Savoring the sweetness of God

John Piper, in a sermon on Job 42, “Job:Reversal in Suffering”

Neither bad theology (in the words of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar) nor good theology (in the words of Elihu) gives us the knowledge of God which changes a person’s heart. “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalm 34:8). There is a knowledge that only comes through tasting. Five seconds of honey on the tongue will show you more sweetness than ten hours of lectures about the sweetness of honey. “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Until God gives you a taste of his goodness all the theology in the world will not give you a knowledge of his goodness that changes your heart and saves your soul.

Job Tasted and Saw That the Lord Is Good

When Elihu was finished speaking the truth to Job, Job said nothing. Only after God spoke (in chapters 38–41) did Job say, “I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees thee” (42:5). When God himself came to Job and spoke and took the initiative to make himself known to Job, Job tasted God! And his eyes were opened.

Now Job has a new sense of God’s reality. It is more than intellectual or speculative knowledge. It is the knowledge of the heart. He has tasted. And now he sees. And the result is a broken and changed man.

Job Confesses Three Great Truths

In 42:1–6 Job bows in reverent submission to confess three great truths.

  1. In verse 2 he confesses the truth that God is absolutely sovereign: “I know that thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of thine can be thwarted.”
  2. In verse 3 he confesses the truth that God’s wisdom makes his own wisdom look like ignorance: “I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
  3. And in verse 6 he confesses the truth that he is guilty of despicable sin in questioning the ways of God: “I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

A Broken and Changed Person

Job is a broken and changed man. That’s what happens when you really see God. It happened to Isaiah: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips . . . for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5). It happened to Peter when Jesus showed his power: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8). It happened to the centurion when Jesus came to his house: “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof” (Luke 7:6).

Before Job saw God in this way, he had esteemed himself somewhat highly and had not hesitated to assert his righteousness. Now he sees himself more clearly. And what he sees drives him to repentance.

If we don’t feel grieved for our sin, and deeply unworthy of God’s goodness, then we need to pray earnestly that God would show us himself—that he would cease to be a mere doctrine that we hear with our ear, and instead would become an awesome, infinitely holy, dreadful, and wonderful Sovereign that we taste and see with our hearts.

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