I will say unto God, do not condemn me
Not that he feared eternal condemnation; there is none to them that are in Christ, and believe in him as Job did; Christ's undertakings, sufferings, and death, secure his people from the condemnation of law and justice; nor, indeed, are the afflictions of God's people a condemnation of them, but a fatherly chastisement, and are in order to prevent their being condemned with the world; yet they may look as if they were, in the eyes of the men of the world, and they as very wicked persons; and so the word may be rendered, "do not account me wicked" F4, or treat me as a wicked man, by continuing thine afflicting hand upon the; which, as long as it was on him, his friends would not believe but that he was a wicked man; wherefore, as God knew he was not such an one as they took him to be, he begs that he would not use him as such, that so the censure he lay under might be removed; and though he was condemned by them, he entreats that God would make it appear he was not condemned by him: and whereas he was not conscious to himself of any notorious wickedness done by him, which deserved such usage, he further prays,
show me wherefore thou contendest with me.
Afflictions are the Lord's controversy with his people, a striving, a contending with them; which are sometimes so sharp, that were they continued long, the spirits would fail before him, and the souls that he has made: now there is always a cause or reason for them, which God has in his own breast, though it is not always known to man, at least not at first, or as soon as the controversy or contention is begun; when God afflicts, it is either for sin, to prevent it, or purge from it, or to bring his people to a sense of it, to repent of it, and forsake it, or to try their graces, and make them more partakers of his holiness; and when good men, as Job, are at a loss about this, not being conscious of any gross iniquity committed, or a course of sin continued in, it is lawful, and right, and commendable, to inquire the reason of it, and learn, if possible, the end, design, and use of such dispensations.
F4 (yneyvrt la) "neque judices me improbum", Vatablus; so Schultens.