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Bible Commentaries
Job 33

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

Wherefore, Job, I pray thee, hear my speeches, and hearken to all my words.

Wherefore Job, I pray thee, hear my speeches — Plain Job, for flattering titles Elihu would give none, Job 32:22 ; only in prefacing to his discourses he is very large, witness the whole former chapter, which may well stand for a common exordium to all the five following; and the seven first verses of this, wherein he both calleth upon Job for audience, and useth arguments for that purpose. An orator he showeth himself all along; for in his introduction he hath τα ηθη , milder affections, which suit best to insinuate; and toward the conclusion he hath τα παθη , pathetic expressions, that may leave an impression on his hearers.

And hearken to all my words — And not to some of them only, picking and choosing what pleaseth you, and turning a deaf ear to the rest, as he in Tacitus did, who said, Tu linguae, ego aurium dominus, You may say what you please, but I will hear no more than I like and list. This is an evil ear, and must be healed (as the orator told his countrymen) ere any good can be done. The good soul lieth low at God’s feet and saith, "Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth." All that the Lord our God shall speak unto us, that will we hear and do, Deuteronomy 5:27 . Now, therefore, we are all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God, Acts 10:33 . It is a sign of an honest heart to take the precepts together with the promises, and to tremble at the threatenings as well as to reach after the comforts, of God’s Holy Word; which last every hypocrite will be catching at, as children do at deserts, passing by the better provision.

Verse 2

Behold, now I have opened my mouth, my tongue hath spoken in my mouth.

Behold, now I have opened my mouth — I have taken upon me to be a speaker, an arbitrator in this controversy, which is usually a thankless office; for he who interposeth in business of this nature, if he had two friends before, is likely enough to lose one of them. I must of necessity blame both parties, however I come off with them. Thy three friends have had their share in the former chapter, and now comes thine, which shall be sound, though sharp, of matters weighty and important, as Psalms 78:2 Habebis sermonem serium, et de re gravi; for so much the Hebrews intend by this expression of opening the mouth. In the Revelation, wherever we read that heaven opened, some great matter followed; so when such open their mouths as have the law of God in their hearts, Psalms 37:31 Proverbs 31:26 . Fools indeed have their mouths ever open, blustering out whatsoever lies uppermost, rashly and without consideration, Kεχηνοτες , a Luciano et Aristophane dicuntur. But a wise man weigheth his words before he uttereth them; and speaketh not but for some good purpose.

My tongue hath spoken in my mouth — Heb. In my palate, or under my palate, which are two chief of those mine instruments of speech, none of which can well be wanting. Let God be glorified for and with that peculiar faculty; and let our praises proceed, not from the palate only, or roof of the mouth, but from the root of the heart. The voice which is made in the mouth is nothing so sweet as that which cometh from the bottom of the breast. One interpreter saith, that by these words, My tongue hath spoken in my mouth, Elihu meaneth, that he would not speak clamorously, but, as it were, whisperingly, to his ear, in secret.

Verse 3

My words [shall be of] the uprightness of my heart: and my lips shall utter knowledge clearly.

My words shall be of the uprightness of my hearti.e. Out of the uprightness of my heart I will deal fairly and faithfully with thee; I will carve thee a piece of my heart, without doubling or dissembling; and why should not downright truth please thee better than a smooth supparasitation flattery ? Bees pass by roses and violets, and sit upon thyme; so should men rather heed sound rebukes, though hot and biting, than flattering discourses, which Solomon fitly calleth, "The song of fools," Ecclesiastes 7:5 , a syren’s song. And another calleth a flatterer a courteous murderer, Eυνους σφακτης , that killeth in kindness, kisseth and killeth. Cavete vobis ab osculo hoc Iscariotico, Beware of this sweet poison, and covet rather those faithful wounds of a friend, Proverbs 27:6 , as David did, Psalms 141:5 . And as Vespasian, who carrieth this commendation, that he was Patientissimus veri; verp patient of truth, and as Alphonsus, king of Arragon, who complained of this, that whereas of everything else he had enough, of truth he was very much scanted, there being few about him that would deal candidly and faithfully without flattery or partiality.

And my lips shall utter knowledge clearlyi.e. Simply and sincerely, plainly and perspicaciously, I will show my meaning, without either gall or guile. My discourse shall be clear and pure from all dross of deceit, as the original word signifieth. This is a praise proper to God’s Holy Word, Psalms 9:9-11 Proverbs 30:5 . And they that handle it (Tophshe Torah, Jeremiah 2:8 ) may here learn not to obtrude their own conceits or conjectures for doctrinal truths; but to utter demonstrative things: not to huckster the Word of God, or corrupt it with their own mixtures, as vintners do their wines; "but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God," …, 2 Corinthians 2:17 . Let them not preach one thing and practise another, sed animentur moribus praecepta; lest some Hilary complain as once, That there were many heavenly doctrines in the people’s ears that never yet had been in the preacher’s heart.

Verse 4

The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.

The Spirit of God hath made me — That is, I am God’s creature no less than thou art, made and maintained by the word of his power, by the breath of his mouth; why then may I not utter pure and holy doctrine? since I also am a rational creature; and if the Holy Spirit please to blow upon me, I can turn about like the mill; if to tune and touch me, I can move to make music; if to infuse good notions, I can utter them. Hear me therefore.

And the breath of the Almighty hath given me life — This some will have to be a metaphor taken from the blowing of glasses into this or that shape. It hath been before noted, that the Egyptians worshipped a god whom they knew not, under the shape of a man blowing an egg out of his mouth, to signify that he made the round world by his word (Plut. de Isid. et Osirid.). "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth," Psalms 33:6 . Where some well note the mystery of the Trinity; as others do, not so well, out of this text; by God, understanding the first person; by Almighty, the second; and by the breath of the Almighty, the third. Sed hoc subtilius, saith Mercer.

Verse 5

If thou canst answer me, set [thy words] in order before me, stand up.

If thou canst answer me — Or, If thou canst, do thou answer me. This bold challenge, and the like confident expressions, not unlike in appearance to that of Campian, with his ten unanswerable reasons (as he accounted them), or that of Sanders, with his forty not probable reasons, but most solid demonstrations (if men would believe him) to prove, that the pope is not Antichrist, hath caused one interpreter, following Gregory, to censure Elihu, for a palpable braggadocian, full of pride and vain-glory (De visib. Monarch. libri 8). This is a hard saying, and at the best reverenter glossanda, as he said of the Pontifician laws. I think this good man is hereby no less mistaken and wronged than John Baptist was by Tertullian, who falls foul upon him in three different places, for that harmless question of his sent to our Saviour by two of his disciples (whom he sought to settle), "Art thou he that should come?" …, Matthew 11:3 , as if he himself had doubted who the person of the Messiah was.

Set thy words in order before me, stand up — A metaphor from military matters; muster up and marshal thine arguments in good array, and then stand to it; make good thy ground like a valiant soldier, who will rather die for it than stir an inch. An expression not unlike this is that of David, Psalms 5:3 . In the morning will I direct (or marshal up) my prayers, and then look up; be as a spy upon a watch tower, to see what speed, and whether I get the day: military terms they are both.

Verse 6

Behold, I [am] according to thy wish in God’s stead: I also am formed out of the clay.

Behold, I am according to thy wish — Heb. According to thy mouth. If the saints do but open their mouths wide God will fill them; he will give them not only the desires of their hearts, but the request of their lips, Psalms 21:2 , fulfil all their counsel, Psalms 20:4 , in that very way, by that very means, they wished it: he fitteth his mercy ad cardinem desiderii; and lets it be to his even as they will. Was it not so with Job here?

In God’s stead — Heb. For God, to act and plead for him, and to show how thou hast dealt with him. So ministers are said to be in Christ’s stead, 2 Corinthians 5:20 . A great mercy, that he will treat with us by men like ourselves.

I also am formed out of the clayEt non ex meliore luto effictus, of the same make and matter with thyself, cut out of the same lump, digged out of the same pit. He alludeth to Genesis 2:7 , the wonderful formation of those protoplasts, as a potter mouldeth his pots, cutting them out of the lump. And the like God doth for men still, by that, viz. πλαστικη , that is in the seed, making it prolific, and generative.

Verse 7

Behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid, neither shall my hand be heavy upon thee.

Behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid — This Job had earnestly desired of God, Job 9:24 ; Job 13:21 , and Elihu, as a cunning disputant, presseth him with his own words: I will not, saith he, neither is it fit any mortal man should by his terror and power ravish another of his right religion, as some Zamzummims do the meaner sort of people by their belluine brutal greatness; as the pope and his janissaries One of a former body of Turkish infantry, constituting the Sultan’s guard and the main part of the standing army. The body was first organized in the 14th century, and was composed mainly of tributary children of Christians; after a large number of them had been massacred in 1826, the organization was finally abolished. do the heretics, as they call those of the reformed religion, that will not renounce it; not once hearing what they can say for themselves. Either you must turn or burn, say they. This is monstrous immanity. Giants are called Emim, formidable, and Nephilim, because men fall before them through fear.

Neither shall my hand be heavy upon thee — Brentius rendereth this verse thus: Ecce frons mea non terreat te, et inclinatio mea super te non gravet, Behold, my forehead cannot fright thee; neither can my bowing down upon thee surcharge thee. I shall neither brow beat thee nor quell thee with my weight, that thou shouldest refuse to reason the case with me. Periculosum est contra eum scribere, qui potest proscribere; et illi contradicere, qui potest aqua et qui interdicere. It is ill meddling with those that are armed with great power, and can as easily undo a man as bid it be done. I must needs acknowledge you the better scholar (said Phavorinus the philosopher to Adrian the emperor) qui triginta habes legiones, who hast thirty legions at command (Aelius Spart.). But here was no such disparity or cause of fear in Job, from his compeer, Elihu.

Verse 8

Surely thou hast spoken in mine hearing, and I have heard the voice of [thy] words, [saying],

Surely thou hast spoken in my hearing — Here beginneth the charge, and it is for words; Quae leviter volant, non leviter violant. Nihil tam volucre quam maledictum, nihil facilius emittitur saith Cicero, pro Plancio, Nothing is so swift as an evil word, nothing is more easily uttered. But should a man set his mouth against heaven and utter error against the Lord? Isaiah 32:6 . Should he toss that reverend name of God to and fro, with such impiety and profaneness, as if his speech could have no grace, but his disgrace? as if Augustus Caesar were dealing with some god Neptune, or the three sons trying their archery at their father’s heart, to see who can shoot the nearest? Surely, as God is the avenger of all such; so Elihu cannot hear it, and not be kindled. Good blood will not belie itself. Psalms 139:20-21 , "They speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? I hate them with a perfect hatred," … The very Turks have the Christian’s blaspheming of Christ in execration; and punish it in their prisoners, when through impatience or desperateness they break out in this kind, What a shame is it, then, that our ranters (that last brood of Beelzebub) should, till of late, be suffered to affirm that Christ is a carnal or fleshly thing; and to contemn him by the notion of the man dying at Jerusalem? … Can we hear these hellish blasphemies without ears tingling, hearts trembling? … When Servetus condemned Zuinglius for his harshness, he answereth, In aliis mansuetus ero, in blasphemiis in Christum, non ita, In other things I can bear as much as another, but when I hear Christ blasphemed I am altogether impatient; for what reason? in this case patience would be blockishness, moderation mopishness, toleration cowardice. Madness here is better than meekness.

Verse 9

I am clean without transgression, I [am] innocent; neither [is there] iniquity in me.

I am clean without transgression — Clear as the picked glass, without defection.

I am innocent — Heb. Neat and compt, not a hair out of order; as it was objected to Pompey the Great, Nitidus ego, äô a Syriaca voce çôô pectere.

Neither is there iniquity in me — Nothing crooked or dishonest. But had Elihu ever heard Job saying thus? Or did not he rather misinterpret his words? Some proud monk hath been heard to say, Non habeo, Domino, quod mihi ignoscas, I have not done anything, Lord, that needeth thy pardon. The reporter of Bellarmine’s life and death telleth us, that when the priest came to absolve him, he could not remember any particular sin he had to confess; till he went back in his thoughts as far as his youth. But good Job had no such conceit of himself, as may appear by many passages of his, as Job 9:2 ; Job 9:20-21 ; Job 14:4 ; … Only out of the greatness of his grief, and the unkind usage of his friends (who spared not without all reason to revile him as a most wicked and ungodly liver), he did soon cast out some rash and harsh words against God, see Job 10:7 ; Job 16:17 ; Job 23:10-11 ; Job 27:5 and hence this accusation here laid against him as a perfectist, or self-justiciary.

Verse 10

Behold, he findeth occasions against me, he counteth me for his enemy,

Behold, he findeth occasions against me — Or, breaches; he picks quarrels with me, and would fain find out somewhat in my carriage wherefore to break friendship with me, and to break me in pieces. But did Job ever say in this sort? Not expressly so; but by consequence, and to the same purpose, Job 9:17 ; Job 13:24 ; Job 14:17 ; Job 16:9 ; Job 19:11 .

He counteth me for his enemy — This indeed he had said, and somewhat more, Job 13:24 ; Job 16:9 ; Job 30:21 , as if God, of his mere pleasure, had made cruel wars upon him, and exercised all kind of hostility against him, as a vanquished enemy. See Trapp on " Job 13:24 " See Trapp on " Job 19:11 "

Verse 11

He putteth my feet in the stocks, he marketh all my paths.

He putteth my feet in the stocks, … — See Job 13:27 ; Job 14:16 , See Trapp on " Job 13:27 " See Trapp on " Job 14:16 "

Verse 12

Behold, [in] this thou art not just: I will answer thee, that God is greater than man.

Behold, in this thou art not just — In this thy expostulation with God, as if he had dealt unjustly with thee (think the same of thy postulation, or unreasonable request, that God should give thee a reason why he so grievously afflicteth thee, Job 33:13 ), thou art nothing less than what thou holdest thyself to be, viz. just, pure, innocent. Sorex suo perit indicio, the mole betrays himself by casting up the mould; and so dost thou, good Job, by throwing forth words without wisdom, as God himself will once tell thee, Job 38:2 . Canst thou be just, whose words are thus unjust? Never think of it. Thus Elihu is as nimble with Job (but far more ingenuous) as that Jesuit was with Drusius; whom when he had called heretic, and Drusius in his own defence alleged that heresy must be in fundamentis fidei; the fundamentals of the faith, the Jesuit replied, that even that assertion of his was heresy.

I will answer thee, that God is greater than manLonge superat frivolum hominem, say the Tigurines, is far above sorry man; the distance and disproportion is infinite. But how is this an answer to Job’s justifying himself, and complaining of God as overly rigid? God’s greatness here is not to be understood to be his power only (which yet should overawe us when ready to rise up against him), but also of his truth, wisdom, justice, goodness, …, all of which Job, by his complaints, seemed to question and quarrel with; and is therefore fitly minded of this attribute of Almighty God, who is "glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders," Exodus 15:11 . Great he is, without quantity; good, without quality; everlasting, without time; omnipresent, without place; containing all things, without extent. He is not only great, Psalms 77:13 , but greater, as here; greatest, Psalms 95:3 ; greatness itself, Psalms 145:3 . So he is not only good, Psalms 106:1 , but better, Psalms 108:9 ; best of all, Philippians 1:23 ; goodness itself, Matthew 19:17 . The least glimpse of this knowledge is worth all the gleams of human wisdom. And albeit this is a truth commonly known and acknowledged, yet very few are affected with it aright, as appears by their cross carriages toward this great God, and persumptuous misdemeanors, as if he were such another as themselves, Psalms 50:21 . Certainly, if we were thoroughly persuaded of God’s infinite greatness, so as it is set forth, Deuteronomy 10:17 and elsewhere, we would much more fear to offend him and care to please him than we do. The truth is, all the exorbitances in men’s lives proceed from the weakness of this spring; and were they but well assured that God is Almighty they would walk before him, and be upright, Genesis 17:1 . But to this none can attain but by the help of supernatural grace.

Verse 13

Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters.

Why dost thou strive against him? — Why dost thou wrangle and reason it thus irreverently with God, whose will alone is the supreme reason, nec recta solum, sed et ipsa regula; and not only right, but the very rule of right? He may better say, than any Constantine, that Arian emperor, Quod ego volo, pro Canone sit, Let my will be your sovereign rule; since things are therefore right because I will them; I will them not, because they are right. Who then art thou, O man, that repliest against God? saith St Paul; that chattest and wordest it with him, that answereth again, and thinkest to hold him to it, and be hard enough for him? Romans 9:20 . "Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth," Isaiah 45:9 . Let men learn to meddle with their match, and not to contend with God, who is much mightier than they, Ecclesiastes 6:10 , and hath assured them that with the froward he will wrestle, Psalms 18:26 . Jeremiah, who in his distemper would needs reason the cause with God concerning his judgments (which are sometimes secret, but always just), did well and wisely to preface thus: "Righteous art thou, O Lord, when I plead with thee," Jeremiah 12:1 .

For he giveth not account of any of his matters — Heb. of all his matters; for he is ανυπευθυνος , the most highest; and therefore not to be reckoned with by any for aught he doth. If he so far abase himself as to give account of any of his proceedings for our satisfaction, it is dignatio stupenda, a wonderful condescension. Vatablus rendereth the text thus, Non enim omnia verba sua loquitur; for he uttereth not all his words; that is, he revealeth not all his secrets, q.d. he doth all for our good, though we for present understand it not. He oft answereth us as the echo doth the voice, cutting off the one half of it; but stand a while and see the salvation of the Lord, he is usually better to his people than their conceits, and delighteth to help those that are forsaken in their hopes.

Verse 14

For God speaketh once, yea twice, [yet man] perceiveth it not.

For God speaketh once, yea twice — He loveth to foresignify; and although not bound to it, yet he usually gives warning; as "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance," 2 Peter 3:9 . For which purpose God saith Elihu here useth two ways to nurture his children; the one more mild, to keep them from falling into sin, Job 33:15-18 , the other more rigorous, when they have committed wickedness, to bring them to ammendment of life, Job 33:19-21 , …

Yet man perceiveth it notPrae crassitie, et supinitate (ut ita dicam) sua; through his forlorn dullness and heedlessness, his singular inattention and inadvertence. Though God say, as once, "O generation, see ye the word of the Lord," Jeremiah 2:31 , "Hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it," Micah 6:9 , yet man is not only naturally averse, but adverse, to listen, or lay to heart anything, till it light on his hide, to believe till he feeleth; yea, to his natural dullness he soon addeth a habitual hardness; to his sinews of iron brows of brass, Isaiah 48:4 . This is fearful, Acts 28:27 , and yet common to all, whose hard hearts God is not pleased to soften with the oil of his grace and to soak in the blood of his Son, that they may be supple and soluble.

Verse 15

In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed;

In a dream, in a vision of the night — At sundry times and in various manners. God delivered his mind to men of old by dreams in the night, by visions in the day time, imprinting upon their minds what by them he would have understood, or uttered to others. This he did, especially before the law written, whereof therefore here is made no mention. See Numbers 12:6 . Indeed with Moses, by a specialty of his favour, he spake mouth to mouth; even apparently (as a man doth to his friend), and not in dark speeches; the similitude of the Lord did he bebold, sed non absque aliquo Maiestatis eius involucro, but not without some overshadowing of his Majesty, which none can see and live, Exodus 33:20 , he must needs be oppressed and swallowed up of it, as the sight of the eye is dazzled with the sun, or a crystal glass broken with the fire.

When deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed — When men, plunged in sleep, are neither in the number of the living nor the dead. Then many times the reasonable soul cometh into the shop of phantasy, and there doth strange works, which are vented in our dreams. And sometimes God, by an angel, or otherwise, causeth men to dream, and thereby admonisheth them with weighty matters; as he did Abimelech, Genesis 20:3-7 ; Jacob, Genesis 28:12-15 ; Joseph, Genesis 40:5-11 ; the other Joseph, Matthew 1:20-24 ; the wise men, Matthew 2:12 ; Pilate’s wife, Matthew 27:19 , which, though some think it came from the devil, to hinder man’s redemption, yet others think it came from God, for the clearing of Christ’s innocence, and, as Theophylaet holdeth, for the salvation of this woman’s soul. ’ Eπεχω . Of the several sorts of dreams, natural, divine, and diabolical. See Trapp on " Genesis 20:3 "

Verse 16

Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction,

Then he openeth the ears of men — He maketh the bore bigger, as it were, that good counsel may enter; he calleth up the ears of the soul to the ears of the body, that one sound may pierce both; he saith, as to him in the Gospel Ephphatha; and together with his word there goeth forth a power, as Luke 4:32 . See Job 36:10 ; Job 36:15 .

And sealeth their instruction — Or, their correction, for they go together, Psalms 94:12 Proverbs 3:12-13 ; Proverbs 6:14 , and God sealeth, or setteth on, the one by the other; as when a schoolmaster would have a lesson learned indeed, he set it on with a whipping. Luther saith, that many of St Paul’s Epistles could not be understood but by the cross, Vexatio dat intellectum. Another grave divine giveth this good advice to find out the sin that God afflicteth for, consider what truths have been pressed upon your hearts before the affliction; for afflictions used to come as seals to instruction; before they did not come with power to your hearts, now God seals them: thus he. Bernard saith concerning his brother, when he gave him many good instructions, and he, being a soldier, minded them not; he put his finger to his sides, and said, One day a spear shall make way to this heart of thine for instructions and admonitions to enter. The Tigurine translation is full and elegant, Tunc aurem hominibus vellit, et disciplinam eorum velut impresso sigillo consignat: Then he pulleth men by the ear, and consigneth their instruction, as with a seal set unto it.

Verse 17

That he may withdraw man [from his] purpose, and hide pride from man.

