THE VAST VALUE of keeping the pattern of sound words
(2 Tim.1:13) was powerfully impressed upon me in a recent experience. I
will share it with my readers in the hope that it will be as helpful to
them as it was to me.
About half a century ago I became intensely interested
in the book of Job. Later my greatest help came from a series of articles
in Dr. Bullinger's magazine Things to Come. Through this I learned much
of the literary "structure" of this book and the interrelation of its
parts. Bullinger gave a new metrical version, from which I hoped to gain
much, but found it quite disappointing, for he was compelled to choose
words having the right number of syllables, with the accent on the proper
one, as well as to add words and phrases to fill out the lines.
At various times since then I have worked on a
concordant version. We made a uniform sublinear, with the special object
of connecting each expression with its stem and showing the Hebrew
grammar. Then I made a version as close to this as English idiom would
warrant. But so many passages were without any definite meaning that I
compared the whole throughout with the Septuagint, the Greek translation
of the Hebrew. This greatly improved it by changing many words that
evidently had been copied wrong, and added quite a little to the text. As
I still felt the need of help, I read the best commentary, but all of its
elaborate and labored explanations somehow did not satisfy. The words were
too vague, too jumbled, too lacking in decisive clarity. My only hope,
apart from an inspired commentary, is to consider carefully the
introduction of the book itself and note the exact significance of the
words, their occurrence, and cut out everything else. This is what I did.
A divine commentary on the book of Job is given us in
James' epistle (Jas.5:11). The concordant key there is the word
consummation. The A.V. word "end" fails to direct our thoughts to the
other occurrences of the same word. End speaks of cessation rather than
accomplishment. James tells us that the Lord achieved the object He had in
view through Job's endurance, so that the patriarch, who at first feared
Jehovah, finally found that He is very compassionate and full of pity.
There can be no better summary of the whole than that.
Instead of simply reading the concordant introduction,
I wrote down my findings, as this necessitates not only close observation,
but accurate expression, and involves a search for the salient features
which constitute the key to the whole book. I should be ashamed to say it,
but it may help others, so I will not spare myself. An intense examination
of the sound words in the introduction, their order, their arrangement, as
well as what is not said, has given clearer light than the many pages of
unsound expressions which I had read in explanation of them.
In seeking to get right to the heart of the
controversy, I noted that God Himself gives Job a character of the highest
kind so far as his relations to his fellow men are concerned. This shows
that the long arguments of his associates are beside the mark. But Godward
there is a great lack. True, he feared God and withdrew from evil. He
did not love God and thank Him for evil. Here lies the vital issue in
the whole book. Satan saw this, so he did not charge Job with any
wrongdoing to his fellows, but questioned Job's motives in regard to God.
Strange to say, the friends of Job failed to understand or help him, by
their well-meant words, while Satan, by his opposition and by the
infliction of evil, is used, in the wisdom of God, to bring about the
desired consummation. Job now knows God, not merely as One to be feared,
but to be loved for His tender compassion.
One of the most helpful leads in discovering the very
core of Job's trouble I found in the word gratuitously (1:9; 2:3). How
little this word conforms to any pattern in our Bibles is seen in the A.V.
renderings: without a cause, causeless, to cost nothing, without cost,
free, freely, innocent, for nothing, for nought, in vain, without wages.
According to the A.V. Satan said, "Doth Job fear God for nought?" And
God later said to Job, "thou movest me against him, to destroy him
without cause" (1:9; 2:3). The importance of this word is seen from its
place in the Hebrew. Satan said, "Gratuitously does Job fear God?" That
is, he fears him only because it pays. And Jehovah takes up this
expression: "you have invited me against him gratuitously." That is the
real point of the whole tragedy. God sent evil upon Job, not because of
misconduct, but to bring him into closer fellowship with His heart.
Allow me to commend, once more, the use of pattern words, sound words,
whose meaning is settled by consistent contexts in the inspired
Scriptures. I feel certain that it will be of great help in comprehending
the mind of God.