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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Job 9

 

 


Verse 1

Job 9:1 Then Job answered and said,

Ver. 1. Then Job answered and said] He answered to his two friends who had formerly spoken; first, to Eliphaz’s speech, Job 4:17, and next to that of Bildad, Job 8:3. Bildad had interrupted him when he would have excused himself, that he did by no means deny the justice of God, as they mistook him. Now, therefore, that Bildad had spoken his utmost, Job beginneth to dispute and to declare his judgment concerning that subject; and this he doth longe magnificentius et augustius quam socii, saith Mercer, far more magnificently and majestically than his two friends had done, proving that God is just, even then when he affiicteth the innocent; neither have such any just cause to except against his proceedings in that behalf, since he fetcheth not the causes of his decrees and purposes from the things which he governeth; but his will, which is before all things, is the rule of all justice. St Paul also had respect unto this, Romans 9:20; Romans 11:32, rising a great deal higher, namely, to the eternal decree of election and reprobation: after this, Job setteth forth what is the condition of men, and what poor things they are in comparison of God, thereby to bring himself and others to the true knowledge of God, and of themselves, which is the highest wisdom in the world.


Verse 2

Job 9:2 I know [it is] so of a truth: but how should man be just with God?

Ver. 2. I know it is so of a truth] Bildad’s argument was, God, who hath punished thee, is just, therefore thou art unjust. Job grants the antecedent here, but denies and refutes the consequent, Job 9:22-23, &c. To Eliphaz also Job grants, not only that man could not be more just than God, as he had said, Job 4:3, but also that none could ever be found so just that he might any way be compared to God. Job is one of those candidates of immortality, who can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth, 2 Corinthians 13:8, every parcel whereof he accounted precious, and could not but be a friend to it, though brought by them who seemed his enemies; this spoke him ingenuous and humble, a well tempered champion for the truth. Athanasius is said to be such another, and so Mr Bucer. Helvidius is taxed by Jerome for the contrary, and Bishop Montague, by Dr Rivet.

But how should man be just with God?] Mr Broughton translateth, And how can man be just before the Omnipotent? Sorry, sickly, wretched man, how can he be just (sc. by an inherent righteousness; by an imputed he may) before the most Holy and Almighty God; or compared to him? Job afterwards, setting himself by God, and considering the infinite distance and disproportion, crieth out, "I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes," Job 42:5-6. I say likewise, "Woe is me, for I am undone," Isaiah 6:5. He that hath looked a while intentively upon the body of the sun is so dazzled with the beams thereof, that he can see nothing.


Verse 3

Job 9:3 If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand.

Ver. 3. If he will contend with him] If any one would be so fool hardy, or adventurous, as to dispute with God about his judgments, he could not, though he were never so wise, or well skilled, answer him one objection of a thousand, but must needs yield and say, I am no fit match for God. The Jewish doctors (and after them Vatablus) set this sense upon the text, If he (that is, if man) should contend with him (that is, with God, as, through the Luciferian pride of his heart, he is apt enough to do), he would not answer him one of a thousand; God would not honour him so far as to answer so contemptible an adversary, and so slight and senseless arguments; if he vouchsafe an answer, it shall not be so much as the echo giveth the voice; it shall not be to one article or argument of a thousand. Egregius quidem sensus, saith Mercer; this is a good sense, but the other is better, and well agreeth with Job 9:14.


Verse 4

Job 9:4 [He is] wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened [himself] against him, and hath prospered?

Ver. 4. He is wise in heart and mighty in strength] And must therefore needs be a most just judge, since be neither wanteth wisdom to judge nor power to execute; what then should turn him out of the track of justice? Let God be just and true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome (or be clear) when thou judgest, or when thou art judged, Psalms 51:4, Romans 3:4; for at the same time that God doth judge, or execute judgment upon any, he may also be said to be judged; whilst men pass their censures, either as applauding or disliking his judgments; and then may he be said to overcome, when judged, when men acknowledge the justice of his judgments; when they conclude him wise in heart, that is, "the only wise God," 1 Timothy 1:17, and mighty in strength, that is, the mighty strong God, Isaiah 9:6; who doth whatsoever he will in heaven and earth, Psalms 118:1-29 In speaking of these and others of his most glorious attributes, we speak non quantum debemus, sed quantum possumus, not so much as we ought, but so much as we are able. As for the wisdom of God, Nemo sapientiam Dei immensam in omnem aeternitatem exhauriet (saith Gratian, the emperor, in an epistle to Ambrose), no man shall ever be able to fathom or find it out. And as for his power, so infinite is the distance between God and the greatest noble, that it is an honour that they may be suffered to live in his sight, Exodus 24:10-11. And it is all one with God whether against a man or a nation, Job 34:29.

Who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered?] Instance but any one, whether tongue or hand smiter, that could ever boast of the last blow, or could cry, Victoria. Quis dura locutus est el? so some render it. Who ever uttered hard speeches, 1:15, stout words, Malachi 3:13, against God, and prospered, seaped scot free, as we say, and had not his full payment? Blasphemers set their mouths against heaven, witness Pharaoh, Sennacherib, Julian, &c., dealing with Almighty God, as if Augustus Caesar were dealing with some god Neptune; Caligula with his Jupiter, whom he dared to a duel, η μ αναειρ η εγω σε; or the three sons trying their archery at their father’s heart, to see who can shoot nighest. But shall they thus escape by iniquity? No: "In thine anger cast down the people, O God," Psalms 56:7. The wall of Aphek did execution upon the blasphemous Syrians; the angel of God upon the Assyrians; his visible vengeance fell upon Julian, Arius, and Olympius, an Arian bishop, who denying the Trinity, was struck with three thunderbolts, and killed in a bath. Others understand here the word Libbo, and read it thus, Who hath hardened his heart against him? &c. Surely if men harden their hearts, God will harden his hand, and hasten their destruction. See Proverbs 29:1, Isaiah 6:10-11, Romans 2:5, and get thy flinty heart made fleshy, since a hard heart is in some respect worse than hell (which is the just hire of it), since one of the greatest sins is far greater in evil than any of the greatest punishments.


Verse 5

Job 9:5 Which removeth the mountains, and they know not: which overturneth them in his anger.

Ver. 5. Which removeth the mountains, and they know not] For further proof of God’s power first (and then afterwards of his wisdom) Job produceth divers particular acts of his upon the creatures, both unreasonable and reasonable. Eliphaz had said somewhat to this purpose, Job 4:1-21, sed hic admirandus est Iob, saith Mercer, Job doth it admirably; his tongue, like a silver trumpet, sets forth the high praises of God far more plainly, plentifully, and magnificently than any of his friends, who yet have done it very well too. God, to show his power, removeth the mountains, saith Job, sc. by stupendous earthquakes, and otherwise, at his pleasure, Nahum 1:5, Psalms 97:4-5, Isaiah 40:15, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing, he can remove mountains with a wet finger, as we say, though so mighty in bulk, and strongly founded. Dionysius thinketh, that in thus speaking, Job aimeth at that which was done in the time of Noah’s flood, when the waters with their mighty force galled and bare down many great mountains, but that is uncertain. Great things God will do by the fire of the last day, when mountains shall melt, rocks rend, and the earth, with the works therein, shall be all burnt up, 2 Peter 3:10. And what desolations he hath made in sundry parts of the earth by terrible earthquakes, as at Antioch often (which was therehence called Yεοπολις, because so visited by God), in divers places of Italy, Sicily, Burgundy, Helvetia, and here in Herefordshire, mention is made in Pliny, Stumpfius, Jovius, and other historians, all making good this of Job, and that of the psalmist, The mountains will skip like rams, and the little hills like lambs, when the Lord is displeased, Psalms 114:4.

And they know it not] Dicto citius, it is done with a trice, speedily and secretly, before the mountains (if they could at all know) could know what is done to them; or before the mountaineers or the neighbourhood could foresee and avoid the danger of being overwhelmed and buried alive.

Which overturneth them in his anger] Or, that he overturneth them in his anger. Men are not sensible of God’s anger for sin, no, not in the greatest commotions, such is their stupidity; but will needs swelter and pine away in their iniquities, as if nothing could awake them, Leviticus 26:39.


Verse 6

Job 9:6 Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble.

Ver. 6. Which shaketh the earth out of her place] By mighty earthquakes, dislocating the earth, some part of it; for the whole was never removed, though God can take up the whole globe as a man would do a ball, tossing the very centre itself whereon it is established, 2 Samuel 22:8, &c. There is a twofold power of God; 1. Absolute. 2. Actual. By the former he can do more than he doth: by the latter, whatsoever he willeth, that without impediment he effecteth. As for the earth, as God upholdeth it by the word of his power, Hebrews 1:3, so he hath poised it merely by its own weight, that it should not be removed for ever, Psalms 104:5. For if you imagine that the earth could be removed out of its natural place, which way soever it be removed, it shall move towards heaven, and so shall naturally ascend; but to do so is utterly repugnant to the nature of the earth, which is to bear downward. All which, notwithstanding, the God of nature, as he is in the heaven, so he doth whatsoever he will in heaven and earth.


Verse 7

Job 9:7 Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars.

Ver. 7. Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not] God, in framing the world, began above, and wrought downward; but Job, in describing the great works of God here, began below; and now goes upward from earth to heaven. It is as natural to the heaven to move as to the earth to stand still. Copernicus’s opinion, that the earth turns round, and heaven stands still, is worthily exploded. Round the earth is, indeed, notwithstanding the hills and valleys (as an apple is round, notwithstanding some knots and bunches in it), and being round, it is naturally apt for motion (the Pythagoreans held that the earth was natura sua mobilis, as the heavens are), but God hath fixed and made it immoveable, while the heavenly bodies are restless in their courses. The sun (the glistering sun, as the word here signifieth) rejoiceth as a strong man to run his race, Psalms 19:5. Bellarmine saith, that in the eighth part of an hour the sun runneth 700 miles (De ascens. mentis in Deum, grad. 7); but God, the sovereign of the sun, can speak to it, and it riseth not. If he do but give the word of command to the sun not to rise, the morning shall be made darkness, Amos 4:13, and the day dark with night, Amos 5:8. Was it not so in that three days’ darkness in Egypt? Exodus 12:21, in that miraculous standing still of the sun in Joshua’s days, when the sun rose not with the antipodes one morning, and the stars were sealed up part of the night? Joshua 10:13, in that dismal darkness (mentioned by Lavater upon this text), March 12, 1585, lasting for a quarter of an hour, and being so like the night, that the fowls went to roost at noon, and many fell to their prayers for pardon of their sins, as thinking verily that the day of judgment was come. {There was no solar eclipse for this date.} St Paul in the tempest at sea saw neither sun nor stars for many days, Acts 27:20. And I have read of a foreigner, who having been in these parts in the deep of winter, and returning home again, desired one that was then bound for England to commend him to the sun when he next saw him, for I have not seen him there, said he, of a whole fortnight together, Ezekiel 32:7. I will cover the sun with a cloud; and, in that sense, speak to it that it rise not.

And sealeth up the stars] Heb. Sets a seal upon the stars, making them hide their heads, and withdraw their influences: for stars are God’s storehouses, Deuteronomy 28:12, which he openeth or shutteth at his pleasure. Every star is like a purse of gold; out of which God can, when he will, throw down riches and plenty into the earth; but many of them never appear to us, though visible to the antipodes, Job 37:7.


Verse 8

Job 9:8 Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.

Ver. 8. Which alone spreadeth out the heavens] Without the help or counsel of any other. As God was alone and by himself in making the world, Isaiah 44:24, so he is in ordering it, Job 37:18, Psalms 104:1-2. The Hebrews, as they held with Pythagoras in the point of transanimation; so with Plato in that false opinion of his, that the angels were the movers of the heavens, and the governors of the whole world; whence grew that angel worship amongst them, Colossians 2:18. As God made the heavens alone, even that whole expanse or firmament, Genesis 1:6, the whole region of the air; so he still spreadeth it out as a curtain, which he draweth before the sun and stars, masking and muffling them up with clouds, whensoever he pleaseth.

And treadeth upon the waves of the sea] Or, spurneth, exercising a regiment over the raging surges of the seas, though they seem to swell against him. Thus Job fetcheth evidences of God’s power from all places. See Psalms 89:9.


Verse 9

Job 9:9 Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south.

Ver. 9. Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades] Those glorious constellations, which do, after a sort, govern the four seasons of the year; but are governed by God, from whose power all their influence and virtue is borrowed, even that which they exercise upon the raging seas. The learned interpreters have not unfitly translated - Has Arcturus, Chesil Orion, Chimah Pleiades, or the seven stars, and the climates of the South, the summer signs; altogether neglecting the toys of the unlearned Rabbis; which stars or signs are answerable to autumn and winter, the spring time and summer. But I had rather (saith Rev. Mr Beza) retain still the Hebrew words than use the other; which have been so much abused with glosure and impure tales and devices of the wicked and profane poets. {See Trapp on "Job 38:31"}

And the chambers of the south] Interiora Austri, the most remote, hidden, and secret parts of the south; so called, because the stars which are under the southern pole are hidden from us, and are enclosed and lodged as in a chamber. Those stars (and so all the rest) God maketh, that is, he maketh them to appear and do their office for the use and good of man. It is he alone that telleth the number of the stars, he calleth them by their names; neither can they do anything but as they receive order and commission from him (Mr Caryl, Psalms 147:4). That was an idle brag of Aratus, the astrologer, that he had found out and set down the whole number of the stars (Aug. de Civ. Dei, lib. 16); and that is a strange arrogance of the kings of Mexico, who when they are consecrated, are reported to take this oath, I swear that the sun, during my life, shall hold on his course; and that the clouds shall send down rain, the rivers shall run, and the earth bring forth all manner of fruit, &c. (Lopez de Gomara).


Verse 10

Job 9:10 Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number.

Ver. 10. Which doth great things, &c.] {See Trapp on "Job 5:9"} whence this verse is taken verbatim. If Eliphaz say the truth of God’s wisdom and power, Job will soon seal to it; he can find in his heart to speak all good of a wounding God, of a killing God, and not wish, as Spira did, Oh that I were above God, and could overpower him! Or as Hacker here did, A.D. 1591, threaten God to fire the heaven about him, to pluck him out of his throne. (Camb. Eliz. fol. 408)


Verse 11

Job 9:11 Lo, he goeth by me, and I see [him] not: he passeth on also, but I perceive him not.

Ver. 11. Lo, he goeth by me, and I see him not] As he is powerful in his deeds, so he is secret in his designs, passing, and not repassing daily, but yet unseen; he is everywhere present, and not so far from any one of us as the bark is from the tree; for in him we live, move, and have our being; and therefore we had need take heed what we say or think of him in any extremity or misery, for he overheareth us; yea, he knoweth our thoughts long before, Psalms 139:2. As a circumspect judge that goeth obscured under some disguise, to hear and see what is said and done by those that are to be judged by him. Or, as the Great Turk standing behind the arras, at the dangerous door, to hear all the debates and decrees of his senate, and to call them to a strict account of all afterwards: God, as he is invisible, too subtle for sinew or sight to seize upon; so he is ολοφθαλμος, All-eye, to survey and look all around us; yea, to see through us: "The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven"; howbeit, he is not so confined or shut up there (as the Epicures dreamed) but that "his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men," Psalms 11:4. The one points out his knowledge, the other his judgment, or his eritical descant; he pryeth into the very entrails of the soul, the heart of the heart; the reins, those seats of lust, and most abstruse parts of the body. No man needs a window in his breast (as the heathen Momus wished) for God to look in at; every man before God is all window, and he, like the optic virtue in the eye, seeth all, and is seen of none. Look to it, therefore, and walk exactly. Cave, spectat Care, Take heed, Care seeth you, was an ancient watchword among the Romans, and a great retentive from vice; how much more should this among all men, Take heed, the Lord looks on! What though he is invisible, and we see him not; he passeth on also, and we perceive him not; shall we, like the foolish bustard, thrust our heads in a hole, and then think that, because we see none, we are therefore seen of none? The whole world is to God as a sea of glass, clear and transparent, Revelation 4:6, and his eyes are as a flaming fire, Revelation 1:14, that need no outward light, but can see by sending out a ray. God, that fills and sees all (saith Nazianzen), though he lighten the mind, yet flies before the beams thereof, still leaving it as it is able in sight to follow him; and so draws it by degrees to higher things; yet interposeth between it and his incomprehensible essence, as many veils as were over the Tabernacle.


Verse 12

Job 9:12 Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou?

Ver. 12. Behold, he taketh away] Raptim aufert; He snatcheth away, or taketh by force, as a lion doth his prey, or a thief doth another man’s goods. Confer Proverbs 23:28. Which if he do, who can repel or turn him back? Here Job plainly alludeth to the taking away of his children, servants, and cattle, the likelihood also of losing his life (according to the Chaldee paraphrast) by his present miseries; which, if it should befall him from God, it would not be safe for him to cavil, or once question God’s proceeding, to urge him to restitution, or charge him with oppression; since he is chief Lord of all, and may do with his own what he pleaseth. He is uncontrollable, as Nebuchadnezzar at length acknowledged, Daniel 4:35, and his will is the true and only rule of justice itself, nec solum recta, sed et regula. Wherefore let all the earth keep silence before him, Habakkuk 2:20, and let none presume once to ask him what he hath done, either to question his right to do it, or to question his righteousness in the doing of it.


Verse 13

Job 9:13 [If] God will not withdraw his anger, the proud helpers do stoop under him.

Ver. 13. If God will not withdraw his anger] That is, of his own free accord forbear to execute his judgments, the stoutest must stoop; for "he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth even that be doth," Job 23:13, his power is altogether irresistible. Men, though never so puissant, may be withstood and out matched, as Asa was, 2 Chronicles 14:8-9. Nature may be resisted, and her power suspended, as when the fire burned not the three worthies, the Red Sea drowned not the Israelites passing through it. In the creatures there is an essence, and a faculty whereby they work; between these God can separate, and so hinder their working. In the angels there is an essence, and an executive power; God comes between these sometimes, and hinders them from doing what they would. But God is most simple and entire, and, therefore, the strong helper, qui portant orbem, saith the Vulgate, that bear up the pillars of the world (which some understand to be angels, others to be saints, who stand in the gap, Ezekiel 22:30, and others, again, to be carnal combinations), shall not hinder him, but shall stoop and buckle under him, or under it, viz. his wrath, as not able to bear up; helpers shall prove no helpers against the mind and purpose of God; no, though they be as potent and as proud as Egypt (such an allusion there may be in the Hebrew text), or although they be helpers of latitude, as one rendereth it, that is, of the largest extent, either in power, or by an elate mind; and so the meaning is, None are so mighty, or so highly conceited with their own ability, but, if he be angry, he will make them to stoop under, as not being able to bear his wrath.


Verse 14

Job 9:14 How much less shall I answer him, [and] choose out my words [to reason] with him?

Ver. 14. How much less shall I answer him] If heaven, earth, and sea cannot stand before him; if strongest men, and strongly befriended and seconded, cannot make their party good with him, it is not for me to stout it out; but rather to stoop and strike sail, seeking to disarm his indignation by a humble yielding; especially since I am not able to hold discourse with him, to answer him one of a thousand; I not only have not arguments, but I lack fit words; not argumentative words only, but persuasive also.

And choose out my words to reason with him?] Heb. Shall I choose out words with him? Broughton renders it, Shall I choose to word it with God? Surely my best eloquence in this case will be a submissive silence. It can be neither wisdom nor duty in me to deal with and undertake God, either with an open or a closed hand, either with logical subtilties or rhetorical flourishes. If I should either be respondent or opponent, I should come off with loss.


Verse 15

Job 9:15 Whom, though I were righteous, [yet] would I not answer, [but] I would make supplication to my judge.

Ver. 15. Whom though I were righteous] Legally righteous, as none ever were, but the first and second Adam.

Yet would I not answer] viz. By pleading mine own righteousness, since no created righteousness can answer God. Some render it, non attollam vocem, ne hiscere quidem audebo, I will not lift up my voice, nor dare to mute against him. {see 1 Corinthians 4:4} No, though I were never so innocent, and did suffer this misery undeservedly.

But I would make supplication to my judge] As he doth, though it were a good while first, in the end of the next chapter. It is likely that he intended to do it sooner, but was put by by his passions; which, when they fume up into the head, gather oft into so thick a cloud, that we lose the sight of ourselves, and what is best to be done. Jonah thought to have prayed, Jonah 4:1-2, but it proved a brawl; and when as by prayer he thought to overcome his anger, anger overcame him and his prayer too.


Verse 16

Job 9:16 If I had called, and he had answered me; [yet] would I not believe that he had hearkened unto my voice.

Ver. 16. If l had called and he had answered] If, in confidence of mine own righteousness, I had sought some good thing at his hands, and he had therein condescended to me, yet would I not believe that he had, in mercy, hearkened to my voice; but rather, for a further mischief, that he might roll himself upon me, as Joseph upon his brethren, and as God did upon the Israelites after their quails; that he might tear them with his tempest, &c. Some think that Job speaketh these words, as despairing of audience, or denying God’s particular providence; but neither of these is likely. Rather it seemeth, saith Pineda, to be the speech of a mind marvellously cast down, and meanly conceited of himself, and of his prayer; and trusting to the goodness of God alone; so Drusius. Job speaketh not this, saith he, out of diffidence, but out of fear of God’s judgments, and sense of his own imperfections.

Yet I would not believe that he had hearkened unto my voice] Namely, for any worth that he findeth in it: what am I, poor creature, that I should think I had carried the matter with God?


Verse 17

Job 9:17 For he breaketh me with a tempest, and multiplieth my wounds without cause.

Ver. 17. For he breaketh me with a tempest] q.d. This is one thing also that maketh me think I am not heard, because I am not helped; but after my prayer I am in as bad a case as before and seem to have a repulse from God. Afflictions continued are no evidence that prayer is not heard; yet usually it is very inevident to an afflicted person that his prayer is heard. The Hebrew (and so the Vulgate) hath it, He will break me, that is, saith one, If I should plead before him as pure, although I might temporally, or for a time, be delivered, yet I should not finally escape destruction, although I should give him none other cause. Whereby we may see upon what danger of being torn in pieces by God’s judgments our justiciaries put themselves that will needs go to God in their own righteousness, as the proud Pharisee, Luke 18:11-12 The calamity of these merit mongers shall rise suddenly. Behold, a whirlwind, or a tempest of the Lord, goeth forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind; it shall fall grievously upon th e head of these wicked ones, Jeremiah 23:19. This St Paul knew, and, therefore, did his utmost that he might be found in Christ (sc. when sought for by the justice of God), not having his "own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith," Philippians 3:9.

And multiplieth my wounds without cause] i.e. Without any other cause than to try me, and prove my patience, which now Job began to perceive, as Philip gathereth; or, without any manifest cause, and perceivable by an afflicted man, so Aquinas senseth it. God hath not told me the reason of his chastenings; but, to increase my grief, he concealeth from me the cause of them; and yet he multiplieth still my sores and my sorrows. Or, without cause, that is, without any such cause as his friends alleged against him, viz. that he was a rank hypocrite.


Verse 18

Job 9:18 He will not suffer me to take my breath, but filleth me with bitterness.

Ver. 18. He will not suffer me to take my breath] I am so far from a period, that I have no pause of my troubles. I cannot get any interspirias, or free breathing space. See Job 7:19. And in the former verse he had complained that God had stormed him. Interim per Pathos, saith Mercer; here he returns to his old practice of expostulating about the greatness of his grief, and spares not to hyperbolize. Beda and others understand this text to be a bodily distemper upon Job, which had made him short winded. And Lavater hath this good note here, Hoc cogitandum nobis est, &c. Let this text be thought upon when our spirits begin to sink; as also when by reason of the phthisic, {A wasting disease of the lungs; pulmonary consumption} or any other like disease, we feel a difficulty of breathing, and a straitening of our pectorals, or be otherwise compassed about with great sorrows.

But filleth me with bitterness] Heb. He satiateth me with bitternesses, i.e. with sore and sharp afflictions, which are in no way joyous, but grievous to the flesh, Hebrews 12:11. Job had his belly full of gall and wormwood; he had not only a draught or two, but a diet drink made for him of most bitter ingredients. Of this he complaineth heavily; what then will the wicked do, that must suck up the dregs of God’s cup, Psalms 78:8, which hath eternity to the bottom?


Verse 19

Job 9:19 If [I speak] of strength, lo, [he is] strong: and if of judgment, who shall set me a time [to plead]?

Ver. 19. If I speak of strength, lo, he is strong] Neither by might nor right can I deal with him. Broughton renders it, As for force, he is valiant. The Lord is a man of war, saith Moses, Exodus 15:3. Yea, he is the Lord of arms, saith David, Psalms 84:1-12 Yea, he alone is a whole army of men, van and rear both, saith Isaiah, Isaiah 52:12, there is no doubt, then, but he will carry the day, since no creature is able to grapple with him. The weakness of God (if any such thing there were) is stronger than men, 1 Corinthians 1:25, and by the weakest means he can effect the greatest matters, as once he did in Egypt.

And if of judgment, who shall set me a time to plead?] Who shall appoint the time and place for our meeting? If I shall go about to sue him at law, I shall have but a cold suit, an ill pull of it; for who shall make him appear, or bring him to his answer? and where shall I find an advocate, a patron, to plead my cause? yea, where shall I get a witness? for so the Vulgar reads it, Nemo audet pro me testimonium dicere; no man shall be so bold as to give an evidence for me, or be a witness on my side.


Verse 20

Job 9:20 If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: [if I say], I [am] perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.

Ver. 20. If I justify myself] If, in default of other pleaders, I should undertake to manage my cause myself, I should be never the nearer.

Mine own mouth shall condemn me] i.e. God out of mine own mouth, as finding mine arguments weak and worthless; he knows us better than we know ourselves; and when he comes to turn the bottom of the bag upwards (as once Joseph’s steward did theirs) all our secret thefts will be revealed, and those will appear to be faults that we little thought of. A Dutch divine, when dying, was full of fears and doubts; said some to him, You have been so employed, and so faithful, why should you fear? Oh, said he, the judgment of man and the judgment of God are different. Vae hominum vitae quantumvis laudabili, si remota misericordia iudicetur; Woe to the most praise worthy man alive, if he meet with judgment without mercy. The best lamb should abide the slaughter, except the ram were sacrificed, that Isaac might be saved.

lf I say I am perfect] What if God had said so, Job 1:1, yet Job might not, Proverbs 27:2, 2 Corinthians 10:18. Or if he do at any time justify himself, as Job 29:1-25; Job 30:1-31 he doth, it is in his own necessary and just defence, against the charge of his friends. Real apologies we must ever make for ourselves when wronged; verbal, if any, must be managed with meekness of wisdom.


Verse 21

Job 9:21 [Though] I [were] perfect, [yet] would I not know my soul: I would despise my life.

Ver. 21. Though I were perfect] That is, of an unblameable conversation, yet could not I know mine own soul, that is, those secret sins, Psalms 19:12, those litters of lusts that lurk therein; therefore I despise my life, I have no joy at all of it, but could wish to be out of the world to be rid of these evil inmates, that will not out of doors till the house fall upon the heads of them, till the earthly tabernacle that harboureth them be at once dissolved. Others read and sense the words thus: I am perfect or upright, neither do I know mine own soul, i.e. quicquam perversi anima mea, they allowed sin in my soul; yet I am so afflicted, that I despise my life, as being but a continued death. Aben Ezra reads the verse with an admiration, thus, Perfect I am; and think you that I know not mine own soul! that I am so great a stranger to myself! or that I have so little care of mine own good, as that I despise my life, and walk at all adventures! Tremellius thus, I am upright, whatever you my friends may make of me, neither value I my life or soul in comparison of mine integrity; my life is but a trifle to my conscience, &c.


Verse 22

Job 9:22 This [is] one [thing], therefore I said [it], He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked.

Ver. 22. This is one thing, therefore I say it] And will stand to it, though I stand alone; this being the one thing wherein I differ in opinion from you; and because it is the hinge upon which the whole dispute between us is turned, therefore I will abide by it, and be Doctor resolutus, resolute in the maintenance of it, viz.

He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked] A harsh doctrine, yet a good one, saith an interpreter. Grace is no shield against the greatest affliction. See Ecclesiastes 9:1-3, Malachi 3:14, Ezekiel 21:3, Hebrews 11:36-38 shows that none out of hell have ever suffered more than God’s dearest children; and Hebrews 12:6, He not only chasteneth, but scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. God will not cast away a righteous man, said Bildad, Job 8:20; that is, totally destroy him in temporals, but restore him again. No such matter, saith Job, for it may, and many times doth happen, that a godly man may, as to this life present, perish, as well as a wicked man; he may be totally and finally bereft of outward comforts, the righteous perisheth, Isaiah 57:1; only with this difference, as hath been before noted, God’s judgments on the wicked are penal and typical of eternal torment; whereas upon the godly they are no more than medicinal or probational, &c.


Verse 23

Job 9:23 If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent.

Ver. 23. If the scourge slay suddenly] By scourge here is meant a common calamity, such as rides circuit, compassing a country as a scourge doth a man’s body round about. Any sweeping judgment is a swinging scourge in God’s hands; such as is the sword, Isaiah 10:26, which when it rides circuit (as a judge) it is in commission, Ezekiel 14:17, Jeremiah 47:6-7, devouring flesh and drinking blood. Thus Attila, the Hun, styled himself God’s scourge. Tamerlane was commonly called the wrath of God, the terror of the world. Think the same of famine, pestilence, wild beasts, Ezekiel 14:12, &c., these oft slay suddenly, Isaiah 30:13, Jeremiah 18:22, as did the sweating sickness here in England, the massacre of France, and that later of Ireland, that scourge, if ever any, slew suddenly the perfect and the wicked. When an overflowing storm sweeps away the wicked, the tail of it may dash their best neighbours.

He laugheth at the trial of the innocent] The Vulgate readeth, He will not laugh at the trial of the innocent; but it is not there in the original. Others thus, will he laugh at the trial of the innocent? q.d. no, he will not. God may seem to slight his own in affliction, as Psalms 77:2-3. The lion lets her whelps roar sometimes, till they do almost kill themselves with roaring. The truth is (and I think the true sense of this Scripture), God scorneth the allegation of innocence, or the justification and plea of the most upright man breathing, in the way of exemption or prevention of his just and wise dispensations, when he pleaseth to inflict them, involving good and bad in the same common calamity (Mr Abbot).


Verse 24

Job 9:24 The earth is given into the hand of the wicked: he covereth the faces of the judges thereof; if not, where, [and] who [is] he?

Ver. 24. The earth is given into the hand of the wicked] God many times suffereth the wicked most licentiously to reign in the world, Jeremiah 27:6, Daniel 5:18-19. And it is thought by some that Job, speaking here in the singular number, aims at some famous tyrant in those parts, known both to himself and to his friends; such as was Phocas the emperor, who, when he had slain his master Mauritius, and was set up in his stead, there was an honest poor man (saith Cedrenus) who was wonderfully importunate at the throne of grace to know a reason why that wicked man prospered so in his design? he was answered again by a voice, that there could not be a worse man found; and that the sins of Christians and of the city of Constantinople did require it.

He covereth the faces of the judges thereof] i.e. That tyrant, above mentioned, subverteth all order of justice, condemneth and putteth to death even the judges themselves, if they will not pervert justice, as Bassianus did Papinian (Spartian). The covering of the face was the mark of a condemned man, Esther 7:8, Job 40:8, Isaiah 8:17, Mark 14:65. Or thus, God blindeth the judges by giving them over to error, or permitting them to take bribes, so that they cannot discern right from wrong, &c. Some by judges here understand the saints who shall one day judge the world, but are in the mean while grievously afflicted by the wicked.

If not, where, and who is he?] Which things, if we say they are done, besides the will and foreknowledge of God, we shall thrust God out of the world, and set up fate and blind fortune; or thus, it is even so; or if not, where is he, and who is he {see Esther 7:5 Malachi 2:17} that can disprove what I have asserted? prodeat, siquis me potest falsi arguere, I would fain see the man that can convince me of error (Mercer, Pagnin., Vatab.).


Verse 25

Job 9:25 Now my days are swifter than a post: they flee away, they see no good.

Ver. 25. Now my days are swifter than a post, &c.] Not my prosperous days only (as Broughton glosseth), but the whole course of my life; the vanity whereof Job expresseth by many similitudes; and here search is made into three of the four elements, earth, water, and air, to find out a fit one. What is swifter upon earth than a post, who rides without stop or stay, and spares for no horse flesh? indeed, he taketh some time to rest in; but so doth not man’s life; it is ever in motion, and every moment we yield somewhat to death. Animantis cuiusque vita est fuga, saith the philosopher, our last day stands, the rest run. Cum crescit vita, decrescit, to live is but to lie a-dying (Seneca).

They flee away] As David fled from the face of Absalom, Psalms 3:1; as Brentius was advised by that senator of Hala to flee for his life, cito, citius, citissime, with all possible speed, since they were at hand that sought it. See 1 Samuel 19:11; 1 Samuel 19:18.

They see no good] But are few, and with all evil, Genesis 47:9, Job 14:1. {See Trapp on "Genesis 47:9"} {See Trapp on "Job 14:1"} Some good days Job had had, but they were so soon over (and his present pressure so great) that he was scarce aware of them, nor could take the comfort of them now; the Epicurians indeed held that a man might be cheerful amidst the most exquisite torments, ex praeteritarum voluptatum recordatione, by the remembrance of those pleasures and delights that formerly he had enjoyed (Cic. de Fin. I. 2; Sen. de Benef. 1. 4. c. 22). Job held this but a slight comfort; his care was in prosperity how to make the best use of it; his thoughts ran upon the uncertainty of all creature comforts, that he might hang loose to them, and hold them no otherwise than a child doth a bird in his hand.


Verse 26

Job 9:26 They are passed away as the swift ships: as the eagle [that] hasteth to the prey.

Ver. 26. They are passed away as the swift ships] Heb. They are changed (gliding away insensibly) as the ships of desire (so called, because they seem willing to be at the haven as soon as may be), or as the ships of Ebeh, a very swift river in Arabia, saith Rabbi Solomon; or as the pirate’s ships, so Broughton, such as are your nimble frigates, fly-boats, {A fast sailing vessel used chiefly in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: a. for rapid transport of goods, etc., esp. in the coasting trade} and catches, &c. Labitur uncta vadis abies (Virg.). Let our souls be like a ship which is made little and narrow downward; but more wide and broad upward. Let them be ships of desire, hastening heavenward; and then let our days pass away as they can, we shall but be the sooner at home; mortality shall appear to be no small mercy.

As the eagle that hasteth to the prey] When hunger addeth swiftness to her wings, and maketh her pour or souse down upon the prey like a thunderbolt; so transitory is our time: redeem it, therefore. It is reported of Ignatius, that when he heard a clock strike, he would say, Here is one hour more now past that I have to answer for.


Verse 27

Job 9:27 If I say, I will forget my complaint, I will leave off my heaviness, and comfort [myself]:

Ver. 27. If I say, I will forget my complaint] And suffer in silence, as thou, Bildad, hast advised me, Job 8:2. Sorrows are not so easily forgotten; Lamentations 3:19, "Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall." The Stoics boasting of their indolence, or ability to bear afflictions without making moan or complaining, when it came to their own turn, found by experience that they had spoken more trimly than truly; and therefore one Dionysius, surnamed Mεταθεμενος, or the Flincher, left for this reason from the Stoics to the Peripatetics.

I will leave off my heaviness] Heb. My face, viz. the sourness that used to sit upon it, as 1 Samuel 1:18. The Pharisees were vultuosi tetrici inamaeni, Matthew 6:16, of a sad and sour countenance, grim and ghastly; they affected to look like Sycthians, as the word signifieth, that they might seem great tasters, when as inwardly they were merry and pleasant. Job’s case was far different; his heart was heavy as lead; nevertheless, to give content to his friends, he would endeavour to look lightsomely, but found a very hard task of it.

And comfort myself] Heb. Strengthen, viz. so as not to make moan, but bite in my pain. Invalidum omne natura querulum, the weaker anything is the more apt it is to complain; and, on the contrary, some men’s flesh will presently rankle and fester, if but razed with a pin only: so some men’s spirits, they are ever whining.


Verse 28

Job 9:28 I am afraid of all my sorrows, I know that thou wilt not hold me innocent.

Ver. 28. I am afraid of all my sorrows] That come thronging thick about me, and terrify me; they will surely be doubled and trebled upon me; hence my sorrow is incurable; if I should resolve never so much against it, I should break my resolution, and fall to fresh complaints, Psalms 39:1; Psalms 39:3. Hic vides, saith Lavater. Here we may see how little is to be ascribed to man’s freewill in the things of God, since it is not in our power to comfort and cheer up ourselves under afflictions, though we would never so fain.

I know that thou wilt not hold me innocent] But wilt hold me guilty, and accordingly punish me. This was the language of Job’s fear; had his faith been in heart, it would have quelled and killed such distrustful fears, and have gathered one contrary out of another, life out of death, assurance of deliverance out of deepest distresses, Deuteronomy 32:36, 2 Kings 14:26, going into captivity was a sign of Israel’s returning out of captivity.


Verse 29

Job 9:29 [If] I be wicked, why then labour I in vain?

Ver. 29. If I be wicked] Heb. I am wicked, sc. in your thoughts, and you have so earnestly and effectually affirmed it, and confirmed it, that I am almost ready to say as you say, I am wicked. Plato brings in Socrates in his apology to the judges, thus bespeaking them, My lords, I know not how you have been affected with mine accusers’ eloquence while you heard them speak; for mine own part, I assure you that I, whom it toucheth most, was almost drawn to believe that all they said, though against myself, was true, when they scarcely uttered one word of truth. The Chaldee paraphrase reads it, I shall be culpable, or, I shall be condemned.

Why then labour I in vain?] Or, for nothing, as the Chaldee hath it. See the like Psalms 73:13-14. Why put I myself to so much fruitless pains, either in praying to God, or apologizing to you, my friends, since by God I am still afflicted, and by you reputed a wicked person? Job’s hope was low, his endeavour was therefore little. Si nihil sperarem, nihil orarem, saith one. Let us pray on. God sometimes defers to come till men have even left looking for him, till he scarce findeth faith upon earth, Luke 18:8.


Verse 30

Job 9:30 If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean;

Ver. 30. If I wash myself with snow water] Some take the former words, I am wicked, to be Job’s confession of his own sinfulness in comparison of God’s surpassing holiness. And then this followeth very fitly, Though I wash myself with snow water, i.e. with water as clear as snow is white. Some read it aquis vivis for aquis nivis, spring water for snow water.

And make my hands never so clean] Though I wash my hands with soap (so some read it), as Jeremiah 2:22, Malachi 3:2; or, though I wash mine hands in a well (where there is no want of water), both inside and outside, as James 4:8.


Verse 31

Job 9:31 Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me.

Ver. 31. Thou shalt plunge me in the ditch] Thou shalt declare me to be no less loathsome than he that, having fallen into a foul guzzle, or nasty jakes, abhorreth himself and his own clothes, being ready to lay up his gorge at the sight and smell of them. The Vulgar hath it, Sordibus intinges me, thou shalt dip me in the dirt over head and ears, and stain me all over, as dyers do the cloth they colour. By the ditch, Beza and others understand the grave; and by clothes, grave clothes, q.d. My very winding sheet shall abhor my filthiness. Take the proud Pharisee for instance, and Popish merit mongers, whom the Lord abhorreth.


Verse 32

Job 9:32 For [he is] not a man, as I [am, that] I should answer him, [and] we should come together in judgment.

Ver. 32. For he is not a man as I am] He is not such a one, nor can be, as I am, and must be; he hath other eyes and thoughts and ways than creatures have. He who is just before men is unjust before God; therefore he is no fit match for me to contend in addition: have I an arm like God? or can I thunder with a voice like him? Job 40:9. Is it safe to contend with him that is mightier than I? Ecclesiastes 6:10. Surely if I should be so mad as to justify myself, yet I should soon be given to know that "that which is highly esteemed amongst men is an abomination in the sight of God," Luke 16:15.

And we should come together in judgment] How can that possibly be, when as God is the supreme judge, neither is there any appealing from or repealing of his sentence?


Verse 33

Job 9:33 Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, [that] might lay his hand upon us both.

Ver. 33. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us] Heb. Any arguer or reprover, as Genesis 31:24. We call him an umpire or referee who hath power to reprove and to lay the blame where he findeth it, and finally to compromise the business. The late judge Dyer amongst us, if there came any controversies of poor men to be tried before him, would usually say, that either the parties are wilful or their neighbours without charity, because their suits were not quietly ended at home. Now, saith Job, as there is no judge, so there is no daysman between me and God. If one man sin against another, saith good old Eli, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the Lord, who can mediate? 1 Samuel 2:25.

That may lay his hand] To moderate and keep us both in compass, and to compose the difference.


Verse 34

Job 9:34 Let him take his rod away from me, and let not his fear terrify me:

Ver. 34. Let him take his rod away from me] Having sufficiently set forth that he will not once offer to contend with God, he here humbly begs of God no further to contend with him, but to grant a truce, at least during the treaty; and either to take away or (however) to mitigate his sorrows and sores. See the like Job 13:20-21.

And let not his fear terrify me] i.e. His formidableness, {see Job 7:14} let it not scare me, or put me, as it were, beside my wits, Psalms 88:15, Ne me transversum agat (Sept.).


Verse 35

Job 9:35 [Then] would I speak, and not fear him; but [it is] not so with me.

Ver. 35. Then would I speak, and not fear him] I would come boldly to the throne of grace, and freely pour out my soul into his bosom. If he meant that he would maintain his own cause against God’s proceedings (as some understand it, grounding upon Job 33:6-7), he was questionless in a very great error, and the flesh had got the hill of the spirit.

But it is not so with me] So, how? so as you imagine, Non sum talis, qualem me esse putatis (Vatablus). I am no such one as you take me for, viz. a hypocrite; I am not so self-guilty, say the Septuagint: or thus, It is not so with me; that is, I do not find God answering my suit; for I am still scourged and frightened, so that I scarce know what I say.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 9:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-9.html. 1865-1868.

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