Understand the Lord’s Blessing
We count those blessed who endured. (5:11a)
The phrase we (believers in general) count introduces a fourth motive for patiently enduring trials: it is common knowledge that God has blessed those who have so endured. Endured translates a form of the verb hupomenō, which is related to the noun translated “endurance” in 1:3–4. As noted in the earlier discussion of verse 7, that word refers to patiently enduring difficult circumstances. People who endure are the objects of divine favor. Paul understood this and revealed it in the rich words of 2 Corinthians 12:7–10:
Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul was blessed even in this life with humility, dependence on God, special grace, and spiritual strength—all through his being unjustly assaulted by Satan.
God’s blessing does not come to people who do great things, but to people who endure. Those who will receive the greatest blessing in the life to come are those who have endured the greatest suffering in the present world (cf. Matt. 20:20–23). The hope of blessing now and in the future glory should motivate suffering Christians to patient endurance.
Realize the Lord’s Purpose
You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, (5:11b)
James’s fifth motive for patient endurance of trials derived from a familiar story to James’s Jewish readers. The incredible story of the endurance of Job amid his trials was one of the most popular stories in Jewish history. Job endured unimaginable, unexplained suffering—the fierce attacks of Satan, the loss of his children, his wealth, his health, his reputation, and, worst of all, his sense of God’s presence. It is true that Job vocalized his misery (3:1–11), bemoaned the fallacious counsel of his misguided, would-be comforters (16:2ff.), and cried out in confusion to God (7:11–16). Yet “through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God” (Job 1:22; cf. 2:10). Job’s triumphant statement “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him” (13:15) exemplifies his patient acceptance of his trials (cf. 1:21; 19:25–27).
The outcome or purpose of the Lord’s dealings with Job provides hope for all who patiently endure suffering. There were at least four important divine purposes for Job’s suffering: to test his faith and prove it genuine; to thwart Satan’s attempt to destroy that faith; to strengthen Job’s faith and enable him to see God more clearly; and to increase Job’s blessedness. All those purposes were realized because despite all his trials Job remained loyal to God. The book of Job closes by enumerating God’s blessing of his loyal, faithful servant:
The Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the Lord increased all that Job had twofold. Then all his brothers and all his sisters and all who had known him before came to him, and they ate bread with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversities that the Lord had brought on him. And each one gave him one piece of money, and each a ring of gold. The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; and he had 14,000 sheep and 6,000 camels and 1,000 yoke of oxen and 1,000 female donkeys. He had seven sons and three daughters. He named the first Jemimah, and the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. In all the land no women were found so fair as Job’s daughters; and their father gave them inheritance among their brothers. After this, Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons and his grandsons, four generations. And Job died, an old man and full of days. (Job 42:10–17)
The example of Job encourages those suffering trials to patiently endure, realizing the Lord’s purpose is to strengthen them, perfect them, and, in the end, to richly bless them. In the words of the apostle Paul, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
Consider the Lord’s Character
the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful. (5:11c)
Fittingly, James closed his exhortation to patiently endure trials with a reminder of the character of God. It is not uncommon for those in the midst of severe trials to, like Job, question whether God really cares about them. But in all their trials, believers can take comfort in the indisputable truth that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful. That is the clear testimony of the Old Testament (e.g., Ex. 33:18–19; 34:6; Num. 14:18; 2 Chron. 30:9; Neh. 9:17; Pss. 86:15; 103:8; 111:4; 112:4; 116:5; 145:8; Isa. 30:18; Lam. 3:22–23; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2).
Full of compassion translates polusplagchnos, a word used only here in the New Testament and perhaps coined by James himself. It literally means “many-boweled,” reflecting the Hebrew idiom which spoke of the bowels or stomach as the seat of emotion. To say that God is “many-boweled” is to affirm that He has an enormous capacity for compassion.
That God is merciful is the unmistakable teaching of Scripture (cf. Ps. 86:15; Ezek. 39:25; Luke 1:78; Rom. 9:16; 11:30, 32; 12:1; 15:9; 2 Cor. 1:3; Eph. 2:4; Heb. 2:17; 1 Pet. 1:3; 2:10). Because of God’s great mercy, Peter exhorted believers, “[Cast] all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7; cf. Ps. 55:22; Phil. 4:6). Believers’ suffering elicits a merciful, compassionate response from their heavenly Father (Ps. 103:13).
Any trial, suffering, or persecution that Christians face can be patiently endured by anticipating the Lord’s coming, recognizing the Lord’s judgment, following the example set by the Lord’s faithful servants, understanding the Lord’s blessing, realizing the Lord’s purpose, and considering the Lord’s compassionate, merciful character. Those who do so will be able to say triumphantly with the psalmist, “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5).
The Compassion of the Lord (5:11)
The reason for optimism in adversity is this: “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy” (James 5:11). Compassion and mercy are more than synonyms for love. The terms convey the visceral feelings, the deep-seated emotional feeling of love.
The story of a missing teenager illustrates the idea. At fourteen, Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her home; nine months later police found her, in a disguise, on the street of a small western town, in the company of the two enigmatic drifters who kidnapped her. Her recovery was hailed as a miracle, but every parent of older children knew at once that something had gone wrong with Elizabeth. A fourteen- (and then fifteen-) year-old who has enough liberty to stroll a street also has chances to call for help. She didn’t run to the police officer on the street—the officer spotted her and took her into custody. Why wasn’t she trying to escape, we wondered. When Elizabeth’s father appeared on television, we could see the same perplexity in him. Yet heartfelt joy ruled every word, every gesture. His daughter was home. The emotions of love filled his face and infused his voice. However bewildering her behavior was, he loved his child.
So it is with us. God’s love is more than a dispassionate, detached interest in our well-being. Scripture chooses the language of emotional feelings to describe that love.
This passage offers us many reasons to persevere in the faith. It comforts us in several ways. First, it shows us the Lord. He is near. He is the Judge and comes to set all things right. Second, it reminds us of Job and the prophets, who persevered to the end in great adversity. Yet above all, James takes us to the fatherly heart of God. He abounds in love and he is sovereign still. Knowing this, whatever our troubles, we can endure. We can persevere to the end and know the full blessing of God.
11 The aorist of this macarism is deliberate—not men who are still enduring, but men who have endured and have now completed their test (1:2, 12), as Job finished his, and wins the Christian envy of us all. As Ropes says (p. 299), telos indicates consummation; but for the Christian, trial will not quite be over till the Parousia. Job is not cited as an example of makrothymia proper, but, like Elijah, of not altogether perfectly patient hypomonē, “that gallant spirit which can breast the tides of doubt and sorrow and disaster, and still hold on, and come out with faith still stronger on the other side”; his lapse in patience proper did not exclude him from the Lord’s pity and mercy.45 The example of Job therefore would have a special appeal for those in trial.
Obviously the idea of telos must be connected in some way with the story of Job. If this is kept in mind, fruitless speculation on its meaning and integrity will be avoided. Telos is correct: it refers not to Christ, his sufferings, death, or resurrection (Augustine, Bede, Wettstein; see Ropes), but to Job and the joyful consummation that crowned his sorrows (Job 42:10ff.). Though telos can mean “purpose” (RSV), it is best taken here as “outcome,” “issue,” “result” (Latin effectus): similarly the Syriac version, “the end which the Lord made for him” (exitum quem ei fecit dominus). So James urges the same spirit in endurance to win a no less merciful award.
Instead of a noun, such as “mercy” or “pity,” James uses a “that” clause—“that the Lord is merciful,” with two adjectives recalling Ps. 103:8. Very pitiful occurs nowhere else in the Bible: it is borrowed from a Hebrew locution,49 literally “many bowels of compassion,” i.e., “very kind”; compassionate illustrates both James’s force and his Hebraic affinities. James began this section (vv. 7–11) with an assurance of the quality of that reward.
5:11a Our reading of v. 11a connects it with the prophets in v. 10 as “those who showed endurance” instead of with Job, who emerges in v. 11b, but the matter is far from clear. Three factors cloud the issue: first, James begins with “Indeed,” idou (“behold”), and this word often serves to introduce a new topic or level of argument. In 3:4 it marked the shift from the bit in a horse’s mouth to the rudder of a ship; in 5:4 it intensifies the argument by shifting it to a new level; in 5:7 it particularizes the argument by providing a fresh analogy; and in 5:9 it turns the argument to a new level of seriousness. Second, there is a tense change: 5:10 “take” (labete) is aorist; in 5:11a we have a present tense (“we call blessed”) and in 5:11b we turn back to the aorist (“you have heard”). Third, the term “showed endurance” (hypomeinantas), while clearly overlapping in sense with “patience” (makrothymia), is picked up again in 5:11b with the “endurance” (hypomonē) of Job. For these reasons, then, v. 11a could be taken as a transitional statement that leads to 5:11b. On the other hand, it can also serve to summarize the practical particularities of the theology of 5:10: if one asks what it means to say “As an example … take the prophets …,” one could not find a better manifestation than “we call blessed” in 5:11a. The use of the present tense then would serve to make the practical significance vivid. Furthermore, “those who showed endurance” is a single-term summary of what “suffering and patience” means. The issue is far from clear, but we think 5:11a functions as a summary statement of 5:10 and, at the same time, prepares the ground for 5:11b.
The Jewish community at large, and we can infer also the messianic community in particular, blessed those who endured: “we call blessed those who showed endurance.” If we see the present tense in aspectual terms, that is in terms of depiction of action instead of correspondence to time and reality, and if that aspectual intent is to describe action that is incomplete or “imperfective,” then what is incomplete is the claims of the merchants (4:13), the mist-like nature of their duration (4:14), the “instead of … but” actions of 4:15–16, the knowledge of good and not doing it (4:17), the wailing of the rich farmers and the coming of miseries (5:1), the cries of the harvesters (5:4), the prayerful resistance of the harvesters (5:6), the reception of precious/valuable crops (5:7), the patience of the farmer (5:7), the intended non-grumbling of the messianic community (5:9a), and the blessing of those who endured (5:11a). In James’s mental world, these are the focal elements of his exhortations in 4:13–5:11. My suggestion is that the blessing corresponds to these elements and, in particular, it corresponds with the cries of the oppressed. As the oppressed cry to God, the messianic community blesses those poor who are living faithfully.
Inherent to 5:11a’s “we call blessed” is the macarism in 1:12, where the messianic community was promised that endurance, prompted as it is by the steadfast love of God, will lead to reward. Thus, “we call blessed,” in the sense of being blessed by God, also implies “and you will be too if you endure in spite of this oppression.” Matthew 5:11–12 is probably behind both James 1:12 and 5:10–11a, and the text shows substantive parallels:
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
It is not at all stretching the text to think that James connects the messianic community to that line of prophets in using the prophets as examples for how the messianists are also to endure and show patience in suffering.
Perseverance, the grace and resolution to remain faithful under serious stress, is promised not only happiness but salvation (Dan 12:12; Matt 10:22; 24:13). James cares about perseverance, apparently not in ways that have fascinated theologians, but in the pastoral context of knowing messianists who were asked to run the gauntlet. Thus, James 1:3–4 teaches that tests of faith lead to endurance (hypomonē) and endurance builds maturity; 1:12 teaches that the one who endures (hypomenō) temptation/testing will receive the “crown of life”; and now in the context of severe trial (5:1–6), the messianists are exhorted to take suffering prophets and Job as their example—and to wait for God’s timing in judgment (5:7–11). For James perseverance has to do with human will, the building of Christian character, connection to the story of God’s people, and final destiny.
184.108.40.206. Job (5:11b)
“You have heard of the endurance of Job.” James finds in Job the quintessential example of patience in suffering or endurance and his example forms a model of how the messianists are to conduct themselves under stress. But why Job? His example is sui generis, an assault by the Satan on God’s playground, and has nothing to do with oppression by the rich. Furthermore, he was not all that patient: “He was anything but an example of a godly person who was patient in the midst of adversity.” “The canonical book rather pictures Job as a bit self-righteous, overly insistent on getting an explanation for his unjust sufferings from the Lord.”215 Nor does the standard paradigm, “the patience of Job,” help us. Nor does it help that such a stereotype has led to a complacent theory of patience. Indeed, Job’s story tells us in no uncertain terms that he complained. But any reading of Job reveals a character who stuck it out, who trusted in God, and who did so fully aware of the fundamental injustice he had experienced. Maybe, then, Job is the perfect example for the oppressed poor. Patience here need not be understood as quietude or passivity; perhaps genuine patience involves realities like protesting to God, yet without surrendering one’s integrity or one’s faith in God or losing the path of following Jesus.
Some suggest that James brings in Job because Job was seen by some as a prophet. Thus, Sirach 49:9 says “God also mentioned Job who held fast to all the ways of justice” and sandwiches Job between Ezekiel and the Twelve Prophets. Not only is this slender evidence but it is also not the focus of James, who is less concerned with who is a prophet and more with the need to endure. Oddly enough, the word “endurance” (hypomonē) only appears once in the Septuagint of Job and then not of Job himself (14:19). Perhaps we are to think of a general stereotype of Job as someone who was patient in suffering and who endured. Job is chosen because the story of Job was connected to suffering, patience, and endurance.
It may be that the canonical text of Job does not fit the stereotype James calls on, but perhaps the evidence of the Jewish world suggests that it is the interpreted Job who is an example for James. This is a central theme in the Testament of Job, and there are strong parallels between that book (especially 33) and James. Thus, in Testament of Job 27:3–7 Satan admits defeat and his words tell the story: “So you also, Job, were the one below and in a plague, but you conquered my wrestling tactics which I brought on you.” And then Job says to his children: “Now then, my children, you also must be patient in everything that happens to you. For patience is better than anything.” That text is almost certainly later than the book of James, but it does reveal that the theme of perseverance was central to the perception of Job in the Jewish and Christian worlds.
But we should not fall for this generality about patience so easily. Indeed, Job is cast in the Testament of Job in altogether patient terms, but that is not James’s point. He has more in mind with Job; he has in mind the poor oppressed who cry out to God (like Job), who are not to resort to violence, and who will retain their faith and integrity without always falling from their commitments. It is then the combination of Job’s (impatient!) protests along with his steady resolve to stick to what he believes to be true, even if God does not (!), that makes Job the most suitable character in the Bible for what James has to say.
“The purpose of the Lord” not only continues the example of Job but provides for James a platform for what he has to say to the oppressed poor in the messianic community. The NRSV might lead some to think James has become abstract when he says “and you have seen the purpose of the Lord,” but the term translated “purpose” is telos. Patience has been connected to God’s sovereign purposes in 1:2–4, but here telos seems to reflect the “end” of the book of Job, where “the Lord” forgives Job’s friends through Job’s prayers, that is, “the Lord’s end” refers to the merciful resolution of the story of Job and his friends. God not only forgives the friends but then also shows mercy to Job by restoring his fortunes. This best explains why James then says “how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.”226
While Job 42:7–17 brings these themes to the fore, they are emphasized even more in the targum of Job from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Thus 11Q10 [Tg Job] 38:1–9:
[(So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad) the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and] did [what they had been told by] God. And G[o]d listened to the voice of Job and forgave them their sins because of him. Then God turned back to Job in compassion and gave him twice what he once had possessed. There came to Job all his friends, brethren and those who had known him, and they ate bread with him in his house. They consoled him for all the evil that God had brought upon him, and each man gave him one sheep and one gold ring. So God blessed J[ob’s] latt[er days, and h]e [had] [fourteen thousand] sh[eep …]
James here moves in the world of wisdom, as can also be seen in Wisdom 2:16–17 and 3:19. But James goes beyond this wisdom conviction that we ought to live now in light of the end, to seeing “the Lord’s end” as days of mercy, restoration, and blessing. Furthermore it is not just the telos of life that James has in mind but the telos of the Lord.
James appeals to the compassion and mercy of God, as he often does (1:5, 17–18, 27; 2:5, 11, 13; 5:4, 6), but he does so again not in the abstract nor casually but to assure the poor oppressed of the community that God can remake all things. As Job lost it all at the hands of the Enemy, and God restored it all in duplicate, so the oppressed poor can count on God’s mercy and God’s goodness that maybe they, too, will find “the Lord’s end” better than the beginning. Surely the appeal to God’s compassion and mercy evoke texts like Exodus 34:6–7, where we find not only mercy for God’s good people but also the warning of judgment on those living in iniquity.
Job (v. 11)
We know Job’s story very well. He was very devoted and faithful to the Lord, and he was very prosperous and happy. And then the devil came along and suggested that Job was faithful because he was blessed. If his blessings were removed, his devotion to God would vanish!
So the Lord allowed Satan to test Job, and test he did! Job lost his family, his health and his possessions. But in the end, Job still had his faith, and the devil was proven wrong.
In citing the example of Job, James refers to ‘the end intended by the Lord’. And that end was to show ‘that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful’ (v. 11).
By reminding his readers of Job, James was calling them to trust God to have a good purpose even in the midst of circumstances that they did not understand.
We are called to this same kind of patience, but, oh, how difficult it is for us! We look at this harsh circumstance and that unpleasant reality, and we are very ready and eager to pronounce an adverse verdict on God. If the Lord truly had our best interests at heart, he would not allow such things! These difficulties are so great that there could not possibly be a good purpose behind them!
If we will let him, the devil will always have us drawing false conclusions about God on the basis of our burdens and trials.
What are we to do? We must learn how to talk to the devil! And when he suggests that our circumstances are such that they could not conceivably come from the hand of a good God, we must learn to point him to the cross of Calvary. That is where God for ever declared how he feels about his children. He put his only Son there to bear the wrath of God in their stead.
As we point Satan to the cross, we must say to him, ‘God did so much for me there that I can never question his love for me. God did so much for me there that if he chooses to do nothing else for me at all, I will still have cause to praise him forever.’
The cross is ever the great antidote for whatever ails the Christian. And if we will learn to always take the devil and his insinuations there, he will leave us and take his insinuations with him!
We have examined in brief fashion the plea that James made to his readers for patience. We must not leave his words without noticing one more thing, namely, their enemy in achieving patience. He says to them, ‘Establish your hearts …’ (v. 8). Alec Motyer puts it neatly: ‘Whatever our life-style, the heart lies at the centre.’
If we are failing in patiently trusting the Lord, it is because we have not fixed our hearts with determination and resolve. So let us give attention to our hearts. That is where the battle rages, and that is where the battle is lost or won.
Let us talk to God about our hearts. Let’s tell him how prone our hearts are to take us away from God. And let’s fill our hearts with the truth of the Word of God. If we are to live for God, we must all be good heart doctors.
5:11 / In their own day prophets were regarded as reactionary fossils who did not like the modern trends in worship. They were seen as dangerous visionaries who believed that God, not strategic alliances, would protect the nation. Some were even thought to be weak-kneed traitors who suggested surrender (e.g., Jeremiah). Many people probably said, “I admire his convictions, but he seems to be rather masochistic, virtually demanding martyrdom by going public.” Others were glad when the prophet was dead and gone. The suffering itself was far from glamorous, with no angel choirs lending a glow to the setting. Yet now we consider blessed those who have persevered. Matthew 5:11–12 is the background, for Jesus calls blessed those suffering for good deeds. This is a reversal of the world’s evaluation, and James implies that “the same happiness can be yours.” Since the prophets’ happiness was because they did not give up but persevered, perseverance is also required of Christians. In this vein, Jesus had earlier said that the truly saved is “whoever holds out to the end” (Matt. 10:22; 24:13; Luke 21:19), and Paul will point out that it is those who cross the finish line who gain the prize (1 Cor. 9:24–27; Phil. 3:13–14; cf. 2 Tim. 4:6–8).
As a concrete prophet James cites Job: You have heard of Job’s perseverance, and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The story of Job was a favorite in Jewish circles; he is cited as early as Ezekiel 14:14, 29. By the time of James, many embellished versions existed that enlarged upon the canonical account in two directions: (1) they emphasized Job’s endurance under testing, and (2) they stressed his righteousness, especially his great charity. The important point for James, however, is that as much as Job complained, he refused to give up his trust or to disobey God, and the Lord finally brought about his deliverance. The call to the Christian, then, is not to give up and to lose the reward now, after all that has already been endured, but to keep holding on.
