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Job having thus given way to his impatience, his friends thought it their duty to correct him. But instead of showing him in what respect his position was wrong, they proceed according to the assumption that Job must be guilty of some special fault or sin, and chide him accordingly.
v. 1. Then Eliphaz, the Temanite, answered and said,
v. 2. If we essay to commune with thee, wilt thou be grieved? Eliphaz wanted to be sure from the outset that Job would not misunderstand his friends if they ventured some suggestions, that he would not be insulted or offended if they spoke a word in his behalf. But who can withhold himself from speaking? He felt that he must express his opinion at this time.
v. 3. Behold, thou hast instructed many, namely, with words of loving reproof and admonition, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands, causing the slack hands to take up their tasks with new vigor.
v. 4. Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees, by holding men upright who were about to sink down, figuratively speaking, by his moral support, by his encouragement.
v. 5. But now it is come upon thee and thou faintest; now that misfortune, in turn, had struck Job, all his fine admonitions to others were forgotten, and he was faint and impatient. It toucheth thee and thou art troubled, confounded, seized with terror, filled with feebleness and despondency when suffering came to his own door.
v. 6. Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways? or, "Is not thy piety, thy confidence, and thy hope the righteousness of thy ways?" Eliphaz implied that Job surely did not have an evil conscience, that he certainly could and should remember the uprightness of his life, which his friend was not prepared to question.
v. 7. Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the righteous cut off? This overemphasis on the safety of the upright shows that Eliphaz intended to voice his doubts concerning the unvarying piety of Job, trying to convey the idea that there must have been, after all, something that merited an extraordinary punishment at the hand of God. This thought is now elaborated in detail.
v. 8. Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, sowing mischief in their fields, and sow wickedness, misery and ruin for others, reap the same. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap," Galatians 6:7-8.
v. 9. By the blast of God they perish, as God breathes upon them in anger, and by the breath of His nostrils are they consumed, like plants which a burning wind scorches, so that they shrivel up and wither away.
v. 10. The roaring of the lion, as he goes forth to seize and tear his prey, and the voice of the fierce lion, of the roarer who shows his angry temper, and the teeth of the young lions are broken.
v. 11. The old lion, he who enjoys the fullness of adult strength, perisheth, wanders about helplessly, for lack of prey, and the stout lion's whelps are scattered abroad, rather, the whelps of the lioness. Lions of every age and of every condition of strength are mentioned in order to picture the destruction of the haughty sinner with all his household. Eliphaz now draws a conclusion which he expresses very carefully.
v. 12. Now, a thing was secretly brought to me, it came to him in a stealthy, mysterious manner, and mine ear received a little thereof, a faint whisper or lisp, as from an oracle, which he hardly dared utter.
v. 13. In thoughts from the visions of the night, in pictures such as the thoughts paint in dreams, when deep sleep falleth on men, when the spirit of man seems to penetrate into superhuman realms,
v. 14. fear came upon me and trembling, meeting him in such a way as to cause a shudder to pass over him, which made all my bones to shake, in a deep and fearful agitation.
v. 15. Then a spirit passed before my face, gliding or flitting before him like the apparition of an angel; the hair of my flesh stood up, as in sudden, extreme terror;
v. 16. it stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof, it had the shadowy indistinctness which creates such an impression of awe; an image was before mine eyes, there was silence, and I heard a voice, rather, a lisping murmur and a voice, a lisping or murmuring voice, saying,
v. 17. Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be more pure than his Maker? The thought contained here is this, that whoever censures the government of God, as Job had done in his complaint, thereby claims to be more just than God and thus becomes guilty.
v. 18. Behold, He put no trust in His servants, the ministering angels; and His angels he charged with folly, to the very spirits of light He imputes error, they cannot compare with Him in holiness and purity;
v. 19. much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, frail men with material, earthly bodies, whose foundation is in the dust, out of which their bodies were originally framed, which are crushed before the moth? utterly consumed as though they were nothing but moths!
v. 20. They are destroyed, beaten into small pieces and thus returned to dust, from morning to evening, their life being but an extremely short span of time; they perish forever without any regarding it, soon dead and rapidly forgotten.
v. 21. Doth not their excellency which is in them go away? They die, even without wisdom, literally, "Is it not torn away is their cord?" the picture being taken from the quick striking of a tent. Without having found true wisdom in their lives, having lived in short-sightedness and folly all their days, men die, they are cut off and taken away, Psalms 90:9-10. Remembering this, the Christian will at all times be constrained to pray: "So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. "
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Job 4". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany