Eliphaz urges that the sin of sinners in their ruin. (1-5) God is to be regarded in affliction. (6-16) The happy end of God's correction. (17-27)
Verses 1-5 Eliphaz here calls upon Job to answer his arguments. Were any of the saints or servants of God visited with such Divine judgments as Job, or did they ever behave like him under their sufferings? The term, "saints," holy, or more strictly, consecrated ones, seems in all ages to have been applied to the people of God, through the Sacrifice slain in the covenant of their reconciliation. Eliphaz doubts not that the sin of sinners directly tends to their ruin. They kill themselves by some lust or other; therefore, no doubt, Job has done some foolish thing, by which he has brought himself into this condition. The allusion was plain to Job's former prosperity; but there was no evidence of Job's wickedness, and the application to him was unfair and severe.
Verses 6-16 Eliphaz reminds Job, that no affliction comes by chance, nor is to be placed to second causes. The difference between prosperity and adversity is not so exactly observed, as that between day and night, summer and winter; but it is according to the will and counsel of God. We must not attribute our afflictions to fortune, for they are from God; nor our sins to fate, for they are from ourselves. Man is born in sin, and therefore born to trouble. There is nothing in this world we are born to, and can truly call our own, but sin and trouble. Actual transgressions are sparks that fly out of the furnace of original corruption. Such is the frailty of our bodies, and the vanity of all our enjoyments, that our troubles arise thence as the sparks fly upward; so many are they, and so fast does one follow another. Eliphaz reproves Job for not seeking God, instead of quarrelling with him. Is any afflicted? let him pray. It is heart's ease, a salve for every sore. Eliphaz speaks of rain, which we are apt to look upon as a little thing; but if we consider how it is produced, and what is produced by it, we shall see it to be a great work of power and goodness. Too often the great Author of all our comforts, and the manner in which they are conveyed to us, are not noticed, because they are received as things of course. In the ways of Providence, the experiences of some are encouragements to others, to hope the best in the worst of times; for it is the glory of God to send help to the helpless, and hope to the hopeless. And daring sinners are confounded, and forced to acknowledge the justice of God's proceedings.
Verses 17-27 Eliphaz gives to Job a word of caution and exhortation: Despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty. Call it a chastening, which comes from the Father's love, and is for the child's good; and notice it as a messenger from Heaven. Eliphaz also encourages Job to submit to his condition. A good man is happy though he be afflicted, for he has not lost his enjoyment of God, nor his title to heaven; nay, he is happy because he is afflicted. Correction mortifies his corruptions, weans his heart from the world, draws him nearer to God, brings him to his Bible, brings him to his knees. Though God wounds, yet he supports his people under afflictions, and in due time delivers them. Making a wound is sometimes part of a cure. Eliphaz gives Job precious promises of what God would do for him, if he humbled himself. Whatever troubles good men may be in, they shall do them no real harm. Being kept from sin, they are kept from the evil of trouble. And if the servants of Christ are not delivered from outward troubles, they are delivered by them, and while overcome by one trouble, they conquer all. Whatever is maliciously said against them shall not hurt them. They shall have wisdom and grace to manage their concerns. The greatest blessing, both in our employments and in our enjoyments, is to be kept from sin. They shall finish their course with joy and honour. That man lives long enough who has done his work, and is fit for another world. It is a mercy to die seasonably, as the corn is cut and housed when fully ripe; not till then, but then not suffered to stand any longer. Our times are in God's hands; it is well they are so. Believers are not to expect great wealth, long life, or to be free from trials. But all will be ordered for the best. And remark from Job's history, that steadiness of mind and heart under trial, is one of the highest attainments of faith. There is little exercise for faith when all things go well. But if God raises a storm, permits the enemy to send wave after wave, and seemingly stands aloof from our prayers, then, still to hang on and trust God, when we cannot trace him, this is the patience of the saints. Blessed Saviour! how sweet it is to look unto thee, the Author and Finisher of faith, in such moments!
Job 5:1-27 . ELIPHAZ' CONCLUSION FROM THE VISION.
1. if there be any, &c.--Rather, "will He (God) reply to thee?" Job, after the revelation just given, cannot be so presumptuous as to think God or any of the holy ones ( Daniel 4:17 , "angels") round His throne, will vouchsafe a reply (a judicial expression) to his rebellious complaint.
2. wrath . . . envy--fretful and passionate complaints, such as Eliphaz charged Job with ( Job 4:5 ; so Proverbs 14:30 ). Not, the wrath of God killeth the foolish, and His envy, &c.
3. the foolish--the wicked. I have seen the sinner spread his "root" wide in prosperity, yet circumstances "suddenly" occurred which gave occasion for his once prosperous dwelling being "cursed" as desolate ( Psalms 37:35 Psalms 37:36 , Jeremiah 17:8 ).
4. His children . . . crushed in the gate--A judicial formula. The gate was the place of judgment and of other public proceedings ( Psalms 127:5 , Proverbs 22:22 , Genesis 23:10 , Deuteronomy 21:19 ). Such propylæa have been found in the Assyrian remains. Eliphaz obliquely alludes to the calamity which cut off Job's children.
5. even out of the thorns--Even when part of the grain remains hanging on the thorn bushes (or, "is growing among thorns," Matthew 13:7 ), the hungry gleaner does not grudge the trouble of even taking it away, so clean swept away is the harvest of the wicked.
the robber--as the Sabeans, who robbed Job. Rather, translate "the thirsty," as the antithesis in the parallelism, "the hungry," proves.
6. Although--rather, "for truly" [UMBREIT].
affliction cometh not forth of the dust--like a weed, of its own accord. Eliphaz hints that the cause of it lay with Job himself.
7. Yet--rather, "Truly," or, But affliction does not come from chance, but is the appointment of God for sin; that is, the original birth-sin of man. Eliphaz passes from the particular sin and consequent suffering of Job to the universal sin and suffering of mankind. Troubles spring from man's common sin by as necessary a law of natural consequences as sparks (Hebrew, "sons of coal") fly upward. Troubles are many and fiery, as sparks ( 1 Peter 4:12 , Isaiah 43:2 ). UMBREIT for "sparks" has "birds of prey."
8. Therefore (as affliction is ordered by God, on account of sin), "I would" have you to "seek unto God" ( Isaiah 8:19 , Amos 5:8 , Jeremiah 5:24 ).
11. Connected with Job 5:9 . His "unsearchable" dealings are with a view to raise the humble and abase the proud ( Luke 1:52 ). Therefore Job ought to turn humbly to Him.
12. enterprise--literally, "realization." The Hebrew combines in the one word the two ideas, wisdom and happiness, "enduring existence" being the etymological and philosophical root of the combined notion [UMBREIT].
13. Paul ( 1 Corinthians 3:19 ) quoted this clause with the formula establishing its inspiration, "it is written." He cites the exact Hebrew words, not as he usually does the Septuagint, Greek version ( Psalms 9:15 ). Haman was hanged on the gallows he prepared for Mordecai ( Esther 5:14 , 7:10 ).
the wise--that is, "the cunning."
is carried headlong--Their scheme is precipitated before it is ripe.
14. Judicial blindness often is sent upon keen men of the world ( Deuteronomy 28:29 , Isaiah 59:10 , John 9:39 ).
15. "From the sword" which proceedeth "from their mouth" ( Psalms 59:7 , 57:4 ).
16. the poor hath hope--of the interposition of God.
iniquity stoppeth her mouth--( Psalms 107:42 , Micah 7:9 Micah 7:10 , Isaiah 52:15 ). Especially at the last day, through shame ( Jude 1:15 , Matthew 22:12 ). The "mouth" was the offender ( Job 5:15 ), and the mouth shall then be stopped ( Isaiah 25:8 ) at the end.
17. happy--not that the actual suffering is joyous; but the consideration of the righteousness of Him who sends it, and the end for which it is sent, make it a cause for thankfulness, not for complaints, such as Job had uttered ( Hebrews 12:11 ). Eliphaz implies that the end in this case is to call back Job from the particular sin of which he takes for granted that Job is guilty. Paul seems to allude to this passage in Hebrews 12:5 ; so 1:12 , Proverbs 3:12 . Eliphaz does not give due prominence to this truth, but rather to Job's sin. It is Elihu alone (Job 32:1-37:24') who fully dwells upon the truth, that affliction is mercy and justice in disguise, for the good of the sufferer.
18. he maketh sore, and bindeth up--( Deuteronomy 32:39 , Hosea 6:1 , 1 Samuel 2:6 ). An image from binding up a wound. The healing art consisted much at that time in external applications.
19. in six . . . yea, in seven--( Proverbs 6:16 , Amos 1:3 ). The Hebrew idiom fixes on a certain number (here "six"), in order to call attention as to a thing of importance; then increases the force by adding, with a "yea, nay seven," the next higher number; here "seven," the sacred and perfect number. In all possible troubles; not merely in the precise number "seven."
20. power--Hebrew, "hands" ( Ezekiel 35:5 , Margin).
of the sword--( Jeremiah 5:12 ). Hands are given to the sword personified as a living agent.
21. ( Psalms 31:20 , Jeremiah 18:18 ).
22. famine thou shalt laugh--Not, in spite of destruction and famine, which is true ( Habakkuk 3:17 Habakkuk 3:18 ), though not the truth meant by Eliphaz, but because those calamities shall not come upon thee. A different Hebrew word from that in Job 5:20 ; there, famine in general; here, the languid state of those wanting proper nutriment [BARNES].
23. in league with the stones of the field--They shall not hurt the fertility of thy soil; nor the wild beasts thy fruits; spoken in Arabia-Deserta, where stones abounded. Arabia, derived from Arabah--a desert plain. The first clause of this verse answers to the first clause of Job 5:22 ; and the last of this verse to the last of that verse. The full realization of this is yet future ( Isaiah 65:23 Isaiah 65:25 , Hosea 2:18 ).
24. know--"Thou shalt rest in the assurance, that thine habitation is the abode of peace; and (if) thou numberest thine herd, thine expectations prove not fallacious" [UMBREIT]. "Sin" does not agree with the context. The Hebrew word--"to miss" a mark, said of archers ( Judges 20:16 ). The Hebrew for "habitation" primarily means "the fold for cattle"; and for "visit," often to "take an account of, to number." "Peace" is the common Eastern salutation; including inward and outward prosperity.
25. as the grass--( Psalms 72:16 ). Properly, "herb-bearing seed" ( Genesis 1:11 Genesis 1:12 ).
26. in a full age--So "full of days" ( Job 42:17 , Genesis 35:29 ). Not mere length of years, but ripeness for death, one's inward and outward full development not being prematurely cut short, is denoted ( Isaiah 65:22 ).
Thou shalt come--not literally, but expressing willingness to die. Eliphaz speaks from the Old Testament point of view, which made full years a reward of the righteous ( Psalms 91:16 , Exodus 20:12 ), and premature death the lot of the wicked ( Psalms 55:23 ). The righteous are immortal till their work is done. To keep them longer would be to render them less fit to die. God takes them at their best ( Isaiah 57:1 ). The good are compared to wheat ( Matthew 13:30 ).
cometh in--literally, "ascends." The corn is lifted up off the earth and carried home; so the good man "is raised into the heap of sheaves" [UMBREIT].
27. searched it . . . for thy good--literally, "for thyself" ( Psalms 111:2 , Proverbs 2:4 , 9:12 ).