Elihu desires Job's attention. (1-4) The methods in which God deals with men. (5-14) Elihu counsels Job. (15-23) The wonders in the works of creation. (24-33)
Verses 1-4 Elihu only maintained that the affliction was sent for his trial; and lengthened because Job was not yet thoroughly humbled under it. He sought to ascribe righteousness to his Maker; to clear this truth, that God is righteous in all his ways. Such knowledge must be learned from the word and Spirit of God, for naturally we are estranged from it. The fitness of Elihu's discourse to the dispute between Job and his friends is plain. It pointed out to Job the true reason of those trials with which he had been pointed out to Job the true reason of those trials with which he had been visited. It taught that God had acted in mercy towards him, and the spiritual benefit he was to derive from them. It corrected the mistake of his friends, and showed that Job's calamities were for good.
Verses 5-14 Elihu here shows that God acts as righteous Governor. He is always ready to defend those that are injured. If our eye is ever toward God in duty, his eye will be ever upon us in mercy, and, when we are at the lowest, will not overlook us. God intends, when he afflicts us, to discover past sins to us, and to bring them to our remembrance. Also, to dispose our hearts to be taught: affliction makes people willing to learn, through the grace of God working with and by it. And further, to deter us from sinning for the future. It is a command, to have no more to do with sin. If we faithfully serve God, we have the promise of the life that now is, and the comforts of it, as far as is for God's glory and our good: and who would desire them any further? We have the possession of inward pleasures, the great peace which those have that love God's law. If the affliction fail in its work, let men expect the furnace to be heated till they are consumed. Those that die without knowledge, die without grace, and are undone for ever. See the nature of hypocrisy; it lies in the heart: that is for the world and the flesh, while perhaps the outside seems to be for God and religion. Whether sinners die in youth, or live long to heap up wrath, their case is dreadful. The souls of the wicked live after death, but it is in everlasting misery.
Verses 15-23 Elihu shows that Job caused the continuance of his own trouble. He cautions him not to persist in frowardness. Even good men need to be kept to their duty by the fear of God's wrath; the wisest and best have enough in them to deserve his stroke. Let not Job continue his unjust quarrel with God and his providence. And let us never dare to think favourably of sin, never indulge it, nor allow ourselves in it. Elihu thinks Job needed this caution, he having chosen rather to gratify his pride and humour by contending with God, than to mortify them by submitting, and accepting the punishment. It is absurd for us to think to teach Him who is himself the Fountain of light, truth, knowledge, and instruction. He teaches by the Bible, and that is the best book; teaches by his Son, and he is the best Master. He is just in all proceedings.
Verses 24-33 Elihu endeavours to fill Job with high thought of God, and so to persuade him into cheerful submission to his providence. Man may see God's works, and is capable of discerning his hand in them, which the beasts are not, therefore they ought to give him the glory. But while the worker of iniquity ought to tremble, the true believer should rejoice. Children should hear with pleasure their Father's voice, even when he speaks in terror to his enemies. There is no light but there may be a cloud to intercept it. The light of the favour of God, the light of his countenance, the most blessed light of all, even that light has many a cloud. The clouds of our sins cause the Lord to his face, and hinder the light of his loving-kindness from shining on our souls.
Job 36:1-33 .
1, 2. Elihu maintains that afflictions are to the godly disciplinary, in order to lead them to attain a higher moral worth, and that the reason for their continuance is not, as the friends asserted, on account of the sufferer's extraordinary guilt, but because the discipline has not yet attained its object, namely, to lend him to humble himself penitently before God ( Isaiah 9:13 , Jeremiah 5:3 ). This is Elihu's fourth speech. He thus exceeds the ternary number of the others. Hence his formula of politeness ( Job 36:2 ). Literally, "Wait yet but a little for me." Bear with me a little farther. I have yet (much, Job 32:18-20 ). There are Chaldeisms in this verse, agreeably to the view that the scene of the book is near the Euphrates and the Chaldees.
3. from afar--not trite commonplaces, but drawn from God's mighty works.
ascribe righteousness--whereas Job ascribed unrighteousness ( Job 34:10 Job 34:12 ). A man, in enquiring into God's ways, should at the outset presume they are all just, be willing to find them so, and expect that the result of investigation will prove them to be so; such a one will never be disappointed [BARNES].
4. I will not "speak wickedly for God," as the friends ( Job 13:4 Job 13:7 Job 13:8 )--that is, vindicate God by unsound arguments.
he that is perfect, &c.--Rather, as the parallelism requires, "a man of integrity in sentiments is with thee" (is he with whom thou hast to do). Elihu means himself, as opposed to the dishonest reasonings of the friends ( Job 21:34 ).
5. Rather, "strength of understanding" (heart) the force of the repetition of "mighty"; as "mighty" as God is, none is too low to be "despised" by Him; for His "might" lies especially in "His strength of understanding," whereby He searches out the most minute things, so as to give to each his right. Elihu confirms his exhortation ( Job 35:14 ).
6. right . . . poor--He espouses the cause of the afflicted.
7. ( 1 Peter 3:12 ). God does not forsake the godly, as Job implied, but "establishes," or makes them sit on the throne as kings ( 1 Samuel 2:8 , Psalms 113:7 Psalms 113:8 ). True of believers in the highest sense, already in part ( 1 Peter 2:9 , Revelation 1:6 ); hereafter fully ( Revelation 5:10 , Job 22:5 ).
and they are--that they may be.
8-10. If they be afflicted, it is no proof that they are hypocrites, as the friends maintain, or that God disregards them, and is indifferent whether men are good or bad, as Job asserts: God is thereby "disciplining them," and "showing them their sins," and if they bow in a right spirit under God's visiting hand, the greatest blessings ensue.
that . . . exceeded--"In that they behaved themselves mightily" (literally, "great"); that is, presumptuously, or, at least, self-confidently.
10. ( Job 33:16-18 Job 33:23 ).
11. serve--that is, worship; as in Isaiah 19:23 . God is to be supplied (compare Isaiah 1:19 Isaiah 1:20 ).
12. ( Job 33:18 ).
without knowledge--that is, on account of their foolishness ( Job 4:20 Job 4:21 ).
13-15. Same sentiment as Job 36:11 Job 36:12 , expanded.
hypocrites--or, the ungodly [MAURER]; but "hypocrites" is perhaps a distinct class from the openly wicked ( Job 36:12 ).
heap up wrath--of God against themselves ( Romans 2:5 ). UMBREIT translates, "nourish their wrath against God," instead of "crying" unto Him. This suits well the parallelism and the Hebrew. But the English Version gives a good parallelism, "hypocrites" answering to "cry not" ( Job 27:8 Job 27:10 ); "heap up wrath" against themselves, to "He bindeth them" with fetters of affliction ( Job 36:8 ).
14. Rather ( Deuteronomy 23:17 ), Their life is (ended) as that of (literally, "among") the unclean, prematurely and dishonorably. So the second clause answers to the first. A warning that Job make not common cause with the wicked ( Job 34:36 ).
15. poor--the afflicted pious.
openeth . . . ears--( Job 36:10 ); so as to be admonished in their straits ("oppression") to seek God penitently, and so be "delivered" ( Job 33:16 Job 33:17 Job 33:23-27 ).
16. Rather, "He will lead forth thee also out of the jaws of a strait" ( Psalms 18:19 , 118:5 ).
broad place--expresses the liberty, and the well-supplied "table" the abundance of the prosperous ( Psalms 23:5 , Isaiah 25:6 ).
17. Rather, "But if thou art fulfilled (that is, entirely filled) with the judgment of the wicked (that is, the guilt incurring judgment" [MAURER]; or rather, as UMBREIT, referring to Job 34:5-7 Job 34:36 , the judgment pronounced on God by the guilty in misfortunes), judgment (God's judgment on the wicked, Jeremiah 51:9 , playing on the double meaning of "judgment") and justice shall closely follow each other [UMBREIT].
18. ( Numbers 16:45 , Psalms 49:6 Psalms 49:7 , Matthew 16:26 ). Even the "ransom" by Jesus Christ ( Job 33:24 ) will be of no avail to wilful despisers ( Hebrews 10:26-29 ).
with his stroke--( Job 34:26 ). UMBREIT translates, "Beware lest the wrath of God (thy severe calamity) lead thee to scorn" ( Job 34:7 , 27:23 ). This accords better with the verb in the parallel clause, which ought to be translated, "Let not the great ransom (of money, which thou canst give) seduce thee (Margin, turn thee aside, as if thou couldst deliver thyself from "wrath" by it). As the "scorn" in the first clause answers to the "judgment of the wicked" ( Job 36:17 ), so "ransom" ("seduce") to "will he esteem riches" ( Job 36:19 ). Thus, Job 36:18 is the transition between Job 36:17 and Job 36:19 .
19. forces of strength--that is, resources of wealth ( Psalms 49:7 , Proverbs 11:4 ).
20. Desire--rant for. Job had wished for death ( Job 3:3-9 , &c.).
night--( John 9:4 ).
cut off--literally, "ascend," as the corn cut and lifted upon the wagon or stack ( Job 36:26 ); so "cut off," "disappear."
in their place--literally, "under themselves"; so, without moving from their place, on the spot, suddenly ( Job 40:12 ) [MAURER]. UMBREIT'S translation: "To ascend (which is really, as thou wilt find to thy cost, to descend) to the people below" (literally, "under themselves"), answers better to the parallelism and the Hebrew. Thou pantest for death as desirable, but it is a "night" or region of darkness; thy fancied ascent (amelioration) will prove a descent (deterioration) ( Job 10:22 ); therefore desire it not.
21. regard--literally, "turn thyself to."
iniquity--namely, presumptuous speaking against God ( Job 34:5 ,
rather than--to bear "affliction" with pious patience. Men think it an alleviation to complain against God, but this is adding sin to sorrow; it is sin, not sorrow, which can really hurt us (contrast Hebrews 11:25 ).
22-25. God is not to be impiously arraigned, but to be praised for His might, shown in His works.
exalteth--rather, doeth lofty things, shows His exalted power [UMBREIT] ( Psalms 21:13 ).
teacheth--( Psalms 94:12 , &c.). The connection is, returning to Job 36:5 , God's "might" is shown in His "wisdom"; He alone can teach; yet, because He, as a sovereign, explains not all His dealings, forsooth Job must presume to teach Him ( Isaiah 40:13 Isaiah 40:14 , Romans 11:34 , 1 Corinthians 2:16 ). So the transition to Job 36:23 is natural. UMBREIT with the Septuagint translates, "Who is Lord," wrongly, as this meaning belongs to later Hebrew.
23. Job dared to prescribe to God what He should do ( Job 34:10 Job 34:13 ).
24. Instead of arraigning, let it be thy fixed principle to magnify God in His works ( Psalms 111:2-8 , Revelation 15:3 ); these, which all may "see," may convince us that what we do not see is altogether wise and good ( Romans 1:20 ).
behold--As "see" ( Job 36:25 ), shows; not, as MAURER, "sing,"
25. See--namely, with wondering admiration [MAURER].
man may behold--rather, "(yet) mortals (a different Hebrew word from 'man') behold it (only) from afar off," see but a small "part" ( Job 26:14 ).
26. ( Job 37:13 ). God's greatness in heaven and earth: a reason why Job should bow under His afflicting hand.
know him not--only in part ( Job 36:25 , 1 Corinthians 13:12 ).
his years--( Psalms 90:2 , Psalms 102:24 Psalms 102:27 ); applied to Jesus Christ ( Hebrews 1:12 ).
27, 28. The marvellous formation of rain (so Job 5:9 Job 5:10 ).
maketh small--Rather, "He draweth (up) to Him, He attracts (from the earth below) the drops of water; they (the drops of water) pour down rain, (which is) His vapor." "Vapor" is in apposition with "rain," marking the way in which rain is formed; namely, from the vapor drawn up by God into the air and then condensed into drops, which fall ( Psalms 147:8 ). The suspension of such a mass of water, and its descent not in a deluge, but in drops of vapory rain, are the marvel. The selection of this particular illustration of God's greatness forms a fit prelude to the storm in which God appears ( Job 40:1 ).
28. abundantly--literally, "upon many men."
29. ( Job 37:5 ). God's marvels in thunder and lightnings.
spreadings, &c.--the canopy of thick clouds, which covers the heavens in a storm ( Psalms 105:39 ).
the noise--"crashing"; namely, thunder.
of his tabernacle--God being poetically said to have His pavilion amid dark clouds ( Psalms 18:11 , Isaiah 40:22 ).
it--His tabernacle ( Job 36:29 ). The light, in an instant spread over the vast mass of dark clouds, forms a striking picture.
spread--is repeated from Job 36:29 to form an antithesis. "He spreads not only clouds, but light."
covereth the bottom--roots.
of the sea--namely, with the light. In the storm the depths of ocean are laid bare; and the light "covers" them, at the same moment that it "spreads" across the dark sky. So in Psalms 18:14 Psalms 18:15 , the discovering of "the channels of waters" follows the "lightnings." UMBREIT translates: "He spreadeth His light upon Himself, and covereth Himself with the roots of the sea" ( Psalms 104:2 ). God's garment is woven of celestial light and of the watery depths, raised to the sky to form His cloudy canopy. The phrase, "cover Himself with the roots of the sea," is harsh; but the image is grand.
31. These (rain and lightnings) are marvellous and not to be understood ( Job 36:29 ), yet necessary. "For by them He judgeth (chastiseth on the one hand), &c. (and on the other, by them) He giveth meat" (food), &c. ( Job 37:13 , Job 38:23 Job 38:27 , Acts 14:17 ).
32. Rather, "He covereth (both) His hands with light (lightning, Job 37:3 , Margin), and giveth it a command against his adversary" (literally, the one "assailing" Him, Psalms 8:2 , 139:20 , Job 21:19 ). Thus, as in Job 36:31 , the twofold effects of His waters are set forth, so here, of His light; in the one hand, destructive lightning against the wicked; in the other, the genial light for good to His friends, &c. ( Job 36:33 ) [UMBREIT].
33. noise--rather, He revealeth it (literally, "announceth concerning it") to His friend (antithesis to adversary, Job 36:32 , so the Hebrew is translated, Job 2:11 ); also to cattle and plants (literally, "that which shooteth up"; Genesis 40:10 , 41:22 ). As the genial effect of "water" in the growth of food, is mentioned, Job 36:31 , so here that of "light" in cherishing cattle and plants [UMBREIT]. If English Version, "noise" be retained, translate, "His noise announces concerning Him (His coming in the tempest), the cattle (to announce) concerning Him when He is in the act of rising up" (in the storm). Some animals give various intimations that they are sensible of the approach of a storm [VIRGIL, Georgics, I.373, &c.].