That he may withdraw man from his purpose — Or, rather, practice. Heb. work, that is, evil work, called a man’s own work, Hebrews 4:10 ; for when we do evil we work de nostro, et secundum hominem, 1 Corinthians 3:3 , as when the devil speaketh a lie he speaketh of his own, John 8:44 . Now from such bad work God taketb men off, by dreams sometimes, as he did Abimelech, Genesis 20:3 , and Laban, Genesis 31:24 but more frequently by corrections of instruction, which are the way of life, Proverbs 6:23: Christianornm Theologia, as Luther calleth it; Virtutum officina, as Ambrose; Bonorum omnium thesaurus, as Brentius upon this text.

And hide pride from man — Which else, as a master pock, will break out in his forehead and testify to his face. By pride we may understand all other sins, which God both covereth and cureth in his penitent people; but pride is fitly instanced, because it was one of the first sins, and is still the root and source of all other sins. God therefore humbleth all under his mighty hand, and preserveth them from the perilous pinnacle of self exaltation; as he dealt with Paul, both when he met him on the way to Damascus, and unhorsed him, as also when by that thorn in the flesh he let out the swollen matter of pride out of his heart, which might else have broken forth into odious and loathsome practices.

Verse 18

He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword.

He keepeth back his soul from the pit — Or, That he may keep back his soul, that is, his body, as Psalms 16:10 Leviticus 21:1 , from the pit; i.e. from the grave, or from the pit falls made for him by his enemies. A penitent person redeemeth his own sorrows, and provideth for his own safety, Psalms 91:1-16 , and accordingly some read it, He shall keep back his own soul, …

And his life from perishing by the sword — Whether by the sword of God or man, he shall be extra iactum, out of the gunshot or danger of any death, whether corporal or eternal. The universal antidote for all the judgments of God is our humble repentance. Aaron escaped by it, when Miriam was smitten with leprosy.

This is the rainbow, which if God see shining in our hearts, he will never drown our souls. Jehoshaphat by this escaped the edge of the sword; David and his poor sheep the stroke of the punishing angel; all the crowned saints now in heaven the damnation of hell, …

Verse 19

He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong [pain]:

He is chastened also with pain upon his bed — He is chastened or chidden, Coarguitur dolore; for all diseases are vocal; they are real reprehensions. As God is said to hold his peace when he punisheth not, Psalms 50:21 Isaiah 42:14 , so to preach and reprove when he doth, Isaiah 26:9 ; Isaiah 28:19 . Thus God, by chastening David, instructed him every morning, Psalms 73:14 . His reins also taught him in the night season. Sickness, saith one, is the shop of virtue. It is morum disciplina, felicitatis meditatorium, voluntatis Dei schola, saith another. King Alfred found it so, and therefore besought God to send him ever and anon some fit of sickness; for that, saith he, I ever find myself best when worst, best in soul when worst in body, the sickness of this is a medicine to that.

And the multitude of his bones with strong pain — Some read it, Et lis est ossium eius vehemens, his bones rattle in his skin, as we say. Confer Psalms 38:4 . He is all over so ill at ease, that live he would not, die he cannot; his pain piercing even to his very bones, and drinking up his marrow, as Job’s did; all this discourse being exemplified in him, save that we find not that he kept his bed.

Verse 20

So that his life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty meat.

So that his life abhorreth bread — Which is the staff of man’s life, and by the Latins called panis, of the Greek παν , as if it were all in all. This the sick man velut sordidum abominatur, abhorreth as some filthy thing, so the original word here signifieth; he nauseateth and cannot away with it, though made of the kidneys of wheat, as Moses phraseth it; he brooks it no better than if it were made of sawdust, or mixed with gravel, or made with man’s dung, as that in Ezekiel.

And his soul dainty meat — Heb. Meats of desire. Those dainties which he once sought so passionately, and fed upon so eagerly, he finds no more relish in than in the white of an egg or a dry chip; yea, they are no less horrid to him than rank poison. See a like description of a sick person, Psalms 107:18 , which seemeth to be taken from hence.

Verse 21

His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen; and his bones [that] were not seen stick out.

His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen — He that was habilior paulo, corpulent and well lined within, as we say, is so pined with long sickness, that you can hardly know him for the same man, and he may well cry out with the prophet, My leanness, my leanness! Of Christ it is said (though not through sickness), that he had "no form nor comeliness" (and yet he was the fairest among men, Psalms 45:2 ), through grief and sufferances, "neither was there any beauty left that we should desire him," for his outside, Isaiah 53:2 . And of Mr Fox, the martyrologue, it is reported, that having with infinite pains finished that elaborate work of his, the Acts and Monuments of the Church, in eleven years’ time, never using the help of any other man, he grew thereupon so lean and withered, that his friends knew him not (Mr Clark in his Life). Now if sorrow and hard study will so macerate a man, what marvel if long and sharp sickness, and thereby extreme stomachlessness, cause leanness and deformity?

And his bones that were not seen — But could hardly be felt for flesh and fat; now they stick out as in an anatomy, so that you may count them, as also the veins and sinews; his body is become a very bag of bones, a skin bottle in the smoke, as David hath it.

Verse 22

Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers.

Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave — His soul, that is, his body, as Job 33:18 , for Elihu was no mortalist, neither dreamed he of a psychopannychia. All-night sleep of the soul; a state in which (according to some) the soul sleeps between death and the day of judgement. He is in the very confines of death, and no ways likely to recover; he is free among the dead, as the psalmist hath it.

