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This chapter opens with the controversy between Job and his friends, which runs through the whole book, until, at the close of it, GOD settles the dispute. Eliphaz begins, and his expostulation with Job is pursued through all this chapter.
(1) ¶ Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said,
This Eliphaz was of Teman, the seed of Esau. Let the Reader remark this in the opening of the controversy, it will throw some light upon the subject. We find the enemy, Satan, had given over. His charge Job had refuted. Satan had said Job would prove himself a hypocrite, by cursing GOD. This had proved a lie. Now Eliphaz comes forward to the charge.
(2) If we assay to commune with thee, wilt thou be grieved? but who can withhold himself from speaking? (3) Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands. (4) Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees.
Observe how be compliments Job on his past services in the cause of GOD and charity. But, from what follows, it is plain he meant not to applaud the man of Uz in those services, but only therefrom the more fully to show, as he thought, that it was all done from ostentation and hypocrisy.
(5) But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled. (6) Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways?
It is remarkable that Eliphaz maketh use of the same word as Satan did; Put forth thine hand, said Satan to GOD, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face; chap. 1:11. So again, chap 2:5. And here Eliphaz talks of Job being touched, and now he shows what he is. The whole of Eliphaz's charge is directed, not to comfort the mourner, not to assuage his afflictions, not to console his mind under the pleasing hope, that though outward tribulations were great and heavy upon him, yet the LORD was his friend: But the whole tendency of this man's speech, in those verses, is directed to prove that Job's iniquity was found out, and that his hypocrisy was discovered. Reader! observe these things, and then look at Jobadiah The greatest affliction a child of GOD can feel from the taunts of his enemies, is certainly that which would tempt him to suspect the LORD had forsaken him. David gives an instance of this, when, in the case of his flight from Absalom, Shimei came forth to curse him: the curses of Shimei he could bear, for he saw the LORD'S hand in this trial. But when the taunt was from many, that there was no help for him in his GOD, then the cup of his sorrow run over. As if he had said, LORD! if it were so, I should be ruined indeed: But no; in the midst of all, thou, O LORD, art a shield for me, my glory, and the lifter-up of my head: see 2 Samuel 16:5-8 . See also Psalms 3:1-8 . both the title and the whole of the Psalm. But when the Reader hath paid all due attention to this interesting subject, as it relates to Job, and David, and the faithful in all ages, I beg of him not to overlook Him who, in his ascent to the same hill as David trod; the Mount of Olives, was assaulted by the powers of darkness, and tempted by the enemy to the same distrust. Oh! precious JESUS! how faded, and shrunk away into nothing, do appear the trials and afflictions of the best of thy servants, in their hours of sorrow, when thy unequalled agonies in temptation are brought forward to view? Luke 22:39-44 . Reader! I beseech you, turn to this interesting passage.
(7) ¶ Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off? (8) Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same. (9) By the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of his nostrils are they consumed. (10) The roaring of the lion, and the voice of the fierce lion, and the teeth of the young lions, are broken. (11) The old lion perisheth for lack of prey, and the stout lion's whelps are scattered abroad.
This reasoning of Eliphaz was false and ill-grounded. Many an innocent person, as Eliphaz could not but well know, had perished. The murder of Abel, by Cain, led the van; and the history of the world furnished out continual examples. Indeed it was this very circumstance which gave even the heathens themselves cause to argue, that there must be another world for rewarding the good, and punishing the bad. So that Eliphaz brought forward an argument here to distress Job, that he himself ought to have known the falseness of. Poor Job! how sharp were his exercises, when though Satan had seemingly withdrawn, yet truly not so, but to attack him with other weapons.
(12) ¶ Now a thing was secretly brought to me, and mine ear received a little thereof. (13) In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth on men, (14) Fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake. (15) Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up: (16) It stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof: an image was before mine eyes, there was silence, and I heard a voice, saying, (17) Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker? (18) Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly: (19) How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth? (20) They are destroyed from morning to evening: they perish forever without any regarding it. (21) Doth not their excellency which is in them go away? they die, even without wisdom.
It is probable that, as in those early ages, we know the LORD did, by means of visions and dreams, convey divine truths to the minds of his people, that Eliphaz had been this made acquainted concerning the solemn distinction here set forth between the holiness and purity of GOD, and the holiness and purity of all created excellence. And, as far as these things might be made useful to impress on Job's mind a sense of his creatureship state and uncleanness, the vision of Eliphaz was striking and proper. But if he introduced it here by way of calling in the divine authority to enforce what he had said before, in proof of Job's hypocrisy, it was ill judged and deceitful, as the sequel of Job's history, in GOD'S justification of him, manifested. But for the moment, leaving both the history of Job, and the exercise of his mind by Eliphaz, I would beg the Reader's attention to a sweet thought arising out of what this Temanite hath said. He tells us, that in this vision he heard a voice proclaiming that GOD puts no trust in his servants, and his angels he charged with folly. Think, Reader! how pure and holy was JESUS in his great undertaking for poor sinners, when, though angels are charged with folly, a voice from heaven declared JESUS to be GOD'S only begotten Son, in whom he was, and is, well pleased. And, remember, in this proclamation from heaven, concerning the good pleasure of JEHOVAH, in the perfection and holiness of JESUS, it was that holiness which belonged to JESUS as Redeemer and Mediator; that perfection of the work which the FATHER gave him to do, and by which, both in doing, and in dying, he hath wrought out a complete salvation. Let me only add one thought more on this most precious of all subjects. As JESUS was thus beheld, and thus proclaimed as the glorious Head of his people, so are his people beheld in him: if JESUS was made sin for us, when he knew no sin, it was that his people, who knew no righteousness, might be made the righteousness of GOD in him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 .
MY soul! here are some very sweet instructions to be gathered from this chapter. In whatever light Eliphaz, the Temanite, be considered, still the HOLY GHOST can and will make his conduct minister to the glory of GOD, and the good of GOD'S children. His observations, in several parts, plainly teach GOD'S people, whose remains of indwelling corruption are too apt to break out in murmuring under their afflictions, that there is no case, nor situation, in which a child of GOD can be placed, that for a moment can admit of dissatisfaction. But his observations no less teach at the same time, even in this point of view, that godly men make too light of GOD'S afflictions, when they add to the smart, by giving unseasonable addition to the afflicted, in saying or doing whatever may serve to irritate and aggravate their sorrows. Certain it is, that Satan's grand artifice was to vex Job; so to conduct himself that, in the impulse of the moment, he might charge GOD foolishly, and curse him. And if the conversation of Eliphaz, however plausible; had a tendency to accomplish the same end, whatever the Temanite was in himself, he was evidently Satan's instrument to cast down the godly. Methinks I would therefore learn from hence, caution, even in a zeal for GOD and his glory, not to add to an heart that is vexed; but sweetly draw off the mind of any poor sufferer, which comes within my way, from brooding over the affliction; to look at the GOD of all our mercies in the affliction; or, to use the beautiful words of the prophet, to call upon the sufferer to hear the rod, and who hath appointed it. And how should I do this so effectually, either in mine own sorrows, or the sorrows of others, as by looking to thee, thou blessed JESUS, in whose unequalled sorrows every child of GOD would soonest learn to forget his own. Oh! thou blessed JESUS! how doth thy bright example tend to dignify the path of suffering, and to give a lustre to the tears of the heaviest affliction. Oh! for grace to follow thee by faith, to the garden, to the wilderness, to the cross, and there meditate, until the soul goeth forth in the interesting enquiry, Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by: behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger?
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Job 4". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent