C. H. Spurgeon
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37. The Sorrowful Man's Question.

Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in? - Job 3:23.

Job's case was such that life itself became irksome He wondered why he should be kept alive to suffer. Could not mercy have permitted him to die out of hand? Light is most precious, yet we may come to ask why it is given. See the small value of temporal things, for we may have them and loathe them; we may have the light of life and prefer the darkness of death under the sorrowful conditions which surround us. Hence Job asks, "Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul; which long for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures?"

We hope that our hearers are not in Job's condition; but if they are, we desire to comfort them.

I. THE CASE WHICH RAISES THE QUESTION: "A man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in." He has the light of life, but not the light of comfort.

1. He walks in deep trouble, so deep that he cannot see the bottom of it. Nothing prospers, either in temporals or in spirituals. He is greatly depressed in spirit. He can see no help for his burden, or alleviation of his misery. He cannot see any ground for comfort either in God or in man. "His way is hid."

2. He can see no cause for it. No special sin has been committed. No possible good appears to be coming out of it. When we can see no cause we must not infer that there is none. Judging by the sight of the eyes is dangerous.

3. He cannot tell what to do in it. Patience is hard, wisdom is difficult, confidence scarce, and joy out of reach, while the mind is in deep gloom. Mystery brings misery.

4. He cannot see the way out of it. He seems to hear the enemy say, "They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in" (Exod. 14:3). He cannot escape through the hedge of thorn, nor see an end to it: his way is straitened as well as darkened. Men in such a case feel their griefs intensely, and speak too bitterly. If we were in such misery, we, too, might raise the question; therefore let us consider:

II. THE QUESTION ITSELF: "Why is light given?" etc.

This inquiry, unless prosecuted with great humility and child-like confidence, is to be condemned:

1. It is an unsafe one. It is an undue exaltation of human judgment. Ignorance should shun arrogance. What can we know?

2. It reflects upon God. It insinuates that his ways need explanation, and are either unreasonable, unjust, unwise, or unkind.

3. There must be an answer to the question; but it may not be one intelligible to us. The Lord has a "therefore" in answer to every"wherefore"; but he does not often reveal it; for "he giveth not account of any of his matters'' (Job 33:13).

4. It is not the most profitable question. Why we are allowed to live in sorrow is a question which we need not answer. We might gain far more by inquiring how to use our prolonged life.


1. Suppose the answer should be, "God wills it." Is not that enough? "I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it" (Ps. 39:9).

2. To an ungodly man sufficient answers are at hand.

It is mercy which, by prolonging the light of life, keeps you from worse suffering. For you to desire death is to be eager for hell. Be not so foolish.

It is wisdom which restrains you from sin, by hedging up your way, and darkening your spirit. It is better for you to be downcast than dissolute.

It is love which calls you to repent. Every sorrow is intended to whip you Godward.

3. To the godly man there are yet more apparent reasons. Your trials are sent,

To let you see all that is in you. In deep soul-trouble we discover what we are made of.

To bring you nearer to God. The hedges shut you up to God; the darkness makes you cling close to him. Life is continued that grace may be increased.

To make you an example to others. Some are chosen to be monuments of the Lord's special dealings; a sort of lighthouse to other mariners.

To magnify the grace of God. If 6ur way were always bright we could not so well exhibit the sustaining, consoling, and delivering power of the Lord.

To prepare you for greater prosperity. Without your life being preserved, you could not reach that halcyon period which is reserved for you; nor would you be fitted for it if you were not disciplined by previous trials.

To make you like your Lord Jesus, who lived in affliction. For him death was no escape from his burdens: he said,"It is finished," before he gave up the ghost.

Be not too ready to ask unbelieving questions. Be sure that life is never too long.

Be prepared of the Holy Spirit to keep to the way even when it is hid, and to walk on between the hedges when they are not hedges of roses, but fences of briar.

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