Elihu accuses Job of charging God with injustice. (1-9) God cannot be unjust. (10-15) God's power and providence. (16-30) Elihu reproves Job. (31-37)
Verses 1-9 Elihu calls upon those present to decide with him upon Job's words. The plainest Christian, whose mind is enlightened, whose heart is sanctified by the Spirit of God, and who is versed in the Scriptures, can say how far matters, words, or actions, agree with true religion, better than any that lean to their own understandings. Job had spoken as if he meant wholly to justify himself. He that say, I have cleansed my hands in vain, does not only offend against God's children, Ps. 73:13-15 , but gratifies his enemies, and says as they say.
Verses 10-15 Elihu had showed Job, that God meant him no hurt by afflicting him, but intended his spiritual benefit. Here he shows, that God did him no wrong by afflicting him. If the former did not satisfy him, this ought to silence him. God cannot do wickedness, nor the Almighty commit wrong. If services now go unrewarded, and sins now go unpunished, yet there is a day coming, when God will fully render to every man according to his works. Further, though the believer's final condemnation is done away through the Saviour's ransom, yet he has merited worse than any outward afflictions; so that no wrong is done to him, however he may be tried.
Verses 16-30 Elihu appeals directly to Job himself. Could he suppose that God was like those earthly princes, who hate right, who are unfit to rule, and prove the scourges of mankind? It is daring presumption to condemn God's proceedings, as Job had done by his discontents. Elihu suggests divers considerations to Job, to produce in him high thoughts of God, and so to persuade him to submit. Job had often wished to plead his cause before God. Elihu asks, To what purpose? All is well that God does, and will be found so. What can make those uneasy, whose souls dwell at ease in God? The smiles of all the world cannot quiet those on whom God frowns.
Verses 31-37 When we reprove for what is amiss, we must direct to what is good. Job's friends would have had him own himself a wicked man. Let will only oblige him to own that he spoke unadvisedly with his lips. Let us, in giving reproof, not make a matter worse than it is. Elihu directs Job to humble himself before God for his sins, and to accept the punishment. Also to pray to God to discover his sins to him. A good man is willing to know the worst of himself; particularly, under affliction, he desires to be told wherefore God contends with him. It is not enough to be sorry for our sins, but we must go and sin no more. And if we are affectionate children, we shall love to speak with our Father, and to tell him all our mind. Elihu reasons with Job concerning his discontent under affliction. We are ready to think every thing that concerns us should be just as we would have it; but it is not reasonable to expect this. Elihu asks whether there was not sin and folly in what Job said. God is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works, Ps. 145:17 . The believer saith, Let my Saviour, my wise and loving Lord, choose every thing for me. I am sure that will be wisest, and the best for his glory and my good.
Job 34:1-37 .
2. This chapter is addressed also to the "friends" as the thirty-third chapter to Job alone.
4. judgment--Let us select among the conflicting sentiments advanced, what will stand the test of examination.
5. judgment--my right. Job's own words ( Job 13:18 , 27:2 ).
6. Were I to renounce my right (that is, confess myself guilty), I should die. Job virtually had said so ( Job 27:4 Job 27:5 , 6:28 ). MAURER, not so well, "Notwithstanding my right (innocence) I am treated as a liar," by God, by His afflicting me.
my wound--literally, "mine arrow," namely, by which I am pierced. So "my stroke" ("hand," Job 23:2 , Margin). My sickness ( Job 6:4 , 16:13 ).
without transgression--without fault of mine to deserve it ( Job 16:17 ).
7. ( Job 15:16 ). Image from the camel.
scorning--against God ( Job 15:4 ).
8. Job virtually goes in company (makes common cause) with the wicked, by taking up their sentiments ( Job 9:22 Job 9:23 Job 9:30 , 21:7-15 ), or at least by saying, that those who act on such sentiments are unpunished ( Malachi 3:14 ). To deny God's righteous government because we do not see the reasons of His acts, is virtually to take part with the ungodly.
9. with God--in intimacy ( Psalms 50:18 , Margin).
10. The true answer to Job, which God follows up ( Job 38:1-41 ). Man is to believe God's ways are right, because they are His, not because we fully see they are so ( Romans 9:14 , Deuteronomy 32:4 , Genesis 18:25 ).
11. Partly here; fully, hereafter ( Jeremiah 32:19 , Romans 2:6 , 1 Peter 1:17 , Revelation 22:12 ).
12. ( Job 8:3 ). In opposition to Job, Job 34:5 , will not--cannot.
13. If the world were not God's property, as having been made by Him, but committed to His charge by some superior, it might be possible for Him to act unjustly, as He would not thereby be injuring Himself; but as it is, for God to act unjustly would undermine the whole order of the world, and so would injure God's own property ( Job 36:23 ).
disposed--hath founded ( Isaiah 44:7 ), established the circle of the globe.
14, 15. "If He were to set His heart on man," either to injure him, or to take strict account of his sins. The connection supports rather [UMBREIT], "If He had regard to himself (only), and were to gather unto Himself ( Psalms 104:29 ) man's spirit, &c. (which he sends forth, Psalms 104:30 , Ecclesiastes 12:7 ), all flesh must perish together," &c. ( Genesis 3:19 ). God's loving preservation of His creatures proves He cannot be selfish, and therefore cannot be unjust.
16. In Job 34:2 , Elihu had spoken to all in general, now he calls Job's special attention.
17. "Can even He who (in thy view) hateth right (justice) govern?" The government of the world would be impossible if injustice were sanctioned. God must be just, because He governs ( 2 Samuel 23:3 ).
govern--literally, "bind," namely, by authority (so "reign," 1 Samuel 9:17 , Margin). UMBREIT translates for "govern, repress wrath, namely, against Job for his accusations.
most just--rather, "Him who is at once mighty and just" (in His government of the world).
18. Literally, (Is it fit) to be said to a king? It would be a gross outrage to reproach thus an earthly monarch, much more the King of kings ( Exodus 22:28 ). But MAURER with the Septuagint and Vulgate reads, (It is not fit to accuse of injustice Him) who says to a king, Thou art wicked; to princes, Ye are ungodly; that is, who punishes impartially the great, as the small. This accords with Job 34:19 .
19. ( Acts 10:34 , 2 Chronicles 19:7 , Proverbs 22:2 , Job 31:15 ).
20. they--"the rich" and "princes" who offend God.
the people--namely, of the guilty princes: guilty also themselves.
at midnight--image from a night attack of an enemy on a camp, which becomes an easy prey ( Exodus 12:29 Exodus 12:30 ).
without hand--without visible agency, by the mere word of God (so Job 20:26 , Zechariah 4:6 , Daniel 2:34 ).
21. God's omniscience and omnipotence enable Him to execute immediate justice. He needs not to be long on the "watch," as Job thought ( Job 7:12 , 2 Chronicles 16:9 , Jeremiah 32:19 ).
22. shadow of death--thick darkness ( Amos 9:2 Amos 9:3 , Psalms 139:12 ).
23. ( 1 Corinthians 10:13 , Lamentations 3:32 , Isaiah 27:8 ). Better, as UMBREIT, "He does not (needs not to) regard (as in Job 34:14 , Isaiah 41:20 ) man long (so Hebrew, Genesis 46:29 ) in order that he may go (be brought by God) into judgment." Literally, "lest his (attention) upon men" ( Job 11:10 Job 11:11 ). So Job 34:24 , "without number" ought to be translated, "without [needing any] searching out," such as has to be made in human judgments.
24. break in pieces--( Psalms 2:9 , Job 12:18 , Daniel 2:21 ).
25. Therefore--because He knows all things ( Job 34:21 ). He knows their works, without a formal investigation ( Job 34:24 ).
in the night--suddenly, unexpectedly ( Job 34:20 ). Fitly in the night, as it was in it that the godless hid themselves ( Job 34:22 ). UMBREIT, less simply, for "overturneth," translates, "walketh"; that is, God is ever on the alert, discovering all wickedness.
26. He striketh them--chasteneth.
as--that is, because they are wicked.
sight of others--Sinners hid themselves in darkness; therefore they are punished before all, in open day. Image from the place of public execution ( Job 40:12 , Exodus 14:30 , 2 Samuel 12:12 ).
27, 28. The grounds of their punishment in Job 34:26 . Job 34:28 states in what respect they "considered not God's ways," namely, by oppression, whereby "they caused the cry," &c.
29. ( Proverbs 16:7 , Isaiah 26:3 ).
make trouble--rather, "condemn" ( Romans 8:33 Romans 8:34 ). MAURER, from the reference being only to the godless, in the next clause, and Job 34:20 translates, "When God keeps quiet" (leaves men to perish) Psalms 83:1 ; [UMBREIT] from the Arabic (strikes to the earth), "who shall condemn Him as unjust?" Job 34:17 .
hideth . . . face--( Job 23:8 Job 23:9 , Psalms 13:1 ).
it be done--Whether it be against a guilty nation ( 2 Kings 18:9-12 ) or an individual, that God acts so.
30. Ensnared--into sin ( 1 Kings 12:28 1 Kings 12:30 ). Or rather, "enthralled by further oppression," Job 34:26-28 .
31. Job accordingly says so ( Job 40:3-5 , Micah 7:9 , Leviticus 26:41 ). It was to lead him to this that Elihu was sent. Though no hypocrite, Job, like all, had sin; therefore through affliction he was to be brought to humble himself under God. All sorrow is a proof of the common heritage of sin, in which the godly shares; and therefore he ought to regard it as a merciful correction. UMBREIT and MAURER lose this by translating, as the Hebrew will bear, "Has any a right to say to God, I have borne chastisement and yet have not sinned?" (so Job 34:6 ).
borne--namely, the penalty of sin, as in Leviticus 5:1 Leviticus 5:17 .
offend--literally, "to deal destructively or corruptly" ( Nehemiah 1:7 ).
32. ( Job 10:2 , Psalms 32:8 , 19:12 , Psalms 139:23 Psalms 139:24 ).
no more--( Proverbs 28:13 , Ephesians 4:22 ).
33. Rather, "should God recompense (sinners) according to thy mind? Then it is for thee to reject and to choose, and not me" [UMBREIT]; or as MAURER, "For thou hast rejected God's way of recompensing; state therefore thy way, for thou must choose, not I," that is, it is thy part, not mine, to show a better way than God's.
34, 35. Rather, "men . . . will say to me, and the wise man ( Job 34:2 Job 34:10 ) who hearkens to me (will say), 'Job hath spoken,'" &c.
36. Margin, not so well, "My father," Elihu addressing God. This title does not elsewhere occur in Job.
answers for wicked godly are not removed until they produce the effect designed.
37. clappeth . . . hands--in scorn ( Job 27:23 , Ezekiel 21:17 ).
multiplieth . . . words--( Job 11:2 , 35:16 ). To his original "sin" to correct which trials have been sent, "he adds rebellion," that is, words arraigning God's justice.