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Bible Commentaries
Job 36

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

Elihu also proceeded, and said,

Elihu also proceeded and said — Heb. And Elihu added, viz. this his fourth oration, not unlike the former, made in behalf and for defence of God’s justice, which he here further asserteth against Job (who had seemed to cast some slur upon it) by arguments drawn from his wondrous works, the meteors especially; and all to prevail with Job to submit to God’s justice and to implore his mercy, Ex abundanti quae sequuntur adiecit.

Verse 2

Suffer me a little, and I will shew thee that [I have] yet to speak on God’s behalf.

Suffer me a little, and I will show thee — He promiseth brevity and thereby wooeth attention: brevity and perspicuity are two great graces of speech, and do very much win upon intelligent hearers, who love to hear much in few, and cannot away with tedious prolixities. When a great trifler had made an empty discourse in the presence of Aristotle, and then cried him mercy for troubling him so long: You have not troubled me at all, said he, for I scarce hearkened to any one word you said all this while.

That I have yet to speak on God’s behalf — Heb. That there are yet words for God. His zeal for God’s glory drew from him this following speech, wherein insignis est Elihu et magnificus. Elihu excelleth himself, and appeareth to be no worse an orator than was M. Crassus among the Romans, who had this commendation given him, Quod cum aliquid accuratius dixisset, semper fere contigit ut nunquam dixisse melius putaretur, That whenever he spoke it was judged to be the very best that ever he spake. (Cir. de Orat. 1. 1).

Verse 3

I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.

I will fetch my knowledge from afar — Even from heaven, as one taught of God; I will discourse of ancient things (for τα καινα κενα ), and fetch my reasons from the wonderful and sublime works of God, De arduis atque admirandis Dei operibus, those real demonstrations of his Deity. Est autem plane hic Elihu mirus et egregius, saith Mercer. And he is not a little wronged by that French Paraphrast, who saith of him, That he knew well how to begin a discourse, but knew not how to end it; and that seeing well that his tediousness might make him troublesome, he awakened his languishing auditors by this artificial preface.

And will ascribe righteousness to my Maker — This is both the main proposition of the ensuing oration and the main end of man’s creation, viz. to glorify his Maker, Romans 11:36 Revelation 4:11 .

Verse 4

For truly my words [shall] not [be] false: he that is perfect in knowledge [is] with thee.

For truly my words shall not be false — I shall deal truly and plainly with thee; my discourse shall be simple and solid, having no better ornament but that of truth; which is like our first parents, most beautiful when naked: it was sin covered them, it is treachery hides this. Aperta veritas clausos etiam oculos ferit, saith one.

He that is perfect in knowledge is with theeInteger sententiis (Vatab.); meaning himself, who fully understood the business between them, and would faithfully deliver it. There are that hold God to be hereby meant. A pious sense, but not so proper.

Verse 5

Behold, God [is] mighty, and despiseth not [any: he is] mighty in strength [and] wisdom.

Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any — Much less oppresseth he any one in a good cause, or tyrannically abuseth his power to the crushing of an innocent. He is equally good as great; neither was Job well advised in seeming to sunder these two excellencies in God, the one from the other; since whatsoever is in God is God; neither ought we to think of him otherwise than of one not to be thought of; as of one whose wisdom is his justice, whose justice is his power, whose power is his mercy, and all himself.

He is mighty in strength and wisdom — Or, He is mighty, the strength of the heart, Validus est, virtus animi (Tram.). He was so to David: Psalms 138:3 , "In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenest me with strength in my soul." At the sack of Ziklag, in the fail of all outward comforts, David encouraged himself in the Lord his God, 1 Samuel 30:6 . A Christian is never without his cordial.

Cor patrium, os verax, omnipotensque manus.

Verse 6

He preserveth not the life of the wicked: but giveth right to the poor.

