"When He giveth quietness, who thencan make trouble?"— Job 34:29.
ELIHU, the speaker of these words, was a young man who lived in Job's day—supposedly in the time of Abraham. He was one of the four friends of Job who called upon him in his adversity to comfort him. Being the youngest of all, he hesitated to speak as freely as did the other three friends of Job. He had heard them speak, and had discerned where they had made mistakes.
The fact that certain words are recorded in the Bible does not necessarily mean that they are inspired of God or even that they are true. We remember having in our youth a discussion with some one who finally quoted us a passage of Scripture which seemed to be in conflict with all the other Scriptures. We said, "If that is Scripture, we would like to know it." Our opponent looked it up and found that it read, "And the Devil said," so and so. Surely there is no reason to believe that the Devil is inspired—no reason to believe that the Devil's words are inspired.
These words spoken by Elihu were as wise as any spoken by Job's comforters—probably wiser; but they were surely human wisdom, so far as we can discern. When Elihu put this question, "When He giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?" he was seeking to draw a line in this criticism of Job, being averse to an extreme position, yet agreeing neither with Job nor his other friends. Job's three friends had been arguing that he must have done some very wicked deeds, and that as a result his camels and his cattle were destroyed—in fact all of his property, everything he possessed, as well as his children. He had lost all his ten children and lost also the affection of his wife. And these comforters were trying to have him admit that he had committed some great crime and that God was angry with him. Still Job insisted that he had been doing his very best—not that he claimed to be perfect, but he had been striving to live a godly life, a just and honorable life.
ELIHU'S SOUND REASONING
So when Job had gotten through with his argument and his three friends had gotten through with theirs, Elihu said (we paraphrase), "Job, you admit that you are in trouble. Now if God had given you quietness, who could make you trouble? He has surely purposed that this trouble come upon you."
Elihu defended God. He claimed that the Lord had evidently designed that Job should not have peace and prosperity longer; otherwise these adversities could not have come upon him. Whatever was the reason for it, Job's calamity evidently was not accidental. There must have been a Divine hand in the matter. Even if Satan had sent all these difficulties and trials, he could not have done so unless God had permitted it. No one could have thwarted the Divine arrangement and will. Elihu contended with Job that the Lord had the right and the power to decide, that Job had not. He showed distinctly the Power and the rightful authority of God to order in all the affairs of life, and incidentally showed that Job was more righteous than all his associates; that while he was a sinner, yet not on this account was he being afflicted.
We may profitably get a thought from this discourse given by Elihu. Here is a process of reasoning used by a man away back in the past—about the time that the Evolutionists tell us man was a monkey. Pretty sound reasoning for a monkey! Many of our college presidents would do no better today. It is sound logic.
AFFLICTION NO PROOF OF GOD'S DISFAVOR
We also see that Job was not a great sinner. On the contrary, we have every reason to believe that he was a true Prophet of God, a true servant of God. He was one whom the Bible tells us God especially loved. This is shown in Ezekiel 14:19, 20. "If I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out My fury upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast, though Noah, Daniel and Job were in it, as I live, saith the Lord God, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness." Again, the Apostle says, "Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy."—James 5:11.
It is quite true that Job's trouble could not have come upon him if God had not permitted it. If God had wished him to have quietness, no one could have made him trouble. But He permitted trial to come to test His servant, just as He permits trouble to come upon His Church, and as He permitted it to come upon His well-beloved Son. He permitted that men should do all manner of evil against His Son—should scoff at Him, should spit upon Him, should smite Him, should scourge Him, and finally crucify Him. The Lord has not always given quietness in these cases, but often trouble.
The lesson of the text for those who have put themselves in God's care, is that no one can make them trouble without Divine permission. The Lord tells us that during this Gospel Age He will make all things work together for good to His children, and that He will not suffer us to be tempted above what we are able to bear, (1 Corinthians 10:13.) In our Lord's case it pleased Jehovah to bruise Him, to allow suffering and death to come upon Him. (Isaiah 53:10.) It pleased God to adopt this Plan for the recovery of the world, because it best illustrates His Justice, His Wisdom, His Love and His Power. It also resulted in great honor and glory to our Lord Jesus.
As concerns the Lord's people, there might be certain matters relating to dispensational changes that could best be accomplished through severe trials coming upon them. Then, additionally, God wishes certain trials to come upon His people because He desires them to trust Him where they cannot trace Him. He wishes them to have unwavering faith in Him. The children of God, then, can take these words of our text in a very different way from that originally suggested to Job by Elihu. We may truly say, "When God giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?" We recognize that there is a certain quietness and rest of heart that all the Lord's saints may enjoy. We realize this even when He permits severe trouble.
The Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Hebrews says, "We who have believed do enter into rest." We enter into rest by coming into the attitude where we can believe, where we can and do exercise entire trust in God. Sometimes outward difficulties are helpful in overcoming a wrong spirit. The Lord's people are not discouraged by the things that would utterly crush out the vitality and the courage of others. They get the wrong spirit pounded out of them; but it is the hand of love that administers the blows, and the Lord knows just how many and how severe ones are needed.
KEPT IN PERFECT PEACE
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee." (Isaiah 26:3.) This thought is very precious to us as New Creatures. "The peace of God which passeth all understanding," is to rule and keep our minds and hearts. (Philippians 4:7.) We are to count the things of the present life as not worthy of comparison with the glories of eternity. And so the Apostle says, "For our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:17, 18.) When our minds are stayed on the Lord, and we take the proper view of our experiences, we can sing with the poet:
"No storm can shake our inmost calm, While to this Refuge clinging."
We have peace, no matter what the outward conditions may be. The trials and the difficulties of life come to the Lord's people commingled with joys—the rain and storm, then the sunshine. They enjoy all righteous pleasures that are in harmony with their consecration. They learn to cultivate patience in trial, knowing that patience works out experience, and experience works out more and more that hope which maketh not ashamed.—Romans 5:3-5.
So, then, it is to the Christian that our text brings the assurance that when God gives quietness, none can make trouble. They "shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for My sake," said the Master, but then we are to "rejoice and be exceeding glad." "Let not your heart be troubled." (Matthew 5:11; John 14:1.) We think our text very precious when viewed from our standpoint.
TROUBLE NECESSARY TO OUR PROVING
Our Heavenly Father designs that various kinds of trouble shall come upon us, that these may develop and prove our characters. It is a part of the Divine Plan to permit us to have experiences of affliction. (Psalm 119:67, 71, 75; 34:19, 20.) So when we see God's people in trouble or trial today we are not to say that God is against them. We are each to demonstrate our willingness to suffer according to His will, and often to suffer unjustly. Our Lord set us an example of cheerful, patient submission to God's will. We are to walk in His footsteps. And we have the example of the Apostles, when trials and difficulties and persecutions came upon them; and the example of other saints all down the Age.
Trouble is not necessarily a sign of the disfavor of God. On the contrary, we know that "many are the afflictions of the righteous," and that "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." The Truth will cost them something. Faithfulness to the Lord will cost them much. As the Apostle says, "If ye be without chastisement [discipline, training], then are ye bastards and not sons." (Hebrews 2:8.) If God gives peace of heart, who can upset the one who is thus in harmony with God, in whom this peace of heart is ruling? This, then, is the greatest blessing of all. And He grants this peace to those who are faithfully striving to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. We have a Refuge which none but His own can know. No harm can reach us within this Shelter; no storm can shake us from our moorings, for we are securely anchored to the Rock of Ages. "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to the called according to His Purpose." (Romans 8:28.) And as Job's after blessings far outweighed his brief trials, so it will be with the Lord's saints today.
"What though my joys and comfort die! The Lord, my Savior, liveth; What though the darkness gather round! Songs in the night He giveth. No storm can shake my inmost calm, While to that Refuge clinging; Since Christ is Lord of Heaven and earth, How can I keep from singing?"