The general scope of Job's reasoning in this chapter, is much to the same purport as he had before made use of; namely, that from the outward circumstances, either of the wicked or the righteous, no right judgment could be formed to draw conclusions concerning either.
(1) ¶ Why, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty, do they that know him not see his days?
Job opens the subject with a pertinent question, which is as much as to say, If you think that riches and prosperity are sure marks of GOD'S favor, and the reverse, in poverty and adversity, the evident indications of his displeasure; on what principle consistent with this maxim, will you make it appear, how it is that the knowledge and love of GOD, in the discernment of his ways, do not keep pace with it?
(2) Some remove the landmarks; they violently take away flocks, and feed thereof. (3) They drive away the ass of the fatherless, they take the widow's ox for a pledge. (4) They turn the needy out of the way: the poor of the earth hide themselves together. (5) Behold, as wild asses in the desert, go they forth to their work; rising betimes for a prey: the wilderness yieldeth food for them and for their children. (6) They reap everyone his corn in the field: and they gather the vintage of the wicked. (7) They cause the naked to lodge without clothing, that they have no covering in the cold. (8) They are wet with the showers of the mountains, and embrace the rock for want of a shelter. (9) They pluck the fatherless from the breast, and take a pledge of the poor. (10) They cause him to go naked without clothing, and they take away the sheaf from the hungry;
Job here instanceth, in a variety of most oppressive cases, the prosperity of bad men, against whom no judgment is immediately executed: and from thence Job leaves his friends to make their conclusions. He beautifully represents the tyranny and injustice of proud and oppressive men; of infamous robbers of their property, in removing the ancient land marks; of perverters of right paths, in turning the needy out of his way; of violently seizing the flocks of the poor; of depriving the laborer of his hire; and, in short, in doing all manner of injustice; and yet, because judgment is not executed speedily upon the wicked, who would infer, that either times, or things, or persons, are hidden from the Almighty?
(11) Which make oil within their walls, and tread their winepresses, and suffer thirst. (12) Men groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded crieth out: yet God layeth not folly to them. (13) ¶ They are of those that rebel against the light; they know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof. (14) The murderer rising with the light killeth the poor and needy, and in the night is as a thief. (15) The eye also of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight, saying, No eye shall see me: and disguiseth his face. (16) In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the daytime: they know not the light. (17) For the morning is to them even as the shadow of death: if one know them, they are in the terrors of the shadow of death. (18) ¶ He is swift as the waters; their portion is cursed in the earth: he beholdeth not the way of the vineyards. (19) Drought and heat consume the snow waters: so doth the grave those which have sinned. (20) The womb shall forget him; the worm shall feed sweetly on him; he shall be no more remembered; and wickedness shall be broken as a tree. (21) He evil entreateth the barren that beareth not: and doeth not good to the widow. (22) He draweth also the mighty with his power: he riseth up, and no man is sure of life. (23) Though it be given him to be in safety, whereon he resteth; yet his eyes are upon their ways. (24) They are exalted for a little while, but are gone and brought low; they are taken out of the way as all other, and cut off as the tops of the ears of corn.
Job follows up the same kind of reasoning, through all these verses: for though the terms made use of, and the similitudes by which the doctrine is illustrated, vary, yet the sum and substance is the same. The thief of the day, or the murderer of the night, are both alike in this respect: sometimes their prosperity is great, as though they had committed no evil: and sometimes their destruction cometh speedily. But from those events no conclusions can be drawn with such certainty as from outward things to infer the judgment of GOD. That it will be well with the righteous, and ill with the wicked, is the unerring doctrine of a divine government: but that men, from their scanty knowledge and observation, may be able in every instance to form just conclusions, who are righteous and who are wicked, is impossible. The wise man hath a beautiful observation on this same doctrine, and draws the same conclusion as Job doth. Though a sinner do evil an hundred times; and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear GOD. Ecclesiastes 8:12-13.
(25) And if it be not so now, who will make me a liar, and make my speech nothing worth?
Job having finished his sermon, demands of his friends to confront it if they could. The man of Uz, it is evident all along, had his eye to himself, and their unjust censuring of him: therefore he makes from a long discourse, a short but striking application, that, if they could disprove what he had said, and show the reverse, agreeable to what they had insisted upon, that no good man was made to mourn, nor the wicked to rejoice, then his miseries might be supposed to be the result of his sins.
WHAT a blessed resource is it, at any time, and at all times, when beholding the seeming prosperity of the wicked, and the apparent, misery of the righteous, we take shelter, not only in GOD'S sovereignty, but GOD'S justice. When we lay this down as a sure and unerring maxim, that GOD is true, let every man be false, we are enabled from thence to draw as sure a conclusion, that however unable we may be to explain what we see, or to reconcile what we behold, yet they are all easy to be explained by GOD'S right standard, and to be reconciled upon his divine principles of truth and justice. Shall not the judge of all the earth do right? Reader, make application of this doctrine in every difficult providence with which the LORD may be pleased to exercise you. Behold everything, and every event, as originating in his wise appointment. He cannot do iniquity. And when we are enabled to trace, in one point of view, the beautiful order that there is in all his dispensations concerning his church and people; what he hath done, what he is now doing, and what he will do: all the events thus brought into one connection; then the glory of his wisdom is made in some measure and degree to appear. Such views, as they concern ourselves in the common circumstances of life, serve to reconcile all things we behold in the apparent joy of sinners, and the seeming sorrow of saints.
But to what sublimity of thought doth the subject arise, when beheld with an eye to JESUS! The unequalled sorrows of the Son of GOD, when he tabernacled among us, and the taunts and reproaches he sustained from the ungodly, unless looked at in this point of view, would involve the mind in endless perplexity. But when I behold thee, thou blessed JESUS, as the sinners surety, sustaining the curse, being made sin, and standing forth the free-will offering of a righteous, spotless sacrifice for thy people, then, on these precious principles, I can well explain why it should have been, as it really was, that thou shouldest justly endure that wrath which was due to sin; and, having placed thyself in the sinner's stead, to receive all that was the sinner's due, that divine justice might be satisfied, the law of GOD magnified, and everlasting righteousness brought in, for the salvation of thy people. O sweet and glorious view of JESUS in his sufferings! Here Job, had he lived to these days, might have looked, and from hence drawn all his arguments, that GOD can be just in afflicting, as in the case of his dear Son, the righteous, and making him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might he made the righteousness of GOD in him. Precious JESUS! never, never let me lose sight of thee and thy sufferings, when anything perplexing ariseth. And when under my trifling exercises my mind is giving way, through unbelief; when all refuge fails me, and no man careth for my soul, then LORD be thou my refuge, my portion, and my hope, in the land of the living.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Job 24". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany