Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Job 33

Verse 1

Job 33:1. Wherefore, Job, I pray thee, hear my speeches — Here Elihu addresses his speech to Job alone, (for he considered what the three friends had advanced as having been sufficiently confuted by Job in his discourse with them,) and tells him that, as he had oft desired to have a man to plead with him in God’s behalf, he would now do it, and was every way according to Job’s wish, being of the same nature with himself, and neither manifesting any dreadful majesty to affright him, nor assuming any power over him. He then begins to reprehend those passages which he thought blameable in Job’s speeches; particularly his insisting so much on his integrity, which, however evident, should not have been mentioned without due acknowledgment, that the Sovereign of the world had done him no wrong in thus afflicting him; urging that it was not proper for him to call in question the wisdom and justice of God’s providence, because he did not understand it, Job 33:1-13. That God had, by revelation, declared the way of behaviour which was acceptable to him; which was, for men to put away the evil of their doings, and cast off all pride, Job 33:14-19. That if he would conform himself to this rule, he might expect, though he was even at death’s door, that God would restore him to his health and vigour; more especially if he had a prophet near him, who would show him God’s righteousness, in order to his humiliation before God, and the bringing of him to a proper confession of his faults, an acknowledgment of God’s justice in his chastisements, and a sincere purpose of amendment, Job 33:20-28. If he had any objection to make to this, he desires him to make it; if not, to have patience with him, while he showed him the course which, be was persuaded, it was his wisest method to pursue, Job 33:29 to the end. See Peters and Heath.

Verse 2-3

Job 33:2-3. Behold, now I have opened my mouth — Now I have begun to speak, and intend, with thy good leave, to proceed in my discourse with thee. My words shall be of the uprightness of my heart — I will not speak passionately or partially, as one resolved to defend what I have once said, whether true or false, but what I verily believe to be true and important, and from a sincere desire to profit thee. My lips shall utter knowledge clearly — What I speak will be plain, not hard to be understood.

Verse 4-5

Job 33:4-5. The Spirit of God hath made me, &c. — First of all, consider that I am thy fellow-creature, made by God’s Spirit, (Genesis 1:2,) and quickened by a soul of the same nature with that which God at first breathed into the body of man, and I am ready to discourse with thee upon even terms according to thy desire. If thou canst answer me — Thou needest not, therefore, decline the encounter, but if thou art able to answer, set thy words in order — I shall allow thee all freedom of discourse; I cannot terrify thee as God would, and I shall not reproach thee, or cavil at thee, as thy friends have done; stand up — To oppose and argue with me in this cause.

Verse 6-7

Job 33:6-7. Behold, I am, &c., in God’s stead — I will plead with thee in God’s name and stead, and on his behalf, which thou hast often wished that some one would do. I also am formed out of the clay — I am God’s creature, like thyself. Behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid —

Look upon me: the contest is not unequal, as thou didst complain when thou thoughtest upon God, Job 9:34; Job 13:23. Thou seest no dreadful majesty in me to affright thee, nor any power to oppress thee.

Verses 8-11

Job 33:8-11. Surely thou hast spoken in my hearing — I shall not charge thee with hypocrisy, as thy friends do, which God only can discern; but with those words which I myself have heard from thee; I am clean without transgression, &c. — Job had not affirmed this simply and absolutely, for he had often confessed himself to be a sinner; but no such transgression as might give God just occasion to punish him so severely, as is signified, where he blames God for finding occasions against him, implying that he had given him none by his sins. And thus far Elihu’s charge was just, and herein it differs from the charge of Job’s three friends, who often accuse him for asserting his own innocence; but they did it because they thought him a hypocrite; whereas Elihu does it upon other grounds, even because Job’s justification of himself was accompanied with reflections upon God. Behold, he findeth occasions against me — Thou hast said, Behold the Almighty, who, I thought, would have vindicated my innocence, severely marks my defects and faults, that from thence he may take occasion to punish me, notwithstanding my integrity. He counteth me for his enemy — Though I have endeavoured to be his faithful servant all my days, yet he treats me like an enemy. He putteth my feet in the stocks — He so confines me in the prison of this affliction that I cannot stir: he marketh all my paths Watches me so narrowly that I can find no way to escape. Elihu, though less partial than the other speakers, is, however, too severe in the construction which he puts upon Job’s words. The first branch of this passage, Behold, he findeth occasions against me, or, as Heath and others render it, He inventeth cruelties against me, is not to be found in Job’s speeches; and as for the other branch, which occurs Job 13:24, we have there observed, that though there may be something faulty in the expostulation, yet it is much alleviated by the expressions of humility which precede and follow it. See the note on that place.

Verse 12

Job 33:12. Behold, in this — Hebrew, הן זאת, hen zoth, Behold this; that is, attend to this; mark what I say to thee; thou art not just — Or justified. This thy complaining language cannot be excused. Though I do not accuse thee, as thy friends have done, of other sins, yet in this thou art blameable, and I must reprehend thee for it, by reminding thee, that God is greater than man — Not only in majesty and power, which thou acknowledgest, but also in justice, wisdom, and goodness; and, therefore, he ought to be treated by thee with greater reverence; and thou actest very foolishly and presumptuously in contending with him, and censuring his judgments. Thou forgettest thy distance from him, and castest off that veneration and awe which thou oughtest constantly to maintain toward thy sovereign Lord. Elihu’s argument is, “Notwithstanding all thy pretensions to purity and innocence, thou art far from perfection; there is human frailty enough in thee, and all mankind, to justify the dealings of God with thee or them, however severe they are; give him therefore the glory: acknowledge the justice of his proceedings.” This, in Scripture phrase, is giving God the glory.

Verse 13

Job 33:13. Why dost thou strive against him? — Upon what grounds, and for what ends? What advantage dost thou expect from it? Why dost thou presume to dispute with him, and call him to an account for his actions? for he giveth not account of any of his matters — He revealeth not to us the secrets of his providence. He neither useth, nor is, by any law, obliged to give an account to any of his creatures, of the reasons of his judgments and dispensations, as being the supreme and absolute Governor of all persons and things, in whose will it becomes all men to acquiesce.

Verse 14

Job 33:14. For — Or, as כי, chi, should be rather rendered, nevertheless God speaketh — Namely, unto men, by way of instruction or admonition, as appears from the following verses. Although he doth not give men an account of his matters, yet he doth that for them which is much better, and more necessary and important: though he be so high, yet he condescends to teach and admonish them in various ways, that he may withdraw them from such courses as are mischievous and sinful, and bring them to an humble dependance on himself. Once yea twice — Again and again, or ofttimes. When his speaking once does not awaken men, God is pleased to give them another admonition: though he will not gratify their curiosity, by laying open to their view his secret judgments, yet he will acquaint them with their duty and interest, as far as is proper; what he requires of them, and what they may expect from him. Yet man perceiveth it not — He doth not regard it, he doth not discern or understand it; he is not aware that it is the voice of God, nor doth he receive the things revealed, for they are foolishness to him: he stops his ears, stands in his own light, rejects the counsel of God against himself, and is not the wiser, no, not for the dictates of wisdom itself. God speaks to us by conscience, by providence, and by ministers, of all which Elihu here treats at large, to show Job that God was now telling him his mind, and endeavouring to do him good. He shows first, how God admonishes men by their own consciences.

Verse 15

Job 33:15. In a dream, in a vision, or, in a vision of the night — This he mentions as one usual way of God’s revealing his mind and will to men in those days, before God’s word was committed to writing; (Genesis 20:6; Genesis 41:1; Genesis 41:28;) when deep sleep falleth upon men — When men’s outward senses are bound up, and their minds are free from all distracting cares and business of the world, and wholly at leisure to receive divine impressions; in slumberings upon the bed — This is added because, in this case, man is like one that slumbereth, or is between sleeping and waking, or uncertain in which state he is, as Paul, when he was in his ecstasy, could not tell whether he was in the body or out of the body.

Verse 16-17

Job 33:16-17. Then he openeth the ears of men — When their minds are free from the business and cares of the day, he secretly whispers instruction upon their ears, and imprints it upon their minds, and that in such a manner that they do not let it slip, (as men usually do most things which they hear, either from God or men,) but retain and hold it fast, being fully assured of the truth and importance of it. That he may withdraw man from his purpose — That is, from the execution of his purpose. Hebrew, מעשׂה, magnaseh, his work, that is, his evil work, as the Chaldee and LXX. understand it; from sin, which is truly and properly called man’s work, because it hath its rise in and from him, and is very agreeable to his nature, in his present corrupt state; as, on the contrary, all the good that is in man is generally and properly ascribed to God in Scripture. And hide pride from man — Pride is here mentioned as the root of those evil purposes or works last spoken of, which, for the most part, proceed from haughtiness of spirit, whereby men scorn to submit themselves and their wills and actions to God’s authority, but resolve to follow their own wills and corrupt passions, in spite of God, and with contempt of him. By God’s hiding pride from man may be meant his taking it away, as he is said to hide sin when he removes the guilt and power of it. Or, pride may be here put for the occasion of it. And God by this means is said to hide pride from man, because, by these glorious representations of his divine majesty to man, he takes him off from the admiration of his own excellency, and brings him to a sight of his own weakness, and to an humble and ready submission to God’s will.

Verses 18-22

Job 33:18-22. He keepeth back his soul from the pit — By these gracious admonitions, whereby God leads men to humiliation of soul before him, and to repentance, he preserves their lives from death and the grave, and their souls from eternal destruction. From perishing by the sword — By some dreadful judgment which was ready to fall upon them. He is chastened also with pain — With some painful and dangerous disease, which is the second way whereby God instructs men and excites them to repentance, which also was Job’s case. So that his life abhorreth bread —

In which languishing condition he loathes his food, yea, nauseates that very meat which formerly was his greatest delight. His flesh is consumed away Through pain and pining sickness. That it cannot be seen — Because there is little or none left to be seen, but he who before was fat and flourishing is now become a mere skeleton. His soul draweth near unto the grave — He seems to himself and others to be past all hopes of recovery: which he adds for Job’s comfort in his desperate condition. And his life to the destroyers — To the instruments of death and destruction, namely, diseases, which, by God’s appointment, are ready to give the fatal blow.

Verse 23-24

Job 33:23-24. If there be a messenger with him — If there be a prophet or teacher with the afflicted man; an interpreter — One whose office and work it is to declare to him the mind and will of God, and his design in this dispensation of his providence, and what is the sick man’s duty under it. One of a thousand — A person rightly qualified for this great and difficult work, such as there are but very few; to show unto man his uprightness — Not man’s, but God’s uprightness; namely, his justice in inflicting these sufferings, and the sufferer’s desert of condemnation and wrath; God’s way of pardoning and justifying the penitent; his sincerity and faithfulness to his promises, and the necessity of acquiescing in his will without murmuring or repining, and of walking in the way of faith and holiness. Then he is gracious unto him — In that case, or upon the sick man’s turning to God in true repentance and faith, God graciously pardons his sins, and saves him, probably from his dangerous disease and from death, but, if not, at least from going down to the pit of hell, and from everlasting destruction. And saith — To the messenger; deliver him — Namely, ministerially and declaratively; assure him that I have pardoned, and will heal him; I have found a ransom — Although I might justly destroy him, yet I will spare him, for I have found out a way of ransoming sinners from death, which is by the death of my Son, the Redeemer of the world, and with respect to which I will pardon them that repent and sue for mercy. Observe how God glories in the invention! I have found, I have found a ransom; a ransom for poor undone sinners! I, even I, am he that hath done it. “Some interpret this Messenger or Angel of Christ himself, the Interpreter of God’s will to man, the chief among ten thousand of his saints and servants. But as, in general, he comes to men by his messengers or ministers, and as their instructions and encouragements are deduced from his mediation, and are made effectual by his gracious presence, it does not much signify whether we interpret the passage of the messengers of God pointing to the Saviour, or the Saviour revealing himself by their ministry. It is equally immaterial whether the words, Deliver him from going down to the pit, be considered as the language of Christ’s intercession, pleading the ransom of his blood in behalf of the sinner, or the words of the Father, accepting of his plea and giving command to save the sinner, satisfied with that appointed ransom: for it cannot reasonably be doubted but that Elihu had reference to it; though he might also intend the sacrifices which prefigured the great atonement.” — Scott. Add to this, that it may serve as no small confirmation of our faith in the doctrines of the gospel, that we find the substance, or great outlines of them thus pointed out to men, by divine revelation, in the earliest ages of the world. Some thousands of years have certainly passed since the book of Job was written, and yet we here find the same great truths declared in relation to man and his salvation through Christ, which are so fully revealed in the New Testament.

Verse 25-26

Job 33:25-26. His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s — Presently the sick man shall begin to recover: these joyful tidings delivered to him by God’s messenger shall revive his spirit, and, by degrees, restore his former health and vigour; so that he shall become a new man in his body, as well as in his mind: his flesh shall look as fresh as when he was a child; and he shall return to the days of his youth — To the same healthful and strong constitution of body which he had in his youth. He shall pray unto God — The sick man shall, being encouraged and engaged so to do, either by the aforesaid gracious message, or by the goodness of God manifested in his miraculous recovery. And he will be favourable unto him — In hearing and answering his prayers, which before he seemed to neglect. And he shall see his face with joy — God will lift up upon him the light of his reconciled countenance; whereas, before, he either hid his face from him, or seemed to frown upon him: in other words, he shall now be sensible that God looks graciously upon and is pleased with him. For he will render unto man his righteousness — He will deal with him as with one now reconciled to him through the Mediator, and turning from sin to righteousness.

Verse 27-28

Job 33:27-28. He looketh upon men — God diligently observes all mankind, and the conduct of every one, especially of every one in sickness and distress. If any say, I have sinned — If any one sincerely, humbly, and penitently confess and forsake his sins: I have perverted that which was right — I have judged perversely of the just and righteous ways of God, censuring his proceedings against me, as too rigorous and severe; whereas, in truth, I only was to be blamed; or I have swerved from the right and good way of God’s commands, and have made to myself crooked paths; and it profited me not — I got no good by so doing, as I vainly supposed I should, but got much hurt by it, and that both in body and mind, which was the just fruit of my sins. He will deliver his soul from going into the pit — The pit of hell: iniquity shall not be his everlasting ruin; and his life shall see the light — The light of this world, the light of the living, Job 33:30. His life, which was endangered, shall be restored and continued: yea, further, his life, his ever living and immortal soul, shall see and enjoy light, all good in the vision and fruition of God for ever.

Verse 29-30

Job 33:29-30. All these things worketh God — All these ways and methods does God take to awaken, convince, and save sinners; oftentimes with man — One way with one man, and another with another; or, using these several methods with the same man, trying by various means, one after another, to lead him to repentance, and prepare him for deliverance. To bring back his soul from the pit — That he may save men from being for ever miserable, and make them for ever happy. “Lord, what is man, that thou shouldest thus visit him? This should engage us to comply with God’s designs, to work with him for our own good, and not to counterwork him. And this will render those that perish inexcusable, that so much was done to save them and they would not be healed.” So Mr. Henry. Excellent words! But utterly irreconcileable with the doctrine of absolute, unconditional predestination.

Verses 31-33

Job 33:31-33. Mark well, O Job — Consider what I have already said, for it very much concerns thee; hearken unto me; hold thy peace — Attend to what I have further to say to thee with patience and silence. If thou hast any thing to say — For thy own justification, or in answer to the charge I have already brought against thee; speak, for I desire to justify thee —

Namely, as far as may consist with truth and justice. I do not speak with an evil design, or as one resolved to condemn thee whatsoever thou sayest, and, therefore, I shall be glad to hear any thing from thee which may make for thy just vindication. If not, hearken to me — If thou hast no exception to make against my discourse, then continue thy attention, and silently listen to me; and I shall teach thee wisdom — That is, what thy wisdom and duty are in thy circumstances.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 33". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/job-33.html. 1857.