Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 22:2

"Can a vigorous man be of use to God, Or a wise man be useful to himself?
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Grace of God;   Man;   Self-Righteousness;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Man;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Eliphaz;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Greatness of God;   Hypocrisy;   Independency of God;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Job, the Book of;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Shebna;   Succeed;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Can a man be profitable unto God - God does not afflict thee because thou hast deprived him of any excellency. A man may be profitable to a man, but no man can profit his Maker. He has no interest in thy conduct; he does not punish thee because thou hast offended and deprived him of some good. Thy iniquities are against justice, and justice requires thy punishment.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 22:2". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-22.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Can a man be profitable unto God? - Can a man confer any favor on God, so as to lay him under obligation? Eliphaz supposes that Job sets up a “claim” to the favor of God, because he was of service to him, or because God had something to fear if he was cut off. He maintains, therefore, that a man can confer no favor on God, so as to lay him under obligation. God is independent and supreme. He has nothing to gain if man is righteous - he has nothing to apprehend if he is punished. He is not dependent at all on man.

As he that is wise - Margin, or, “if he may be profitable, doth his goodness depend thereon.” The meaning of the passage is, a wise man may promote his own advantage, but he cannot be of advantage to God. All the result of his wisdom must terminate on himself, and not on God; compare Psalm 16:2. Of the correctness of this sentiment there can be no doubt. It accords with reason, and with all that is said in the Scriptures. God is too great to be benefited by man. He is infinite in all his perfections; he is the original fountain of blessedness; he is supremely wise; he has all resources in himself, and he cannot be dependent on his creatures. He cannot, therefore, be deterred from punishing them by any dread which he has of losing their favor - he cannot be induced to bless them because they have laid him under obligation. Eliphaz meant this as a reply to what Job had said. He had maintained, that God did “not” treat people according to their character in this life, but that, in fact, the wicked were often prospered, and suffered to live long. Eliphaz at once “infers,” that if this were so, it must be because they could render themselves “serviceable” to God, or because he must have something to dread by punishing them. In the general sentiment, he was right; in the “inference” he was wrong - since Job had not affirmed that they are spared from any such cause, and since many other “reasons” may be assigned.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 22:2". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-22.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Can a man be profitable unto God?.... Eliphaz imagined that Job thought so, by his insisting so much on his integrity, and complaining of his afflictions; and that God was beholden to him for his holiness and righteousness, and that instead of afflicting him, should have heaped honours and happiness upon him; whereas there is not anything a man can do, or does, by which God can be profiled; which is a very great truth, though misapplied to Job through a wrong construction of his words and meaning. No man, even the best of men, and by the best things they can do, can be profitable to God; as for bad men, they are altogether unprofitable to themselves and to others, and still less profitable to God; and as for good men, their "goodness extendeth not" to the Lord, Psalm 16:2; it comes from him, it is his own previously; it is of no avail and advantage to him, who is perfect and all sufficient; when they have done all that they are commanded, they are bid to say, and very truly, "we are unprofitable servants", Luke 17:10; they do indeed glorify God, and are the means of others glorifying him by their good works; but then they add no glory to him, which he had not before; they only declare the glory of God by the light of their grace and works, as the heavens and luminaries in them do by their light and lustre; they worship God as they ought to do; but then he is not worshipped by them "as though he needed anything" of them, Acts 17:25; it is they, and not he, that get by worship; it is good for them, and they find their account in it, to draw near to him, and wait upon him, and worship him; what are all their prayers and praises to him? the benefit redounds to themselves: some men are very serviceable to promote the interest of religion, either by their purses, or by their gifts and talents, fitting for public usefulness; but then, what do they give to God but what is his own? "of thine own have we given thee", says David, 1 Chronicles 29:14; or what do they do for him? it is for the good of themselves, and others, Romans 11:35. Some are useful in the conversion of men to God, either by the public ministry of the word, or in private life by discourse and conversation; but then the profit of all this is to men, and not unto God; there is nothing that a man can do, by which he can make God his debtor, or lay him under an obligation to him, which he would, if he could be profitable to him; but whatever he does, it is but his duty, and what God has a prior right unto; and therefore men can merit nothing at the hand of God, no, not the least mercy; it is by the grace of God a good man is what he is, and does what he does; the Targum paraphrases it, "can a man teach God?" and so Mr. Broughton; see Job 21:22;

as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself? or "though", or "indeed, truly he that is wise", &c.F8כי "immo", Beza; "profecto", Schultens. . A man that is worldly wise is profitable to himself and his family, by gathering wealth and riches; and a man that is wise, and has a large understanding of natural things, may be profitable to himself by enriching his mind with knowledge, increasing the pleasure of it, and getting credit and fame among men by it, and may be profitable to others by communicating his knowledge to them, see Proverbs 9:12; and one that is spiritually wise, or has the true grace of God, and wisdom in the hidden part, which is no other than real godliness, gets great gain; for godliness is that to him, and is profitable for all things, having the promise of the present and future life; and he that has an interest in Christ, the Wisdom of God, is a happy man indeed, since he has that, the merchandise of which is better than silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold; one that is wise unto salvation, and is a wise professor of religion, and walks wisely and circumspectly, has great advantages; he builds his salvation on the rock Christ, and is safe and sure; he is concerned to have the oil of grace, with the lamp of a profession, and so is always ready to meet the bridegroom; and being careful of his conversation, keeps his garments that his shame is not seen; and so a wise minister of the word, "one that instructs"F9משכיל. , or gives instructions to others, as the word here signifies; or one that causes to understand, or is the means of causing men to understand, such a man is profitable to himself and to others, see Daniel 12:3.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Job 22:2". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-22.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Can a man be a profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself?

(a) Though man was just, yet God could not profit from this his justice; and therefore when he punished him, he had no regard to his justice, but to his sin.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Job 22:2". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/job-22.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

as he that is wise — rather, yea the pious man profiteth himself. So “understanding” or “wise” - pious (Daniel 12:3, Daniel 12:10; Psalm 14:2) [Michaelis].

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 22:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/job-22.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself?

Can, … — Why dost thou insist so much upon thy own righteousness, as if thou didst oblige God by it.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Job 22:2". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/job-22.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 22:2 Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself?

Ver. 2. Can a man be profitable unto God] No, neither doth Job say he can, but the contrary, Job 21:22. Howbeit the God of glory, as he is called, Acts 7:2, although his glory is as himself, infinite and eternal, and, therefore, not capable of our addition or detraction (the sun would shine though all the world were blind), yet, to try how we prize his glory, and what we will do for him, he hath declared that he accounteth himself made glorious by us when we get so far as to conceive of him above all creatures.

As he that is wise may be profitable unto himself?] Or, But he that is wise, &c. See Proverbs 9:12, which Solomon seemeth to have taken hence. Natural reason taught Plautus to bring in a countryman animating his son cheerfully to follow his business thus, Thou ploughest, harrowest, sowest, and reapest for thyself; to thee shall this labour bring in joy. The word here rendered wise sometimes signifieth prosperous, quod prudentibus omnia feliciter cedant, because prudent persons do usually prosper. Prudentiam felicitas fere sequitur, Isaiah 52:13.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 22:2". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-22.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Be profitable unto God, i.e. add any thing to his perfection or felicity, to wit, by his righteousness, as the next verse shows. Why then dost thou insist so much upon thy own righteousness, as if thou didst oblige God by it, or as if he could not without injury afflict thee? who supposest thyself to be a righteous person, though indeed thou art not so, as he saith, Job 22:5,6, &c.; but if thou wert really so, God is not thy debtor for it.

As; or, because; or, but; or, yea rather: so this latter clause is to be read without an interrogation, and the former with it.

He that is wise may be profitable to himself: a wise or good man (for these in Scripture use are one and the same) doth much good to himself; he promotes his own peace, and honour, and happiness by his goodness; and having so great a reward for his virtue, God is not indebted to him, but he is indebted to God for it.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 22:2". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/job-22.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Hitzig divides the chapter into three double strophes. First double strophe — THE BILL OF ACCUSATIONS, Job 22:2-11.

a. A syllogistic proof that Job’s sufferings are the merited punishment of his sins, Job 22:2-5.

2.As , but, or nay but. Zockler finds in this series of questions a perfect syllogism, of which Job 22:2-3 form the major premiss; Job 22:4 the minor premiss; Job 22:5 the conclusion, to wit, that Job must be a great sinner. The fallacy lies in the minor premiss. All trust in works of merit is rooted in the idea that man can profit God.

Wise’ profitable unto himself — The second clause implies a negative answer to the question of profitableness, and should be rendered, the wise man profiteth himself. He is the gainer, not God. Scott cites a like sentiment from Sophocles: “What good man is not a friend to himself.” See sermon, in loc., by Dr. South, on “The Impossibility of Man’s Meriting of God.”

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 22:2". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/job-22.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Job 22:2. Can a man be profitable unto God — That is, add any thing to his perfection or felicity? namely, by his righteousness, as the next verse shows. Why then dost thou insist so much upon thy own righteousness, as if thou didst oblige God by it; or, as if he could not, without injustice, afflict thee, who supposest thyself to be a righteous person? As, or because, he that is wise — He that is a truly righteous and good man; may be profitable to himself — Does much good to himself; promotes his own peace, and honour, and happiness, by his goodness. Because a wise man receives great benefit by his virtue, shall we think that God is a gainer by it too?

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 22:2". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/job-22.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Knowledge. How then canst thou dispute with God?

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Job 22:2". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/job-22.html. 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

"Can a vigorous man be of use to God": "In his previous discourse, Job argued that God"s punishments are indiscriminate, that is, they come upon the wicked and righteous alike (21:23-26). Eliphaz now speaks to that point, and his object is to show that punishment does imply guilt. He claims that since God is self-sufficient, no action on the part of man is able to influence Him" (Jackson p. 57). God is not helped or impressed by the strong man or even the wise man, thus, "God would gain nothing by deviating from strict justice in healing with human behavior" (Strauss p. 220).

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Job 22:2". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/job-22.html. 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Can . . . ? Figure of speech Erotesis. App-6.

man = a strong man. Hebrew. geber. App-14.

GOD. Hebrew El.

as = nay. The Hebrew accent (Tebir) on ki, "as", is disjunctive, and means "nay". See note on Isaiah 28:28.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Job 22:2". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/job-22.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself?

As he that is wise - rather, yea, the (truly) wise (pious) man profiteth himself. So "understanding" or "wise" - pious (Daniel 12:3; Daniel 12:10; Psalms 14:2). (Michaelis.)

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 22:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/job-22.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(2) As he that is wise.—It is probably an independent statement: “Surely he that is wise is profitable, &c.”

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Job 22:2". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/job-22.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself?
a man
35:6-8; Psalms 16:2; Luke 17:10
as he that, etc
or, if he may be profitable, doth his good success depend thereon?
21:15; Deuteronomy 10:13; Proverbs 3:13-18; 4:7-9; 9:12; Ecclesiastes 7:11,12; Matthew 5:29; Galatians 6:7,8
Reciprocal: Job 5:27 - for thy good;  Job 35:7 - GeneralJob 41:11 - Who;  Mark 8:36 - profit;  Acts 17:25 - is;  1 Corinthians 2:16 - who;  1 Timothy 4:8 - godliness;  Titus 3:8 - good

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Job 22:2". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/job-22.html.