Eliphaz sheweth that the wicked are always punished by an avenging God; on which account he highly extols the providence of God: he exhorts Job not to despise the chastening of the Almighty, and to attend diligently to what he says.
Before Christ 1645.
Job 5:1. Call now, &c.— Eliphaz here urges further, that, supposing Job had been guilty of no very atrocious crime, yet the common frailties of human nature were abundantly sufficient to account for any afflictions which it should please God to lay upon man; but he takes care to let Job know, that they had a far worse opinion of him, whom he treats as profligate and abandoned, and consequently a proper object of divine vengeance: Job 5:1-5. Such, he tells him, is the course of things, as was plain from revelation; and if he was not content with this, he was at liberty, if he pleased, to apply to any of the other deities, and see if he could find better treatment. But were it his case, he would endeavour to reconcile himself in a more especial manner to the true God, who was infinitely more powerful than any or all the gods of the nations, and was not only able to deliver him, but would deliver him out of all his troubles: but then it must be attended with an entire submission to him, which could never be effectual without an ample confession and restitution; thereby acknowledging the justice of God's dealing with him: Job 5:17; Job 5:27. It was foolish, therefore, to fret and vex himself in vain, since death was all that he could expect as the issue in that way; whereas, if he submitted himself to God, he might expect not only a perfect restoration, but a long continuance in the enjoyments of a flourishing fortune. All this is delivered by Eliphaz in an authoritative way, as the result of an inquiry which he and his friends had made of God in Job's behalf: he had therefore nothing to do, but diligently to attend and apply himself to it, Job 5:27. Heath. Schultens renders the first words of the present verse, make appeal now, &c.; observing, that call and answer here have a judicial sense, and imply, that if the patriarch should be inclined to plead not guilty, he would meet with no one, either among men or angels, who would undertake the defence of his cause: for, says he, the word קדשׁים kedoshim, rendered saints, signifies the angels, superintendants (under the Almighty) over this visible world. This opinion was probably of great antiquity, especially if the Septuagint version of Deuteronomy 32:8 be right: he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the angels of God. This and the following verse, says Heath, are a strong irony.
Job 5:2. For wrath killeth, &c.— "It would surely well befit the fool, that impatience should be the murder of him; and the simple, that repining should bring him to his death." Heath.
Job 5:3. I have seen the foolish, &c.— I saw the profligate taking root, but I marked him out for sudden destruction. This is the same thought as in Psalms 37:35-36 and drawn out at length in Psalms 73. See Heath and Schultens.
Job 5:4. In the gate— In the tempest. See ch. Job 9:17 and Parkhurst on the word שׁער shangar, 9.
Job 5:5. Whose harvest, &c.— Heath renders this verse thus: Whose harvest the hunger-starved shall devour, and shall take it even from among the thorn-fences; and the thirsty shall swallow down their substance. In which last clause, the author means to express the suddenness of their destruction; as quick as a thirsty man swallows liquor at a gulp: and with this the Vulgate and Syriac versions agree. Houbigant renders the verse, Moreover, the hungry hath devoured their harvest; armed men have taken away their corn; robbers have consumed their substance. See his note.
Job 5:6-7. Although affliction cometh not, &c.— The Hebrew is rather, For iniquity cometh not forth out of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground; i.e. "As the wickedness of men does not proceed from any natural cause in the origin of things, but from their own free-will, or from the abuse of divine grace; so neither are their miseries to be considered as the effects of merely natural causes, but as the distributions of a free agent likewise, who fits men's punishments to their crimes; and hence man, being prone to sin, is necessarily born to suffer: yet man is born, &c." But this verse would be better rendered, agreeable to the interpretation given of the preceding one, for then man would be born to trouble as the sparks fly upward; that is, it would fall upon him naturally and necessarily, without any determination or direction of any mortal agent. He could neither prevent it by his piety, nor hasten it by his impiety. The last clause of this verse is literally in the Hebrew, As the sons of the burning coal lift themselves up to fly. This agrees well with the sparks of fire, which naturally ascend. Peters. Houbigant and Heath, after some of the ancient versions, render this clause, As the young eagles for soaring aloft.
Job 5:8-9. I would seek unto God, &c.— i.e. (For Eliphaz had precluded him from all attempts to justify himself in the foregoing part of his advice.) "I would apply to God with a full and free confession of those sins which have drawn this sad calamity upon me:" to God, who was able to do wonders, as he presently adds, and who could and would restore him to his former happy state, if he saw him truly penitent for his past transgressions; for this is the whole purport of the following part of his speech; namely, to give him hopes of a happy turn to his condition, if he would do what he thought was absolutely necessary to be done in this case; that is, make a frank confession of those secret crimes and enormities which had brought down this severe chastisement upon him. See Peters, and the 78th Psalm.
Job 5:11. That those which mourn, &c.— That the obscure may be put in a place of safety. See 2 Samuel 22:3 and Heath.
Job 5:15. He saveth the poor from the sword, from their mouth, &c.— Schultens imagines that it should be read, from the sword which proceedeth out of his mouth; and this reading receives no small confirmation from Psalms 57:4; Psalms 64:3. But Mr. Heath renders it, He delivereth the desolate out of their mouth, and the poor from the hand of the mighty.
Job 5:21. Thou shalt be hid, &c.— If at any time a fire shall rage, thou shalt be hid; nor shalt thou fear imminent ruin. Eliphaz seems to hint at those wicked persons who have been struck with fire from heaven, such as the inhabitants of Sodom. Houbigant. Heath renders the verse, From the scourge of detraction thou shalt be hidden; yea, thou shalt not fear the destroyer when he cometh. See Psalms 31:20. One observes upon the former clause of this verse, "This is here reckoned by Eliphaz among the acts of God's omnipotency in the protection of those whom he favours; as if it were a more supreme degree of his power than a deliverance from famine, war, or death, and much easier to escape those than this. Indeed the tongue has so many ways of doing mischief, so much art to wound, that no man can put himself into a secure posture of defence against it, nor without the immediate shelter of God himself be screened from it. He, and he only, can hide us from the scourge of tongues, or wipe out the marks of that scourge, and deliver us from all-devouring words."
Job 5:22. At destruction and famine— At ravage and plundering.
Job 5:23. Thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field— Houbigant reads, For there shall be a covenant to thee with the fruits of the field; for I cannot acquiesce, says he, in the common interpretation; as both what goes before, and what follows after, seems averse from it; mention of famine naturally leads us to suppose that something should recur correspondent to the removal of that famine.
Job 5:24. And thou shalt know that thy tabernacle, &c.— Know moreover, that peace shall encompass thee at a tent; thou shalt visit thy habitation, and not be disappointed. Heath. Thou shalt provide for thy habitation, and shalt not be in want of any thing. Houbigant.
Job 5:26. Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, &c.— In old age shalt thou come to the sepulchre, as the corn is heaped upon the threshing-floor in its season. Thus Heath, more agreeably to the Hebrew.
Job 5:27. Know thou it for thy good— Attend thou, therefore, diligently; [ לךֶ דע dang lak;] know thou it for thyself; make application of it to thy own case;—know the original of the drawing. Heath.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, Eliphaz, confident in the goodness of his cause, defies Job to contradict his assertions.
1. He bids him appeal to God or man, and he will be silenced; call now to God, if there be any that will answer thee, and see if he will confute the vision that I have related; or call now to all the holy men of old, if there be any whose case corresponds with thine, so afflicted and yet innocent, and not a parallel will be found. And to which of the saints, or angels, wilt thou turn? either the celestial beings, who would reject his appeal of integrity, or the saints upon earth, whose circumstances and sentiments resembled his own; therefore the charge he brought must be true, that his insincerity was the cause of his sufferings. Note; (1.) There are in every age some living saints, sanctified by God's word and spirit; and, though the world use the word as a term of derision, it is a title of the highest honour, and true of every real believer, who is called to be a saint as much as Paul or John. (2.) It were indeed a strong proof of the badness of our state and temper, if we had the experience of all God's saints against us; but the experience of the saints is often pleaded by those who have it least on their side.
2. He asserts the ruin of the wicked as a truth that himself had often been witness to. Wrath killeth the foolish, or wicked, man; the wrath of God is revealed against him, or his own hasty spirit urges him on to his ruin; and this notwithstanding his momentary prosperity. I have seen the foolish taking root, but destruction awaited him. Suddenly I cursed his habitation, not wished him evil, but foresaw the curse impending over him: his children, the staff of his age, are far from safety, and they are crushed in the gate, buried in the ruins of their desolate houses, neither is there any to deliver them, neither God nor man interests himself in their behalf; whose harvest the hungry eateth up, so that their substance is consumed, and taketh it even out of the thorns, leaves none behind, even so much as a handful at the hedge-side; or though fenced in with thorns, break through and plunder it, and the robber swalloweth up their substance. In this description of the ruin of the foolish man, there is drawn an evident invidious parallel with Job's case, whose sudden afflictions, the death of his children, and the ruin of his substance by the robbers, Eliphaz would insinuate as a proof that he shared with the wicked in their afflictions, because he had joined them in their sins. Note; (1.) The indulgence of our vile passions often proves fatal to ourselves. (2.) The wrath of God, in time and eternity, assuredly rests on the sinner's head, however prosperous his circumstances may appear. (3.) The wicked man must be a silly one; how could he else, for the sake of a momentary pleasure, rush into everlasting pain.
2nd, It was the intention of Eliphaz, not to sink Job into despair, but first to lay bare his wound, and then apply the healing balm, suggesting arguments for resignation, and how to bear his burden profitably.
1. He directs him to the origin and cause of all his trouble: Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground, as things fortuitous and accidental, or owing merely to second causes operating independent of God's agency (for no creature acts but under his providence and over-ruling power): yet man is born to trouble; since sin entered, the curse entered, and close as our shadow afflictions follow us; as the sparks fly upward, numerous as these, and the natural consequence of our fallen state; and this should reconcile us to suffering, and engage us to be humble for the sin which is the cause of it. Note; (1.) Fortune and chance are the creatures of heathenism and infidelity: we are assured, in God's word, that not a hair of our head falls to the ground without the divine knowledge, and the appointment or sufferance of God. (2.) The more we are acquainted with the sinfulness of our nature, the less reason shall we have to murmur under any affliction, since we must then acknowledge it to be less than our iniquity deserves.
2. He gives him advice how to behave himself: I would seek unto God, or, doubtless I do seek unto God; it is the method I myself take in my trials, and would recommend to you as doubtless the most proper and seasonable: and unto God would I, or do I commit my cause, in humble prayer and patient resignation, and then rest in hope. Note; We may safely commend what we have proved by experience to be good; and people of every age have found, that patient hope and believing prayer will not fail at last of bringing an answer of peace.
3. He enforces his admonition by considerations drawn from God's sovereign dominion, power, and equity: which doeth great things in the works of creation and providence; and unsearchable, beyond the deepest penetration of the wisest sages; marvellous things that excite our astonishment, and exceed our comprehension; and these without number; earth, air, and sea teem with wonders; every day new works of providence awaken our admiration; and the more we attempt to reason, the more we are lost in depths of wisdom unfathomable. How foolish then to dispute against God, and how much wiser to refer ourselves to him, who can do such wonders, and will do ever wisely! By his gracious providence, he sendeth the rain to water the earth; the poor and mourners, whose faces were black as it were with famine, see plenty restored, and themselves exalted from their low estate: such merciful assistance may they expect who wait upon him. But the crafty are disappointed in their schemes; their enterprizes prove abortive; their own snares entangle them, as birds in an evil net, and their precipitate counsels hurry them on to ruin. In the plainest circumstances they become infatuated, and fall from the meridian of prosperity into the deepest darkness of affliction, while the helpless servants of God, against whom their tongues were maliciously let loose, and whom their arm cruelly oppressed, are delivered, to the great disappointment of iniquity, and to the encouragement of the hope of the poor, who never trust in him and are confounded. The inference that Eliphaz would draw from hence is evident; that if Job thus humbly trusted in God, he would experience a like deliverance. Note; (1.) The wisest become fools, when they turn from God to trust in their own understanding. (2.) The deepest laid plots of men, or devils, need not trouble God's people; there is one who sitteth in the heavens that laughs them to scorn. (3.) They who have their tempers in lowliness conformed to their circumstances, will find him near at hand who will lift them up, and restore comfort to the mourners. (4.) In the worst of times we should never quit our hope in God; for he is faithful that hath promised. (5.) Though the mouth of malignity is now open, and the hand of the oppressors heavy on God's people, their arm shall soon be broken, and their lips sealed up in everlasting silence.
3rdly, Eliphaz draws his speech to a conclusion, and closes it with a view of the great and precious promises that would attend Job, if his mind were but conformed to his circumstances.
1. He warns him not to despise the chastening of the Almighty; though the draught be bitter, it must not be rejected, because it is the means of health: it is the rod of the Almighty, before which he may not proudly disdain to bow: it is lifted up with the most gracious design of fatherly correction, therefore not to be slighted, but submitted to with patience, heard with reverence, Micah 6:9 and the cup of affliction to be drank with cheerfulness. Note; In every affliction, our chief concern should be, not the removal, but the due improvement of it.
2. He supports his advice by stating the blessed effects which would flow from it. Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth by his word, or providences; it is the proof of his regard, and designed to work eminently for our good; it serves to wean the heart from earth, and urge the soul to seek more diligently the true and abiding joys of glory. The same hand also that wounds can heal, and will, no doubt, when the design of his visitation is answered. The length or repetition of our troubles should not discourage us; for out of them all God will deliver his servants; and in them preserve the souls of his saints from evil, that the wicked one touch them not. Though pale famine stalk ghastly through the land, or horrid war with garments rolled in blood spread desolations around; though wild beasts of the desart howl and threaten to devour, or men more savage than these beasts bite with malignant teeth, and, with the scourge of the tongue, poisonous as the serpent's sting, strive to infuse their baneful calumnies, God will preserve his faithful people; they shall be fed in the time of dearth, and covered from danger under the wing of the Almighty; the creatures shall be in league with them not to hurt them; and, secure, they shall mock at the impotent malice of their foes: their houses shall be in peace; their families united in love, and defended from the evil of sin and trouble; they shall go in and out under the divine blessing, and piety and prosperity crown all their labours; their posterity shall be great and numerous; and, after beholding them fixed in comfort and affluence, they shall go down to their graves crowned with length of days, riches, and honour; and, ripe for glory as the sheaf is in the day of harvest, be gathered into the bosom of God's everlasting love. Note; (1.) When God wounds his faithful people, he heals, binds up their hearts with present divine consolations, and opens a way for them to escape out of every temptation; no wound so deep which he cannot cure. (2.) They who have God for their confidence may defy their foes, and triumph even in the jaws of death. (3.) A peaceable abode is a signal mercy; but the distinguishing blessing is, to be kept from sin. (4.) It is a comfort to gracious parents, to see their children's prosperity in the world, but most of all to behold their piety, for that alone can insure the abiding good. (5.) Age is ripening us for the grave; are we also ripening for glory, filled with grace as with years, full of good fruits, and bending with cheerfulness into the hands of the harvest-man, as ready for the storehouse of God?
3. He begs Job's serious consideration: Lo! attend to what I have spoken, as the result of sound and deep experience; this we have searched, it is our joint sentiments, and so it is approved by the concurring testimony of all God's people: hear it then with reverence and submission, and know thou it for thy good, or thyself, apply it to thine own case, and receive the blessing which this discourse was intended to convey. Note; Great truths deserve solemn attention; and from every sermon that we hear, our future conduct should make our profiting manifest.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Job 5". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week after Epiphany