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Bible Commentaries
Job 5

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Call now, if there be any that will answer thee; and to which of the saints wilt thou turn?

If there be any ... - rather, 'Call now! will He [God] reply to thee?' Job, after the revelation just given, cannot be so presumptuous as to think God, or any of the holy ones (Daniel 4:17, angels) round His throne, will vouchsafe a reply (a judicial expression) to his rebellious complaint (Umbreit). I prefer the English Version. Job may call as loud as he will, complaining of wrongful treatment, but none will answer from above. No holy (English Version, saint) angel will undertake to be advocate of so bad a cause. The idea of heavenly advocacy for man is found Job 33:23; Zechariah 1:12.

Verse 2

For wrath killeth the foolish man, and envy slayeth the silly one.

For - so far are you from profiting by your complaints. you only destroy yourself by justifying yourself and impatiently complaining against God.

Foolish man ... silly one - imply at once the sin and folly of him who dreams he has merited nothing but good at Gods hands, and is impatient at affliction being sent upon him.

Wrath ... envy - fretful and passionate complaints, such as Eliphaz charged Job with (Job 4:5). So Proverbs 14:30 - "Envy [is] the rottenness of the bones." For "envy," translate 'fretful passion killeth the foolish.' Not, the wrath of God killeth the foolish, and His envy, etc.

Verse 3

I have seen the foolish taking root: but suddenly I cursed his habitation.

The foolish - the wicked. I have seen the sinner spread his roots (Isaiah 27:6) wide in prosperity, yet circumstances suddenly occurred which gave occasion for his once prosperous dwelling being cursed as desolate. "I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not; yea, I sought him, but he could not be found" (Psalms 37:35-36; Jeremiah 17:8).

Verse 4

His children are far from safety, and they are crushed in the gate, neither is there any to deliver them.

His children ... crushed in the gate - a judicial formula. The gate was the place of judgment and of other public proceedings (Job 31:21; Psalms 127:5; Proverbs 22:22; Genesis 23:10; Deuteronomy 21:19). Such propyloea have been found in the Assyrian remains. Eliphaz obliquely alludes to the calamity which cut off Job's children.

Verse 5

Whose harvest the hungry eateth up, and taketh it even out of the thorns, and the robber swalloweth up their substance.

Even out of the thorns - even when part of the grain remains hanging on the thorn bushes (or, is growing among thorns, Matthew 13:7), the hungry gleaner does not grudge the trouble of taking even it away, so clean swept away is the harvest of the wicked. Maurer explains, not even the hedge of thorns prevents the hungry gleaner carrying the sinner's harvest away from his fields. It gives, additional point to understand by "the hungry" those whom the sinner had oppressed, "taking away the sheaf from the hungry" (Job 24:10).

The robber, [ tsamiym (H6782)] - as the Sabeans who robbed Job. Rather translate, the thirsty, as the antithesis in the parallelism, the hungry, proves. Maurer translates 'The snare (i:e., sudden ruin) gapes for their substance.' This is favoured by Job 18:9-10; but the English version translates the Hebrew there also "robber."

Verse 6

Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground;

Although - rather, For truly (Umbreit).

Affliction cometh not forth of the dust - like a weed, of its own accord. Eliphaz hints that the cause of it lay with Job himself. The cause of afflictions is not to be sought for extrinsically, but in man himself.

Verse 7

Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.

Yet - rather, Truly, or, But. Affliction does not come from chance, but is the appointment of God for sin - i:e., the original birth-sin of man. Eliphaz passes from the particular sin, and consequent suffering of Job, to the universal sin, and suffering of mankind. Troubles spring from man's common sin by as necessary a law of natural consequence as sparks-Hebrew, sons of flame, or burning coal (Song of Solomon 8:6) - fly upward. Troubles are many and fiery as sparks (1 Peter 4:12; Isaiah 43:2). Umbreit for sparks has birds of prey-literally, sons of lightning, so called from their lightning speed. So Maurer, Gesenius, Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate-`As the sons of lightning fly high' (Job 39:27). Not by mere external causes, but by his own nature, man is born to sin, and by sin to misery, as the birds of prey fly upward.

Verse 8

I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause:

I would seek unto God. Therefore (as affliction is ordered by God on account of sin) if I were in your place. (Isaiah 8:19; Isaiah 9:13; Amos 5:8; 1 Chronicles 22:19).

Verse 9

Which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvellous things without number:

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verses 10-11

Who giveth rain upon the earth, and sendeth waters upon the fields:

God's great power displayed in nature, and in His dealings with men, is a ground for hope to Job (Job 5:16), if he will humbly seek Him (Job 5:8; cf. Job 9:10; Job 36:26, connected with Job 5:9). His unsearchable dealings are with a view to raise the humble, and abase the proud (Luke 1:53). Therefore, Job ought to turn humbly to Him.

Verse 12

He disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise. Enterprise - literally, realization. The Hebrew [ tuwshiyaah (H8454)] combines in the one word the two ideas, wisdom and happiness, enduring existence [ yeesh (H3426)] being the etymological and philosophical root of the combined motion (Umbreit). Maurer translates 'counsel' - i:e., their well-formed plan-from a root [yashah] to establish.

Verse 13

He taketh the wise in their own craftiness: and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong.

He taketh - Paul (1 Corinthians 3:19) quoted this clause with the formula establishing its inspiration, It is written. He cites the exact Hebrew words, not as he usually does the Septuagint, Greek version. "In the net which they hid is their own foot taken (cf. Psalms 9:15). Haman was hanged on the gallows he prepared for Mordecai (Esther 5:14; Esther 7:10).

The wise - the cunning.

Is carried headlong - their scheme is precipitated before it is ripe.

Verse 14

They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope in the noonday as in the night.

They meet. Judicial blindness often is sent upon keen men of the world (Deuteronomy 28:29). "Thou shalt grope at noon-day, as the blind gropeth in darkness" (Isaiah 59:10). "For judgement I am come into this world, that they which see might be made blind" (John 9:39).

Verse 15

But he saveth the poor from the sword, from their mouth, and from the hand of the mighty.

From the sword which proceedeth from their mouth - (Psalms 59:7). "Swords are in their lips" (Psalms 57:4) - i:e., from the mouth of the mighty oppressors.

Verse 16

So the poor hath hope, and iniquity stoppeth her mouth.

The poor hath hope - of the interposition of God.

Iniquity stoppeth her mouth - (Psalms 107:42, which seems a quotation and inspired confirmation of the book of Job; Micah 7:9-10; Isaiah 52:15). Especially at the last day, through shame (Jude 1:15; Matthew 22:12). The mouth was the offender (Job 5:15), and the mouth shall then be stopped - (Isaiah 25:8, at the end - "The rebuke of his people shall He take away from off all the earth").

Verse 17

Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty:

Happy. Not that the actual suffering is joyous; but the consideration of the righteousness of Him who sends it, and the end for which it is sent, make it a cause for thankfulness, not for complaints, such as Job had uttered. "No chastening for the present seemeth joyous but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them which are exercised thereby" (Hebrews 12:11). Eliphaz implies that the end in this case is to call back Job from the particular sin of which he takes for granted that Job is guilty. Paul seems to allude to this passage in Hebrews 12:5; so James 1:12; Proverbs 3:12. Eliphaz does not give due prominence to this truth, but rather to Job's sin. It is Elihu alone (32-37) who fully dwells upon the truth that affliction is mercy and justice in disguise for the good of the sufferer.

Despise not - do not refuse to accept it, as heretofore, as though you did not deserve it.

Verse 18

For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole.

For - assigning a motive to induce Job to accept chastisement patiently-namely, God, who chastises us, can and will remove the stroke upon our penitent submission to Him.

He maketh sore, and bindeth up - (Deuteronomy 32:39 - "I wound and I heal;" Hosea 6:1; 1 Samuel 2:6). An image from binding up a wound. The healing art consisted much at that time in external applications.

Verse 19

He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee.

In six ... yea, in seven - (Proverbs 6:16; Amos 1:3). The Hebrew idiom fixes on a certain number (here six), in order to call attention as to a thing of importance; then increases the force by adding, with a yea, nay even, the next higher number; here seven, the sacred and perfect number. In all possible troubles; not merely in the precise number seven. How many soever may be thy troubles, the Lord will deliver thee out of them all (Psalms 34:6; Psalms 34:15; Psalms 34:17; Psalms 34:19).

Verse 20

In famine he shall redeem thee from death: and in war from the power of the sword.

Power - (Jeremiah 18:21 - "Famine ... force," literally, hands, "of the sword:" the two chief sources of public calamity.) [Hebrew, hands.]

Of the sword - (Ezekiel 35:5, margin). Hands are given to the sword personified as a living agent. 21. "Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them, secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongue" (Psalms 31:20); "Let us smite him with the tongue" (Jeremiah 18:18): so here "scourge of the tongue" (Psalms 72:9). There is a play of sounds in Hebrew shot (scourge), shod (destruction, or rather, "de vacation" - namely, such as comes from the agencies of nature; cf Job 5:22-23).

Verse 21

Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue: neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 22

At destruction and famine thou shalt laugh: neither shalt thou be afraid of the beasts of the earth.

Famine thou shalt laugh - not in spite of destruction and famine, which is true (Habakkuk 3:17-18), though not the truth meant by Eliphaz, but because those calamities shall not come upon thee. A different Hebrew word from that in Job 5:20; there, famine in general [ raa`aab (H7458)] - here, the languid state of those wanting proper nutriment [ kaapaan (H3720)] (Barnes).

Verse 23

For thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field: and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee.

In league with the stones of the field - they shall not hurt the fertility of thy soil (2 Kings 3:19; 2 Kings 3:25; Isaiah 5:2), nor the wild beasts thy fruits. Spoken in Arabia Deserta, where stones abounded. Arabia, derived from Arabah-a desert plain. The first clause of this verse answers to the first clause of Job 5:22; and the last of this verse to the last of that verse. The full realization of this is yet future. "They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble" (Isaiah 65:23; Isaiah 65:25; Isaiah 11:6-8); I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field-I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth" (Hosea 2:18).

Verse 24

And thou shalt know that thy tabernacle shall be in peace; and thou shalt visit thy habitation, and shalt not sin.

Know - as a matter of blessed experience. 'Thou shalt rest in the assurance that thine habitation is (not as the English version, shall be) the abode of peace; and (if) thou numberest thine herd, thine expectations prove not fallacious' (Umbreit). Sin does not agree with the context. The Hebrew word, to miss a mark, said of slingers or archers (Judges 20:16). The Hebrew for "habitation" primarily means the fold for cattle; and for, "visit," often to take an account of, 'to number." Whenever you survey your flock you will find none missing. 'Peace' is the common Eastern salutation; including inward and outward prosperity.

Verse 25

Thou shalt know also that thy seed shall be great, and thine offspring as the grass of the earth.

As the grass. "They of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth" (Psalms 72:16). Properly, herb-bearing seed (Genesis 1:11-12).

Verse 26

Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season.

In a full age - so full of days (42:17; Genesis 35:29). Not mere length of years, but ripeness for death: one's inward and outward full development not being prematurely cut short, is denoted. "As the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands" (Isaiah 65:22).

Thou shalt come - not literally, but expressing willingness to die. Eliphaz speaks from the Old Testament point of view, which made full years a reward of the righteous - "With long life will I satisfy him" (Psalms 91:16; Exodus 20:12), and premature death the lot of the wicked - "Bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days" (Psalms 55:23). The righteous are immortal until their work is done. To keep them longer would be to render them less fit to die. God takes them at their best - "The righteous is taken away from the evil to come" (Isaiah 57:1). The good are compared to wheat - "Gather the wheat into my barn" (Matthew 13:30).

Cometh in - literally, ascends. The grain is lifted up off the earth and carried home; so the good man 'Is raised into the heap of sheaves' (Umbreit).

In his season - in its right time, when the grain is fully ripe (cf. Psalms 1:3) - "He shall be like a tree planted by the waters, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season."

Verse 27

Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and know thou it for thy good.

Searched it ... for thy good - literally, for thyself. "The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein" (Psalms 111:2); "If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself" (Proverbs 9:12; Proverbs 2:4).


(1) The murmurer against God has no refuge in heaven or earth to flee to: none of the heavenly beings will espouse (1) The murmurer against God has no refuge in heaven or earth to flee to: none of the heavenly beings will espouse his cause, as though he were harshly and wrongfully dealt with.

(2) There is but one Advocate for us with the Father, whose only plea is His own, not our, righteousness (1 John 2:1-2). He pleads for those of us alone who, instead of justifying, condemn themselves as guilty before God, and rely solely on the propitiation for our sins offered on the cross by "Jesus Christ the righteous."

(3) The fretful complainer is his own executioner. Impatience and passion are as foolish as they are sinful.

(4) The ungodly may for a time flourish like a firmly rooted tree; but sudden destruction will come upon him when he least expects it (1 Thessalonians 5:3); assuredly in the eternal world, and often even in this life. God visits the sin of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.

(5) The cause of men's troubles is often to be locked for, not so much in external things, as in themselves. Men reap as they sow (Job 4:8). But we are not, like Eliphaz, to press this principle so far as to attribute each calamity to some special sinfulness in the sufferer. God, when He sends adversity, has often other objects in view besides retribution for particular sin. In the case of His people, as Job, one purpose of chastisement is to manifest character, in order that their blemishes, heretofore latent, may be opened out; then, stripped of all self-righteousness, and justifying God in all His dealings, they learn to rest solely on the mercy of God in Christ; and faith and patience have thus their perfect work.

(6) All things are ordered in time and eternity for the good of them that love God. If God wound them for a time, the hand that wounds will also make whole. Howsoever many may be the troubles of the godly man, the Lord will deliver him out of them all. He will either avert every temporal calamity, or else overrule it to His people's good. When a man's ways please the Lord, He maketh His enemies to be at peace with him. The believer has peace with the world (as much as lieth in him, Romans 12:18) - peace in his home-above all, peace in his conscience and with his God (Romans 5:1; John 14:27). And when the great change comes he is not cut off prematurely: he comes to his grave in a full age, in his due season; the grain is found full in the ear; the heavenly Husbandman waits not a moment longer. "But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately He putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come" (Mark 4:29).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 5". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/job-5.html. 1871-8.
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