the wicked who defy God is a well
5. How seldom is their light put out. They are not destroyed
as you say.
6. Ye say God visits it on his children. What is that to
7. Here are two cases, one prosperous to the end and the
other never so. The grave is sweet to both.
8. God’s reserved judgment is for the wicked. Do you not
9. In conclusion I must say that your answers are false_
In this second round of speeches we have observed that Job
has quieted down to a great extent and seems to have risen to
higher heights of faith, while the three friends have become
bolder and more desperate. They have gone beyond insinua_
tions to intimations, thus suggesting certain sins of which Job
might be guilty. While Job has greatly improved in his spirit
and has ascended a long way from the depths to which he had
gone in the moral tragedy, the climax of the debate has not
yet been reached. Tanner says, „While the conflict of debate
is sharper, Job’s temper is more calm; and he is perceptibly
nearer a right attitude toward God. He is approaching a vic_
tory over his opponents, and completing the more important
one over himself.”
1. Of what does the second speech of Eliphaz consist?
2. What the main points of the rejoinder (15:1_16)?
3. What the points in the continuation of the argument?
4. What summary of Job’s reply (16_17) ?
5. What things in this speech are worthy of note?
6. What the two parts of Bildad’s second speech (18)?
7. What the main points of his rejoinder?
8. What can you say of his argument and what the pointa of it?
9. What the two parts to Job’s great reply?
10. What the points of his expostulation?
11. What the items of his complaint against God?
12. Explain verses 23_24,
13. What great hope does Job express in verses 25_27?
14. Compare the several English translations of 19:26 with each
other and the context and then answer: What great hope does Job
express in 19:25_27?
15. How does Zophar’s second speech compare with the first and
what the parts of this speech?
16. What the points of his rejoinder?
17. What the points of his argument?
18. What scriptures carry out the idea of milk, butter, and honey,
and wliat classic authors refer to this?
19. What can you say of Job’s reply (21) and what his points?
20. What have we found in the second round of speeches?
THE THIRD ROUND OF SPEECHES
Eliphaz’s third speech consists of three parts: 22:1_4; 22:
5_20; and 22:21_30.
The subject of part one (vv. 1_4) is: God’s dealings with
men not for selfish interests,
And the main points are:
1. A man who is wise may be profitable to himself, but not
2. Man’s happiness cannot add to God’s happiness, because
that resides in himself.
3. Man’s piety does not provoke affliction from God, for he
does not fear man nor is he jealous of man.
The subject of part two (vv. 5_20) and the status of the
case in general, are expressed thus:
Your wickedness is the cause of your suffering. For the first
time Eliphaz now leaves insinuations, intimations, and gen_
eralities, and, in response to Job’s repeated challenge comes to
specifications, which he cannot know to be true and cannot’
prove. This is the difficult part of all prosecutions, viz: to
specify and to prove) as the Latin proverb expresses it: Hie
labor, hoc opus est. The breakdown of Eliphaz on this point
prepares the way for Job’s speedy triumph. Bildad dares not
follow on the same line; all the wind is taken out of his sails;
he relapses into vague generalities and with lame brevity re_
peats himself. Zophar who has the closing speech of the prose_
cution, is so completely whipped, that he makes no rejoinder.
It is a tame windup of a great discussion, confessing advertis_
The specifications of Eliphaz’s charges against Job are:
l. Thou hast taken pledges of thy brother for nought (6a).
(For the heinousness of this offense see later legislation, viz:
Exodus 22:26; Deuteronomy 24:6, 17; and the reference in
2. Thou hast stripped the naked of their clothing (6b).
3. Thou hast withheld water and bread from the famishing,
and all this when thou hadst the earth and wast honorable in
4. Thou hast refused the pleadings of necessitous widows
and robbed helpless orphans [See Job’s final pathetic and elo_
quent reply in chapter 31, where he sums up the case and closes
the defense], therefore snares, fear, and darkness have come
upon thee like a flood of waters (9_11).
5. These were presumptuous and blasphemous sins because
you argued that God could not see you, denying his omnis_
6. You have imitated the antediluvians who, ungrateful for
divine mercies, bade God depart and denied his power and who
therefore were swallowed up by the flood becoming an object
lesson to future ages and a joy to the righteous (15_20). (Cf.
2 Peter 2:4_15 and Jude 6_16.)
The passage, Job 22:21_30, consists of an exhortation and
a promise. The items of the exhortation, and the implication
of each are as follows:
1. Acquaint thyself with God (v. 21), which implies Job’s
ignorance of him.
2. Accept his law and treasure it up in thy heart (v. 22),
which implies Job’s enmity against God.
3. Repent and reform (v. 23), which implies wickedness in
4. Cease worshiping gold and let God be the object of thy
worship (v. 24), implying that he was covetous.
The items of the promise are:
1. God, not gold, shall be thy treasure and delight and his
worship thy joy (vv. 25_26).
2. Thy prayers will be heard and thy vows accepted (v. 27).
3. Thy purposes will be accomplished and thy way illumined (v. 28).
4. Thou shall hope for uplifting when cast down and thy
humility will secure divine interposition (v. 29).
5. Thou shall even deliver guilty men through thy right_
eousness (v. 30). [Cf. Genesis 18:25_32; ten righteous men
would have saved Sodom; but compare Ezekiel 14:14, 20 and
Jeremiah 15:1; see also Job’s reply in chapter 31.]
The items of Job’s reply as it applies to his particular case
(23:1 to 24_12) are:
1. Even yet my complaint is accounted rebellion by men
though my hand represses my groaning (23:2).
2. „Oh that I could now get the case before God himself –
he would deliver me forever, but I cannot find him, though he
finds me” (3:10a).
3. When he has fully tried me, as gold is tested by fire, I
shall be vindicated, for my life has been righteous (10b_12).
[This is nearly up to Romans 8:28,]
4. But his mind, in continuing my present trouble though I
am innocent, is immutable by prayers and his purpose to ac_
complish in me what he desires is inflexible (13_14).
5. This terrifies me, because I am in the dark and unheard
6. Why are there not judgment days in time, so that those
that know him may meet him? (24:1).
7. Especially when there are wicked people who do all the
things with which I am falsely charged, whom he regards not
The items of broad generalization in this reply are as follows Here Job passes from his particular case to a broad gen_
eralization of providential dealings and finds the same inex_
1. There are men who remove land marks, i.e., land stealers
(v. 2). (Cf. Deuteronomy 19:14; 27:17; and Hosea 5:10; also
Henry George vs. Land Ownership in severally and limitations
of severally ownership when it becomes a monopoly), so that
it shuts out the people from having a home. (See Isaiah 5:8.)
2. There are those who openly rob the widow and orphan
and turn the poor away so that they have to herd as wild asses
and live on the gleanings from nature (w. 3_8).
3. There are those who pluck the fatherless from the moth_
er’s breast for slaves and exact the clothing of the poor for a
pledge, so that though laboring in the harvest they are hungry, and though treading the wine press they are thirsty (vv.9_11).
4. In the city men groan, the wounded cry out in vain for
help and God regardeth not the folly (v. 12).
5. These are rebels against light, yet it is true that certain
classes are punished: (1) the murderer; (2) the thief; (3) the
6. The grave gets all of them, though God spares the mighty
for a while and if it is not so, let some one prove me a liar and
my speech worth nothing (18_25).
In Bildad’s reply to Job (chap. 25) he ignores Job’s facts;
repeats a platitude, How should man, impure and feeble, born
of a woman, a mere worm, be clean before the Almighty in
whose sight the moon and stars fade?
Job’s reply to Bildad is found in 26:1_4, thus:
1. Thou hast neither helped nor saved the weak.
2. Thou hast not counseled them that have no wisdom.
3. Thou hast not even done justice to what is known.
4. To whom have you spoken, and who inspired you?
Job excels Bildad in speaking of God’s power (26:5_14), the
items of which are:
1. The dead tremble beneath the waters and the inhabitants
thereof before him.
2. Hell and destruction are naked to his sight. [Cf. „Lord
of the Dead,” Matthew 22:32 and other like passages.]
3. The northern sky is over space and the suspended earth
hangeth on nothing.
4. The clouds hold water and are not rent by it; his own
throne is hidden by the cloud spread upon it.
5. A boundary is fixed to the waters and a horizon to man’s
vision, even unto the confines of darkness.
6. The mountains shake and the pillars tremble, yet he
quells the raging storm.
7. These are but the outskirts and whispers of his ways and
we understand his whisper better than we understand his thun_
Two things are worthy of note here, viz:
1. Job was a martyrùvicariousùhe suffered for others.
2. Job’s sufferings were a forecast of the suffering Messiah
as Abraham was of the suffering Father.
So far, we have found:
1. That good men often suffer strange calamities while evil
men often prosper.
2. That the sufferings of the righteous come from intelli_
gence, power, and malice, and so, too, the prosperity of the
wicked comes from supernatural power as well.
3. That man cannot solve the problem without a revelation,
and the suffering good man needs a daysman, and an advocate.
4. That before one can comprehend God, God must become
a man, or be incarnated.
5. That there must be a future, since even and exact Justice
is not meted out here.
6. That there is a final judgment, at which all will be re_
warded for what they do.
7. That there must be a resurrection and there must be a
Many things were not understood at that time, such as the
1. That Satan’s power was only permitted, he being under
the absolute control of God.
2. That suffering was often disciplinary and, as such, was
3. That therefore the children of God should glory in them,
as in the New Testament light of revelation Paul understood
all this and gloried in his tribulation.
4. That the wicked were allowed rope for free development
and that they were spared for repentance. Peter in the New
Testament gives us this light.
5. That there is a future retribution; that there are a heav_
en and a hell.
6. That this world is the Devil’s sphere of operation as it
relates to God’s people. QUESTIONS
1. Of what does Eliphaz’s third speech consist?
2. What the subject of part one (1_4) and its main points?
3. What the subject of part two (5_20) & in general, what the status of case?
4, What the specifications of Eliphaz’s charge against Job?
5. Of what does 22:21_30 consist?
6. What the items of the exhortation, and what the implication of each?
7. What the items of the promise?
8. What the items of Job’s reply as it applies to his particular case (23:1_24)?
9. What the items of broad generalization in this reply?
10. What was Bildad’s reply to Job (25)?
11. What Job’s reply to Bildad?
12. In what does Job excel Bildad (5_14) and what the items?
13. What two things are worthy of note here?
14. So far, what have we found?
15. What was not understood at that time?
JOB’S RESTATEMENT OF HIS CASE
INTRODUCTION: A PBELIMINARY INTERVIEW WITH THE HIGHER CRITICS
The radical wing of the higher critics say,
1. That all that part of this statement from 27:8 to the end
of 28 is not the words of Job, i.e., when you read to 27:7 you
should skip to 29:1 where Job resumes.
2. That 27:8 to 23 is the missing third speech of Zophar,
3. That chapter 28 is a choral interlude by the author of
The reasons for these contentions, they say, are that 27:8 to
23 is wholly at war with Job’s previous and subsequent state_
ments concerning the wicked and that a third speech from
Zophar is needed to complete the symmetry of the debate.
They further say that chapter 28 does not fit into Job’s line
of thought nor into the arguments of the three friends, and
that interludes by the author recited by the choir are cus_
tomary in dramas.
The mediating critics say that there is a real difficulty here
in applying 27:8_23 to Job, but that it may be explained by
assuming that in a calm restatement of the case Job is led
to see that he had, in the heat of the discussion, gone some_
what too far in his statement concerning the wicked and takes
this opportunity of modifying former expressions.
Dr. Sampey’s explanation in his syllabus is this:
Chapters 27 and 28 are difficult to understand, because Job
seems to take issue with his own position concerning the fate
of the wicked. Possibly he began to see that, in the heat of
argument, he had placed too much stress on the prosperity of
Dr. Tanner’s statement is much better. He says:
There seems no ground to question the integrity of the
book. The portions refused by some – part of Job’s restate_
ment and the whole of Elihu’s discourse – are thoroughly
homogeneous and essential to the unity of the book.
The author’s reply to these contentions is as follows:
1. That Zophar made no third speech because he had noth_
ing more to say. Even Bildad in his third speech petered out
with a repetition of a platitude. In a word) the whole prosecu_
tion broke down when Eliphaz in his last speech left the safety
of generalities and came down to specifications and proofs of
2. There is not a particle of historical proof or probability
that a copyist left out the usual heading introducing a speaker
and mixed up Zophar’s speech with Job’s.
3. Fairly interpreted, the section (27:8_23) harmonizes com_
pletely with Job’s previous contentions, neither retracts nor
modifies them, and is essential to the completeness of his re_
statement of the case. He has denied that in this life even and exact justice is meted out to the wicked; he has not denied the ultimate justice of God in dealing with the wicked. The great emphasis in this section, which really extends from verse 7 to the end of the chapter, is placed on the outcome of the wicked, „When God taketh away his soul,” as in our Lord’s parable of the rich fool. Then though he prospered in life (v. 9), „He openeth his eyes and he is not,” like our Lord’s other parable, the rich man who in hell lifted up his eyes, being in torment (Luke 16). Then, „he would fain flee out of God’s hand” (v. 22) and then the lost spirits of men who preceded him „shall clap their hands and hiss” (v. 23) as the lost souls greeted the King of Babylon on his entrance into Sheol (Isa. 14:9_10,15_16).
Chapter 28 also is an essential part of Job’s restatement
harmonizing perfectly with all his other contentions, namely,
that God’s government of the universe is beyond the compre_
hension of man. It is this very hiding of wisdom that consti_
tuted his problem. He is willing enough to fear God and de_
part from evil, but wants to understand why the undeserved
afflictions of the righteous, and the undeserved prosperity of
the wicked in time.
The idea of chapter 28 being a choral interlude by the author
of the book (see Watson in „Expositor’s Bible”) is sheer fancy
without a particle of proof and wholly against all probability.
While the book is a drama it is not a drama for the stage.
The author of the book nowhere allows even his shadow to fall
on a single page. In succeeding acts and scenes God, the devil,
and man, each speaks for himself, without the artificial mech_
anism and connections of stage accessories.
Job takes an oath in restating his case which relates to his
integrity (27:1_6). The items of this oath are (1) the oath
itself in due and ancient form, (2) that his lips should speak
righteousness, (3) that he would not justify them (the three
friends), (4) that he would hold his integrity till death, (5)
that he would hold to his righteousness and would maintain a
clear conscience as long as he lived. Then follows Job’s im_
Let mine enemy be aa the wicked,
And let him that riseth up against
me be as the unrighteous.
For what is the hope of the god_
less, though he get him gain,
When God taketh away his soul? – Job 27:7_8.
Then comes his description of the portion of the wicked after death (27:9_23) : God will not hear his cry when trouble comes and I tell you the whole truth just as you ought to know it
already. Now this is the portion of the wicked: His children
are for the sword, his silver and raiment are for the just and
innocent, his house shall not endure, his death shall be as
other people and his destiny will be eternally fixed.
In 28:1_11 he shows that man’s reason is superior to the
instincts of the lower animals, since by skill and labor in min_
ing and refining he can discover, possess, and utilize the hidden
ores and precious stones, the way to which no fowl and no
beast ever knew.
But there is a limitation placed on man for he can never
discover nor purchase the higher wisdom of comprehending
God’s plan and order of the universe, and of his complex provi_
dence, because this wisdom resides not in any place to which
he has access, neither in the earth, sea, sky, nor Sheol, and
he neither knows how to price it nor has the means to purchase
it (12_22). God alone has this wisdom (23_27).
The highest wisdom attainable by man comes by God’s
And unto man he said,
Behold, the fear of the Lord, that
And to depart from evil is understanding. – Job 28:28.
All this leaves Job’s case without explanation, but in chap_
ters 29_31 we have it, thus:
Chapter 30 shows what his case was then, as he was derided
was watched over by God, when his children were about him,
when his prosperity abounded, when he was recognized and
honored by all classes of men, when he was helping the needy
and when he was sought after for counsel by all men.
Chapter 30 shows what his case was then, as he was derided
by the young whose fathers were beneath the dogs, as he was
a byword for the rabble who spat in his face and added insult
to injury, as his sufferings became so intense that he could
find no rest nor relief for his weary soul and body, as he was
a brother to jackals and a companion to ostriches, as his skin
was black and his bones burned with heat, as mourning and
weeping were the only fitting expressions of his forlorn con_
Chapter 31 gives a fine view of his character and conduct.
Job’s protests in this chapter are a complete knockout. „He
protests that he is innocent of impure thoughts (1_4) ; of false
seeming (5_8); of adultery (9_12); of injustice toward depend-ents (13_15); of hardness toward the poor and needy (16_23); of covetousness (24_25); of idolatry (26_28); of malevolence (29_30); of want of hospitality (31_32); of hiding his trans-=gressions (33_34); and of injustice aa a land_lord (38_40).”– Rawlinson in „Pulpit Commentary.” It will be observed:
1. That this chapter answers in detail every specification of
Eliphaz in his last speech (22:5_20).
2. That Job correctly recognized both the intelligence and
malice and irresistible power of the successive blows dealt
against him and was not deceived by the human and natural
agencies employed. But failing to see that since man fell this
world is accursed and that the devil is its prince, he was shut
up to the conviction that the Almighty was his adversary. If
Adam in Paradise and before the fall had fallen upon Job’s
experience, the argument of Job, applied to such a case, would
be conclusive in fixing all the responsiblity on God. No human
philosophy, leaving out the fall of man and the kingdom of
Satan, can explain the ills of life in harmony with divine jus_
tice, goodness, and mercy.
Job’s extraordinary experience leads him, step by step, to
suggest all the needs of future revelations and thus to reveal
the real object of the book. His affliction led him to feel:
1. The need of a revelation of a book which would clearly
set forth God’s law and man’s duties.
2. The need of a revelation of man’s state after death.
3. The need of a revelation of man’s resurrection.
4. The need of a revelation of a future and final judgment.
5. The need of a revelation of the Father in an incarnation,
visible, palpable, audible, approachable, and human.
6. The need of one to act as a daysman, mediator, umpire,
between God and man.
7. The need of one to act as redeemer for man from the
power of sin and Satan and as an advocate with God in heaven.
8. The need of a revelation of an interpreter abiding on
earth as man’s advocate.
This is the great object of this first book of the Bible) to
show the need of all its other books, until the Coming One
should become „The Burning Desire of All the Nations.”
That object being granted, the chronological place of this
book in the Bible is that it is the first book of the Bible
1. What Bays the radical wing of the higher critics about this
2. What say the mediating critics of this section, and what the
explanations by Sampey and Tanner, respectively?
3. What the author’s reply to these contentions?
4. What was Job’s oath in restating hig case?
5. What was Job’s imprecation?
6. What his description of the portion of the wicked after death?
7. How does he show that man’s reason is superior to the in_
stincts of the lower animals?
8. What limitation placed on man, and what Job’s philosophy of it?
9. With whom resides wisdom and how is this fact set forth?
10. What the highest wisdom attainable by man?
11. What is implied in all this?
12. What was his case in the past?
13. What was his case then?
14. What his character?
15. What does Jobs extraordinary experience lead him to feel the
16. That object being granted, where is the chronological place of
this book in the Bible.
ELIHU’S SPEECH, GOD’S INTERVENTION AND THE
The author’s introduction to Elihu’s speech consists of the
prose section (32:1_5), the several items of which are as fol_
1. Why the three friends ceased argument, viz: „Because
he was righteous in his own eyes” (v. 1).
2. Elihu’s wrath against Job, viz: „Because he justified him_
self rather than God” (v. 2).
3. Elihu’s wrath against Job’s friends, viz: „Because they
had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job” (vv. 3, 5).
4. Why Elihu had waited to speak unto Job, viz: „Because
they were older than he” (v. 4).
Elihu’s introduction (32:6_22) consists of two sections as
1. Elihu’s address to the three friends.
2. His soliloquy.
Now, an analysis of part one of this introduction consists of
Elihu’s address to his three friends, with the following items:
1. He waited because he was young, and considered that
days should speak and that years should teach wisdom (32:
2. Yet there is individual intelligence, a spirit in man and
the breath of the Almighty which gives understanding (32:8).
3. And greatness, and age are not always wise, therefore, I
4. He had waited patiently and had listened for their rea_
sonings while they fumbled for words (32:11).
5. They had failed to answer Job’s argument, and therefore
had failed to convince him (32:12).
6. Now beware; do not say that you have found wisdom,
for God can attend to his_ case, but not man (32:13).
7. I will not answer him with your speeches (32:14).
Now let us analyze his soliloquy which is found in 32:15_22
and consists of the following items:
1. They are amazed and silent; they have not a word to
2. Shall I wait? No; I will speak and show my opinion (32:
3. I am full of words, and must speak or burst, therefore I
will speak and be relieved (32:18_20).
4. His method was not to respect persons nor give flatter_
ing titles, because he did not know how to do so and was afraid
of his Maker (32:21_22).
Elihu’s address to Job in 33:1_7 is as follows:
1. Hear me for the integrity and sincerity of my speech,
since I have already begun and am speaking to you right out
of my heart (33:1_3).
2. I also am a man, being made as a man and since we are
on a common level, answer me or stand aside (33:4_5).
3. I will be for God, and being a man, I will not terrify you,
for I will not bring great pressure upon you (33:6_7).
The point of issue now is a general charge that Job’s heart
attitude toward God is not right in view of these afflictions
(33:8_12). It will be seen that Elihu’s charge is different from
that of the three friends, viz: That Job was guilty of past
Elihu charged first that Job had said that God giveth no
account of any of his matters (v. 13).. In his reply Elihu
shows that this is untrue.
1. In that God reveals himself many times in dreams and
visions in order to turn man from his purpose and to save him
from eternal destruction (33:14_18).
2. In that in afflictions God also talks to man as he often
brings him down into the very jaws of death (33:19_22). [Cf.
Paul’s thorn in the flesh as a preventive.] None of the speak_
ers before him brought out this thought. This is very much
like the New Testament teachings; in fact, this thought is no_
where stated more clearly than here. It shows that afflictions
are to the children of God what the storm is to the tree of the
forestùits roots run deeper by use of the storm.
3. In that he sends an angel sometimes to interpret the
things of God, to show man what is right for him (33:23_28).
4. Therefore these things ought to be received graciously,
since God’s purpose in it all is benevolent (33:29_33).
Elihu charged, in the second place, that Job had said that
God had taken away his right and that it did not profit to be
a righteous man (34:5_9; 35:1_3).
His reply is as follows:
1. The nature of God disproves it; _he is not wicked and
therefore will not pervert justice (34:10_15).
2. Therefore Job’s accusation is unbecoming, for he is by
right possessor of all things and governs the world on the prin_
ciples of justice and benevolence (34:21_30).
3. What Job should have said is altogether different from
what he did say because he spoke without knowledge and his
words were not wise (34:31_37).
4. Whether Job was righteous or sinful did not affect God
Elihu charged, in the third place, that Job had said that he
could not get a hearing because he could not see him (35:14).
His reply was that this was unbecoming and vanity in Job
Elihu’s fourth charge was that Job was angry at his chas_
tisements (36:18). He replied that such an attitude was sin;
and therefore he defended God (36:1_16).
Elihu’s fifth charge was that Job sought death (36:20). He
replied that it was iniquity to suggest to God when life should
Elihu discusses in chapter 37 the approaching storm. He in_
troduces it in 36:24 and in verse 33 he gives Job a gentle re-buke, showing him how God even tells the cows of the coming storm. Then he describes the approaching storm in chapter 37, giving the lesson in verse 13, viz: It may be for correction, or it may be for the benefit of the earth, but „stand still and see.”
Elihu makes a distinct advance over the three friends toward
the true meaning of the mystery. They claim to know the
cause; he, the purpose. They said that the affliction was pun_
itive; he, beneficent. His error is that he, too, makes sin in
Job the occasion at least of his sorrow. His implied counsel to
Job approaches the final climax of a practical solution.
God’s first arraignment of Job is found in Job 38:1 to 40:2.
Tanner’s summary is as follows:
It is foolish presumption for the blind, dependent creature
to challenge the infinite in the realm of providence. The govern_
ment of the universe, physical and moral, is one; to question
any point is to assume understanding of all. Job, behold some
of the lower realms of the divine government and realize the
absurdity of your complaint.
Job’s reply follows in Job 40:3_5. Tanner’s summary: „I see
it; I hush.”
God’s second arraignment of Job is recorded in Job 40:6 to
To criticize God’s government of the universe is to claim
the ability to do better. Assuming the role of God, suppose
Job, you try your hand on two of your fellow creatures – the
hippopotamus and the crocodile.
Job’s reply is found in Job 42:1_6, Tanner’s summary of
This new view of the nature of God reveals my wicked and
disgusting folly in complaining; I repent. Gladly do I embrace
his dispensations in loving faith.
There are some strange silences in this arraignment and
some people have been disappointed that God did not bring
out all the questions of the book at the close, as:
1. He says nothing of the heaven scenes in the Prologue and
2. He gives no theoretic solution of the problems of the book.
3. He says nothing directly about future revelation and the
The explanation of this is easy, when we consider the fol_
1. That it was necessary that Job should come to the right
heart attitude toward God without any explanation.
2. That to have answered concerning future revelation and
the Messiah would have violated God’s plan of making revela_
3. That bringing Job to an acceptance of God’s providence
of whatever form without explanation, furnishes a better dem_
onstration of disinterested righteousness.
This is true of life and the master stroke of the production
is that the theoretical solution is withheld from the sufferer,
while he is led to the practical solution which is a religious at_
titude of heart rather than an understanding of the head. A
vital, personal, loving faith in God that welcomes from him all
things is the noblest exercise of the human soul. The moral
triumph came by a more just realization of the nature of God.
Job was right in some things and he was mistaken in other
things. He was right in the following points:
1. In the main point of difference between him and the
three friends, viz: That his suffering was not the result of
justice meted out to him for his sins.
2. That even and exact justice is not meted out here on the
3. In contending for the necessity of a revelation by yhich
be could know what to do.
4. In believing God would ultimately vindicate him in the
5. In detecting supernatural intelligence and malice in his
He was mistaken in the following particulars:
1. In considering his case hopeless and wishing for death.
2. In attributing the malice of these things to God instead
3. In questioning the mercy and justice of God’s providence
and demanding that the Almighty should give him an explana_
The literary value of these chapters (38:1 to 42:6) is im_
mense and matchless. The reference in 38:3 to „The cluster
of the Pleiades” is to the „seven stars” which influence spring
and represents youth. „Orion” in the same passage, stood for
winter and represents death. The picture of the war horse in
39:19_25 has stood the challenge of the ages.
The lesson of this meeting of Job with God is tremendous.
Job had said, „Oh, that I could appear before him!” but his
appearing here to Job reveals to him his utter unworthiness.
The man that claims sinlessness advertises his guilty distance
from God. Compare the cases of Isaiah, Peter, and John.
The Epilogue (42:7_17) consists of three parts, as follows:
1. The vindication of Job and the condemnation of his three
2. Job as a priest makes atonement and intercession for his
3. The blessed latter end of Job: „So Jehovah blessed the
latter end of Job more than his beginning.”
The extent and value of the Almighty’s vindication of Job
and his condemnation of the three friends are important. In
extent it applies to the issues between Job and the three friends
and not to Job’s heart attitude toward God. This he had correct-ed in Job by his arraignment of him. In vindicating Job, God justifies his contention that even and exact justice is not meted out on earth and in lime, and condemned the converse which was held by his friends. Out of this contention of Job grows his much felt need of a future judgment, a redeemer, mediator, interpreter, and incarnation, and so forth. Or if this contention is true, then man needs these things just mentioned. If the necessity of these is established, then man needs a.revelation explaining all these things.
Its value is seen in God’s confirming these needs as felt by
Job) which gives to us, upon whom the end of the ages has
come, implicit confidence in the revelation he has given us,
pointing out the fact that Job’s need of a redeemer, umpire,
interpreter, and so forth has been supplied to the human race
with all the needed information upon the other philosophic
discussions of the book.
The signification of the Almighty’s „turning the captivity of
Job” just at the point „when he prayed for his friends” is seen in the fact that Job reached the point of right heart attitude toward God before the victory came. This was the supreme test of Job’s piety. One of the hardest things for a man to do is to invoke the blessings of heaven on his enemies. This demand that God made of Job is in line with New Testament teaching and light. Jesus said, „Love your enemies and pray for them,” and while dying he himself prayed for his executioners. Paul who was conquered by the prayer of dying Stephen often prayed for his persecutors. This shows that Job was indeed in possession of God’s grace, for without it a man is not able to thus pray. The lesson to us is that we may not expect God to turn our captivity and blessings if we are unable to do as Job did.
The more thoughtful student will see that God does not ex-plain the problem to Job in his later addresses to him, nor in the Epilogue, because to give this would anticipate, out of due time, the order of the development of revelation. Job must be content with the revelation of his day and trust God, who through good and ill will conduct both Job and the world to proper conclusions.
1. What the author’s introduction to Elihu’s speech and what the
several items of it?
2. What Elihu’s introduction (32:6_22) and what the two sections?
3. Give an analysis of part one of this introduction.
4. Give an analysis of his soliloquy?
5. Analyze Elihu’s address to Job in 33:1_7.
6. What the point al issue?
7. What did Elihu charge that Job had said and what Elihu’s reply?
8. What did Elihu charge, in the second place, that Job had said
and what Elihu’s reply?
9. What did Elihu charge in the third place, that Job had said,
and what Elihu’s answer to it?
10. What was Elihu’s fourth charge and what was Elihu’a answer?
11. What Elihu’s fifth charge and what his reply?
12. What does Elihu discuss in chapter 37?
13. What the distinct advances made by Elihu and what his error?
14. Wliat God’s first arraignment of Job?
15. What Job’s reply?
16. What God’s second arraignment of Job?
17. What Job’s reply?
18. What the strange silences in this arraignment and what your
explanation of them?
19. What the character of the moral solution of the problem as
attained by Job?
20. In what things was Job right and in what things was he mistaken?
21. What can you say of the literary value of these chapters (33:1
22. Explain the beauties of 38:31.
23. What of the picture of the war horse in 39:19_25?
24. What the lesson of this meeting of Job with God?
25. Give an analysis of the epilogue.
26. What the extent and value of the Almighty’s vindication of
Job and his condemnation of the three friends?
27. What the signification of the Almighty’s „turning the captivity
of Job” just at the point „when he prayed for his friends”?
28. Does God give Job the explanation of life’s problem, and why?
THE BOOK OF JOB IN GENERAL
The difficulty of rightly interpreting this book lies in the
fact that Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar all said some good
things. For example, the quotation in Hebrews, yet they were
condemned, and Job said some bad things, yet he was com_
mended. Now the difficulty lies in separating the good from
the bad; especially in selecting texts for preaching there is
danger of treating as God’s word what God condemned.
There are several references showing the indebtedness of
later Old Testament books to this one, viz: Jeremiah 20:14_18
is derived from Job 3:3_12. Ezekiel 14:14, 20 shows that the
book was well known in that prophet’s time. Proverbs 8:1_10
and 30_31 are founded upon Job 28:12_28. Proverbs 3:11_12
equals Job 5:17_18, and there are many passages in the Psalms
and some in Isaiah which doubtless are founded on Job.
There are also some New Testament references to and quo_
tations from this book. For instance, James 5:11 is a reference
to the character, Job, and I Corinthians 3:19 is a quotation
of Job 5:13; also Hebrews 12:5_6 is a quotation of Job 5:17_
The teachings of the book concerning sin, original and per_
sonal, are clear and definite. As to original sin, the book
òteaches that we are born in sin and conceived in iniquity (Job
14:4). As to personal sin, the book teaches that we are per_
sonal sinners. Job acknowledged his sins of youth (Job 13:26).
The teaching of the book concerning the atonement is set
forth in the sacrifices of the Prologue and the Epilogue. God
being offended by pin could be approached only by offerings.
The sacrifices here mentioned are the same as found in Genesis
and Exodus showing that sin must be expiated by a sacrifice.
The teaching of the book concerning repentance is marked.
Repentance was taught by Job’s three friends. They urged
him to repent though their reason for it was not applicable to
him. When Job saw his error he said, „I abhor myself and
The teaching of the book concerning prayer) answered and
unanswered, is as follows:
1. As to answered prayers, Job’s prayer to meet God was
answered; his prayer for his three friends was also answered;
his prayer for a revelation, redeemer, umpire, etc., though not
answered in his day, has long since been answered.
2. As to unanswered prayers, Job’s prayer for immediate
death was not answered; his prayer for a curse upon the day
of his birth, etc., was not answered.
The teaching of the book concerning God is rather pro_
nounced. His wisdom, omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, mercy, and justice are in evidence throughout the book and the fact that he is full of pity is also taught in the book (see James 5:11).
The teaching of the book concerning providence is that God
rules all things both temporal and spiritual. His providence is
both direct and permissive.
The teaching of the book concerning Satan is seen in the
several statements in the book about him. Satan appearing
with the angels implies his angelic being and hints at his ori_
gin. He is subject to God as 6ther angels are and must make
his report to God at stated times as the other angels do who
have not fallen. He can do only what God permits him. His
incessant activity and unvaried vigilance are implied. His
cunning, wisdom, and malice are seen in his dealings with Job.
The teaching of the book concerning the resurrection is that
there will be a resurrection of the body in which we shall see
God. This is based on the author’s interpretation of Job 13:15.
The teaching of the book concerning the future life is that
there is a future life where all things will be evened up ac_
cording to justice.
The teaching of the book concerning the final judgment is
that there is a necessity for a future and final judgment at
which men will receive just recompense for the deeds done in
The teaching of the book concerning future revelations is
that there is a necessity for a revelation showing man’s rela_
tion and duties to God and answering the perplexing questions
of life, such as are found in the book.
The teaching of the book concerning the Messiah is that
there is a need for a Messiah incarnate, to save from sin in
this world, and in the world to come; to act as mediator and
intercessor between God and man.
According to the teaching of this book afflictions are not all
penal. Some of them are penal, while those supposed to be
such are sometimes merely consequential. They are never ex_
piatory. We suffer as chastisement often, but the penalty of
sin is death, and no amount of suffering in this world could pay
the penalty of sin. It is often consequential, i.e., afflictions
come according to a law: „Whatsoever a man soweth that shall
he also reap.”
They are sometimes disciplinary. Suffering comes often as
preparatory for something to follow; for instance, the suffer_
ing of the Israelites in Egypt was preparatory for the journey
in the wilderness to Palestine and prepared them to enjoy and
properly appreciate the blessings of God upon them in after
years. Many of us have to go through a school of suffering
before we are able to appreciate the blessings of God.
They are often exemplary in showing patience and persist_
ency. James says, ”Behold, we call them blessed that endured;
ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end
of the Lord, how that the Lord is full of pity, and merciful”
They are sometimes designed to show the need of revelation
before it is given. We find that suffering caused Job to realize
the need of a number of things that he never could have real_
iced without it, and that he could not understand without a
revelation. He was not able to solve the problem of his own
suffering without it.
They are often typical. Job’s suffering was typical of the
Messiah’s suffering in that it was brought upon him by the
devil. As Job was in the hands of the devil, so was our Lord
in his great agony on the cross. The proof that Job’s suffer_
ings were typically suggestive of the Messiah’s sufferings is
seen from the fact that David (Psalm 22) and Isaiah (Isa. 53)
used the words of Job in describing the sufferings of Christ.
Since this book has been treated as history throughout, not
parable, some have difficulty in reconciling with this view.
1. The seeming artistic form of the numbers in the book,
e.g., the round numbers in 1:2_3; 42:12_13; the sacred charac_
ter of the number „3” in 1:2_3, 17; 2:11; 42:13; the number
„7” in 1:2_3; 2:13; 42:8, 13; the number „10” in 1:2; 42:13;
the exact doubling of Job’s substance in 42:10, 12 and the exact
restoration of the whole number of his sons and daughters (see
1:2; 42:14); the exact doubling of his former term of life de_
tected in 42:16.
2. The poetic form of the speeches, i.e., did these men ac_
tually speak in poetry or has the author cast their prose
speeches into poetic form clothing their ideas in his own words?
This difficulty may be solved by noting:
1. That there is nothing to prevent round or sacred numbers
from being used historically, as they are found so used in many
parts of the sacred Scriptures and by Oriental writers.
2. That we are not to understand by 42:10, 12 that God
exactly doubled Job’s possessions, but grant it, and then it is
Just as easy to conceive that God doubled his substance as
it is to think that he increased it at all.
3. That the restoration of the old number of sons and daugh_
ters is the thing most natural to expect. Why expect fewer
children or more?
4. That it is a gratuitous supposition of the critics that Job’s
age was twice as long after as before his calamity. His age
is nowhere told except his length of life after his misfortune.
So he may have been sixty, eighty, or one hundred years old
when his reverses came. But if it should be detected that his
term of life after his calamity was twice that of his age before,
why should we be disturbed? Nothing beyond the ordinary in
that and it was as easy for God to actually double his former
term of life as it is for the critics to detect that it was doubled.
5. It is possible that they spoke in prose and the author,
either first as author and later as editor, cast the thought of
each speaker into poetic form, using his own words, but evi_
dence is rather against this view, since (1) it was very common
for men in that age to use just such rhythm in making a speech
as is found in these speeches here, (2) this is now common
among the Arabians, (3) each speaker has his own peculiar
style and vocabulary and (4) the reader is irresistibly im_
pressed with the reality of the transactions and feelings
brought into play.
Job and Paul were both afflicted with great, varied, and long_continued but undeserved sufferings. Compare them. How do you account for the widely different spirit with which they
were received and how does this bear upon the object of the
book of Job?
1. Satan is the instrument of the sufferings of each.
2. They were varied in each case: Job lost property, family,
friends) and health, being afflicted with a most loathsome and
painful disease; Paul lost friendship of kinsmen in the flesh,
suffered much affliction at their hands, untold hardships, and
much bodily affliction.
3. They were both good men, blameless and upright in the
sight of God and man.
4. Job curses the day of his birth and prays for immediate
death, while Paul glories in his tribulations and gladly en_
dures them to the end; Job was in the mere dawn of revela_
tion while Paul was in the very splendor of it; Job did not
understand the purpose of the affliction, but Paul did.
5. It bears upon the chief object of the book in showing that
we have that which Job felt a need for, viz: a revelation com_
I know of no more appropriate closing for the discussion of
this great book than the following poem:
THE TAPESTRY WEAVERS
THE WORLD’S A CARPET INSIDE OUT
(A beautiful parable in two parts)
By Anson G. Chester
Let us take to our heart a lesson;
No lesson can braver be,
From the ways of the tapestry weavers,
On the other side of the sea.
Above their heads the pattern hangs,
They study it with care,
And while their fingers deftly move,
Their eyes are fastened there.
They tell this curious thing besides
Of the patient, plodding weaver:
He works on the wrong side evermore,
But works for the right side ever.
It is only when the weaver stops,
And the web is loosed and turned,
That he sees his real handiwork,
That his marvelous skill has learned.
Ah! the sight of its delicate beauty,
It pays for all its cost,
No rarer, daintier work than his,
Was ever done by the frost.
Then the master bringeth him golden hire,
And giveth him praise as well,
And how happy the heart of the weaver is,
No tongue but his own can tell.
The years of man are the looms of God,
Let down from the place of the sun,
Wherein we all are weaving,
Till the mystic web is done.
Weaving blindly, but weaving surely,
Each for himself his fate,
We may not see how the right side looks,
We can only weave and wait.
But looking above for the pattern,
No weaver hath need to fear,
Only let him look into Heaven,
The Perfect Pattern is there.
If he keeps the face of the Savior
Forever and always in sight,
His toll shall be sweeter than honey,
And his weaving sure to be right.
And when his task is ended,
And the web is turned and shown,
He shall hear the voice of the Master,
It will say to him, „Well done I”
And the white_winged angels of Heaven,
To bear him thence shall come down;
And God shall give for his hire –
Not golden coin, but a Crown.
1. What constitutes the difficulty of rightly interpreting this book?
2. Cite some references showing the indebtedness of later Old
Testament books to this one.
3. Cite the New Testament references and quotations from this book.
4. What the teachings of the book concerning sin, original and per_
5. What the teaching of the book concerning the atonement?
b. What the teaching of the book concerning repentance?
7. What the teaching of the book concerning prayer, answered and
8. What the teaching of the book concerning God?
9. What the teaching of the book concerning providence?
10. What the teaching of the book concerning Satan?
11. What the teaching of the book concerning the resurrection?
12. What the teaching of the book concerning the future life?
13. What the teaching of the book concerning the final judgment?
14. What the teaching of the book concerning future revelations?
15. What the teaching of the book concerning the Messiah?
16. According to the teaching of this book are afflictions all penal?
17. Are any of them penal or are those supposed to be such some_
times merely consequential?
18. Wherein are they disciplinary?
19. Wherein are they often exemplary?
20. Wherein are they designed to show the need of revelation before
it is given?
21. Wherein are they often typical?
22. What the proof that Job’s sufferings were typically suggestive
of the Messiah’s sufferings?
23. What difficulty with respect to certain artistic features of the
book and what the author’s solution of it?
24. Compare Job and Paul and account for the widely different spirit
with which they received their sufferings and its bearing on the object of the book of Job.
25. Have you read the poem, „The Tapestry Weavers,” or „The
World’s a Carpet Inside Out”?
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF PSALMS
According to my usual custom, when taking up the study of
a book of the Bible I give at the beginning a list of books as
helps to the study of that book. The following books I heartily
commend on the Psalms:
1. Sampey’s Syllabus for Old Testament Study. This is
especially good on the grouping and outlining of some selected
psalms. There are also some valuable suggestions on other
features of the book.
2. Kirkpatrick’g commentary, in „Cambridge Bible for
Schools and Colleges,” is an excellent aid in the study of the
3. Perowne’s Book of Psalms is a good, scholarly treatise on
the Psalms. A special feature of this commentary is the au_
thor’s „New Translation” and his notes are very helpful.
4. Spurgeon’s Treasury of David. This is just what the title
implies. It is a voluminous, devotional interpretation of the
Psalms and helpful to those who have the time for such exten_
sive study of the Psalter.
5. Hengstenburg on the Psalms. This is a fine, scholarly
work by one of the greatest of the conservative German schol_
6. Maclaren on the Psalms, in „The Expositor’s Bible,” is
the work of the world’s safest, sanest, and best of all works
that have ever been written on the Psalms.
7. Thirtle on the Titles of the Psalms. This is the best on
the subject and well worth a careful study.
At this point some definitions are in order. The Hebrew word for psalm means praise. The word in English comes from
psalmos, a song of lyrical character, or a song to be sung and
accompanied with a lyre. The Psalter is a collection of sacred
and inspired songs, composed at different times and by dif_
The range of time in composition was more than 1,000 years, or from the time of Moses to the time of Ezra. The collection in its present form was arranged probably by Ezra in the fifth century, B.C.
The Jewish classification of Old Testament books was The
Law, the Prophets, and the Holy Writings. The Psalms was
given the first place in the last group.
They had several names, or titles, of the Psalms. In Hebrew
they are called „The Book of Prayers,” or „The Book of
Praises.” The Hebrew word thus used means praises. The
title of the first two books is found in Psalm 72:20: „The
prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.” The title of
the whole collection of Psalms in the Septuagint is Biblos
Psalman which means the „Book of Psalms.” The title in the
Alexandrian Codex is Psalterion which is the name of a
stringed instrument, and means „The Psalter.”
The derivation of our English words, „psalms,” „psalter,”
and „psaltery,” respectively, is as follows:
1. „Psalms” comes from the Greek word, psalmoi, which is
also from psallein, which means to play upon a stringed in_
strument. Therefore the Psalms are songs played upon stringed
instruments, and the word here is used to apply to the whole
2. „Psalter” is of the same origin and means the Book of
Psalms and refers also to the whole collection.
3. „Psaltery” is from the word psalterion, which means „a
harp,” an instrument, supposed to be in the shape of a triangle
or like the delta of the Greek alphabet. See Psalms 33:2; 71:
22; 81:2; 144:9.
In our collection there are 150 psalms. In the Septuagint
there is one extra. It is regarded as being outside the sacred
collection and not inspired. The subject of this extra psalm
is „David’s victory over Goliath.” The following is a copy of it:
I was small among my brethren,
And youngest in my father’s house,
I used to feed my father’s sheep.
My hands made a harp,
My fingers fashioned a Psaltery.
And who will declare unto my Lord?
He is Lord, he it is who heareth.
He it was who sent his angel
And took me from my father’s sheep,
And anointed me with the oil of his anointing.
My brethren were goodly and tall,
But the Lord took no pleasure in them.
I went forth to meet the Philistine.
And he cursed me by his idols
But I drew the sword from beside him;
I beheaded him and removed reproach from the
children of Israel.
It will be noted that this psalm does not have the earmarks
of an inspired production. There is not found in it the modesty
so characteristic of David, but there is here an evident spirit of
boasting and self_praise which is foreign to the Spirit of in_
There is a difference in the numbering of the psalms in our
version which follows the Hebrew, and the numbering in the
Septuagint. Omitting the extra one in the Septuagint, there is
no difference as to the total number. Both have 150 and the
same subject matter, but they are not divided alike.
The following scheme shows the division according to our
version and also the Septuagint: Psalms 1_8 in the Hebrew
equal 1_8 in the Septuagint; 9_10 in the Hebrew combine into
9 in the Septuagint; 11_113 in the Hebrew equal 10_112 in the
Septuagint; 114_115 in the Hebrew combine into 113 in the
Septuagint; 116 in the Hebrew divides into 114_115 in the Sep_
tuagint; 117_146 in the Hebrew equal 116_145 in the Septua_
gint; 147 in the Hebrew divides into 146_147 in the Septuagint;
148-150 in the Hebrew equal 148-150 in the Septuagint.
The arrangement in the Vulgate is the same as the Septua_
gint. Also some of the older English versions have this ar_
angement. Another difficulty in numbering perplexes an in_
experienced student in turning from one version to another,
viz: In the Hebrew often the title is verse I, and sometimes the
title embraces verses 1_2.
The book divisions of the Psalter are five books, as follows:
Book I, chapters 1_41 (41 chapters)
Book II, chapters 42_72 (31 chapters)
Book III, chapters 73_89 (17 chapters)
Book IV, chapters 90_106 (17 chapters)
Book V, chapters 107_150 (44 chapters)
They are marked by an introduction and a doxology. Psalm
I forms an introduction to the whole book; Psalm 150 is the
doxology for the whole book. The introduction and doxology
of each book are the first and last psalms of each division,
There were smaller collections before the final one, as fol_
Books I and II were by David; Book III, by Hezekiah, and
Books IV and V, by Ezra.
Certain principles determined the arrangement of the several psalms in the present collection:
1. David is honored with first place, Book I and II, includ_
ing Psalms I to 72.
2. They are grouped according to the use of the name of
(1) Psalms 1_41 are Jehovah psalms;
(2) Psalms 42_83 are Elohim_psalms;
(3) Psalms 84_150 are Jehovah psalms.
3. Book IV is introduced by the psalm of Moses, which is
the first psalm written.
4. Some are arranged as companion psalms, for instance,
sometimes two, sometimes three, and sometimes more. Exam_
ples: Psalms 2 and 3; 22, 23, and 24; 113_118.
5. They were arranged for liturgical purposes, which fur_
nished the psalms for special occasions, such as feasts, etc.
We may be sure this arrangement was not accidental. An in_
telligent study of each case is convincing that it was deter_
mined upon rational grounds.
All the psalms have titles but thirty_three, as follows:
In Book I, Psalms 1; 2; 10; 33, (4 are without titles).
In Book II, Psalms 43; 71, (2 are without titles).
In Book IV, Psalms 91; 93; 94; 95; 96; 97; 104; 105; 106,
(9 are without titles).
In Book V, Psalms 107; III; 112; 113; 114; 115; 116; 117;
118; 119; 135; 136; 137; 146; 147; 148; 149; 150, (18 are
The Talmud calls these psalms that have no title, „Orphan
Psalms.” The later Jews supply these titles by taking the
nearest preceding author. The lack of titles in Psalms I; 2; and
10 may be accounted for as follows: Psalm I is a general in_
troduction to the whole collection and Psalm 2 was, perhaps,
a part of Psalm 1. Psalms 9_10 were formerly combined into
one, therefore Psalm 10 has the same title as Psalm 9.
1. What books commended on the Psalms?
2. What is a psalm?
3. What is the Psalter?
4. What the range of time in composition?
5. When and by whom was the collection in its present form
6. What the Jewish classification of Old Testament books, and what
the position of the Psalter in this classification?
7. What the Hebrew title of the Psalms?
8. Find the title of the first two books from the books themselves.
9. What the title of the whole collection of psalms in the Septuagint?
10. What the title in the Alexandrian Codex?
11. What the derivation of our English word, „Psalms”, „Psalter”,
and “Psaltery,” respectively?
12. How many psalms in our collection?
13. How many psalms in the Septuagint?
14. What about the extra one in. the Septuagint?
15. What the subject of this extra psalm?
16. How does it compare with the Canonical Psalms?
17. What the difference in the numbering of the psalms in our version
which follows the Hebrew, and the numbering in the Septuagint?
18. What the arrangement in the Vulgate?
19. What other difficulty in numbering which perplexes an inex_
perienced student in turning from one version to another?
20. What are the book divisions of the Psalter and how are these
21. Were there smaller collections before the final one? If so, what
22. What principles determined the arrangement of the several psalms
in the present collection?
23. In what conclusion may we rest concerning this arrangement?
24. How many of the psalms have no titles?
25. What does the Talmud call these psalms that have no titles?
26. How do later Jews supply these titles?
27. How do you account for the lack of titles in Psalms I; 2; and 10?
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF PSALMS
The following is a list of the items of information gathered
from the titles of the psalms:
1. The author: „A Psalm of David” (Ps. 37).
2. The occasion: „When he fled from Absalom, his son”
3. The nature, or character, of the poem: –
(1) Maschil, meaning „instruction,” a didactic poem (Ps.
(2) Michtam, meaning „gold,” „A Golden Psalm”; this
means excellence or mystery (Ps. 16:56_60).
4. The occasion of its use: „A Psalm of David for the dedi_
cation of the house” (Ps. 30).
5. Its purpose: „A Psalm of David to bring remembrance”
(Pss. 38; 70).
6. Direction for its use: „A Psalm of David for the chief
musician” (Ps. 4).
7. The kind of musical instrument:
(1) Neginoth, meaning to strike a chord, as on stringed
instruments (Ps. 4:61).
(2) Nehiloth, meaning to perforate, as a pipe or flute (Ps.
(3) Shoshannim, Lilies, which refers probably to cymbals (Pss. 45; 69).
8. A special choir:
(1) Sheminith, the „eighth,” or octave below, as a male
choir (Pss. 6; 12).
(2) Alamoth, female choir (Ps. 46).
(3) Muth_labben, music with virgin voice, to be sung by
a choir of boys in the treble (Ps. 9).
9. The keynote, or tune:
(1) Aijeleth_sharar, „Hind of the morning,” a song to
the melody of which this is sung (Ps. 22).
(2) Al_tashheth, „Destroy thou not,” the beginning of a
song the tune of which is sung (Pss. 57; 58; 59; 75).
(3) Gittith, set to the tune of Gath, perhaps a tune which
David brought from Gath (Pss. 8; 81; 84).
(4) Jonath_elim_rehokim, „The dove of the distant tere_
binths,” the commencement of an ode to the air of
which this song was to be sung (Ps. 56).
(5) Leannoth, the name of a tune (Ps. 88).
(6) Mahalath, an instrument (Ps. 53); Leonnoth_Ma_
haloth, to chant to a tune called Mahaloth.
(7) Shiggaion, a song or a hymn.
(8) Shushan_Eduth, „Lily of testimony,” a tune (Ps.
60). Note some examples: (1) „America,” „Shiloh,”
„Auld Lang Syne.” These are the names of songs
such as we are familiar with; (2) „Come Thou
Fount of Every Blessing” and „There Is a Fountain
Filled with Blood,” are examples of sacred hymns.
10. The liturgical use, those noted for the feasts, e.g., the
Hallels and Hallelujah Psalms (Pss. 146_150).
11. The destination, as „Song of Ascents” (Pss. 120_134)
12. The direction for the music, such as Selah, which means
„Singers, pause”; Higgaion_Selah, to strike a symphony with
selah, which means an instrumental interlude (Ps. 9:16).
The longest and fullest title to any of the psalms is the
title to Psalm 60. The items of information from this title are
as follows: (1) the author; (2) the chief musician; (3) the
historical occasion; (4) the use, or design; (5) the style of
poetry; (6) the instrument or style of music.
The parts of these superscriptions which most concern us
now are those indicating author, occasion, and date. As to
the historic value or trustworthiness of these titles most mod_
ern scholars deny that they are a part of the Hebrew text, but
the oldest Hebrew text of which we know anything had all of
them. This is the text from which the Septuagint was trans_
lated. It is much more probable that the author affixed them
than later writers. There is no internal evidence in any of
the psalms that disproves the correctness of them, but much
to confirm. The critics disagree among themselves altogether
as to these titles. Hence their testimony cannot consistently
be received. Nor can it ever be received until they have at
least agreed upon a common ground of opposition.
David is the author of more than half the entire collection,
the arrangement of which is as follows:
1. Seventy_three are ascribed to him in the superscriptions.
2. Some of these are but continuations of the preceding
ones of a pair, trio, or larger group.
3. Some of the Korahite Psalms are manifestly Davidic.
4. Some not ascribed to him in the titles are attributed to
him expressly by New Testament writers.
5. It is not possible to account for some parts of the Psal_
ter without David. The history of his early life as found in
Samuel, I and 2 Kings, and I and 2 Chronicles, not only
shows his remarkable genius for patriotic and sacred songs
and music, but also shows his cultivation of that gift in the
schools of the prophets. Some of these psalms of the history
appear in the Psalter itself. It is plain to all who read these
that they are founded on experience, and the experience of
no other Hebrew fits the case. These experiences are found
in Samuel, I and 2 Kings, and I and 2 Chronicles.
As to the attempt of the destructive critics to rob David of
his glory in relation to the Psalter by assigning the Macca_
bean era as the date of composition, I have this to say:
1. This theory has no historical support whatever, and
therefore is not to be accepted at all.
2. It has no support in tradition, which weakens the con_
tention of the critics greatly.
3. It has no support from finding any one with the neces_
sary experience for their basis.
4. They can give no reasonable account as to how the titles
ever got there.
5. It is psychologically impossible for anyone to have writ_
ten these 150 psalms in the Maccabean times.
6. Their position is expressly contrary to the testimony of
Christ and the apostles. Some of the psalms which they as_
cribe to the Maccabean Age are attributed to David by Christ
himself, who said that David wrote them in the Spirit.
The obvious aim of this criticism and the necessary result
if it be Just, is a positive denial of the inspiration of both Tes_
Other authors are named in the titles, as follows: (1)
Asaph, to whom twelve psalms have been assigned: (2)
Mosee, Psalm 90; (3) Solomon, Psalms 72; 127; (4) Heman,
Psalm 80; (5) Ethem, Psalm 89; (6) A number of the psalms
are ascribed to the sons of Korah.
Not all the psalms ascribed to Asaph were composed by
one person. History indicates that Asaph’s family presided
over the song service for several generations. Some of them
were composed by his descendants by the game name.
The five general outlines of the whole collection are as fol_
I. By books
1. Psalms 1_41 (41)
2. Psalms 42_72 (31)
3. Psalms 73_89 (17)
4. Psalms 90_106 (17)
5. Psalms 107_150 (44)
II. According to date and authorship
1. The psalm of Moses (Ps. 90)
2. Psalms of David:
(1) The shepherd boy (Pss. 8; 19; 29; 23).
(2) David when persecuted by Saul (59; 56; 34; 52;
54; 57; 142).
(3) David the King (101; 18; 24; 2; 110; 20; 20; 21;
60; 51; 32; 41; 55; 3, 4; 64; 62; 61; 27).
3. The Asaph Psalms (50; 73; 83).
4. The Korahite Psalms (42; 43; 84).
5. The psalms of Solomon (72; 127).
6. The psalms of the era of Hezekiah and Isaiah (46; 47;
7. The psalms of the Exile (74; 79; 137; 102)
8. The psalms of the Restoration (85; 126; 118; 146_150)
III. By groups
1. The Jehovistic and Elohistic Psalms:
(1) Psalms 1_41 are Jehovistic;
(2) Psalms 42_83 are Elohistic Psalms;
(3) Psalms 84_150 are Jehovistic.
2. The Penitential Psalms (6; 32; 38; 51; 102; 130; 143)
3. The Pilgrim Psalms (120_134)
4. The Alphabetical Psalms (9; 10; 25; 34; 37; 111:112;
5. The Hallelujah Psalms (11_113; 115_117; 146_150; to
which may be added 135) Psalms 113_118 are called
„the Egyptian Hallel”
IV. Doctrines of the psalms
1. The throne of grace and how to approach it by sac_
rifice, prayer, and praise.
2. The covenant, the basis of worship.
3. The paradoxical assertions of both innocence & guilt.
4. The pardon of sin and justification.
5. The Messiah.
6. The future life, pro and con.
7. The imprecations.
8. Other doctrines.
V. The New Testament use of the psalms
1. Direct references and quotations in the New Testament.
2. The allusions to the psalms in the New Testament.
Certain experiences of David’s life made very deep im_
pressions on his heart, such as: (1) his peaceful early life;
(2) his persecution by Saul; (3) his being crowned king of
the people; (4) the bringing up of the ark; (5) his first
great sin; (6) Absalom’s rebellion; (7) his second great sin;
(8) the great promise made to him in 2 Samuel 7; (9) the
feelings of his old age.
We may classify the Davidic Psalms according to these
experiences following the order of time, thus:
1. His peaceful early life (8; 19; 29; 23)
2. His persecution by Saul (59; 56; 34; 7; 52; 120; 140;
54; 57; 142; 17; 18)
3. Making David King (27; 133; 101)
4. Bringing up the ark (68; 24; 132; 15; 78; 96)
5. His first great sin (51; 32)
6. Absalom’s rebellion (41; 6; 55; 109; 38; 39; 3; 4; 63;
42; 43; 5; 62; 61; 27)
7. His second great sin (69:71; 102; 103)
8. The great promise made to him in 2 Samuel 7 (2:72)
9. Feelings of old age (37)
The great doctrines of the psalms may be noted as follows:
(1) the being and attributes of God; (3) sin, both original
and individual; (3) both covenants; (4) the doctrine of
justification; (5) concerning the Messiah.
There is a striking analogy between the Pentateuch and
the Psalms. The Pentateuch contains five books of law; the
Psalms contain five books of heart responses to the law.
It is interesting to note the historic controversies concern_
ing the singing of psalms. These were controversies about
singing uninspired songs, in the Middle Ages. The church
would not allow anything to be used but psalms.
The history in Samuel, I and 2 Kings, and I and 2 Chroni_
cles, and in Ezra and Nehemiah is very valuable toward a
proper interpretation of the psalms. These books furnish the
historical setting for a great many of the psalms which is
very indispensable to their proper interpretation.
Professor James Robertson, in the Poetry and Religion of the Psalms constructs a broad and strong argument in favor
of the Davidic Psalms, as follows:
1. The age of David furnished promising soil for the growth
2. David’s qualifications for composing the psalms make
it highly probable that David is the author of the psalms
ascribed to him.
3. The arguments against the possibility of ascribing to
David any of the hymns in the Hebrew Psalter rests upon
assumptions that are thoroughly antibiblical.
The New Testament makes large use of the psalms and
we learn much as to their importance in teaching. There are
seventy direct quotations in the New Testament from this
book, from which we learn that the Scriptures were used ex_
tensively in accord with 2 Timothy 3:16_17. There are also
eleven references to the psalms in the New Testament from
which we learn that the New Testament writers were
thoroughly imbued with the spirit and teaching of the psalms.
Then there are eight allusions ‘to this book in the New Testa_
ment from which we gather that the Psalms was one of the
divisions of the Old Testament and that they were used in
the early church.
1. Give a list of the items of information gathered from the titles
of the psalms.
2. What is the longest title to any of the psalms and what the
items of this title?
3. What parts of these superscriptions most concern us now?
4. What is the historic value, or trustworthiness of these titles?
5. State the argument showing David’s relation to the psalms.
6. What have you to say of the attempt of the destructive critics
to rob David of his glory in relation to the Psalter by assigning the
Maccabean era as the date of composition?
7. What the obvious aim of this criticism and the necessary result,
if it be just?
8. What other authors are named in the titles?
9. Were all the psalms ascribed to Asaph composed by one person?
10. Give the five general outlines of the whole collection, as follows:
I. The outline by books
II. The outline according to date and authorship
III. The outline by groups
IV. The outline of doctrines
V. The outline by New Testament quotations or allusions
11. What experiences of David’s life made very deep impressions
on his heart?
12. Classify the Davidic Psalms according to these experiences fol_
lowing the order of time.
13. What the great doctrines of the psalms?
14. What analogy between the Pentateuch and the Psalms?
15. What historic controversies concerning the singing of psalms?
16. Of what value is the history in Samuel, I Kings and 2 Chronicles,
and in Ezra and Nehemiah toward a proper interpretation of the
17. Give Professor James Robertson’s argument in favor of the Davidic authorship of the psalms.
18. What can you say of the New Testament use of the psalms and
what do we learn as to their importance in teaching?
19. What can you say of the New Testament references to the psalms,
and from the New Testament references what the impression on the New Testament writers?
20. What can you say of the allusions to the psalms in the New
THE PSALM OF MOSES
AND THE PSALMS OF DAVID’S EARLY LIFE
Psalm 90; 8; 19; 29; 23.
The author of Psalm 90 is Moses. He wrote this psalm
while he was in the wilderness of Arabia. The internal
evidence that Moses wrote it at this time is that it bears the
stamp of the wilderness period all the way through.
The subject of this psalm, as indicated by the American
revisers, is „God’s Eternity and Man’s Transitoriness.” Dr.
Sampey’s outline of this psalm is good, and we pass it on to
you. It is as follows:
1. The eternity of God contrasted with the brevity of
human life (1_6)
2. The ground for the brevity of man’s life found in God’s
wrath because of sin (7_11)
3. Prayer for divine forgiveness, and the Joy and stability
that follow (12_17)
There are several parallels between this and Moses’ Song
and Blessing in Deuteronomy 32_33. For example,
Psalm 90:1 equals Deuteronomy 33:27a:
Lord, thou hast been our dwelling_place
In all generations (Pa. 90:1).
The eternal God is thy dwelling_place,
And underneath are the everlasting arms (Deut. 33:27a).
Psalm 90:12 equals Deuteronomy 32:29:
So teach us to number our days,
That we may get us a heart of wisdom (Ps, 90:12.)
Oh that they were wise, that they understood this,
That they would consider their latter end, (Deut. 32:29.)
There are also several parallels between this psalm and
the book of Job. Psalm 90:2 equals Job 15:7f and 38:1_6;
psalm 90:3 equals Job 34:15; Psalm 90:6 equals Job 14:2,
all of which has a bearing on the Mosaic authorship of Job.
There are many striking figures of speech in this psalm. A
thousand years in God’s sight are but as yesterday, and as
a watch in the night. God’s sweeping destruction is likened
unto a flood. Man’s life is likened unto grass and ends like a
The New Testament references or allusions to this psalm
or its teachings are found in 2 Peter 3:8, which is equivalent
to Psalm 90:4 and in Matthew 6:30 which equals Psalm
There is a teaching in this psalm not found elsewhere in
the Bible. It is in verse 10 and relates to the allotted time
for man to live which is three score and ten years with a
probability for a strong man of fourscore. In 2 Samuel 19:
35 we have old Barzillai’s statement of recognition that he
had reached the appointed limit of life and was then living
on borrowed time.
A brief summary of the teaching and application of this
psalm is as follows:
1. The teaching:
(1) The eternity of God and his transcendence
(2) God’s attitude toward sin and sin’s certain punish_
(3) The mercy of God available for sinners
2. The application:
(1) God a refuge
(2) Beware of sin
(3) The sinner’s privilege of prayer
The author of Psalms 8; 19; 29; and 23 is David, who
composed some of them perhaps late, late in life. We call
this group of psalms the psalms of the Shepherd Boy, or the
psalms of his peaceful early life. Dr. Sampey calls this
group of psalms „The Echoes of a Happy Youth.”
The subject of Psalm 8 is God’s strange exaltation of what
is seemingly insignificant. The items of information in the
title are (1) direction for its use; (2) the tune; (3) the author.
Spurgeon calls this psalm „A Psalm of the Astronomer.”
The time of day taken as a viewpoint, is a clear night.
A good outline of this psalm is the following:
Opening doxology (v. 1)
1. Babes achieving great results (v. 2)
2. Man, though small, not forgotten, but exalted above all
other creatures (w. 3_8)
Closing doxology (v. 9)
There are several interpretations of verse 2, viz:
1. That it means child_holiness, as in the case of Samuel
and John the Baptist.
2. That it shows God’s providence in behalf of babes.
3. That man in general is helpless.
4. That it refers to David in particular and indicates his
weakness; that it also refers to Christ in becoming a babe.
The New Testament quotations from this psalm and their
application are found in Matthew 21:16; Hebrews 2:5_8; and
I Corinthians 15:27; thus:
„And said unto him, Hearest thou what these are saying?
And Jesus saith unto them, Yea: did ye never read, Out of
the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?”
„For not unto angels did he subject the world to come,
whereof we speak. But one hath somewhere testified, saying,
What is man, that thou art mindful of him?
Or the son of man, that thou visiteth him?
Thou madest him a little lower than the angels;
Thou crownedst him with glory and honor,
And didst set him over the works of thy hands:
Thou didst put all things in subjection under his feet.”
„For, be put all things in subjection under his feet. But
when he saith, All things are put in subjection, it is evident
that he is excepted who did subject all things unto him.”
(I Cor. 15:27).
Upon these quotations and their application we can de_
termine the interpretation of verse 2:
1. That it refers primarily to strength from the weak things
(I Cor. 1:27)
2. That it was applied to the children at the triumphal
entrance into Jerusalem (Matt. 21:16)
Then verses 4_8 are found to refer primarily to man (Gen.
1:26, 28) and then to Christ as the ideal man (I Cor. 15:27;
Some say that the author of Psalm 19 was a pantheist, but
he was not. He does not identify God and nature. The two
books of revelation according to this psalm are Nature and
the Scripture, but they are distinct revelations.
Dr. Sampey’s outline of this psalm is,
1. The glory of God in the material universe (1_6)
2. The excellence of God’s revealed word (7_11)
3. Plea for deliverance from every form of sin (12_14)
This outline shows the progress of the thought, thus: The
work of God reveals glory; the Word of God is excellent;
prayer to God is the sinner’s privilege when he sees the glory
of God in nature and also recognizes his imperfection as he
is measured by the perfect Word of God.
A New Testament quotation from this psalm is found in
Romans 10:18, in that great discussion of Paul on the Jewish
problem of unbelief, showing that the light of nature extended
not only to the Jews, but to the whole inhabited earth. Note
carefully these words:
But I say. Did they not hear? Yea, verily,
Their sound went out into all the earth,
And their words unto the ends of the world.
There is also a New Testament reference to it in Romans
1:20: „For the invisible things of him since the creation of
the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things
that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that
they may be without excuse.”
There is a striking figure in this psalm found in verses 5_6,
in which the rising sun is likened unto a bridegroom coming
out of his chamber and running his course, thus:
Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
And rejoiceth aa a strong man to run his course.
His going forth is from the end of the heavens,
And his circuit unto the ends of it;
And there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.
Thus we see that the time of day taken as a viewpoint in
this psalm is the sunrise, the most exhilarating and invigorat_
ing point of the day.
Here we note six names of the Word of God with their attri_
butes and divine effects, noting progress in the effect, thus:
1. The law of Jehovah is perfect, restoring the soul. „Law”
is the name, „perfect” is the attribute and „restoring the
soul” is the effect.
2. The testimony of Jehovah is sure, making wise the
simple. „Testimony” is the name, „sure” is the attribute and
„making wise the simple” is the effect.
3. The precepts of Jehovah are right, rejoicing the heart.
„Precepts” is the name, „right” is the attribute and „rejoic_
ing the heart” is the effect.
4. The commandment of Jehovah is pure, enlightening the
eyes. „Commandment” is the name, „pure” is the attribute
and „enlightening the eyes” is the effect.
5. The fear of Jehovah is clean, enduring forever. „Fear”
is the name, „clean” is the attribute and „enduring forever”
is the effect.
6. The ordinances of Jehovah are true and righteous alto_
gether. „Ordinances” is the name, „true” is the attribute and
„righteous altogether” suggests a righteous fruitage from the
Certain classes of sins are recognized in this psalm, viz:
1. The sin of ignorance, of which Paul is a fine example.
2. Secret sin, of which David is an example.
3. Presumptuous sin, of which Saul, son of Kish, is an exam_
4. The sin of infirmity, of which Peter is one of the best
1. Who is the author of Psalm 90?
2. When written?
3. What the internal evidence that Moses wrote it at this time?
4. What the subject of this psalm as indicated by the American
5. What is Dr. Sampey’s outline of this psalm?
6. What the parallels between this and Moses’ Song and Blessing
in Deuteronomy 32_33?
7. What the parallels between this psalm and the book of Job?
8. What the figures of speech in this psalm?
9. What the New Testament references or allusions to this psalm
or its teachings?
10. What the teaching in this psalm not found elsewhere?
11. What is your favorite verse in this psalm?
12. Give a brief summary of its teaching and application.
13. Who the author of Psalms 8; 19; 29; 23; and when were they
14. What does Dr. Carroll call this group of psalms?
15. What does Dr. Sampey call this group of psalms?
16. What does Dr. Sampey give as the subject of the Psalm 8?
17. What the items of information in the title?
18. What does Spurgeon call this psalm?
19. What the time of day taken as a viewpoint?
20. What is Dr. Sampey’s outline of this psalm?
21. Give several interpretations of verse 2.
22, What New Testament quotations from this psalm and what their
23. What then is the interpretation of verse 2?
24. What the interpretation of verses 4_8?
25. What is your favorite verse of this psalm?
26. Is the author of Psalm 19 a pantheist and why?
27. What the two books of revelation according to this psalm?
28. What is Dr. Sampey’s outline of this psalm?
29. State this outline so as to show the progress of the thought.
30. What the New Testament quotation from this psalm?
31. What New Testament reference to it?
32. What the striking figure in this psalm?
33, What time of day does this psalm take as a viewpoint?
34. Give six names of the word of God with their attributes and di_
vine effects, noting the progress in the effect.
35. What classes of sins are recognized in this psalm, and what an
illustration of each?
36. What is your favorite verse in. this psalm?
THE PSALMS OF DAVID’S EARLY LIFE (CONTINUED)
AND SEVERAL OTHER GROUPS
The subject of Psalm 29 is the „Voice of God in the Storm,”
and it seems to be addressed to the angels, verses 1_2.
The progress of the storm is shown in verses 3_9, and the
local idea in it is seen particularly in verses 5_8. The storm
seems to rise on the Mediterranean, then visiting Lebanon
and Kadesh, it progresses on to the Temple, where everything
The application of this psalm is easily determined from
verses 10 and II, which show that Jehovah, the mighty God
of the storm as king will give strength to his people) and like
the blessings of the calm after the storm, the blessing of peace
follows the mighty demonstration of his power. So Jehovah
is not only the God of war, but is also the God of peace.
There can be no doubt that the author of the Psalm 23 is
David; it was written perhaps late in life, but it reflects his
experiences in his early life. This psalm as literature is
classed as a pastoral, a song of the fields.
The position of this psalm in the Psalter is between the
passion psalm and the triumphant psalm. In other words,
Psalm 22 is a psalm of the cross, Psalm 23 a psalm of the
crook) and Psalm 24 is a psalm of the crown.
The parallel of this psalm in the New Testament is John
10, Christ’s discourse on the Good Shepherd.
The divisions of this psalm are as follows: Verses 1_4 pre_
sent Jehovah as a Shepherd; verses 5_6 present him as a
host. In the light of the double imagery of this psalm, its
spiritual meaning, especially the meaning of the word „val_
ley” and the word „staff,” is very significant. For a dis_
cussion of this thought I refer the reader to my sermon on
Psalm 23:4, found in my Evangelistic Sermons.
I give here four general remarks on the psalms of the per_
secution by Saul, viz: _Psalms 59; 56; 34; 52; 54; 57; and 142,
1. These psalms have their origin in the most trying ex_
periences. One is here reminded of the conflict of Nehemiah
in which he constantly breathed a prayer to God, or of
Francis S. Key who, while the battle was raging, wrote „The
Star_Spangled Banner,” or of Cardinal Newman who, while in
the conflict with doubt and gloom, wrote „Lead, Kindly Light,”
or of Stonewall Jackson who constantly read his Bible and
prayed before going into battle, or of the singing army of
Gustavus Adolphus before the decisive battle of Leipzig, or
of Cromwell and his conquering heroes at the famous battle
2. These psalms contain the sublimest expression of faith
and hope amidst _the darkest hours of adversity. In them
are some clear messianic references and prophecies which
prove David’s intimate fellowship with the Spirit of God
while under the very fires of the enemy and vouchsafes to
us their inspiration.
3. We find also in these psalms expressions of human
weakness and despondency, which, but for the supply of the
grace and spirit of God, might have resulted in David’s
defeat. But ‘a man is never whipped externally until he is
whipped internally, and though David when smitten by
calamity gave signs of human weakness, yet he remains the
example for the world of the purest type of faith, the most
enduring patience and the sublimest optimism.
4. In this group may be seen also not only the growth of
faith in each individual psalm, but from the collection as a
whole may be noted the progress of his conflict with the
enemy. This progress is as marked as the march into a
tunnel in which is discerned the thickening darkness until
the traveler is overwhelmed in its gloom, but pressing on, the
dawn breaks in upon him, and the light seems clearer and
brighter than ever before and he bursts forth into the most
jubilant praises and thanksgiving.
The psalms of the king prior to his great sin are Psalms
101; 18; 24; 2; 110; 20; 21; and 60. Psalm 101 gives us the
royal program, Psalms 20_21 and 60 are called war psalms.
Psalm 2 celebrates the promise of Jehovah to David in 2 Sam_
uel 7. Psalm 24 applied to Christ’s ascension, and Psalm 110
is the psalm of bis universal reign.
We here give an exposition of Psalm 110. In verse I Jehovah
is represented as speaking to David’s Lord, saying, „Sit thou
on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”
We may be certain as to whom this scripture refers by com_
paring Matthew 22:41_45 in which Jesus himself silences the
Pharisees by quoting this passage and applying it to the Christ
who was to come. So this is a psalm of his universal reign.
The following questions are suggested and answered in this
psalm, to wit:
1. Who is first Lord? The speaker, or Jehovah?
2. Who is second Lord? The one addressed, who in New
Testament light is interpreted to be the Christ.
3. When did Jehovah say this to Christ? After his resurrec_
tion and ascension, when he was seated at the right hand of
God (Acts 2:34f.). This is to be conceived as following the
events of his humiliation described in Philippians 2:6_11.
4. How long is he to sit at God’s right hand? „Until I make
thine enemies thy footstool.” Thus we see he is to rule there
till every enemy has been conquered.
5. How then is he to manifest his reign and send out the rod
of his strength? Heaven is his throne and earth’s center is
Zion. His church here on earth is the church militant, so this is
a war song also.
6. But who constitute his army? His people here on earth,
whose business it is to go forth as he gives marching orders.
7. What is to be the character of the people who constitute
that army? (1) They are to be volunteers, or offer themselves
willingly. Verse 3 properly translated would read as follows:
„The people shall be volunteers in the day that thou leadest
out thine army, going forth in the beauty of holiness, and mul_
titudinous as the drops of the dew in the dawn of the morning.”
From this we not only see that they are to be volunteers, but
(2) they shall be holy, i.e., regenerated, made new creatures.
Indeed, they shall be good people.
8. How many in that army? „They shall be multitudinous
as the drops of the dew in the dawn of the morning.”
9. What is to be their weapon? The rod of his strength. But
what is the rod of his strength? The rod is his word, to which
he gives strength or power. This warfare and final victory is
paralleled in Revelation 19:11, the white horse representing
the peace of the gospel.
10. How is this great army to be supported? By Jesus, the
High Priest, after the order of Melchizedek. It is necessary
for him to live as long as the necessity for the army lasts. So
this great warfare is to continue until the kingdoms of this
world become the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ.
The psalms connected with David’s great sin are Psalms 51;
32. The occasion of each of these Psalms, respectively) was as
1. The occasion of Psalm 51 was Nathan’s rebuke to David
for his sin.
2. The occasion of Psalm 32 was the joy of forgiveness that
came to David upon his repentance.
The relation of these two psalms to each other is that Psalm
51 expresses his penitence and Psalm 32 the joy of his for-giveness.
Some important doctrines in Psalm 51 are prayer, con-fession, cleansing from sin, depravity, restoration, evangelism, praise, penitence, and intercession.
The New Testament teachings clearly stated in Psalm 32
are forgiveness of sins, atonement for sins and imputation of
sins, all of which are quoted from this psalm in Romans 4:7_
Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not reckon sin.
The psalms of the period of Absalom’s rebellion are 41; 55;
3; 4; 63; 62; 61; 27. The New Testament parallel to the psalms
of this period, as a product of a dark experience, is Paul’s let_
ters written during the Roman imprisonment.
1. What the subject of Psalm 29? 2. To whom addressed?
3. What the progress of the storm as shown in verses 3_9, and what
the local idea in it?
4. What the application of this psalm?
5. Who the author of Psalm 23 and when was it written?
6. What classification of this psalm as literature?
7. What the position of this psalm in the Psalter?
8. What parallel of this psalm in the New Testament?
9. What the divisions of this psalm?
10. In the light of the double imagery of the psalm, what its spiritual meaning, especially the meaning of the word „valley,” and the word, „staff”?
11. Give four general remarks on the psalms of the persecution by Saul.
12. What the psalms of the king prior to his great sin?
13. Which of these gives us the royal program?
14. Which are called war psalms?
15. Which celebrates the promise of Jehovah to David in 2 Samuel 7?
16. Which one applies to Christ’s ascension?
17. Which is the psalm of his universal reign? 18. Expound this psalm.
19. What the psalms connected with David’s great sin?
20. What the occasion of each of these psalms, respectively?
21. What the relation of these two psalms to each other?
22. What are some important doctrines in Psalm 51?
23. What New Testament teachings clearly stated in Psalm 32?_
24. What New Testament parallel to the psalms of the period of
Absalom’s rebellion, as a product of a dark experience?
PSALM AFTER DAVID
PRIOR TO THE BABYLONIAN EXILE
The superscriptions ascribed to Agaph twelve palms (50;
73_83) Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun presided over the Le_
vitical singers in the time of David. Their sons also directed
the various bands of musicians (I Chron. 25). It seems that
the family of Asaph for many generations continued to preside
over the service of song (Cf. Ezra 3:10).
The theme of Psalm 50 is „Obedience is better than sacri_
fice,” or the language of Samuel to Saul when he had committed the awful sin in respect to the Amalekites. This teaching is paralleled in many Old Testament scriptures, for instance, Psalm 51:16_17.
For thou delightest not in sacrifice;
else would I give it:
Thou hast no pleasure in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit:
A broken and a contrite heart, 0 God,
thou wilt not despise.
The problem of Psalm 73 is the problem of why the wicked
prosper (vv. 1_14), and its solution is found in the attitude of
God toward the wicked (vv. 15_28). [For a fine exposition of
the other psalms of this section see Kirkpatrick or Maclaren
on the Psalms.]
The psalms attributed to the sons of Korah are 42; 44; 45;
47; 48; 49; 84; 85; 87. The evidence that Psalms 42_43 were
one poem is internal. There are three stanzas, each closing
with a refrain. The similarity of structure and thought indi_
cates that they were formerly one psalm. A parallel to these
two psalms we find in the escape of Christian from the Castle
of Giant Despair in Pilgrim’s Progress.
Only two psalms were ascribed to Solomon, viz: 72 and 127.
However, the author believes that there is good reason to at_
tribute Psalm 72 to David. If he wrote it, then only one was
written by Solomon.
The theme of Psalm 72 is the reign of the righteous king,
and the outline according to DeWitt, which shows the kingdom
as desired and foretold, is as follows: (1) righteous (1_4) ; (2)
perpetual (5_7); (3) universal (8_11); (4) benign (12_14);
(5) prosperous (15_17).
Psalm 127 was written when Solomon built the Temple. It
is the central psalm of the psalms of the Ascents, which refer to the Temple. It seems fitting that this psalm should occupy the central position in the group, because of the occasion which inspired it and its relation to the other psalms of the group. A brief interpretation of it is as follows: The house here means household. It is a brief lyric, setting forth the lessons of faith and trust. This together with Psalm 128 is justly called „A Song of Home.” Once in speaking to Baylor Female College I used this psalm, illustrating the function of a school as a parent sending forth her children into the world as mighty arrows. Again I used this psalm in one of my addresses in our own Seminary in which I made the household to refer to the Seminary sending forth the preachers as her children.
The psalms assigned to the era of Hezekiah and Isaiah are
Psalms 46; 47; 48. The historical setting is found in the history
of the reign of Hezekiel. Their application to Judah at this
time is found in the historical connection, in which we have
God’s great deliverances from the foreign powers, especially
the deliverance from Sennacherib. We find in poetry a descrip_
tion of the destruction and desolation of Jerusalem in the
Lamentations of Jeremiah and in Psalms 74; 79.
The radical critics ascribe Psalms 74; 79 to the Maccabean
period, and their argument is based upon the use of the word
„synagogues,” in Psalm 74:8. The answer to their contention
is found in the marginal rendering which gives „places of as_
sembly” instead of „synagogues.” The word „synagogue” is a
Greek word translated from the Hebrew, which has several
meanings, and in this place means the „place of assembly”
where God met his people.
The silence of the exile period is shown in Psalm 137, in
which they respond that they cannot sing a song of Zion in
a strange land. Their brightening of hope is seen in Psalm 102.
In this we have the brightening of their hope on the eve of
their return. In Psalm 85:10 we have a great text:
Mercy and truth are met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
The truth here is God’s law demanding justice; mercy is
God’s grace meeting justice. This was gloriously fulfilled in
Christ on the cross. He met the demands of the law and offers
mercy and grace to all who accept them on the terms of re_
pentance and faith.
Three characteristics of Psalm 119 are, first, it is an alpha_
betical psalm; second, it is the longest chapter in the Bible,
and third, it is an expansion of the latter part of Psalm 19.
Psalms 146_150 were used for worship in the second temple.
The expressions of innocence in the psalms do not refer to
original sin, but to a course of conduct in contrast with wicked
lives. The psalmists do not claim absolute, but relative sin_
The imprecations in the psalms are real prayers, and are
directed against real men who were enemies of David and the
Jewish nation, but they are not expressions of personal resent_
ment. They are vigorous expressions of righteous indignation
against incorrigible enemies of God and his people and are to
be interpreted in the light of progressive revelation. The New
Testament contains many exultant expressions of the over_
throw of the wicked. (Cf. I Cor. 16:22; 2 Tim. 4:14; Gal. 5:
12; Rev. 6:19_20; 16:5_6; 18:20.) These imprecations do not
teach that we, even in the worst circumstances, should bear
personal malice, nor take vengeance on the enemies of right_
eousness, but that we should live so close to God that we may
acquiesce in the destruction of the wicked and leave the matter
of vengeance in the hands of a just God, to whom vengeance
belongs (Rom. 12:19_21).
The clearest teachings on the future life as found in the
psalms, both pro and con, are found in these passages, as fol_
lows: Psalms 16:10_11; 17:15; 23:6; 49:15; 73:23_26. The
passages that are construed to the contrary are found in
Psalms 6:5; 30:9; 39:13; 88:10_12; 115:17. The student will
compare these passages and note carefully their teachings. The
first group speaks of the triumph over Sheol (the resurrection) ;
about awaking in the likeness of God; about dwelling in the
house of the Lord forever; about redemption from the power
of Sheol; and God’s guiding counsel and final reception into
glory, all of which is very clear and unmistakable teaching as
to the future life.
The second group speaks of DO remembrance in death; about no profit to the one when he goes down to the pit; of going hence and being no more; about the dead not being able to praise God and about the grave as being the land of forget_
fulness ; and about the dead not praising Jehovah, all of which
are spoken from the standpoint of the grave and temporal
There is positively no contradiction nor discrepancy in the
teaching of these scriptures. One group takes the spirit of man
as the viewpoint and teaches the continuity of life, the im_
mortality of the soul; the other group takes the physical being
of man as the viewpoint and teaches the dissolution of the
body and its absolute unconsciousness in the grave.
1. How many and what psalms were ascribed to Asaph?
2. Who presided over the Levitical singers in the time of David?
3. What the theme of Psalm 50, and where do we find the same
teaching in the Old Testament?
4. What the problem of Psalm 73, and what its solution?
5. What psalms are attributed to the sons of Korah?
6. What evidence that Psalms 42_43 were one poem and what the
characteristic of these two taken together?
7. What parallel to these two psalms do we find in modern literature?
8. What psalms were ascribed to Solomon?
9. What the theme of Psalm 72?
10. What the outline according to DeWitt, which shows the kingdom
as desired and foretold?
11. When was Psalm 127 written and what the application as a part
of the Pilgrim group?
12. Give a brief interpretation of it and the uses made of it by
the author on two different occasions.
13. What psalms are assigned to the era of Hezekiah and Isaiah, and
what their historical setting?
14. What their application to Judah at this time?
15. Where may we find in poetry a description of the destruction
and desolation of Jerusalem?
16. To what period do radical critics ascribe Psalms 74_79; what their
argument, and what your answer?
17. Which psalm shows the silence of the exile period and why?
18. Which one shows their brightening of hope?
19. Explain Psalm 85:10.
20. Give three characteristics of Psalm 119.
21. What use was made of Psalms 146_150?
22. Explain the expression of innocence in the psalms in harmony
with their teaching of sin.
23. Explain the imprecations in the psalms and show their harmony
with New Testament teachings.
24. Cite the clearest teachings on the future life aa found in the
psalms, both pro and con.
THE MESSIANIC PSALMS AND OTHERS
We commence this chapter by giving a classified list of the
Messianic Psalms, as follows:
The Royal Psalms are:
Psalms 110; 2; 72; 45; 89;
The Passion Psalms are:
Psalms 22; 41; 69;
The Psalms of the Ideal Man are Psalms 8; 16; 40;
The Missionary Psalms are:
Psalms 47; 65; 68; 96; 100; 117.
The predictions before David of the coming Messiah are,
(1) the seed of the woman; (2) the seed of Abraham; (3) the
seed of Judah; (4) the seed of David.
The prophecies of history concerning the Messiah are, (1)
a prophet like unto Moses; (2) a priest after the order of Mel_
chizedek; (3) a sacrifice which embraces all the sacrificial
offerings of the Old Testament; (4) direct references to him as
King, as in 2 Samuel 7:8ff.
The messianic offices as taught in the psalms are four, viz:
(1) The Messiah is presented as Prophet, or Teacher (40:8_
II); (2) as Sacrifice, or an Offering for sin (40:6ff.; Heb.
10:5ff.) ; (3) he is presented as Priest (110:4); (4) he is pre_
sented as King (45).
The psalms most clearly presenting the Messiah in his va_
rious phases and functions are as follows: (1) as the ideal man,
or Second Adam (8); (2) as Prophet (40); (3) as Sacrifice
(22) ; (4) as King (45) ; (5) as Priest (110) ; (6) in his univer_
sal reign (72).
It will be noted that other psalms teach these facts also,
but these most clearly set forth the offices as they relate to
The Messiah as a sacrifice is presented in general in Psalm
40:6. His sufferings as such are given in a specific and general
way in Psalms 22; 41; and 69. The events of his sufferings in
particular are described, beginning with the betrayal of Judas,
1. Judas betrayed him (Matt. 26:14) in fulfilment of Psalm
2. At the Supper (Matt. 26:24) Christ said, „The Son of
man goeth as it is written of him,” referring to Psalm 22.
3. They sang after the Supper in fulfilment of Psalm 22:22.
4. Piercing his hands and feet, Psalm 22:16.
5. They cast lots for his vesture in fulfilment of Psalm 22:
6. Just before the ninth hour the chief priests reviled him
(Matt. 27:43) in fulfilment of Psalm 22:8.
7. At the ninth hour (Matt. 27:46) he quoted Psalm 22:1.
8. Near his death (John 19:28) he said, in fulfilment of
Psalm 69:21, „I thirst.”
9. At that time they gave him vinegar (Matt. 27:48) in ful_
filment of Psalm 69:21.
10. When he was found dead they did not break his bones
(John 19:36) in fulfilment of Psalm 34:20.
11. He is represented as dead, buried, and raised in Psalm
12. His suffering as a substitute is described in Psalm 69:9.
13. The result of his crucifixion to them who crucified him is given in Psalm 69:22_23. Compare Romans 11:9_10.
The Penitential Psalms are .6; 32; 38; 51; 102; 130; 143. The occasion of Psalm 6 was the grief and penitence of David over Absalom; of Psalm 32 was the blessedness of forgiveness after his sin with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah; Psalm 38, David’s reference to his sin with Bathsheba; Psalm 51, David’s penitence and prayer for forgiveness for this sin; Psalm 102, the
penitence of the children of Israel on the eve of their return
from captivity; Psalm 130, a general penitential psalm; Psalm
143, David’s penitence and prayer when pursued by Absalom.
The Pilgrim Psalms are Psalms 120_134. This section of the
psalter is called the „Little Psalter.” These Psalms were col_
lected in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, in troublous times.
The author of the central psalm of this collection is Solomon,
and he wrote it when he built his Temple. The Davidic Psalms
in this collection are Psalms 120; 122; 124; 131; 132; 133. The
others were written during the building of the second Temple.
They are called in the Septuagint „Songs of the Steps.”
There are four theories as to the meaning of the titles, „Songs of the Steps,” „Songs of Degrees,” or „Songs of Ascents,” viz:
1. The first theory is that the „Songs of the Steps” means
the songs of the fifteen steps from the court of the women to
the court of Israel, there being a song for each step.
2. The second theory is that advanced by Luther, which says
that they were songs of a higher choir, elevated above, or in
an elevated voice.
3. The third theory is that the thought in these psalms ad_
vances by degrees.
4. The fourth theory is that they are Pilgrim Psalms, or the
songs that they sang while going up to the great feasts.
Certain scriptures give the true idea of these titles, viz: Exo-dus 23:14_17; 34:23_24; I Samuel 1:3; I Kings 12:27_28: Psalm 122:1_4; and the proof of their singing as they went is found in Psalms 42:4; 100; and Isaiah 30:29. They went, singing these psalms, to the Feasts of the Passover, Pentecost, and Taber-nacles. Psalm 121 was sung when just in sight of Jerusalem and Psalm 122 was sung at the gate. Psalm 128 is the description of a good man’s home and a parallel to this psalm in modern literature is Burns’s „Cotter’s Saturday Night.” The pious home makes the nation great.
Psalm 133 is a psalm of fellowship. It is one of the finest
expressions of the blessings that issue when God’s people dwell
together in unity. The reference here is to the anointing of
Aaron as high priest and the fragrance of the anointing oil
which was used in these anointings. The dew of Hermon repre_
sents the blessing of God upon his people when they dwell
together in such unity.
Now let us look at the Alphabetical Psalms. An alphabetical
psalm is one in which the letters of the Hebrew alphabet are
used alphabetically to commence each division. In Psalms Ill_
112, each clause so begins; in 25; 34; 145; each verse so begins;
in 37 each stanza of two verses so begins; in 119 each stanza
of eight verses so begins, and each of the eight lines begins
with the same letter. In 25; 34 and 37 the order is not so
strict; in 9 and 10 there are some traces of this alphabetical
David originated these alphabetical psalms and the most
complete specimen is Psalm 119, which is an expansion of the
latter part of Psalm 19.
A certain group of psalms is called the Hallelujah Psalms.
They are so called because the word „Hallelujah” is used at
the beginning, or at the ending, and sometimes at both the beginng and the ending. The Hallelujah Psalms are 111_113;
115_117; 146_150. Psalm 117 is a doxology; and Psalms 146_
150 were used as anthems. Psalm 148 calls on all creation to
praise God. Francis of Assisi wrote a hymn based on this psalm
in which he called the sun his honorable brother and the cricket
his sister. Psalm 150 calls for all varieties of instruments.
Psalms 113_118 are called the Egyptian Hallel. They were
used at the Passover (113_114), before the Supper and 115_
118 were sung after the Supper. According to this, Jesus and
his disciples sang Psalms 115-118 at the last Passover Supper.
These psalms were sung also at the Feasts of Pentecost, Taber_
nacles, Dedication, and New Moon.
The name of God is delayed long in Psalm 114. Addison
said, „That the surprise might be complete.” Then there are
some special characteristics of Psalm 115, viz: (1) It was
written against idols. Cf. Is. 44:9_20; (2) It is antiphonal, the
congregation singing verses 1_8, the choir 9_12, the priests 13_
15 and the congregation again 16_18. The theme of Psalm 116
is love, based on gratitude for a great deliverance, expressed
in service. It is appropriate to read at the celebration of the
Lord’s Supper and verse 15 is especially appropriate for fu_
On some special historical occasions certain psalms were
sung. Psalm 46 was sung by the army of Gustavus Adolphus
before the decisive battle of Leipzig, on September 17, 1631.
Psalm 68 was sung by Cromwell’s army on the occasion of the
battle of Dunbar in Scotland.
Certain passages in the Psalms show that the psalm writers
approved the offering of Mosaic animal sacrifices. For instance,
Psalms 118:27; 141:2 seem to teach very clearly that they ap_
proved the Mosaic sacrifice. But other passages show that
these inspired writers estimated spiritual sacrifices as more im_
portant and foresaw the abolition of the animal sacrifices. Such
passages are Psalms 50:7_15; 4:5; 27:6; 40:6; 51:16_17. These
scriptures show conclusively that the writers estimated spir_
itual sacrifices as more important than the Mosaic sacrifices.
1. What are the Royal Psalms?
2. What the Passion Psalms?
3. What the Psalms of the Ideal Man?
4. What the Missionary Psalms?
5. What the predictions before David of the coming Messiah?
6. What the prophecies of history concerning the Messiah?
7. Give a regular order of thought concerning the messianic offices
as taught in the psalms.
8. Which psalms most clearly present the Messiah as (1) the ideal man, or Second Adam, (2) which as Prophet, or Teacher, (3) which as the Sacri-fice, (4) which as King, (5) which as Priest, (6) which his universal reign?
9. Concerning the suffering Messiah, or the Messiah as a sacrifice,
state the words or facts, verified in the New Testament as fulfilment of prophecy in the psalms. Let the order of the citations follow the order of facts in Christ’s life.
10. Name the Penitential Psalms and show their occasion.
11. What are the Pilgrim Psalms?
12. What is this section of the Psalter called?
13. When and under what conditions were these psalms collected?
14. Who the author of the central psalm of this collection?
15. What Davidic Psalms in this collection?
16. When were the others written?
17. What are they called in the Septuagint?
18. What four theories as to the meaning of the titles, „Songs of the
Steps,” „Songs of Degrees,” or „Songs of Ascents”?
19. What scriptures give the true idea of these titles?
20. Give proof of their singing as they went.
21. To what feasts did they go singing these Psalms?
22. What the special use made of Psalms 121 and 122?
23. Which of these psalms is the description of a good man’s home
and what parallel in modern literature?
24. Expound Psalm 133.
25. What is an alphabetical psalm, and what are the several kinds?
26. Who originated these Alphabetical Psalms?
27. What the most complete specimen?
28. Of what is it an expansion?
29. Why is a certain group of psalms called the Hallelujah Psalms?
30. What are the Hallelujah Psalms?
31. Which of the Hallelujah Psalms was a doxology?
32. Which of these were used as anthems?
33. Which psalm calls on all creation to praise God?
34. Who wrote a hymn based on Psalm 148 in which he called the
sun his honorable brother and the cricket his sister?
35. Which of these psalms calls for all varieties of instruments?
36. What is the Egyptian Hallel?
37. What their special use and how were they sung?
38. Then what hymns did Jesus and his disciples sing?
39. At what other feasts was this sung?
40. Why was the name of God delayed so long in Psalm 114?
41. What the characteristics of Psalm 115?
42. What the theme and special use of Psalm 116?
43. State some special historical occasions on which certain psalms
were sung. Give the psalm for each occasion.
44. Cite passages in the psalms showing that the psalm writers ap_
proved the offering of Mosaic animal sacrifices.
45. Cite other passages showing that these inspired writers estimated
spiritual sacrifices aa more important than the Mosaic sacrifices.
THE MESSIAH IN THE PSALMS
A fine text for this chapter is as follows: „All things must be
fulfilled which were written in the Psalms concerning me,”
Luke 24:44. I know of no better way to close my brief treatise
on the Psalms than to discuss the subject of the Messiah as
revealed in this book.
Attention has been called to the threefold division of the Old Testament cited by our Lord, namely, the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms (Luke 24:44), in all of which were the prophecies relating to himself that „must be fulfilled.” It has been shown just what Old Testament books belong to each of these several divisions. The division called the Psalms included
many books, styled Holy Writings, and because the Psalms
proper was the first book of the division it gave the name to the
The object of this discussion is to sketch the psalmist’s out_
line of the Messiah, or rather, to show how nearly a complete
picture of our Lord is foredrawn in this one book. Let us under_
stand however with Paul, that all prophecy is but in part (I
Cor. 13:9), and that when we fill in on one canvas all the
prophecies concerning the Messiah of all the Old Testament
divisions, we are far from having a perfect portrait of our
Lord. The present purpose is limited to three things:
1. What the book of the Psalms teaches concerning the Mes_
2. That the New Testament shall authoritatively specify
and expound this teaching.
3. That the many messianic predictions scattered over the
book and the specifications thereof over the New Testament
may be grouped into an orderly analysis, so that by the ad_
justment of the scattered parts we may have before us a pic_
ture of our Lord as foreseen by the psalmists.
In allowing the New Testament to authoritatively specify
and expound the predictive features of the book, I am not un_
mindful of what the so_called „higher critics” urge against the
New Testament quotations from the Old Testament and the
use made of them. In this discussion, however, these objections
are not considered, for sufficient reasons. There is not space
for it. Even at the risk of being misjudged I must just now
summarily pass all these objections, dismissing them with a
single statement upon which the reader may place his own
estimate of value. That statement is that in the days of my
own infidelity, before this old method of criticism had its new
name, I was quite familiar with the most and certainly the
strongest of the objections now classified as higher criticism,
and have since patiently re_examined them in their widely con_
flicting restatements under their modern name, and find my
faith in the New Testament method of dealing with the Old
Testament in no way shattered, but in every way confirmed.
God is his own interpreter. The Old Testament as we now
have it was in the hands of our Lord. I understand his apostle
to declare, substantially, that „every one of these sacred scrip_
tures is God_inspired and is profitable for teaching us what is
right to believe and to do, for convincing us what is wrong in
faith or practice, for rectifying the wrong when done, that we
may be ready at every point, furnished completely, to do every
good work, at the right time, in the right manner, and from the
proper motive” (2. Tim. 3:16_17).
This New Testament declares that David was a prophet
(Acts 2:30), that he spake by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:16), that
when the book speaks the Holy Spirit speaks (Heb. 3:7), and
that all its predictive utterances, as sacred Scripture, „must be
fulfilled” (John 13:18; Acts 1:16). It is not claimed that David
wrote all the psalms, but that all are inspired, and that as he
was the chief author, the book goes by his name.
It would be a fine thing to make out two lists, as follows:
1. All of the 150 psalms in order from which the New Testa_
ment quotes with messianic application.
2. The New Testament quotations, book by book, i.e., Mat_
thew so many, and then the other books in their order.
We would find in neither of these any order as to time, that
is, Psalm I which forecasts an incident in the coming Mes_
siah’s life does not forecast the first incident of his life. And
even the New Testament citations are not in exact order as to
time and incident of his life. To get the messianic picture be_
fore us, therefore, we must put the scattered parts together in
their due relation and order, and so construct our own analy_
sis. That is the prime object of this discussion. It is not claimed
that the analysis now presented is perfect. It is too much the
result of hasty, offhand work by an exceedingly busy man. It
will serve, however, as a temporary working model, which any
one may subsequently improve. We come at once to the psalm_
ist’s outline of the Messiah.
1. The necessity for a Saviour. This foreseen necessity is
a background of the psalmists’ portrait of .the Messiah. The
necessity consists in (1) man’s sinfulness; (2) his sin; (3) his
inability of wisdom and power to recover himself; (4) the in_
sufficiency of legal, typical sacrifices in securing atonement.
The predicate of Paul’s great argument on justification by
faith is the universal depravity and guilt of man. He is every_
where corrupt in nature; everywhere an actual transgressor;
everywhere under condemnation. But the scriptural proofs of
this depravity and sin the apostle draws mainly from the book
of the Psalms. In one paragraph of the letter to the Romans
(3:4_18), he cites and groups six passages from six divisions
of the Psalms (5:9; 10:7; 14:1_3; 36:1; 51:4_6; 140:3). These
passages abundantly prove man’s sinfulness, or natural de_
pravity, and his universal practice of sin.
The predicate also of the same apostle’s great argument for
revelation and salvation by a Redeemer is man’s inability of
wisdom and power to re_establish communion with God. In one of his letters to the Corinthians he thus commences his argu-ment: „For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? _For after that in the wisdom of God, the world by wis-dom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preach-ing to save them that believe.” He closes this discussion with the broad proposition: „The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God,” and proves it by a citation from Psalm 94: 11: „The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.”
In like manner our Lord himself pours scorn on human wis_
dom and strength by twice citing Psalm 8: „At that time Jesus
answered and said, I thank thee, 0 Father, Lord of heaven and
earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and
prudent and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father:
for so it seemed good in thy sight” (Matt. 11:25_26). „And
when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things
that he did, and the children that were crying in the temple
and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore dis_
pleased, and said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And
Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the
mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?”
But the necessity for a Saviour as foreseen by the psalmist
did not stop at man’s depravity, sin, and helplessness. The
Jews were trusting in the sacrifices of their law offered on the
smoking altar. The inherent weakness of these offerings, their
lack of intrinsic merit, their ultimate abolition, their complete
fulfilment and supercession by a glorious antitype were fore_
seen and foreshown in this wonderful prophetic book:
I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices;
And thy burnt offerings are continually before me.
I will take no bullock out of thy house,
Nor he_goat out of thy folds.
For every beast of the forest is mine,
And the cattle upon a thousand hills.
I know all of the birds of the mountains;
And the wild beasts of the field are mine.
If I were hungry, I would not tell thee;
For the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.
Will I eat the flesh of bulls,
Or drink the blood of goats? – Psalm 50:8_13.
Yet again it speaks m that more striking passage cited in the
letter to the Hebrews: „For the law having a shadow of good
things to come, not the very image of the things, can never
with the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer con_
tinually, make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would
they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worship_
ers, once purged should have no more consciousness of sins.
But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance made of sins
year by year. For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and
goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into
the world, he saith,
Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not,
But a body didst thou prepare for me;
In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hadat no
pleasure: Then said I, Lo, I am come (In the roll of the book it ia written of me) To do thy will, 0 God. Saying above, Sacrifice and offering and whole burnt offerings
and sacrifices for sin thou wouldst not, neither hadst pleasure
therein, (the which are offered according to the law), then hath
he said, Lo, I am come to do thy will, 0 God. He taketh away
the first, that he may establish the second” (Heb. 10:1_9).
This keen foresight of the temporary character and intrinsic
worthlessness of animal sacrifices anticipated similar utter_
ances by the later prophets (Isa. 1:10_17; Jer. 6:20; 7:21_23;
Hos. 6:6; Amos 5:21; Mic. 6:6_8). Indeed, I may as well
state in passing that when the apostle declares, „It is impossi_
ble that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins,”
he lays down a broad principle, just as applicable to baptism
and the Lord’s Supper. With reverence I state the principle:
Not even God himself by mere appointment can vest in any
ordinance, itself lacking intrinsic merit, the power to take away
sin. There can be, therefore, in the nature of the case, no
sacramental salvation. This would destroy the justice of God
in order to exalt his mercy. Clearly the psalmist foresaw that
„truth and mercy must meet together” before „righteousness
and peace could kiss each other” (85:10). Thus we find as the
dark background of the psalmists’ luminous portrait of the
Messiah, the necessity for a Saviour.
2. The nature, extent, and blessedness of the salvation to be
wrought by the coming Messiah. In no other prophetic book
are the nature, fullness, and blessedness of salvation so clearly
seen and so vividly portrayed. Besides others not now enu_
merated, certainly the psalmists clearly forecast four great
elements of salvation:
(1) An atoning sacrifice of intrinsic merit offered once for
all (Ps. 40:6_8; Heb. 10:4_10).
(2) Regeneration itself consisting of cleansing, renewal, and
justification. We hear his impassioned statement of the neces_
sity of regeneration: „Behold, I was shapen in iniquity and in
sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in
the inward parts,” followed by his earnest prayer: „Create in
me a clean heart, 0 God; and renew a right spirit within me,”
and his equally fervent petition: „Wash me thoroughly from
mine iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Purge me with hys_
sop and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than
snow” (Ps. 51). And we hear him again as Paul describes the
blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputes righteousness
without works, saying,
Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not reckon sin_
– Psalm 32:1; Romans 4:6-8.
(3) Introduction into the heavenly rest (Ps. 95:7_11; Heb.
3:7_19; 4:1_11). Here is the antitypical Joshua leading spirit_
ual Israel across the Jordan of death into the heavenly Ca_
naan, the eternal rest that remaineth for the people of God.
Here we find creation’s original sabbath eclipsed by redemp_
tion’s greater sabbath when the Redeemer „entered his rest,
ceasing from his own works as God did from his.”
(4) The recovery of all the universal dominion lost by the
first Adam and the securement of all possible dominion which
the first Adam never attained (Pa. 8:5_6; Eph. 1:20_22; Heb.
2:7_9; I Cor. 15:24_28).
What vast extent then and what blessedness in the salvation
foreseen by the psalmists, and to be wrought by the Messiah.
Atoning sacrifice of intrinsic merit; regeneration by the Holy
Spirit; heavenly rest as an eternal inheritance; and universal
dominion shared with Christ!
3. The wondrous person of the Messiah in his dual nature,
divine and human.
(1) His divinity, (a) as God: „Thy throne, 0 God, is for_
ever and ever” (Ps. 45:6 and Heb. 1:8) ; (b) as creator of the
heavens and earth, immutable and eternal:
Of old didst thou lay the foundation of the earth;
And the heavens are the work of thy hands.
They shall perish, but thou shalt endure;
Yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment;
As a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be
But thou art the same,
And thy years shall have no end
Psalm 102:25_27 quoted with slight changes in Hebrews
(c) As owner of the earth:
The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof;
The world, and they that dwell therein,
– Psalm 24:1 quoted in I Corinthians 10:26.
(d) As the Son of God: „Thou art my Son; This day have
I begotten thee” – Psalm 2:7; Hebrews 1:5.
(e) As David’s Lord:
The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand,
Until I make thine enemies thy footstool,
– Psalm 110:1; Matthew 22:41_46.
(f) As the object of angelic worship: „And let all the angels
of God worship him” – Psalm 97:7; Hebrews 1:6.
(g) As the Bread of life:
And he rained down manna upon them to eat,
And gave them food from heaven – Psalm 78:24;
interpreted in John. 6:31_58.
These are but samples which ascribe deity to the Messiah
of the psalmists.
(2) His humanity, (a) As the Son of man, or Son of Adam:
Psalm 8:4_6, cited in I Corinthians 15:24_28; Ephesians 1:20_
22; Hebrews 2:7_9. Compare Luke’s genealogy, 3:23_38. This
is the ideal man, or Second Adam, who regains Paradise Lost,
who recovers race dominion, in whose image all his spiritual
lineage is begotten. I Corinthians 15:45_49. (b) As the Son
of David: Psalms 18:50; 89:4, 29, 36; 132:11, cited in Luke
1:32; Acts 13:22_23; Romans 1:3; 2 Timothy 2:8. Perhaps
a better statement of the psalmists’ vision of the wonderful
person of the Messiah would be: He saw the uncreated Son,
the second person of the trinity, in counsel and compact with
the Father, arranging in eternity for the salvation of men:
Psalm 40:6_8; Hebrews 10:5_7. Then he saw this Holy One
stoop to be the Son of man: Psalm 8:4_6; Hebrews 2:7_9.
Then he was the son of David, and then he saw him rise again
to be the Son of God: Psalm 2:7; Romans 1:3_4.
4. His offices.
(1) As the one atoning sacrifice (Ps. 40:6_8; Heb. 10:5_7).
(2) As the great Prophet, or Preacher (Pss. 40:9_10; 22:22;
Hebrews 2:12). Even the method of his teaching by parable
was foreseen (Ps. 78:2; Matt. 13:35). Equally also the grace,
wisdom, and power of his teaching. When the psalmist declares
that „Grace is poured into thy lips” (Ps. 45:2), we need not
be startled when we read that all the doctors in the Temple
who heard him when only a boy „were astonished at his under_
standing and answers” (Luke 2:47); nor that his home peo_
ple at Nazareth „all bear him witness, and wondered at the
gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth” (Luke 4:
22); nor that those of his own country were astonished, and
said, „Whence hath this man this wisdom?” (Matt. 13:54);
nor that the Jews in the Temple marveled, saying, „How
knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” (John 7:15) ;
nor that the stern officers of the law found their justification in
failure to arrest him in the declaration, „Never man spake
like this man” (John 7:46).
(3) As the king (Pss. 2:6; 24:7_10; 45:1_18; 110:1; Matt.
22:42_46; Acts 2:33_36; I Cor. 15:25; Eph. 1:20; Heb. 1:13).
(4) As the priest (Ps. 110:4; Heb. 5:5_10; 7:1_21; 10:12_14).
(5) As the final judge. The very sentence of expulsion pro_
nounced upon the finally impenitent by the great judge (Matt.
25:41) is borrowed from the psalmist’s prophetic words (Ps. 6:8).
5. Incidents of life. The psalmists not only foresaw the nec_
essity for a Saviour; the nature, extent, and blessedness of the
salvation; the wonderful human_divine person of the Saviour;
the offices to be filled by him in the work of salvation, but also
many thrilling details of his work in life, death, resurrection,
and exaltation. It is not assumed to cite all these details, but
some of the most important are enumerated in order, thus:
(1) The visit, adoration, and gifts of the Magi recorded in
Matthew 2 are but partial fulfilment of Psalm 72:9_10.
(2) The scripture employed by Satan in the temptation of
our Lord (Luke 4:10_11) was cited from Psalm 91:11_12 and
its pertinency not denied.
(3) In accounting for his intense earnestness and the ap_
parently extreme measures adopted by our Lord in his first
purification of the Temple (John 2:17), he cites the messianic
zeal predicted in Psalm 69:9.
(4) Alienation from his own family was one of the saddest
trials of our Lord’s earthly life. They are slow to understand his mission and to enter into sympathy with him. His self-abnega-tion and exhaustive toil were regarded by them as evidences of mental aberration, and it seems at one time they were ready to resort to forcible restraint of his freedom) virtually what in our time would be called arrest under a writ of lunacy. While at the last his half_brothers became distinguished preachers of his gospel, for a long while they do not believe on him. And the evidence forces us to the conclusion that his own mother shared with her other sons, in kind though not in degree, the mis-understanding of the supremacy of his mission over family relations. The New Testament record speaks for itself:
Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them. How is it that ye sought me? Knew ye not that I must be in my Father’s
house? And they understood not the saying which he spake
unto them – Luke 2:48_51 (R.V.).
And when the wine failed, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. And Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come. – John 2:3_5 (R.V.).
And there come his mother and his brethren; and standing
without; they sent unto him, calling him. And a multitude
was sitting about him; and they say unto him. Behold, thy
mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. And he answer_
eth them, and saith, Who is my mother and my brethren? And
looking round on them that sat round about him, he saith,
Behold, my mother and my brethren) For whosoever shall do
the will of God, the same is my brother, and sister, and moth_
er – Mark 3:31_35 (R.V.).
Now the feast of the Jews, the feast of tabernacles, was at
hand. His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence,
and go into Judea, that thy disciples also may behold thy
works which thou doest. For no man doeth anything in secret,
and himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou doest these
things, manifest thyself to the world. For even his brethren did
not believe on him. Jesus therefore saith unto them, My time is
not yet come; but your time is always ready. The world cannot
hate you; but me it liateth, because I testify of it, that its
works are evil. Go ye up unto the feast: I go not up yet unto
this feast; because my time is not fulfilled.– John 7:2_9 (R.V.).
These citations from the Revised Version tell their own
story. But all that sad story is foreshown in the prophetic
psalms. For example:
I am become a stranger unto my brethren,
And an alien unto my mother’s children. – Psalm 69:8.
(5) The triumphal entry into Jerusalem was welcomed by
a joyous people shouting a benediction from Psalm 118:
„Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matt.
21:9); and the Lord’s lamentation over Jerusalem predicts
continued desolation and banishment from his sight until the
Jews are ready to repeat that benediction (Matt. 23:39).
(6) The children’s hosanna in the Temple after its second
purgation is declared by our Lord to be a fulfilment of that
perfect praise forecast in Psalm 8:2.
(7) The final rejection of our Lord by his own people was
also clear in the psalmist’s vision (Ps. 118:22; Matt. 21:42_44).
(8) Gethsemane’s baptism of suffering, with its strong cry_
ing and tears and prayers was as clear to the psalmist’s pro_
phetic vision as to the evangelist and apostle after it became
history (Ps. 69:1_4, 13_20; and Matt. 26:36_44; Heb. 5:7).
(9) In life_size also before the psalmist was the betrayer
of Christ and his doom (Pss. 41:9; 69:25; 109:6_8; John 13:
18; Acts 1:20).
(10) The rage of the people, Jew and Gentile, and the con_
spiracy of Pilate and Herod are clearly outlined (Ps. 2:1_3;
(11) All the farce of his trial – the false accusation, his own
marvelous silence; and the inhuman maltreatment to which he
was subjected, is foreshown in the prophecy as dramatically
as in the history (Matt. 26:57_68; 27:26_31; Pss. 27:12; 35:
The circumstances of his death, many and clear, are dis_
tinctly foreseen. He died in the prime of life (Pss. 89:45;
102:23_24). He died by crucifixion (Ps. 22:14_17; Luke 23;
33; John 19:23_37; 20:27). But yet not a bone of his body
was broken (Ps. 34:20; John 19:36).
The persecution, hatred without a cause, the mockery and
insults, are all vividly and dramatically foretold (Pss. 22:6_13;
35:7, 12, 15, 21; 109:25).
The parting of his garments and the gambling for his vesture
(Ps. 22:18; Matt. 27:35).
His intense thirst and the gall and vinegar offered for his
drink (Ps. 69:21; Matt. 27:34).
In the psalms, too, we hear his prayers for his enemies so
remarkably fulfilled in fact (Ps. 109:4; Luke 23:34).
His spiritual death was also before the eye of the psalmist,
and the very words which expressed it the psalmist heard.
Separation from the Father is spiritual death. The sinner’s
substitute must die the sinner’s death, death physical, i.e.,
separation of soul from body; death spiritual, i.e., separation
of the soul from God. The latter is the real death and must
precede the former. This death the substitute died when he
cried out: „My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me.”
(Ps. 22:1; Matt. 27:46).
Emerging from the darkness of that death, which was the
hour of the prince of darkness, the psalmist heard him com_
mend his spirit to the Father (Ps. 31:35; Luke 23:46) showing
that while he died the spiritual death, his soul was not perma_
nently abandoned unto hell (Ps. 16:8_10; Acts 2:25) so that
while he „tasted death” for every man it was not permanent
death (Heb. 2:9).
With equal clearness the psalmist foresaw his resurrection,
his triumph over death and hell, his glorious ascension into
heaven, and his exaltation at the right hand of God as King
of kings and Lord of lords, as a high Driest forever, as invested
with universal sovereignty (Ps. 16:8_11; 24:7_10; 68:18; 2:6;
111:l_4; 8:4_6; Acts 2:25_36; Eph. 1:19_23; 4:8_10).
We see, therefore, brethren, when the scattered parts are
put together and adjusted, how nearly complete a portrait of
our Lord is put upon the prophetic canvas by this inspired
limner, the sweet singer of Israel.
1. What a good text for this chapter?
2. What the threefold division of the Old Testament aa cited by
3. What is the last division called and why?
4. What is the object of the discussion in this chapter?
5. To what three things is the purpose limited?
6. What especially qualifies the author to meet the objections of
the higher critics to allowing the New Testament usage of the Old
Testament to determine its meaning and application?
7. What the author’s conviction relative to the Scriptures?
8. What the New Testament testimony on the question of inspiration?
9. What the author’s suggested plan of approach to the study of the
Messiah in the Psalms?
10. What the background of the Psalmist’s portrait of the Messiah
and of what does it consist?
11. Give the substance of Paul’s discussion of man’s sinfulness.
12. What the teaching of Jesus on this point?
13. What the teaching relative to sacrifices?
14. What the nature, extent, and blessedness of the salvation to be
wrought by the coming Messiah and what the four great elements of it as forecast by the psalmist?
15. What the teaching of the psalms relative to the wondrous person
of the Messiah? Discuss.
16. What the offices of the Messiah according to psalms? Discuss each.
17. Cite the more important events of the Messiah’s life according
to the vision of the psalmist.
18. What the circumstances of the Messiah’s death and resurrec_
tion as foreseen by the psalmist?
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF PROVERBS
The following works are commended as special helps on the
1. Conant, in American Bible Union Revision, which is the
2. Perowne, in „Cambridge Bible” which is very good.
3. Berry, in „American Commentary,” which is good only
4. Lyman Abbott, The Proverbs of Solomon, which is very
The authors of the book of Proverbs may be learned from
the book itself, as follows:
1. In 1:1 it says, „The Proverbs of Solomon the Son of David, king of Israel.”
2. In 10:1 it says, „The Proverbs of Solomon.”
3. In 22:17 it says, „Incline thine ear, and hear the words
of the wise.”
4. In 24:23 it says, „These also are sayings of the wise.”
5. In 25:1 it says, „These also are proverbs of Solomon,
which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied out.”
6. In 30:1 it says, „The words of Agur the son of Jakeh; the
7. In 31:1 it says, „The words of King Lemuel; the oracle
which his mother taught him.”
8. In 31:10 it says nothing about the author, and this part
of the book (31:10_31) is, therefore, anonymous.
The book of Proverbs in its present form was completed in
the eighth century, B.C. : „These also are proverbs of Solomon,
which the men of Hezekiah King of Judah copied out,” (Prov.
25:1). By determining the date of Hezekiah’s reign we de_
termine the time of the completion of this book except the
The following is an outline of the book, stating the five
main sections and giving chapter and verse for each section:
Introduction: Design of the author (1:1_6)
1. Wisdom and Folly contrasted (1:7 to 9:18)
2. A collection of 376 brief proverbs (10:1 to 22:16)
3. „The Words of the Wise” (22:17 to 24:22)
4. Another collection of the „The Words of the Wise” (24:
5. Another group of Solomon’s proverbs, copied by the
scribes of Hezekiah (chaps. 25 to 29)
Three Appendices (chaps. 30_31)
Some critics wish to limit the authorship of Solomon to
only a comparatively small number of detached proverbs in
Sections 2 and 5. This is in keeping with the attempt to rob
David of his glory as the most gifted and prolific hymn writer
of Old Testament times. It is true that Sections 3_4 and the
Appendices of the book are not ascribed to Solomon, but about
five_sixths of the book is ascribed to him, and there is no good
reason to discredit these ascriptions to the man who was most
of all qualified to write proverbs.
The scriptural statement and reference showing extent of
Solomon’s epigrammatic wisdom are as follows: „He spake
three thousand proverbs; and his songs were a thousand and
five” (I Kings 4:32) (See I Kings 10:1, 24; Matthew 12:42).
His gift of wisdom finds expression in wise and witty apo_
thegms that show his intellectual capacity and his moral sagac_
ity, his habits of close observation and scientific thought, his
common sense and uncommon knowledge of human nature.
It should be borne in mind that the circumstances of Solomon’s
times, at all events in the earlier and happier years of his
reign, were peculiarly favorable to the study and cultivation
of wisdom, or philosophy. If the eventful periods of a na_
tion’s history give scope and stimulus to the genius of the
poet, the calmer atmosphere of national peace and prosperity
is more congenial to the temper of the philosopher. The re_
lations, both of recognition and of intercourse, which Solomon
established and maintained for himself and his kingdom and
other nations of the world, conduced largely to that inter_
change of thought and intellectual rivalry which give the high_
est impulse to the pursuit of wisdom.
The word rendered „proverb” means parable, or authorita_
tive saying, and suggests that moral truths are taught by com_
parison or contrast. The English word „proverb” means a
brief saying instead of many words (pro_verba), and implies
„pithiness in parallelism.” Proverbs have always been the
mottoes that mold life and history. The power of a proverb
lies partly in its form; it is short, sharp, concisive, and im_
pressive. It assumes truth, attracts attention, and imprints
itself on the memory. The Hebrew proverbs, „like forceps,”
hold truth firmly between the opposing points of antithesis.
A proverb may be easily expanded into a parable, especially
is it true in the case of the parabolic proverb. Indeed, as
Archbishop Trench remarks, „The proverb is often a concen_
trated parable; as, for instance, ‘If the blind lead the blind,
both shall fall into the ditch’; which might evidently be ex_
tended with ease into a parable.” It would be no less true to
say that a proverb is often an epitome of a parable. Of the
expansion of the proverb into the parable, or allegory, we
have only a single example in this book, viz: that of „The
Sluggard’s Vineyard,” (Prov. 24:30_34).
I here give several of the most common proverbs of our
English_speaking people, thus:
Actions speak louder than words.
It is too late to shut the stable door when the horse is stolen.
A stitch in time saves nine.
Fools’ names like fools’ faces,
Are often seen in public places.
Never cry over spilt milk.
Trust in the Lord and tie your camel.
Trust in the Lord and keep your powder dry.
A hint to the wise is sufficient.
Let us now state, define, and illustrate by full quotations
the six leading varieties of Hebrew parallelisms found in this
1. Synonymous, a parallelism in which the members are alike in meaning. Example:
The liberal soul shall be made fat;
And he that watereth shall be watered also himself.
– Proverbs 11 :25
2. Antithetic, a parallelism in which the members are con_
The labor of the righteous tendeth to life;
The increase of the wicked, to sin. – Proverbs 10:16
3. Synthetic, a parallelism in which the members contain
different truths, but have a common connecting link. Example:
The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him;
And the desire of the righteous shall be granted.
– Proverbs 10:24.
4. Integral, or progressive (climactic), & parallelism in
which the last member completes the thought or another grada_
tion expressed by the first. Example:
The law of the wise is a fountain of life,
That one may depart from the snares of death.
– Proverbs 13:14.
5. Introverted, a parallelism in which the first line cor_
responds with the fourth, and the second with the third. Ex_
My son, if thy heart be wise,
My heart will be glad, even mine:
Yea, my heart will rejoice,
When thy lips speak right things. – Proverbs 23:15_16.
6. Parabolic (emblematic), a parallelism in which a lesson is
drawn from natural objects. Example:
As vinegar to the teeth and aa smoke to the eyes,
So is the sluggard to them that send him. – Proverbs 10:26.
According to Spurgeon, these three things go to the making
of a proverb: shortness, sense, and salt.
The key word of this book is „Wisdom,” and the key verse
The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom;
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
– Proverbs 9:10.
Wisdom, as used in Proverbs, is very comprehensive in its
meaning and application. It is contrasted with folly, simplic_
ity, and scorning. It is used synonymously with understand_
ing, instruction, learning, knowledge, discernment, subtlety,
counsel, discretion, prudence, and the fear of Jehovah. It
covers the practical and moral world as thoroughly as it
does the intellectual. True wisdom develops manhood; leads
to morality and, in its highest reach, to piety; it demands
obedience to both tables of the Law. It makes the under_
standing clear, the heart clean, the conscience pure, and the
will firm. Wisdom, as here personified, corresponds to the
Word, or Logos, of John: „In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word waa with God, and the Word was God” (John
Of „Wisdom and her ways,” Hooker says, „Whatsoever,
either men on earth or the angels of heaven do know, it is as
a drop of that unemptiable foundation of Wisdom; which
Wisdom hath diversely imparted her treasures into the world.
As her ways are of sundry kinds, so her manner of teaching is
not merely one and the same. Some things she openeth by
the Sacred Books of Scripture; some things, by the glorious
works of Nature; with some things she inspireth them from
above by spiritual influence; in some things she leadeth and
traineth them only by worldly experience and practice. We
may not so, in any one special kind, admire her, that we dis_
grace her in any other; but let all her ways be according unto
their place and degree adored.”
A French proverb on wisdom is, „The strongest symptom of
wisdom in man is his being sensible of his own follies.”
A Latin proverb on wisdom is, „He is by no means to be
considered wise who is not wise toward himself.”
Grymestone says this of wisdom: „Wisdom is the olive that
springeth from the Heart, bloometh on the Tongue and beareth
fruit in the Actions.”
Colton, of the wise man and the fool, has this to say: „The
wise man has his follies no less than the fool; but it has been
said that herein lies the difference,ùthe follies of the fool are
known to the world, but are hidden from himself; the follies
of the wise are known to himself, but hidden from the world.
A harmless hilarity, and a buoyant cheerfulness are not un_
frequent concomitants of genius; and we are never more de_
ceived than when we mistake gravity for greatness, solemnity
for science, and pomposity for erudition.”
Other Jewish wisdom literature has come down to us, viz:
Job, Ecclesiastes, and the apocryphal books of „The Wisdom of
Solomon” and „The Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach,” or
There is evidence in the Old Testament _that there was a
class, or school, of persons who devoted themselves to the
study and promotion of wisdom. This is found in the ex_
pression) „The Wise,” occurring in several places. For ex_
ample: Proverbs 1:6; 22:17; 24:23; Job 15:18. The Jewish
conception of wisdom differs from the ideas and methods of
Western philosophers. The difference is wide and funda_
mental. „The Hebrew wise man does not propose to himself
the abstract question, What is truth? and then pursue his
independent search for an answer through all accessible
regions of human thought and mind. His starting point is not
a question, but a creed, or an axiom. Given, that there is a
Supreme Being, Creator, Sustainer, Ruler, Judge of All, then
wisdom is to understand so far as it is permitted to man’s
finite intelligence the manifold adaptation and harmony, the
beauty and utility, of his words and ways, and to turn our
knowledge of them to practical account. Wisdom is, in all
the complex relations of human life and conduct, to know and
to do his will.”
Then the Jewish idea of a perfectly wise man is, that the
perfectly wise man is the one who, in his whole being, lives
.and thinks and acts in right relationship to the all_wise God.
His wisdom commences emotionally in the fear of God; is
manifested intellectually in his acquaintance with the mani_
festations of the divine nature in word and work; is active
volitionally in obedience to the Will of God, as revealed in
word and work.
Lange, of this Hebrew wisdom, says, „The essential char_
acter of the Hebrew Philosopher is far more practical than
speculative; it is as little inclined to pursue or to prompt
genuine speculation, as it is to identify itself with secular
philosophy in general, and with unaided human reason to in_
vestigate the final causes of things. It is essentially a divine
philosophy, planting its feet upon the basis of divine revela_
tion, and staying itself upon the eternal principles of the divine
law; and it is this determinate and positive character of its
method of conceiving and teaching that chiefly distinguishes
it from the philosophy of other nations and of other times.”
Such wisdom, to be obtained, must be diligently sought
(Prov. 2:4_6). In one respect the range of Hebrew wisdom is
practically unbounded. It knows no distinction of race or
country. It is not national, but human. Cradled in the strong_
hold of exclusiveness, it overlaps the barriers that would re_
strain it, and reaches forth to the whole family of man. It
knows no „middle wall of partition,” no „outer court of the
Gentiles,” in the temple of truth which it rears.
The relation of this wisdom to Christian faith and Christian
science is vital. Such wisdom, while it is in the highest degree
religious, consecrating man and all creation to God, is also
in the truest sense free, claiming for man’s intelligence and
advantage all that proceeds from God. „The cedar tree that
is in Lebanon and the hyssop that springeth out of the walls”
are alike within its cognizance; „Beast and fowl and creeping
thing and fishes,” are not beneath its notice, for they are all
the works of God. And thus it is akin to and the precursor of
that wisdom which Christ both is and teaches, and wisdom
which gathers up all things through himself in God, and which
by himself gives all things back again to man from God, the
wisdom that is at once the offspring of Christian faith and the
parent of Christian science.
The essential teachings of the book of Proverbs are moral
1. The moral element is essentially prophetic.
2. It bears a close relation to the teaching of Christ himself
by the fact that a considerable number of directly religious
proverbs and instructions are given in the book and religion
itself is the basis of their teaching.
3. The prophecy of the book is by ideals. Horton, in his
„The Book of Proverbs,” calling attention to the historical
accounts, different and to all appearance irreconcilable, of the
Hebrew Monarchy, its origin on the one hand in the divine
appointment, and its consequent ideal of perfection, and its
institution on the other hand as a rebellion against the sov_
ereignty of the Lord, says, „The contrast just pointed out in
the historic books appears with equal distinctness in this book
of wisdom; the proverbial sayings about the king exhibit the
twofold thought; and the reconciliation is only found when we
have realized the kingship of Christ and can bring that idea
to explain the ancient forecast. Thus the study of the things
concerning the king is to the thoughtful reader of the proverbs
a study of the things concerning Christ. The ideal elements
speak of him; the actual shortcomings cry out for him.”
The direct quotations of the book of Proverbs in the New
Testament are only four: Compare (1) Proverbs 3:11_12 with
Hebrews 12:5_6; (2) Proverbs 3:34 with James 4:6; (3) Prov_
erbs 11:31 with I Peter 4:18; (4) Proverbs 25:21_22 with
Romans 12:20. These quotations are regarded as proof of the
canonicity of the book.
It has been said that the morality inculcated in the book
of Proverbs is of no very lofty type; that the motives for right
conduct are mainly prudential, that is, „Be good and you will
prosper; be wicked and you will suffer.” It goes without say_
ing that prudential considerations must influence our moral
conduct. This is forcefully illustrated by Coleridge’s familiar
description of the three steps, „The Prudential,” „The Moral.”
and „The Spiritual,” by which the whole ascent to godliness
is made. So we may say, that true morality is hostile to that
prudence only which precludes true morality. A thoughtful
study, therefore, of the moral teaching of this book leads us
with reverent admiration to conclude that here, too, „wisdom
is justified by her works.”
1. What special helps on this book?
2. Who the authors of the book of Proverbs?
3. Give the time limits for the completion of the book of Proverbs
in its present form and quote the scripture to prove the statement.
4. Outline the book, stating the five main sections and give chapter
and verse for each section.
5. To what portions of the book: of Proverbs do some critics wish
to limit the authorship of Solomon?
6. With what other evil tendency in Old Testament authorship is
this in harmony ?
7. What sections of the book are not ascribed to Solomon?
8. Give scriptural statement and reference showing extent of Solo_
mon’s epigramatic wisdom.
9. What especially fitted Solomon for writing proverbs?
10. What the origin, nature, meaning, and force of „Proverbs”?
11. What the relation of proverb and parable?
12. Give several of the most common proverbs of our English speak_
13. State, define and illustrate by full quotations the six leading va_
rieties of Hebrew parallelisms found in this book.
14. What things, according to Spurgeon, go to make a proverb?
15. What is the key word and what the key verse of thia book?
16. Describe „Wisdom” as used in the book of Proverbs, stating with
what it is contrasted, with what it is synonymous, and what sphere it covers.
17. What says Hooker of „Wisdom and her ways”?
18. What the French proverb on wisdom?
19. What a Latin proverb on wisdom?
20. What says Grymestone of wisdom?
21. What says Colton of the wise man. and the fool?
22. What other Jewish wisdom literature has come down to us?
23. What evidence in the Old Testament that there was a class, or
school, of persons who devoted themselves to the study and promotion of wisdom?
24. How does the Jewish conception of wisdom differ from the ideaa
and methods of Western philosophers?
25. What the Jewish idea of a perfectly wise man?
26. What says Lange of this Hebrew wisdom?
27. How is such wisdom to be obtained?
28. In what one respect is the range of Hebrew wisdom practically
29. What the relation of this wisdom to Christian faith and Christian science?
30. What the essential teachings of the book of Proverbs?
31. What are the direct quotations of the book of Proverbs in the
New Testament and what the value of this fact?
32. What can. you say of the type of morality inculcated in the book
THE INSTRUCTION OF WISDOM
Proverbs 1:1 to 3:35.
We learn, in general, from the salutation, Proverbs 1:1_6:
1. The general author of the book, especially that Solomon
was the father of this kind of literature;
2. The manifold use of proverbs, or the manifold purpose
of the book.
The manifold purpose of the book, as set forth in the salu_
tation, is: to know wisdom; to discern words; to receive in_
struction; to give prudence, knowledge, and discretion; and
to understand a proverb.
The author’s text for this division (1_9) is Proverbs 1:7:
The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge;
But the foolish despise wisdom and instruction,
„Fear” here means childlike reverence and „instruction”
means discipline, or correction.
The foundation maxims of wisdom are parental reverence
My son, hear the instruction of thy father,
And forsake not the law of thy mother:
For they shall be a chaplet of grace unto thy head,
And chains about thy neck. – Proverbs 1:8_9.
There is a warning in 1:10_19 against robbery caused by
greed of gain. The times reflected here are the different times
in the history of Israel from the Judges to the time of Christ.
Thompson’s The Land and The Book. gives a fine description
of the conditions here referred to. There are two striking
figures of speech in verses 12 and 17, one describing the greedi_
ness of sinners and the other representing the craftiness of the
trapper, meaning the wiles of the devil.
In 1:20_33 we have personified wisdom’s appeal and the fol_
ly of rejecting it. And analysis of this paragraph is as follows:
1. Wisdom’s method (20:20ff.): she cries aloud. She is not
esoteric but exoteric. She teaches not in secret but openly.
She does not carry on through a secret society but, like Jesus
and Paul, she teaches „publicly, and from house to house.”
2. Wisdom’s appeal (22_23): she gives reproof and exhorts
the simple ones, the scoffers and fools to turn and heed. In
verse 23 we have a promise of the spirit’s illumination which
is later given and enlarged upon by Isaiah (32:15) and Joel
3. Wisdom’s rejection and the result (24_32) ; she had called
and stretched out her hand, but they did not regard, therefore
she will turn the deaf ear to all their signals of distress when
their storm of calamity comes like a whirlwind.
4. Wisdom’s encouragement (33); she gives a ray of hope
to those who heed her call and offers them a quiet, peaceful,
and secure dwelling place.
The meaning of „simple ones,” „scoffers,” and „fools” (v.
22), is as follows: „simple” here means unwary; „scoffers”
refers to a class of defiant and cynical freethinkers in contrast
with the „wise” referred to so often in the Wisdom Literature;
„fools” signifies heavy, dull, gross fellows. This enumeration
covers the field: the „simple,” from whom recruits are too easi_
ly drawn to the army of evil; „scoffers,” the proud leaders of
the host; „fools,” the rank and file of the host. Verse 23 of
this passage is, undoubtedly, the germ of Isaiah 44:3 and Joel
2:28, and the fulfilment of which is John 7:37 and Acts 2:33.
Verse 31 reminds us of Galatians 6:7: „Be not deceived, God
is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also
The teaching of chapter 2 is that wisdom must be sought aa
one would seek silver or hid treasures, expressed in synony_
mous parallelism mainly. The characteristics of the seeker of
wisdom are a willingness and desire to know, accompanied by
devotion, to which may be added diligence and persistency
The results of finding such wisdom are expressed in verses
5_20, which are the understanding of the fear of Jehovah, the
finding of the knowledge of God who gives wisdom to the up_
right, who also is a shield and guard to his saints, then the
understanding of righteousness and justice, the pleasure of
knowledge, the deliverance from evil ways and perverse men
who forsake right paths to walk in darkness, and deliverance
from the strange and wicked woman who has forsaken her
friends, forgotten her God, and whose house leads to death
from which there is no recovery.
There is a great and encouraging prophecy given in 2:21_22.
It is the final triumph of the righteous over the wicked. The
righteous who possess the divine wisdom here described may
walk in the ways of good men and dwell safely in the land, but
the wicked are doomed to defeat and final banishment.
The subject of chapter 3 is the cultivation of wisdom as the
best thing to adjust all our relations toward God and man. A
brief outline of this chapter is:
1. Our duty to God (1_12).
2. The happy state of them that have wisdom (13_26).
3. Man’s duty to his fellow man (27_35).
According to verses 1_12, our duties to God are to remember
his law and keep his commandments; to walk in the ways of
kindness and truth; to trust in Jehovah implicitly and ac_
knowledge him always; to be not conceited but fear Jehovah;
to honor Jehovah with our substance, and not to despise the
chastening of Jehovah nor be weary of his correction, since it
all comes as an expression of his love for us as his children.
It is interesting to note here the New Testament use made
of verses 11_12. Paul quotes these verses in Hebrews 12:5_6
to enforce his argument on the chastening of the Lord being a
proof of his love for his people. Here the author of Hebrews
calls this passage in Proverbs an „exhortation, which reasoneth
with you as with sons” and then shows the superiority of God’s
chastening over the chastening of our earthly parents who
chasten us as it seemed good to them, but God chastens his
children for their good. This shows the unmistakable meaning
and application of Proverbs 3:11_12.
According to the second division of this analysis, we find
that the value of wisdom is beyond all comparison with earth_
ly attainments or things, and produces a happiness far more
enduring than the most valuable things of time; she is better
than silver, more precious than rubies and beyond comparison
with anything that the human heart can desire, since she holds
in her hand lengths of days, riches and honor; her ways are
pleasant and her paths are peace; she is a tree of life and a
perpetual source of happiness; by her Jehovah wrought his
mighty works and she is to be kept as a source of life and
grace; she helps to walk straight, takes away fear and gives
sweet sleep; she takes away sudden fear of the desolation of
the wicked since her possessors are believers in Jehovah and
their feet are being kept by him.
According to the last section of this chapter, our duties to
our fellow man and God’s attitude toward the wicked and the
righteous are set forth. The righteous are commanded to pay
what they owe when it is possible for them to do it and not
to put off their neighbors one day when they can attend to it
at once. Then they are commanded to plan no evil against
their neighbor and to avoid all responsibility for strife and
envy, since the wicked are abominable to Jehovah and his
curse rests upon them, while his blessing and grace are with
the righteous. The last verse contrasts the wise and the fool_
ish. One is reminded here of our Lord’s parable of the ten
virgins. Verse 34 is quoted by James (4:6) and Peter (I Peter
5:5) to show God’s attitude toward both the proud and the
humble. They both say, „God resisteth the proud, but giveth
grace to the humble.”
1. What do we learn, in general, from the salutation, Proverbs 1:1_6T
2. What the manifold purpose of the book as set forth in the salu_
3. What the author’s text for this division (chaps. 1_9) and what the
meaning of „fear,” and „instruction”?
4. What the foundation maxims of wisdom?
5. What the warning in 1:10_19, what time does this passage reflect
and what striking figures of speech used here?
6. What the warning in 1:20_33, and what is a brief analysis of
7. What the meaning of „simple ones,” „scoffers,” and „fools,” verse
8. Of what scripture is 1:23 the germ and what scriptures show their
9, Of what New Testament scripture does verse 31 remind us?
10. What is the teaching of chapter 2 and what kind of parallelism
most prominent in this chapter?
11. What must be the characteristics of the seeker of wisdom?
12. Give a summary of the results of finding such wisdom.
13. What great and encouraging prophecy given in 2:21_22?
14. What the subject of chapter 3?
15. Give a brief outline of this chapter.
16. According to verses 1_12 what our duties to God and what New
Testament use of verses 11_12?
17. According to the second division of this analysis, what the value
of wisdom and what does she offer to those who seek her?
18. According to the last section of this chapter, what our duties to
our fellow man and what God’s attitude toward the wicked and the
righteous, and what New Testament use of verse 34?
THE INSTRUCTION OF WISDOM
Proverbs 4:l to 7:27.
The addresses found in Proverbs 4:1 to 9:18 are fatherly
admonitions. The main thought, or theme, of 4:1_9 is, „Wis_
dom the principal thing.” There is an interesting bid of auto_
biography in this section. Solomon gives here the relation he
sustained to his father and mother, and also the parental source
of his instruction. It is the picture of parents with the children
gathered about them for instruction. On this Wordsworth has
beautifully said, „Wisdom doth live with children round her
„Sons” in verse I, means the pupils of the teacher who com_
mends wisdom to them as his children, by the example of his
own early education. Verse 3 suggests that Solomon was a true
son, i.e., he was true in filial reverence and obedience; that he
stood alone in the choice of God for the messianic line, and
therefore he was first in the estimation of his father. Compare
I Chronicles 29:1 and note the bearing of this statement on
the authorship of this part of the book. The things here prom_
ised to those who possess wisdom are found in verses 6, 8, and
9 and are preservation, promotion, and honor. The parallelism
in these verses is synonymous, the second line in each repeat_
ing in different words the meaning of the first.
The theme of 4:10_19 is, „The ways of wisdom and folly,”
or the ways of righteousness and wickedness contrasted. Verse
12 refers to the widening of the steps, an Oriental figure, for
the bold and free movements of one in prosperity, versus the
straightening of one in adversity, the straightening of them
which represents the strained and timid actions of one in ad_
versity. Compare Proverbs 4:12 and Psalm 18:36. Verse 17,
taken literally, means that evil men procure their bread and
wine by wickedness and violence or, taken figuratively, means
that wickedness and violence are to them as meat and drink.
Compare Job 15:16; 34:7; John 4:34.
There is a special contrast in verses 18_19 between the way
of the righteous and the way of the wicked; one is light and
the other is darkness. The parallelism here is integral, or pro_
The theme of 4:20_27 is, „Keeping the heart and the life
and looking straight ahead.” The key verse of this passage
is verse 23:
Keep thy heart with all diligence;
For out of it are the issues of life;
which reminds us of Matthew 15:19: „For out of the heart
cometh evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts,
false witnesses, railings.”
„Thou shalt not commit adultery” or the seventh command_
ment, would be a good title for chapter 5, and there are two
parts of this chapter, viz: The unholy passion to be shunned
(1_14) in contrast with the holy love to be cherished (15_23).
There are some most striking figures of speech in verses 3_
4, and 15_21 of this chapter. In verses 3_4, we have pictured
the seductions of the harlot and the bitter end of those who
are caught by her wiles; in verses 15_21 we have pictured the
folly of free love over against the love for the one woman,
with a fatherly exhortation to faithfulness in the marriage re_
The picture of the latter end of an unfaithful life is seen in
verses 9_14; 22_23. Then come regrets, heartaches, slavery to
sin, and final destruction.
The various evils against which there is found warning in
Proverbs 6 are as follows: (1) surety (1_5); (2) the sluggard
(6_11); (3) the worthless man (12_19); (4) the evil woman
On verses 1_5 Perowne says,
The frequent mention of suretyship in this book, and the
strong terms of warning and reprobation in which it is invaria_
bly spoken of, accord well with what we should suppose to be
the condition of society in the reign of Solomon. In earlier and
simpler times it was enough for the Law to forbid usury of
interest for a loan of money to be exacted by one Israelite
from another; and raiment given as a pledge or security for a
debt was to be returned before night_fall to be the owner’s cov_
ering in his sleep (Ex. 22:25_27; Lev. 25 3538).. With the de_
velopment, however, of commerce and the growth of luxury
under Solomon, money_lending transactions, whether for specu_
lation in trade, or for personal gratification, had come to be
among the grave dangers that beset the path of youth. Accord_
ingly, though the writer of Ecclessiasticus contents himself with
laying down restrictions to the exercise of suretyship, and even
goes the length of telling us that „An honest man is surety for
his neighbor” (Eccles. 8:13; 29:14_20), our writer here, with a
truer insight, has no quarter for it, but condemns it unsparing_
ly on every mention of it (vii:l_5; xi:15; xvii:18; xxii:26_27;
xxvii:13). Even the generous impulse of youth to incur risk
at the call of friendship must yield to the dictates, cold and
calculating though they seem, of bitter experience.
There is a warning here, as elsewhere in this book, against
all kinds of suretyship. (Compare 11:15; 17:18; 20:16; 22:
26_27; 27:13). The method of escape here seems to be that
the surety is to use all diligence to get a release from his ob_
ligation before it comes due, otherwise there would be no mercy
for him. He would have to pay it.
There are advice and warning to the sluggard in 6_11. He
is advised to go to the ant and learn of her ways so he might
take the wise course. He is warned of his coming poverty if
he gives over to the sluggard’s habits of sleeping when he
should be at his work early and late. This reminds us of
another well_known proverb:
Early to bed and early to rise,
Makes one healthy, wealthy, and wise.
In verses 12_19 we have a description of the worthless man,
his end and what God abominates in him. He is here described
as having a perverse mouth, winking with his eyes, speaking
(or shuffling) with his feet, making signs with his fingers, de_
vising evil, and sowing discord. His end is sudden destruction
and that without remedy. There are seven things which God
abominates in him, verses 16_19, as follows:
There are six things which Jehovah hateth;
Yea, seven which are an abomination unto him:
Haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
And hands that shed innocent blood;
A heart that deviseth wicked purposes,
Feet that are swift in running to mischief,
A false witness that uttereth lies,
And he that soweth discord among brethren.
The section on the evil woman (20_35) is introduced by an
appeal to the holy memories and sanctions of the family in order to give weight to an earnest warning against the sin which destroys the purity and saps the foundations of family life. There is a reference here, most likely, to the passage found in Deuteronomy 6:4_9, which was construed literally by the Jews and therefore gave rise to the formal exhibition of the law in their phylacteries (see „phylactery” in Bible dictionary). Of course, the meaning here, just as in the Deuteronomy passage, is that they should use all diligence in teaching and keeping the law.
The tricks of the evil woman are described in this section
(24_35), the effect of her life upon her dupes is given, the sin
of adultery is compared with stealing and the wound upon the
husband is also described. Her tricks are flattery, artificial
beauty and, like Jezebel trying to captivate Jehu, she paints
her eyelids (2 Kings 9:30). The effect of her life upon her
dupes is want in temporal life and loss of manhood, which is
here called „precious life.” Like a man with fire in his bosom
or coals of fire under his feet, the man who commits adultery
shall not be unpunished. Stealing to satisfy hunger is regarded
as a light offense, compared to this awful sin which always
inflicts an incurable wound upon the husband. This they now
call „The Eternal Triangle,” but it seems more correct to call
it „The Infemal Triangle.” No greater offense can be com_
mitted against God and the home than the sin dealt with in
The subject of chapter 7 is the same as that of the preced_
ing section, „The Evil Woman,” and is introduced by an earn_
est call to obedient attention which is followed by a graphic
description of the tempter and her victims, as a drama enacted
before the eyes.
The description of this woman here fits modern instances,
and there are the most solemn warnings here against this sin.
This description of her wiles and the final results of such a
course are so clear that there is hardly any need for comment.
A simple, attentive reading of this chapter is sufficient on each
1. What the style and tone of the addresses found in Proverbs 4:1
2. What the main thought, or theme, of 4:1_9?
3. What interesting bit of autobiography in this section, and what
the words of Wordsworth in point?
4. What the meaning of „eons” in verse I, what the meaning of
verse 3, and what does wisdom here promise to them that possess her?
5. What the theme of 4:10_19?
6. What the force of the figure in verse 12, what the interpretation
of verse 17, and what the special contrast of verses 18_19?
7. What the theme of 4:20_27, and what the key verse of this pas_
8. What commandment might be the title of chapter 5, and what
the two sections of this chapter with their respective themes?
9. What are some of the most striking figures of speech in this
chapter, and what the picture here given of old age when such an evil course of life is pursued?
10. What the various evils against which there is found warning in
11. What biblical times does the passage, 1_5, portray, what the warn_
ing here against security debts, and, according to this passage, when once involved, how escape?
12. What advice and warning to the sluggard in 6_11?
13. What the description of the worthless man, what his end and
what does God abominate in him?
14. How is the section on the evil woman (20_35) introduced and
what the reference in 20_22?
15. What the tricks of the evil woman described in this section (24_
35), what the effect of her life upon her dupes, how does the sin of
adultery compare with stealing and how is the wound upon the husband here described?.
18. What is the subject of chapter 7 and how is it introduced?
17. How does the description of this woman here fit modern instances and what are the most solemn warnings of this chapter against this sins? (Proverbs 8:1 to 9-18).
THE INSTRUCTION OF WISDOM
Proverbs 8:1 to 9:18.
The subject of Proverbs 8_9, wisdom personified and con_
trasted with chapter 7, is aptly stated by Perowne, thus:
The personification of Wisdom in this chapter is highly
suggestive. Already in the opening verses of the Book (1:20_33)
Wisdom has been personified, has „uttered her voice,” as here
she utters it, „in the street” and „in the chief places of con_
course,” and haa pleaded, as here she pleads, with the sons of
men. But here the fair impersonation, following closely upon the
vivid picture of the immediately foregoing section, presents itself
to us in striking and designed contrast to the dark form that
passed before us there. Not lurking furtively at the corners
of the streets, in the deepening twilight; not leading astray
with swift and stealthy footsteps and beguiling with whispered
subtleties, but with free and open grace, „in the top of high
places by the way,” in the sight of men, and with voice clear
and melodious as a clarion_call does she utter forth her appeal
(vv, 1_3). She speaks (vv. 4_36). While she addresses herself to
every child of man, the „simple” and „fools” are specially invited
to profit by her instruction (w. 4, 5). All her speech is plain
and open, and needs only an intelligent ear to understand it
(vv. 6_9). The treasures she offers are above all price, and such
as even kings may covet (w. 10, II). Telling us who she is and
what she has to offer us (vv. 12_21), she goes on to affirm that
her claim to attention is no less than that she is the eternal
Possession and Fellow of Jehovah Himself, His joy and Coun_
sellor in the creation and ordering of the universe, and that
from the beginning her „delights were with the sona of men.”
(vv. 22_31). Therefore, on premises such as these, she pleads
with us yet again, as her children, that we refuse not the bless_
edness which she offers (vv. 32_36).
Why, we ask ourselves, does not the wise Teacher, having
in mind to draw away his sona from the seduction of vice by
subjecting them to the mightier attractions of virtue, set over
against the abandoned woman of his first picture the pure and
faithful wife, with her charm of holy love, as the subject of
his second picture. Why does he not counsel his scholara, aa
indeed he does elsewhere (vv. 15_19), to find in God’s holy ordi_
nance the true remedy for the pleasures of sin which the tempt_
ress offers them? Because, in the first place, he would lead them.
higher, and commend to them a yet worthier object of supreme
affection, an object which at once includea and surpasses all
pure and lawful objects of human devotion. . . . And then also
because through the Spirit of God which was his in him, the
ideal of comprehensive Wisdom which his mind formed took
personal shape, and stood before him as the embodiment of all
human virtue and perfection, a prophecy and a promise, such
as had been vouchsafed to the bodily senses of others, a „pre_
luding of the Incarnation”.
In chapter 8 we hear wisdom calling on top of the high places, at the crossroads and at the entrances of the city (1_3) ;
she calls men, simple, and foolish, as well as the wise (4_5) ; her claim as to plainness of speech is that her sayings are excellent, righteous, and plain to him that understands (6_9); the treasures which she offers are instruction and knowledge which are more valuable than silver, gold, or rubies (10_11); what wisdom is and what she gives is found in verses 12_21; her august claims are that she was in the beginning with Jehovah and was his great delight (22_31); her consequent appeal, then, was to heed her call, be wise and live (32_36).
Chapter 9, with which the Introduction to the book of Prov_
erbs concludes, consists of two parts, in which wisdom person-ified (w. 1_12) and folly (vv. 13_18) represented by a vicious woman are set once more in vivid contrast to each other, con-tending for the adherence of the children of men. Each has her house to receive them (w. 1, 14), each her feast spread for them (w. 2, 17), each her invitation, couched, in part, at least, in identical terms (w. 4, 16), which she utters forth in the high places of the city (vv. 3, 14). The balance and symmetry of these two parts are not, however, artistically preserved. Moral earnestness overpowers literary skill. The picture of wisdom (w. 1_5) is followed by her prolonged address (vv. 7_12), for which the companion picture (w. 13_17) has to wait, the section being closed by a single note of warning from the teacher himself (v. 18).
The picture of wisdom in verses 1_5 is the picture of a host_
ess, building her house, preparing her feast, sending out her
invitations, and urging all classes to come and dine with her.
This reminds us of the parable of the gospel feast as given
by our Lord.
The meaning of the „seven pillars” of verse I is significant.
„Pillars form an important feature in Oriental Architecture,
partly perhaps as a reminiscence of the tent with its support_
ing poles and partly also from the use of flat roofs, in conse-quence of which the chambers were either narrower, or divided into portions by columns.” – Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, Art. „Pillar.” Here, however, it is better to suppose that the great banquet hall is open all along the front, so as it were to invite entrance, the proof being supported by a row („seven” is the usual symbol of completeness) of stately pillars. The mag-nificent hall in which the lords of the Philistines sat and watch-ed Samson make sport in the courtyard outside, while on its flat roof no fewer than 3,000 people were assembled, was construct-ed on this principle; the two central pillars of the colonnade forming a chief support of the roof (Judges 16:25_30).
To paraphrase verse 6, it would read somewhat as follows:
„Come to a decision; your present neutral position is not tena_
ble. Your choice lies between wisdom and the scorner. There_
fore, break altogether with the scorner and the wicked man,
and become the guest of wisdom.” Compare 2 Corinthians 6:
The thought expressed in verses 7_9 is equal to that of Mat_
thew 7:6, which gives the same thought exactly, thus: „Give
not that which is holy to the dogs, neither cast your pearls be_
fore the swine, lest haply they trample them under their feet,
and turn and rend you.”
There is a principle enunciated in 9:10, a promise in 9:11
and a warning in 9:12, viz: the principle of getting wisdom and
understanding, the promise of long life and the warning against
scorning lest he bear the penalty alone.
The description of the foolish woman is found in 9:13. She
is here described as clamorous, simple, and a know_nothing.
Her methods and inducement are given in 9:14_17. She sits at
the door (or stands at the window) of her house and calls them
that pass by, but only the simple heed her call, to whom she
says her proverb:
Stolen waters are sweet,
And bread eaten in secret is pleasant.
The final warning as to the results of yielding to her is given
in verse 18. The poor, ignorant dupes do not know that under
her house are the bodies of dead men whose spirits have been
hurled into hell. We are here reminded of those hell holes in
Paris, France, where many disappeared by means of the trap_
door, never to be seen again, of the case of one Mrs. Gunness
who buried her scores, or the case of many roadhouses in mod_
ern times which are veritable traps of hell.
1. What the subject of chapters 8_9, and what the contrast here
with chapter 7?
2. What the deeper significance of this passage?
3. Where does wisdom call?
4. Whom does she call?
5. What her claim as to plainness of speech?
6. What the treasures which she offers?
7. What is wisdom and what does she give?
8. What her august claims?
9. What, then, her consequent appeal?
10. Of what does chapter 9 consist and what the parallels between
11. What the picture of wisdom here?
12. What the meaning of the „seven pillars” of verse I?
13. What the meaning of verse 6?
14. What the thought expressed in verses 7_9?
15. What principle enunciated in 9:10, what promise in 9:11 and
what warning in 9:12?
16. What the description of the foolish woman?
17. What her methods and what inducement does she offer?
18. What the final warning as to the results of yielding to her?
Proverbs 10:1 to 22:16.
Solomon is the author of Proverbs 10:1 to 22:16, and the
character of this section is noticeable in the change from the
direct and continuous appeal of the opening chapters of the
book to the short and, for the most part, disconnected maxims,
each of them contained, as a rule, in a couplet, or district,
formed strictly on the model of Hebrew parallelism.
The one exception to the rule of the couplet is found in 19:7
were there is a tristich, or stanza of three lines) which is ex_
plained by assuming that the last clause of this verse properly
belongs to another proverb, of which one member has fallen
out of our present text. This conclusion is in some measure
confirmed by the appearance in the Septuagint of two complete
distichs, though it does not help toward the restoration of the
original Hebrew text.
Maurer calls this section, „Golden saying not unworthy of
Solomon, fitted to form and fashion the whole life.” There are
376 proverbs in this collection and the parallelism is generally
antithetic. A profitable study it would be to take this great
section and classify each proverb in it as to the Hebrew paral_
lelism found in it, and then paraphrase it so as to show its
application to modern life, but such a plan would require more
space than can be given to this discussion. An example of
such paraphrase is found in W. J. Bryan’s paraphrase of
Proverbs 22:3, thus:
A wise man sees the danger and gets out of the way,
But the fool rushes on and gets it in the neck.
I give here several proverbs selected from those made by
members of the author’s class in the Southwestern Baptist The_
ological Seminary, as illustrations of the various kinds of
parallelism found in the book of proverbs. Many of them are
antithetic, like most of the proverbs found in the great section
discussed so briefly in this chapter. The kind of parallelism
found in each proverb is indicated by the word following it.
A wise man is as springtime to his neighbor,
But the foolish are as the death of winter. Antithetic
A son that honors his father shall be honored in old age,
But he that dishonors his parents shall suffer at the last.
A wise man chooses his path,
But they who Jack wisdom stumble on through life. Antithetic
In the house of the wicked strife prevails,
But in the chambers of the righteous peace dwells. Antithetic
Christ is the foundation of religion,
And religion is the foundation of the world. Synthetic
Heaven is a place of happiness
But hell is a place of torment. Antithetic
What you were will not avail,
It’s what you are that counts. Synthetic
Every proverb has encased a jewel,
And wisdom is the key to unlock it. Climactic
Teachers impart knowledge,
But pupils straightway forget it. Antithetic
Any fool can find fault,
But the wise in heart will bridle the tongue. Antithetic
If people would be loved,
They must first love others. Progressive
Love getteth to itself friends;
While hatred maketh enemies. Antithetic
Duty calls ever and anon,
Happy the man who heeds her call. Climactic
If you pay as you go,
Your going will be good. Progressive
The bold eat the sweet morsel of victory,
But the fearful are put to shame. Antithetic
The rebuke of a friend
Is better than the compliment of an enemy. Progressive
As the rudder is to the ship,
So is character to the life. Parabolic
A little schooling is a fooling with the looks,
But true learning is a discerning of the books. Antithetic
The wicked rejoiceth in health,
But calleth on the Lord in distress. Antithetic
The man who has an axe to grind
Meets you with a smiling face. Progressive
Tis only noble thoughts
Can make a noble man. Progressive
The wheels of time move slowly
But they move surely. Climactic
The wicked purpose evil and are brought low,
But the righteous purpose good and are exalted. Antithetic
The man who seeks to know the right shall find light.
But he who seeks the lusts of the flesh shall find darkness.
The going of the wicked is exceedingly crooked,
But the path of the righteous is in the straight and narrow way.
As a roaring lion in chains by the way,
So is the adversary to the heavenly pilgrim.
They who take part in others’ troubles
Are apt to get into trouble, too.
1. Who the author of Proverbs 10:1 to 22:16 and what the character of this section?
2. What exception to the rule that these Proverbs are expressed in
couplets and how may this exception be explained?
3. What says Maurer of this section?
4. How many proverbs in this section and what kind of parallelism
is most common?
5. What suggestion by the author for a profitable study of this section?
6. Select ten of the most striking ones in this section and para_
phrase them so as to show the application of them.
7. Now try your hand at making proverbs of every kind of Hebrew
parallelism and indicate the kind of parallelism in each.
THE PROVERBS OF THE WISE
Proverbs 22:17 to 24:84.
There are two collections of proverbs in this passage, as fol_
lows: (1) 22:17 to 24:22; (2) 24:23_34. The preface, or in_
troduction, to the first collection consists of 22:17_21.
This short paragraph is at once a conclusion and an intro_
duction, a pause in the continuous teaching of the same Teach_
er, in which he sums up what has gone before, and opens the
way for further instruction. In our present Hebrew text there
is no break between the 16th and 17th verses of this chapter,
but there is a slight break, to which however, no special im_
portance can be attached, between the 21st and 22nd verses.
The Revised Version is so printed as to indicate the commence_
ment of a new section at verse 17 and of a fresh paragraph at
verse 22. – Perowne.
The proverbs of this collection are contained sometimes in
one, sometimes in two or three verses, sometimes they lapse
into a continuous discourse, after the manner of the first nine
chapters. In verses 22_27 there are three tetrastichs. The first
consists of verses 22 and 23; the second, of verses 24 and 25;
the third, of verses 26 and 27.
There is a warning relative to the poor here, one relative to
an angry man, and one relative to sureties. The warning rela_
tive to the poor is not to rob the poor because Jehovah will
plead their cause; the one concerning an angry man is to make
no friendship with him lest he become a snare; the one con_
cerning sureties is a positive prohibition against becoming
surety at all.
There is also here a warning concerning land titles in Prov_
erbs 22:28; 23:10_11 and a black_reference to Deuteronomy
19:14. The ancient landmark must be kept intact. Land_
grabbing was not permitted even in that early day. A great
law is set forth in 22:29, thus:
Seest thou a man diligent in his business?
He shall stand before kings;
He shall not stand before mean men.
Labor yields her rewards: „Labor conquers all things.” Com_
pare I Kings 10:8. Faithfulness in service is the basis of pro_
In 23:1_3 is a warning to watch the appetite, because the
favor of the ruler, an Oriental despot, and the luxury that sur_
rounds one under such circumstances, is a dangerous thing.
In 23:4_5 we have another warning, viz: that the desire to
become rich may not weary us since riches are very uncertain,
as they may take wings and fly away like the eagle. This pas_
sage is in line with Paul’s advice to Timothy to charge the
rich relative to the uncertainty of riches and what should be
the attitude of the rich toward God’s cause. He says to Timo_
thy, „Charge them that are rich in this present world, that they
be not highminded, nor have their hope set on the uncertainty
of riches, but on God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
that they do good, that they be rich in good works, that they
be ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in
store for themselves a good foundation against the time to
come, that they may lay hold on the life which is life indeed”
(I Tim. 6:17_19).
There is a parental admonition in 23:13_14 relative to the
chastisement of the child, commending the use of corporal
punishment, meaning that this punishment will not necessarily
result in death, or that he will not die as a result of his sin if
thus corrected. The latter is the more preferable. There is a
principle here enunciated, that life issues from obedience to
law and one who has never learned the principle of obedience
to the authorities, whether parent, government, or God, is not
likely to yield himself to the lordship of Jesus Christ without
which he can never escape hell.
There are two striking pictures in the section (22:15_21).
The first picture is that of a father pleading with his son show_
ing the parental interest in the boy and the happy result of a
life in the fear of God. The second picture is that of a man
brought to rags by gluttony and drunkenness, which reminds
us of the prodigal son.
The admonition given in verse 22 is a very solemn one and
suggests the many observations of the author on filial rela_
tionships. How beautiful is the reverence for parents when
they are old, and how abhorring the disrespect for them often
seen in modern times! This is a very wholesome piece of ad_
The characteristics of the drunkard are pictured in 23:29_
35. Here we see him as a man of. woe, a man of sorrows, a
man of contention, a man of complaint, a man of wounds, a
man with redness of eyes, a man with blurred vision, a man of
perverse heart, a man tossed about like a vessel at sea, a man
with deadened senses, and with all this, a man still drinking
whenever he can get it.
In 24:1_22 are many fine proverbs, the teachings in which
cover a large range of human experience. It would be a profita_
ble exercise to mark off the stanzas of this wonderful passage
and then note the principal teachings found in it. It may be
read with great interest.
The section, 24:23_34 is a small collection of the proverbs
of the wise and forms a kind of appendix to the preceding col_
lection. There are two distinct parts of it, verses 23_29 and 30_
34. The most remarkable teaching found in verses 23_29 is
righteous judgment based on wisdom.
The picture in verses 30_34 is that of a field of the slothful.
There are several points of this description, viz: the owner is
designated a sluggard, his field is grown up with thorns and
nettles, the wall is down and the lesson of it all is the poverty
and want of its owner. The last four lines constitute a strik_
ing parabolic proverb.
1. How many and what collections of proverbs in these chapters,
22:17 to 24:34?
2. What the preface, or introduction, to the first collection, and
what its double function?
3. What the characteristics of this section?
4. What kind of stanzas in verses 22_27?
5. What the warning relative to the poor here, what one relative to
an angry man, and what one relative to sureties?
6. What warning concerning land titles in Proverbs 22:28; 23:10_11?
7. What great law is set forth in 22:29?
8. What warning given in 23:1_3 and why this warning?
9. What warning in 23:4_5 and how does this teaching compare with
the New Testament teaching on the same subject?
10. What parental admonition in 23:13_14 and how does parental
chastisement deliver the child’s soul from hell?
11. What the two pictures in the section, 22:15_21?
12. What do you think of the admonition given in verse 22?
13. What the characteristics of the drunkard as pictured in 23:29_35?
14. Mark the stanzas in 24:1_22, select three of the best proverbs in
this group and note the essential teachings in this section.
15. What can you say of the section, 24:23_34?
16. What, to you, is the most remarkable teaching found in verses
17. What the picture in verses 30_34 and what the last four lines of
OTHER PROVERBS OF SOLOMON AND THE
Proverbs 25:1 to 31:31.
The title of the section, 25:1 to 29:27, is found in Proverbs
25:1: „These also are proverbs of Solomon, which the men of
Hezekiah king of Judah copied out.” Perowne says,
This title is interesting as affording a proof that revival of
literary activity accompanied the revival of religion and of na_
tional prosperity which marked the reign of Hezekiah. Hezekiah
himself was a poet of no mean order (Isa. 38:9_12); and „the
men of Hezekiah” were doubtless a body of scribes engaged un_
der the direction of the king in literary labors. But beside this,
this brief title is one of those „fragments of history,” which, aa
Professor Sayce has shown, „have been illuminated by the prog_
ress of oriental research,” and „the importance and true signifi_
cance of which can now be realized for the first time.” Thia title
points, he thinks, to the existence of a royal library in Jerusa_
lem, into which these proverbs, never before edited, were now
gathered and „copied out” and similar to the libraries which are
now known to have existed in the cities of Babylonia and Assy_
ria. The vassalage of Judah to the king of Assyria in the reign
of Ahaz had necessarily led to the introduction of Assyrian
culture into Jerusalem. Ahaz himself had led the way. In the
court of the palace he had erected a sundial, a copy of the
gnomons which had been used for centuries in the civilized
kingdoms of the Euphrates and the Tigris. But the erection
of the sundial was not the only sign of Assyrian influence. The
most striking feature of Assyrian and Babylonian culture was
the libraries, where scribes were kept constantly employed, not
only in writing and compiling new books, but in copying and
re_editing older ones. The „men of Hezekiah” who „copied out”
the proverbs of Solomon performed duties exactly similar to
the royal scribes in Nineveh.
It would be a profitable exercise to note all the varieties of
stanza, and to select a number of the most beautiful proverbs
found in this section, and then compare Proverbs 25:7 with
Luke 14:8_10 as an example of the New Testament elaboration
of a proverb, but these matters must be left to the Bible stu_
dent to be worked out for himself. The author recommends an
earnest reading and careful study of this wonderful section of
the proverbs of Solomon.
The collection of proverbs in chapter 30 is ascribed to a
philosopher, or teacher, named Agur, the son of Jakeh, and is
addressed by him to lthiel and Ucal, presumably his scholars
or disciples. The name lthiel occurs again as that of a Benja_
mite in Nehemiah 11:7. Ucal as a proper name is not found
elsewhere in the Old Testament. Horton says,
Whoever Agur was, he had a certain marked individuality; he combined meditation on lofty questions of theology with a sound theory of practical life. He was able to give valuable admonitions about conduct. But his characteristic delight was to group together in quatrains visible illustrations of selected qualities or ideas.
The following is a brief analysis of chapter 30:
The chapter, which is highly interesting and in some respects
unique, on which account it may have been selected out of other similar literature for publication as an Appendix to this book, consists of a Title, or note of authorship (v, 1), followed by a prologue, in which in a spirit of deep abasement, which is the .spirit of true wisdom, the author confesses his own utter ignorance in view of the great questions which offer themselves for solution. The study of nature makes it clear that there is a God; but who can tell Who and What He is (vv. 2_4)? Only by revelation can He be known; and in that revelation, held sacred from all admixture, man finds Him and is safe (vv. 5, 6). To the God thus found and trusted the writer turns with a two_fold prayer that he may be in himself a real and true man; a prayer that in his earthly lot he may have the happy mean, removed from the temptations which belong to the extremes of poverty and riches (vv. 7_9). Then, after an isolated proverb of the familiar type (v. 10), another peculiarity of this Collection, which may have been a further reason for its being appended to the Book of Proverbs, is introduced. A series of five „numerical proverbs,” or „quatrains,” as they have been called, groups of „four things,” with a single proverb inserted between the second and third groups (v. 17), brings the Collection to a close with the exception of one final proverb at the end of the chapter (vv. 32, 33). – CAMBRIDGE BIBLE
It is very interesting to note in this chapter Agur’s prayer
(7_9), the four insatiable things (15_16), the four inscrutable
things (18_20), the four intolerable things (21_23), the four
wise little things (24_28) and the four stately things (29_31),
all of which have their lessons for us. There are several fine
isolated proverbs here (10_11, 14, 17, 32_33), each with its own
Proverbs 31:1_9 has King Lemuel for its author. This is just
another name for Solomon. Taking the chapter as a whole,
the following is a good, brief analysis:
1. Salutation (v. 1)
2. Maternal admonitions (w. 2_9).
3. Characteristics of a worthy woman (vv. 10_31).
From the salutation we learn that King Lemuel was the
author of verses 1_9 which is the oracle taught him by his
mother. This is a fine example of maternal influence. There
can be no finer compliment to a good mother than the effect
of her life and teaching finding expression in the conduct and
writings of her children.
The maternal admonitions in verses 2_9 are expressions of
the desire of a true mother’s heart for her children. The warn_
ing here concerning strong drink with its results in the lives
of kings and princes might be good advice for kings, princes,
governors, and others in high positions today. It will be noted
that the admonition here relative to strong drink is immedi_
ately connected with the admonition concerning women and it
does not require an extensive observation now to see the perti_
nency of these warnings. These are twin evils and wherever
you find one of them you find the other also. It is not to be
understood that there is sanction here of strong drink as a
beverage, but rather the medicinal use of it as in the case of
Paul’s advice to Timothy to take a little wine for the stomach’s
sake. It may also be noted here that righteous judgment is
unjoined and this, too, is always in danger at the hands of
those who indulge in strong drink.
The passage, 10_31, is an acrostic, or alphabetical poem, and a gem of literature. This passage is the picture of a worthy
woman. In the Cambridge Bible we have this fine comment:
The picture here drawn of woman in her proper sphere of
home, as a wife and a mother and the mistress of a household,
stands out in bright relief against the dark sketches of woman
degraded by impurity, or marred, by imperfections, which are to
be found in earlier chapters of this Book (ii. 16_20; v. 1_23;
vii; xxii. 14; xxiii. 27, 28, and xi. 22; six. 13; xxi. 19). Corruptio
optimi pessima. We have here woman occupying and adorning
her rightful place, elevated by anticipation to the high estate
to which the Gospel of Christ has restored her. It is an expan_
sion of the earlier proverbs: „Whoso findeth a wife fmdeth a
good thing, and obtaineth favor of the Lord” (xviii. 22). The
ideal here set forth for the woman is fine and represents her at
her best and most influential business, viz: that of making a home.
1. What the title of the section. Proverbs 25:1 to 29:28, and of what
is it a proof?
2. What varieties of stanza found in this section?
3. What kinds of parallelism are found in this passage?
4. Give ten of the most beautiful proverbs found in this section,
showing their application.
5. What proverbs in this section is elaborated in a New Testament parable?
6. Who were Agur, lthiel, and Ucal and what may be remarked
especially of Agur?
7. Give a brief analysis of chapter 30.
8. What Agur’s prayer?
9. What the four insatiable things according to Agur?
10. What the four inscrutable things?
11. What the four intolerable things?
12. What the four wise little things?
13. What the four stately things?
14. Who was King Lemuel?
15. Give a brief analysis of chapter 31.
16. What do we learn from the salutation?
17. What the maternal admonitions in verses 2_9 and what do you
think of them?
18. What can you say of the passage, 10_31?
19. According to this passage what the picture here of a worthy
20. What do you think of the ideal here set forth for the woman?
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES
„Ecclesiastes” is derived from the Septuagint version which
translates the Hebrew word, Koheleth, „Ekklesiastes.” Kohe_
leth means „master of assemblies,” or one who addresses an
assembly; „Ekklesiastes” means the preacher. So this book
was named from this characteristic of its author, viz: master
of assemblies, or the preacher.
The book of Ecclesiastes was undoubtedly written by Solo_
mon and the proof that Solomon wrote it is that all Jewish
and Christian tradition says that Solomon was the author.
This was first disputed in the time of Luther. Since that time
some critics have claimed that someone wrote it much later
and attributed it to Solomon for the effect. But Solomon wrote
it, which is shown by the following considerations:
1. The book purports to be the product of Solomon.
2. History compared with the book itself proves it. I Kings
3:12; 4:29_34 speaks of Solomon’s wisdom. The author claims
to have the wisdom he has spoken of (Eccles. 1:16). I Kings 4:
20_28; and 10:23_27 tell of Solomon’s riches. Compare Eccle_
3. Whoever reads this book and the Song of Solomon can see clearly that the author of one of these books is the author of
the other also.
4. There is no historical evidence of any Jew living in the
time assigned by the radical critics that fills the place.
5. There is nothing in the style to contradict the authorship
The objections to the commonly accepted date and author_
ship urged by the radical critics are:
1. The tense of the verb in 1:12 is past and therefore could
not refer to Solomon because he reigned in Jerusalem until his
death. The reply to this objection is that it is in the past
tense because he is now about to give his past experience dur_
ing his long reign as king in Jerusalem.
2. In the same verse is a reference to Jerusalem which indi_
cates a divided kingdom and therefore must be later than
Solomon’s time. The reply to this is that Jerusalem is here
specified, as opposed to David who reigned both in Hebron
and Jerusalem. „King of Israel in Jerusalem” implies that he
reigned over Israel and Judah combined; whereas David, at
Hebron, reigned only over Judah and not until he was settled
in Jerusalem, over both Israel and Judah.
3. The words used in the book belong to a later date than
the time of Solomon. The reply to this is that the roots of
these words have all been found in Genesis and other Hebrew
writings before the time of Solomon.
4. The condition of the people was incompatable with the
time of Solomon, the reply to which is, „Not so.”
5. The difference in the style in this book and Proverbs and
the Song of Solomon. But the difference in subject matter
justifies the difference in style. Also it must be remembered
that Proverbs and the Song were written while Solomon was
young, and this book when he was old and wearied with life
So Solomon wrote this book when he was an old man, from
the viewpoint of experience, old age, and penitence; it is a
formal discourse, or sermon, the text of which is „Vanity of
vanities, all is vanity” (1:2) and the object of it was to
search out what good thing the sons of men should do all the
days of their life (2:3). The whole book is given to this one
Some of the various ideas of the author of this book are as
follows: Some say that he was an Epicurean; others that he
was a dyspeptic; yet others, that he was a sceptic, a Stoic, or
an atheist; but to the closer student the plan of the book
The book, as a philosophical treatise, contains a discussion of every perplexing question of today. This book fairly repre_
sents the struggles of every schoolboy who thinks. Its teach_
ing is that in this life there is but one true philosophy and
shows that we are living in a world which is under a curse.
Compare Romans 8:20ff.
There is one caution as to its interpretation, viz: Withhold
your verdict till the evidence is all in, because in it all theories
are tried and the conclusion explains these results. In con_
nection with this book, the book of Job and Psalm 73 should
be studied. The author adopts wisdom as the means to try
out all the theories of life.
A complete outline of the book is as follows:
The Title (1:1)
The Prologue (1:2_11)
(1) His text (1:2)
(2) His introductory interrogatory (1:3)
(3) The passing of the generations (1:4)
(4) The material world (1:5_7)
(5) The montony of it all (1:8)
(6) There is nothing new (1:9_10)
(7) There is no remembrance (1:11)
I. The Pursuit of Wisdom (1:12_18)
II. The Pursuit of Pleasure (2:1_3)
III. The Pursuit of Great Works (2:4_25)
1. Great works enumerated (2:4_11)
2. A comparison between wisdom and folly, or pleasure
3. He hated his labor because he had to die and leave
it to another (2:18_23) therefore conclusion No. I
(2:24a) but the God thought knocks it over (2:24b, 25f)
IV. Elements that limit (3:1_5:9)
1. Divine elements:
(1) Law of opportunes (3:1_8)
(2) Eternity in our hearts (3:9_lla)
(3) Finiteness of man’s nature limits him (3:llb)
then conclusion No. 2 (3:12) but the God
thought knocks it over (3:13)
(4) The laws of God are infrangible (3:14f)
2. Human elements:
(1) Iniquity in the place of justice (3:16) but modi_
fied by a divine element (3:17) and the divine
purpose, since man dies like beasts (3:18_21)
therefore, conclusion No. 3 (3:22)
(2) Oppression of the poor (4:1) therefore the dead
or unborn are better off (4:2_3)
(3) Labor and skill actuated only by rivalry with
his neighbor (4:4) therefore the fool folds his
hands (4:5f) and then two examples (4:7_12;
(4) Elements of weakness in human worship (5:1_7)
(5) Some further observations (5:8_9)
V. Riches tried (5:10 to 6:12) and found insufficient, because,
1. They cannot satisfy (5:10)
2. Consumers of wealth increase with wealth (5:lla)
3. The owner can only, look at it (5:llb)
4. He cannot sleep as a laborer (5:12)
5. Riches may hurt the owner (5:13)
6. They may perish in an unlucky venture (5:14a)
7. The owner begets a son when he is bankrupt (5:14b)
8. In any event, he is stripped of all at death (5′ 15)
9. He leads a worried life (5:16f) therefore, conclusion
No. 4, (5:18_20)
10. The care of a rich man who could not enjoy it (6:
(1) He cannot eat it (6:1_6)
(2) All his labor is for his mouth (6:7_9)
(3) The greatest is but a man and cannot contend
against God (6:10_12)
VI. The golden mean tried (7:1 to 8:15)
1. Value of a good name (7:1)
2. House of mourning better than the house of feasting (7:2_4)
3. Listen to the reproof of the wise, rather than the
laughter of fools (7:5_7)
4. Do not yield to anger (7:8f)
5. Do not talk of the good old days as better than
6. Consider the advantage of wisdom over wealth (7:llf)
7. Don’t try to straighten all the crooked things (7:13)
8. If prosperous, be content (7:14a)
9. In adversity remember it, too, comes from God
10. Since it sometimes happens that the righteous die
while the wicked live, be not righteous over much,
nor too wise, nor too wicked, nor too foolish; hold
somewhat to both ( 7:15_18) this golden mean plan
is great because there is not a righteous man in the
earth that sinneth not (7:19f)
11. Don’t try to find out all that people say about you
12. The result is unsatisfactory (7:23 to 8: 15) it fails
(1) Things are too deep for the human mind (7:23_25)
(2) Woman is more bitter than death (7:26_28)
(3) Man one of a thousand though fallen (7:29)
(4) When applied to public affairs that say,
(a) Do not rebel (8:1_2)
(b) Do not resent oppression (8:3f)
(c) Leave the case to God’s restitution (8:5_7)
(d) The evil ruler will die; there is no furlough
in that war (8:8)
(5) There are rulers who rule over men to their
(6) The mills of the gods grind too slow for the cor_
rection of this evil (8:11_13)
(7) Though ultimately it is well with the righteous
and evil with the wicked, yet here and now we
do see wicked men get the crown of the right_
eous and vice versa (8:14) therefore, conclusion
No. 5, (8:15)
VII. The means used to solve the problem condemned (8:16
to 10:20) because,
1. It is too wearisome (8:16)
2. Finite wisdom cannot fathom it (8:17 to 9:1)
3. Death comes alike to all (9:2_6) therefore, conclusion
No. 6, (9:7_10)
4. The race is not to the swift (9:11_12) illustrated
5. One fool can destroy much good (9:16 to 10:4)
6. Passive resistance to the ruler tends to promote fools
7. The king may be a child (10:16_20)
VIII. If the means of solution be discarded, what then? (11:
1. Cast thy bread upon the waters (11:1)
2. Give a portion to all (11:2)
3. Don’t watch the wind and the cloud (11:3_5)
4. Work all. seasons (11:6_8)
5. Let the young in their joys remember the judgment
6. Remember God in youth (12:1)
7. Lest death itself come (12:2_8)
8. The real good thing to do (12:9_13)
9. Why? The judgment is before us (12:14)
1. What the meaning of the title of the book of Ecclesiastes?
2. Who wrote the book?
3. What the proof that Solomon wrote it?
4. What objections to the commonly accepted date and authorship
urged by the radical critics and what the reply to each, seriatim?
5. When did Solomon write this book?
6. From what point of view?
7. What is the character of the book?
8. What was his text?
9. What was his object?
10. What are some of the various ideas of the author of this book?
11. What can you say of the book as a philosophical treatise?
12. What caution as to its interpretation?
13. What scriptures should be studied in connection with this book?
14. What means did the author adopt?
16. Give a complete outline of the book?
THE PROLOGUE AND THREE METHODS APPLIED
Ecclesiastes 1:2 to 5:9
„Vanity of vanities” (v.2) is a Hebraism and means the
most utter vanity. Compare „Holy of holies” and „Servant
of servants” (Gen. 9:25). This does not mean that all things
are vanity in themselves, but that they are all vanity when
put in the place of God, or made the chief end of life instead
of a means to an end.
The meaning and purpose of the question in 1:3 is to inquire
as to the profit of all labor and worry which we see about us
as touching the chief good, but does not mean that labor is
not profitable in its proper place. (Cf. Gen. 2:15; 3:19; Prov.
There is a beautiful parallel to 1:4 in modern literature, viz:
„The Brook” by Tennyson. The stanza that sounds so much
like this is as follows:
And out again I curve and flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on forever.
The sun, wind, and rivers in their endless courses (1:5_7)
are illustrations of the meaning of the text from the material
world. The monotony of all this is expressed in verse 8, thus:
„All things are full of weariness; man cannot utter it; the
eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.”
The meaning of verses 9_10 is that there is no new source
of happiness (the subject in question) which can be devised,
the same round of pleasures, cares, business, and study being
repeated over and over again; that in the nature of things,
there is no new thing which might give us hope of attaining
that satisfaction that hitherto things have not afforded.
Verse 11 is an explanation of verses 9_10 and means that
some things are thought to be new which are not really so
because of the imperfect records of the past. This seems to
hedge against the objection that there are many inventions
and discoveries unknown to former ages by showing that the
records do not preserve all these inventions for the present
generation and therefore they are only thought to be new.
The methods applied in this search for the chief good are
wisdom, pleasure, great works, riches, and a golden mean.
The author claims for himself in 1:12_17 that he was king
over Israel in Jerusalem and that he had applied himself in
search of all that was done under heaven, to find that it was a
sore travail which God had permitted the sons of men to
be exercised with; that he had seen all the works done under
the sun and found them all vanity and a striving after wind;
that he had found many crooked things and many things
wanting; that he had attained to greater wisdom than all
others before him in Jerusalem and had applied it to know
madness and folly, to find this, too, to be a striving after
wind. The final result of it all is given in verse 18, thus:
„For in much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth
knowledge increaseth sorrow.”
The experiment described in 2:1_3 is the test of worldly
pleasure, with the result that it, too, was vanity. Then in
2:4_11 he gives his experience in the pursuit of great works; he
built houses, planted vineyards) made gardens and parks,
planted trees, made pools of water, bought servants of all
kinds, gathered silver and gold, provided a great orchestra
for his entertainment, in fact, had everything his eyes desired
and tried to find in them joy and comfort, but upon due re_
flection, he found this, too, a striving after the wind and to
no profit under the sun.
In 2:12_17 we have his comparison between wisdom and
folly, with the result that wisdom far excels folly or pleasure,
yet the same thing happens to the fool and to the wise man,
viz: both die and are forgotten. So he was made to hate life
because his work was grievous and a striving after wind.
There is ground for the hatred of labor because he must die
and leave it to another (2:18_23). The reference in verse 19
ig to Rehoboam; Solomon evidently suspected his course.
Therefore, the conclusion of 2:240 is that there is nothing
better for a man than to eat and drink) and to make his soul
enjoy his labor, but the thought (24b_25f) that it is all from
God and that it is all subject to God’s disposal, knocks it over.
In 3:1 to 5:9 we have the elements that limit:
I. The Divine Elements are,
1. The law of opportunes (3:1_8)
2. The eternity in our hearts (3:9_lla)
3. The finiteness of man’s nature (3:llb)
4. The laws of God are infrangible (3:14)
II. The Human Elements are,
1. Iniquity in the place of justice (3:16)
2. The oppression of the poor (4:1)
3. Labor and skill actuated only by rivalry with the
4. The elements of weakness in human worship (5:1_7)
On the law of opportunes, will say that we have to work
under this law all the days of our lives. Things must be done
in their time or they are a failure.
„God hath put eternity in our hearts” (3:11) is a great
text. This means _that money and worldly things cannot sat_
isfy the yearning of the human heart, which is for eternal
things. Therefore, the conclusion in 3:12 is the same as in
2:24, but the God thought knocks it over (3:13): „Then I
saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth dark_
Verses 14_15 mean that the laws of God are infrangible,
i.e., cannot be broken with impunity, and that whoever breaks
the laws of the divine limitations him will God break.
It is an awful observation the author cites in 3:16. The ob_
servation is that iniquity was in the place of justice; that
unjust men in court block the way of the righteous if they
appeal to them. This is like the parable of the widow and
unjust judge. A modification of this thought is found in the
divine element, that God will judge the righteous and the
A serious question arises in 3:18_21. This is not a proposi_
tion but a heart question: Is there a distinction between man
and beast? Bunyan represents Pilgrim in this condition when
he had advanced far into his pilgrimage: a darkness on either
side of the road; here evil spirits would whisper to him and
so impress him that he would question as to whether he did
not originate the thought himself. Spurgeon found himself in
this condition once. The sin of Solomon doubtless was the
cause of his questioning; even so it is with us. The conclusion
of 3:22 is a most natural one. If man dies like a beast and
that is the end of all for him, then he can do no better than to
make the most of this life.
The author records an observation in 4:1 and a question
which arose therefrom. The oppression of the poor and the
question arising was a temporary one, as to whether it would
not be better to be dead or never to have been born (w. 2_3).
following that is an observation with respect to labor and a
question which arose from it. The observation was that a
man’s labor and skill were actuated only by rivalry with hia
neighbor (4:4) and the question arising from it is this: Is it
not better then, just to be a sluggard? (4:5_6).
Then in 4:8 we have an illustration of a miserly bachelor
who is never satisfied with _his acquired wealth, notwithstand_
ing that there is no one to whom he might leave his wealth at death. I once knew a man in Austin who had no relatives and owned a great deal of Austin, yet he would go across the street to his neighbor’s to warm rather than buy coal. Verses 9:12 is a contrast with the condition of the bachelor and is a wonderful gem of literature, expressing the advantages of co_operation. Two are better than one because they can be mutually helpful to each other. This is the foundation principle of all partnerships, whether for business, war or the home. „A threefold cord is not quickly broken.” In 4:13_16 we have an illustration of the same principle in the vanity of kings in acquiring great dominion to be turned over to an ungrateful son. There is doubtless a reference here to Solomon himself and his son, Rehoboam. Solomon foresaw the coming of Rehoboam and his people who would not rejoice in their heritage.
The elements of weakness in human worship as noted in
5:1_7 are lack of due consideration which results in the sacri_
fice of fools and rash vowing and then not paying the pledge.
Here I give an observation: often let their mouths go off
half-cocked and then when settlement day comes say before
the messenger, „It was an error.” This principle applies in all
our general work. For many years I was an agent for differ_
ent phases of denominational work and handled thousands of
dollars for the kingdom enterprises. On many occasions in
our conventions pledges were made for some kingdom interest
and when I took the matter up with the different ones for
collection many of them would not even answer my letters.