He preserveth not the life of the wicked — He is no such friend to them; though he be good to the godly, be greatly careth not what becomes of them. Their life they hold of him, and many good things besides; for he is the Saviour, or preserver, of all men, but especially of them that believe. But he suffereth not the wicked to live, as the Hebrew here hath it, he withdraweth them not from the hand of justice, he bindeth not them up in the bundle of life, he reckoneth them not among the living in Jerusalem, among the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven; he many times slayeth them with his own hand, and cutteth them short in righteousness. Or if not so, yet their preservation is but reservation, …

But giveth right to the poor — Or, to the afflicted. For poverty is an affliction, and subjecteth a man to many injuries: Zephaniah 3:12 , they are an afflicted and poor people, but trusting in the name of the Lord, they shall be relieved and righted, not so soon perhaps as themselves would, nor yet so long hence as their oppressors would. In the mount will the Lord be seen, who, as he seldom comes at our times, so he never fails his own time. Meanwhile this comfort they have:

Verse 7

He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous: but with kings [are they] on the throne; yea, he doth establish them for ever, and they are exalted.

He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous — He is so lost in love, as I may say, toward such that he cannot like to look beside them; he beholdeth them when afflicted with singular care and complacency. Then, if ever, the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears open to their cry, Psalms 34:15 ; then they may have anything of God, there being no time like that for heariug of prayers, Zechariah 13:9 . Times of affliction are times of supplication, Psalms 50:15 ; Psalms 91:15 . They are mollissima fandi tempora, Jeremiah 51:19-21 . Then our hearts are largest, then God’s ears are most open. Neither his ears only, but his eyes too, are busied about his suffering servants, as the goldsmiths are about the gold cast into the furnace, that no grain thereof be lost. He sits down by the fire, saith Malachi, and tends it, as a refiner and purifier of silver, Job 3:3 . He refines them, but not as silver, Isaiah 48:10 , that is, not exactly, and to the utmost, lest they should be consumed in that fiery trial: he seeth to it that the choice spirits of his people fail not before him, Isaiah 57:16 , as they would do if he should bring upon them an evil, an only evil, Ezekiel 7:5 , and not in the midst of judgment remember mercy.

But with kings are they on the thronei.e. He raiseth them to highest honours, as he did Joseph; whose fetters God in one hour changed into a chain of gold, his stocks into a chariot, his jail into a palace, his rags into fine linen, …; yea, as Jeremiah’s rags helped to draw him out of the dungeon, so do afflictions work out to God’s people an exceeding, eternal weight of glory. Here, perhaps, they may be held under, but to him that overcometh will the Lord Christ grant to sit with him in his throne, Revelation 3:21 . The deluge of calamities may assault them, but it shall certainly exalt them. They shall have crowns on their heads, and palms in their hands, and walk arm in arm with angels. Some of the Hebrews by "kings" here understand angels, as if it were written îìàáéí , not Melachim, but Maleochim.

Yea, he doth establish them for ever, and they are exalted — Or, when they are exalted. This no earthly prince can promise himself. Dionysius, who thought his kingdom had been tied to him with cords of adamant, was at length driven out of it. But Christ’s kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and he will not reign alone; if we suffer with him we shall also reign together, Romans 8:37 .

Verse 8

And if [they be] bound in fetters, [and] be holden in cords of affliction;

And if they be bound in fetters — If it so happens, that through abuse of their prosperity and preferment, they wander, as they are men, out of the right way, and God sends out afflictions as his pursuivants to attack them, and lay them in cold irons for their correction, and to prevent judgment, Psalms 107:10 .

And be holden in cords of affliction — Or poverty; so that irretiti funibus misere vixerint (as the Tigurines here translate), they have only prisoners’ pittances, which will neither keep them alive nor suffer them to die.

Verse 9

Then he sheweth them their work, and their transgressions that they have exceeded.

Then he showeth them their work — By these sharp waters he cleareth up their eyesight, and gives them to see their sin, the mother of their misery. Vexatio dat intellectum, Smart makes wit. Manasseh, for instance, and the prodigal, and King Croesus, with his Nocumenta documenta, and Tullus Hostilius, with his excess of devotion, when once he had paid for his learning (Herodot. lib. 1. Liv. decad. 1, l. 5).

