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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Job 35

 

 

Verse 1

Job 35:1 Elihu spake moreover, and said,

Ver. 1. Elihu spake moreover, and said] His speech was for God, as before; and therefore he spake moreover. For, as Austin saith of the feast of Pentecost, Gaudet produci haec solennitas; so we may say of a discourse of this nature, Gaudet produci haec sermocinatio; the longer it is the better; since of God and his righteous dealing, Non saris unquam dici potest, as Lavater here hath it, never can enough be spoken. For although we all yield that God is just, yet if any cross befall us we are apt to question it, and to think ourselves hardly dealt with.


Verse 2

Job 35:2 Thinkest thou this to be right, [that] thou saidst, My righteousness [is] more than God’s?

Ver. 2. Thinkest thou this to be right?] Heb. Reckonest thou this to be right? q.d. I appeal to thine own conscience. This is a sign of great confidence in the appealer, yet may it be done by men of corrupt minds, destitute of the truth. Witness that bold Anabaptist, that in a solemn disputation at Tigure, appealed to Zuinglius, as if convinced in his own conscience he had inwardly favoured Anabaptism (Scult. Annal.). And those impudent Papists, that report themselves to our consciences, to tell them, Whether our condemnation be not so expressly set down in our own Bibles, and so clear to all the world, that nothing more needs thereto than that they know to read, and to have their eyes in their heads at the opening of our Bible; to tell them, moreover, whether England hath not brought forth within these few years past, to the number of twenty several sorts of Bibles, far different one from another (Gagge of the New Gospel, Preface).

That thou saidst, My righteousness is more than God’s] Heb. My righteousness is before God’s. Diodati rendereth it, My righteousness is from God; that is, I am sure God will justify me, though men condemn me. But it is better to render it, Prae Deo, more than God’s. See a like expression, Hebrews 12:24, understanding it to be the justice of his cause, and not of his person. But taking it so too, when and where did Job ever say that his righteousness was more than God’s? Nowhere surely in so many words, for then doubtless Satan, and not Job, would have carried away the victory in this conflict. Neither surely could this be rightly gathered out of Job’s words, but distorted and misconstrued. Elihu therefore reproved him with too great austerity, neither can anything be pleaded for him but this, that he pleaded for God; of whose glory he was so very tender, that he could not brook or bear with any syllable of a word that seemed to detract from it.


Verse 3

Job 35:3 For thou saidst, What advantage will it be unto thee? [and], What profit shall I have, [if I be cleansed] from my sin?

Ver. 3. For thou saidst, What advantage will it be unto thee?] Here he endeavours to prove the charge, grounding upon some words of Job’s, as Job 9:22; Job 10:15, which seem to hold out thus much, that no good was to be gotten by leaving evil ways, since good men and bad suffer and perish together. But we must know, that Job herein reasoned not of those things that happen after death, but only of the prosperous or unhappy estate of this life present; denying, and that rightly, that we are hereby to judge God’s love or hatred, or of any man’s honest or dishonest conversation. Neither yet did he stand in defence of his own righteousness against God, but only appealed to God as a most wise and just judge, against the false accusations of his foe-like friends, who, by pouring oil into the fire, as it were, very much vexed and disquieted him all along.

Or what profit shall I have if I be cleansed from my sin?] Or, What profit shall I have be it more than by my sin? This, if Elihu could have proved that Job had said, he might very well have justified what he had wished to him, and affirmed of him in the two last verses of the preceding chapter.


Verse 4

Job 35:4 I will answer thee, and thy companions with thee.

Ver. 4. I will answer thee, and thy companions with thee] Thy three friends (who have not so well quit themselves in this controversy, as having answered little or nothing to this unsavoury saying of thine), and to the rest of the bystanders which approve of thine opinion, as people are apt to favour the weaker side, as it is reputed, and to encourage them. Thus it befell Luther, when he began first to reform.


Verse 5

Job 35:5 Look unto the heavens, and see; and behold the clouds [which] are higher than thou.

Ver. 5. Look unto the heavens and see] Yea, look into them, if thou couldst, as did Stephen the proto-martyr, Acts 7:56, and as our Saviour Christ, as man, could do (say some) with his bodily eyes; and as a believer by the eye of his faith, through the perspective glass of the promises, may do, doubtless. The further we can look unto heaven (or into it) the better shall we conceive of that infinite distance that is between God in heaven and men on earth. God is far above the highest heavens, therefore higher than any mortal can attain to him, much less contribute anything unto him by his righteousness, or assault him by his wickedness. Herodotus writeth, That the Thracians once were so mad against their god Jupiter, for raining down upon them when ready to join battle with the enemy, that they threw up their darts against heaven, which shortly returned upon their own heads. And of Caligula, the emperor, the story is told, that he thundered and lightened with certain engines he had; and if at any time a thunderbolt fell from heaven, ipse contra iaeiebat lapidem, he on the other side threw up a stone, and used that hemistich (a) in Horner, η μ αναειρ ηεγω σε, Either do thou kill me, or I will kill thee if I can, (Dio in Vit. Calig.). And what less than this upon the matter do those monsters and miscreants among us, who set their mouths against heaven when things go cross with them especially; and their "tongues walk through the earth?" Psalms 73:9. As Hacker did, who lifting up his eyes to heaven, and grinning against God, blasphemed him, and threatened him, even when he had the rope about his neck, A. D. 1591. Now, as in the water face answereth to face, so doth the face of a man to a man. And as there were many Marii in one Caesar, so there are many Caligulas and Hackets in the best of us all, if God restrain us not from such horrid outrages. But Elihu would have us here to know, that God is far above our reach, neither can we throw this high and lofty one out of his throne, utcunque fremamus et ferociamus; for how should anything that we silly creatures can do reach to God, when as we cannot reach up to the visible heavens?

And behold the clouds which are higher than thou] Eminent prae te. The clouds are God’s chariot whereon he rideth, and wherein he manifesteth much of his majesty. These Elihu would have Job to contemplate in their height, even superiores nubes, as Tremellius rendereth it, the upper clouds; or, as others, the starry heaven, Heb. The thin of heavens. So Bildad before had called upon him to behold the moon and the stars, Job 25:5. And surely the very sight of heaven over us (to the which all that we are or can can bring no help or hurt at all), should admonish us of our meanness, and make us think most modestly of God, whom we are so infinitely below; and not dare either to complain of him or to boast us before him, &c. For this cause it is that Elihu so presseth Job here with this heap of words, that he may henceforth know and keep his distance; and not so presumptuously call God, as it were, to reckoning, touching expenses and receipts.


Verse 6

Job 35:6 If thou sinnest, what doest thou against him? or [if] thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto him?

Ver. 6. If thou sinnest, what dost thou against him?] What more than show thy teeth? or shoot at a rock, where the arrow rebounds upon thee? In the sack of Constantinople the image of the crucifix was taken down by the Turks, and a Turk’s cap put upon the head thereof, and so set up, and shot at with their arrows; and afterwards, in great derision, carried about in the camp, as it were in procession, with drums playing before it, railing and spitting at it, and calling it the God of the Christians. But what was all this to Christ? He that sitteth in the heavens ( extra iactum) laughed at them, the Lord had them in derision, Psalms 2:4. Do wicked sinners, when they work hardest against God, as the word here signifieth, and take greatest pains to go to hell; do they, I say, provoke the Lord to anger? Etsi naviter peccas. "Do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces?" Jeremiah 7:19. And, nay we not well say to such, as Ulysses’s companions said to him, when he would needs provoke Polydamas,

Sχετλιε τιπτ εθελεις ερεθιζεμεν αγριον ανδρα (Hom. Odys.).

God can easily get him a name in the utter overthrow of a rabble of rebels conspiring against him, as at the flood, tower of Babel, Sodom, Egypt, Moab, &c., who were trodden down under him, as straw is trodden down for the dunghill, Isaiah 25:10. And in the next verse, "The Lord shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them, as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim" (that is, with greatest facility; for violent strokes rather sink than support a swimmer): "and he shall bring down their pride together with the spoils of their hands. And the fortress of the high fort of their walls shall he bring down, lay low, and bring to the ground, even to the dust," Isaiah 25:11-12.


Verse 7

Job 35:7 If thou be righteous, what givest thou him? or what receiveth he of thine hand?

Ver. 7. If thou be righteous, what givest thou him?] Nothing, since he is self sufficient, and independent. He needeth us not, neither doth our righteousness reach him, Psalms 16:2. The Pharisees dreamed of an over-doing of the law, and making God beholden to them. The Papists also, those modern Pharisees, talk of works of supererogation, and of merit of congruity, and merit of condignity. But these are mere fictions, chimaeras, absurd doctrines, such as Elihu never heard of. "He that doeth righteousness is righteous," 1 John 3:7, but he addeth nothing thereby to God, let him do his utmost. Indeed who so offereth praise glorifieth God, Psalms 50:23, so he is pleased to account it, and call it; but his glory is, as himself is, eternal, infinite, immense. The sun would shine in its own brightness though all the world were blind, and should wilfully wink: so here. God accepts not our presents, but to return them us back with interest, as the rain ascends in thin vapours, but comes down again in thick showers.

Or what receiveth he of thine hand?] If anything, it is of his own, as David thankfully acknowledgeth, 1 Chronicles 29:14, and besides that, our sweetest incense smelleth strong of the hand that offereth it.


Verse 8

Job 35:8 Thy wickedness [may hurt] a man as thou [art]; and thy righteousness [may profit] the son of man.

Ver. 8. Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art] Wicked men are many ways mischievous to others; and have much to answer for their other men’s sins. How many are undone by their murders, adulteries, robberies, false testimonies, blasphemies, and other rotten speeches, to the corrupting of good manners! &c. What hurt is done daily by the devil’s factors, to men’s souls, bodies, names, estates! Besides that they betray the land wherein they live into the hands of divine justice, while they do wickedly with both hands earnestly, Micah 7:3; that I speak not of the manifold miseries they pull upon themselves.

And thy righteousness may profit the son of man] Thyself and others; for the just liveth by his own faith; he maketh a living of it, and a good one too. And as for his charity, it is the mother of all manner of good works, whereof others have the benefit. Papists, and some as silly, have shrunk up charity to a hand’s breadth, to giving of alms. But besides that, a good man draweth out, not only his sheaf, but his soul to the hungry. He also warneth the unruly, comforteth the feeble-minded, supporteth the weak, and tradeth all his talents for the good of others, 1 Thessalonians 5:14. He is a common blessing to all that are about him. As Plutarch said of the neighbouring villages of Rome, in Numa’s time, That sucking in the air of that city, they breathed δικαιοσυνην, righteousness; so may it be said of the city of God, and her citizens.


Verse 9

Job 35:9 By reason of the multitude of oppressions they make [the oppressed] to cry: they cry out by reason of the arm of the mighty.

Ver. 9. By reason of the multitude (or magnitude) of oppressions, &c.] Or, of the oppressed, whom they (that is, whom the oppressors, not worthy to be named, as neither is that rich glutton, Luke 16:19-31) make to cry. Job had said, Job 24:12, "Men groan out of the city, and the soul of the wounded crieth out: yet God layeth not folly to them." He punisheth not the wrong dealers according to their deserts, as Elihu interprets Job; and here refuteth him, as one that accused God of injustice, because he heareth not the cries of the oppressed. But this is merely their own fault, saith Elihu; because they cry not to God with truth and devotion. They ask and miss, because they ask amiss. For God never faileth to be with his afflicted, Psalms 91:1-16, to preserve the simple, as David found by experience, &c., Psalms 116:1-19, to hear those that call upon him in truth, Psalms 145:1-21; he requireth nothing of them but lawful petitions aud honest hearts, and then they are sure to have out their prayers, either in money or money’s worth; either the same thing they ask or a better.

They cry out by reason of the arm of the mighty] Magnatum. Such as was Pompey, of whom the Romans cried out, Nostra miseria tu es Magnus, We rue by thy greatness, and are ruined. The greater any man is, unless gracious also, the more he thinks he may oppress the meaner sort. They "eat up my people as they eat bread," Psalms 14:4, as so many cannibals, and as the bigger fishes devour the lesser; they lay load upon them without mercy or measure; they beat them with a strong arm, and make them cry aloud, filling the air with their complaints, as nature teacheth even brute beasts to do when they are hurt: Videri possunt magnates non alio loco habere tenues quam minutos pisciculos, quos confertim et pleno ore pro deliciis esitent (Merl.). It was not patience, but pertinace, an obstinate stiffness of mind, that made some heathens, as Mithridates, Marius, Epicurus, &c., forbear crying when grievously tormented.


Verse 10

Job 35:10 But none saith, Where [is] God my maker, who giveth songs in the night;

Ver. 10. But none saith, Where is God my maker] Heb. my makers; to note the Trinity, {Hebrew Text Note} say some; others think that he speaks of God in the plural number only for honour’s sake. They call not upon God as their Creator, they praise him not as their preserver and benefactor, saith Elihu in this and the next verse; but express a great deal of pride and vanity, Job 35:12-13; and thence it is that their prayers are unanswered and themselves unrelieved. The oppressed should not only make moan and fill the air, vagis clamoribus, with brutish outcries (the fruit of the flesh for ease, rather than of the spirit for grace), but beg help of God by faithful prayer, and say, "Where is God my maker?" as Elisha once said, "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" Did he not make me, and will he not maintain me? built he not the earthly house of this tottering tabernacle, and is not he bound to repairs? will he cast off the care of his own handiwork? Qui nos fecit, idem ille est qui nos fovet, conservat ac sustentat, &c. (Brent.). Is he not my master as well as my maker? and shall other lords beside him have dominion over me, and do with me at their pleasure? Lord, look upon the wounds of thy hands (said Queen Elizabeth while she was a prisoner at Woodstock, and had like to have been burnt in her bed one night), and despise not the work of thine hands. Thou hast written me down in thy book of preservation with thine own hand; oh read thine own handwriting, and save me, &c.

Who giveth songs in the night] As the oppressed pray not, and therefore are not eased (they are deservedly miserable, that might, but will not, make themselves happy by asking), so they praise not, God for former deliverances by day and night conferred upon them. Thou hast compassed me about, saith David, with songs of deliverance, Psalms 32:7, that is, Thou hast given me plentiful matter of praising thy name. So here, Qui dat Psalmormn argumentum de nocte, as Tremellius translateth it; who giveth cause to praise him with psalms by night, as David did, Psalms 119:62, and as Paul and Silas, Acts 16:25; and as Mr Philpot and his fellows did in the Bishop of London’s coal house. In the night season it is that God giveth his beloved sleep, and keepeth them and theirs then in safety. Or, if he hold them waking, he filleth them with many sweet meditations (their reins, at that time especially, instructing them, Psalms 16:7), shineth upon them by his moon and stars (which praise God in their courses, and twinkle as it were at us to do the like), and remindeth them by the melody made by the nightingale, which singeth for fifteen nights and days together without intermission, if Pliny may be believed, putting a thorn to her breast to keep her waking for that purpose, Plin. 1. x. c. 29. Luscinia dicitur quia ante lucem canit. Nec quantum lnsciniae dormiunt. Hereupon Epictetus hath this savoury saying, Si luscinia essem, facerem quod luseinia; Cure autem homo rationulls sire, quid faciam? Laudabo Denm, nee cessabo unquam; Vos vero ut idem faciatis hortor: that is, If I were a nightingale, I would do as the nightingale doth; but since I am a man endued with reason (since God hath taught me more than the fowls of heaven, as Elihu hath it in the next verse), what shall I do? I will incessantly praise God; and I exhort you to do the like. But this is not done, saith Elihu here, or very slenderly; and hence it is that men complain of their many and mighty oppressions without remedy from God, who seeth that his favours and benefits would be even lost and spilt upon them; according to that of the philosopher, Ingrato quicquid donatur deperditur, All is cast away that is conferred upon an ungrateful person.


Verse 11

Job 35:11 Who teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth, and maketh us wiser than the fowls of heaven?

Ver. 11. Who teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth] This many wretched people never consider; and are therefore heavily, but worthily, vexed by oppressors, ut vexatio det intellectum, that smart may make wit; and that they may not bellow as beasts do when they feel pain; but flee to God by well prepared prayer, not so much for ease as for the use of what they suffer. Now, blessed is the man whom God chasteneth, and withal teacheth him out of his law; that he may give him rest from the days of adversity, Psalms 94:12-13. Hereunto, not only reason is required (the mercy here mentioned, and celebrated), but religion also; which is the true philosopher’s stone that makes golden afflictions, 1 Peter 1:7, and, as Moses’s hand, turneth a serpent into a rod. The truth is, religion is the highest reason (neither is anything more irrational than irreligion, 2 Thessalonians 3:2), and this also God alone teacheth. For, Cathedram habet in coelo qui corda docet, saith Austin. And again, Quando Christus Magister, quam cito discitur quod docetur? It is God above who teacheth the heart; and this, if he once undertake, it is soon despatched. All this, if sinful men would well weigh, and be thankful for, as they ought, God would surely help them, and not suffer them so to be held under.

And maketh us wiser than the fowls of heaven?] Sapientificat. Some birds are very silly, as the struthiocamelus, that having thrust his head into a thicket, and seeing nobody, thinketh that therefore none seeth him, and so maketh himself a prey (Plin. l. x. c. 1). Doves sit in their dovecotes and see their nests destroyed, their young ones taken away and killed before their eyes; neither ever do they offer to rescue or revenge. Mention is made by writers of a certain nameless little bird, which, for fear lest the heavens should fall upon her, puts always, when she sleepeth, one foot upon her head (Cael. Rhod.). How much better the bird onocrotalus; of whom it is reported, that out of expectation of the hawk to grapple with her, she sleepeth with her beak exalted, as if she would contend with her adversary. Something there is that the wisest may learn from the fowls of the air, to whom, therefore, they are sent and set to school, Matthew 6:26, Jeremiah 8:7; yet generally God hath put more understanding into men; so that as he should not do like them by preying upon others, so he should not cry unto God only in distress, as the young ravens do when hunger bitten; but pray always, and in everything give thanks; for which purpose it is that God hath given us reason, speech, and much matter and means, far above the unreasonable creatures. Vae igitur stupiditati hominum in calamitatibus torpentium.


Verse 12

Job 35:12 There they cry, but none giveth answer, because of the pride of evil men.

Ver. 12. There they cry, but none giveth answer] Cry they do, but not to the true God, Jonah 1:5. The Papists have their he saints and she saints, for several uses. Or, if to the true God, yet not in a due manner; not in faith, and with remorse for their misdoings. And hence it is that either they are not heard and helped; or not in mercy, but for a further mischief, and to furnish out their indictment at the last day; and on their death beds God will not come to them, or be entreated by them, Proverbs 1:28, Psalms 18:42.

Because of the pride of evil men] i.e. Because these oppressed ones that thus cry are not so poor as proud; humbled they are, but not humble; low, but not lowly. Plectuntur, sed non flectuntur; they have lost the fruit of their afflictions, and are not a button the better for all that they have suffered.


Verse 13

Job 35:13 Surely God will not hear vanity, neither will the Almighty regard it.

Ver. 13. Surely God will not hear vanity] Prayer without faith is but an empty ring, a tinkling cymbal. Neque enim omnes qui citharam habent, sunt citharaedi, Every sound is not music, neither is every complaint and outcry of men in extremity an effectual prayer. Those in Hosea, when pined almost, howled as dogs, growled as swine, bellowed as bulls, screeched horribly as the ravens of Arabia, Hosea 7:14, but because they cried not to God with their hearts he heard them not. It is not the labour of the lips or the loudness of the voice, but the travail of the heart, and truth in the inward parts, that he regardeth, Psalms 51:6. Wilt thou not know, O vain (or empty) man, that faith without works is dead? saith St James, James 2:20; so that prayer without faith is to no purpose. Men may cry aloud in distress, and make their voices to be heard on high; they may chatter out a charm when God’s chastening is upon them, yea, be with child, as it were, of a prayer, yet bring forth nothing better than wind, work no deliverance at all in the earth, Isaiah 26:16-18. God may turn them off, and justly, with, Depart, ye workers of iniquity; get you to the gods whom ye have chosen, let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation; for I will deliver you no more, 10:13-14.

Neither will the Almighty regard it] Heb. Look intently into it. It is other and better fruit of affliction that he looketh for. Whereof missing, he looketh another way, as it were, and taketh no notice of their prayers or pressures. Hence they deny, or at least doubt, the Divine providence; and are ready to let fly at God, as the Chinese whip their gods if they help them not at a call.


Verse 14

Job 35:14 Although thou sayest thou shalt not see him, [yet] judgment [is] before him; therefore trust thou in him.

Ver. 14. Although thou sayest thou shalt not see him, &c.] This is that tertium Iobi pronuntiatum, Job’s third speech, which Elihu taketh upon him to reprehend and refute. It is taken out of Job 23:8-9, and the sense is, that God would never appear to do him right. But although thou sayest such a thing, and so seemest to chime in with those wicked ones who deny God’s providence; yet thou oughtest to be better persuaded of his presence with thee and providence over thee; for judgment is before him, and he will certainly do right; only thou must give glory to God and wait his time.

Yet judgment is before him] Or, Judge thyself in his sight; give glory to God, and confess thy sin; and then, stepping from the bar to the bench, judge thyself worthy to be destroyed, 1 Corinthians 11:31. This do, and then

Trust thou in me] For safety here and salvation hereafter; acting thy faith upon the precious promises, and hopefully expecting the performance thereof in due time. This was excellent counsel indeed, and worthy of all acceptation, Pia et salubris adhortatio (Mercer).


Verse 15

Job 35:15 But now, because [it is] not [so], he hath visited in his anger; yet he knoweth [it] not in great extremity:

Ver 15. But now, because it is not so, he hath visited in his anger] Because thou hast not yet done as I have prescribed, God is forced thus to treat thee, and to increase his plagues upon thee in great displeasure at thine incorrigibleness. Thus is good Job miscensured, whom God suffered so to be afflicted for his trial, and not for his punishment; though there wanted not in him cause enough if God should have taken advantages. But know now that his anger hath visited thee but a little (this is Beza’s translation of the whole verse); neither hath he made any great inquisition. Piscator readeth this and the next verse thus: But now, because his anger hath not visited, neither hath he taken notice of the multitude of his sins very much; therefore doth Job open his mouth with vanity, and heap up words without knowledge. Tremellius thus, For now, because there is nothing of these, doth his anger visit thee: viz. because thou neither rightly judgest thyself nor waitest upon God; but lookest upon thyself as utterly undone, casting away all hope of better, therefore art thou yet held under.

Yet he knoweth it not in great extremity] Job perceiveth not (so blind he is) though he have his back burdened with afflictions, and knows not how to be rid of them. This Elihu speaketh to the company, by an angry apostrophe.


Verse 16

Job 35:16 Therefore doth Job open his mouth in vain; he multiplieth words without knowledge.

Ver. 16. Therefore doth Job open his mouth in vain] Dilatat, divaricat, rictum diducit ut bellua. An open mouth is oft a purgatory to the master; digito compesce labellum.

He multiplieth words without knowledge] Eliphaz had charged Job with malice and blasphemy, Job 22:1-30 Elihu, only with vanity and ignorance. We may not make the worst of things, but give a favourable interpretation.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 35:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-35.html. 1865-1868.

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