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Job 19:1 Then Job answered and said,
Ver. 1. Then Job answered and said ] He replied as followeth to Bildad’s bitter and taunting invective. His miseries he here setteth forth graphically and tragically, granting to Bildad that he was dealt with no otherwise than if he were that wicked man described in the foregoing chapter, and yet denying himself to be any such one, by his lively hope of a joyful resurrection, such as would make a plentiful amends for all, Job 19:26-28 . For though Mercer make question of it yet I am out of doubt, saith Beza, that this is the true meaning of this place. And surely the whole Scripture doth not yield us a more notable or a more clear and manifest testimony, to confirm unto us the resurrection of our bodies, than this. This confession of his faith, saith Lavater, is the chief thing in this chapter, and therefore challengeth our best attention.
Job 19:2 How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words?
Ver. 2. How long will ye vex my soul? ] viz. With your furious and reproachful charges and criminations? Have I not misery enough already, but you must lay more load of scorn and contempt upon me; and so go on to trouble me by adding to my saddest sorrows, such as pierce to the very soul? Call you this comforting an afflicted friend? Hoccine est maestum consolari?
How long will ye break me in pieces with words? ] Words also have their weight, and if hard and harsh, Leniter volant, non leniter violant. Like mauls, they break the heart in pieces; like a rack, they torment it, Psalms 42:10 . As with a murdering weapon in my bones, mine enemies reproached me. You shall find some, saith Erasmus, that if death be threatened can despise it; but to be belied, reproached, slandered, they cannot brook, nor from revenge contain themselves. Job was a strong man both in faith and patience, yet put hard to it by the hard words given him by Bildad and the rest, who did rather hurt his ear, by the loudness of their voices, than helped his heart, by the force of their reproofs. God’s servants "must not strive, but be gentle," 2 Timothy 2:23-24 , "showing all meekness to all men," Tit 3:2 James 3:17 . Gentle showers comfort the earth, when dashing storms drown the seed. There is a twofold inconvenience followeth upon bitter and boisterous proceedings with a supposed offender. First, the party looketh not so much to his own failing as to their passion. Secondly, as he is unconvinced, so they are not esteemed; but though they have the right on their side, yet they lose the due regard of their cause and reverence of their persons.
Job 19:3 These ten times have ye reproached me: ye are not ashamed [that] ye make yourselves strange to me.
Ver. 3. These ten times have ye reproached me ] i.e. Oftentimes. Herein Job endured a great fight of affliction, as the apostle styleth it, Hebrews 10:32-33 ; a manifold fight, as the word there signifieth. Cato was two and thirty times accused publicly, and as oft cleared and absolved. Basil was counted and called a heretic, even by those who, as it appeared afterwards, were of the same judgment with him, and whom he honoured as brethren. Dogs in a chase bark sometimes at their best friends, &c.
Ye are not ashamed that ye make yourselves strange to me ] Or, Are you not ashamed that ye harden yourselves against me? or, that ye jeer and jest at my misery? or, that ye make merchandise of me, and take your penny worths out of me? Significat etiam emere, vel cauponari. Beza (agreeable to our translation) paraphraseth it thus, Ye take me up so short, as if ye dealt with a stranger and foreigner, and not with a friend. And so the word is taken, Genesis 42:7 .
Job 19:4 And be it indeed [that] I have erred, mine error remaineth with myself.
Ver. 4. And be it indeed that I have erred ] Of human frailty; for that there is any way of wickedness in me (as you would have it) I shall never yield. But nimis angusta res est, nuspiam errare. Involuntary failings I am not free from; who knoweth the errors of his life? Psalms 19:12 . What man is he that liveth and sinneth not? It is the sad privilege of mortality, saith one, Licere aliquando peccare, to have licence sometimes to sin (Euphorm.).
Mine error remaineth with myself ] q.d. It is little that you have done toward convincing me of any error in all this time, and talk, which until ye have done, I must still remain of the same mind. Or thus, You shall neither answer nor suffer for mine error; what need, then, all this heat and harshness? Not that every man must be left to himself, and let alone to live as he wishes. Admonition is a Christian duty, and the word of exhortation must be suffered, sharp though it be, and to the flesh irksome; better it is that the vine should bleed than die. Had Job been guilty, he would or should have been, as Vespasian is reported, patientissimus veri, patient of a reproof. But his friends falsely accused him for a hypocrite, and fell foul upon another man’s servant, whom they had nothing to do to condemn, Romans 14:10 . And hence this expression of his discontent.
Job 19:5 If indeed ye will magnify [yourselves] against me, and plead against me my reproach:
Ver. 5. If indeed ye will magnify yourselves against me ] Or, Will you indeed magnify yourselves against me? sc. because of mine error, as Job 19:4 , which yet ye have not convinced me of? Will ye insult me, therefore, and throw dirt upon me? Of Bonassus, a certain beast as big as an ox, Aristotle reporteth, that having horns bending inward and unfit for fight, after that he is wounded by the hunters, he fleeth for his life, and often letteth fly his dung for four yards or more, upon the dogs or men that pursue him, to their great annoyance (Hist Animal., lib. ix. cap. 4, 5). In like sort deal many disputers of this world; when they cannot make good their matter by strength of argument, they cast upon their adversaries the dung of calumnies, so seeking to magnify themselves against him, and pleading against him his reproach.
And plead against me my reproach ] Affliction exposeth a man to reproach. Where the hedge is low the beast will be breaking over. See Zephaniah 3:12 . See Trapp on " Zep 3:12 "
Job 19:6 Know now that God hath overthrown me, and hath compassed me with his net.
Ver. 6. Know that God hath overthrown me ] Do not you therefore add affliction to the afflicted, which is so odious a thing to God, Psalms 41:2 ; Psalms 69:26 ; but regard the greatness of mine evils, which draw these complaints from me that seem so immoderate to you. See Job 6:2 (Diodati).
And hath compassed me with his net ] Hath encompassed me round with affliction, that I can get out no way. A hunting term, Job 10:16 Lam 1:13 Eze 12:13 Hosea 7:12 . Bildad had made much mention of nets and gins, wherein God ensnareth and ensnarleth the wicked, Job 18:8-9 . Job granteth that God’s net had encompassed him; but withal denieth himself to be wicked, or that his friends should therefore reproach him, but rather pity him.
Job 19:7 Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard: I cry aloud, but [there is] no judgment.
Ver. 7. Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard ] Nothing is more natural and usual than for men in misery to cry out for help. Job’s great grief was, that neither God nor man would regard his moans or deliver him out of the net. God did not rescue him, men did not right him or relieve him. His outcry seemeth to be the same in effect with that of Habakkuk the prophet, Habakkuk 1:2-3 , "O Lord, how long shall I cry and thou wilt not hear? even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save? Why dost thou show me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are those who raise up strife and contention." "Wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously," &c., Job 19:13 . Thus Job, but without an answer; as the lion letteth his whelps roar themselves hoarse for hunger, yea, till they are almost dead, before he supplieth them. Sure it is, that God always heareth his Jobs, though he doth not always answer in our time, and in our way. Yea, it is a hearing and an answer of prayer (saith one) that we can pray, though unheard and unanswered.
I cry aloud ] Heb. I set up my note, cam gemitu et ululatu, with groaning and howling. Men never pray so earnestly as in greatest afflictions, Heb 5:7 Hosea 12:4 ; then their prayers, like strong streams in narrow straits, bear down all that stands before them.
Job 19:8 He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and he hath set darkness in my paths.
Ver. 8. He hath fenced up my way, &c. ] Here Job, carried away, as it were, with a torrent of grief, amplifieth his miseries by many other comparisons. And first of a traveller, whom nothing so much troubleth in his journey as hedges and darkness. God, saith Job, hath every way hedged me out of content and comfort, so that, though I seek it never so, I cannot find it. God’s people are oft brought into greatest straits, as David, Psa 31:1-24 and Psalms 142:1-7 , Israel at the Red Sea, Jehoshaphat, 2 Chronicles 20:1-29 , that they may learn to depend upon the Divine providence, &c.
And he hath set darkness in my paths ] I am benighted, and know not whither to go or how to get out. Darkness is full of error and terror. A child of light may walk in darkness, Isaiah 50:10 ; yea, in the valley of the shadow of death, Psalms 23:4 ; yet he is never without some spark of faith, which guideth him in the deepest darkness, until he behold the Sun of righteousness. Light is sown for the righteous, &c.; heaviness may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning, Psalms 30:5 . And as before the day breaks the darkness is greatest; so here.
Job 19:9 He hath stripped me of my glory, and taken the crown [from] my head.
Ver. 9. He hath stripped me of my glory ] This is the second comparison, ab externo corporis cultu et habitu, saith Merlin; from the outward habiliments and habits of the body, Genesis 37:23 . Our King Richard II, when he was to be deposed, was brought forth gorgeously attired in his royal robes, with a crown upon his head, a sceptre in his hand, &c., but soon after despoiled of all, and unkinged. So it fared with poor Job, stripped and bereft of all that he formerly gloried in, and was respected for, as a man robbed hath all his clothes taken off, and is left naked. In him it appeared that mortality was but the stage of mutability, as one saith of our Henry VI, who of a most potent monarch was, when deposed, not the master of a molehill, nor owner of his own liberty (Daniel’s Hist.).
And hath taken the crown from off my head ] Hence some infer that Job was a king, the same with Jobab, king of Edom, mentioned Genesis 36:34 . But this is uncertain, since crown is often in Scripture taken allegorically, for riches, authority, dignity, and other ornaments. These were taken from Job, yea, from off his head. See Lamentations 5:16 . But he had a better crown, quae nec eripi nec surripi potuit, which could not be taken away; viz. that crown of twelve stars, or celestial graces, Revelation 12:1 , together with that crown of glory (the fruit of the former) that is "incorruptible and fadeth not away," 1 Peter 1:4 . Happy Job in such a crown; and that he was in the number of those few heads destined to such a diadem. David had (whatever Job had) a crown of pure gold set upon his head, Psal. xxi. 1; this was a great mercy to so mean a man, since beyond a crown the wishes of mortal man extend not. But David blesseth God for a better crown, Psalms 103:4 , "Who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies." And how was this set on his head? "Who forgiveth all thy iniquities," &c., Psalms 103:3 . Neither can any take away this crown, because we are kept (Greek, φρουρουμενοι , guarded or garrisoned as in a tower of brass, or town of war, that is well fenced with walls and works, and so it is made impregnable) by the power of God through faith unto salvation, 1 Peter 1:5 .
Job 19:10 He hath destroyed me on every side, and I am gone: and mine hope hath he removed like a tree.
Ver. 10. He hath destroyed me on every side ] Heb. He hath demolished me, he hath pulled me down piece meal, as an old house is taken down part by part. See Lev 14:45 Judges 8:17 . God had made and fashioned Job’s body together round about, Job 10:8 , and now he destroyeth it round about. The body of a man is a wonderful fabric, wherein the bones are the timber work, the head the upper lodging, the eyes as windows, the eyelids as casements, the brows as pent houses, the ears as watch towers, the mouth as a door to take in that which shall uphold the building, and keep it in repair; the stomach as a kitchen to dress that which is conveyed into it; the guts and baser parts as sinks belonging to the house, &c. All these were decaying apace in Job as he thought.
And I am gone ] That is, I am as good as gone already; every day I yield somewhat unto death, I am free among the dead, free of that company.
And my hope hath he removed like a tree ] He hath not left me so much as hope (which is the last comfort of the afflicted) of ever recovering here my health, wealth, and former enjoyments; but hath left me as a tree that is plucked up by the roots, and so can never grow again. A saint may be at that pass here in regard to his outward estate, that there may be to him neither hope for the better nor place for worse (Melch. Adam). This was Cranmer’s case.
Job 19:11 He hath also kindled his wrath against me, and he counteth me unto him as [one of] his enemies.
Ver. 11. He hath also kindled his wrath against me ] Now if his wrath was kindled, yea, but a little, woe be to all those against whom it is bent. He will surely heap mischiefs upon them, he will spend his arrows upon them, Deu 32:22-23 Psalms 2:12 . Job felt them striking in the sides of his soul, even the envenomed arrows of the Almighty; and yet this was only a refiner’s fire, Malachi 3:2 , or, if a consuming fire, as Hebrews 12:29 , yet it was to waste his corruptions only, to sever the sin which he hated from the Son whom he loved; to try and exercise his patience, &c., all which notwithstanding, he complaineth heavily about these spunks and sparks of divine displeasure.
And counteth me unto him as one of his enemies ] Heb. As his enemies; not as a single enemy, but a rabble of rebels, an army of enemies, such as shall one day meet at Armageddon, their rendezvous. See Job 13:24 .
Job 19:12 His troops come together, and raise up their way against me, and encamp round about my tabernacle.
Ver. 12. His troops come together ] i.e. Troops of tribulations and temptations, of pirates and robbers, σπειρατηρια (as the Seventy have it). Sickness and other sorrows are God’s soldiers, Matthew 8:8-9 , and they seldom come single, James 1:2 , but trooping and treading on the heels of one another, Concateuata piorum crux; a company comes.
And raise up their way against me ] As soldiers besieging a place cast up their trenches and fortifications. Vatablus rendereth it, And have beaten their way upon me; that is, saith he, tribulations have so often passed over me, that they have made a pathway upon me, more transeuntium, as passengers use to do.
And encamp round about my tabernacle ] Afflictions hem me in on every side; the troops of troubles besiege me so straitly, that I can no way in all the world find relief or comfort; which, now as by a strong hand, yea, as by a strong host, are withheld from my soul; and so are like to be for a long season, as sieges are many times. Heman was afflicted and ready to die from his youth up, suffering those terrors, Psalms 88:15 . Job was a man of sorrows.
Job 19:13 He hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me.
Ver. 13. He hath put my brethren far from me ] In their affections at least. Some stuck to him, but for a mischief, for they proved miserable comforters, as did likewise Peter to our Saviour, who fled not with the rest of the disciples, but better he had for any good he did him. "A brother is born for adversity," saith Solomon, Proverbs 17:17 ; and although at other times there may be some unkindness, fratrum concordia rara est, Harmonious amoung brothers is rare. yet in affliction and extremity good nature will work, and good blood will not belie itself. But Job’s brethren proved unkind, and grew out of kind; they got farthest from him when his enemies had besieged him. And all this befell him, not without the Lord. He hath put my brethren far from me; this was no small aggravation of the affliction, that God withdrew or withheld that assistance and influence that should have enlarged and united the hearts of his brethren unto him. See Psalms 105:25 .
And mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me ] Those that formerly knew me thoroughly, and were as well known of me, mine intimate friends, who knew all my heart, are now truly as strange to me, as if there had never been any such matter of acquaintance, Noti mei (Vulgate). Necessarii mei (Tigur.). R. Solomon readeth it, They are cruel to me, Quasi esset scriptum aczaru. "All the brethren of the poor man hate him," saith Solomon, Proverbs 19:7 , "how much more do his friends go far from him?" He pursueth them with words; yet they are lacking to him. This the heathen (as Ovid and others) heavily complain of. Aφιλον το δυστυχες (Thue.). Et cum fortuna statque caditque fides (Ovid.). Tempera si fuerint nubila, solus eris (Ibid.). In the river Araris there is reported to be a fish called Scolopidus, which at the waxing of the moon is as white as the driven snow, and at the waning thereof is as black as a burnt coal. A fit emblem of a false friend. "Wealth maketh many friends but the poor is separated from his neighbour," Proverbs 19:4 , who therefore turneth from him as a stranger, if not against him as an enemy.
Job 19:14 My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me.
Ver. 14. My kinsfolk have failed ] scil. In courtesy, as Ruth’s kinsman did. Job had many kinsfolk, but few friends; and this was a great grief to him, as it was afterwards also to David, Psalms 31:11 ; Psalms 38:11 ; Psalms 69:8 ; to Heman, Psalms 88:8 ; and to Paul, 2 Timothy 4:16 .
And my familiar friends ] They whom I favoured, saith Broughton, according to Psalms 11:7 .
Have forgotten me ] Out of sight out of mind. A thing forgotten is as if it had never been. All Job’s courtesies were cast away upon these summer birds, who had well nigh forgotten there was ever such a man in the world as Job.
Job 19:15 They that dwell in mine house, and my maids, count me for a stranger: I am an alien in their sight.
Ver. 15. They that dwell in mine house, and my maids, &c. ] My tenants, or my guests, or my sojourners, those widows and orphans haply, whom he kept at his own charge, Job 31:32 . More than this, my maidens, those housekeepers, intrusted with the keys of the family, and that are no drudges to wash the feet of other servants, as 1 Samuel 25:41 . And for his servants of the other sex, he was as coarsely used by them too.
Job 19:16 I called my servant, and he gave [me] no answer; I intreated him with my mouth.
Ver. 16. I called my servant, and he gave me no answer ] Though I lay under greatest sores and sorrows, and called them to help me, yet such was their impudence and inhumanity, that they would not vouchsafe an answer. Considera hic quanta crux sit, saith Brentius, a sua propria familia despici et rideri; Consider with me, here, what an affliction it is for a man to be despised and derided by his own family. A servant’s eye should look to the hands of his master, and the eye of a maiden to the hand of her mistress, to observe the motion thereof, and to pick out the meaning, Psalms 123:2 . Accounting their governors worthy of all honour, 1 Timothy 6:1 , as the centurion’s obsequious servants did, Matthew 8:9 . Sed sic fere sunt servorum ingenia, But so wild are the servants of nature, saith Merlin here. But such is the condition of many servants today, that they will do no more than needs must. Job’s would neither say nor do.
I intreated him with my mouth ] As a suppliant to my servant, who lived upon me, but would do nothing for me, though I humbly besought him. Here we may see, saith Vatablus, that when God is angry with a man all doeth cross with him; it is good for us in this case to reflect and see whether we have not served God in this sort. Alphonsus, that renowned king, in a speech to the pope’s ambassador, professed that he did not so much wonder at his servants’ unthankfulness and undutifulness to him as at his own to God.
Job 19:17 My breath is strange to my wife, though I intreated for the children’s [sake] of mine own body.
Ver. 17. My breath is strange to my wife ] The corruption of his inwards (besides the noisomeness of his outward ulcers) made his breath strong and unwholesome. This his wife (as did that Roman lady, who said she thought all men’s breath as unsavoury as her husband’s was), should have borne with, in a time of sickness especially, when she should have shown herself a help, and not a heartbreak, to her husband. Famous in our chronicles is the Lady Eleanor, wife to Prince Edward (afterwards Edward I), who extracted the poison out of her husband’s wounds with her tongue, licking daily, while he slept, his rankling wounds, whereby they perfectly closed (Cambd. in Middlesex, Speed. 630). And no less famous is the wife of Valdaurus, celebrated by Ludov. Vires, lib. 2, de Christiana Femina, p. 360. A young and beautiful maid, saith he, was matched to a man stricken in years, whom after she found to have a very fulsome breath and a diseased body, yet (out of conscience, being by God’s providence become his wife) she most worthily digested, with incredible patience and contentment, the languishing and loathsomeness of a husband, continually visited with variety of most irksome and infectious diseases; and though friends and physicians advised her by no means to come near him, for fear of danger and infection, yet she, passing by with a loving disdain and contempt these unkind dissuasions, plied him night and day with extraordinary tenderness and care, and services of all sorts above her strength and ability; she was to him friends, physician, wife, nurse; yea, she was father, mother, brother, sister, daughter, everything, anything to do him good in any manner or way, &c.
Though I intreated for the children’s sake, &c.] i.e. By the holy right of wedlock, and the fruit thereof, those dear pledges of our matrimonial good affection; children, as they are dear to their parents (Charos, Plautus somewhere calleth them), so they are an endearing to their parents, whose seed they are called, as if there were nothing left to the parents but the husks. This therefore was a melting argument; but it moved not Job’s wife. Men may speak persuasively, but God only persuadeth.
Job 19:18 Yea, young children despised me; I arose, and they spake against me.
Ver. 18. Yea, young children despised me ] Fools, saith the Vulgate, who are never more pleasant than when they play the buffoons at my expense. Ungodly men, some render it, as Job 16:11 . Others, the baser sort of people. And surely none so base as they that deride virtue, especially because forsaken of fortune, as one phraseth it. What a bitter jeer was that of Tobiah, the servant, or slave, the Ammonite! Nehemiah 4:3 . The basest can mock, as the abjects did David, Psalms 44:15-16 , and the alestakes also, Psalms 69:12 . But it is a happiness to do well, and yet hear ill. All God’s people must be ready to pass through good report and evil report, 2 Corinthians 6:8 . And every Job must reckon, that as the reproacher is homine peior, a more worse man, not so much as a man (saith Chrysostom); so the reproached, that bears it well, is Angelis par, equal to the angels.
I arose, and they spake against me ] I arose, sc. to rebuke them, or to pacify them, or to pass away from them, and my back is no sooner turned, but they reviled me. Some render it, Sto coram illis, I stand before them; that is, they stay not till I am gone past, but reproach me to my face, such is their boldness and baseness. See Isaiah 3:5 .
Job 19:19 All my inward friends abhorred me: and they whom I loved are turned against me.
Ver. 19. All my inward friends abhorred me ] Heb. All the mortals of my counsel, q.d. My most intimate acquaintance and associates, my highest confidants, to whom I was wont to open my bosom, and with whom I maintained closest correspondence; lo, these now abhor me, and keep aloof off from me; yea, they apostatize from their professed friendship; and renouncing the laws of love, they deal despitefully with me, and are turned against me. Such a one was Ahithophel to David, Psalms 55:14-15 , Judas to Christ, Matthew 26:23 , and Bildad to Job (as some conceive that he conceited by the latter clause of this verse).
And they whom I loved, &c. ] Heb. And this man whom I loved, this bitter Bildad, that in his last speech hath so grievously galled me, who have hitherto so highly prized him. What? thou, my son Bildad? Kαι συ τεκνον Bσουτε ; This went to the very heart of him, as afterwards it did of David, when for his love they were his adversaries, when they rewarded him evil for good, and hatred for his good will, Psalms 109:4-5 . Precious therefore and worthy of all acceptation is that advice of the prophet Micah, Micah 7:5-7 , "Trust not in a friend, put not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom," Eυμεταβλητον ζωον ο φιλος . "For the son dishonoureth the father … a man’s enemies are the men of his own house. Look therefore unto the Lord," &c. All that trust in him shall triumph; but for others we may be compelled to complain, with Queen Elizabeth, In trust I have found treason, &c.
Job 19:20 My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.
Ver. 20. My bone cleaveth to my skin ] My skin is a bag of bones. I am become a mere skeleton, and may well cry out, O my leanness, my leanness! So bare I am grown, that little appeareth in me but skin and bones, Isaiah 24:16 . My bone cleaveth to my skin as to my flesh (so it may be read), that is, as once it did in my flesh, when I was well lined within. Now, alas! I lie under a miserable marasmus; and should therefore be pitied, as being a just object of your commiseration, Ossa sub incurvis apparent arida lumbis.
And I am escaped with the skin of my teeth ] Escaped I am, and come off (as out of a hot skirmish) with my life, and very little else. All I have left me whole is the skin of my teeth; that is, of my gums, into which my teeth are engrafted; the rest of my body is all over a scab. The Vulgate rendereth it, My lips only about my teeth are left me untouched. And Junius gives this gloss, Job had nothing left him but the instrument of speech. These, say some, the devil purposely meddled not with, as hoping that therewith he would curse God. Curse him he might with his heart only; but this would have pleased the devil nothing so well as to hear him do it with his tongue, Hoc fecisse Satanam volunt, ut voluntatem caperet (Merc.). This is the conceit of some of the Jewish doctors. But it is better to ascribe this escape to the good providence of God than to the malice of the devil.
Job 19:21 Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me.
Ver. 21. Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, &c. ] To him that is afflicted pity should be showed from his friends; and to do otherwise is to forsake the fear of the Almighty, Job 6:14 ; See Trapp on " Job 6:14 " There was little either fear of God or mercy to men in that barbarous bishop of Spire, who denied to Henry IV, emperor of Germany (deposed after ten years’ reign, and hardly bestead), a poor clerkship there in a monastery of his own foundation; which caused the miserable emperor to break out into these words of Job, "Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me." The Papists tell us that the souls in purgatory cry out to their friends on earth for help on this manner, and in these terms. But this is as much a fiction as purgatory itself is the pope’s invention; who must needs be extremely pitiless to suffer so many souls to lie in such great torments, when he hath power to fetch them out at his pleasure.
Job 19:22 Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh?
Ver. 22. Why do ye persecute me as God? ] Is this that pitying of me thus to press me with reproaches, and therein to think you gratify God, and do him good service? Know ye not, that to persecute him whom he hath smitten is greatest cruelty? and to talk to the grief of those whom he hath wounded is to heap up guilt, and thereby wrath? Psalms 69:26-27 . When a deer is shot the rest of the herd push him out of the company. When a tree falleth every passenger is ready to be pulling at it, Dρυος πεσουσης ανηρ πας ξυλευεται . But God’s people should love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous, 1 Peter 3:8 ; and of some have compassion, making a difference, and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, Judges 1:22-23 . Thus it should be; but as of old, in Egypt, one Hebrew smote another; blows enough were not dealt by the common adversary, but their own must add to the violence. Still Satan is thus busy, and Christians are thus malicious; that, as if they wanted persecutors, they persecute one another; and if (as here) they can but do as God, that is, for God, as they mispersuade themselves (to vindicate his justice, and to promote his glory), then they rage and are confident, as these friends of Job; in whom nevertheless it was rather error amoris than amor erroris, an error of love than any love of error.
And are not satisfied with my flesh? ] Which is pined away with pain and grief; this contents you not, but you must break my bones also, and suck my blood by your contumelies and calumnies. Brentius and others apply this text to slanderers and backbiters, whom they compare to cannibals, Est detractoris periphrasis (Mercer). Non minus enim calumniatores homines devorant quam Scythae (Brent. in loc.). It is reported of wolves, that when they have once fed upon man’s flesh they desist not, but desire more of it. Job looketh upon his friends as such man eaters, wherein his sorrow transported him too far; and while he was moving them to compassion he shows himself overly passionate.
Job 19:23 Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!
Ver. 23. Oh that my words were now written! ] This reiterated wish Job setteth as a preamble to that ensuing memorable testimony of the resurrection, as a matter most weighty and worthy the consideration of all ages; which therefore he wisheth recorded in some public instrument to all eternity; and God said Amen to it. For not only this precious passage, but the whole Book of Job, so full of divine instruction preparatory to the last day, was committed to writing (either by Moses, or some other prophet of that age, or else by Job himself after his restoration), and put among the canonical books of Scripture; concerning which David saith, "For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven," Psalms 119:89 . And Christ, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but not one jot or tittle," &c., Matthew 5:18 . Not one hair of that sacred head can fall to the earth. Thus God hath answered Job, ad cardinem desiderii, as a Father speaketh, letting it be to him even as he would (Aug. Confess. 1. 5, c. 8).
Oh that they were printed ] Or drawn out, that is, written (saith one) in great and capital letters, that every man might read them, Habakkuk 2:2 , for there was no printing in those days that we know of. The Chinese indeed tell us that they had the art of printing long before. But in Europe it was not heard of till the year 1440. It begun to be practised at Haarlem, in the Low Countries (by Lawrence Jans, say some, by John Guttenberg, say others), and was perfected at Mentz, where Cicero’s Offices, the first book that ever was printed, is still kept for a monument.
In a book! ] That it might be preserved and laid up for the use of posterity, in some Kiriahsepher, or city of books. Let them that are able, be apt and active in setting forth books for the benefit of others, since Paulum sepultae distat inertiae celata virtus - (Horat.), he that buried his talents gave a heavy account to the master, and was therefore called evil, because an idle servant, Mat 25:26
Job 19:24 That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!
Ver. 24. That they were graven with an iron pen, &c. ] That my words were not only scripta sed sculpta, written, but graven in a rock, as the laws of various nations were cut in brass or marble; and as monuments and epitaphs are graven on tombs for remembrance of those that are dead.
And lead ] Plumbo per sulcos infuso, saith Junius, the cuts of the letters in marble being filled with lead, that they might be the more legible and durable.
In the rock ] In marble cut out of the rock. Golden words they are indeed that here follow, and well worthy to be written in letters of gold. In the Life of Zisca (that warlike Bohemian) it is recorded, that in the famous monastery called the king’s court, a mile from Prague, in the walls thereof the whole Bible was most exquisitely engraven in letters of gold (Clarke’s Lives).
For ever! ] To last longer than the world lasteth. Those bloody tyrants of the primitive times made account they had made sure work in rooting out true religion, when they sounded the triumph beforehand, and engraved the victory upon pillars of marble in these bubbles of words: Nomine Christianorum deleto qui Remp. evertebant, &c. The name of the Christians I have erased who … But Christ shall reign, and the Church shall stand upon his right hand as a queen in gold of Ophir, Psalms 45:9 , when all earthly greatness shall lie in the dust. "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever," Psalms 45:6 ; and there shall be a new sucession of saints to all perpetuity. Psalms 72:17 , "His name shall endure for ever; his name shall be continued (Heb. childed) as long as the sun," as long as the world, as long as the word of our God, which, according to Job’s wish here, shall stand for ever, Isaiah 40:8 . But what meaneth the Vulgate translation here by this insignificant word Celte? Celte vox est nihili (Merc.). And why should Hugo seek to solve the matter, by telling us that celtis is a tool wherewith letters or pictures are cut in the flint? Whereupon, Vide, quaeso, mi Lector, saith Brentius, See, I pray thee, good reader, how oddly they interpret Scripture that lack learning; for neither is celte such a tool, nor can it be celte for certe, since the Hebrew word lagnad doth not signify surely, but for ever.
Job 19:25 For I know [that] my redeemer liveth, and [that] he shall stand at the latter [day] upon the earth:
Ver. 25. For I know that my Redeemer liveth ] Clarissima fidei confessio, saith Brentius, A most famous confession of his faith. Brevis et longa, totaque aurea, est haec apologia, saith another, This is Job’s short and yet long apology, but golden all over, and such as hath fulness of matter in fewness of words. Calvin and Mercer ( viri alioqui iudiciosissimi ) are mistaken here, when, following the Rabbis, they interpret this text as a temporal restoration of Job to such an estate of honour and riches as he had enjoyed in the former part of his life; this they call Job’s resurrection and redemption, &c. But his thoughts soared higher than so. "I know," saith he; it is as if he should say, You take yourselves to be the only knowing men, and as for me, Bildad hath set me among such as know not God, Job 18:21 . But hereby I know that I know him, 1 John 2:3 , because I know him whom he hath sent, Jesus Christ, John 17:3 , not only as a redeemer, but as "my redeemer," by a particular application of him to myself, which is the very pith and form of faith. This great mystery of godliness I know, whatever else I am ignorant of; and I know it savingly, because I am secure in my interest in Christ, my kinsman and redeemer; and, therefore, I am no hypocrite or wicked man, as you would make me. Were it not for this word of possession (mine), the worst man alive, nay, the devil, might say as Job here doth; yea, repeat all the Articles of the Creed to as good purpose as he; but that which tormenteth the devil is, he can say "my" to never a one of them. I know, said Job, when condemned for a hypocrite, that Christ is my redeemer, and that this my redeemer liveth for ever, and is for ever mine. So Dr Taylor, martyr, when condemned for a heretic, subscribed his last will and testament in these words, Rowland Taylor, departing hence in a sure hope, without all doubting of a glorious resurrection, I thank God, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, my certain Saviour (Acts and Mon.).
And that he shall stand ] As keeping the field when all his foes shall be his footstool, Psalms 110:1 . So he standeth, Revelation 10:2 , setting his right foot upon the sea and his left foot upon the earth (opposing all heretics and antichrists that there hence arise), as Lord paramount of both.
At the latter day ] Or last of all. Theodosius rendereth it, Novissime. A general judgment of quick and dead at the last day, was in Job’s time, and afterwards by Zoroaster, and other heathens (as Lucretius, Theopompus, Plato, Cicero, Ovid, &c.), believed and foretold. But, in process of time, this true and pure doctrine was darkened among them; and when once it was extinct, superstitions and other vain fopperies overgrew the greatest part of the world. The ancient tradition was that the latter age of the world should be so filthy all over, that, as it could not be washed with water, as once, so it should be wasted with fire, 2 Peter 3:10 .
Upon the earth ] Or, Over the earth; to wit, in the air. For there it is probable Christ will sit in the clouds of the air near unto the earth, whither the elect shall be caught up to meet the Lord, and so shall they ever be with the Lord, 1 Thessalonians 4:17 . There the devils shall be subdued and sentenced, where they have ruled and played Rex, Ephesians 2:2 ; see Matthew 24:30 . Some read it, And this (pointing to his body) shall stand up at the last day upon the earth.
Job 19:26 And [though] after my skin [worms] destroy this [body], yet in my flesh shall I see God:
Ver 26. And though after my skin worms destroy this body ] Here he pointeth again, as doth likewise David, when in Psalms 34:6 , he saith, "This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him," &c. So the ancient believers, when they came to that Article in the Creed, I believe the resurrection of the flesh, were wont to add, Etiam huius carnis, even of this flesh, pointing to some naked part of their body; or else alluding to that of the apostle, "This mortal must put on," &c.
Worms destroy this body ] Heb. They destroy this. He saith not this body, quod ob deformitatem summam, non liceret corpus dicere, saith Vatablus, So worn it was, and wasted with sores and sicknesses, that it could scarcely be called a body. And yet it was not at the worst either, for in the grave it should be worm eaten, and something more. Mihi experto credite, saith Austin, Believe me, who have tried it, open dead men’s sepulchrcs, and upon their heads ye shall find toads crawling, begotten of their brains; on their loins serpents, begotten of their reins; in their bellies worms, begotten of their bowels, &c. (Serm. 48, ad Frat. in Erem.).
Yet in my flesh ] Heb. Out of my flesh, as out of a casement.
I shall see God ] I shall see Christ, Christum in corpore (Austin’s wish), the human and glorified body of Christ, who is God blessed for ever, as also the mystical body of his Church perfectly united unto him, 1 John 3:2 . To this sense some render the text thus, I shall see God in my flesh, that is, I shall see Christ sitting in glory, clothed with flesh, or in the likeness of man. And here do but think with thyself, though it far pass the reach of any mortal thought, saith one, what an infinite inexplicable happiness it will be to look for ever upon the glorious body of Jesus Christ, shining with incomprehensible beauty, and to consider that even every vein of that blessed body bled to bring thee to heaven; and that it being with such excess of glory hypostatically united to the second person in Trinity, hath honoured and advanced thy nature, in that respect, far above the brightest cherub. The whole verse may be read thus, And after I shall awake, though this body shall be destroyed, yet out of my flesh shall I see God. And being thus read, it is a plainer and fuller confession of the resurrection, saith an interpreter. It is common in Scripture to compare death to sleep and resurrection to awaking, Dan 12:2 Psalms 17:15 . The bodies of the saints are laid in the grave, as in a bed of roses, to ripen and mellow against the resurrection, and they write upon their graves, as one did once, Resurgam, I shall surely rise again (Dr King). Moses’s body, hid in the valley of Moab, appeared afterwards glorious in Mount Tabor. This is matter of joy and triumph, as it was here to Job, and to those good souls who were to lose all, Daniel 12:2 , and those, Hebrews 11:35 , considering that God, by rotting, would refine their bodies, and in due time raise them conformably to Christ’s most glorious body, the standard. The forethought of this cheered up David’s good heart, Psalms 16:9 , and those in Isaiah, Isaiah 26:19 , and the good people in our Saviour’s time, John 11:24 . I know, saith Martha, concerning her brother Lazarus, that he shall rise again at the resurrection; at the consolation, saith the Syriac interpreter (Benuchama). Resurrection and consolation then were terms equivalent. Hence that great apostle, 2 Corinthians 4:16 : "For this cause we faint not," saith he. For what cause? Because we believe "that he which raised up the Lord Jesus, shall raise us up also by Jesus, and shall present us with you." And the same apostle maketh this doctrine of the resurrection the canon of consolation, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 , &c., to the end.
Job 19:27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; [though] my reins be consumed within me.
Ver. 27. Whom I shall see for myself ] He speaketh confidently, as one fully assured of a resurrection; which, if it should not be, how should there be a remuneration of the body? Say not, we cannot see how it is possible. See we not a yearly resurrection of grass, grain, herbs, flowers, fruits, every spring time? Know we not that men can of ashes make glasses? that a chemist can of several metals, mixed together, extract the one from the other, and reduce every metal to its own species or kind? Etiam animalculae quaedam typi Resurrectionis sunt, saith Lavater: Some little living creatures are types of the resurrection. He instanceth in dormancey, which sleep all winter, and revive in the spring; in silkworms, which, dying, leave nothing behind them but a certain excrement, which, being borne about in the bosoms of women, takes heat and reviveth. Wherefore, if nature do such things, shall it be held hard for the God of nature to raise the dead? The keeping green of Noah’s olive tree in the time of the flood; the blossoming of Aaron’s dry rod; the flesh and sinews coming to Ezekiel’s dry bones; what were these but living emblems of the resurrection?