And their transgressions that they have exceeded — Heb. when they prevail; that before they grow too potent they may cast them away: Ne illi victi in Gehennam descendant, lest they hale them into hell (Mercer).

Verse 10

He openeth also their ear to discipline, and commandeth that they return from iniquity.

He openeth also their ear to discipline — See on Job 33:16 .

And commandeth that they return from iniquity — Unless they will have it to be their ruin; whereof obstinate sinners, who refuse to return, seem to be ambitious. Affliction sanctified is Lex practica, a practical law, saith one; it is Verus Scripturae commentarius, an excellent comment upon the Scripture, saith another. David could not learn God’s statutes till taught by this free schoolmaster; cursed enough and crabbed, but such as whereby God openeth men’s ears to discipline, and speaketh to them to return from iniquity, which is a piece of learning that people cannot pay too dearly for.

Verse 11

If they obey and serve [him], they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures.

If they obey and serve him, they shall, … — Heb. they shall finish, they shall spend and end their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasure, as Joseph, Job, and some others have done, who lived and died with glory. Howbeit this promise is to be understood with exception of the cross, which yet God both can, and to his will, make profitable and pleasant; as he did to that godly prince who, being asked, How he could so well endure so long and hard imprisonment? answered, That he had therein felt the divine consolations of the martyrs. But,

Virtutem pretium qui putet esse sui.

Verse 12

But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge.

But if they obey not, they shall perish by the swordIn gladium transibunt, they shall pass away by the sword; that is, some evil end shall befall them, and worthily, because they would not be warned, which is both a presage and desert of utter ruin. Lesser and lighter judgments (where they work not) are foretokens of greater and heavier at the heels of them; as the black horse in the Revelation followeth the red. And as clouds cluster against a storm, one following in the neck of the other, unless the sun break forth and scatter them; so do God’s judgments usher in one another and every less a greater, unless repentance and better obedience take up the matter.

And they shall die without knowledge — Heb. because they were without knowledge; and wilfully so. It was not a bare nescience, but an affected ignorance, that undid them. Some render it, Non praesentientes, they shall die suddenly, and before they have bethought themselves. It should be our care that death do not suddenly surprise us. No guest comes unawares to him who keeps a constant table. Every sharp affliction is a warning piece, and let us so conceive of it, Stillicidia praecedunt ruinam.

Verse 13

But the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath: they cry not when he bindeth them.

But the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath — Or, Yet; or, Howbeit: q.d. These foul sinners, that have turned repentance into a form, and converted conversion itself into sin, though they see bad men made good and good men made better by their afflictions, and incorrigible persons destroyed before their eyes, yet they amend not by God’s hand upon them, but are the worse for it; as iron grows more cold after a heat, and as naughty boys are more stupid and more stubborn after a whipping. Hypocritis nihit stupidius. These hollow hearted ones heap up wrath against the day of wrath, as St Paul makes up this saying, Romans 2:5 , which shall fall upon the Jew first, because of his pretence to religion, and then upon the Gentile. Nemo enim magis iram meretur, quam amicum simulans inimicus, saith Bernard, No man more deserveth wrath upon wrath than a feigned friend but true enemy. Such are all hypocrites, whether gross or close. And hence our Saviour’s severity against such in the Gospel, but especially Matthew 23:1-39 Neither let any such goat in sheep skin think to steal on Christ’s right hand at the last day; he shall uncase such and cashier them, yea, cast them into the hottest fire of hell, whereof hypocrites are as the freeholders, and other sinners but as tenants to them, for they shall have their portion with the devil and hypocrites. Some render it, Ponunt iram, and expound it incandescunt in Deum: When they are afflicted they wax hot against God, they gather wrath, as a toad swelleth when handled, as a serpent gathereth poison to spue out at those who meddle with him.

They cry not when God binds them — Cry they do after a sort, as hogs do when to be stuck; or dogs, when tied up from their meat. Murmur they do, and expostulate a wrong with God, as those Isaiah 58:2-3 . Non ita Deos coluimus, as that heathen hypocrite said, We have not served God so well that he should serve us no better; but pray they do not, unless it be as those hypocrites in Zechariah 7:1-14 , who fasted to themselves, and prayed for their own ends, more to get off their chains than their sins. They bear fruit to themselves, as Ephraim, and see what comes of it.

Verse 14

They die in youth, and their life [is] among the unclean.

They die in youth — They die before their time, as Solomon expresseth it; then, when it were better for them to do anything than to die, for they are killed with death, as Jezebel’s children were, Revelation 2:20-23 . Their soul dieth, as the Hebrew here hath it. Their soul perisheth among the boys, their life among the Sodomites, as Beza translateth this text, and thus paraphraseth. Therefore as accursed before God they die, and are reckoned among those impure young men whose youth, being spent in all filthiness and uncleanness, was subject to that most abominable lust which is not to be named. The sum of all is, saith Brentius, Hypocrita peribit turpiter, The hypocrite shall once come to a shameful end. And when the foul sinner shall be damned, what shall become of the fair professor? God will lead such forth with the workers of iniquity, yea, with the worst kind of sinners, Sodomites, for instance, shall he punish them.

Verse 15

He delivereth the poor in his affliction, and openeth their ears in oppression.

He delivereth the poor in his affliction — Oft in this life, as he did David signally, Psalms 34:6 , "This poor man" (meaning himself) "cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles." So he pulled Paul out of the mouth of the lion; yea, and the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, "and preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom," 2 Timothy 4:18 , where the saints shall be sure of full deliverance, and shall say of their afflictions, as that adulteress said of her accusers, John 8:10 , They are all gone.

He openeth their ears in oppression — Or, by oppression, as by a key; be openeth the ears of their hearts to holy and wholesome counsel. This Elihu had said before; but he saith it again for that end and purpose, that Job might rouse up and raise up himself to the hope of a comfortable restoration; for as much as God afflicteth not his to destroy them, but to make them partakers of his holiness; and that once done, to deliver them.

Verse 16

Even so would he have removed thee out of the strait [into] a broad place, where [there is] no straitness; and that which should be set on thy table [should be] full of fatness.

Even so would he have removed thee, …Thesin revocat ad hypothesin. Here Elihu applieth to Job that which he had more generally discoursed concerning godly men’s afflictions turned to their greatest good, if they be careful to improve the same. Heb. He would have persuaded, or gently removed thee.

Out of the strait, … — Heb. out of the mouth of the strait. A metaphor from wild beasts, that hold some prey in the mouth, saith Piscator. Or from a pit, narrow at the top and wide at the bottom, as R. Solomon, and some others, who understand it of hell. Brentius to the same sense rendereth the text thus, Eripiet te ab ore angustiae lato, sub quo nullum est fundamentum, He shall deliver thee from the broad mouth of straitness, under which there is no bottom.

And that which should be set on the table, … — Thou shouldest eat of the fat and drink of the sweet, thou sbouldest have known no want of anything, if thou hadst not been wanting to thyself, in making the best use of thy troubles. See Psalms 23:5 .

Verse 17

But thou hast fulfilled the judgment of the wicked: judgment and justice take hold [on thee].

But thou hast fulfilled the judgment of the wicked — But thou contrariwise blusterest against God, and blurtest out such words, that thou seemest to be as bad as the worst, and to have little or no goodness in thee. See Job 34:8 . It is a shame to God’s holy people to symbolize with the wicked, to be carnal in their speeches or carriages, and to walk as men, 2 Corinthians 3:3 . They should so speak and so do as those that shall be judged by the law of liberty, James 2:12 .

Judgment and justice take hold of thee — Thou art worthily attached by the Divine justice, which thou hast quarrelled.

Verse 18

Because [there is] wrath, [beware] lest he take thee away with [his] stroke: then a great ransom cannot deliver thee.

Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his stroke — Beza readeth it thus, Surely it is wrath, take heed lest with strokes it take thee away; i.e. Certainly the wrath of God doth in this thy calamity most manifestly show itself. Oh beware lest he double his strokes, and beat thee to pieces for thy disobedience and stubbornness. With the froward God will wrestle, Psalms 18:26 , and add to their miseries seven times more, and seven times and seven to that, Leviticus 26:18 ; Leviticus 26:21 ; Leviticus 26:24 ; Leviticus 26:28 .

Then a great ransom cannot deliver thee — Heb. turn thee aside, or help thee to decline; that is, to escape, no, though thou shouldest offer thousands of rams, or ten thousand rivers of oil, as Micah 6:7 .

Verse 19

Will he esteem thy riches? [no], not gold, nor all the forces of strength.

Will he esteem thy riches? — Tremellius rendereth it, thy nobility. Others read it thus, Will he regard thy crying in thine adversity? Or, That thou shouldest not abide in adversity? See Proverbs 10:2 ; Proverbs 11:4 , See Trapp on " Proverbs 10:2 " See Trapp on " Proverbs 11:4 "

No, not gold — Which yet can do much with men. The Hebrew word signifieth finest gold, Job 22:24 , and hath its name from defending, because gold is a man’s defence: with men it may be so, but not with God, Zephaniah 1:18 ; see the note there. Others read it, No, not in affliction.

Nor all the forces of strength — Which are poor things in comparison to God, whose weakness is stronger than men, 1 Corinthians 1:25 . He need but to arise, and his enemies shall be scattered; yea, all that hate him shall fly before him, Psalms 68:1 . As the rocks repel the greatest waves, so doth God his enemies, Conantia frangere franguut.

Verse 20

Desire not the night, when people are cut off in their place.

Desire not the night, … — That is, as some sense it, do not thou peevishly desire death, see Job 7:15 lest it come too soon, and it do by thee as it doth by many a one, whom it cuts off in judgment. For surely in the state thou art now in thou oughtest to fear an extraordinary kind of death, an inlet to eternal destruction, as in the deluge, Sodom, and Egypt. Others render it thus, Neither let it disquiet thee in the night, how people are destroyed out of their place; that is, in the night season, when thy mind is void of cares, puzzle not thyself how and why some nations perish, and not others, but rather rest thyself upon God’s providence and unsearchable wisdom, and trouble not thy head in searching out the cause of this so sudden misfortune. Brentius makes this the sense, Noli impie agere, Desire not the night; that is, deal not wickedly by complaining against God, and impatiently bearing his hand; as thieves and adulterers desire the night for despatch of their deeds of darkness. Think not thou to hide thyself in the dark from the dint of God’s displeasure.

When people are cut off in their place — Heb. ascend under them; i.e. rise, that they may fall, Psalms 102:10 ; as the light of a candle, when it is ready to go out, flieth up, and then vanisheth away; or as the corn is first taken up by the hand of the reaper, and then cut off, and laid flat on the ground.

Verse 21

Take heed, regard not iniquity: for this hast thou chosen rather than affliction.

Take heed, regard not iniquity — This especially of blaming God’s judgments, as if they were unequal. No more of that, saith Elihu. Cave tibi, ne coniecias oculos ad vanitatem, Beware thou cast not an eye towards such a vanity or iniquity as that is. This was very good counsel; and it is very well observed that this whole following treatise to the end of the thirty-seventh chapter is, as it were, a gentle lenitive of that foregoing sharp rebuke which otherwise was likely to drive Job beside all patience.

For this thou hast chosen rather than affliction — That is, this forementioned iniquity of speaking rashly and wickedly against God’s proceedings with thee; this thou hast chosen rather than to bear thine affliction, or thy poverty, patiently. Now this was an ill choice; for, quas non oportet mortes praeeligere, saith Zuinglius (Epist. 3), What deaths ought not a man rather to make choice of, what torments not rather undergo, yea, into what deepest gulf of hell itself not rather enter, than wittingly and willingly to sin against God! The ancient martyrs would not be delivered upon base terms, Hebrews 11:35 . Daniel chose rather to be thrown to the lions than to violate his conscience, and so to have a lion roaring in his own bosom. The primitive Christians cried out, Ad leonem magis quam lenonem (Tertul.). I would rather enter into hell, being clear from sin and innocent, quam peccati sorde pollutus, coelorum regna tenere, than go to heaven, if I might, besmeared with the filth of sin, saith Anselm. I would rather leap into a bonfire and be burnt, said another of the ancients, than commit any sin against God (Pintus in Daniel). Some write, that there is a certain little beast, called the mouse of Armenia, which will rather die than be defiled with any filth; insomuch that if her hole be besmeared with dirt she will rather choose to be taken than polluted. Such ought the servants of God to be.

Verse 22

Behold, God exalteth by his power: who teacheth like him?

Behold, God exalteth by his power — Vulgate - God is high in his strength. He both exalteth himself and others whensoever he pleaseth. Beza reads it, Behold, God in his strength is above all; q.d. It is he that must restore thee, if ever thou beest restored.

Who teacheth like him? — Vulgate - None among the law givers is like unto him. But the word Moreh signifieth a doctor or a teacher; as Moreh Nebuchim, a teacher of perplexed things, an unriddler of riddles. He knows all things exactly, and does all things with singular skill and understanding. He hath many ways of teaching people, and making them to profit, Isaiah 48:17 , and one is by afflictions, which Luther therefore fitly calleth Theologium Christianorum, the Christian system of divinity, as hath been before noted. Mr Ascham was a good school master, saith one, to Queen Elizabeth, but affliction was a better.

Verse 23

Who hath enjoined him his way? or who can say, Thou hast wrought iniquity?

Who hath enjoined him his way?q.d. Wilt thou take upon thee to teach this great Teacher how to govern the world? This were a strange kind of arrogance.

Or who can say, Thou hast wrought iniquity? — God’s judgments are sometimes secret, but always just. Let not men reprehend what they do not yet comprehend, but content themselves with a learned ignorance, till God shall further discover himself, saying of God’s works, as Socrates did of a certain book that he had read, What I understand therein is very good, and so I think is that I understand not. When we come into a craftsman’s shop, we may see many tools, the use whereof we know not, and yet we conclude they are of some use. Why then should men rashly censure God’s proceedings, which are many times in mediis contrariis, as Luther was wont to say, brought about by contrary means; that he may be the more admired, as Nazianzen giveth the reason, ’ Iνα και μαλλον θαυμαζηται (Naz. in Cypr.). The craftsman with a crooked tool makes straight work. The apothecary maketh of a poisonous viper a wholesome antidote; so here. Far be it from us therefore to charge God with iniquity, for this were, with those mad Manichees, to affirm, that till he had created light he dwelt in darkness, as if God were not an eternal light, 1 John 1:5 1 Timothy 6:16 , Manichaeorum diabolicus sarcasmus (Paraeus).

Verse 24

Remember that thou magnify his work, which men behold.

Remember that thou magnify his work — His work of creation; wherein the wisdom, power, and goodness of God is clearly manifested, Romans 1:19 , in that glorious structure of the heavens especially, which men behold. Or his work of administration and gubernation, whereof David saith, All thy works praise thee, O Lord; that is, they yield matter of magnifying thee; and thy saints shall bless thee, Psalms 145:10 . Remember that this be done, saith Elihu. Junius, by God’s works here, understandeth Noah’s flood.

Which men behold — Or, Whereof men do sing, saying, as in the next verse,

Verse 25

Every man may see it; man may behold [it] afar off.

Every man may see itsc. In quo est vel mica bonae mentis; for a brutish man knoweth it not, Psalms 92:6-7 . But stupidus est, et dignus cui oculi eruantur, saith Plato, He is a very blockhead, and worthy to have his eyes pulled out of his head, who looketh not above him and about him, that he may magnify and admire the wisdom of the creator of all, and preserver of mankind, Id quod et prudentes viri olim veluti gnoma quadam et communi sententia iactarunt, dicentes, Omnis homo aspicit, … (Brent.).

Man may behold it afar off — For heaven is far above earth, and it is a wonder that we can look to so admirable a height, and that the very eye is not tired in the way. And for things that are nearer to us, we see them but as through a glass obscurely; our knowledge of them is very imperfect, 1 Corinthians 11:13 , the reason of many things is above our reach. We read of one who had spent over forty years in finding out the nature and property of bees, and yet was not fully satisfied with many things therein.

Verse 26

Behold, God [is] great, and we know [him] not, neither can the number of his years be searched out.

Behold, God is great — Yea, he is maximus in minimis, greatest and most of all seen in the meanest creatures; as in ants more than in elephants, … God showeth in his works of all sorts, se aliquantum esse; sed quantus sit rursus operibus involvit; that he is very great, but how great he is that appears not (Brent.).

Neither can the number of his years be searched out — How should they say, when as his countenance is beyond all count, Psalms 102:24 ; Psalms 102:27 . Years are here ascribed unto him, and he is elsewhere called "Ancient of days," Daniel 7:9 , and the hairs of his head are said to be white like snow, Revelation 1:14 ; but all this is spoken of God after the manner of men; and should teach us, neither curiously to inquire into his counsels, nor discontentedly to complain of his doings.

Verse 27

For he maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof:

For he maketh small the drops of water — Here Elihu beginneth to instance the greatness of God in his works, and particularly in the meteors; many of which Aristotle confesseth he understood not. And this I dare say, saith a learned interpreter here, that there is not extant any poem, either of the Greeks or Latins, which may be compared with this stately eloquence of Elihu in describing those natural effects which are caused in the air; and for the same cause are of the philosophers called meteors, or airy impressions; as namely, clouds, rain, hail, snow, thunder, lightning, and such like; whereof he here discourseth very gravely and learnedly; and first of rain, which he describeth, 1. By the form or manner of producing it, Job 36:27-28 Job 36:2 . By the largeness of the clouds, and their noise, Job 36:29 Job 36:3 . By the sudden succession of fair weather and foul, Job 36:30 . And lastly, by the different use thereof in the three last verses of this chapter: God maketh small the drops of water; that is, he raineth by dividing the drops in the cloud, causing them to come down guttatim, piece-meal; and not by whole spouts, or pail fulls. Others read it, Subtrahit Deus, God draweth up drops of water, viz. out of the sea, the rivers, and other moist places, whence those vapours do ascend, of which are generated those drops of rain: Psalms 147:8 , "He covereth the heaven with clouds, he prepareth rain for the earth," …

They pour down rain according to the vapours thereof — As the vapours are greater or lesser, so is the rain. The rain ascendeth in thin vapours, but descendeth oft in thick showers; so do our poor prayers come down in greatest blessings; and we are sure of as much mercy as we bring faith to carry it away.

Verse 28

Which the clouds do drop [and] distil upon man abundantly.

Which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly — Hence the Dutch call it raegen, and we rained, a rigando, from watering the earth all over, at times. This is God’s work, and it ought to be marvellous in our eyes; it would be so were it not so ordinary. Non sanctis id ascribamus, multo minus sagis, the heathens gave their gods the glory of it. The Holy Ghost here and elsewhere setteth before us these common things, that when we see them, and yet know not the reason of them, we may gather, that we ought not overly curiously to pry into the profound judgments of God, which are far above the clouds, those receptacles of rain; yea, far above the highest heavens.

Verse 29

Also can [any] understand the spreadings of the clouds, [or] the noise of his tabernacle?

