Former Prosperity of Job. B. C. 1520.
1 Moreover Job continued his parable, and said, 2 Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me 3 When his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness 4 As I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle 5 When the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were about me 6 When I washed my steps with butter, and the rock poured me out rivers of oil
Losers may have leave to speak, and there is nothing they speak of more feelingly than of the comforts they are stripped of. Their former prosperity is one of the most pleasing subjects of their thoughts and talk. It was so to Job, who begins here with a wish (Job 29:2): O that I were as in months past! so he brings in this account of his prosperity. His wish is, 1. "O that I were in as good a state as I was in then, that I had as much wealth, honour, and pleasure, as I had then!" This he wishes, from a concern he had, not so much for his ease, as for his reputation and the glory of his God, which he thought were eclipsed by his present sufferings. "O that I might be restored to my prosperity, and then the censures and reproaches of my friends would be effectually silenced, even upon their own principles, and for ever rolled away!" If this be our end in desiring life, health, and prosperity, that God may be glorified, and the credit of our holy profession rescued, preserved, and advanced, the desire is not only natural, but spiritual. 2. "O that I were in as good a frame of spirit as I was in then!" That which Job complained most of now was a load upon his spirits, through God's withdrawing from him and therefore he wishes he now had his spirit as much enlarged and encouraged in the service of God as he had then and that he had as much freedom and fellowship with him as then thought himself happy in. This was in the days of his youth (Job 29:4), when he was in the prime of his time for the enjoyment of those things and could relish them with the highest gust. Note, Those that prosper in the days of their youth know not what black and cloudy days they are yet reserved for. Two things made the months past pleasant to Job:--
I. That he had comfort in his God. This was the chief thing he rejoiced in, in his prosperity, as the spring of it and the sweetness of it, that he had the favour of God and the tokens of that favour. He did not attribute his prosperity to a happy turn of fortune, nor to his own might, nor to the power of his own hand, but makes the same acknowledgment that David does. Psalms 30:7, Thou, by thy favour, hast made my mountain stand strong. A gracious soul delights in God's smiles, not in the smiles of this world. Four things were then very pleasant to holy Job:-- 1. The confidence he had in the divine protection. They were the days when God preserved me, Job 29:2. Even then he saw himself exposed, and did not make his wealth his strong city nor trust in the abundance of his riches, but the name of the Lord was his strong tower in that only he thought himself safe, and to that he ascribed it that he was then safe and that his comforts were preserved to him. The devil saw a hedge about him of God's making (Job 1:10), and Job saw it himself, and owned it was God's visitation that preserved his spirit, Job 10:12. Those only whom God protects are safe and may be easy and therefore those who have ever so much of this world must not think themselves safe unless God preserve them. 2. The complacency he had in the divine favour (Job 29:3): God's candle shone upon his head, that is, God lifted up the light of his countenance upon him, gave him the assurances and sweet relishes of his love. The best of the communications of the divine favour to the saints in this world is but the candle-light, compared with what is reserved for them in the future state. But such abundant satisfaction did Job take in the divine favour that, by the light of that, he walked through darkness that guided him in his doubts, comforted him in his griefs, bore him up under his burdens, and helped him through all his difficulties. Those that have the brightest sun-shine of outward prosperity must yet expect some moments of darkness. They are sometimes crossed, sometimes at a loss, sometimes melancholy. But those that are interested in the favour of God, and know how to value it, can, by the light of that, walk cheerfully and comfortably through all the darkness of this vale of tears. That puts gladness into the heart enough to counterbalance all the grievances of this present time. 3. The communion he had with the divine word (Job 29:4): The secret of God was upon my tabernacle, that is, God conversed freely with him, as one bosom-friend with another. He knew God's mind, and was not in the dark about it, as, of late, he had been. The secret of the Lord is said to be with those that fear him, for he shows them that in his covenant which others see not, Psalms 25:14. God communicates his favour and grace to his people, and receives the return of their devotion in a way secret to the world. Some read it, When the society of God was in my tabernacle, which Rabbi Solomon understands of an assembly of God's people that used to meet at Job's house for religious worship, in which he presided this he took a great deal of pleasure in, and the scattering of it was a trouble to him. Or it may be understood of the angels of God pitching their tents about his habitation. 4. The assurance he had of the divine presence (Job 29:5): The Almighty was yet with me. Now he thought God had departed from him, but in those days he was with him, and that was all in all to him. God's presence with a man in his house, though it be but a cottage, makes it both a castle and a palace.
II. That he had comfort in his family. Every thing was agreeable there: he had both mouths for his meat and meat for his mouths the want of either is a great affliction. 1. He had a numerous offspring to enjoy his estate: My children were about me. He had many children, enough to compass him round, and they were observant of him and obsequious to him they were about him, to know what he would have and wherein they might serve him. It is a comfort to tender parents to see their children about them. Job speaks very feelingly of this comfort now that he was deprived of it. He thought it an instance of God's being with him that his children were about him and yet reckon amiss if, when we have lost our children, we cannot comfort ourselves with this, that we have not lost our God. 2. He had a plentiful estate for the support of this numerous family, Job 29:6. His dairy abounded to such a degree that he might, if he pleased, wash his steps with butter and his olive-yards were so fruitful, beyond expectation, that it seemed as if the rock poured him out rivers of oil. He reckons his wealth, not by his silver and gold, which were for hoarding, but by his butter and oil, which were for use for what is an estate good for unless we take the good of it ourselves and do good with it to others?