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Job 8:1 Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,
Ver. 1. Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said ] Bildad (who was of the posterity of Shuah, Abraham’s son by Keturah, Gen 24:1-2 ) interrupteth Job, and endeavours to maintain what Eliphaz had spoken; nevertheless, it appeareth by this chapter, Job 8:5-6 ; Job 8:20-21 , that his opinion was not so rigid as that of Eliphaz: for he grants that a righteous man may be afflicted, but yet so, that if God restore him not speedily, he may be censured, cast, and condemned as unrighteous. He passeth (as they do all) some hard censures upon Job; and is paid in his own coin by him; who saith that he was, according to his name, a wicked kinsman; for בל is naught, and רוד an uncle. With what judgment men judge they shall be judged. Matthew 7:2 .
Job 8:2 How long wilt thou speak these [things]? and [how long shall] the words of thy mouth [be like] a strong wind?
Ver. 2. How long wilt thou speak these things? ] Quousque effaberis ista. q.d. Hast thou nothing better than this to utter? (Tremel.) Be silent for shame, or forbear at least to vent thy spleen against God, of whose proceedings with thee thou hast heavily complained; thy words have been stout against the Lord, and thou hast taken too much liberty of language in this tempest of talk.
And how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a strong wind? ] Big and boisterous, rude and robustuous, as if thou wouldst Dominum impetere, evertere, et deiecere, blow down God and his proceedings at a breath (Mercer). The Tigurine translation is, Quandiu verba oris sui sonabunt pertinaciam? How long shall the words of thy mouth sound out thine obstinacy? If evil thoughts be maioris reatus, of greater guilt, as the schools speak; yet evil words and works are maioris infamiae, of greater scandal, and do more corrupt others. This Bildad was sensible of, and conceiving that Job complained of God as dealing hardly with him, and unjustly afflicting him, he addeth,
Job 8:3 Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert justice?
Ver. 3. Doth God prevent judgment? ] By not punishing the wicked; or doth the Almighty prevent justice? by not rewarding the righteous (so the Hebrews expound it). Why, no; neither did Job ever say such a thing; only he had pathetically set forth the greatness of his pain, and the unkindness of his friends, and wished to die rather than to endure it. Now this was construed for blasphemy, or little less; and Bildad is very hot in his invective against Job, as good reason he had, if he had not been so mistaken. Here he wresteth in a most true proposition ( commodam sane sed non accommodam ), but yet such a one as very little concerned this present disputation; and he doth it with as small wisdom and discretion, saith Beza, as with great pride and confidence. For doth it either argue Job a hypocrite and wicked man, or charge God with injustice, if it be said, that Job for his sins was not so afflicted by God (whereas he in the mean time denieth himself to be a sinner, and to have deserved God’s heavy hand upon him), but rather proved and tried by him according to his good pleasure? yet Bildad goeth on as if he had done very well; and in the next verse in plain words boldly avoucheth that Job’s children were by God’s judgment destroyed with the fall of the house, whatever betide their souls.
Job 8:4 If thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them away for their transgression;
Ver. 4. If thy children have sinned against him ] As what man is he that liveth and sinneth not? But Bildad meant that Job’s children had heinously sinned, had been grievous sinners against their own souls (as afterwards were Korah and his accomplices), had not sinned common sins, and therefore died not common deaths; indeed, they died early and suddenly, and eating and drinking (wherein there might be some excess), and before sacrifice offered for them, as formerly; all this was sad, and moved Job more than anything else. But did it therefore follow that God had cast them away? &c.
And he have cast them away for their transgression ] Or, and he have expelled or abandoned them into the hand (so the Hebrews hath it elegantly) of their transgressions or rebellions, as so many executioners. Some render it thus, He hath driven them out of the world for their transgression. The Chaldee paraphrast goeth further, interpreting hand here for place (Pagnin.). If God have sent them, saith he, into the place of their wickedness, that is, into hell prepared for the wicked. Now surely, saith Lavater, Inhumanissimus fuit Bildad, qui ista calamitosissimo obiecere non dubitabat, Bildad was a most unmerciful man, who doubted not to lay these things in the dish of him that was before so heavily afflicted, and to heap more load upon him who was ready to sink under his burden; but he did it, say some, of a good intent, to bring Job to a sense of his sin, and to put him in hope of appeasing God s wrath, who had yet spared his life that he might make his peace, and not suddenly slain him, as he had done them; and therefore he assureth him in the following verses, as Eliphaz had done before, that all things shall go well with him if he repent. Albeit thy children have sinned, &c., yet
Job 8:5 If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty;
Ver. 5. If thou wouldst seek unto God betimes ] If warned by the evil end that befell thine unhappy children, thou wouldst early and earnestly seek unto God for mercy, for which purpose it may seem that thy life hast been graciously spared, when thy children have been destroyed, that thou might be made wise at their expense. Such counsel as that is Eliphaz hath given Job before, Job 5:8 .
And make thy supplication to the Almighty ] Pray for mercy out of free grace alone, so the Hebrew word signifieth; plead for pity, speak supplications, as the poor man doth, Proverbs 18:23 . Be poor in spirit, a stark beggar and bankrupt, less than the least of all God’s mercies, Genesis 32:10 , and in this mind address thyself to the all sufficient, the cornucopia, the God rich in mercy to all that call upon him, for pardon of thy great sin in standing out in contention with his majesty, and resisting his fatherly visitation.
Job 8:6 If thou [wert] pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous.
Ver. 6. If thou wert pure and upright ] If thou didst lift up pure hands to God in prayer, &c. Oς κε θεοις επιπειθηται μαλα τ εκλυον αυτου ..
Pura Deus mens est, pura vult mente vocari:
Et puras iussit pondus habere preces.
The fountain of goodness will not be laden at with foul hearts and hands, Jeremiah 4:14 Jam 4:8 Isa 1:15-16 John 9:31 1 Timothy 2:8 . Thus a heathen philosopher, being at sea in a great storm, and perceiving many wicked wretches with him in the ship calling upon the gods, Silete, inquit, ne Dii vos hic navigare sentiant, Hold your tongues, said he, pray not, lest the gods take notice that you are here, and we all perish for your sakes. There are that take these words for reformation, as the former verse for humiliation, those two parts of true repentance: if thou wert pure and upright, as a right penitentiary would be; if thou wouldst break off thy sins by repentance, and especially thine hypocrisy which hath brought this punishment upon thee from the Lord. If thou wouldst not only repent for thy sins, but also from thy sins, and frame to lead a new life, which is optima et aptissima paenitentia, saith Luther, the best and soundest repentance.
Surely now he would awake for thee ] Thou shouldst undoubtedly find speedy and unmiscarrying returns of thy prayers, and all good acceptance of thy services. He will hear thee for deliverance, so the Septuagint render it; he will up and do it, he will arise and have mercy upon Zion, Psalms 102:13 , for now that she prayeth and purgeth herself from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come. I am come for thy words, saith the angel to Daniel, Job 10:12 .
And make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous ] i.e. He will bless thy well ordered family, and whatsoever thou dost therein shall prosper, Psalms 1:3 . Thy children and servants shall live together in peace, and all good agreement; thy stock, also, and thy store shall be increased. He shall restore it to, or repair it for, thee, as the Septuagint here render it, αποκαταστησει δι σοι (Sept.), peace, plenty, and prosperity shall be heaped upon thee; this is the import of the word שׁלם . Some of the Hebrews by habitation of righteousness here understand the soul, in which dwelleth righteousness. Others of them take it for the body, the habitation of the soul, wherein righteousness is seated. But these senses are far fetched.
Job 8:7 Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase.
Ver. 7. Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase ] Thy recent losses God will recompense with interest; and the felicity which he prepareth for thee shall be far greater than the loss whereof thou dost now regret; for he will enrich thee to admiration, thy latter end shall be ineffable (so the Septuagint have it), such as none shall be able to utter or describe, τα εσχατα σου αμυθητα . See Job 40:10 ; Job 40:12 . The day of small things is not to be despised, Zechariah 4:10 . Every former mercy is a pledge of a future; and to him that hath shall be given. God delighteth to help his people with a little help at first, to crumble his mercies to us, as one phraseth it; to give us his blessings by retail, to maintain trading and communion between him and us. So the cloud emptieth not itself at a sudden burst, but dissolveth upon the earth drop after drop.
Job 8:8 For enquire, I pray thee, of the former age, and prepare thyself to the search of their fathers:
Ver. 8. For enquire, I pray thee ] Bildad speaks fairly, as Eliphaz had done, whom he all along imitateth.
A bove maiori discit arare minor.
Of the former age ] The generations who came before, the Kadmonim, as the Jews called their ancestors, and used this saying concerning them, Cor priscorum fuit sicut porta, &c., the heart of our progenitors was as the gate of the porch of the Temple, ample and beautiful; but the heart of their posterity is as the eye of the needle, narrow and of no receipt in comparison, Rara datur longo prudentia temporis usu (Talmud). Of witnesses Aristotle witnesseth, that the more ancient they are the more creditable, because less corrupt, Pιστοτατοι οι παλαιοι, αδιαφθοροι γαρ (Rheto. lib. i). Nihil mihi antiquius, say the Latins; Nothing is more ancient to me, that is, more highly reputed. And new things are nothing, say the Greeks, τα καινα κενα . Siculus maketh mention of an Egyptian priest, who said to Solon, one of the Greek Sages, You Greeks are very boys (ye are but of yesterday, as it is in the next verse), neither is there an old man (that is, a man versed in ancient histories, or acquainted with antiquities) to be found amongst you all, Seris venit usus ab annis, Gερων δε ελλην ουκ εστι (Diod. Sic.). Much of the ancient divinity was traditional till Moses set pen to paper; the mind of God was either immediately revealed, or handed down and transmitted from father to son, from generation to generation. Hence Bildad here bids Job inquire of the former ages; and thereto refers him for further information; so doth Moses the Israelites, Deuteronomy 4:20 ; Deuteronomy 32:7 . Antiquity, so it be right, is of no small authority; that is a received rule, Quod antiquissimum verissimum, That is truest which is most ancient; as we prefer the newest philosophy, so the ancientest divinity. The Papists boast much of antiquity (as the Gibeonites did of old shoes and mouldy bread); but when they come to prove it, they go no higher than to about a thousand years ago. They scornfully look upon us as novelers, and ask where our religion was before Luther? We answer them, that our religion was always in the Bible, where their religion never was. This is the old commandment, saith St John, which was from the beginning, 1 John 2:7 .
And prepare thyself to the search of their fathers ] Or fit thyself, fix thy mind upon it, as Psalms 100:1 . We must not think to find truth but upon a serious search, Proverbs 2:3 . Anaxagoras complained omnia esse circumfusa tenebris, that all things were full of darkness. Empedocles, that the inlets of the senses were very narrow. Democritus, that truth lay hid as it were in a deep pit that could hardly be fathomed. St Paul cries out, O the depth! How unsearchable are God’s judgments, and his ways past finding out! Prepare therefore to this search after God; and pray as that poor man did that cried after Christ; and when he was asked, What wouldst thou have? Lord, said he, that mine eyes might be opened.
Job 8:9 (For we [are but of] yesterday, and know nothing, because our days upon earth [are] a shadow:)
Ver. 9. For we are but of yesterday ] Heb. We are yesterday, that is, yesterday’s offspring, upstarts, mushrooms, novices of very small standing in the world. And yet they were old men, Job 15:10 . Eliphaz is esteemed to be a hundred and fifty, Bildad a hundred and forty, Zophar a hundred and twenty years old; and yet, in comparison to the fathers before the flood, they were but of yesterday, they had lived but a very little while, and were but of late time.
And know nothing ] Neque experti sumus, saith Tremellius; the greatest part of our knowledge is but the least part of our ignorance: how can we know much, when our abode here is so short, our experience so little? Art longa, vita brevis, said Hippocrates, life is short, and art is long. Themistocles, though he lived a hundred and seven years, yet at his death complained, saying, Now I am to die when I begin to be wise. Solon said, that though old, yet he thought not himself too old to learn; and Julian the lawyer was wont to say, that when he had one foot in the grave, yet he would have the other in the school.
Because our days upon earth are a shadow ] Fluxa, instabilis, et ipsa ultro abiens, saith Junius, unsubstantial, unsettled, uncertain, there is no hold nor tack in it, Psalms 102:11 1 Chronicles 29:15 , What is man but a dream of a shadow, saith Pindarus; a shadow of smoke, saith Sophocles; a shadow of a shadow, saith Aeschylus, σκιας ουαρ, καπνου σκια, ειδωλον σκιας . He is therefore not a man, but a shadow of man (as Lamech’s second wife’s name was Zillah, a shadow of a wife, Tsillah, umbra ipsius, and as Menander calleth a false friend φιλου σκιαν , the shadow of a friend); he hath not so much as shadow of reason or true understanding, who, by spending the span, by wasting the shadow of this short life, after the ways of his own heart, bereaveth himself of a room in that city of pearls, and loseth the comforts of that life which lasteth for ever.
Job 8:10 Shall not they teach thee, [and] tell thee, and utter words out of their heart?
Ver. 10. Shall they not teach thee, and tell thee ] They, that is, the forefathers, Job 8:8 , these, though dead and gone, yet by their records and monuments, by their apopthegms and oracles (for the words of dying men are living oracles), do still teach us and tell us their minds, as if they were yet living, Heb 11:4 Luke 16:29 . Books are mute matters, silent voices. The way to be wise, said a heathen, is to converse with the dead, τοις νεκροις συγχρωτιζειν . Histories are faithful counsellors, and by the reading of them many young men have attained to more understanding than their elders; as Augustus, Theodosius, Macarius, who was surnamed παιδαριογερων , the old youth, for his wisdom and gravity above his years, gotten by reading and prayer, as saith Nicephorus.
And utter words out of their heart? ] Discourses dug out of their own hearts, things new and old, thrown out of that good treasure, e cordibus, non e codicibus, they were egregie cordati homines, hearty good men, and their speeches were heart sprung, dipped in their hearts, and there recalled ad limam, priusquam ad linguam, weighed before uttered. They spake not as thou dost, Job, rashly and at random; judiciously, solidly, oraculously conduct them therefore, and as they speak from their own heart, so let them speak to thine. With the ancient is wisdom, and in length of days understanding, Job 12:12 .
Job 8:11 Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow without water?
Ver. 11. Can the rush grow up without mire? ] Iam subiungit quod illi exploratum habuerant et perspectum, sed eleganti similitudine, saith Mercer; that is, here Bildad setteth forth what the fathers had observed, taught, and told them; and this he doth by three elegant similitudes, which was a way of teaching usual among the ancients, ut quod per simplex praeceptum teneri non possit, per similitudines teneretur, that that which could not be remembered by simple precepts, might be retained by similitudes drawn from natural things, which are as shadows to us of spiritual (Hieron. in cap. 19, Matth.). And first from the rush, which hath its name from drinking; because it lives in liquor, it loves and delights in a moorish soil. Can the rush (or bulrush, Exodus 2:3 Isa 18:2 ) grow up? Heb. perk and pride itself, bear the head aloft, shoot up amain, without mire or moisture, such as are the fens? Job 40:21 . The meaning hereof is, saith Ferus, look how the rush and flag grow not but in miry places; remove them to dry and firm ground, and they soon wither: so the wicked hypocrite in prosperity maketh a great show of piety; but in adversity he loseth that very show, and by his impatience maketh the hollowness of his heart appear to all men. And herein Bildad aimed at the making of Job’s case odious, whom he now held to be a hypocrite.
Can the flag ] Or grass of the meadow? Genesis 41:2 . It hath its name from brotherhood, because many piles of grass, or sedge, grow from one and the same root, but not without water. See 1 Kings 18:5 , Sic mala quaedam olitores Germanitatis recant.
Job 8:12 Whilst it [is] yet in his greenness, [and] not cut down, it withereth before any [other] herb.
Ver. 12. Whilst it is yet in his greenness, &c. ] And so withereth not through age, as being but in its shooting up.
And not cut down ] Or, cropped off, either by the hands of men or teeth of beasts.
It withereth ] For want of water, without store whereof it cannot live. The hypocrite is a sensualist, Jdg 18:19 Job 21:11 Hosea 4:11 ; he liveth in such miry places as cannot be healed by the waters of the sanctuary, Ezekiel 47:11 . He saith, as the vine and the olive in Jotham’s parable, I cannot leave my wine, my fat and sweet sins; take away my liquor, you take away my life. He serveth not the Lord Jesus Christ (whatever he pretendeth), but his own belly, Romans 16:17-18 . He followeth Christ for the loaves only.
Before any other herb ] That is, of less show, but better rooting. These retain their verdure, and look on, as it were, to see the rush wither: so David did by Doeg, Psalms 52:5-6 ; Psalms 52:8 .
Job 8:13 So [are] the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite’s hope shall perish:
Ver. 13. So are the paths of all that forget God ] To remember God is as necessary as to draw breath, saith Chrysostom. This the wicked man doth not, Psalms 9:17 . He will neither have God in his head, Psalms 10:4 , nor heart, Psalms 14:1 , nor words, Psalms 12:2 , nor ways, Titus 1:16 . What wonder then though his paths wither, though his life, health, wealth, power, perish, since he is in such a posture of distance from, and defiance with, the fountain of living waters, the Father of all mercy and consolation; by whose favour such flourish for a time, sed exoriuntur, ut exurantur?
And the hypocrite’s hope shall perish] Every wicked man is a hypocrite; and if there were nothing else to evince it, yet his very hope and groundless confidence in the mercies of God without warrant of promise, would undoubtedly prove it. Praesumendo sperat, et sperando petit, saith an ancient; he presumptuously hopeth, and by hoping perisheth; he lays his own shadow for a bridge, and so must needs fall into the brook. Trust thou in the Lord and do good, saith David, Psalms 37:3 . But this man, though he cannot tell of one tear for sin, nor one hour spent in the practice of mortification; yet he affirmeth deeply of going to heaven, and is ready to rap, yea, bounce at heaven’s gate with Lord, Lord, open unto us: but what saith the psalmist? "As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways" (though they do it never so slily, as if they would steal a passage to hell, and the world never the wiser), "the Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity," with gross offenders, Psalms 125:5 , as malefactors are led forth to execution; and when the filthy sinner (so the word here rendered hypocrite signifieth) goes damned to hell, what shall become of the zealous professor, with all his fair hopes and possibilities? Surely God rejecteth their confidences; they shall not prosper in them, Jeremiah 2:37 .
Job 8:14 Whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust [shall be] a spider’s web.
Ver. 14. Whose hope (or whose folly, that is, whose foolish hope) shall be cut off] The Latin translation hath it, his folly shall not please him, sc. when once he seeth, by the disappointment of his high hopes, what a fool’s paradise he had wrought himself into, what pains he hath taken to go to hell, his hope shall be cut off; and that is the greatest cut in the world, Hypocritis nihil stupidius. This Bildad telleth the hypocrite twice over; because he will hardly be drawn to believe it. But that he telleth Job so, as if he were this hopeless hypocrite, he is quite beside the cushion, as we say.
And whose trust shall be a spider’s web] Wherein there is much artifice, but no strength. Trust is somewhat more than hope; it is a bearing a man’s self bold upon the assurance that all shall be well. Such was that of Babylon in their provision laid in to hold out a siege of twenty years’ length. Such also is that of mystical Babylon, who saith, "I shall see no sorrow," Revelation 18:7 . But this trust never triumpheth. It is (by a second comparison) here fitly set forth by a spider’s web, Heb. a spider’s house, Isaiah 59:5 , so called because therein the spider lodgeth herself, as if safe, and out of harm’s way, which is nothing so. A reverend man cleareth the comparison thus: first, the spider’s web is made out of her own bowels (her motto was mihi soli debeo I owe it to myself only), so is the hypocrite’s hope merely from his own brain and imagination. Secondly, though this web be curiously framed, yet it only catcheth flies; so do hypocrites look after ceremonies, and not substance. Thirdly, the spider is full of poison, and remaineth in a dusty nasty hole, though she work never so curiously; so doth the hypocrite abide in his unregeneracy, &c. Fourthly, she gets to the top of the window, as high as she can; and then when she falls, she falls to the bottom, for nothing stays her: so here. Fifthly, when the besom comes, she and her web are swept away, and she is trodden under foot; so are all presumptuous hypocrites. Becket’s friends advised him (for his security) to have a mass in honour of St Stephen, (to keep him from the hands of his enemies): he did so, but it saved him not. Contrarily, a poor persecuted Huguenot in the Massacre at Paris had crept into a hole, a spider comes and weaves a cobweb over it; the murderers therefore presumed him not there; and so he was preserved. What cannot the Lord do by the weakest means that may be?