Also can any understand the spreading of the clouds — That is, the skill that God showeth in spreading forth the clouds to that large extent, and muffling the whole heavens with them, so that nature finds herself buried in darkness? Some render it, the divisions or differences of the clouds; illic enim fiunt miracula magna (Vatab.); for some clouds are empty, and answer not expectation (worthless and vain boasters are compared to such, Proverbs 25:14 ; Judges 1:12 ), some yield rain and drop fatness. Some, again, send forth hail, snow, frost, storm, thunder, lightnings, … (R. Levi). These are wonders in nature, far beyond human apprehension. The clouds God maketh one while as some airy seas, to hold water; another while as some airy furnaces, whence he scattereth the sudden fires into all parts of the earth, astonishing the world with the fearful noise of that eruption. Out of the midst of water he fetcheth fire, and hard stones out of the midst of thin vapours. Haec sunt sane admiranda et tremenda, saith Mercer. These are wonderful things, and no less dreadful. Is it not strange that of one and the same equal matter, viz. the vapours exhaled from the earth or water, various and different meteors should he engendered?

Or the noise of his tabernacle?i.e. The swinging showers, or rustling winds, or rattling thunder claps, one in the neck of another, out of the clouds, called here God’s tabernacle; in quo velut abditus, tot rerum miracula creat, wherein he sits in secret and unseen, creating many strange meteors to send down upon the earth; whereof the profoundest philosopher of them all can give no certain and undoubted reason.

Verse 30

Behold, he spreadeth his light upon it, and covereth the bottom of the sea.

Behold, he spreadeth his light upon it — That is, his fair weather, clearing up the cloudy sky, as some expound it; or, as others, his lightning shot forth every way, Psalms 18:13 ; Psalms 18:15 ; Psalms 144:6 . Or the sunbeams spread upon the sea, and drawing up vapours; unde mare hoc loco nubium radix dicitur, saith Brentius, whence the sea is here called the root of the clouds; or the surface of the sea is called the root of it, in regard to the wandering waves which are cut in asunder, after the manner of roots; so saith Vatablus. Those that by light here understand lightnings, say, that God maketh them dart so abundantly through the waters of the sea, that they do, as it were, cover all the bottom of it.

Verse 31

For by them judgeth he the people; he giveth meat in abundance.

For by them judgeth he the peoplei.e. By rain and drought in excess or defect, he punisheth people at his pleasure; whom oh how easily could he affamish by denying them a harvest or two! in granting whereof he giveth testimony of his bounty, Job 14:17 .

He giveth meat in abundancesc. By sending moderate showers fattening the earth; whereunto also the preaching of the Word is fitly compared, Isaiah 55:10-11 , which those that drink not in and fructify, Deuteronomy 32:2 , are accursed, Hebrews 6:8 .

Verse 32

With clouds he covereth the light; and commandeth it [not to shine] by [the cloud] that cometh betwixt.

With clouds he covereth the light — Heb. With the palms of his hands (so the clouds are called, see 1 Kings 18:44 ) he hideth light; that is, the sunbeams, viz. when he sendeth rain, the heavens are masked.

And commandeth it not to shine — Heb. And forbiddeth it (those words, not to shine, are not in the original), propter intercedentem, for the sake of those that intercede. He giveth rain or fair weather upon the prayers of his faithful people; who can thereby open and shut heaven, as did Elijah and the thundering legion. R. Levi interpreteth this and the following verse concerning thunder.

Verse 33

The noise thereof sheweth concerning it, the cattle also concerning the vapour.

The noise thereof sheweth concerning it — The hurrying noise made in the air before a shower of rain foreshoweth it to be at hand.

The cattle also concerning the vapour — Heb. concerning that which goeth up. Hogs, sheep, oxen, …, have a better scence of smell than men; and can perceive the vapours going up to cause rain before men can see or feel them. Hence shepherds and herdsmen gather prognostics of rain, and are so weather wise, as we call it. Aben-Ezra noteth, that sheep lying on the right side foresignify foul weather, Ad dextram cubantes oves pluviam portendunt (Merlin). See Virgil, Georg. l. i., and Pliny Nat. Hist. l. xviii. c. 35. Some render this verse (than which there is not a harder in all the book, saith Mercer), thus, Declaring toward him (who intercedeth) his good will toward the cattle, and also toward the increase of the earth.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 36". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/job-36.html. 1865-1868.
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