Job continues his initial complaint to his friends. He is one of those men who “long for death, but it cometh not” (v.21). He seeks for the peace and rest that he expects death to bring. He questions why light and life continue to be given to him.
- Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul (v.20)?
Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in? v.23).
He still has light. That is, he still has his wisdom. He still sees and understands many things. But his own “way” (v.23) is hidden from him. He does not understand why he is going through such a trial. (Perhaps, this is your experience when you can see what God is doing in the lives of others but cannot fathom what He is doing in your own life.)
One of Job’s complaints is especially interesting. He claims to be one “whom God hath hedged in” (v.23). What does it mean that God has hedged Job in? A small lesson in Bible customs may help. In Bible times, hedges were often used either to keep domesticated animals like sheep in the fold or to keep wild animals out. Sometimes they were placed around vineyards or other crops in order to protect them. They were often topped with some plant that had prickly thorns – the better to keep something in or out.
Job’s comment obviously refers to a limitation on his freedom. His poverty, disease and desertion by previous friends have narrowed his options for living. He is now limited to sitting among the ashes and scraping his sores with a potsherd (Job 2:7-8). This is from a man who had recently commanded great power and wealth. Now, he has lost it all and, as we would certainly do, he complains of his loss.
Job’s hedges, or restrictions, are great and obvious. But do we not all experience hedges in our lives? We probably do much wrong by telling children that they can be whatever they want to be. We should tell them that they can be whatever God wants them to be. The truth is, our abilities and circumstances hedge us in. Since these are of God, He is the One who truly hedges us in.
If you cannot carry a tune, you cannot become a great singer. If you cannot learn algebra, you cannot be a physicist. If you cannot walk, you cannot be a football star. We try to get around these hedges, but they are still there and we often get stuck by the thorns when we ignore them. Some obstacles are meant to be hurdled but some are from God and are meant to guide us.
You see…hedges are not a sign of God’s disapproval. Just as the toddler ignores the dozens of toys at hand in order to reach for the item high on a shelf, we often desire the thing God has not allowed to us. In many cases, this is a form of rebellion against His will.
Hedges are one of the ways in which God guides us. There is so much that needs to be done. Which way should I go? Well, if God does not enable me to do something, then it must not be His will that I do it. I know that some of you are rejecting this. Your positive thinking background is showing. I will make one allowance. There are times when God wants you to do something in spite of your limitations. In these cases, He will show you absolutely that this is His will for you and He will help you to succeed despite the hedges about you.
But most of the time, we should accept God’s hedges as a His guiding hand. Find the path He has for you and take that path. Look at your life. What are some of the limitations or hedges that God has put in your life? Are you using them as a guide or are you rebelling against the Lord by going against His revealed will for you? In what ways can you apply the lesson of the hedges to your life?