Prepare Thine Heart
JOB 11. “Prepare Thine Heart.” “If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thine hands toward him; If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles. For then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot; yea, thou shalt be stedfast, and shalt not fear: Because thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away: And thine age shall be clearer than the noonday; thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning. And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope; yea, thou shalt dig about thee, and thou shalt take thy rest in safety. Also thou shalt lie down, and none shall make thee afraid; yea, many shall make suit unto thee. But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not escape, and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost.” (Job 11:13-20) These are some words that Zophar had for Job, when Job was going through great trials and afflictions. I believe that Job’s friends were deceived, and they were mistaken in the accusations and in their exhortations that were delivered to Job. Yet some of their words about God were objectively true, though often misapplied. The truth is that Job loved the Lord, and he patiently endured the trials, trusting in the righteousness of God and the salvation that had been delivered unto him. He despaired of life from time to time, but he never despaired of God.
I suppose that Zophar and the others believed in works for their salvation – or at least they trusted too much in works to preserve them in God’s Sight. So, to them troubles and afflictions must always signify God’s displeasure and man’s failure. This is because they mistakenly believed that God’s goodness towards us depends solely on our faithfulness unto Him. Sadly, this is the attitude and the doctrine of most of Christianity today: “If you will be good and live right, then God will save you.” It is better to trust in God’s faithfulness – He does not change. It is better to trust in God’s righteousness – He is always true. We do good, because we love Him, not in order to be saved. Still, it is in our best interest to do good – God will use us, and God will reward us.
I want to use Zophar’s words as an encouragement to the saints of God, and a reminder of the expectations that God has for us. We all need to “prepare” our hearts, as we “stretch out” our hands unto Him. This is true when we come before Him in prayer; this is true when we come before Him in thanksgiving and worship. We must not bring “iniquity” with us, into our service unto God. We must “put it far away” so that we do not taint our service unto God – so that we do not place an obstacle between us and our God. Then, as we turn from sin and as we engage in the Cause of Christ, we can “lift up” our faces unto God, and we can have certainty and confidence in our hearts – that we are doing God’s Will; that we are living in accordance with His Word; that we are being the example that we ought to be to the world of lost men around us. Share the Gospel! Live righteously! Speak out against sin! Encourage men to repent! Do these rather than getting caught up in the pleasures of this world. Do these rather than being ensnared by sin. Do these rather than trembling in fear.
I like the next words: “Yea, thou shalt be stedfast, and shalt not fear.” As we come to God, and as we leave the pleasures of the world behind, we find that we will also be escaping the fear and uncertainty that seems to plague so many. We can be stedfast, because our God is stedfast! We can be courageous, bold, and brave – because the fears of the world will be overcome by our love for God, and His love for us! You can take your “rest in safety,” and none will “make thee afraid.” Our hope and help is in God. Sometimes our hearts forget this. Prepare your hearts; cleanse your minds from sin and the distractions of the world; God is there for us, and He will take care of us. “And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope.”