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Bible Commentaries

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary
Job 31

 

 

Verse 1

CONTENTS

The subject of Job's defense is still prosecuted. He enters, somewhat more largely, into the particular justification of himself from that sin which he seemed so much hurt at having been charged with, hypocrisy, and closes the subject with this defense.

Job 31:1

(1) ¶ I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?

This chapter deserves our attention the more, because, though Job takes no pride in what he here saith, in the justification of himself, yet in those secret sins, which are known only to the LORD, on numberless occasions of evil, the Patriarch pleads not guilty; and which therefore serves to confirm the divine testimony which the LORD gave concerning his servant, in the opening of the book itself, that there was none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feared GOD, and eschewed evil. Chap. 2:3. There is a great beauty in Job's expression in this verse, of having made a covenant with his eyes, to preserve, under grace, the chastity of the mind and body. By the eye, the lust of the flesh is frequently excited: and our adored Redeemer hath set it down as uncleanness and adultery already committed, if a man so looks on a woman as to lust after her. Matthew 5:28. There may be many causes, in the difficulty of attainment, or the shame and punishment which might attend the gratification of unlawful passions, which restrain the actual commission of the sin; but nothing but the grace of GOD can preserve the chastity of the mind from so much as wishing it, or thinking upon it. Joseph's views of this subject was similar to Job's, that wickedness is against GOD. Genesis 39:9. Reader, though I have made this long note upon this verse, yet it is so very important, that I venture to make it a little longer, and to observe, that since from the corruption of our poor fallen nature, evil thoughts, and the whole train of the imaginations of the heart arise, how infinitely precious ought it to be to us, to eye the grace of JESUS as our preservative against this, and every evil; and, conscious of the uncleanness within, to keep the heart with all diligence, and to beg of GOD to keep it for us, since out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23.


Verses 2-8

(2) For what portion of God is there from above? and what inheritance of the Almighty from on high? (3) Is not destruction to the wicked? and a strange punishment to the workers of iniquity? (4) Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps? (5) If I have walked with vanity, or if my foot hath hasted to deceit; (6) Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity. (7) If my step hath turned out of the way, and mine heart walked after mine eyes, and if any blot hath cleaved to mine hands; (8) Then let me sow, and let another eat; yea, let my offspring be rooted out.

In these verses, Job points out the cause which operated upon his mind, to preserve from the lust of the flesh, as before mentioned. It was from an eye to GOD, whose eye was upon him. He lived, as always under the divine inspection. It was GOD that prohibited the sin of uncleanness, injustice, and the like; and, therefore, here was the grand motive that swayed with Job's mind, not what man thought, but what GOD would think. Similar to the precept of the law, Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling-block before the blind, but shalt fear thy GOD. I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:14. What if a man did curse the deaf, they could not hear it: neither the blind see who put the stumbling-block in his way. But what of that? the LORD would hear the one, and see the other: and the offence is levelled against GOD.


Verses 9-32

(9) ¶ If mine heart have been deceived by a woman, or if I have laid wait at my neighbour's door; (10) Then let my wife grind unto another, and let others bow down upon her. (11) For this is an heinous crime; yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges. (12) For it is a fire that consumeth to destruction, and would root out all mine increase. (13) If I did despise the cause of my manservant or of my maidservant, when they contended with me; (14) What then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him? (15) Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb? (16) ¶ If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail; (17) Or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof; (18) (For from my youth he was brought up with me, as with a father, and I have guided her from my mother's womb;) (19) If I have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering; (20) If his loins have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep; (21) If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, when I saw my help in the gate: (22) Then let mine arm fall from my shoulder blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone. (23) For destruction from God was a terror to me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure. (24) ¶ If I have made gold my hope, or have said to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence; (25) If I rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because mine hand had gotten much; (26) If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness; (27) And my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand: (28) This also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: for I should have denied the God that is above. (29) If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me, or lifted up myself when evil found him: (30) Neither have I suffered my mouth to sin by wishing a curse to his soul. (31) If the men of my tabernacle said not, Oh that we had of his flesh! we cannot be satisfied. (32) The stranger did not lodge in the street: but I opened my doors to the traveller.

I shall not in a work of this nature enter into the investigation of the several particulars of sin Job here enumerates, and of the commission of which he pleads his innocency; for general observations will suit the whole. Job's friends had been particular in their accusations against him. Eliphaz had charged him with having withheld his bread from the hungry; that his wickedness was great, and that he had taken a pledge from his brother for naught, and stripped the naked of their clothing. Chapter 22:5-7. Job therefore enters into a particular defense of himself from all these charges; and shows here, as in the former instances, that not only a consciousness of the common equality in nature, between himself and his servant, would have induced tenderness, but a consciousness of GOD that was above, his love and reverence for his highness, would have suppressed such evils. And the good man, in a most beautiful and interesting manner, enters into an appeal against these charges, and desires punishment, suited to the enormity of such offences, if he had, in any instance, exercised such cruelty. Reader, how sweet is it to have our nature brought under the trainment of grace, and to behold, under JESUS'S example of meekness and lowliness of heart, the SPIRIT of JESUS ruling our hearts and minds, in the following his blessed steps.


Verses 33-40

(33) ¶ If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom: (34) Did I fear a great multitude, or did the contempt of families terrify me, that I kept silence, and went not out of the door? (35) Oh that one would hear me! behold, my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me, and that mine adversary had written a book. (36) Surely I would take it upon my shoulder, and bind it as a crown to me. (37) I would declare unto him the number of my steps; as a prince would I go near unto him. (38) If my land cry against me, or that the furrows likewise thereof complain; (39) If I have eaten the fruits thereof without money, or have caused the owners thereof to lose their life: (40) Let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley. The words of Job are ended.

This close of the chapter is very striking, and merits more particular attention. From man, Job appeals to GOD. Now this brings the matter to a decision. Job's friends had accused him of hypocrisy. Then saith Job, let the Almighty Searcher of hearts determine it. I beg the Reader to be particularly attentive, to have a clear sense of Job's meaning. Let not the Reader suppose that Job, in this appeal, was looking up to GOD'S judgment seat, as one unconscious of sin. The opposite from this was Job's meaning. It was the sin of hypocrisy only he dared justify himself against the charge of. He had not covered, he saith, his transgressions, as his forefather Adam had done, seeking to hide himself from the presence of the LORD, amidst the trees of the garden. But he had told GOD his sins, and opened to him, in a full confession, his iniquity.

Yet at the same time, against what his three friends had observed, that his afflictions were the fruit of his hypocrisy, and GOD was now punishing him for that, here Job put in his appeal, and, in this point, desired to look up to GOD. If the Reader will compare this passage with that which we have before gone over, chap. 9:20, 21, he will be led to see, that it is in this sense the Patriarch all along is making his appeal to the justice of GOD. In no other light can we possibly look at the case, for the infinite holiness, and the infinite majesty of GOD, make it a solemn concern for any of the fallen race of Adam, even though brought into a state of justification through the blood and righteousness of the LORD JESUS CHRIST, to come before the LORD, and much less to make an appeal to the tribunal of his justice. And Job having thus given in his defense, declares his discourse to be ended.


Verse 40

REFLECTIONS

READER! while we behold the man of Uz in this chapter justifying himself against the unjust charges of his friends, and making appeal to the LORD to plead his cause, let not you and I mistake the Patriarch's meaning. It is one thing to justify our conduct against the unjust reproaches of men; and another to attempt palliating our offences committed against the sovereign majesty of Almighty GOD. At that throne of GOD'S justice, Job pleaded always guilty. He repeatedly confessed himself to have been a sinner. When he looked at the holiness of GOD'S law, he had nothing to say in his own justification. I have sinned (said Job), what shall I say unto thee, O thou Preserver of men. In our view of Job's justification of himself, therefore, let us not fail to have this in remembrance.

But Reader! how sweet a relief is it to every mind conscious of the manifold offences there dwelling, and seen perhaps to no eye but to His that seeth in secret, that blessed scripture which saith, 'If we confess our sins, GOD is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.' Here, Reader, let you and I seek justification before GOD in that blood which cleanseth from all sin, and that righteousness which justifieth the ungodly which believe in JESUS. Though the patriarch Job was evidently taught concerning these precious means of saving and justifying poor sinners, and undoubtedly had strong faith in his kinsman Redeemer, the LORD JESUS, yet, had he lived to know of that blessed Holy One what you and I know, and to read, what you and I may read, of the complete redemption wrought by him, how would his soul have rejoiced in the vast consolation! Precious LORD JESUS! let thy righteousness, as my glorious Mediator and Surety, be the everlasting comfort, confidence, and joy of my heart. Then shall I be enabled to stand out against all the accusations of Satan, of false friends or open foes; and cry out with the Apostle in the holy triumph of the believer, It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

 


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Bibliography Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Job 31:4". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/job-31.html. 1828.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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