To wit, from all those miseries which now I feel. This he desires, not only for his own ease and comfort, but also for the vindication of his reputation, and of the honour of religion, which suffered by his means: for as his calamities were the only ground of all their hard speeches and censures of him, as a man forsaken and hated by God; so he rightly judged that this ground being removed, and his posterity restored, his friends would take it for a token of God’s favour to him, and beget in them a milder and better opinion of him.
His candle, i.e. his favour and blessing, oft signified by the name light; as his displeasure and a state of affliction is frequently called darkness. Upon my head, or, over my head, to comfort and direct me. The ground of the expression is this, that lights used to be carried and set on high, that men may make the better use of them, as the sun for that end was placed above us.
I walked through darkness; I passed safely through many difficulties, and dangers, and common calamities, which befell others who lived round about me, and overcame those troubles which fell upon myself.
In the days of my youth, i.e. in my former and flourishing days, which he calls the
days of youth, because those are commonly the times of mirth and comfort, as old age is called evil days, Ecclesiastes 12:1; when there was a secret blessing of God upon me and my family, protecting, directing, and succeeding us in all our affairs, which the devil observed, Job 1:10; whereas now there is a visible curse of God upon me and mine.
With me, i.e. on my side; whereas now he is against me, and hath forsaken me.
My children, or servants, or both; and therefore he useth this word, which comprehends both.
i.e. When I abounded in all sorts of blessings; which is oft signified by this or the like phrases, as Genesis 49:11 Deuteronomy 33:24 Job 20:17 Psalms 81:16; when I had such numerous herds of cattle, and consequently such plenty of butter, that if I had needed it, or been pleased so to use it, I might have washed my feet with it; when not only fruitful fields, but even barren and rocky places, (such as that part of Arabia was where Job lived,) yielded me olive trees and oil in great plenty. See Poole "Deuteronomy 32:13".
When I went out from my dwelling to the gate, to wit, of the city, as the following words show; to the place of judicature, which was in the gates, as hath been oft observed.
Through the city; through that part of the city which was between my house and the gate. Or, to the city, i.e. the gate belonging to the city. So Job might live in the country adjoining to it.
When I prepared my seat; when I caused the seat of justice to be set for me. By this and divers other expressions it appears that Job was a magistrate or judge in his country. In the street, i.e. in that void and open place within or near the gate, where the people assembled for the administration of justice among them.
Hid themselves; either out of a profound reverence to my person and dignity, or out of a conscience of their own guilt or folly, which they supposed I might either understand by information from others, or discover by their countenances or carriages in my presence, for which they knew I would reprove them, and bring them to shame, or other punishment.
Stood up, whilst I either passed by them, or as present with them. See Leviticus 19:32 1 Kings 2:19. So great a veneration they had for my person, in regard of that wisdom, and justice, and faithfulness which they discerned in me, and in all my proceedings. And therefore they judged quite otherwise of me than you now do.
Refrained talking; either fearing that I should discern their weakness by their words; or desiring to hear my words and sentence, which they readily approved of, and fully assented to. Such an opinion had they of my wisdom, and did not think me such a foolish, erroneous, and impertinent person as you fancy or represent me to be.
Laid their hand on their mouth, in token both of their wonder at Job’s wise speeches and sentences, and of their resolution to be silent. See Job 21:5 Proverbs 30:32.
It lay as still as if it had done so, and they could not have spoken.
It blessed me, i.e. pronounced me to be a man blessed of God with eminent gifts and graces; or heartily prayed for God’s blessing upon me, because of that wisdom and integrity which they saw in all my actions, and of the satisfaction which I gave to all, and the relief which I gave to the oppressed, by my righteous and equitable decrees in all causes which were brought before me.
When the eye saw me, it gave witness to me; when my appearance gave them occasion to speak of me, they gave testimony to my pious, and just, and blameless conversation. So far was I from being, or being thought to be, guilty of those crimes wherewith you charge me; of which see Job 22:9.
I delivered from his potent oppressor. They did not honour me for my great wealth or power, but for my impartial justice and pity to the afflicted, and courage in maintaining their cause and right against their mighty adversaries.
None to help him; none that would own or help them, partly because they were poor, and unable to recompense them for it; and partly because their enemies were great, and likely to crush both them and their helpers; which made Job’s virtue more glorious.
The blessing, wherewith both he and others for his sake blessed me, and begged that God would bless me.
To perish; to lose his life or estate by the malice and tyranny of wicked men.
The widow’s heart; who are the common objects of injuries and oppressions, because for the most part they are unable, either to offend those who molest them, or to defend themselves from their violence.
To sing for joy, for her great and unexpected deliverance.
It clothed me: as a garment covers the whole body, and is worn continually all the day long; so I was constantly just in the whole course of all my administrations, public and private, and never put off this garment out of a partial respect to myself, or to the persons of other men, as the manner of many judges is.
My judgment was as a robe and diadem; my judgments or decrees were so equal and righteous, that they never brought shame and reproach upon me, but always honour and great reputation.
Eyes, i.e. instead of eyes, to instruct, and direct, and assist.
To the blind; either,
1. Corporally. Or rather,
2. Spiritually; such as through ignorance or weakness were apt to mistake, and to be seduced or cheated by the craft and artifices of evil-minded men. These I cautioned, and advised, and led into the right way.
Feet was I to the lame, i.e. ready to help him who was unable to help himself.
A father, i.e. had the care and bowels of a father to them.
The cause which I knew not; either,
1. Those which were not brought to my knowledge or tribunal, either through neglect, or because the injured persons durst not complain, I diligently inquired after. Or,
2. Those which were hard and difficult, and possibly were made so by the frauds or arts of the oppressors, or their advocates, which the poor injured person could not find out, I took pains to discover.
The jaws; or, the jaw-bones; or, the grinders, the sharpest and strongest teeth in the jaw, i.e. their power and violence wherewith they used to oppress others. It is a metaphor from wild beasts, which break their prey with their teeth. Compare Psalms 3:7 57:4 58:6.
Plucked the spoil out of his teeth, i.e. forced them to restore what they had violently and unjustly taken away.
Then I said, i.e. I persuaded myself, being thus strongly fortified with the conscience of my own universal integrity, and with the singular favour of God, and of all men. But although this was sometimes Job’s opinion, yet at other times he was subject to fears, and expectation of changes, as appears from Job 3:25,26.
I shall die in my nest; not a violent or untimely, but a natural, and peaceable, and seasonable death, sweetly expiring in my own bed and habitation, in the midst of my children and friends, leaving the precious perfume of a good name behind me, and a plentiful inheritance to all my posterity.
As the sand; which is innumerable. See Genesis 22:17 41:49.
I was continually watered by Divine favour and blessing, as a tree which is constantly supplied with moisture, both in its root and branches, and consequently must needs be fruitful and flourishing.
My glory was fresh; the reputation which I had gained by my just and virtuous life was not decaying, but growing, and every day augmented with the accession of new honours.
In me, Heb. with me.
My bow, i.e. my strength, which is signified by a bow, Genesis 49:24 1 Samuel 2:4, because in ancient times the bow and arrows were principal instruments of war.
Was renewed, Heb. changed itself, i.e. grew as it were a new bow, when other bows by much use grow weak and useless. Or, changed its strength, which word may be here understood, as it is expressed, Isaiah 40:31, i.e. hath got new strength.
Expecting till I spoke, and silently listening to my counsel, which they were confident would be like the oracle of God, wise, and just, and good, and preferring it before their own judgment.
After my words they spake not again; either to confute them as false, or to add to them as lame and imperfect.
Dropped upon them, to wit, as the rain, as the next verse explains it, which when it comes down gently and droppingly upon the earth, is most acceptable and beneficial to it; not so when it comes in great and violent showers.
As for the rain; as the earth or the husbandman waiteth for the rain, to wit, the former rain, of which see Deuteronomy 11:14, because the
latter rain is here opposed to it: see James 5:7.
They opened their mouth to receive my words, and therewith to satisfy their thirst, as the dry and parched earth gapes or opens its mouth to receive the rain.
If I laughed on them, or sported or jested with them, i.e. carried myself familiarly and pleasantly with them.
They believed it not; it was so acceptable to them to see me well-pleased with them, that they could scarce believe their eyes and ears that it was so: compare Genesis 45:26 Psalms 126:1.
The light of my countenance they cast not down; my familiarity did not breed contempt or presumption in them to say or do any thing that might grieve me, or make my countenance to fall, as it doth in case of shame or sorrow, Genesis 4:5. They were very cautious not to abuse my smiles, nor to give me any occasion to change my countenance or carriage towards them.
I chose out their way; they sought to me for my advice in all doubtful and difficult cases, and I chalked out their path, and directed them what methods they should take to accomplish their desires.
Sat, as a prince or judge, whilst they stood waiting for my counsel.
Chief, or head; as their head or ruler, and my mind and word was as a law or oracle to them.
As a king in the army, whose presence puts life, and courage, and joy into the whole army. And no less acceptable was my presence to them.
As one that comforteth the mourners; as I was able and ready to comfort any afflicted or sorrowful persons, so my consolations were always grateful and welcome to them. Or, when he, to wit, the king,
comforteth the mourners, i.e. his army, when they are under some great consternation or dejection, by reason of some great loss or danger, but are revived by the presence and speech of a wise and valiant king or general.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 29". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany