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Job expostulates with his friends on their unkind treatment; and declares, that if they were in the like distress he would behave to them in a different manner. He sets forth the greatness of his sufferings, but still maintains his integrity.
Before Christ 1645.
Job 16:1. Then Job answered and said— Job, above measure grieved that his friends should treat him in this cruel manner, expostulates very tenderly with them on the subject. He tells them, that he should, in the like circumstances, have behaved to them in a very different way: Job 16:2-18.16.6; That he, as well as every one about him, was in the utmost astonishment to find a man whom he imagined to be his friend accuse him falsely, and give him worse treatment than even his greatest enemies would have done. But that he plainly saw that God was pleased to add this to the rest of his calamities; that he should not only be deprived of the comfort and assistance which he might have expected from his friends, but that he should be used by them in the most relentless way: Job 16:7-14 That he had voluntarily taken upon him all the marks of humility used by the guilty, though he was really innocent of their charges; that God above knew his innocence, though his friends so slanderously traduced him: Job 16:15-22 that he was sensible he was nigh his dissolution: chap. Job 17:1-3 that he made no doubt, that whenever the cause came to a decision the event would prove favourable to him. In the mean time, they would do well to consider what effect this their treatment of him must have on mankind; and how great a discouragement it must be to the lovers of virtue and holiness, to see a man whose character was yet unstained, on bare suspicion, dealt with so cruelly by persons pretending to virtue and goodness: Job 16:4-18.16.9. Would they but give themselves time to reflect, they must see that he could have no motive to hypocrisy, since all his schemes and hopes, with regard to life, were at an end; and, as he expected nothing but death, with what view could he play the hypocrite? Job 16:10 to the end. Heath.
Job 16:4. I also could speak, &c.— I also could speak as well as you: if your soul were in my soul's stead, would I accumulate sentences against you? would I shake my head at you? Heath. The rendering of this verse interrogatively gives it a very pathetic turn.
Job 16:5. But I would strengthen you with my mouth— I would rather encourage you with my mouth, and the vehemency of my eloquence should be kept within bounds. This is very applicable to the treatment that he had received from his friends, and a proper reproof of it. Heath.
Job 16:7. But now he hath made me weary— For my trouble hath now weakened all my frame, and brought wrinkles over me, Job 16:8. He is present as a witness, and ariseth against me, who telleth lies concerning me, he openly contradicts me to my face. Houbigant. Heath renders the verses, Only now it reduceth me to the last extremity; thou causest all my company to be in a consternation. Job 16:8. It even wounds me to the heart, that my traitorous false friend should thus turn witness; nay, that he should become my accuser; that he should testify to my face.
Job 16:9. He teareth me in his wrath, &c.— His fury rend-eth me, and he teareth me to pieces. Heath; who remarks, that the metaphor is taken from a beast of prey, who rends and tears his booty in pieces; and the same metaphor is carried on through the whole. See Psalms 35:16; Psalms 37:12.Lamentations 2:16; Lamentations 2:16.
Job 16:10. They have gathered themselves together against me— They are ready to burst with fury against me. Heath. They have unanimously satiated their wrath upon me. Houbigant.
Job 16:13-18.16.14. His archers compass me, &c.— The metaphor is here taken from huntsmen. First they surround the beast; then he is shot dead; his entrails are next taken out; and then his body is broken up limb from limb. Heath.
Job 16:15. I have sewed sackcloth— The meaning of this verse is, I have sewn sackcloth (in token of grief) over my torn skin, and have defiled my head, my horn, or honour, with ashes. See Schultens and Heath.
Job 16:17. Not for any injustice, &c.— Although there is not iniquity in my hands; although my prayers are pure before God. Houbigant.
Job 16:18. O earth, cover not thou my blood, &c.— O earth! cover not thou my blood, lest there be no place for my cry! Job 16:19. Yea, even now my witness is in heaven; and He who is conscious of my actions is on high: Job 16:20. My thought is my interpreter with God; mine eye is dropping before him: Job 16:21. Is it for man to dispute with God, as a man disputeth with his neighbour? Houbigant. Heath renders the 21st verse, Oh that it might plead, &c.! meaning the dropping eye, the tears which he shed; and the 22nd verse, that those few years might come to an end; that I might go the way, &c.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, Such arguing as Eliphaz offered produced little conviction and less comfort; no wonder, therefore, that Job, insulted and afflicted, retorts sharply the reproaches which his opponent had cast upon him. It was as hard to be patient under such provocation, as to be silent under his sufferings.
1. He is tired of such vain repetition. It was crambe repetita, the same jarring string struck with the same rough hand. He complains of them all, as miserable comforters, who heightened his anguish by unjust reproaches, instead of pouring in the kind balm of friendly sympathy. He thought it high time for such vain talkers to have done, and considers it as insolent and provoking to have such answers obtruded upon him. Note; (1.) They who send wounded consciences to better obedience, and their own duties, for a cure, like Job's comforters, do but exasperate the pain. (2.) No human consolations can afford satisfaction to the soul under a sense of sin, till God speak the pardoning word. (3.) To censure men for sins that we cannot prove, and to persist in repeating accusations that have been confuted and answered, deserves a sharp rebuke.
2. He suggests to them how different a conduct he would have adopted toward them, had they been in his circumstances; and therein justly upbraids their cruelty and unkindness. I also could speak, or ought I to speak? ought I to heap up words against you, and shake mine head at you, if you were under my calamities? No: far other should be my conduct. 'Twere easy indeed, as you do, to trample on the miserable, and insult the afflicted; but I would strengthen you with my mouth, suggesting every kind alleviation, ministering the soft balm of friendly sympathy and consolation; and the moving of my lips should asswage your grief. Note; (1.) Though we cannot remove the afflictions of our friends, we may kindly suggest to them arguments to support them, and, by tender sympathy with them, alleviate their sorrows. (2.) If we placed our souls in others' stead, under their temptations and afflictions, it would teach us both to judge of them more favourably, and to treat them with greater tenderness.
2nd, Job's complaints are still uppermost, and all methods to asswage them are vain: whether he spoke, or was silent, he derived no ease from God or man; his prayers returned unanswered: his friends misconstrued his words into passion, and seemed disposed to call his silence sullenness. He therefore speaks in the bitterness of his soul.
1. He was weary of his life; deprived now of every comfort, desolate and solitary; bereaved of his family, and forsaken of all those who used to assemble at his house for the worship of God.
2. His body, emaciated with pain and grief, looked like decrepit age, and he appeared a kind of living skeleton; witnesses, indeed, of his deep affliction, but cruelly pleaded against him as proofs of guilt and sin.
3. His enemy, who hated him, with piercing eyes observed him, full of indignation, and tearing him in fury. This enemy may be understood of Eliphaz, or Satan, or, as the context seems best to suit, of God himself, who appeared in such a terrible character, and of whom he was ready to entertain such hard thoughts. Note; They who have God indeed for their enemy, will be torn in pieces while there is none to deliver them.
4. He was become the object of scorn and contempt, and herein a type of Jesus. But, though like him in scorn, how inferior to him in resignation!
5. He was delivered into the hands of the wicked; the Chaldeans, who robbed him; and his friends, who seemed so set against him; or the wicked one, the devil, whose power to torment him appeared so absolute.
6. The wrath of God seemed let loose upon him. When at ease a little moment, again suddenly the stroke broke into shivers all his comforts; seized as a child in a giant's arms, and shook limb from limb; set up as the butt of God's poisoned arrows, and the mark for the world's enmity; tormented with the most acute pains, and no intermission of his agonies; living as in the pangs of death, pierced through the liver with a sword, and the gall flowing through the wound, and daily aggravated and increasing troubles succeeding as breach upon breach, while with a giant's fury, resistless and cruel, God appeared to delight in crushing him under his feet: such sad thoughts his afflicted heart suggested.
7. His humiliation was as deep as his affliction; sackcloth was his garb, his glory all departed, his horn in the dust, and tears night and day flowed, till his eyes grew dim with sorrow, as if the shadow of death hung on his eyelids. Note; (1.) It becomes us to humble ourselves when God's heavy hand is upon us. (2.) Though we sow in tears, as the showers in seed-time, the harvest of patient suffering shall be joy.
3rdly, Though his passionate expressions are to be condemned, Job's uprightness in general deserves the highest approbation.
1. He can appeal to God to testify that these afflictions came not upon for any injustice in his hands, as his friends suggested; or for any impiety in restraining prayer before God; for God knew his integrity to man, as also the purity of his intentions, and the fervency of his devotions. Note; It is an unspeakable comfort, whatever we suffer, if we can still keep a clear conscience, and take God to witness for the simplicity of our souls before him.
2. He supports his appeal to God by a solemn imprecation: if what I say be not true, O earth, cover not thou my blood, let it be shed for dogs to lick; or, if there be any secret crime, let it be laid open to the day; and let my cry have no place with God or man: I am content to be condemned of both without mercy.
3. He makes God his resource in his afflictions: amid the scorn and insult of his friends he poured out tears unto him; tears that bespoke his compassion, tears that pleaded against the unkindness of his accusers. Note; The tears of God's people are not forgotten; and they who cruelly caused these tears to fall shall be recompensed.
4. He longs to have an opportunity to plead his cause before God, without dread of the Divine Majesty, as a man pleadeth for his neighbour, with freedom and unreserve; then he doubted not he should obtain a verdict in his favour, and silence his censorious friends.
5. He comforts himself that the time is short; and, however now unjustly censured, his character would ere long be cleared up: when the few years of life ended, he should go the way whence he should not return, never come back again to a miserable world, nor be exposed to any of those calamities under which he now groaned. Note; (1.) Death is a journey into a far country, whence we are no more to return; the moment we depart from earth, our eternity is determined for hell or heaven. (2.) The time here is short, happy they who employ it in getting ready for their removal, that when the hour comes, they may have nothing to do but die.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Job 16". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany