He disappointeth the devices of the crafty
Or, "it disappointeth"; that is, the rain, as some Jewish commentators F13 interpret it, and the whole paragraph to this sense; the rain coming upon the earth makes it fruitful, and causes it to produce a plentiful crop, whereby the schemes of crafty men are disappointed, who in a time of drought withhold the corn, and enhance the price of it, and distress the poor; and this in order to make a penny of them, according to ( Amos 8:4 Amos 8:6 ) ; but through the rain falling are not able to gain their end, but are obliged to bring out their corn, and sell it at a low price, and so are taken in their own craftiness; their counsel becomes brutish, and they are brought into bad circumstances themselves, and the poor saved from being ground and oppressed by them, and have hope for the future of plenty of provisions, to the confusion and astonishment of their oppressors: but the Targum interprets this of the Egyptians cunningly devising mischief against the Israelites, without success; and not amiss, since that affair might be well known to Eliphaz, and he might have it in view: the fact was this, a new king of Egypt, after the death of Joseph, observing the great increase of the people of Israel in his dominions, and fearing, in case of a war, they should join the enemy, and get out of the land by such an opportunity, calls his nobles, courtiers, and counsellors together, to form some wise schemes how to diminish them, ( Exodus 1:8-10 ) ; and the first was to set taskmasters over them, and afflict them with hard bondage, but this succeeded not, ( Exodus 1:11-14 ) ; for the more they were afflicted the more they multiplied and grew; another decree was, to order the midwives to kill the male children of the Israelites, and save alive the females, ( Exodus 1:15 Exodus 1:16 ) ; but the midwives, fearing God, obeyed not the order, and the people still multiplied, ( Exodus 1:17-21 ) ; and then a third project was formed, to cast every son born to the Israelites into the river, and drown them, ( Exodus 1:22 ) ; but notwithstanding this they were preserved, as Moses, ( Exodus 2:10 ) , and doubtless many others; the people increased so, that they went out of Egypt six hundred thousand men, ( Exodus 12:37 ) ; this was a recent thing, it may be in the times of Eliphaz, and which he might easily call to mind: and he might also have respect to a more remote case, that of the builders of Babel, who devised a scheme to build a tower, whose top should reach to heaven, and secure them from a dispersion of them throughout the earth, ( Genesis 11:1-9 ) ; when God descended in the display of his power and providence, confounded their language, so that they were obliged to desist from their enterprise, and were scattered throughout the earth, which by their scheme they thought to have prevented: this may be applied to wicked crafty men in common, who devise schemes to commit sin, and gratify their lusts, to get for themselves riches and honour, and to do mischief to others, which God in his providence breaks, frustrates, and makes of none effect; and to false teachers, that walk in craftiness, lie in wait to deceive, and make use of cunningly devised fables, coin new doctrines, invent new forms of worship, and appoint new ordinances, and contrive different ways and methods of salvation; all which is foolishness with God, and to such persons ( Job 5:13 ) is applied by the Apostle Paul, ( 1 Corinthians 3:19 ) : and this may likewise respect wicked princes and potentates, with their counsellors and wise politicians, who in former, as well as in later times, have formed designs against their neighbours, and to the hurt of the interest of true religion particularly; but have been baffled and confounded by Divine Providence, of which, as there were many instances in Israel of old, so in our British Isles of late:
so that their hands cannot perform [their] enterprise;
what their heads have contrived, what they have resolved and determined upon, and what they have began to effect, but could not go on with; or, "bring it soundly to pass", as Mr. Broughton renders it; that is, could not complete it, or bring it to perfection; and indeed not able to do "any thing" F14, as some translate the word, not anything of what they devised and contrived: it signifies "that which is", which has a being and substance, and solidity in it F15, but nothing of this kind could be done; it is sometimes rendered "wisdom", and "sound wisdom", ( Proverbs 2:7 ) ( Micah 6:9 ) ; and so it is here by some F16, and may signify, that though their counsels were deeply laid, and wisely formed, according to the best rules of wisdom and prudence, they yet are not able to bring them to pass; which shows the infinitely superior wisdom of God, and his overruling providence, and which therefore must be a great encouragement to seek unto him, and leave every cause and case with him.
F13 Aben Ezra, Jarchi, & R. Simeon Bar Tzemach.
F14 (hyvt) "quicquam", Pagninus, Vatablus, Drusius, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "quicquam rei", Cocceius, Michaelis; so Kimchi in Sepher Shorash, rad. (vy) .
F15 "Consistentiam", Montanus; "nihil solidi", Tigurine version.
F16 "Sapientiam", Schmidt; so Aben Ezra & Syr. ver. "astu", Codurcus.