Then these same ones would come into the convention again
and make another pledge and refuse again to pay it. This
led me to go through my list of pledges when they were first
made and write after each one of these the German word,
nix. One would be astonished to go over these lists because
of the great number on the list with nix after the name and
also because certain ones are in the list whom a credulous
person would not suspect. This experience of mine led me
to emphasize very strongly this passage in later years: „Keep
thy foot when thou goest to the house of God.”
Another observation is recorded in 5:8_9. This relates to
the matter of injustice so often wrought in governmental
affairs, but we are admonished to remember that the One who
is over all regards, and that his purpose in human govern_
ment is to secure equal rights to all, since the earth is for all,
and all, including the king, must be fed from the field.
1. What the meaning of „Vanity of vanities,” in verse 2?
2. What the meaning and purpose of the question in. 1:3?
3. What parallel to 1:4 in modern literature, and what stanza espe_
cially fits the teaching here?
4. What the illustrations of the meaning of the text from the material world?
5. How is the monotony of all this expressed in verse 8?
6. What is the meaning of verses 9_10?
7. What is the meaning of „no remembrance” in verse II?
8. What the methods applied in this search for the chief good?
9. What claims does the author make for himself in 1:12_17 and
what the result as expressed in verse 18?
10. What experiment described in 2:1_3 and what the result?
11. What experiments described in 2:4_11 and what the result?
12. What comparison in 2:12_17 and what the results?
13. What is his reasoning in 2:18_23 and to whom does the author
refer in verse 19?
14. What the conclusion of 2:240 and what the knock over in verges
24b, 25, and 26?
15. In 3:1 to 5:9 we have the elements that limit. What are they?
16. What can you say of the law of opportunes?
17. What great text here and what its meaning?
18. What the conclusion in 3:12 and what the knock over in 13?
19. What the meaning and application of 3:14_15?
20. What awful observation does the author cite in 3:16 and what
the modification in 3:17?
21. What question arises in 3:18_21, what parallels to this in modern
times and what the real cause of this questioning by Solomon?
22. What the conclusion of 3:22?
23. What observation in 4:1 and what question arose therefrom?
24. What the observation with respect to labor and what question
arose from it?
25. What illustration given in 4:8, what the author’s observation illus_
trating this verse and what the author’s reasoning of verses 9_12?
26. What the illustration of 4:13_16 and who the persons primarily
27. What the elements of weakness in human worship and what
28. What observation in 5:8_9 and what the divine element that
OTHER METHODS APPLIED
Ecclesiastes 5:10 to 8:15.
The fourth method applied was riches with the result that
they were found to be insufficient because, (1) they cannot
satisfy; (2) consumers of wealth increase with wealth; (3)
the owner can only look at it; (4) he cannot sleep like &
laborer; (5) riches may hurt the owner; (6) they may perish
in an unlucky venture; (1) the owner begets a son when he is
bankrupt; (8) in any event he is stripped of it all at death;
(9) it causes him to lead a worried life.
The conclusion of this matter is found in 5:18_20. Accord_
ing to this conclusion, it is good and comely for one to eat and
drink and enjoy good in all his labor, but he must keep in
mind that this is the gift of God; he will not much remember
the days of his life, but it does not matter provided they were
filled with the good which brings joy to his heart.
Another observation on riches is noted in 6:1_2, viz: that
the man who has immense wealth may not be able to eat of
his bounty) and like one multimillionaire, may offer a million
dollars for a new stomach, but there are some things that
money cannot buy. He must stand by and see another con_
sume what he has not the ability to enjoy. In verses 3_6 the
author reasons that an untimely birth would be better than
the condition of a man, blessed with a hundred children and
a long life, if his soul be not filled with good.
The reasons assigned in 6:7_12 for this failure of riches are,
(1) All labor is for his mouth, therefore, the eternity in his
soul cannot be satisfied in this way (6:7_9).
(2) The greatest is but a man and cannot contend against
God; neither can anyone tell man what shall be after him
The fifth method applied was the golden mean, on which
he says that a good name is better than precious oil (7:1);
that it is better to go to the house of mourning than to the
house of feasting, because sorrow makes the heart better (7:
2_4); that the reproof of the wise is better than the laughter
of fools (7:5_7); that the end of a thing is better than the
beginning of it and the patient in spirit is better than the
proud in spirit (7:8); that it is not good to be hasty to get
angry, for that is like a fool (7:9); that we should not talk
of „the good old days,” for this is not wise (7:10); that wis_
dom is more excellent than wealth because wisdom preserves
life to him that has it (7:11_12); that it is not good to try
to make all the crooked things straight (7:13); that man
should be joyful in his prosperity and considerate in his ad_
versity, for they both come from God (7:14); that since it
sometimes happens that the righteous die while the wicked
live, be not righteous over much, nor too wise, nor too wicked,
nor too foolish, but hold somewhat to both (7:15_18); that
wisdom is stronger than ten rulers and this golden mean plan
is great because there is not a righteous man in the earth that
sinneth not (7:19_20); that a man should not try to find out
what people say about him, lest he might hear something
bad about himself (7:21_22).
The result of all this golden mean philosophy is that this
theory is unsatisfactory and there is a higher wisdom attain_
able (7:23_25). It is unsatisfactory because of its failure
in the following particulars:
(1) Because woman is more bitter than death. There is
one man of a thousand, though fallen, but there is not one
woman of a thousand. Why? because he gave only one thou_
sandth part of himself to each of them and for that reason he
ought not to have expected a whole in return (7:26_29).
(2) Because it is a failure when applied to public affairs
(8:1_9) saying, (a) Do not rebel, (8:1_2); (b) Do not resent
oppression (8:3_4); (c) Leave the case to God’s retribution
(8:5_7) ; (d) The evil ruler will die and there is DO furlough
in that warfare (8:8).
(3) Because there are rulers who rule over men to their
(4) Because the mills of the gods grind too slowly for the
correction of this evil (8:11_13).
(5) Because, though ultimately it is well with the righteous
and evil with the wicked, yet here and now we do see wicked
men get the crown of the righteous and vice versa (8:14).
The conclusion of all this, then, is that he commanded mirth, because he saw no better thing under the sun than for man to eat and drink and be joyful all the days of his life (8:15).
1. What the fourth method applied and with what results?
2. Why were riches insufficient?
3, What the conclusion of this matter?
4. What observation on riches noted in 6:1_2 and what reasonings
based thereon in 6:3_6?
5. What reasons assigned in 6:7_12 for this failure of riches?
6. What the fifth method applied?
7. On this golden mean what says he of a good name?
8. What of the house of mourning and the house of feasting?
9. What of the reproof of the wise and the laughter of fools?
10. What of the beginning and end of a thing and the patient and
proud in spirit?
11. What of anger?
12. What of „the good old days”?
13. What of the advantage of wisdom over wealth?
14. What of the crooked things?
15. What of prosperity and adversity?
16. What of the righteous and the wicked?
17. What of wisdom and rulers and why is this golden mean great?
18. What of things said about you?
19. What the result of all this golden mean pholosophy?
20. Why is this golden mean unsatisfactory?
21. What the conclusion of all this?
THE MEANS USED TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM
CONDEMNED AND THE FINAL CONCLUSIONS
Ecclesiastes 8:16 to 12:14
There are three reasons given in 8:16 to 9:6 as to why the
means used were condemned, to wit:
1. They were wearisome; wore out the life finding the solu_
2. Finite wisdom could not fathom it (8:17 to 9:1) com_
pare I Corinthians l:19f.
3. Death comes alike to all (9:2_6)
Here comes a bundle of conclusions expressed in 9:7_10,
thus: (1) Go on and eat and drink; (2) Dress well and keep
yourself in trim; (3) Live in domestic felicity with one
woman; (4) Do with your might whatever comes to your
hand, for no one can work after death.
The fourth reason assigned for failure is that the race is
not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the
wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men
of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. Every_
thing in life is uncertain and there are snares set for man’s
destruction everywhere (9:11_12).
We find further observations in 9:13 to 10:4 illustrating this
principle and the conclusion therefrom. This is the case of
the poor wise man who delivered a city and was forgotten,
yet his wisdom was better than strength. It was a case of
wise words in the quiet which are better than the cry of a
man who rules among fools. It was true then and it is true
now, that „wisdom is better than weapons of war.” „But
one sinner destroyeth much good.” Like dead flies in the
ointment, he spoils whatever he touches, as bis folly out_
weighs wisdom and honor. In meeting all these things it is
well to keep in mind that „gentleness allayeth great offenses.”
But there are certain drawbacks to this passive resistance,
get forth in 10:5_15, as follows:
(1) The promotion of fools. The ruler sets folly in great
dignity and puts the more influential in low places. He puts
servants on horses and causes princes to walk like servants
(2) A man’s labor turns against him. He that digs a pit
may fall into it, or whoso breaks through a wall may be
bitten by a serpent, or whoso hews out stones may be hurt
by them. A dull tool requires more strength, but the wise
can direct to more profit. It is too late to send for the
charmer after you are bitten by the serpent (10:8_11).
(3) The foolishness of fools overbalances the wisdom of
the wise. The fool begins in foolishness and ends in madness;
he multiplies words to no purpose and throws everything into
The last reason assigned for condemning the means is that
the king may be a child, given to revelry, drunkenness, and
slothfulness, and when this is so it is, „Woe unto the land I”
What follows is set forth in three proverbs thus:
By slothfulness the roof sinketh in;
And through idleness of the hands the house leaketh.
A feast is made for laughter,
And wine maketh glad the life;
And money answereth all things.
Revile not the king, no, not in thy thought;
And revile not the rich in thy bed chamber;
For a bird of the heavens shall carry the voice,
And that which hath wings shall tell the matter.
If the means of solution be discarded, the first thing to do,
then, is to „Cast thy bread upon the waters” (11:1) which
refers to the ancient method of sowing on the overflow of the
Nile, which came annually, a_”d covering the seed by driving
oxen over them, the only way it could be done. The spiritual
significance of this is the investment of a life in doing good.
The second thing to do is to „Give a portion to all” (11:2),
i.e., Do good as you purpose in your heart while opportunity
is afforded you. But there is a warning given in 11:3_5:
Don’t watch the wind and the clouds, for the man who
watches the clouds is fearful and will not succeed. Do not
hesitate because you do not understand the principles and
methods of God’s providences.
The next thing enjoined is to work at all seasons (11:6_8).
Remember there will be dark days, but be diligent in view of
the passing of your opportunity. Then comes a solemn warn_
ing to the young in 11:9 to 12:8. Let them in their joys,
remember the judgment; that God will bring everything into
judgment; that old age will come when they will have no
pleasure in it if their lives are spent in folly; that the grave
and the judgment are the final destiny of man. Here we
have in 12:3_8, the great figure of the human body, with the
following expressions: „The keepers of the house,” which are
the hands that have grown weak and palsied; „the strong
men,” which are the legs, giving way under old age; „the
grinders,” which are the teeth, and most of them gone, having
lost them on account of extreme age; „those that look out
of the windows,” which are the eyes, having grown dim with
age; „the doors,” the mouth which is not closed because of the.
absence of the teeth; „the grinding,” which is the sound of
the chewing, now low because the teeth are gone; „rising up
at the voice of a bird,” which is early rising in the morning,
at first cock_crowing, because unable to sleep; „the daughters
of music,” which are the tongue and the ears, the tongue no
longer able to make music and the ears no longer able to hear
and appreciate it; „they shall be afraid of that which is
high,” which means that he is afraid to go up on anything
high, as to ascend a ladder; „terrors shall be in the way,”
which means that he is always finding bugbears in the way,
such as wagons, carriages, streetcars – afraid of things that
he did not notice in early life; „the almond_tree shall blos_
som,” means that he is now covered with silvery locks, very
much like the almond_tree just before putting out, covered
with its silvery blossoms; „the grasshopper shall be a burden,”
which means one of two things, viz: (1) a little weight, as the
weight of a grasshopper upon him, becomes a burden; (2)
much more probable, that he now, in his stiffness, resembles
the grasshopper dragging himself along; „desire shall fail,”
i.e., the appetite is almost gone and he does not relish things
that he once did; „man goeth to his everlasting, home,” which
means his final destinyùhe. is very near the end now; „mourn_
ers go about the streets,” which refers to the hired mourners,
according to the custom in the East, or friends and relatives;
„before the silver cord is loosed,” i.e., the spinal cord which
resembles silver in color; „the golden bowl,” which means the
brain pan; „the pitcher is broken at the fountain,” which re_
fers to the heartùvery much like a pitcher in shape; „the
wheel broken at the cistern,” which refers to the aorta, just
above the heart, where it acts like a wheel and pumps the blood
up from the heart; „the dust returneth to the earth as it was
and the spirit returneth unto God who gave it,” referring to
death, at which the body returns to dust of which it was made
and the spirit goes to God.
In 12:9_10 we have an account of what the Preacher did
further: „And further, because the Preacher was wise, he still
taught the people knowledge; yea, he pondered, and sought
out, and set in order many proverbs. The Preacher sought to
find out acceptable words, and that which was written up_
rightly, even words of truth.”
Then follows a proverb and a warning in 12:11_12: „The
words of the wise are as goads; and as nails well fastened are
the words of the masters of assemblies, which are given from
one shepherd. And furthermore, my son, be admonished: of
making many books there is no end; and much study is a weari_
ness of the flesh.”
What, then, the real good thing to do and why? The answer
is found in 12:13_14: „This is the end of the matter; all hath
been heard: Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this
is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into
judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it be good, or
whether it be evil.”
The impress of this book upon the world’s literature has been marvelous. It has made a most wonderful impress upon the
world’s greatest authors. In Shakespeare’s As You Like It and
Tennyson’s In Memoriam are many references to this book. la
fact, this book exploded the philosophies of the Epicureans
and Stoics long before these philosophies were developed by
the ancient Greeks.
1. What three reasons in 8:16 to 9:6 as to why the means used were
2. What conclusions expressed in 9:7_10?
3. What the fourth reason assigned in 9:11_12?
4. What observations in 9:13 to 10:4 illustrating this principle and
what the conclusion therefrom?
5. What the drawbacks of passive resistance, set forth in 10:5_15?
6. What the last reason assigned and what proverbs based thereon?
7. If the means of solution be discarded, what the first thing to do
and what does it mean?
8. What the second thing to do and its meaning?
9. What warning given in 11:3_5?
10. What the next thing enjoined?
11. What warning to the young in 11:9 to 12:8?
12. On 12:3_8, the great figure of the human body, answers’
(1) What „the keepers of the house”?
(2) What „the strong men”?
(3) What „the grinders”?
(4) What „those that look out of the windows”?
(5) What „the doors”?
(6) What „the grinding”?
(7) What the meaning of „rising up at the voice of a bird”?
(8) What „the daughters of music”?
(9) What is the meaning of „they shall be afraid of that which
(10) What is the meaning of „terrors shall be in the way”?
(11) What is the meaning of „the almond_tree shall blossom”?
(12) What is the meaning of „the grasshopper shall be a burden”?
(13) What is the meaning of „desire shall fail”?
(14) What is the meaning of „man goeth to his everlasting
(15) What is the meaning of „mourners go about the streets”?
(16) What is the meaning of „before the silver cord is loosed”?
(17) What is the meaning of „the golden bowl”?
(18) What is the meaning of „the pitcher is broken at the foun_
(19) What is the meaning of „the wheel broken at the cistern”?
(20) What is the meaning of „the dust returneth to the earth as
it was and the spirit returneth unto God who gave it”?
13. What did the Preacher further do?
14. What proverb and what warning in 12:11_12?
15. What, then, the real good thing to do and why?
16. What can you say of the impress of this book upon the world’s
17. What the philosophies exploded in this book?
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE SONG OF SOLOMON
Solomon wrote this book. It is attributed to him in the title
and the internal evidence strongly supports it. He wrote it
probably early in his reign as king, and its place as an integral
part of the Scriptures has never been questioned. There is
quite a bit of evidence of its fitting into other scriptures. There
are back references to Genesis and some of the Prophets refer
to it. There are also New Testament references to it, some
of which cannot be explained except by this book.
This poem is an exquisite gem of literature. It is a dramatico_lyrical pastoral poem concerning love. By „dramatic” is meant a form of literature that gives idealized representations of human experience. By „lyrical” is meant that it is fitted to be
sung to a lyre. Hence it is appropriate for a song. By „pas_
toral” is meant a poem describing the life and manners of
shepherds. „It is a poem in which any action or passion is
represented by its effects on a country life,” – Rambler. The
whole scenery of Palestine is here referred to.
Many plants and trees are named in this book, as follows:
cedars, firs, thorns, apple tree, fig tree, henna, spikenard, saf_
fron, calamus, cinnamon) aloe, wheat, palm tree, and man_
Several animals are referred to in it, viz: roes, hinds, harts,
foxes, goats, lions, leopards, and fawns.
The mountains referred to are Bether, Lebanon, Gilead,
Amana, Senir, Hermon, and Carmel.
Many other things of interest are mentioned in this book.
The cities mentioned are Jerusalem, Tirzah, and Damascus;
other places are Engedi, Sharon, Zion, Mahanaim, Heshbon,
Bathrabbim, and Baal_hammon; the flowers are henna flower,
rose, and lily; the nations are Kedar and Israel; the perfumes
are spikenard, myrrh, frankincense, oils, and spices; the birds
are the dove (turtle dove) and raven; the prominent charac_
ters are Solomon, Pharaoh, and David; the heavenly bodies
are the sun and moon; the precious things are jewels, silver;
gold, purple, beryl, ivory, sapphires, and marble; the foods
and fruits are raisins, apples, figs, pomegranates, honey, milk,
and honeycomb; the name of God, mentioned one time, is Je_
The speakers in this book are Solomon, the Shulammite and
the Daughters of Jerusalem.
There are three methods, or ways, of interpreting this book:
1. The historical and literal, representing love between man
and woman. In this it is plain, that there is no spiritual appli_
cation and that the subject of love between man and woman is
deserving of a place in the Bible.
2. The second method claims that the book has a historical
basis and is typical of Christ and his people, showing his love
for them and their love for him.
3. The third method claims it to be an allegory setting forth
Christ’s love for his people and their relation to him. This is
in line with all the older interpretations and is really the only
one tenable. There is nothing in history to indicate that this
is literal or to indicate in the least that it even has a historical
The analysis of the book consists of the title, a prologue,
four parts, and an epilogue, as follows:
The Title (1:1) : Name and author of the book.
The Prologue (1:2_6): The bride speaking and expressing
Part I (1:7 to 2:7):
The bride and the groom speak to each other.
Part II (2:8_3:5):
1. The bride tells of the bridegroom and how he serenades
2. Alienation between them caused by little foxes (2:15_17);
3. How she went out to find him to be reconciled to him
Part III (3:6 to 8:4) :
1. A description of the bridegroom (3:6_11)
2. How he wooed her (4:1_15)
3. She, charmed by his wooing, gives him an invitation
4. He accepts the invitation, comes and knocks at the
5. Half asleep she does not open to him (5:2_5)
6. He, wounded at her delay, went away (5:5_6)
7. She finally goes to the door and finds that he is gone
and then goes out to seek for him and is maltreated by
the city watchman (5:7)
8. She appeals to the daughters of Jerusalem (5:8)
9. They ask his value (5:9)
10. Her reply (5:10_16)
11. Their second inquiry (6:1)
12. Her reply (6:2_3)
13. He comes on the scene and again speaks his love (6:
14. While speaking a kind of soliloquy he sees her and ex_
15. The groom goes down into the garden (6:11_12)
16. He pleads for her return (6:13a)
17. The daughters ask why he looks upon her as the dance
of Mahanaim (6:13b)
18. He describes her beauty (7:1_9)
19. She declares her love and invites him to the field (7:
10 to 8:4)
Part IV (8:5_10):
1. The daughters see them coming and ask who she is
2. He speaks to her of their first acquaintance (8:5b)
3. She speaks of love and jealousy in contrast, and also
of her little sister (8:6_8)
4. He speaks in reply, of the little sister (8:9)
5. She speaks of herself as a wall (8:10)
Epilogue: She speaks and vows to do her part (8:11_14).
1. Who wrote the Song of Solomon and what the evidence?
2. When did he write it?
3. What of its place in the canon of Scripture?
4. Is there any evidence as to its fitting into other scriptures?
5. Are there any New Testament references to it?
6. What of the character of this poem?
7. What is the literary form of this book? (Explain the terms used.)
8. What plants and trees are named in the book?
9. What animals referred to in it?
10. What mountains are referred to?
11. What other things of interest mentioned in this book?
12. Who the speakers in this book?
13. What the several methods of interpretation and which is the cor_
rect one and why?
I4. What is the analysis of the book?
AN INTERPRETATION OF THE SONG OF SOLOMON
AS AN ALLEGORY
According to the first verse, the title of this book is „The
Song of Songs,” and the author was Solomon. The Vulgate has
the title, Canticum Canticorum, from which comes the title,
„Canticles,” by which it is sometimes called and to which the
references in some English versions are made. This title, as
it appears here, implies that it is the choicest of all songs, in
keeping with the saying of an early writer that „the entire
world, from the beginning until now, does not outweigh the day
in which Canticles was given to Israel.”
The parts of the book are marked with a refrain, thus:
I adjure you, 0 daughters of Jerusalem,
By the roes, or by the hinds of the field,
That ye stir not up, nor awake my love,
Until he please, – Song of Solomon 2:7; 3:5; and 8:4.
It will be noted that the second line in 8:4 is omitted, per_
haps, because it had been given twice before and the shortened
form suited better the purpose of the author here.
It is well at this point to fix in mind the representative
characters of the book, so as to make clear the interpretation
and application. In this allegory the Shulammite may repre_
sent souls collectively, but more aptly applied to the individual
soul seeking Christ. The daughters of Jerusalem represent the
church. Solomon represents Christ, and the watchmen repre_
sent the spiritual leaders, such as priests, prophets, and preach_
The prologue expresses the desire of a soul for Christ, a
prayer to be drawn to him, conversion, and a consciousness of
In Part I the soul is instructed to seek its lover at the feed_
ing places of the flock, or places where Christ meets his peo_
ple; as, in meetings, etc., and upon their meeting they express
their love for each other in which the soul is represented as
being completely enraptured by its first love to Christ.
In Part II we have the beautiful serenade in which Christ is
represented as entreating this new convert to come away and
separate herself from her people and everything that might
cause alienation. But upon neglect to heed this entreaty the
little foxes, that is, little sins creep in and alienation is the re_
sult. 80 she sends him away till the cool of the day – so char_
acteristic of the soul that is neglectful of its early Christian
duties. But soon she goes out to seek him – another charac_
teristic of the sheep that has wandered away from its shepherd
and the flock. As she goes out to seek him she meets the city
watchmen and inquires of them – likewise the soul thus realiz_
ing its need at this point makes inquiry of spiritual leaders.
She soon finds him and brings him to her mother’s house, thus
representing the soul that has not left its former associations.
In Part III we have the procession of Solomon coming out
to her to take her to his own home. Here he praises her, wooes
her, and pleads with her to come away from her old associa_
tions. She is won and agrees to go with him, but when he
knocks at the door she is half asleep and does not open to him.
Her indifference brings about another alienation, and he leaves.
Soon she arises to open, but, alas! he has grown tired of wait_
ing and has gone away. She seeks him again, but the preachers
(city watchmen) make it hard for her this time, upon which
she appeals to the members of the church (daughters of Jeru_
salem) and they test her with a question, whereupon she de_
clares her appreciation of him in a most glowing description
of him. Then they submit the second test by asking another
question as to his whereabouts. Here she understands perfect_
ly as to his abiding place, which she shows them. While this
is going on he draws near, speaking of his love. Surely, it is
a sweet thought that, while we are talking about Christ and
praising him, he draws near and is mindful of us, though we
have suffered the little foxes to do their work and have not
heeded every knock upon the door by our Lord. As he is
thinking and speaking of her he sees her in the distance and
Who is she that looketh forth as the morning,
Fair as the moon,
Clear aa the sun,
Terrible aa an army with banners?
After telling where he had been he pleads again, very earn_
estly, for her return. In the remaining part of this division
they converse with each other and he wooes her again and she
agrees to leave all and go with him into the fields and villages.
In Part IV the daughters describe them as they proceed
toward his house, conversing with each other of love in which
she shows love to be the strongest thing in the world.
The Epilogue contains the vows of the woman to do her part
and applies beautifully to the loyalty of the soul espoused to
Now, I call attention to the prayers of the Shulammite which
indicate the conflict and progress of the Christian life. These
are as follows:
Draw me; we will run after thee:
The king hath brought me into his chambers;
We will be glad and rejoice in thee;
We will make mention of thy love more than of wine:
Rightly do they love thee. (1:4)
Tell me, 0 thou, whom my soul loveth,
Where thou feedest thy flock,
Where thou makest it to rest at noon:
For why should I be as one that is veiled
Beside the flocks of thy companions? (1:7)
Awake, 0 north wind; and come, thou south;
Blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out.
Let my beloved come into his garden,
And eat his precious fruits. (4:16)
Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field;
Let us lodge in the villages. (7:11)
Set me as a seal upon thy heart,
As a seal upon thine arm:
For love is strong as death;
Jealousy is cruel as Sheol;
The flashes thereof are flashes of fire,
A very flame of Jehovah. (8:6)
Two of the most beautiful passages in the book are the Sere_
nade, which pictures all nature calling to activity, and the
passage on Love and Jealousy, showing love to be „The Great_
est Thing in the World.” These passages are well adapted to
the theme of the book and furnish an appropriate closing for
our discussion on „The Poetical Books of the Bible.”
My beloved spake, and said unto me,
Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
For, lo, the winter is past;
The rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of the singing of birds is come,
And the voice of the turtle_dove is heard in our land;
The fig_tree ripeneth her green figs,
And the vines are in blossom;
They give forth their fragrance,
Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
0 my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock,
In the covert of the steep place,
Let me see thy countenance,
Let me hear thy voice;
For sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.
– The Song of Solomon 2:10_14
LOVE AND JEALOUSY
Set me as a seal upon thy heart,
Aa a seal upon thine arm:
For love is strong as death;
Jealousy is cruel as Sheol;
The flashes thereof are flashes of fire,
A very flame of Jehovah.
Many waters cannot quench love,
Neither can floods drown it:
If a man would give all the substance of his house for love,
He would utterly be condemned.
– The Song of Solomon 8:6_7
1. According to verse I, what is the title and who is the author of
The Song of Solomon?
2. How are the parts of the book marked?
3. Whom does the Shulammite represent?
4. Whom do the daughters of Jerusalem represent?
5. Whom does Solomon represent?
6. Whom do the watchmen represent?
7. What the spiritual interpretation and application of the Prologue?
8. What the spiritual interpretation and application of Part I?
9. What the spiritual interpretation and application of Part II?
10. What the story and spiritual application of Part III?
11. What the interpretation of Part IV?
12. What the contents of the Epilogue and its application?
13. What the prayers of the Shulammite?
14. What to you are the moat beautiful passages in the book and in
what consists their beauty?