INTRODUCTION TO JOB 22
This chapter contains the third and last reply of Eliphaz to Job, in which he charges him with having too high an opinion of himself, of his holiness and righteousness, as if God was profited by it, and laid thereby under obligation to him, whereas he was not, Job 22:1; and as if he reproved and chastised him, because of his fear of him, whereas it was because of his sins, Job 22:4; an enumeration of which he gives, as of injustice, oppression, cruelty to the poor, and even of atheism and infidelity, for which snares and fears were around him, and various calamities, Job 22:6; and compares his way and course of life to that of the men of the old world, and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, and suggests that his end would be like theirs, unless he repented, Job 22:15; and then concludes with an exhortation to him to return to God by repentance, and to reform, when he should see happy times again, and enjoy much outward and inward prosperity, and be an instrument of doing much good to many, Job 22:21.
Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said. As Eliphaz was the first that entered the discussion with Job, being perhaps the oldest man, and might be reckoned the wisest, so he gives the lead in every course of disputation; and here, instead of replying to Job's arguments and instances, at which he was very angry, betakes himself to calumny and reproach, and to draw invidious consequences, instead of making use of solid reasons for conviction and confutation.
Can a man be profitable unto God?.... 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, Psalm 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. 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 himself? or "though", or "indeed, truly he that is wise", &c.
Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that thou art righteous?.... It is not; the Lord indeed takes pleasure in his people, not as sinners, but as righteous; and as they are considered such in Christ, he is well pleased for his righteousness' sake, and with it, being agreeable to his nature, will, and law; and with his people in Christ, in whom they are accepted, having imputed the righteousness of his Son unto them, and so they stand before him unblamable and irreprovable, and he takes pleasure in the work of his own hands upon them, called the good pleasure of his will, in the new man formed after his image in righteousness and true holiness, in the graces of his Spirit, and in the exercise of them, faith, hope, love, humility, fear of God, &c. it is a pleasure to him to hear their prayers and praises, and to observe their ready and cheerful obedience to his will; but then all this gives him no new pleasure, or adds anything to the complacency of his mind; he would have had as much delight and pleasure within himself, if there had never been an holy angel in heaven, or a righteous man on earth; he has no such pleasure in either as to be made more happy thereby, or so as to receive any "gain" or profit from it, as the next clause explains it. Some render it, "that thou justifiest thyself"
or is it gain to him that thou makest thy ways perfect? no man's ways are perfect before God, even the best of men have detects in their works, and failings in their walk and conversations: some men's ways are indeed clean in their own eyes, and perfect in their own conceit; and if Eliphaz thought Job such an one, he was mistaken, see Job 9:20; there are others, who are in a sense unblamable in their walk and conversation; that is, are not guilty of any notorious crime, but exercise a conscience void of offence towards God and man, walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless; and yet this is no "gain" to God; for what does such a man give to him? or what does he receive of his hands? see Job 35:7. This was indeed Job's case and character.
Will he reprove thee for fear of thee?.... That is, chastise, correct, and afflict, for fear that hurt should be done unto him; no, he will not; for as the goodness of men does not profit him, the sinfulness of men does not hurt him, see Job 35:6. Kings and civil magistrates sometimes chastise offenders, not only to do justice to them, but through fear of them, lest, if spared or connived at, they should be hurtful to the state, and overturn it; but though sin is an act of hostility against God, and strikes at his being and government, yet he is in no fear of being ruined or dethroned, or of having his government taken out of his hands, and therefore does not chastise men on that account: or "for thy fear"
will he enter with thee into judgment? that is, will he, in reverence to thee, out of respect to so great a person (speaking ironically), in condescension to one of so much consequence, will he regard thy request, so often made, as to come into judgment with thee, and to admit of thy cause being pleaded before him, and to give the hearing of it, and decide the affair in controversy? or rather, will he not plead against thee, and condemn thee for thy sins, as follow? in this sense it is to be deprecated, and not desired, see Psalm 143:2.
Is not thy wickedness great?.... It must be owned it is, it cannot be denied. Indeed, the wickedness of every man's heart is great, it being desperately wicked, full of sin, abounding with it; out of it comes forth everything that is bad, and the wickedness of actions is very great: some sins are indeed greater than others, as those against God, and the first table of the law, are greater than those against men, or the second table; some are like crimson and scarlet, are beams in the eye, while others are comparatively as motes; yet all are great, as committed against God, and as they are breaches of his law; and especially they appear so to sensible sinners, to whom sin is made exceeding sinful; and they see and own themselves to be the chief of sinners, and as such entreat for pardon on that account, see Psalm 25:11;
and thine iniquities infinite? strictly speaking, nothing is infinite but God; sins may be said in some sense to be infinite, because committed against an infinite God, and cannot be satisfied for by a finite creature, or by finite sufferings, only through the infinite value of the blood of Christ; here it signifies, that his iniquities were "innumerable"
For thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother for nought,.... It can hardly be thought that it was for nothing at all, on no consideration whatever, or that nothing was lent, for which the pledge was taken; but that it was a small trifling sum, and comparatively nothing, not to be spoken of; or it was borrowed for so short a time, that there needed not any pledge it; and it was unkind to take it, especially of a brother, whether in nature, or in religion, whether a near kinsman, or friend, or neighbour. Some render the words, "thou hast taken thy brother", or "brothers, for a pledge"
and stripped the naked of their clothing; not such as were stark naked, because they have no clothes to be stripped of; but such that were poorly clothed, scarce sufficient to cover their nakedness, and preserve them from the inclemencies of weather; these were stripped of their clothing, and being stripped, were quite naked and exposed, which to do was very cruel and hardhearted; perhaps it may respect the same persons from whom the pledge was taken, and that pledge was their clothing, which was no uncommon thing, see Exodus 22:26.
Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink,.... To a weary thirsty traveller, to whom in those hot countries cold water was very refreshing, and which in desert places was not to be had in common, or any where; rich men were possessed of their wells and fountains, and were kept for their own use, and it was a kindness and favour to obtain water of them; and yet a cup of cold water is one of the least favours to be given to a poor man, and to deny it him in distress was very inhuman, and was very far from Job's character:
and thou hast withholden bread from the hungry: bread, which strengthens man's heart, and is the staff of life, without which he cannot support; and this is not to be withheld from, but given even to an enemy when hungry; and to deny it to a poor neighbour in such circumstances is very cruel; the charge is, that Job would not give a poor hungry man a morsel of bread to eat; which must be false, being directly contrary to what he strongly asserts, Job 31:17.
But as for the mighty man, he had the earth,.... A large share and portion of it, which Job could not hinder him from the enjoyment of, because mightier than he, or otherwise he would have done it; or Job was content he should have what he had, and gave him more than what of right belonged to him; for when any cause came before him as a judge, or civil magistrate, between a rich man, and a poorer man, relating to a field, or piece of land he always gave the cause to the rich and mighty and so he had the land, as is suggested:
and the honourable man dwelt in it; peaceably, quietly, and undisturbed, though he had no just title to it; or "the man accepted of face" or "countenance"
Thou hast sent widows away empty,.... Either out of their own houses, which he spoiled, and devoured, and stripped, and cleared of all that were in them, as did the Scribes and Pharisees in Christ's time, Matthew 23:14; or out of his own house, when they came to him, as a rich man, for charity; as they came to him wanting relief, they went away so; if without food and clothing, they were bid to depart without giving them anything to feed and clothe them with; or if they came to him as a civil magistrate to have justice done them, and to be delivered out of the hands of their oppressors, they could not obtain any, but were dismissed without it; how contrary is this to Job 29:13;
and the arms of the fatherless have been broken; not in a literal sense, as if when refusing to go out, when their mothers, the widows, had their houses spoiled, and they sent empty out of them; these laid hold on something within them, and would not depart, and so, had their arms broken by the mighty man, the man of arms; but, in a metaphorical and figurative sense, their substance, and goods, and possessions, left them by their fathers for their support, these were taken away from them, and so they were as impotent and helpless as if their arms had been broken; or their friends on whom they relied for their sustenance, these were either ruined, and so could not help them; or else their affections were alienated from them, and would not. This indeed is not expressly charged upon Job, but it is intimated that it was done with his knowledge and consent, good will, and approbation; at least that he connived at it, and suffered it to be done when it was in his power to have prevented it, and therefore to be ascribed unto him; but how foreign is all this to Job's true character, Job 29:12 ?
Therefore snares are round about thee,.... Not what occasion sin, draw into it, and issue in it, as inward corruptions, the temptations of Satan, and the things of this world, but punishments; because of the above sins charged upon Job, therefore evils, calamities, and distresses of various kinds, came upon, him, beset him, and encompassed him all around, so that there was no way left for him to escape; it may refer to the Sabeans and Chaldeans seizing on his cattle, and carrying them away; to the fire that fell from heaven upon his sheep, and consumed them; to the great wind that blew down the house in which his children were, and destroyed them; and to the boils and ulcers that were all over his body:
and sudden fear troubleth thee; those things, at least some of them, were what he feared, and they came suddenly upon him, and gave him great trouble and distress, Job 3:25; and present fear frequently, on a sudden, darted into his mind, and gave him fresh trouble; he was afraid of his present sorrows, and of further and future ones, Job 9:28; and perhaps Eliphaz might think he was afraid of hell and damnation, and of sudden destruction from the Almighty coming upon him, Job 31:23; see Isaiah 24:17.
Or darkness, that thou canst not see,.... Or darkness is round about thee, thou art enveloped in it; meaning either judicial blindness, and darkness, and stupidity of mind, which must be his case, if he could not see the hand of God upon him, or the snares that were about him, or was not troubled with sudden fear; or else the darkness of affliction and calamity, which is often signified hereby, see Isaiah 8:22; afflictive dispensations of Providence are sometimes so dark, that a man cannot see the cause and reason of them, or why it is he is brought into them; which was Job's case, and therefore desires God would show him wherefore he contended with him, Job 10:9; nor can he see, perceive, or enjoy any light of comfort; he is in inward darkness of soul, deprived of the light of God's countenance, as well as he is in the outward darkness of adversity, which is a most uncomfortable case, as it was this good man's; nor can he see any end of the affliction, or any way to escape out of it, and which were the present circumstances Job was in:
and abundance of waters cover thee; afflictions, which are frequently compared to many waters, and floods of them, because of the multitude of them, their force and strength, the power and rapidity with which they come; and because overflowing, overbearing, and overwhelming, and threaten with utter ruin and destruction, unless stopped by the mighty hand of God, who only can resist and restrain them; Eliphaz represents Job like a man drowning, overflowed with a flood of water, and covered with its waves, and in the most desperate condition, see Psalm 69:1.
Is not God in the height of heaven?.... The heaven is high, it has its name from its height, and is noted for it; some of the heavens are higher than others, as the heaven of heavens, the third heaven, the habitation of angels and glorified saints; and here God dwells, this is the habitation of his holiness, and the high and holy place he inhabits; his throne is in heaven, in the heaven of heavens is his throne, where he in an especial manner manifests his glory, and the lustre of it; he is not indeed continued here, the heaven of heavens cannot contain him, he is everywhere; yet this is his court and palace, where his residence and retinue is and angels behold his face, and wait upon him; and because this is the principal seat of his majesty, it becomes one of his names, Daniel 4:26; and the words here will bear to be rendered, "is not God the height of the heavens?"
and behold the height of the stars, how high they are; or "the head" or "top of the stars"
And thou sayest, how doth God know?.... What is done on earth, the works of the children of men, their sinful actions, when he dwells at such a distance, and so remote from the earth, as the height of the stars, and highest heavens, be; not that Job said this expressly with his lips, but in his heart; Eliphaz imagined and supposed that such was the reasoning of his mind; it was an invidious consequence he had drawn from what Job had said concerning the afflictions of the godly, and the prosperity of the wicked; which he interpreted as a denial of the providence of God, as if he had no regard to human affairs, but things took place in a very disorderly and confused way, without any regard to right or wrong; and he concluded that Job was led into these sentiments by the consideration of the distance of God from the earth; that, dwelling in the highest heavens, he could not and did not see what was done here, and therefore men might commit all manner of sin with impunity; that their sins would never be taken notice of, or they be called to an account for them; which are the very language and sentiments of the most abandoned of men, see Psalm 10:11;
can he judge through the dark clouds? if he cannot see and know what is done, he cannot judge of it, whether it is good or bad, and so can neither justify nor condemn an action. By "the dark cloud" is not meant the matter, or corporeal mass, with which man is covered, as a Jewish commentator
Thick clouds are a covering to him, that he seeth not,.... Thus Job is made to speak, or to reason as atheistical persons, or such who are inclined to atheism would, who take God to be altogether such an one as themselves; as that because thick clouds hide objects, as the sun, and moon, and stars, from their sight, therefore they must hide men and their actions from the sight of God; whereas there is nothing between God and man to hide them from him, let them be what they will, clouds as thick and as dark as can be imagined, yet his eyes are upon the ways of man, and see all his goings, nor is there any darkness that can hide from him, Job 34:21;
and he walketh in the circuit of heaven; within which he keeps himself, and never looks down upon the earth, or takes any notice of what is done there; quite contrary to Psalm 14:3; as if he only took his walks through the spacious orb of heaven, and delighted himself in viewing the celestial mansions, and the furniture of them, but had no regard to anything below them; whereas, though he walks in the circuit of heaven, he also sits upon the circle of the earth, Isaiah 41:22; Eliphaz seems here to ascribe the sentiments perhaps of the Zabians in former times to Job, and since adopted by some philosophers; that God only regards the heavenly bodies, and supports them in their beings, and regulates and directs their motions, and leaves all things below to be governed and influenced by them, as judging it unworthy of him to be concerned with things on earth. Indeed the earth and the inhabitants of it are unworthy of his notice and care, and of his providential visits, but he does humble himself to look upon things on earth as well as in heaven, Psalm 8:4; to make Job reason after this Epicurean manner was doing great injustice to his character, who most firmly believed both the being and providence of God, and that as extending to all things here below, see Job 12:13.
Hast thou marked the old way which wicked men have trodden? The evil way that wicked men have walked in ever since man apostatized from God, the way of Cain and his descendants, who were of the wicked one, and lived wicked lives and conversations; "the way of the old world", as Mr. Broughton renders the phrase here, the imagination of the thoughts of whose hearts was evil, and that continually; who filled the earth with rapine and violence, and all flesh corrupted their way with all manner of impurity and wickedness, and indulged themselves in the gratification of their sensual lusts and pleasures; and were, as the Apostle Peter calls them, "the world of the ungodly"; and here, "men of wickedness", or "iniquity"
Which were cut down out of time,.... Sent out of time into eternity, time being no more with men, and they no longer in time, when death seizes upon them; or "before time"
whose foundation was overflown with a flood; either of water, or of fire and brimstone, as Jarchi observes; the former is most likely to be meant; for by the flood, or universal deluge, all that was thought firm and permanent, and might be called a foundation, was overflown and carried away, as houses, goods, furniture, wealth, and riches, and everything that men had a dependence upon for the support and comfort of life; yea, the earth itself, on which they dwelt, and was reckoned "terra firma", this being founded upon, and over the waters; or, as the Apostle Peter describes it, "it standing out of the water and in the water", 2 Peter 3:5; or "their foundation was a flood poured out"
Which said unto God, depart from us,.... Choosing not to be admonished of their sins, nor be exhorted to repentance for them, nor be instructed by him in the way of their duty, nor to attend the worship and ordinances of God, nor be under his rule and government; the same is observed by Job of wicked men, but to a different purpose; he makes this to be the language of such who were in very prosperous circumstances, and continued in them, notwithstanding their impiety; here by this Eliphaz describes such persons who were cut off, and destroyed for their wickedness, see Job 21:14;
and what can the Almighty do for them? that is, for us; for these are either the words of the wicked continued, being so self-sufficient, and full of good things, having as much, or more, than heart can wish, that they stood in no need of anything from God; nor could they imagine they should receive any profit and advantage from him, by listening to his instructions, or obeying his will; they had such low and mean thoughts of God, that he would neither do them good nor evil; they expected no good from him, and feared no ill at his hands; they ascribed all the good things they had to their own care, industry, and diligence; and when any ill befell them, they attributed it to chance, and second causes, thinking nothing of God: as these are the words of Eliphaz, they may be rendered, "what has the Almighty done to them", or "against them?"
Yet he filled their houses with good things,.... With temporal good things, with this world's good, with plenty of providential goodness; earthly enjoyments are good things in themselves, and in their effects, when rightly used, and these wicked men have their share of; this is their portion, they have their good things in this life, and a large abundance of them oftentimes; their hearts are filled with food, and should be with gladness and thankfulness; their bellies are filled with hidden treasures; their barns with corn and wheat, and such like fruits of the earth; their shops with all manner of goods; their dwelling houses with gold and silver, with rich furniture, and all precious substance; and all this is from God, every good gift comes from him; the earth is full of his goodness; though these men say, "what can the Almighty do for them?" Job 22:17; this shows, that what they have they are not deserving of; and what is bestowed upon them is not from any merit in them, but according to the sovereign will and pleasure of God; find this is an aggravation of their wickedness, that notwithstanding he has loaded them with his benefits, and indulged them with such a plenty of good things, yet they spurn at him, rebel against him, and bid him depart from them; which conduct of theirs Eliphaz expresses his abhorrence of:
but the counsel of the wicked is far from me; such impious reasonings, and wicked practices, he was far from justifying; he had them in the utmost detestation, and could not but abhor such vile ingratitude; he makes use of Job's words, Job 21:16; which he thought he could do to better purpose, and with greater sincerity.
The righteous see it, and are glad,.... Not the counsel of the wicked, nor their outward prosperity, but their ruin and destruction, which is sure and certain; though it may sometimes seem to linger, it is often public and visible to the view of every man, being made public examples, see Psalm 91:8; and which is matter of joy and gladness to truly good and righteous men; who have the righteousness of Christ on them, his grace in them, and in consequence of that live soberly, righteously, and godly; these rejoice at the vengeance of God on wicked men, Psalm 52:5; not that the misery of their fellow creatures is pleasing to them as such; this would be brutish and inhuman, as well as contrary to the grace of God, and to their character as good men, and also would be displeasing to God, Proverbs 24:17; but partly because they themselves, through the grace and goodness of God, have been kept from such sins as bring to ruin and destruction; and partly because they are delivered out of the hands of these wicked men, who were distressing to them; and chiefly because of the glory of the divine perfections, particularly the holiness and justice of God displayed herein; for God is known and glorified by the judgments which he executeth, see Psalm 9:16;
and the innocent laugh them to scorn; such as are upright and sincere, live holy and harmless lives and conversations, though not entirely free from sin; these deride them for their impieties, and observe to them the justness of the divine judgments upon them. The Jewish writers, many of them
Whereas our substance is not cut down,.... As yours is; Noah and his family were preserved in the ark, and the creatures with him, and sufficient sustenance was laid up for them all, when everything relating to the wicked was destroyed: but this may be thought too restrictive, as well as what follows too subtle, that this should respect the human species not being cut down and utterly destroyed in the flood, but preserved in and restored by Noah and his family; it may perhaps be thought better to interpret these words as the words of Eliphaz and his friends, joining with the righteous and the innocent, putting themselves in their number, and rejoicing with them at the destruction of the wicked, and as having a particular regard to Job's case, and the difference between him and them; his substance being cut down, and he stripped of all; whereas they were not deprived of theirs, but it continued with them, and they in the full possession of it; the reason of which difference was, he was a wicked man, and they righteous and innocent; but by others, who also take them to be the words of the righteous triumphing over the wicked, they are rendered thus; "is not he cut off that rose up against us?"
but the remnant of them the fire consumes; which Aben Ezra, Ben Gersom, and others, interpret of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the other cities, by fire; which would have had some appearance of truth, if the destruction had been of the whole world, and as general as the flood was, or more so, and had cleared the world of the remnant of the ungodly, whereas it was only of a few cities: rather it may be Eliphaz glances at the case of Job, as different from him and his friends, that when their substance was untouched, the remnant of Job's was consumed by fire; what were left by the Chaldeans and Sabeans were destroyed by fire from heaven; though if it could be thought that Eliphaz had knowledge of the general conflagration at the last day, and had that in view, it would afford a better sense; but it may be he does not mean material, but metaphorical fire, the fire of divine wrath, which will consume the wicked, root and branch, and leave them nothing.
Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace,.... Not with the righteous and innocent, but with God, as Job 22:22 show: from severe charges and censures, Eliphaz proceeds to advice and exhortations, and seems to be in a better temper, and to talk in a more kind and gentle manner, only he goes upon a false supposition and mistaken notion, that Job was a bad man; had he had a proper object to have directed his discourse to, it would have been excellently said; and, as it is, is not without its use: this first exhortation supposes unacquaintance with God, and an estrangedness from him; which is the case of every man from the womb, and in a state of nature and unregeneracy. Acquaintance with God begins at conversion, when he is made known, not only as the God of nature and providence, but as the God of grace and peace in Christ; and it is carried on by prayer, which is a converse with God, and by attendance on his worship and ordinances, in which men walk before him, and have fellowship with him: this is sometimes interrupted and dropped for a while, through temptation or sin; when there arises on account thereof a shyness and backwardness to draw nigh unto God, until he calls and invites them to take with them words, and return unto him; an acquaintance with God is not kept up when prayer before him is restrained; which Eliphaz charges Job with, Job 15:4; and when saints forsake the assembling of themselves together, or neglect public worship, or grow indifferent to it; and it is renewed again by prayer, and a fresh attendance on the above things; in which frequent visits are made between God and his people, mutual secrets communicated, a holy freedom, familiarity, and boldness contracted, and communion with God enjoyed: men may also acquaint themselves with him yet more and more by the contemplation of his works, by reading and hearing his word, and by conversation with good men, ministers, and others. The Jewish commentators
thereby good shall come unto thee: temporal good things, necessary and convenient, the promise of which is annexed to godliness, or an acquaintance with God; spiritual good things, the blessings of grace, all things pertaining to life and godliness, and eternal good things; that far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, which afflictions, peaceably and patiently borne, work for and bring unto.
Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth,.... Not the law of Moses; for it is a question whether that was as yet, or could come to the knowledge of Job; rather any doctrine, as the word signifies, any revelation of the mind and will of God, made unto the patriarchs in former times, and which was handed down from one to another, and was to be received as coming from the mouth of God, not as the word of man, but as the word of God; and as such to be received with meekness and reverence, with readiness, cheerfulness, and gladness; and not only to be attended to but obeyed:
and lay up his words in thine heart: as a rich treasure, very valuable, and preferable to gold, silver, and precious stones, laid up in chests and cabinets because of their value, and that they might not be lost, but be preserved safe and sure, and that they might be come at, and made use of on proper occasions; as the words of God and doctrines of the Scriptures may be, against the temptations of Satan, the lusts of the flesh, and for the instruction of ourselves and others; and therefore should be retained in our minds, hid in our hearts, and dwell richly in us; and, unless they are in the heart, and have a place there, they will be of little avail to have them in the head or on the tongue; but if they come with power into the heart, and have a place there, they work effectually, and influence the life and conversation: these Job had, and had a great value for them; see Job 6:10.
If thou return to the Almighty,.... Which supposes a departure from him; and that is by sinning against him, which should be repented of, confessed, and pardoning grace and mercy be implored, by all those that have backslidden, and return to God; to which they are encouraged by his being the "Almighty", who has power to forgive sins, also to cause all grace to abound, and to save to the uttermost; he is not a God that is prayed and returned to, that cannot save, or whose hand is shortened, or his ear heavy; the word is "shaddai", which signifies "who is sufficient", all sufficient; whose grace is sufficient to restore and receive backsliders, pardon their sins, accept their persons, supply their wants, and preserve them safe to his kingdom and glory:
thou shalt be built up; restored to his former happiness, have all his breaches repaired and made up; his body, which was like a building out of repair and dropping down, become hale and healthful; his family, which was in a ruinous condition, being deprived of his children as well as substance, be increasing again through a like number of children; by which means families are built up, 4:16; and by having a large affluence of good things, abundantly greater than he had before; and also, in a spiritual sense, be edified and built up in his soul, through the light of God's countenance, the discoveries of his love, the comforts of his spirit, an application of precious promises, and divine truths, and a communication of grace, and the blessings of it:
thou shall put away iniquity far from thy tabernacle; not commit it himself, nor connive at it in others, nor suffer it in his family, suggesting as if he had so done in times past; or remove men of iniquity, wicked men, from his house, and not allow them to dwell there; though rather this seems to be spoken of by way of promise, and as an encouragement to return to the Almighty; upon which all evils and calamities, the effects of sin and iniquity, should be removed from his house, and the apartments of it, they were now full of.
Then shalt thou lay up gold as dust,.... Have such plenty of it, as not to be counted:
and the gold of Ophir as the stones of the brooks; which was reckoned the best, probably in Arabia; not in the East and West Indies, which were not known to Job; though some take this to be an exhortation to despise riches, and as a dissuasion from covetousness, rendering the words, "put gold upon the dust", or earth
Yea, the Almighty shall be thy defence,.... In temporal things, secure the plenty of gold and silver possessed of; surround and protect by his providence, that there shall be no danger of the Sabeans and Chaldeans, or others, breaking in and stealing it away; and, in spirituals, preserve from all enemies, sin, Satan, and the world; be a wall of fire about him, his fortress, his tower, and place of defence; or keep him as in a garrison, through faith unto salvation; or, as others render the words, "and let the Almighty be", or "he shall be thy gold", or "golds"
and thou shall have plenty of silver; or God shall be, or "let him be to thee silver of strength"
For then shall thou have thy delight in the Almighty,.... In the perfections of his nature, in the works of his hands, in his word and worship, in communion with him, and in the relation he stands in to his people as their covenant God and Father; this would be the case when Job should be more and better acquainted with God, and with the law or doctrine his month, and the words of his lips, and should return unto him with his whole heart; and when his affections should be taken off of all earthly riches; when he should look upon gold as dust, and the gold of Ophir as the stones of the brook, and God should be to him his gold and his silver; then, and not till then, could he have true delight and complacency in God:
and shalt lift up thy face unto God; in prayer, as Sephorno interprets it, with an holy confidence, boldness, and cheerfulness; as a believer in Christ may, having on his righteousness, and having his heart sprinkled from an evil conscience by his blood; such an one can appear before God, and lift up his face to him, as without spot, so without confusion, shame, and blushing, without a load of guilt upon him, without fear of wrath or punishment, and of being repulsed; see Job 11:15.
Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him,.... To God, and him only; for not a creature, angels, or men, are to be prayed to; and this is to be done in a supplicating, entreating way, as the word signifies; not pleading merit, but mercy, not presenting prayers and supplications for a man's own righteousness' sake, but for the Lord's mercy's sake, and for the sake of Christ and his righteousness; and prayer is to be made in this manner frequently, to be multiplied, as the word also signifies; prayer should be made always, and without ceasing; and this is not only a duty, but a privilege; and as such it is here observed, even as a benefit and blessing to be enjoyed; as it is when a man can come to God as his Father, through Christ the Mediator, with boldness and confidence, in the faith of him, and to God as on a throne of grace, where he may find grace and mercy to help him in time of need, and especially it is so when attended with the success following:
and he shall hear thee; as he does hear those that pray to him in the name of Christ, in the exercise of faith, and in the sincerity and uprightness of their hearts; and answers their requests, fulfils their desires, and gives them what they ask of him; for he is a God hearing prayer, and sooner or later, in his own time and way, grants the petitions of his people:
and thou shalt pay thy vows; the sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving which he promised to offer up to God, should he grant him the desires of his heart; and these being granted, he would be laid under obligation to perform his promises; so that this also is to be considered as a benefit and blessing; for it does not so much regard the payment of vows, as it is designed to observe to him that he should have that done for him which would be a sufficient ground and reason for paying his vows, or making good what he promised in the time of his distress; since what he then requested, and was the condition of his vow, should now be granted; see Psalm 56:12.
Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee,.... Strictly speaking, this is only true of God, whose decrees are unfrustrable, whose counsel shall stand, and the thoughts of his heart be established to all generations; and frequently so it is, according to an usual saying, man appoints, but God disappoints; this may be understood of Job, either as a civil magistrate, that he should decree a thing in a court of judicature with so much wisdom and equity, that it should stand firm and sure, and, though made on earth, should be ratified in heaven, as the decrees and doctrines of the apostles of Christ are said to be, Matthew 16:19; see Proverbs 8:15; or, as a private man in civil affairs, signifying that he should be so guided by the Lord, and prospered and succeeded in all his ways and works, that what he determined to do, and formed a scheme for the execution of, it should be brought about and confirmed; he committing his ways to the Lord, his thoughts should be established, or his purposes and designs effected, see Psalm 1:3; or rather as a praying man; and so it agrees with what goes before, that he should lift up his voice to God, and pray unto him with success, and have just occasion to praise him, or pay his vows to him, since he should have the desires of his heart; whatever was upon his mind, and he prayed in faith for, he should have it; as Elijah prayed, both that it might not rain, and that it might rain, and both were according to his word, or the decree of his lips in prayer: see 1 Kings 17:1;
and the light shall shine upon thy ways; which is the reason of all things prospering and succeeding, and being established according to his wish and will; the light of grace shining in him, to put him upon and instruct him in denying and avoiding that which is sinful, and doing that which was just and good; and the light of the word without him, being a light unto his feet, and a lamp to his paths, to guide and direct him, and especially the light of God's favour and blessing on him, succeeding him in all his ways and works, and making them prosperous.
When men are cast down,.... Wicked men are brought down from a state of prosperity to a state of adversity, are in low circumstances, great straits and difficulties:
then thou shall say, there is lifting up; that is, for himself and his; when others are in adversity, he should be in prosperity; when others are cast down into a very low estate and distressed condition, he should be exalted to a very high estate, and be in affluent circumstances, see Psalm 147:6; or else the sense is, when thou and thine, and what belong to thee, are humbled and brought low, then thou mayest promise thyself a restoration and change for the better; and boldly say, they will be lifted up, and raised up again, since God's usual method is to exalt the humble, and to abase the proud, Luke 14:11; or rather, this may respect the benefit and advantage that humble persons wound gain by Job, and his prayers for them, and may be rendered and interpreted thus: "when they have humbled"
and he shall save the humble person; that is, "low of eyes"
He shall deliver the island of the innocent,.... But where is there such an island, an island of innocent persons? it seems to be better rendered by others, "the innocent shall deliver the island"
"a man that is not innocent shall be delivered:'
in like manner Jarchi interprets it, and so do Noldius
and it is, or "he is"
delivered by the pureness of thine hands; either by his good works, setting a good example, which, being followed, would be the means of the prevention of present ruin; or by his lifting up pure and holy hands in prayer to God for a sinful people; which God often attends to and hears, and so delivers them from destruction; as the Israelites were delivered through the prayer of Moses, when they had made the golden calf, and worshipped it; see Psalm 106:19; though sometimes God will not admit of an intercessor for such persons, Ezekiel 14:20.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Job 22". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Lent