And mine eyes shall behold, and not another ] Here he maintaineth the identity of his flesh and body in the resurrection; an identity, I say, not specific only, but numeric or individual. The self-same particular body which fell shall rise. This was denied of old by the Marcionists, Basilidians, and Valentinians (those semi-Sadducees, as Tertullian termeth them); and after them Eutychius, bishop of Constantinople, who, as Gregory saith, taught that men, rising again, should have airy bodies, and not fleshly, yea, more subtile than the air, abusing that place of the apostle, "It is sown a natural body; it is raised again a spiritual body," &c.: but his book was burnt as heretical. A spiritual body it is called, for its great strength and activity wherewith it shall be endowed, and whereby it is enabled to bear a weight of glory; as also, for that it shall have no need of food, sleep, or other natural helps, but we shall be as the angels of God, Matthew 22:30 , yet still the same men that now we are. Let no man say, with Nicodemus, How can this be? There is no difficulty to Omnipotence, Philippians 3:21 . Besides, there is a substance still preserved, even when the body is turned to dust, and this shall be raised, clarified, and reunited to the soul. He that made man at first of nothing, can easily remake him of something. And what though his dust be scattered hither and thither, and mixed with that of others? The skilful gardener, having various sorts of seeds mixed together, can soon separate them; and shall not he, who hath the whole earth in his fist, discern the dust of his saints one from another? Little balls or pickles of quicksilver, being scattered on the ground, mix not themselves with any of another kind; but if any man gather them, they run together into one of their own accord; so it is here, saith Greg. Nyssen.
Though my reins be consumed within me ] Though, from my skin outward to my reins inward, all be wasted, yet all shall be raised and restored. The Vulgate rendereth these words thus, This hope is laid up in my bosom; and is by Burgensis expounded thus, This is the only thing that I do most earnestly wish and wait for; viz. to see Christ in the flesh at the last day: the reins are the seat of strong desires.
Job 19:28 But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?
Ver. 28. But ye should say, Why persecute we him? ] Nam olim dicitis cur eum persequebamur? (Tigur.) This ye shall one day surely say, "Then shall ye return and discern between the righteous and the wicked," &c., Malachi 3:18 . Then shall it repent you (it should do so now) that ye have rated and reviled me for a hypocrite; viz. when God hath cleared mine integrity (as he did, Job 42:10 ), or at the last day howsoever, what time there shall be a resurrection of names as well as of bodies. Would ye but say so now it would be some satisfaction. Quem poenitet peccasse poene est innocens. You have heard, by the confession I have made, I am no miscreant, no misbeliever; but that I do hold fast the faithful word.
The root of the matter is in me ] Or, tbe root of the word, the engrafted word of God, that is able to save my soul, hath taken deep root in me, James 1:21 . I hold the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience, 1 Timothy 3:9 , this is the cabinet, that the jewel kept therein. And with what face can ye censure such a one for a castaway, who am sorely afflicted indeed, so that my very reins are consumed within me; nay graces also haply are somewhat deflourished, and it is little better with me than with a tree in winter; and as a tall tree, whose sap is in the root, Isaiah 6:13 . But so long as "the root of the matter is in me," that radical grace of faith; and since I do utter, as ye have heard, the words of truth and soberness (as some fruits of a sound faith), sure you should handle me with more tenderness, as one that hath some sap and substance in him.
Job 19:29 Be ye afraid of the sword: for wrath [bringeth] the punishments of the sword, that ye may know [there is] a judgment.
Ver. 29. Be ye afraid of the sword ] Heb. Be ye afraid for yourselves, from the face of the sword; God’s sore, and great, and strong sword, Isaiah 27:1 , that hangeth over your heads, as it were, by a twined thread. Oh tremble at God’s judgments, while they hang in the threatenings. He that trembleth not in hearing shall be cut to pieces in feeling, as that martyr said: God’s sword contemneth the rod, Ezekiel 21:13 . If Job be under his rod, they that persecute him, under what pretence soever, shall feel the dint of his sword, or of his deep displeasure. Now it is a fearful thing to fall into the punishing hands of the living God. And cruelty toward others, toward his own especially, he will be sure to punish, for he is gracious, Exodus 22:27 . Fugite ergo a facie gladii, Flee, therefore, from the face of the sword, so the Vulgate rendereth this text. The sword is an instrument of death; it hath its name in Hebrew from laying waste; and the face or faces of the sword, show that Divine vengeance is near at hand. It is a mercy to men that God whets his sword before he smites, and first takes hold on judgment before his judgments take hold on us, Deuteronomy 32:41 (Aug. in Psal. XXX.).
For wrath bringeth the punishments of the sword ] It is from displeased love that God chastiseth his children; but from fierce wrath that he plagueth his enemies: some of these God punisheth here, lest his provideuce, but not all, lest his patience and promise of judgment, should be called into question.
That we may know that there is judgment ] Wherein they that rashly judge others shall be judged by God, Matthew 7:1 . And this Job’s friends knew well enough, but well weighed not, to scare themselves from rash censurings. He reminds them, therefore, of their danger, and labours to prevent their sorrow, who had so much caused his. See the like in Jeremiah 26:15 , in our Saviour, in St Stephen, &c., and learn to be similarly charitable; though your success be no better than Job’s was, upon whom, in lieu of this love, they fell more foul than before, as will appear by their following discourses.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 19". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29