The Patience Of Job -- By: Edward M. Merrins

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 064:254 (Apr 1907)
Article: The Patience Of Job
Author: Edward M. Merrins

The Patience Of Job

Edward M. Merrins

“God forbid that I should justify you;
Till I die I will not put away mine integrity from me.
My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go;
My heart shall not reproach me as long as I live” (Job 27:5-6.

Under the present dispensation, with the whole creation groaning and travailing together in its mysterious pain, man being born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward, we not only commiserate those who enter into their heritage of woe, but are impelled, in the exercise of a true sympathy, to take a keen interest in the special form of their suffering. If a friend falls ill, bare information of the fact does not satisfy; we desire to know the character and severity of his complaint; and the issue of medical bulletins during the illness of well-known persons is proof of this kindly solicitude extended to those in whom our interest is more or less remote. This particular information is still more to be desired in the case of one who, having passed through great suffering triumphantly, is held up to us as a pattern of the way in which the trials of life are to be borne, as without it we cannot appreciate adequately the strength and beauty of his character. Among such exemplary heroes is Job, whose patience under his manifold trials is proverbial. According to the sacred narrative, the last and greatest of these was the loss of physical health: he was prostrated by a malady which made his life a burden. What was this disease? From a very early period it has been the subject of much speculation, but no satisfactory diagnosis has yet been made.

In continuing the inquiry, we are met by various objections. Those who consider the book of Job as a philosophical drama, with but a slender, almost negligible, basis of historical fact, the prologue and epilogue being literary embellishments probably of separate authorship, which are to have little or no weight in its interpretation; and those who go further, and insist it is a religious apologue, a pure invention from beginning to end,—may jointly urge that a precise knowledge of Job’s disease is not required, as any one of the ills that flesh is heir to, inflicted on the imaginary hero, would have served the author’s purpose. There is no warrant for this assertion. Not only in the prologue, but also throughout the whole work, there are frequent and specific allusions to the symptoms and effects of the malady, which is sufficient indication that its character was not a matter of indifference to the author.

The inquiry is also deprecated on the ground that to examine critically the prosaic details of the drama, is to approach its st...

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