Chapter 10 – A Spirit-Filled Man

“But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” Job 32: 8. “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” Job 33: 4.

The book of Job is the oldest poem in the world. It has come down to us from a period somewhere between the time of Abraham and Joshua. It is a profoundly interesting drama, unfolding some of the most important principles of the divine government, and revealing God’s personal dealings with His people through the Holy Spirit.

First, Job himself appears upon the scene as the type of a high and noble character, a man of perfect uprightness, one who represents the very highest ideal of human character. Next, we see God testing this man, revealing to him the depths of self and sin which lie concealed in every human soul, until, at length, Job appears under the searchlight of the Holy Ghost a pitiful spectacle, not only of disease and suffering, but of self-righteousness, self-vindication, and rebellion against God Himself. One by one various characters appear upon the scene, representing the wisdom and comfort and friendship of the world — in fact, all that the world can do to help us in our trouble. We have Bildad and Eliphaz and Zophar representing, perhaps, the wisdom, the wealth, and the pleasure of the world, but all failing to bring to Job the comfort, the instruction, and the discipline that he needs.

Finally, Elihu appears upon the stage; and, for the first time, he brings the message and the help of God. His very name signifies God Himself, and his words are in keeping with the source from which his message comes. Let us look at him as one of the oldest examples of the indwelling, inworking, and outflowing of the Holy Spirit. First, we have the man. Secondly, we will consider his message. And then we will notice the effect of his message in its influence upon Job, the object of attention in the whole drama of this wonderful book.

First, he tells us himself that he was a young man. “I am young,” he says, “and ye are very old; wherefore I was afraid, and durst not shew you my opinion.” God can speak to and through even the youngest of His disciples. But notice the modesty of Elihu. He was sensitive, shrinking, and full of that modest diffidence which is always the criterion of true worth. The more God uses us, the more should we shrink out of self-consciousness and human observation. Then, we see not only his modesty, but his respect for others and his beautiful disposition to wait and to show the utmost deference to those who are naturally his superiors. There is no reason why we should thrust ourselves forward because we have the Holy Spirit and are trusted with His messages. The Spirit-filled man will always be filled with deference and consideration for others. In speaking to the New Testament assemblies, the apostle tells them particularly to guard against this very thing, for He says, “The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” When God gives us a message He can afford to have us wait. So Elihu waited till the others were through, and then he spoke with effect.

But while Elihu is respectful and modest, he is at the same time perfectly independent of the opinions of people, and is bold and fearless in obeying the voice of God, which he has heard in the depths of his own soul. “Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person; neither let me give flattering titles unto man. For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my Maker would soon take me away.” And so the Spirit-filled man is free from all men. He does not try to copy any man, but listens directly to the voice of God through His Word and His Spirit. So many of us are parrots, catching the opinion and the ideas of others. God wants individual characters and individual messages, and every one of us to be himself filled and taught of the Holy Ghost.
We see in Elihu a man so filled with the Holy Ghost that he cannot keep back his words. He says, “The Spirit within me constraineth me. Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles.”This is the way the apostle felt, “We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” We need this volcanic power to give force and propelling power to the message with which God trusts us.

Again, we see in Elihu a man supremely anxious to glorify God, and grieved because Job’s friends have not answered his questions and vindicated God. His one desire is to glorify his Maker and his Master. Such a man always will be taught and used of His Master. The Holy Spirit is waiting for such men and women.


It is a very wonderful message. It unfolds the deepest principles of God’s moral government, and rises to the loftiest height of inspired eloquence. There is no profounder discussion of God’s dealings with His children. God is always speaking to His people. “God speaketh once, yea, twice, yet man perceiveth it not,” is heedless, or blind and deaf, failing therefore, to understand his Father’s voice.

Then God has to speak again through sickness and physical suffering; and so we have the picture in the thirty-third chapter, from the nineteenth to the twenty-second verses. It is the picture of a poor sufferer chastened with pain, sinking day by day into emaciation and exhaustion, until he is ready to drop into the grave. This, however, is not God’s last voice; there is another message, but oh, how rarely and how seldom the true messenger is found! “One among a thousand.” What a blessed message He brings! He shows man His uprightness, the loving kindness of His chastening, leading him to repentance, and then He unfolds the blessed message of the great atonement, and cries, “Deliver him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom.” What is the effect of this? “His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s; he shall return to the days of his youth.”

This is the blessed Gospel of the Atonement — atonement for sickness as well as sin; this is the blessed Gospel of Healing — healing for body as well as soul. It was God’s ancient thought, and it is still unchanged — His will for all who will simply believe and receive. This is God’s uniform principle of dealing with His children. “These things worketh God oftentimes with man, to bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living.” God’s chastenings are not the zigzag lightnings of the sky, that strike we know not where or when, but the intelligent, intelligible, loving dealings of a Father, who will let us understand why He afflicts us. He Himself has told us in the New Testament, “If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” This is God’s object in dealing with His children, to bring them out of some position that is wrong into His higher will; and as soon as we learn our lesson, He is glad to remove the pressure, and to bring us into the full manifestation of His favor and blessing for both soul and body. Can we find anywhere a wiser, broader, truer unfolding of God’s gracious providence and His loving, faithful dealings with His children than in the old message of Elihu, more than three thousand years ago.

Then He passes on to a more sublime discourse, in which He sweeps the whole circle of the heavens and the whole field of nature, and unfolds the glory and majesty of God in all His works. At length, as He reaches His loftiest height, God interrupts Him, and closes His sublime oration with a yet grander peroration, as He speaks through the whirlwind to Job with a voice that he can no longer answer nor gainsay.


This brings us to the effect of the message upon Job himself. This is the great central thought of the whole book and the entire drama. Job meets us as the central figure and the type of ourselves. He represents man at his best, just as Elihu at the close represents man at God’s best.

We see in Job an upright man, the best man of his time, the best that man can be by the help of divine grace, until he dies to himself altogether and enters into union with God Himself.

The first picture of Job is a favorable one, both to himself and to everybody else. He seems to be all right, until God brings the searchlight and the surgical probe to bear upon him, when, like everything else that is human, he breaks completely down, and shows himself in all the weakness and worthlessness of our lost humanity. The worst thing that we find in Job is Job himself. God was not trying to convince him of any glaring sin, but of his self-sufficiency, self-righteousness, and self-confidence. The thing that we have to deny is self. The hardest thing to see and to crucify is our own self-confidence and self-will; and we have to pass through many a painful incident and many a humiliating failure before we find it out and fully recognize it.

Accordingly we find Job, under the divine searchlight, signally failing, revealing his unbelief, vindicating himself, and even blaming God for unjustly afflicting him. One by one his various friends appear upon the scene representing the wisdom, wealth, and pleasure of the world; but Job sees through the fallacy of all their arguments, and refuses their messages, until, at length, Elihu comes with the inspired message of God. God follows it by directly revealing Himself to Job, and speaking from the whirlwind with a voice that he can no longer resist. Job, in the light of God, at length wakes up to his own worthlessness and nothingness, and falling silent at Jehovah’s feet, he cries, “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” This is, at last, the death of self; and now God is ready to pick up His servant, to forgive his errors and faults, and even to vindicate him in the face of his friends.

Then, for the first time, we hear God approving Job and saying to his unwise friends, “Ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, as my servant Job hath.” What was the thing which Job had spoken of Him that was right? It was his language of self-condemnation, humiliation, renunciation. Job had now ended and God was ready to begin. God immediately responds to him not only with His favor and blessing, but with all the prosperity and blessing which he had lost; and Job rises to a new place in every way.

This is the resurrection life unfolded in the ancient type. This is the resurrection life into which the Holy Ghost is waiting to bring all who are willing, like Job, to die to the life of self. God was not looking in Job for any open sin or flagrant wrong; but He was searching for the subtle self-life which lies concealed behind a thousand disguises in us all, and which is so slow and so unwilling to die. God has often to bring us not only into the place of suffering, and to the bed of sickness and pain, but also into the place where our righteousness breaks down, and our character falls to pieces, in order to humble us in the dust and to show us the need of entire crucifixion to all our natural life. Then, at the feet of Jesus we are ready to receive Him, to abide in Him, to depend upon Him alone, and to draw all our life and strength each moment from Him, our Living Head.

It was thus that Peter was saved by his very fall. He had to die to Peter that he might live more perfectly to Christ.

Have we thus died, and have we thus renounced the strength of our own self-confidence? Happy, indeed, are we if this be so; for we shall have Christ and all His resources of strength. Then He can afford to give to us, as he did to Job, all the riches of His goodness and all the gifts of His providence that we need in our secular and temporal life. We begin life with the natural, next we come into the spiritual; then, when we have truly received the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, the natural is added to the spiritual, and we are able to receive the gifts of His providence and the blessings of life without becoming centered in them or allowing them to separate us from Him.

This is the sweet lesson of the life of Job. This is the bright and happy sequel to all his sorrow. This is the ripening of the seed of death and pain. This is the blessed fruition of all his affliction. This is but a little type of that richer resurrection life which the New Testament reveals.

The blessed Holy Spirit is waiting to lead us all into the path of life through the gates of death. Some one tells of a gentleman who called upon an old friend and was invited by the proprietor to go with him to survey his splendid new warehouse. As they started to go to the upper floor, the visitor began immediately to climb the stair. “Oh,”said his friend, “this way,”and opened a little side door and led him down a few steps to a platform where a door opened into an elevator. “This is the way we go up now”; and then they mounted by that elevator to the very top of the building, eight or ten stories high, and came down from floor to floor without the slightest effort. As they returned to the office the gentleman said: “I have just been thinking that this is God’s new way of ascension. He leads us down first, and then He puts us into His elevator and lifts us up to Himself.”

This is the story of Job. This is the story of Jesus. This is the story of every true life. “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” God help us to die. Fear not the pain, the sacrifice, the surrender. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil: for thou art with me.”And on the other side you shall say, “Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Oh, how sweet it is to die with Jesus,
To the world and self and sin!
Oh, how sweet it is to live with Jesus,
As He lives and reigns within!