Driving his point home, James adds a single clause: The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. James is citing Ps. 103:8 or 111:4 (probably from memory), and the quotation is most appropriate. God does not like watching people squirm. He would not allow suffering to happen if there were not a far greater good ahead. On this note the summary ends: Trust God and keep on patiently enduring, for the Lord is unimaginably concerned about you.
11a. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered.
In this verse we hear the echo of one of Jesus’ beatitudes, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:11–12). James intimates that the readers are familiar with this word of Jesus.
Blessed are the people who have persevered and continue to persevere. In the introduction to his epistle James writes the beatitude, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial” (1:12; also see 1:3). Toward the end of his epistle, he mentions “perseverance” in the context of a discussion on patience (5:11). James seems to say that the persevering believer actively bears up under trials and temptations and remains courageous. He provides a striking example by referring to job.
11b. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about.
Perhaps because of our reliance on Bible translations, the proverbial patience of Job has become well known. But in his epistle, James uses the word perseverance rather than “patience.” He introduces the noun perseverance with the verb to persevere in the preceding sentence: “As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered” (v. 11a; also see 1:3, 4, 12). Patience can be described as passive endurance; by contrast, perseverance is the active determination of a believer whose faith triumphs in the midst of afflictions.
What do we know about the patience of Job? The prophet Ezekiel mentions him with Noah and Daniel. However, the prophet extols not patience but righteousness as the qualifying virtue of Job (Ezek. 14:14, 20). Even in the Book of Job, patience is not one of Job’s outstanding characteristics. Job betrays his impatience when he curses the day of his birth (3:1) and when he says that the “long-winded speeches” of his three friends never end (16:3).
Then, what makes Job unforgettable? He is known for his steadfastness, that is, his persevering faith that triumphed in the end. Because “Job did not sin in what he said” (2:10), God eventually blessed him with twice as many possessions as he had before (42:12–13). For this reason, James tells his readers that they “have seen what the Lord finally brought about.” God blessed Job because of his persevering faith.
11c. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
If God permitted Satan to take everything Job possessed, if God allowed the rich people to oppress the poor in the days of James, is he at all concerned about man’s lot on earth?
Yes, God is concerned about his people. James writes these assuring words, “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” Although he does not quote the Old Testament Scriptures, he alludes to at least two passages:
The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. [Exod. 34:6]
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love. [Ps. 103:8]
But James goes one step further than these two passages. He coins a word in Greek that does not occur anywhere else in the New Testament. He says, “The Lord is full of compassion” (italics added). God is more than compassionate; he is filled with compassion. His heart goes out to the person in need of help.
What is compassion? It is a feeling; the word is best translated “heart.” Furthermore, compassion is synonymous with mercy. Mercy extends to man and is received by him. Mercy has an external aspect; it reaches out to man.
James exhorts the readers to imitate the prophets, reminds them of Job’s perseverance, and teaches them about God’s abounding love and mercy. His message is: God will sustain you.
11. The patience of Job. Having spoken generally of the prophets, he now refers to an example remarkable above others; for no one, as far as we can learn from histories, has ever been overwhelmed with troubles so hard and so various as Job; and yet he emerged from so deep a gulf. Whosoever, then, will imitate his patience, will no doubt find God’s hand, which at length delivered him, to be the same. We see for what end his history has been written. God suffered not his servant Job to sink, because he patiently endured his afflictions. Then he will disappoint the patience of no one.
If, however, it be asked, Why does the Apostle so much commend the patience of Job, as he had displayed many signs of impatience, being carried away by a hasty spirit? To this I reply, that though he sometimes failed through the infirmity of the flesh, or murmured within himself, yet he ever surrendered himself to God, and was ever willing to be restrained and ruled by him. Though, then, his patience was somewhat deficient, it is yet deservedly commended.
The end of the Lord. By these words he intimates that afflictions ought ever to be estimated by their end. For at first God seems to be far away, and Satan in the meantime revels in the confusion; the flesh suggests to us that we are forsaken of God and lost. We ought, then, to extend our view farther, for near and around us there appears no light. Moreover, he has called it the end of the Lord, because it is his work to give a prosperous issue to adversities. If we do our duty in bearing evils obediently, he will by no means be wanting in performing his part. Hope directs us only to the end; God will then shew himself very merciful, however rigid and severe he may seem to be while afflicting us.