And his life to the destroyersLethalibus malis, to deadly evils, saith Tremellius. Mortiferis, i.e. Morbis, to those messengers of death, deadly diseases, saith Vatablus, Gentiles multa de Parcis fabulati sunt. To those that kill; viz. to the angels, by whom God sometimes destroyeth men, as 2 Samuel 24:16-17 , saith Piscator. To enemies, say other. Pollinctoribus, to the bier carriers, say the Tigurines, and so Beza paraphraseth; so that he stands not in need of any remedy or help of anything more than of those who should carry his carcass unto the grave.

Verse 23

If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness:

If there be a messenger with him — An angel, say some; but one man may be an angel to another, as Bradford was to Dr Taylor, martyr, who usually called him, That angel of God, John Bradford. If some prophet or teacher sent of God see Judges 2:1 Malachi 3:1-18 : 1 Kings 1:20 to the sick man, who seeth his face as the face of an angel, and receiveth him as an angel, yea, as Christ himself, Galatians 4:14 , in whose stead he is, 2 Corinthians 5:20 , bringing the embassy of reconciliation, 2 Corinthians 5:20 , than which what can be more acceptable?

An interpretersc. Of God’s holy will, who may assure the sick party that it is God who visiteth him in very faithfulness, that he may be true to his soul; that he doth it in mercy and in measure, not to ruin him, but to reduce him by repentance from dead works, and by faith in Christ Jesus, …, who may also set him in a course, and pray for him, as James 5:16 . Dr Ussher tells us (Serm. on Ephesians 4:13 ), that even in the times of Popery, among our forefathers, the ordinary instruction appointed to be given to men upon their death beds was, that they should look to come to glory, not by their own merits, but by the virtue and merit of the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ; that they should place their whole confidence in his death only, and in no other thing; and that they should interpose his death between God and their sins, between them and God’s anger. This was right, and, considering the times, admirable. This was better than that blasphemous direction they give elsewhere to dying men to say, Coniunge Domine, …, Conjoin, O Lord, mine obedience to all those things which Christ suffered for me.

One among a thousandUnus e millibus, not Unus e similibus, as the Vulgate Latin hath it by a gross mistake, such as that translation hath many. One among a thousand he is said to be, for the scarcity of such as can time a word, comfort the afflicted conscience, and speak to the heart of a poor distressed creature, who laboureth under the sense of sin and fear of wrath. O quam hoc non est omnium, This very few can skill of. Luther, who was excellent at it himself, telleth us, that it is a work every whit as hard as to raise the dead to life again. Go ye rather to them that sell, said the wise to the foolish virgins, and those are rare; sc. such faithful and wise distributers of God’s grace, as having the tongue of the learned, Isaiah 50:4 , and being instructed for that purpose to the kingdom of heaven, can comfort the feeble minded, shore up and support the weak, … Such a choice man is worth his weight in gold; and oh, how beautiful are his feet, angelic his face!

To declare unto man his uprightness — Or, his righteousness, that is, either the righteousness of Christ, who is his peace; or his, that is, the righteousness of his own experience, how he hath been raised and received to mercy. Or, his, to clear up to him his spiritual estate, and show his evangelical righteousness, consisting more in purpose than in practice; in confession of our imperfection, than in any perfection we can attain unto. It is not so much our inherent righteousness, in regard of the worth, dignity, and excellence of it, much less purity and perfection in it, but as it is a fruit of God’s love and token of his favour, a sign of our adoption and justification, and a pledge of our glorification, that yieldeth comfort. And this it will do when skilfully made out to a poor soul by a godly minister, and set on by the hand of that Holy Spirit, whereby the saints are sealed to the day of redemption, Ephesians 4:30 ; Ephesians 1:13 .

Verse 24

Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.

Then is he gracious unto him, and saith — If the sick man, thus counselled and comforted, repent and believe the gospel, delivering himself up to God, and to that his messenger by the will of God, mercy and truth shall be with him, he shall be cured on both sides, as that palsy man was, Matthew 9:2 , the Lord shall raise him up, if it may stand with his eternal welfare. But howsoever, if he have committed sins, it shall be forgiven him, James 5:15 . Both the guilt and filth of them shall be taken away, so that he shall be able to look death in the face with everlasting comfort, as being made to him ianua vitae, porta coeli; a postern, to let out temporal, but a street door, to let in eternal, life.

Deliver him from going down to the pit — Tell him from me, that he shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord, as Psalms 118:17 . Nay, say to this righteous man, tell him so from me, that it shall be well with him, and very well, Isaiah 3:10 . Redeem him from going down to the infernal pit; that is, declare that redemption to him wrought for him by Christ, and apply it to his conscience, pour the oil of grace into his broken vessel, and assure him in my name, and by mine authority, that I am his salvation. Whose sins soever ye, my faithful ministers, remit, they are remitted unto them; and whatsoever ye loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven, Matthew 18:18 Job 20:23 . But all this ministerially and declaratively, not absolutely and out of a full liberty and power, as Popish priests arrogate. I have known one (saith a very grave divine, Mr Ley, in his Pattern of Piety) who neither by education nor affection was disposed to Popery, who having the ill hap when his conscience was perplexed to fall into the hands of a Popish priest, for this reason (because, as the priest suggested, that religion afforded more comfort, because it had, and exercised, a power to pardon sin, which our ministers neither did, nor dared assume unto themselves) he became a Papist. But it is honour enough to ministers, and may be comfort enough to their hearers, that God gives them commission to deliver a penitent man from hell; not as the means (for that is Christ alone), but as instruments: 1. To apply Christ crucified, or rather risen again, unto him. 2. To pronounce his safety and salvation, upon the due use of that means. And this is the greatest honour that ever was done to any mere creature. Angels never had such a commission. They indeed are ministers for the good of those that shall be heirs of salvation, Hebrews 1:14 ; but ministers are called Saviours, Obadiah 1:21 1 Timothy 4:16 James 5:20 .

I have found a ransom — Or, an atonement; a cover for his sin; as a thing is covered with plaster; or as, under the law, the ark covered the decalogue, the mercy seat upon it, and over them two cherubims covering one another; all which showed Christ covering the curses of the law, and expiating the sins of his people: which things the angels desire to pry into, as into the patterns of God’s deep wisdom, who hath found out such a ransom, which he now professeth to accept for this penitent man, 1 Timothy 2:6 Psalms 32:1 .

Verse 25

His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s: he shall return to the days of his youth:

His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s — Tender and smooth, full of good blood and fresh spirits, he shall be battle and blithe like a suckling. See a like hyperbole concerning Naaman the Syrian restored to health, 2 Kings 5:14 , implying that his disease was thoroughly cured, and his flesh in better case than ever. There is a memorable story in the Acts and Monuments of the Church, which here may not unfitly be inserted, to show the sweet fruits of remission of sins by the free mercy of God. In the dungeon with Petrus Bergerius at Lyons, in France, was a certain thief and malefactor, who had lain in the dungeon for seven or eight months. This thief, for pain and torment, cried out for God, and cursed his parents that begat him, being almost eaten up with lice, miserably handled, and fed with such bread as dogs and horses had refused to eat. So it pleased the goodness of the Almighty, that through the teaching and prayer of this Bergerius, he was brought to repentance and the knowledge of God, learning much comfort and patience by the word of the gospel preached unto him. Touching his conversion, himself wrote a sweet letter to some friends, declaring therein that the next day after he had taken hold of the gospel, and framed himself to patience according to the same, his lice (which he could pluck out before by twenty at once between his fingers) now were so gone from him, that he had not one; his rotten flesh (the Vulgate translateth this text thus, Consumpta est eius caro a suppliciis ) was recruited, and the alms of good people so extended toward him, that he was fed with white bread, and that which was very good. His name was John Chambone.

He shall return to the days of his youthReiuvenescet, He shall grow young again, and renew his youth, like the eagle’s, Psalms 103:5 . He shall be vigorous and active, as Isaiah 40:31 .

Verse 26

He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him: and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render unto man his righteousness.

He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him — All former unkindnesses notwithstanding. God will cast his sins into the bottom of the sea, and be as propitious to the poor sinner now reconciled, recovered, and making request, as if he had never been offended by him. Amongst men, Reconciliationes sunt vulpinae amicitiae, Reconciliations are for the most part fox like friendships; and there is little trust to them. Not so between God and men; witness Peter, of whom Christ thought no whit the worse for his threefold denial of him, when once he wept bitterly, and prayed for pardon. Go, tell the disciples and Peter, that I am risen, Mark 16:7 . If any man want wisdom, or any other good thing else, let him ask it of God, who giveth unto all men liberally, and hitteth no man in the teeth, either with his present weaknesses or by past wickednesses, James 2:5 . Imo plus est propemodum a vitiis se revocasse, quam vitia ipsa nescivisse, saith a Father. Penitence is in a manner as good as innocence (Ambros. in Psa.).

He shall see his face with joy — Or, God shall make him to see his face with joy, Ostendet ei faciem suam in iubilo, even with joyful acclamation, when he shall find himself possessed of God’s kingdom, which consisteth in righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; which Chrysostom rightly calleth ουρανον προ ουρανου , heaven beforehand.

For he will render unto man his righteousness — Which he had lost by falling into sin, as Ezekiel 18:24 . Understand it of degrees and measures for true grace cannot wholly be lost. Or, he will render unto him now in Christ that righteousness he lost in Adam, he will fully and freely justify him, and sweetly seal him up to the day of redemption, Rursus eum in album iustorum et plorum referet (Lav.); the former falling out shall be but a renewing of love; as it was between Christ and his spouse, Song of Solomon 5:1-16 ; Song of Solomon 6:1-13

Verse 27

He looketh upon men, and [if any] say, I have sinned, and perverted [that which was] right, and it profited me not;

He looketh upon men — He looketh to see when any will repent and return unto him. Now Christ’s looks are often operative, and cause that which he looks after. A stroke from guilt broke Judas’s heart into despair; but a look from Christ broke Peter’s heart into tears.

And if any say, I have sinned — So he say it penitently, as David and the prodigal; and not feignedly, as Saul; or forcedly, as Pharaoh; or desperately, as Judas. In men’s courts, saith Quintilian, it is best to say Non feci, to plead not guilty; but in God’s court it is better to say Ego feci, Guilty, Lord; mercy, Lord; and not to put God to his proofs, as they did, Jeremiah 2:35 ; since he that hideth his sins shall not prosper, but he that confesseth and forsaketh them shall find mercy, Proverbs 28:13 .

And perverted that which was right — Thus the true penitentiary layeth load upon himself, and aggravates his sins, whereof (saith Merlin) we have here a definition answerable to that of St John, 1 John 3:4 , "Sin is the transgression of the law." I have writhed from the right, saith he in the text. I have turned aside to crooked ways, and so have deserved to he led forth with the workers of iniquity, Psalms 125:5 ; as cattle are to the slaughter, or malefactors to execution.

And it profited me not — Sin is an ill pay master, and sends home all her servants by weeping cross. The best that can come of it is shame, Romans 6:21 , and godly sorrow, working repentance, 2 Corinthians 7:10 , but usually the end of those things is death; this is the just hire of the least sin, Romans 6:23 . It not only profiteth not (whatever it promiseth), but prejudiceth and proves pernicious. This penitent man thanks his sin for his late sickness, and yet thinks he hath escaped fair too; for so some render the text, Nec poenas condignas dedi, My punishment hath been less than my offence, Non aequale fuit. See Ezra 9:13 , See Trapp on " Ezra 9:13 "

Verse 28

He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light.

He will deliver his soul from going, … — God will heal him, and lengthen out his life. Or, the sick man will, by his unfeigned repentance, procure his own reprieve and deliverance from deadly danger. Some make these words to be the sick man’s thankful confession, He hath redeemed my soul, …, not unlike that of David, Psalms 116:8 , and that of Hezekiah, Isaiah 38:17 .

And his life shall see the light — He shall not only live, but live happily and comfortably: a joyless life is no life.

Verse 29

Lo, all these [things] worketh God oftentimes with man,

Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes — Heb. twice, thrice; such is his patience, that he trieth all conclusions, as it were, and beareth long with men’s evil manners; one while casting them down, and making them believe he will pitch them into hell; and another while raising them up again, and restoring them, that if nothing will do he may pay them all at once for the new and the old, as he did Ahab, and Pharaoh, and Nineveh, because they despised "the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing," or not weighing, "that the goodness of God should have led them to repentance," Romans 2:4-5 . Woe be to him that will not be warned at the first, second, or third time! See Amos 1:3 ; Amos 2:1 , …, See Trapp on " Amos 1:3 " See Trapp on " Amos 2:1 " R. Solomon would thence infer, That God pardoneth a man only thrice; and then if he take not warning, to hell he must; and this he thinketh to be Elihu’s meaning here. But this is to limit the Holy One of Israel, who multiplieth pardon, as we multiply sin, Isaiah 55:7 , and further addeth, for our comfort, Job 33:8 , that his thoughts are not our thoughts, nor his ways our ways; but as the heavens are higher than the earth, … We are apt to measure God by our models, to cast him into a dishonourable mould, and to think him like ourselves in mercy, power, and other of his attributes. Xenophanes was wont to say, that if the creatures were put to paint the Creator, they would surely conceit him to be like themselves, because a creature cannot think of anything higher than a creature. So deal we for the most part with Almighty God. But he is God and not man; he is Jehovah that changeth not, neither is there any God like unto him for pardoning iniquity, not once, but often, Micah 7:18-19 ; see the note there. He who commandeth us to forgive an offending brother seventy times seven times in a day, if he say, It repenteth me, what will not himself do in such a case?

Verse 30

To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living.

To bring back his soul from the piti.e. That he may save him from temporal and eternal destruction, which is the most excellent fruit of affliction sanctified. We are judged by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. So that a saint may say, Periissem nisi periissem, I had been undone had I not been undone.

To be enlightened with the light of the living — To live comfortably, and to be famous among the saints, Conspicuus sit inter heroines (Mercer), who, had they not been reduced by affliction, would have perished infamous and obscure wrapped up in the sheet of shame, and going out in a snuff.

Verse 31

Mark well, O Job, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I will speak.

Mark well, O Job, hearken unto me — For I speak from God, and for God. It was a good speech of Austin to Manicheus, contesting with him for audience. Hear me, hear me, said Manicheus. Nay, saith Austin, Nec ego to, nec tu me, sed ambo audiamus Apostolum, dicentem, Peccatum non cognovi, …, Neither will I hear thee nor do thou hear me, but let us both hear the apostle, saying, "I had not known lust," …

Verse 32

If thou hast any thing to say, answer me: speak, for I desire to justify thee.

If thou hast anything to say, answer me — Heb. If thou hast words, yet not empty words, but such as may bear weight, and make for thy defence. Some men’s discourses are nothing else but words. Hermodorus of old was said to sell words for want of better commodities. Dογους εμπορευεται Eσυοδωπος . Erasmus was noted for a very wordy man, Verba habet sine rebus Erasmus. Turrian for a great trifler, Cornicutas citius in Africa, quam res rationesque solidas in eius scriptis reperias, saith one. Elihu would have no such words, nor any wise man else; for they are very irksome, yea, vexatious.

Speak, for I desire to justify thee — Not to condemn thee, as these three have done; but to hear thee and clear thee as much as may be. This was fair dealing. Some are so eristical and testy, that they will not hear the adverse party, or bear with any that dissent; as the Jesuits, many fierce Lutherans, yea, Luther himself, as appeareth by his bitter invectives against Carolostadius, Zuinglius, all the Helvetian Churches, that would not receive the doctrine of consubstantiation. Tantaene animis coelestibus irae? He would not once hear the contrary party, nor read their books, but called them arch devils, and all that ever was naught, as he doth in his Epistle to the Senate of Frankfort.

Verse 33

If not, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I shall teach thee wisdom.

If not, hearken unto me — Elihu is much in calling for attention; so are all the prophets, and Christ the arch prophet, as Matthew 13:9 , where, although it might seem superfluous to stir up such to hear, as had come from all parts for that purpose, and now hung upon his holy lips, as the babe doth on the breast, Luke 19:48 , yet he, well knowing our heedlessness and fickleness, doth it once and again, leaving all ministers an example to do likewise.

Hold thy peace — viz. While I am speaking interrupt me not, but have patience. Some men, as they have fel in aure, gall in their ears (as some creatures are said to have), so they have fire in their tongues, which they presently spit at all that offend them in the least.

And I shall teach thee wisdom — A good inducement to thee to hear. I will not trouble thee with trifles, nor detain thee with endless and needless discourses; but set before thee God’s wise precedings, and bring thee to such a sight of thine own folly as shall render thee restless till set right for heaven.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 33". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/job-33.html. 1865-1868.
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