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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
Job 22

 

 

Verses 1-30

THIRD SPEECH OF ELIPHAZ THE TEMANITE

Remonstrates with Job on his self-righteousness, and plainly charges him with grievous transgressions as the cause of his present sufferings; concludes with promises of prosperity and blessing on his repentance.

I. Reproves his apparent pride and self-righteousness (Job ) God laid under no obligation by his piety. "Can a man be profitable unto God as he that is wise is profitable to himself? (or, when he by acting wisely profits himself; Margin, ‘if he may be profitable, does his good success depend on himself?') Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that thou act righteous? or is it gain to Him that thou makest thy ways perfect? Will he reprove thee for fear of thee (lest He suffer injury and loss by thy conduct)? Will He enter with thee into judgment (to recover His right as an injured person)?" Observe—

1. God under no obligation to treat men better than He does. God no man's debtor. A secret feeling at the bottom of men's complaint against His providential dealings, as if they were wronged by Him and had a right to expect better treatment. On the contrary, all treated infinitely better than they deserve. All good in men is from God, not themselves. Men come infinitely short of rendering to God what He has a right to as their Creator, Preserver, and constant Benefactor.

2. God's glory and happiness independent of man's conduct. God no loser by men's want of religion, nor gainer by their practice of it (Psa ). God reproves men not from fear of them, but from love to them (Rev 3:19). Men never too bad for Him to love them, nor too great for Him to fear them. God neither rebukes the good from unkindness, nor the great from fear. Still true—

(1) That men may, through grace, promote God's glory and advance His kingdom in the world;

(2) That He has pleasure in holy men and in their holy lives (Psa ; Pro 11:20);

(3) That men have it in their power to render to God His rightful claim, or to rob Him of what is His (Mal ). This the grievous sin not only of the Jews, but of men in general (Mat 21:34; Mat 21:41).

3. True wisdom always profitable to the possessor of it. That wisdom the fear of God and a life of godliness. Wisdom the knowledge, choice, and pursuit of the best end by the best means. Here equivalent to being "righteous," or "making one's ways perfect" or upright. Profitable in regard both to body and soul, time and eternity. Godliness with contentment great gain (1Ti ). The gains of religion infinitely greater than its losses. Wisdom's ways pleasantness and peace. Length of days in her right hand, in her left riches and honour. Godliness profitableness unto all things (1Ti 4:8). No good which is not gained by it; nothing lost by it which we are not the better by losing.

II. Charges Job with multiplied and grievous transgressions (Job ).

1. In general terms (Job ). "Is not thy wickedness great and thine iniquities infinite?" True, more or less, of all men, Job included. Not however in the sense of Eliphaz. According to Eliphaz, Job's wickedness great in comparison with that of other men, and with his own. The thought that of the Pharisee in the temple.—Great and multiplied transgressions humbly acknowledged by the best (Psa 25:11; Psa 40:12; Ezr 9:6). The certain result of a fallen and corrupt nature (Mat 15:19; Gen 6:5; Gen 8:21). Corrupt streams constantly flow from a corrupt spring. Yet along with this, in Job and in all good men, a nature opposed to evil. Hence—

(1) the evil resisted, held in check, weakened, and more or less overcome;

(2) Good, though imperfectly, yet with more or less uniformity performed. Truly good men, in virtue of a two-fold nature, both saints and sinners. The former with their will, the latter against it. Good men do good, but not all they would, or any as they would. Do evil, but not all they otherwise would, nor would they do any (Gal ). Observe—(i.) All wickedness great, as committed—(a) Against a great God; (b) Against great obligations to the contrary; (c) With comparatively little inducement to commit it; (d) With great evil as the result both to ourselves and others. (ii.) The wickedness of some greater than that of others; as committed—(a) With greater boldness; (b) Under great obligations to the contrary; (c) With greater knowledge and means of resistance; (d) With less temptation to the commission of it. (iii.) Men's iniquities infinite—as (a) Against an infinite God; (b) Against infinite obligations to the contrary; (c) Numberless; (d) Incessant during life; (e) But for Divine grace, continuing to be committed throughout eternity; (f) Attended with infinitely disastrous results. Sins committed against infinite majesty and goodness have in them an infinite malignity and greatness.

2. Charges him with specific crimes (Job .)

(1) Cruelty and wrong (Job ). "Thou hast taken a pledge from the poor for nought,"—unjustly, when nothing, or next to nothing, was due;—taking his garment from him for that purpose without restoring it to him by sunset, as afterwards required by the law (Exo 22:26-27), and as was always the part of a right-minded man,—the poor man's garment by day being also his covering by night. Sometimes the bed itself taken as a pledge by rapacious and unfeeling creditors (Pro 22:27). The sin of not restoring the pledge spoken of as not uncommon among the Jews in the days of the prophets (Eze 18:12; Amo 1:8). This alleged sin of Job's marked by Eliphaz as particularly heinous from its being committed against a "brother." The "brother" not necessarily a relative, or even a countryman. All men brethren. All wrong done to our fellowmen done to our "brother." "Sirs, ye are brethren,"—a powerful reason for not wronging one another (Act 7:26; Exo 2:11), &c.—The charge enlarged upon. "Thou hast stripped the naked (the poor and poorly clad) of their clothing,"—the large upper garment, or Arab hyke, worn as a garment by day and serving as a covering to sleep in at night. Among the articles taken and kept by rapacious and hard-hearted creditors. This charge the very opposite of Job's character (ch. Job 29:12-17; Job 31:19-20).

(2) Want of kindness and charity to the poor and needy (Job .) "Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink, and thou hast witholden bread from the hungry." Acts of kindness and hospitality particularly required in the East, and especially at that early period: no inns for travellers; people often poor; travelling generally performed on foot; climate hot and creating thirst; water often scarce and always precious; inhabitants often plundered by marauders, and forced to wander from house and home by invaders. Hence duties of hospitality held peculiarly sacred among Orientals, especially in Arabia (Gen 18:4-5; Gen 19:2; Gen 21:14-15; Gen 28:11; Exo 2:15). Fountains even in cities often bequeathed by wealthy Arabs for the free use of the poor, as well as money to provide persons to dispense it gratuitously in the streets. Job's actual conduct the reverse of that here ascribed to him (ch. Job 31:17; Job 31:32).

(3) Partiality to the rich (Job ). "But as for the mighty man, he had the earth (or land), and the honourable man dwelt in it." Reference probably intended to Job's judicial conduct as an Arab chief, emir, or prince. The charge that of neglecting and wronging the poor, while the rich and mighty were favoured. The former expelled from their homes and inheritances to make room for the latter. Violence and wrong on the part of the great connived at. Partiality to the rich a grievous offence in the sight of God (Pro 28:21). Especially on the part of judges and magistrates (Lev 19:15). Condemned as existing in early Christian churches (Jas 2:1-9). To feast the rich and neglect to feed the poor, the opposite of Christ's rule (Luk 14:12-14). The peculiar temptation of the rich.

(4) Neglect and oppression of the widow and fatherless (Job ). "Thou hast sent the widows away empty, and the arms of the fatherless have been broken,"—their support and means of subsistence taken from them, either by Job himself, or by others with his connivance. His alleged conduct either as that of a rich and powerful man in private life, or of a judge and magistrate, such as Job actually was (ch. Job 29:7-17. The conduct here ascribed to him that of the unjust judge in the Parable (Luk 18:2-5). The opposite of Job's real conduct (ch. Job 21:12-17; Job 31:17-18; Job 31:21). The offence laid to his charge one of the most aggravated. Neglect of the cause of an injured person a grievous offence on the part of the judge or magistrate; still more so when the cause is that of those who are bereft of their natural defenders and unable to defend themselves. To injure any a sin in the sight, of God; an aggravated sin to injure the widow and the fatherless. Widows and fatherless children entitled to pity; still more to justice. Not to assist such, a sin; a still greater one to injure them. The widow and fatherless especially cared for by God (Psa 68:5). The same required by Him of others, both under the law (Exo 22:22) and under the Gospel (Jas 1:27).

These charges exhibit—

(1) The wrong done to Job by his friends;

(2) The trial thus endured by himself. The open expression of what had been their secret thoughts from the first of their visit (ch. Job ). False charges both a grievous wrong against men and a heinous sin against God. An aggravation when, as in this case, laid against a good man and a friend.

The multiplicity and magnitude of Job's offences only inferred by Eliphaz from his extraordinary sufferings. His false and uncharitable charges the result of a false philosophy and mistaken views of the Divine government. Errors in religion no less condemnable in themselves or injurious in their consequences from being sincerely held and earnestly defended. Christ's followers often put to cruel deaths under the impression of doing God service (Joh ). No new thing for God's faithful servants to have things laid to their charge, of which they not only are innocent, but which they utterly abhor. Innocence itself no security against false and abominable charges. Christ put to death under a charge of blasphemy. Stigmatized as a drunkard and a glutton, a deceiver of the people and exciter of sedition.

III. Imputes Job's calamities directly to his sins (Job ). "Therefore snares are round about thee, and sudden fear troubleth thee; or darkness that thou canst not see [any way of escape] and abundance of waters (—overwhelming troubles) cover thee." Refers—

(1) To his sudden and multiplied calamities;

(2) To his inward darkness and distress;

(3) To his perplexity and confusion of mind, both as to the cause of his troubles and any way of escape out of them. Fear and consternation the natural result of great, unlooked for, and successive calamities. Job's present experience. His case an apparent contravention of the promise: "He shall not be afraid of evil tidings (Psa ). Calmness and fearlessness in reference to calamity and trouble the believer's duty and privilege (Php 1:29). Christ in the midst of the storm: "It is I, be not afraid."—Job's great troubles, according to Eliphaz, due to great sins. No sins likely to be more severely visited than those falsely charged upon him—unmercifulness to and oppression of the poor and needy. He shall have judgment without mercy that hath shewed no mercy (Jas 2:13). No louder cry than that of wrong done to the widow, the fatherless and the poor (Jas 5:4).

IV. Charges Job with infidel principles (Job ). "Is not God in the height of heaven? And behold the height of the stars how high they are!" As spoken by Eliphaz himself, expresses the Divine supremacy over all—even the highest created beings—and the ability of God to take full cognizance of the affairs of men. As possibly ascribed by him to Job expressed the supposed distance of God from this lower world, and the consequent unlikelihood of his taking any notice of human affairs. "And (‘yet' or ‘therefore') thou sayest [in effect, if not in so many words]. How (Margin, what) doth God know? Can he judge (—rule in the affairs of men) through the thick cloud? Thick clouds are a covering to him that He seeth not; and He walketh in the circuit of heaven." The sentiment here falsely ascribed to Job that of a heart blinded by sin and alienated from God,—God too far off and too much occupied with higher things than to care for or take cognizance of human affairs (Psa 10:11; Psa 73:11). Finite man thinks of God as finite and imperfect like himself. Perhaps in this case the wish the father to the thought. The fool hath said in his heart, "There is no God"—to take cognizance of earthly things (Psa 14:1). God's omnipresence and omniscience little realized because little loved. Hence—

(1) Indulgence in a course of sin and oppression such as is here falsely ascribed to Job;

(2) Murmuring under trouble and oppression as if God took no heed either of man's doings or sufferings. Even a child of God, under deep and accumulated afflictions, tempted with such unbelieving and God-dishonouring thoughts. Faith in God's omnipresence, omniscience, and all-superintending Providence, our comfort in trouble and our guard in temptation. The worst sentiments often falsely ascribed to the children of God. "Blessed are ye when man shall say all manner of evil against you for my sake" (Mat ).

The immense height or distance of the stars impressive even to ordinary observers. That distance, however, probably much greater than could be dreamt of in the days of Eliphaz. The nearest fixed star thousands of millions of miles distant. Millions of stars thousands of times more distant still. The Milky Way, "powdered with stars," an immense cluster of stars too distant to be distinguished as such by the naked eye. Stars so distant that their light travelling at the same rate as that of the sun only reaches us so as to render them visible after thousands of years. A false and foolish conclusion that because God is present with and governs those distant worlds or suns, he cannot be supposed to superintend or care for the affairs of this minor planet. God necessarily equally present in, and equally cognisant of, every part of his boundless dominions. The most distant and the most minute of His creatures equally and at once observed by His eye and supported by His hand. The same omniscience that numbers the stars numbers also the hairs of our head. Divinely enlightened reason sees everywhere

"The unambiguous footsteps of the God

Who gives its lustre to an insect's wing,

And wheels His throne upon the rolling worlds."

Universal government no burden to an infinite God. An animalcule shares His attention with a sun, a worm with a seraph. God higher than the highest star, yet nearer to both reader and writer than his nearest friend. Hence:—

1. God infinitely glorious and worthy of all adoration. "The heavens declare the glory of God" (Psa ).

2. Submission to God in all circumstances the creature's duty.

3. Trust in God, under the severest trials, the believer's privilege.

4. Awful infidelity of the heart to ignore God and expel Him from His own world.

5. Dreadful nature of sin that despises and rebels against a God at once so infinitely great and good.

V. Adduces as a warning to Job the example of the antediluvian world (Job ). "Hast thou marked the old way which wicked men have trodden? Which were cut down out of time (or prematurely), whose foundation was overflown with a flood (Margin, ‘a flood was poured upon their foundations;' or, ‘a river poured forth was their foundation,' i.e., their dwelling which seemed most secure, or all they trusted in); which said unto God, Depart from us, and what can the Almighty do for them (or, ‘for us,' or ‘to us')? Yet he filled their houses with good things: but the counsel of the wicked is far from me (either the protest of Eliphaz himself against the principles and practice of those antediluvian sinners, and others like them, or perhaps the words of Job repeated in irony). The righteous see it (viz., the destruction of the ungodly) and are glad, and the innocent laugh them to scorn (Psa 52:6; Psa 58:10-11). Whereas our substance is not cut down (or, ‘verily our adversary is destroyed'); but (or ‘and') the remnant of them (Margin, ‘their excellency') the fire devoureth." Possible allusion to the destruction of the cities of the Plain, with a cruel side-glance at Job's own losses and the occasion of one of them. Observe:—

1. Some dealt with by God in judgment for the warning of others (2Pe ).

2. Sin an "old way," older than the world itself, trodden by the angels that fell, and then by the world before the Flood (Gen .)

3. A course of sin sooner or later ends in suffering. Sin, though an old and well-trodden way, as dangerous and disastrous as ever (Rom ).

4. The conduct of sinners and its fatal consequences to be carefully "marked" and avoided.

5. The firmest earthly possession easily swept away by the judgments of God; "whose foundation," &c.

6. Dislike of God the essence of sin and the root of a sinful life; "Which said unto God, Depart from us."

7. God and sin unable to dwell together at peace in the same heart.

8. The unrenewed heart unable to get God far enough; the renewed one unable to get Him near enough.

9. The baseness and blindness of sin. Like the man who turns his best friend and benefactor out of doors.

10. The ungodly often the most prosperous in this world. "He filled their houses," &c.

11. The part of the impenitent to despise God's goodness as well as defy His power (Rom ).

12. God's multiplied favours a fearful aggravation of a sinful life. "Yet He filled their houses," &c. Sad when a house full of good things is not accompanied with a heart full of grace.

13. A constant protest to be entered against an ungodly life, however prosperous. The "counsel of the wicked," however fair and flattering, to be kept far from us.

14. Prosperous wickedness and suffering piety only for a time. A day cometh when the tables will be turned. "Blessed are ye that weep now, for ye shall laugh; woe unto you that laugh now, for ye shall mourn and weep" (Luk ). Abraham's—"Son, remember" (Luk 16:25).

15. The righteous glad, not at the sinner's calamity itself, but at the holiness and justice of God appearing in it. The Creator's character dearer to holy men and angels than the creature's comfort.

16. Proud and presumptuous sinners at last put to shame (Dan ).

17. Happy when we can truly rank ourselves with the godly. "Whereas our substance," &c, i.e. that of the righteous; or, "Truly our adversary," &c. God's saints regard His adversaries as their own.

VI. Exhorts to repentance and piety (Job ).

1. Exhortation to submission and reconciliation with God (Job ). "Acquaint now thyself (or, ‘Submit thyself, and cultivate friendship and fellowship') with Him, and be at peace; thereby good shall come unto thee" (or, "thine increase shall be good"). Precious exhortation, but unjustly addressed to Job, as if still estranged from God. Contains:

First, the Exhortation proper. Two parts. Part First.

"Acquaint thyself with God."

Acquaintance or friendship with God our first duty and highest interest. Implies—

(1) Knowledge of God. Knowledge necessary to acquaintanceship. To have friendship with God we must know Him,—as far as He is pleased to reveal Himself, and as far as creatures can know Him, in His nature, His attributes and His relations. God to be known as a Spirit, and as a Unity in Three Persons,—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. To be known as infinite, eternal, and unchanging; as omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent; as holy, just, wise, and good. To be known as our Creator, Preserver, Governor, and through the incarnation, obedience, and death of His Son, our Redeemer. To be known in part from His works, but most from His Word. Only rightly and savingly known through the inward illumination and revelation of His Holy Spirit. To be known as revealed in His Son Jesus Christ (Joh ). Power given to Christ by the Father to communicate the saving knowledge of Himself to men (Mat 11:27; Joh 17:2-3). The Son's mission to reveal the Father (Joh 1:18). Knowledge of God to be obtained—(i.) Through attention to and faith in the Word that reveals Him. The Scriptures testify of Christ; therefore to be searched (Joh 5:39). (ii.) Through earnest prayer for Divine illumination and teaching (Pro 2:3-5). Wisdom, including the true knowledge of God, given by God Himself in answer to believing prayer (Jas 1:4). (iii.) Through application to and acceptance of Christ as a Saviour. One part of His work as a Saviour, to teach, enlighten, and communicate the saving knowledge of God (Mat 11:27-29; Joh 17:2-3). Christ Himself made wisdom to those who receive and trust in Him (1Co 1:30).—

(2) Submission to God. Submission to God the first duty of a creature. Necessary to acquaintance and friendly intercourse with God. God's gracious regard directed to the humble and submissive (Isa ). Submission the first lesson in the school of Christ, and the first step to the enjoyment of the Divine favour and friendship (Mat 11:27-29).—

(3) Reconciliation with God. Man, through sin, in a state of enmity with God. As a transgressor of His law, is under condemnation. Sin to be forgiven, and man reconciled to God before any enjoyment of acquaintanceship or friendly intercourse. Reconciliation with God the object of the Son's incarnation and vicarious death. Sin a separating element between God and His creatures. The sword of justice between God and the sinner. To be sheathed before any friendly fellowship can exist. Only sheathed when satisfaction has been made to law and justice for transgression. To be first stained with the blood of a substitute. Hence the oblation of sacrifices. Christ the only true Sacrifice and Substitute. Men reconciled to God by His blood (Eph ; Col 1:21-22; Rom 5:10).—

(4) Conformity to God's will and character. Agreement in spirit and principles necessary to friendship and fellowship (Amo ). Conformity to God's will and ways a creature's highest duty and interest. Without it man's spirit a troubled sea that cannot rest.—

(5) Friendly walk and fellowship with God. The end of all the preceding. The highest happiness of a creature. Our privilege in this life, our blessedness in the next (Rev ). The testimony borne to Enoch and Noah before the Flood: they "walked with God." The third duty required of man (Mic 6:8). Abraham the friend of God. God's friendship and fellowship man's highest happiness in Paradise (Gen 2:8). Lost by the Fall, but restored in Christ (Joh 14:23). The secret of happiness in a suffering world and of contentment in every lot. He cannot be unhappy who has the Almighty for his friend. Observe—(i.) Our honour to be made capable of acquaintance and fellowship with God. Heaven, its endless enjoyment; hell, its irrecoverable loss, (ii.) Ever increasing acquaintance with God, in and through Jesus Christ, our precious privilege.

Second part of exhortation:

"Be at peace."

Peace the sweetest word in any language. Includes all good. God's best gift. God the God of peace. True peace the "peace of God." Peace on earth the object and result of the Saviour's incarnation (Luk ). Peace the purchase of His blood. Christ Himself our peace. His title ‘the Prince of Peace.' Peace His legacy and gift to His followers. Imparts His own peace (Joh 14:27). Gives it not in word as a mere salutation, but in reality and experience. Peace either external or internal. The former precious; the latter still more so. In this world, the believers enjoy the latter without the former (Joh 16:33). In the next, they enjoy both. Acquaintance with God the only way to peace. The world without peace because without God. Sometimes an external peace enjoyed without the internal. True peace only to be found in Him who is our peace. No peace without pardon, no pardon without Christ. Peace with God before peace in ourselves. Peace offered by God through the death of His Son. The Gospel an ambassage of peace from the King of kings. God in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, and now beseeching men to be reconciled to Him (2Co 5:19-21). Peace with God the immediate result of crediting the message and accepting the offer (Rom 5:1). Followed by internal peace (Php 4:6-7). Preserved by trust in Christ, and obedience as its fruit. Christ trusted in, as our Surety and Substitute, our peace as sinners; Christ followed as our Master and Pattern, our peace as saints.

Second. The Promise attached to the exhortation proper: "Thereby good shall come unto thee." Peace with God brings every blessing in its train (Rom ), &c. No good withheld "from them that walk uprightly," as His reconciled and obedient children (Psa 84:11). All things made to work together for good to them that love God (Rom 8:28). Afflictions and trials converted into blessings (Heb 12:11). To the submissive and believing, good comes in this life; still more in the life to come, Present good to believers only a foretaste of the future. Suffering with Christ here, glorified with Him hereafter. Death separates them from all evil, and introduces them into all good. Peace on earth crowned with glory in heaven.

2. Exhortation to a cordial acceptance of and attention to Divine teaching and admonition (Job ). "Receive, I pray thee, the law at His mouth, and lay up Hiswords in thineheart." The enjoyment of peace to be followed by a life of purity. Friendship with God inseparable from obedience to Him. Christ's yoke accepted with rest imparted (Mat 11:28-29). The rest continued as the yoke is carried. Mary at peace sits down at the Master's feet and hears His words. God a King as well as a Father and Friend. Christ a Master as well as a Saviour. With Christ, the law given as a directory of conduct, not as a covenant of life. At first given with—"Do this and live;" now given with,—"Live and do this." Our happiness, that the law is to be received at the hands of Him who has Himself fulfilled its commands and endured its curse as our Surety. The same pierced hands that purchased peace for our enjoyment, presents the law for our obedience. The peace of the Gospel preserved by obedience to the law.

The law from God's "mouth,"—spoken and given by Himself. At first given to man at his creation; afterwards on various occasions, and in different ways. God spake to the fathers at sundry times and in divers manners (Heb ). The "law" here probably equivalent to "His words" in the next clause. The directory not only of our conduct but of our faith. Taken in a general sense as including both law and Gospel, precept and promise.—God's Law, not our own will or reason, or the maxims and customs of the world to be the guide of our practice and opinions.—God's law to be "received,"—

(1) By reverent attention;

(2) Thankful receptance;

(3) Cordial faith;

(4) Cheerful obedience;

(5) Humble submission. To be not merely read but "received." God's law one of His most precious gifts (Hos ; Psa 147:19-20). His law, properly so called, as much a gift as his Gospel.

God's "words" to be "laid up in our heart,"—for remembrance, meditation, and use. To be laid up as our most precious treasure. To be laid up, not in our chest or our chamber, but in our heart. To be hidden in the heart that we may not sin (Psa ). So treasured by Christ, and ready for use in the hour of temptation (Psa 40:8; Mat 4:4). To be laid up in the heart,—

(1) By deep attention;

(2) Frequent reading or hearing;

(3) Serious reflection. Not only to be learned but "laid up." The mark of a loving child to prize, ponder, and preserve the words of an absent parent. God's words laid up for us in the Scripture, and to be laid up by us in our heart. Worthy to be so laid up as our choicest treasure (Psa ). God's words both words of promise and precept, wooing, and warning. Given both for direction and comfort. Found both in the Old and New Testaments.

