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Bible Commentaries
Job 31

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-40

Shall we turn in our Bibles to the book of Job, chapter 31.

Job has pretty well talked down all of his friends. Bildad has had his last word and Job is still responding, and has been responding, actually, just generally now to his friends. This last discourse of Job is his longest discourse, and he goes on and on with it. And we have been studying the final response of Job to his friends. His next responses will be to God. But Job is talking about his own righteousness, his own goodness, that which he has done. He said,

I made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I think upon a maid? For what portion of God is there from above? and what inheritance of the Almighty from on high? Is not destruction to the wicked? and strange punishment to the doers of iniquity? Doth he not see my ways, and count all my steps? If I have walked with vanity, or if my foot has hasted to deceit; Let me be weighed in an even balance that God may know my integrity. If my step hath turned out of the way, and my heart walked after my eyes, and if any blot hath cleaved to my hands; Then let me sow, and let another eat; yea, let my offspring be rooted out. If my heart hath been deceived by a woman, or if I have laid wait at my neighbor's door; Then let my wife grind unto another, and let others bow down upon her. For this is a heinous crime; yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges. It's a fire that consumes to destruction, and would root out all mine increase ( Job 31:1-12 ).

So these are things that Job's friends have been hinting that he was guilty of, but he is denying his guilt. "I made a covenant before God. I'm not going to look on another woman. I'm not going to be interested in other women." It is interesting that Jesus said, "If a man looks upon a woman to desire after her, he has committed adultery already in his heart" ( Matthew 5:28 ). Job made a covenant, "I'm not going to look on other women. I'm going to be satisfied with my wife. Now if I have been guilty of adultery, then the punishment of my wife committing adultery with someone else would be a punishment that I deserved. But I'm innocent of these things. Let God weigh me in balances. Let it be fair. Let what I have received be fair from God. I'm receiving more than I deserve for I haven't been guilty of these things."

Job, speaking of the lust, said, "It's a fire that consumes to destruction. It would destroy all my increase." The Bible speaks about a man, who through foolish woman, is brought down to a crust of bread ( Proverbs 6:25-26 ). What destruction unbridled lust can bring. It can destroy great men. It can bring them down. And so Job speaks of it, of a fire that destroys, the burning lust.

If I did despise the cause of my manservant or maidservant, when they contended with me; What shall I do when God rises up? for he visiteth, and what shall I answer him? Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb? ( Job 31:13-15 )

Now Job is speaking here of the fact that he had not really lorded over his servants, that he had looked upon them as equals. "We were both, all of us, created in the womb."

It's really a tragedy when men begin to think themselves superior to others. Rather than realizing that all of us have been created by God and in God's eyes there is no ranking, there is no superiorities. That, of course, goes for male/female, it goes for bond or free. We are all one in Christ Jesus. And yet, it seems that man is always trying to exalt or elevate himself above others. Trying to put himself in the position of higher. "I want others to bow to me. I want others to do obeisance and the whole thing." And that's tragic that men develop these rankings in which they seek then to promote and give honor and flattery and all to each other.

Job said that he dealt honestly with his servants when they argued with him. He looked upon them honestly, because he said, "After all, we were all, we all came out of the womb. I'm no better than they are. I recognize that." And he also recognized that God takes up the cause of the poor. Now it's interesting throughout the scripture it does speak about God hearing the cry of the poor, "When their cry cometh unto Me." And God talks about taking vengeance upon those that would oppress the poor. That when their cries came to Him because of their oppression, He would hear and He would bring vengeance upon those that would oppress the poor.

If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail; If I have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof; (For from my youth he was brought up with me, as a father, and I have guided her from my mother's womb;) If I have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering; If his loins have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep; If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, when I saw my help in the gate: Then let mine arm fall from my shoulder blade, and my arm be broken from the bone ( Job 31:16-22 ).

"If I'm guilty of these things of not helping the poor, if I've allowed people to go naked, if I've allowed people to go hungry while I was living in luxury, then let my arms fall off." Job is bringing curses upon himself. "If I'm guilty of these things, then let these horrible things happen to me."

It is interesting then in those cultures, in that particular culture, and in the eastern culture, hospitality is such an important part of the culture of those people and of those days. It was extremely important that you be hospitable, that you be benevolent, that you help those that are in need. Especially if a person was traveling. You notice how Abraham entertained the people that were traveling, "Come on in, let me fix something for you, and all." As the angels (he didn't know they were angels at the time), but as they were traveling by, "Come on it. It's too late; spend the night here. Let my wife fix you something to eat, and all" ( Genesis 18:3-5 ). Hospitality was an important thing. It should be an important thing in the church. Paul tells us that when we chose those who are to be overseers of in the body of Christ, that we should pick out men who are hospitable, those who have shown themselves to be hospitable.

Our Southern California culture seems to be very isolated. I have been in other parts of the United States where people seem to be more hospitable than they are here. Down in the south, people far more open, hospitable. "Oh, come on over for dinner," you know. And there is a lot of hospitality, southern hospitality. We're in Southern California, but we just don't see it here. But I believe that it is pleasing to the Lord that we really show hospitality. If there is someone who is visiting, someone who is a stranger, that we open up our doors to them, that we invite them over for dinner or that we show them hospitality. The Bible says, "Be careful to entertain strangers, you don't know but what you might one day be entertaining an angel unaware." ( Hebrews 13:2 )

Now my father used to take these scriptures very literally. Also he was an usher in the church as I was growing up and he read in James how that we do wrong when we have respect of people's persons. If one comes into church and he's all dressed up, wearing diamonds and all, you say, "Oh," you know, "come on in, sit in this nice chair." And yet if someone comes in rags, you say, "Go sit in the corner" ( James 2:3 ). So when people would come to church in rags, hobos, he would usher them right down to the front row, with all style. And my dad was a very gallant gentleman, and a lot of flair and a lot of style, you know, and he'd usher them right down to the front row, and sit them right in the prime places, and then invite them home for lunch. We had the most interesting guests. They had the smell of the antiseptic from the mission so many times. We've had all kinds of... oh, I could tell you stories that you'd hardly believe of some of the people that we've had at our house.

We had one fellow that Dad invited home for dinner and he stayed for a couple of weeks with us. And he was a very interesting fellow. If Mom would say, "Wind up the vacuum cord," I would wind up the vacuum cord, and when I was through, he said, "That took you twenty-seven seconds. Now you should be able to do that in fifteen seconds. Now wind it up again. And do it this time in fifteen seconds." Always timing everything, everything had to be split-second timing. And you did it until you could do it in fifteen seconds. We later found out that this guy was a bank robber. And he was the mastermind behind many of the bank robberies and some of the most exotic prison breaks in the United States. And that's why he was always interested in timing. Timed everything, got everything down to split second, and all. And he always, it was part of his thinking processes. When he started telling his stories, oh, was that interesting. We'd sit there just transfixed as he'd tell us about some of the heists and all that he was involved in and escape from some of the major prisons in the United States.

Actually, the way we met him was very fascinating. My father went up to the Ventura County Jail and spoke there at the jail every Sunday. And he would just, you know, one day he was talking to these prisoners and he said, "Fellows," he said, "God answers prayer. Now Jesus said if you ask anything in His Name, the Father would do it. Now look, just get down and ask God for something you need. Put God to the test. Either His Word is true or it isn't." Well this guy, Jimmy Reynolds, was sitting in the back bunk; he didn't even come out to the area where the guys were meeting. He was just sitting back there listening. He was tough, and he didn't want to come out in the open cell with the rest of the guys and show that he was at all interested, but he was just sitting back there. And after my dad left, he turned to the guy across on the next bunk from him, and he said, "Did you hear what the guy said?" He said, "Man, I've sprung a lot of jails, but this would be a new one." He says, "Hey, man, let's you and me get down on our knees and we're going to ask God to get us out of here by next Sunday. And if God gets us out of here by next Sunday, we'll go down to that man's church." My father was also the Sunday school superintendent at the church and so we always got to church a half hour early. And this Sunday morning as we drove up to the church there was this fellow pacing back and forth in front of the church, and when he spotted my dad, he came up and opened the door for my mother and all, and he said, "Good morning, Mrs. Smith, Mr. Smith. Nice to see you today." And he said, "I'm Jimmy." And Dad said, "Well, it's nice to meet you. Will you come in and go to church with us and then come on home to dinner?" And that's how we met him.

Now after he left, my dad went to the sheriff and he said, "You know, we've had an interesting houseguest for the last couple of weeks." He said, "He's told us some very fascinating stories." He said, "The thing I want to know, though, is how did he get out of jail?" And the sheriff told my dad, he said, "Mr. Smith," he said, "that was a mistake." He said, "We weren't supposed to release that man." He said, "We picked him up on a vagrancy charge in Oxnard. We were holding him here, but," he said, "on our cards, when we have a prisoner and there's a hold on them because of their being wanted in other places," he said, "we always type up at the top of the card a red HOLD." He said, "We had a new trustee typing cards. And so he thought that it didn't look neat to have that HOLD up in the right hand corner so he typed it down in the bottom of the card. And so," he said, "that Sunday morning as they were going through the cards, they came across Jimmy Reynolds and found that we had held him as long as we legally could without filing charges. And we really didn't have any charges to file, but we were holding him because of his prison escapes from Oklahoma State Prison and several federal penitentiaries and," he said, "we were supposed to be holding him to extradite him back there. But," he said, "in going through the cards that morning, they just came to his card, saw that his time was up as far as what we could legally hold him, and they didn't pull the card all the way out. And so that Sunday morning they call, 'Jimmy Reynolds,' he said, 'yep.' They said, 'You're free.' He says, 'I'm what?' And they said, 'You're free.'" And he said, "Mr. Smith," he said, "I've broken a lot of jails in the country, but," he said, "this is the first time I've ever had one like this!" You know.

Hospitality. Now that wasn't an angel unaware in that particular case. Some of the things that happened when I was a kid... Oh, my. I could tell you some interesting stories about George the tramp, but that'll have to wait 'til another time. Ah, but my dad was quite a guy.

He said,

I've not allowed my mouth to sin by wishing a curse to another man's soul ( Job 31:30 ).

Verse Job 31:30 :

If the men of my tent said not, Oh that we had of his flesh! we cannot be satisfied. The stranger did not lodge in the street: but I opened my doors to the travelers. If I covered my transgression as Adam ( Job 31:31-33 ),

Interesting he refers to Adam, isn't it? Evidently the stories of Adam were widely circulated even by the time of Job, even though the book of Job perhaps precedes in writing the book of Genesis. That is, that it was written before. Yet he is aware of Adam's attempt to cover his sin by sewing the fig leaves.

by hiding my iniquity in my bosom: Did I fear a great multitude, or did the contempt of families terrify me, that I kept silence, and went not out of the door? So surely I would take it upon my shoulder, and bind it as a crown unto me ( Job 31:33-34 , Job 31:36 ).

He said,

I would declare unto him the number of my steps; as a prince I would go near unto him. If my land cry against me, or that the furrows likewise thereof complain; If I have eaten the fruit thereof without money, or have caused the owners thereof to lose their life: Let thistles grow instead of wheat, and the cockle instead of barley. The words of Job are ended ( Job 31:37-40 ).

"I've had it. That's it. I'm innocent." And the final declaration of his innocence before his friends.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Job 31". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/job-31.html. 2014.
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