Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me;
Oh that I were as in months past,.... Which is either an earnest wish for restoration to his former state of outward prosperity; which he might desire, not through impatience and discontent under his present circumstances, or from a carnal and worldly spirit; but either that the present reproach he lay under from his friends might be taken off, he observing that they accounted him a wicked man and an hypocrite, because of his afflictions; wherefore he judged, if these were removed, and he was in as prosperous a condition and in as good circumstances as before, they would entertain a different opinion of him; or, that his words might be better attended to, as they were by men, both young and old, and even princes and nobles before, it being a common case, that what a poor and distressed man says is not regarded; or that he might be in a capacity of doing good to the poor and fatherless, the widow and the oppressed, as he had formerly; or, this wish is only made to introduce the account of his former life, by which it would appear, that he was not the man his friends had represented him to be, from the favour he was in with God, and from the respect shown him by men, and the many good things done by him: but since, by various expressions, which before had dropped from his lips, it appears, that he had no hope nor expectation of ever being restored to his former outward happiness; this may be considered as a wish for the return of spiritual prosperity, wishing he was in as good frames of soul, and as much in the exercise of grace, and was as holy, as humble, as spiritual, and heavenly minded, as he was when he had so much of the world about him; and that he had but the like communion with God, and his gracious presence with him, as he had then. The state of the Lord's people, God-ward, is always the same; his election of them stands sure; the covenant of grace with them is unalterable; their interest in a living Redeemer always continues; grace in them is a principle, permanent and perpetual; but there may be, and often is, an alteration in their frames, and in the exercise of their graces, and in the open regard of God unto them; their graces may be low in exercise; there may be a decay of the life and power of godliness; their frames may change, and the presence of God may be withdrawn from them, and they may have no view of interest in salvation, at least not have the joys of it; wherefore, when sensible of all this, may be desirous it might be with them as it was before; that God would turn them again, and cause his face to shine upon them, that they might be comfortable; the particulars of Job's former case follow, which he desires a renewal of:
as in the days when God preserved me; either in a temporal sense; God having set an hedge of special providence about him, whereby he and his, his family and substance, were remarkably preserved; but now this was plucked up, and all were exposed to ravage and ruin; or in a spiritual sense, as he was both secretly and openly preserved, and as all the Lord's people are, in Christ, and in his hands, and by his power, spirit, and grace: the Lord preserves their souls from the evil of their own hearts, sin that dwells in them, that it shall not have the dominion over them; from the evil that is in the world, that they shall not be overcome by it, and carried away with if; and from the temptations of Satan, so as not to be devoured and destroyed by him, and from a final and total falling away; he preserves them in his own ways, safe to his kingdom and glory; but sometimes all this does not appear so evident unto them, as it might not to Job at this time; who observed the workings of his corruption, and the breaking out of them, in passionate words, wishes, and curses, and the temptations of Satan, who was busy with him to go further lengths, even to blaspheme and curse God; so that he might fear that God his defence was departed from him, the return of which he was desirous of; see Isaiah 49:14.