VII. Holds forth various promises with conditions (Job ).

"If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up (more especially in a family, with a new and numerous race of children); thou shalt (rather, ‘if thou shalt') put away iniquity (or wrong doing) far from thy tabernacles (plural,—Job addressed as a chief or emir); then shalt thou lay up gold as the dust (or, as Margin, ‘and lay the precious metals on the dust,' as things of no value and only to be trodden on), and the gold of Ophir (a place in Arabia distinguished for its gold) as (or ‘on') the stones of the brooks; then shall the Almighty be thy defence (Margin, ‘thy gold'), and thou shalt have plenty of silver (or, ‘and [he shall be] treasures of silver unto thee'). For (or ‘yea,'—a still greater blessing) thou shalt have thy delight in the Almighty, and shall lift up thy face unto God. Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him (as incense), and he shall hear thee, and thou shalt perform thy vows [on thy prayer being answered]. Thou shalt also decree (or purpose) a thing and it shall be established unto thee, and the light [of prosperity and the Divine blessing] shall shine upon thy ways. When men are cast down (or ‘shall cast [thee] down'; or, ‘shall humble themselves'), then thou shalt say [in confident assurance], there is (or ‘shall be') lifting up; and he shall save the humble person. He (i.e. God) shall deliver the island (or ‘the country' or ‘dwelling') of the innocent (or, ‘He shall deliver him that is not innocent', viz., at thy intercession), and it is delivered (or, ‘he shall be delivered') by the pureness of thy hands." Three conditions—

1. Returning to God. "If thou return to the Almighty,—return home to Him as a prodigal to his father, so as again to be united to him and to the family,—return to Him in submission, obedience and love. Job unjustly regarded as having forsaken God and cast off his fear (ch. Job .) Always true that the first step to a sinner's happiness is returning to God: "I will arise and go to my Father." All we like sheep have gone astray. God's constant call to the unconverted: Turn ye, turn ye; for why will ye die? "To the Almighty." "To" emphatic, even or quite to Him; not only in good inclinations and beginnings, but fully and thoroughly. "He arose and went to His father." Not enough to turn from sin, but to return to God (Jer 4:1; Hos 7:16). Christ the way back to the Father (Joh 14:6). Returning to God a necessary condition of God returning to us (Mal 3:7). Important prayer (Jer 31:18).

2. Putting iniquity far from us and from our dwelling. "Thou shalt put iniquity far from thy tabernacles." No true returning to God without turning from sin. God and sin at opposite poles; the face to the one, the back to the other. No friendship with God without a falling out with sin. Sin the abominable thing which God hates (Jer ).—To be put away not only from ourselves but from our dwelling. A man responsible for what is done in his house. David's resolution (Psa 101:3-7). Joshua's (Jos 24:15). Much of a man's sin committed in his own house. A man to purify his house as well as his heart. Job's piety seen in his care about his children's conduct as well as his own (ch. Job 1:6).—Iniquity not only to be put away but far away (ch. Job 21:16).—Sin represented here as "iniquity." Sin many-sided. Here especially its relation to our neighbour. Injustice, oppression, wrong, retention of dishonest gain, inconsistent with the enjoyment of the Divine favour and blessing.

3. Ceasing to love and trust in riches. "Lay gold on the dust," (Margin). The heart to be withdrawn from covetousness. Love to the world incompatible with love to God. Trust in riches, heart idolatry. No man able to serve two masters. God not to be served with a divided heart (Hos ). Trust in riches the worship of Mammon. Solemnly repudiated by Job (ch. Job 31:24-25).

Promises

1. Upbuilding (Job ). "Thou shalt built up." God, who pulls down, able also to build up. Allusion to Job's calamities, both as to fortune and family. Building up both external and internal. Here probably rather the former; temporal prosperity, and more especially in relation to offspring. Upbuilding in spiritual blessing, and soul-prosperity the New Testament promise (Act 9:31). Implies growth in grace, comfort, spiritual strength. Upbuilding in Christ (Col 2:7); in faith (Jude 1:20); in love (Eph 4:16). Spiritual growth dependent on consistent walk (Isa 58:9-12).

2. Enjoyment of God as our portion and defence (Job ). "The Almighty shall be thy defence" (or treasure). The believer's place of defence is the munition of rocks. Underneath are the everlasting arms. God Himself the portion of His people (Deu 22:9; Psa 16:5). He is safe who has the Almighty for his defence, and rich who has God for his treasure.

"Give what Thou canst, without Thee we are poor;

And with Thee rich, take what Thou wilt away."

3. Delight in God (Job ). "Thou shalt have thy delight in the Almighty." God the fountain of joy and ocean of delights. more than enough in Him to fill all hearts with pleasure. God a sun to gladden, while a shield to guard. Giving up the unsatisfying short-lived pleasures of sin, we receive those which are perfect and enduring. Only a penitennt and renewed heart capable of delighting in the Almighty. The pure in heart see God (Mat 5:8).

4. Access to, and confidence in, God as a reconciled Father (Job ). "Thou shalt lift up thy face unto God." Implies conscious acceptance, delight, and confidence. The experience of one conscious of forgiveness and acceptance "in the Beloved." The face "lifted up" in prayer and communion with God. The spirit of adoption, crying, Abba, Father. Boldness of access to a father the privilege of a child. The believer's privilege in relation to God (Eph 3:12). Enjoyed in Christ. Boldness to enter into the holiest of all by the blood of Jesus (Heb 10:19). Believers to come boldly to the throne of grace, having Jesus there as their High Priest (Heb 4:16). Confidence towards God connected with consciousness of obeying Him (1Jn 3:21-22). Abiding in Christ now gives confidence before Him at His appearing hereafter (1Jn 2:28). A loving heart gives boldness in the day of judgment (1Jn 4:18).

5. The spirit of prayer and acceptance of our petitions (Job ). "Thou shalt make thy prayer to him, and he shall hear thee." Ability to pray, and to pray with acceptance, the gift of God. Children, not slaves, free to bring their requests to the master. The spirit of prayer connected with a state of acceptance. Answers to prayer given to believers along with the spirit of prayer (1Jn 5:14-16). Answers to prayer the privilege of the upright (Psa 66:18; Psa 16:8). The Lord fulfils the desire of them that fear Him (Psa 145:6). Prayer as incense, from the Saviour's merits and the Spirit's grace (Psa 141:2; Rev 8:3-4). Answered for the sake of the Elder Brother (Joh 16:23). God never weary of blessing His people, because never weary of loving His Son. Universal promise made to prayer offered believingly in the Saviour's name (Joh 15:7; 1Jn 5:15; Mar 11:24).

6. The grace of thanksgiving with answers to prayer (Job ). "And thou shalt perform thy vows." Grace to render thanks for mercies received no less a mercy than the mercies themselves. Thanksgiving both our duty and our privilege. When God graciously fulfils our prayers we ought faithfully to fulfil our vows. Thanksgiving for answers to prayer and performance of vows practised by the heathen themselves (Jon 1:16).

7. Success in undertakings (Job ). "Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee, and the light shall shine upon thy ways." Prosperity and success in our undertakings dependent upon God (Rom 1:8). Promised to the confiding and consistent believer (2Ch 20:20; Psa 1:3; Psa 37:5). Promised to Joshua (Jos 1:8). Afforded to Joseph (Gen 39:3; Gen 39:23); and to Daniel (Dan 6:28). The prayer of Abraham's servant (Gen 24:12); and of Nehemiah (Neh 1:11).

8. Comfort, hope, and deliverance in time of trouble and depression (Job ). "When men are cast down (or, ‘when they shall cast thee down,' or, ‘when thou art depressed') then thou shalt say [to thyself, or to others], there is (or, ‘shall be') lifting up; and he shall save the humble person." Comfort and confidence of help and deliverance in time of common as well as personal danger and depression, with encouragement to others. Realized by Paul in the ship (Act 27:21-25. The Lord a light to His people in time of darkness (Mic 7:8). Confidence, joy, and hope, in seasons of trouble and adversity, the fruit of faith and obedience (Hab 3:17-19). Job's own experience at times (ch. Job 23:10).

8. Usefulness to others (Job ). "He shall deliver the island (country or dwelling) of the innocent (or, "shall deliver Him that is not innocent, i.e., that is guilty); and it (or he) is delivered by the pureness of thy hands." God honours His faithful and confiding people by not only blessing themselves, but making them blessings to others. So Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, Paul. Not only makes them grow themselves, but brings others to sit under their shadow (Hos 14:6-7). Saves them, and gives them to share with Himself the joy of saving others (Jas 5:20; Jude 1:23; 1Ti 4:16). The accepted and faithful believer's prayers made efficacious even for the ungoldly (1Jn 5:16). So Abraham's would have been in the care of Sodom (Gen 18:24). A community, company, or family, often saved for the sake of the godly in it (Act 27:24). Pureness of hands, both in practice and prayer, necessary to real usefulness to others. The promises in the text realized in Job's case in a way not anticipated by Eliphaz (ch. Job 42:7-9). A praying man a public good.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Job 22:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/job-22.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, January 26th, 2020
the Third Sunday after Epiphany
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