Job 8:15 He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand: he shall hold it fast, but it shall not endure.
Ver. 15. He shall lean upon his house ] The spider shall, so Vatablus taketh it; but better, the hypocrite leaneth, or layeth his whole weight upon his house, that is, wealth, children, friends, clients, tenants, &c., as did Doeg, Psalms 52:7 ; Haman, Esther 3:9-11 . That profane earl of Westmoreland, who said that he needed not at all to pray to God, for he had tenants enough to pray for him. Bildad probably glanceth here at Job, as if he had once trusted in his riches, relations, &c., which yet Job disavoweth, Job 31:24-25
But it shall not stand ] No more than the spider’s house doth, borne down sometimes by her very weight, and not only by the wind. Hypocrites ruin their own houses by their sins, and particularly by relying on them. Though thou build thy palace as high as heaven, said the oracle to Phocas, yet sin, that lieth at the bottom, will be the ruin of it.
He shall hold it fast ] Mordicus tenebit, he shall hold it, not with his hands only, but with his teeth, as Cynegiras did the Persian ship; or as a drowning man doth the branch of a tree.
But it shall not endure ] All will not do; riches avail not in the day of wrath, &c. A hypocrite runs in his trouble to former false refuges; he trusted to his legs, or repairs to his bushes, as the hunted hare goes to the places that she used when she lived in quiet, thither she flees when she knows not how else to escape; but all to no purpose.
Job 8:16 He [is] green before the sun, and his branch shooteth forth in his garden.
Ver. 16. He is green before the sun ] Succosus est, saith Tremellius, he is sappy and juicy, having a confluence of all kind of comforts and contentments, even more than heart could wish, as David expresseth it, Psalms 73:7 . The hypocrite is all this; the height of whose happiness is here set forth by a third similitude, lest any should think that the two former did not reach home to the thing intended. Look how, saith Bildad, a great and tall tree, having many roots and branches, may be so cut up and thrown down, that no footstep, or sign of it, may any more appear; so may it fare with a wicked man: though he be as a tree green or juiceful before the sun, or when the sun shineth hottest upon him, the rush may then wither, but not the tree. See Psalms 37:35 . A hypocrite may abound exceedingly in outward prosperity; yea, he may be green for a while before the sun of persecution, as was Alexander the coppersmith, Acts 19:32 2 Timothy 4:14 . The thorny ground stood out the heat of the sunbeams, and shrank not in the wetting.
And his branch shooteth forth in his garden ] Mr Broughton translates, His suckers sprout out over his orchard, that is, he grows luxuriously eminent in the place where he liveth, which he hath made to become a kind of a paradise, or garden of delight. By garden here we are to understand, saith Mercer, all those ways and means whereby a wicked man fenceth and increaseth his own greatness. Some of the Jewish doctors, and others also after them, think that Bildad here beginneth to speak of the godly man’s happiness; and they read the text thus, But the perfect man (so they supply the text out of Job 8:20 ) is green before the sun, and his branches, &c. His roots are wrapped near the fountain, and he windeth himself about the stony building (that is, it spreadeth and twisteth its boughs round about the fountain vault, being strongly built with stone); shall he be taken out of his place, which may deny, saying, I have not seen thee? No, that cannot be, Lo, this shall be that joy of his way, even out of his mould shall others grow, i.e. his very dust shall live and grow up after him. Thus Beza, and after him Diodati; he is like an exquisite tree set in a pleasant garden in sight of his master’s palace, sucking the sweet moistness of the quick springs, without ever fading or withering, Psa 1:3 Jeremiah 17:8 . That is to say, he shall have a lively root of faith, continually nourished by God’s grace; under his safeguard and favour he shall be strong in all assays, abundant in good works, and all manner of blessings. Uterque sensus egregius est, saith Mercer; this also is a good sense, but the former I conceive to be the better, and more agreeable to the letter of the text.
Job 8:17 His roots are wrapped about the heap, [and] seeth the place of stones.
Ver. 17. His roots are wrapped about the heap, &c. ] i.e. They are deeply intrenched, and strongly incorporated into the ground, wreathed in with the heap, as thorns about a hedge. The hypocrite seemeth to be notably well rooted ( intricantur ), not in the world only, but in the Church too, which we may compare (as Plato doth man, whom he calleth φυτον ουρανιον , a heavenly plant) to a tree inverted, with the root above, and the branches below. Our Saviour speaketh of branches in him (seemingly so) that bear not fruit, John 15:2 . These are hypocrites, who think themselves to be rooted in Christ, and others also think no less of them, but it proves otherwise, for they are fruitless; as a pole fixed in the earth, but not rooted there; as a rotten leg cleaves to the body, but is no part of it; or as wens and ulcers, which are taken away without any loss to it. How far a hypocrite may go, see the parable of the stony and thorny grounds, Mat 13:20-23 See also Hebrews 6:4-5 ; Hebrews 10:39 2 Peter 2:20-21 . He may come as far as Kadeshbarnea, within 11 days’ journey of the heavenly Canaan, and yet fall short of it; he may seem to be steadfast and unmoveable, as a tree whose roots are wrapped about a rock.
He seeth the place of stones ] Mr Broughton rendereth it, He planteth about the house of stone: others, He looketh into the house of stone; he looks in at the windows, and so hindereth the light, annoying the master’s house both below and above, who therefore resolves to have him down; as it followeth.
Job 8:18 If he destroy him from his place, then [it] shall deny him, [saying], I have not seen thee.
Ver. 18. If he destroy him from his place ] If he stub up this green tree, no better surely than the cyparit, of which Pliny writeth that it beareth fruit to no purpose, small berries, bitter leaves, that it yields an ill smell, and no pleasant shade; or as the boxtree, green indeed all the year about, but of an offensive smell, no fruit, and such a seed as all living creatures hate. Now if he, that is, Almighty God, destroy him, that is, the hypocrite, as he will do questionless (totally and speedily swallowing him up), what then?
Then it shall deny him, saying, I have not seen thee ] Heb. It shall tell a lie of him, &c., the place, as ashamed to own him, shall feign and say, We have not seen him, we know not what is become of him. So Psalms 37:35-36 . As they have denied the Lord that bought them, 2 Peter 2:1 , so they shall one day be denied by the places they have bought or builded, by the people that once clawed them, and cried them up.
Job 8:19 Behold, this [is] the joy of his way, and out of the earth shall others grow.
Ver. 19. Behold, this is the joy of his way ] q.d. A goodly joy! sure the hypocrite’s joy is but the hypocrisy of joy, a little counterfeit complexion, like a slight dash of rain, a handful of brushwood, or sear thorn under the pot, Ecclesiastes 7:6 , or as weeds that grow on the top of the water, floating aloft, but touch not the bottom. Though it be an exulting joy (as the word signifieth), a leaping joy (such as is that of dogs leaping upon their masters returning home after a journey, Ut canes solent quando peregre advenienti domino adulantur ), yet it is not lasting: it goes out as a snuff, or as a blazing star, or at best as the fire of thorns, Psalms 118:12 . Yea, though for the time it hath been so great that if it had continued but a while it would have overwhelmed them, so that their spirits would have expired, as some apostates have professed; they have thought themselves in heaven sometimes, and have rejoiced accordingly, ουδεν δε π ροσποιητον υονιμον (Naz.).
And out of the earth shall others grow ] Alii qui alieni erunt ab eo (Drus.). Others who had no relation to him shall succeed him, enjoy his estate, and eat the sweet of all his labours, Job 27:16-17 Ecclesiastes 2:18 ; Ecc 4:8 Proverbs 12:3 , "A man shall not be established by wickedness: but the root of the righteous shall not be moved." See another sense of this, and the three foregoing verses, Job 8:18 .
Job 8:20 Behold, God will not cast away a perfect [man], neither will he help the evil doers:
Ver. 20. Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man ] Epilogus sermonis Bildad. This is the epilogue or close of Bildad’s speech to Job; and it hath been the tartness of a threatening mixed with the sweetness of the promise: sour and sweet, we say, make the best sauce (Mercer). The strong God will not use, or rather abuse, his power, to the rejecting or reprobating (as the Septuagint render it) of an upright person; but will help him by taking him by the hand, as it followeth in the next clause, and taking it ill if others do not so too, Isaiah 51:18 . He will never leave them (or if sometimes he seem to leave them, yet), he will not forsake them, Hebrews 13:5 : forsake them he may in regard of vision, but not of union; desert them for a time (as he did Christ himself), but not disinherit them. "When they be in the land of their enemies" (and so may seem quite cast away) "I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them, for I am the Lord their God," Leviticus 26:44 . Lo, this is the portion of a perfect man. As for hypocrites (who are semiperfectae virtutis homines, as Philo calleth them; cakes half-baked, Hosea 7:8 ; Christians almost, but not altogether, Act 26:29 ), my God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him, Hosea 9:15 .
Neither will he help the evildoers ] Heb. He will not lay hold upon the hand, viz. to help them; or he will not take by the hand the evil doers that make a trade of sin: Non porriget manum malignis (Vulg.).; he will have no communion or commerce with such, he will not strike hands or join hands with them, but wash his hands of them for ever, shake them off with a Discedite, Depart ye, be packing: so should we. See David’s practice, Psalms 26:4-5 , and prayer, Job 8:9 , "Gather not my soul with sinners," &c. It was once the prayer of a good gentlewoman, when she was to die, being in much trouble of conscience, O Lord, let me not go to hell, where the wicked are; for, Lord, thou knowest I never loved their company here.
Job 8:21 Till he fill thy mouth with laughing, and thy lips with rejoicing.
Ver. 21. Till he fill thy mouth with laughing, &c. ] Here he applies the promise of the Divine help to Job, and that which is here spoken, debent et reliqui fideles ad se transferre, saith Lavater, every true believer must take home to himself. God will turn all their sadness into gladness, all their sighing into singing, all their tears into triumphs, their sorrowful outcries into joyful jubilees. In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare or a cord, viz. to strangle his joy with, to check and choke all his comforts: but the righteous sing and rejoice, Proverbs 29:6 . They may do so here amidst all their troubles, 2 Corinthians 7:4 . As the lily looks fresh, and beautiful, and blithe, though among thorns; they shall do so hereafter, when they enter into the joy of their Master. See Isaiah 65:13 . A joy fitter to be believed than possible to be discoursed. See a shadow of it, Psalms 126:1-2 .
Job 8:22 They that hate thee shall be clothed with shame; and the dwelling place of the wicked shall come to nought.
Ver. 22. They that hate thee shall be clothed with shame ] It shall cover their faces, Psalms 69:7 , yea, cover over the whole man; when beyond all expectation they shall see thee restored to thy former prosperity. Where it is worth considering, saith one, how truly this happened touching Job, and these friends of his; he was restored, and they, by God’s reproving them, covered with shame, as it appeareth, Job 42:7-10
And the dwelling place of the wicked shall come to nought ] Heb. Shall not be. See Job 8:18 . Understand it not of his tabernacle only, or dwelling place, but of his whole estate, both temporal and spiritual, all shall come to rack and ruin. God shall utterly overturn them, as Zisca did those 300 monasteries, and among the rest that famous monastery called the king’s court, a mile from Prague; in the walls whereof the whole Bible was most exquisitely written in letters of gold (Mr Clark in his Life). "The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish," Proverbs 14:11 .
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 8". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30