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Eliphaz owns Job's former usefulness, but infers from his present
state and behaviour, that he was an hypocrite, ver. 1 - 6.
He affirms that God never afflicts man, but for his wickedness,
ver. 7 - 11.
He confirms his assertion, by the words he heard in a vision,
ver. 12 - 21.
By all this he aims to make Job both penitent and patient under
2: If we, &c. - He speaks with great modesty. He will not undertake
the cause alone, but joins his friends with him. He will not promise
much, but only assay, or try if he could propose any thing pertinent to
Job's case. Withhold - When he hears such words from such a person
as thou art.
4: Feeble knees - Such as were weak hearted, and fainting under their
6: Thy fear - We now plainly see what was the nature of thy fear
of God, thy confidence in him, the uprightness of thy ways, and thy
hope in God's mercy. Thy present carriage discovers that it was but
mere talk and appearance.
7: Innocent - Therefore thou art guilty of some great, though secret
crimes, and thy sin hath now found thee out. Cut off - By the sickle of
Divine vengeance before his time, which is like to be thy case. Eliphaz
here advances another argument to prove Job an hypocrite; taken not only
from his impatience under afflictions, but from his afflictions themselves.
8: Even - As thou hast never seen any example of a righteous man cut
off, so I have seen many of wicked men cut off for their wickedness.
They - They that designedly work wickedness, first preparing themselves
for it, and then continuing to execute it, as husbandmen first plow the
ground, and then cast in the feed. Reap - The fruit of their iniquity,
the just punishment of it.
9: The blast - Of his nostrils, as it follows; by his anger,
which in men shews itself, in the nostrils, by hot and frequent
breathings there, by a secret, but mighty judgment of God, they
are blown away as chaff by the wind.
10: The roaring - Nor can they escape, even were they strong as
lions, yea, as the strongest and fiercest of them. Broken - Which is
true literally; the lions when taken having most commonly their teeth
broken, as ancient and modern writers relate. But this is meant of
powerful tyrants, who are fitly compared to lions, (Eze 32:2,38:13),
who though for a time they persecute and oppress other men, yet in due
time they are restrained, and broken, and crushed in pieces by the
mighty power of God. Possibly he may secretly accuse Job, or his
children, that being persons of great wealth and power, they had
abused it to ruin their neighbours, and therefore were justly cut off.
11: Scattered - Gone from their dens several ways to hunt for prey,
and can find none.
12: Now - To convince Job of the sin and folly of impatience,
Eliphaz relates a vision he had had, perhaps since he came to him.
Which in that age and state of the church, before the holy scriptures
were written, was the usual way of God's discovering his mind to those
that sought him. A thing - Heb. a word, from God, a message.
Secretly - Heb. was stolen, or brought by stealth unto me,
privately and secretly, as the word of God used to come to the prophets,
being spoken in their ear, as it was to Samuel, with a low and still
voice. He does not pretend to have understood it fully; but something
of it he perceived. How little a portion is heard of God! How little
do we know of him in this world.
13: In thoughts - These thoughts arose from the visions of
the night, which it is probable he had seen before. Visions differed
from dreams herein, that God imparted his mind to men in dreams when
asleep, but in visions, when they were awake. And these visions
sometimes happened by day, but most frequently by night. Sleep - In
the dead of the night, when men usually are in a deep sleep; though
Eliphaz was not now asleep.
15: A spirit - An angel in visible shape, otherwise he could not
have discerned it. Stood up - Through that excessive horror caused by
so glorious, unusual, and terrible a presence.
16: Stood - Having passed by him to, and again, he made a stand,
and addressed himself to speak. The form - Exactly and distinctly.
An image - I saw some visible resemblance, though in a confused manner.
Silence - The spirit, which possibly had made some noise with his motion,
now standing still made no noise; all other persons and things about
me were silent, and I also kept in my voice and breath, that I might
distinctly hear. In the Hebrew, the words run thus, silence and a
voice I heard.
17: More just - Pretend more strictly to observe the laws of justice?
Shall (enosh) mortal, miserable man (so the word signifies) be thus
insolent? Nay, shall geber, the strongest and most eminent man, stand
in competition with God? Those that find fault with the directions of
the Divine law, the dispensations of the Divine grace, or the disposal
of the Divine providence, do make themselves more just and pure than God:
who being their maker, is their Lord and owner: and the author of all the
justice and purity that is in man.
18: Servants - They are called his servants by way of eminency,
that general name being here appropriated to the chief of the kind,
to intimate that sovereign dominion which the great God hath over
the angels, and much more over men. With folly - Without all doubt,
this refers to those angels who foolishly and wickedly fell from God.
19: How, &c. - The sense is, what strange presumption then is it for
a foolish and mortal man, to make himself more just than God.
In them - Who though they have immortal spirits, yet those spirits dwell
in mortal bodies, which are great clogs, and incumbrances, and snares
to them. These are called houses, (because they are the receptacles
of the soul, and the places of its settled abode) and houses of clay,
because they were made of clay, or earth, and to note their great
frailty and mutability; whereas the angels are free spirits, unconfined
to such carcasses, and dwell in celestial, and glorious, and everlasting
mansions. Whose - Whose very foundation, no less than the rest of
the building, is in the dust; had their original from it, and must
return to it. We stand but upon the dust: some have an higher heap of
dust to stand upon than others. But still it is the earth that stays us up,
and will shortly swallow us up. Before - Sooner than a moth is crushed,
which is easily done by a gentle touch of the finger. Or, at the face
of a moth. No creature is so contemptible, but one time or other it may
have the body of man in its power.
20: Destroyed - All the day long, there is not a moment wherein
man is not sinking towards death and corruption. Perish - In reference
to this present worldly life, which when once lost is never recovered.
Regarding - Heb. without putting the heart to it, this is so common a
thing for all men, though never so high and great, to perish in this
manner, that no man heeds it, but passes it by as a general accident
not worthy of observation.
21: Excellency - Whatsoever is by common estimation excellent in men,
all their natural, and moral, and civil accomplishments, as high birth,
great riches, power and wisdom, these are so far from preserving men from
perishing, that they perish themselves, together with those houses of clay
in which they are lodged. Without wisdom - Even without having attained
that only wisdom for which they came into the world. Shall such mean,
weak, foolish, sinful, dying creatures as this, pretend to be more just
than God, more pure than his maker? No: instead of quarrelling with his
afflictions, let him admire that he is out of hell.