Can a man be profitable unto God?
&c.] Eliphaz imagined that Job thought so, by his insisting so much on his integrity, and complaining of his afflictions; and that God was beholden to him for his holiness and righteousness, and that instead of afflicting him, should have heaped honours and happiness upon him; whereas there is not anything a man can do, or does, by which God can be profiled; which is a very great truth, though misapplied to Job through a wrong construction of his words and meaning. No man, even the best of men, and by the best things they can do, can be profitable to God; as for bad men, they are altogether unprofitable to themselves and to others, and still less profitable to God; and as for good men, their "goodness extendeth not" to the Lord, ( Psalms 16:2 ) ; it comes from him, it is his own previously; it is of no avail and advantage to him, who is perfect and all sufficient; when they have done all that they are commanded, they are bid to say, and very truly, "we are unprofitable servants", ( Luke 17:10 ) ; they do indeed glorify God, and are the means of others glorifying him by their good works; but then they add no glory to him, which he had not before; they only declare the glory of God by the light of their grace and works, as the heavens and luminaries in them do by their light and lustre; they worship God as they ought to do; but then he is not worshipped by them "as though he needed anything" of them, ( Acts 17:25 ) ; it is they, and not he, that get by worship; it is good for them, and they find their account in it, to draw near to him, and wait upon him, and worship him; what are all their prayers and praises to him? the benefit redounds to themselves: some men are very serviceable to promote the interest of religion, either by their purses, or by their gifts and talents, fitting for public usefulness; but then, what do they give to God but what is his own? "of thine own have we given thee", says David, ( 1 Chronicles 29:14 ) ; or what do they do for him? it is for the good of themselves, and others, ( Romans 11:35 Romans 11:36 ) . Some are useful in the conversion of men to God, either by the public ministry of the word, or in private life by discourse and conversation; but then the profit of all this is to men, and not unto God; there is nothing that a man can do, by which he can make God his debtor, or lay him under an obligation to him, which he would, if he could be profitable to him; but whatever he does, it is but his duty, and what God has a prior right unto; and therefore men can merit nothing at the hand of God, no, not the least mercy; it is by the grace of God a good man is what he is, and does what he does; the Targum paraphrases it, "can a man teach God?" and so Mr. Broughton; see ( Job 21:22 ) ;
as he that is wise may be profitable unto
or "though", or "indeed, truly he that is wise" F8. A man that is worldly wise is profitable to himself and his family, by gathering wealth and riches; and a man that is wise, and has a large understanding of natural things, may be profitable to himself by enriching his mind with knowledge, increasing the pleasure of it, and getting credit and fame among men by it, and may be profitable to others by communicating his knowledge to them, see ( Proverbs 9:12 ) ( Ecclesiastes 7:11 ) ; and one that is spiritually wise, or has the true grace of God, and wisdom in the hidden part, which is no other than real godliness, gets great gain; for godliness is that to him, and is profitable for all things, having the promise of the present and future life; and he that has an interest in Christ, the Wisdom of God, is a happy man indeed, since he has that, the merchandise of which is better than silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold; one that is wise unto salvation, and is a wise professor of religion, and walks wisely and circumspectly, has great advantages; he builds his salvation on the rock Christ, and is safe and sure; he is concerned to have the oil of grace, with the lamp of a profession, and so is always ready to meet the bridegroom; and being careful of his conversation, keeps his garments that his shame is not seen; and so a wise minister of the word, "[one that] instructs" F9, or gives instructions to others, as the word here signifies; or one that causes to understand, or is the means of causing men to understand, such a man is profitable to himself and to others, see ( Daniel 12:3 ) .