In this Chapter Eliphaz brings a new charge against Job, which is the third he brought against him. He perverts Job's reasoning, it should seem, to a very different meaning to what he intended, in delivering his sentiments in the preceding chapter. Eliphaz very severely reproves the Man of Uz in, this: though, towards the conclusion, he gives some sweet counsel.
(1) ¶ Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said, (2) Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself? (3) Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? or is it gain to him, that thou makest thy ways perfect? (4) Will he reprove thee for fear of thee? will he enter with thee into judgment?
Nothing can be more true than this; though, in respect to Job, it is most falsely applied. How can man be profitable to GOD? is a question which never can be sounded too often, nor too loudly, through the chambers of every self-righteous man's heart. Indeed it is astonishing that any man's heart should, amidst all other deceptions, fall under this. The glories of GOD in creation, the glories of GOD in redemption; the salvation of innumerable souls by the wonderful process of grace and love in GOD'S dear Son: all these manifest GOD'S graciousness, and goodness, and abundant mercy: but what profit is brought to my GOD in the salvation of such a sinner as I am? Oh! precious JESUS! give me grace rightly to value thine, and thy Father's everlasting love in lying low in the dust before thee, and being content to be nothing; for indeed, and in truth, I am worse than nothing! ruined, lost and undone, in myself, and so should remain to all eternity, were it not that in thy righteousness I am made righteous, and in thy complete salvation now and forever accepted. Yes! blessed LORD! thou art indeed my all; for thou art made of GOD to me, wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, that all my glorying may be in thee, O Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:30.
(5) ¶ Is not thy wickedness great? and thine iniquities infinite? (6) For thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother for nought, and stripped the naked of their clothing. (7) Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink, and thou hast withholden bread from the hungry. (8) But as for the mighty man, he had the earth; and the honourable man dwelt in it. (9) Thou hast sent widows away empty, and the arms of the fatherless have been broken. (10) Therefore snares are round about thee, and sudden fear troubleth thee; (11) Or darkness, that thou canst not see; and abundance of waters cover thee. (12) Is not God in the height of heaven? and behold the height of the stars, how high they are! (13) And thou sayest, How doth God know? can he judge through the dark cloud? (14) Thick clouds are a covering to him, that he seeth not; and he walketh in the circuit of heaven. (15) ¶ Hast thou marked the old way which wicked men have trodden? (16) Which were cut down out of time, whose foundation was overflown with a flood: (17) Which said unto God, Depart from us: and what can the Almighty do for them? (18) Yet he filled their houses with good things: but the counsel of the wicked is far from me. (19) The righteous see it, and are glad: and the innocent laugh them to scorn. (20) Whereas our substance is not cut down, but the remnant of them the fire consumeth.
In the character of Eliphaz, we behold a mixture of everything unamiable. It should seem by Job's history, and indeed from the account the LORD himself gave of him, that he was a perfect and an upright man (chap. 1:8.); so that nothing could be more false, unjust, and cruel, than the charge of Eliphaz. It reminds me of Shimei's cursing David. It reminds me, indeed, of One, compared to whom both Job and David were shades, and darkness complete. Yes! blessed JESUS! thou amidst all thy holy harmless state didst not escape the obloquy of a blasphemer, a gluttonous man, and a wine-bibber; nay, a devil; 2 Samuel 16:7-8; Matthew 11:19. John 7:20. I do not think it necessary to follow Eliphaz through the several charges which he brings against Job, when not one of them could be substantiated; and especially when we call to mind GOD'S testimony to his servant's uprightness of character, both in respect to GOD, and man. It is enough to observe, that the Temanite loaded him with everything opprobrious; and thereby serves to show the Reader, as the sequel of the history will hereafter more fully manifest, that he had not taken counsel from GOD in what he advanced.
(21) ¶ Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee. (22) Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth, and lay up his words in thine heart.
There is a great deal of sound truth, and sound gospel, in this advice of Eliphaz. An acquaintance with GOD, must be the only foundation for true peace with him. He that cometh to GOD must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6. Reader! until we know GOD in CHRIST, and by the teachings of his blessed SPIRIT are made sensible of our need of him, we shall neither be conscious we need peace, or ever seek or desire it! Hence how earnestly doth the Apostle pray the Church, as an ambassador of CHRIST, to be reconciled to GOD, in the righteousness and death of JESUS. 2 Corinthians 5:20.
(23) If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up, thou shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles. (24) Then shalt thou lay up gold as dust, and the gold of Ophir as the stones of the brooks. (25) Yea, the Almighty shall be thy defence, and thou shalt have plenty of silver. (26) For then shalt thou have thy delight in the Almighty, and shalt lift up thy face unto God. (27) Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him, and he shall hear thee, and thou shalt pay thy vows. (28) Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways. (29) When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up; and he shall save the humble person. (30) He shall deliver the island of the innocent: and it is delivered by the pureness of thine hands.
Some of those blessings which Eliphaz points out as the sure consequence of peace with GOD, are strictly true. The soul which is brought into divine favor by JESUS, shall be built up in JESUS. GOD will be that soul's defense; and the soul will delight itself in GOD. These are the blessed consequences of such a state of reconciliation and favor. But when Eliphaz talks of laying up gold as the dust, and silver in plenty; if these things be taken in the literal acceptation of this world's goods; here Eliphaz falls back again into his old idea, that prosperity in this world is a mark of GOD'S favor; and the reverse, in affliction, a sure sign of GOD'S anger. There are indeed riches, yea durable riches, and righteousness, which belong to the followers of the LORD for JESUS promiseth to give them to his people, and to fill all their treasures. Proverbs 8:18-21. But these differ totally from what Eliphaz had in view; and therefore it is plain, that this poor man's reasonings were all foreign to grace. Neither, with all his pretended wisdom, had he himself suitable conceptions of what is meant in being acquainted with GOD! So that this man holds forth a lively specimen of all similar characters, who, in the present hour, speak from books and the information of others; but not, as our LORD hath marked it, from the abundance of the heart: and as John his servant did, when the life which he had seen and enjoyed, he recommended, from this very consideration, to the enjoyment of others. 1 John 1:1-3.
READER the view here presented to you of Job's exercises, is the more profitable from being the more plain. In all the charges of the friends of Job before, there were none so palpably false and cruel; and therefore here we feel the more comfort, from the consciousness that Job himself found that consolation under them, which a mind of rectitude cannot but enjoy, under the false accusations of the wicked. Indeed Job was too deeply drenched in affliction, from the sufferings of his body, not to be very sensibly affected also, however false the charges were, with what Eliphaz had said. The man that doth not realize his trials, and feel them as trials, will not truly profit by them. Yet, certainly, Job had a comfortable retreat in his own mind, in the consciousness of their falsehood. Our profit will be the more striking from this chapter, in what we behold under this particular. We are taught the blessedness of that state of mind, when, from being exercised with the temptations, or the accusations of Satan, we can look to JESUS, with thankfulness, when the tempter's malice is ill founded.
But what I would particularly desire from the perusal of this chapter, to have impressed both upon the Reader's mind and my own, is this a that when the malice of men, or the adversary, raiseth storms of trial, or persecution, falsely against us, this is the blessed moment to look after, and narrowly to watch, and eye the hand of JESUS in the permission. My brother! do mark this down as a never-failing maxim, whatever our trial be, it must be by JESUS'S appointment. Be the instrument who, or what it may, yet JESUS is in it. His love, his wisdom, is at the bottom. Mark this down, as a rule never to be controverted. Then follow this up with another. Whatever the trial be, it is for good. Thy GOD, thy JESUS, my soul, cannot do iniquity. Mark this also. And this will bring out a third, as the sweet and blessed result of the two which went before: the end shall be as Job's was; glory to GOD, and salvation to his redeemed. When Eliphaz thus charged Job, when Shimei cursed David, and when, on an infinitely more important exercise than both, or than all the world of GOD'S children put together, JESUS was traduced and blasphemed, what was the result? As it is beautifully expressed in one of the Psalms: 'I will cry unto GOD, most high, even unto GOD, that performeth all things for me.' Yes! Reader! it is very sweet and very precious, when the conscious soul, unjustly oppressed, can take refuge in divine favor, and divine strength, and say, Thou shalt answer for me, O Lord my God!
But chiefly let our eye and heart, upon all those occasions, be altogether fixed upon the person and work of JESUS. In all situations, he is the pattern, and forerunner of his people: and what he said of old, be saith the same to all his exercised family now: fear none of these things, which thou shalt suffer. Through Satan cast some of you in prison, when he would cast, if he could, all: and when, instead of prison he wishes it were hell; yet, it shall be but for ten days, though he would have it to be forever. Fear not therefore; but be faithful unto death and I will give you (saith the faithful and true witness) the crown of glory that fadeth not away.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Job 22". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Lent