Elihu speaks of man's conduct. (1-8) Why those who cry out under afflictions are not regarded. (9-13) Elihu reproves Job's impatience. (14-26)
Verses 1-8 Elihu reproves Job for justifying himself more than God, and called his attention to the heavens. They are far above us, and God is far above them; how much then is he out of the reach, either of our sins or of our services! We have no reason to complain if we have not what we expect, but should be thankful that we have better than we deserve.
Verses 9-13 Job complained that God did not regard the cries of the oppressed against their oppressors. This he knew not how to reconcile the justice of God and his government. Elihu solves the difficulty. Men do not notice the mercies they enjoy in and under their afflictions, nor are thankful for them, therefore they cannot expect that God should deliver them out of affliction. He gives songs in the night; when our condition is dark and melancholy, there is that in God's providence and promise, which is sufficient to support us, and to enable us even to rejoice in tribulation. When we only pore upon our afflictions, and neglect the consolations of God which are treasured up for us, it is just in God to reject our prayers. Even the things that will kill the body, cannot hurt the soul. If we cry to God for the removal of an affliction, and it is not removed, the reason is, not because the Lord's hand is shortened, or his ear heavy; but because we are not sufficiently humbled.
Verses 14-26 As in prosperity we are ready to think our mountain will never be brought low; so when in adversity, we are ready to think our valley will never be filled up. But to conclude that to-morrow must be as this day, is as absurd as to think that the weather, when either fair or foul, will be always so. When Job looked up to God, he had no reason to speak despairingly. There is a day of judgment, when all that seems amiss will be found to be right, and all that seems dark and difficult will be cleared up and set straight. And if there is Divine wrath in our troubles, it is because we quarrel with God, are fretful, and distrust Divine Providence. This was Job's case. Elihu was directed by God to humble Job, for as to some things he had both opened his mouth in vain, and had multiplied words without knowledge. Let us be admonished, in our afflictions, not so much to set forth the greatness of our suffering, as the greatness of the mercy of God.
Job 35:1-16 .
2. more than--rather as in Job 9:2 , 25:4 : "I am righteous (literally, my righteousness is) before God." The English Version, however, agrees with Job 9:17 , 16:12-17 , 27:2-6 . Job 4:17 is susceptible of either rendering. Elihu means Job said so, not in so many words, but virtually.
3. Rather, explanatory of "this" in Job 35:2 , "That thou sayest (to thyself, as if a distinct person) What advantage is it (thy integrity) to thee? What profit have I (by integrity) more than (I should have) by my sin?" that is, more than if I had sinned ( Job 34:9 ). Job had said that the wicked, who use these very words, do not suffer for it ( Job 21:13-15 ); whereby he virtually sanctioned their sentiments. The same change of persons from oblique to direct address occurs ( Job 19:28 , 22:17 ).
4. companions--those entertaining like sentiments with thee ( Job 34:8 Job 34:36 ).
5-8. Elihu like Eliphaz ( Job 22:2 Job 22:3 Job 22:12 ) shows that God is too exalted in nature to be susceptible of benefit or hurt from the righteousness or sin of men respectively; it is themselves that they benefit by righteousness, or hurt by sin.
behold the clouds, which are higher than thou--spoken with irony. Not only are they higher than thou, but thou canst not even reach them clearly with the eye. Yet these are not as high as God's seat. God is therefore too exalted to be dependent on man. Therefore He has no inducement to injustice in His dealings with man. When He afflicts, it must be from a different motive; namely, the good of the sufferer.
6. what doest--how canst thou affect Him?
unto him--that can hurt Him? ( Jeremiah 7:19 , Proverbs 8:36 ).
7. ( Psalms 16:2 , Proverbs 9:12 , Luke 17:10 ).
9. ( Ecclesiastes 4:1 ) the difficulty; the "cries" of "the oppressed" not being heard might lead man to think that wrongs are not punished by Him.
10-13. But the reason is that the innocent sufferers often do not humbly seek God for succor; so to their "pride" is to be laid the blame of their ruin; also because ( Job 35:13-16 ) they, as Job, instead of waiting God's time in pious trust, are prone to despair of His justice, when it is not immediately visible ( Job 33:19-26 ). If the sufferer would apply to God with a humbled, penitent spirit, He would hear.
Where, &c.--( Jeremiah 2:6 Jeremiah 2:8 , Isaiah 51:13 ).
songs--of joy at deliverance ( Psalms 42:8 , 149:5 , Acts 16:25 ).
in the night--unexpectedly ( Job 34:20 Job 34:25 ). Rather, "in calamity."
11. Man's spirit, which distinguishes him from the brute, is the strongest proof of God's beneficence; by the use of it we may understand that God is the Almighty helper of all sufferers who humbly seek Him; and that they err who do not so seek Him.
12. There--rather, "Then" (when none humbly casts himself on God, Job 35:10 ). They cry proudly against God, rather than humbly to God. So, as the design of affliction is to humble the sufferer, there can be no answer until "pride" gives place to humble, penitent prayer ( Psalms 10:4 , Jeremiah 13:17 ).
13. vanity--that is, cries uttered in an unhumbled spirit, Job 35:12 , which applies in some degree to Job's cries; still more to those of the wicked ( Job 27:9 , Proverbs 15:29 ).
14. Although thou sayest thou shalt not see him--(as a temporal deliverer; for he did look for a Redeemer after death, Job 19:25-27 ; which passage cannot consistently with Elihu's assertion here be interpreted of "seeing" a temporal "redeemer"), Job 7:7 , 9:11 , Job 23:3 Job 23:8 Job 23:9 ; yet, judgment . . . ; therefore trust . . . But the Hebrew favors MAURER, "How much less (will God . . . regard, Job 35:13 ), since thou sayest, that He does not regard thee." So in Job 4:19 . Thus Elihu alludes to Job's words ( Job 19:7 , 30:20 ).
judgment--that is, thy cause, thy right; as in Psalms 9:16 , Proverbs 31:5 Proverbs 31:8 .
trust--rather, "wait thou" on Him, patiently, until He take up thy cause ( Psalms 37:7 ).
15. As it is, because Job waited not trustingly and patiently ( Job 35:14 , Numbers 20:12 , Zephaniah 3:2 , Micah 7:9 ), God hath visited . . . ; yet still he has not taken (severe) cognizance of the great multitude (English Version wrongly, "extremity") of sins; therefore Job should not complain of being punished with undue severity ( Job 7:20 , 11:6 ). MAURER translates: "Because His anger hath not visited (hath not immediately punished Job for his impious complaints), nor has He taken strict (great) cognizance of his folly (sinful speeches); therefore," &c. For "folly," UMBREIT translates with the Rabbins, "multitude." GESENIUS reads with the Septuagint and Vulgate needlessly, "transgression."
16. Apodosis to Job 35:15 .