The Benevolent Purposes of Divine Justice
v. 1. Elihu also proceeded, since Job continued to hold his peace, and said,
v. 2. Suffer me a little, hearing his instructions only a little while longer, and I will show thee that I have yet to speak on God's behalf, there was still something to say on the Lord's side of the question, something that had greater weight even than the arguments advanced up till now.
v. 3. I will fetch my knowledge from afar, not in far-fetched arguments, but from the wide expanse of history and the realm of nature, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker, his topic being so great and wonderful that it inspired Elihu with an impressive array of arguments, especially in setting forth the unchanging justice of God, Psa_51:4.
v. 4. For truly my words shall not be false, not even tinged with falsehood and deceit; he that is perfect in knowledge is with thee, Elihu, as one faultless in the knowledge of God's attributes and works, stood before Job, in order to instruct him in the truth, defending, first of all, His justice in fixing the destinies of men.
v. 5. Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any, in spite of His greatness and exaltation He does not disdain to take the proper interest in even the lowliest of His creatures; He is mighty in strength and wisdom, in the vigor of His understanding, which enables Him to find the motives of all men's hearts and causes Him to rule everything with the highest wisdom.
v. 6. He preserveth not the life of the wicked, this statement being made in opposition to the declaration of Job_21:7-14; but giveth right to the poor, espousing the cause of the afflicted.
v. 7. He withdraweth not His eyes from the righteous, watching over them, rather, with tender solicitude; but with kings are they on the throne; yea, he doth establish them forever, and they are exalted, Luk_1:52.
v. 8. And if they be bound in fetters, held so firmly in their affliction that they cannot move, and be holden in cords of affliction, in every form of distress,
v. 9. then He showeth them their work, namely, their evildoing, and their transgressions that they have exceeded, having been presumptuous and proud in opposing God.
v. 10. He openeth also their ear to discipline, in admonishing them to lay aside their pride, and commandeth that they return from iniquity, from the vanity of the various forms of transgression into which they might have fallen.
v. 11. If they obey and serve Him, yielding to His entreaties, they shall spend their days in prosperity and their years in pleasures, as the result of God's blessings upon them.
v. 12. But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword, falling into the dart or some other sharp weapon which takes away their life, and they shall die without knowledge, breathing out their soul in ignorance of the bliss of being united with God in true fellowship.
v. 13. But the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath, the ungodly cherish wrath against God, they wage continual warfare against Him; they cry not when He bindeth them, they stubbornly refuse to make an outcry or to pray when He lays them in chains.
v. 14. They die in youth, they must perish in consequence of their attitude, and their life is among the unclean, among the polluted and effeminate slaves of vice, as they were found in the heathen temples of that day, the reference being to the shamefulness of their early death.
v. 15. He delivereth the poor in his affliction, in the case of such suffering God makes the endurance itself serve as a means of deliverance, He rewards such patience in misery, and openeth their ears in oppression, by means of such trials God brings blessings to them, their very afflictions standing them in good stead, Rom_8:18-28.
v. 16. Even so would He have removed thee, Elihu here making the application to the case of Job, out of the strait into a broad place, where there is no straitness, God would have lured and coaxed him out of the very jaws of distress into a wide place, where he would no longer have felt the cramping effect of his troubles; and that which should be set on thy table should be full of fatness, literally, "the setting of thy table fullness of fatness," signifying the highest form of rich prosperity,
v. 17. But thou hast fulfilled the judgment of the wicked, rather, thou art filled with this judgment, Job was experiencing its misery; judgment and justice take hold on thee, not departing from his person and home,
v. 18. Because there is wrath, beware lest He take thee away with His stroke, Job should not let the heat of his afflictions mislead him by its greatness and thus become guilty of presumptuous mocking; then a great ransom cannot deliver thee, that is, he should not let the size of the ransom which, by his sufferings, he seemed to be paying for his sins, ensnare him into a false idea of the goodness and justice of God.
v. 19. Will He esteem thy riches? No, not gold nor all the forces of strength, literally, "Shall thy outcry for assistance place thee outside of distress, likewise the exertions of thy strength?" All Job's violent insisting upon his rights over against God was futile.
v. 20. Desire not the night, when people are cut off in their place, the picture being that of chaff being carried away by a sudden gust of the tempest coming up at night. Job should not foolishly long for the night of the judgment; for then entire nations would be swept away, and he might share their lot.
v. 21. Take heed, regard not iniquity, not turning to vanity and wickedness in the manner shown; for this hast thou chosen rather than affliction, that is, in Elihu's opinion Job was too much inclined to arrogant vanity, to rebellion against God, and objected to the affliction which had come upon him in a spirit which was anything but meek. True humility in suffering is the believer's finest ornament.
The Divine Justice as Supreme Power and Wisdom
v. 22. Behold, God exalteth by His power, He works loftily in His might, in all the acts of His creative power; who teacheth like Him, since He is the great Master of the universe?
v. 23. Who hath enjoined Him His way, charging Him or prescribing to Him what way He should go? Or who can say, Thou hast wrought iniquity? Man can but stand by in humble awe when God acts, not daring to question Him on account of any work which He does nor any judgment which He performs.
v. 24. Remember that thou magnify His work, which men behold, exalting the doing of the great Creator, about which men have always sung hymns of praise.
v. 25. Every man may see it, all people gazing on it with delight, with wondering admiration; man may behold it afar off, mortals stand in reverent contemplation of God's unparalleled majesty.
v. 26. Behold, God is great, exalted far above all human contemplation, and we know Him not, cannot grasp His majesty, even in the works of His creation, neither can the number of His years be searched out, the eternity of God is incomprehensible to mortal man, and therefore also His greatness and wisdom.
v. 27. For He maketh small the drops of water, drawing them up from the earth in the form of vapor; they pour down rain according to the vapor thereof, the mist which He spreads out in the form of clouds furnishing the rain, which again descends in drops;
v. 28. which the clouds do drop, namely, those coming up in a thick mass, as in the case of a thunder-shower, and distil upon man abundantly.
v. 29. Also, can any understand the spreadings of the clouds, how they expand over the vault of heaven, or the noise of His tabernacle, the loud crashing of the great tent of the sky, when the thunderbolts shoot forth and its echoes roll between the clouds and the earth?
v. 30. Behold, He spreadeth his light upon it, He surrounds Himself with the heavenly veil of light in which He continually lives, and covereth the bottom of the sea, the roots of the sea, which are drawn up into the atmosphere in the form of clouds and thus form a veil, or covering, for the brightness of the sky and the throne of God.
v. 31. For by them judgeth He the people, by means of His lightnings and the action of His clouds the Lord gives evidence also of His power as the Judge of the world; He giveth meat in abundance, for the same agencies that show Him as the almighty Judge also yield the moisture which causes the grain to grow and furnishes food to men.
v. 32. With clouds He covereth the light, literally, "Upon both hands He covers light," namely, with the lightnings which He casts forth over the earth; and commandeth it not to shine by the cloud that cometh betwixt, He sends out His lightnings against His adversaries, striking down all the hostile forces which presume to battle against Him.
v. 33. The noise thereof showeth concerning it, His alarm-cry, the noise of His thunder, announces Him, as He goes forward in His strength, the cattle also concerning the vapor, even the dumb beasts announce and indicate in their actions that He is on the march, for they instinctively feel the power of the elements as these are unloosed in a great storm. Thus is the supreme power and wisdom of the Creator made manifest and God Himself vindicated in all His actions.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Job 36". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany