Elihu still prosecuteth his discourse. He gives a better and a more proper reason than Job's friends did, concerning the cause of affliction, and shows, that it is by such providences that the Lord exerciseth his people.
(1) ¶ Elihu also proceeded, and said, (2) Suffer me a little, and I will shew thee that I have yet to speak on God's behalf. (3) I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.
There is somewhat very striking in Elihu's account of himself, in the cause why he speaks. He saith it is on GOD'S behalf, and this he doth by ascribing righteousness unto him. Reader, if the glory of GOD in CHRIST was made the one, and the only cause of all our speaking; this would be the standard of everything that is excellent. The LORD saith, he that honoureth me, I will honour. 1 Samuel 2:30. Now, if the one sole object of all our pursuits, and all our desires, be to honour GOD, depend upon it, in honouring him we find comfort ourselves. But if my comfort be more the object of my pursuit than the divine glory, I shall want that comfort when most I stand in need of it.
(4) For truly my words shall not be false: he that is perfect in knowledge is with thee. (5) ¶ Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any: he is mighty in strength and wisdom. (6) He preserveth not the life of the wicked: but giveth right to the poor. (7) He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous: but with kings are they on the throne; yea, he doth establish them forever, and they are exalted. (8) And if they be bound in fetters, and be holden in cords of affliction; (9) Then he sheweth them their work, and their transgressions that they have exceeded. (10) He openeth also their ear to discipline, and commandeth that they return from iniquity. (11) If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures. (12) But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge. (13) But the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath: they cry not when he bindeth them. (14) They die in youth, and their life is among the unclean. (15) ¶ He delivereth the poor in his affliction, and openeth their ears in oppression. (16) Even so would he have removed thee out of the strait into a broad place, where there is no straitness; and that which should be set on thy table should be full of fatness. (17) But thou hast fulfilled the judgment of the wicked: judgment and justice take hold on thee. (18) Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his stroke: then a great ransom cannot deliver thee. (19) Will he esteem thy riches? no, not gold, nor all the forces of strength. (20) Desire not the night, when people are cut off in their place. (21) Take heed, regard not iniquity: for this hast thou chosen rather than affliction.
Elihu hath here beautifully shown the gracious design of the LORD in his visitations, and a most delightful chain of reasoning upon the subject he is here making use of, from beginning to end. He first dwells upon that glorious and distinguishing perfection of the Almighty, his power and sovereignty; and, having set this down as the bottom and foundation of what he was going to reason upon, he shows, in a clear manner, some of the causes for which that omnipotency is exercised. As first, by the display of his power, the LORD induceth trouble and affliction, on purpose to lead the mind into a deep sense of sin. This blessed office of the HOLY GHOST is not unfrequently preparatory to the experimental knowledge of JESUS, and his salvation: and when the LORD hath thus induced trouble, to make the heart sensible of sin, the next gracious office is, as Elihu expresses it, to open the ear to discipline; that is, by making sin appear what it really is, exceeding sinful; and thereby to make a man out of love with himself; to bring the soul in love with the work of GOD'S righteousness in the redemption of the LORD JESUS. And thus having brought the sinner acquainted with himself, which before he did not know, then in the love of GOD, and in the hatred of sin, to keep back the heart from iniquity.
(22) Behold, God exalteth by his power: who teacheth like him? (23) Who hath enjoined him his way? or who can say, Thou hast wrought iniquity? (24) ¶ Remember that thou magnify his work, which men behold. (25) Every man may see it; man may behold it afar off. (26) Behold, God is great, and we know him not, neither can the number of his years be searched out. (27) For he maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof: (28) Which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly. (29) Also can any understand the spreadings of the clouds, or the noise of his tabernacle? (30) Behold, he spreadeth his light upon it, and covereth the bottom of the sea. (31) For by them judgeth he the people; he giveth meat in abundance. (32) With clouds he covereth the light; and commandeth it not to shine by the cloud that cometh betwixt. (33) The noise thereof sheweth concerning it, the cattle also concerning the vapour.
Elihu having, in general terms, spoken of the doctrine, in this latter part of the chapter, seems to make a more particular application of it, as it concerned Jobadiah He had refuted the arguments of Job's friends by what he had said, in clearly proving, that affliction, so far from carrying with it tokens of displeasure, was frequently made, in the hand of the LORD, a gracious means for teaching his people. But having thus shown the error of Job's friends, he now no less showeth that Job's conclusions, in many instances, had been wrong also. The dissatisfaction he had manifested, and his wish to get out of the trial before the LORD'S appointed time, when the purposes for which the trial had been sent had not been fully answered, these things proved that Job's views were not so clear concerning divine dispensations as a servant of the LORD'S ought to be. And therefore he admonisheth Job to magnify the LORD'S work, and to have a more settled and steady view of GOD'S goodness. All which corresponds to the testimony the HOLY GHOST hath given in scripture concerning divine dispensations, that the works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. His work is honourable and glorious, and his righteousness endureth forever. Psalms 111:2-3.
READER, let our improvement, from the perusal of this chapter, be to remark, that the glory of GOD is the great end of man; and by whatever method or way that glory can be exalted, the faith of GOD'S people is to pursue that way, and studiously to desire that purpose. This was and is the great end of all creation. Hence the hymn in heaven: Thou art worthy, O LORD, to receive glory and honour and power for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. And the same was and is the great purpose and end of redemption, that GOD in all things may be glorified in JESUS CHRIST. Hence the song among the redeemed in glory is to the same effect: Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, and wisdom and strength, and honour and glory, and blessing. It matters not what becomes of such poor, trifling, empty, and sinful creatures as we are, if GOD'S glory can be but the more advanced. And hence, Reader, what a sweet thought is it, that, as by the glorious person and work of the LORD JESUS, more glory results to JEHOVAH than his justice could have received, had it taken vengeance upon our sins, by banishing our whole race from his presence to all eternity; so receiving us in him, and blessing us in him, and making us everlastingly happy in him; this gives all the glory where alone that glory is due. Both the blessings of creation and redemption are then seen to be the result of infinite wisdom, and love, and power; and to open a revenue of praise and glory to the one blessed and eternal JEHOVAH forevermore.
One thought more, Reader, on this beautiful discourse of Elihu's before we dose the chapter. Let us both seek grace from that Almighty SPIRIT who thus taught Elihu how to form so just a conclusion of the divine dispensations, that we may also mark for our own exercise, the gracious design of our Covenant GOD in CHRIST, in everyone that concerns ourselves. Are we exalted in circumstances? See then that JESUS is in everyone of them. Are we depressed in trials? Where is the LORD JESUS to sanctify them? Do we hear his voice, can we trace his steps, mark his hand? Oh! how blessed it is when we are enabled to discover him, as the Alpha and Omega, the sum and substance of all our joy, the soother and softener of all our sorrow. Oh! thou dear Redeemer! cause me to eye thee, in my highest enjoyments; giving the finishing relish to all. Oh! grant my dearest LORD, that I may never be so taken up with any of thy gifts, how precious soever they may be in themselves, so as to overlook, or shut out of my remembrance, the Giver. But, oh! let thy fulness, thy beauty, thy glory, be ever uppermost in my view. And if it pleaseth thy wisdom to exercise me with afflictions, yet dearest LORD, if thou art beheld by me, as near to help, when my depressed soul be most in need, then shall I be enabled to esteem that affliction, that brings thee nearer to my view, as more blessed than the highest prosperity without thee. Yes, thou adored Redeemer! be thou all in all, and then in all things thou wilt be my joy, my consolation, my hope, my portion, in grace here, and in glory hereafter. Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Job 36". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany