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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 36:11

"If they hear and serve Him, They will end their days in prosperity And their years in pleasures.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Afflictions and Adversities;   Blessing;   Contingencies;   Righteous;   Thompson Chain Reference - Blessings;   Obedience;   Obedience-Disobedience;   The Topic Concordance - Death;   Deliverance;   Disobedience;   God;   Hearing;   Obedience;   Perishing;   Poverty;   Prosperity;   Service;   Wrath;  
Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Providence of God;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Job, the Book of;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Elihu;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Verse Job 36:11. If they obey and serve him] There may appear in the course of Providence to be some exceptions to this general rule; but it is most true, that this is literally or spiritually fulfilled to all the genuine followers of God. Every man is happy, in whatsoever circumstances, whose heart is unreservedly dedicated to his Maker.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 36:11". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

God’s unknowable purposes (36:1-37:24)

Elihu, believing he has all the answers to Job’s questions, says he will now answer Job on God’s behalf (36:1-4). Certainly, God punishes the wicked, but he does not despise all who suffer. If the afflicted are truly righteous, they will soon be exalted (5-7). The reason he afflicts them is to show them their sin. If they repent, they will enjoy renewed and unbroken contentment; if not, they will suffer horrible deaths (8-12).
Only the ungodly rebel against God because of their afflictions; the righteous submit. They listen to what God teaches them through suffering and so find new life and renewed prosperity (13-16). Job’s present suffering is a fitting punishment from God. No payment of money, no cry to God, no longing for death will bring him relief (17-21).
Instead of accusing God of injustice, Job should submit to his afflictions, realizing that by these God is teaching him (22-23). Elihu then reminds Job of the mighty God before whom Job should bow. This God is great beyond a person’s understanding (24-26). God controls everything. He makes clouds, rain, lightning and thunder, and he uses these things to bring upon people either blessing or judgment (27-33). Thunder is like the voice of God proclaiming his majesty (37:1-5). When he sends rain, snow and ice, people have to stop work and animals look for warmth in their dens (6-10). God uses the forces of nature according to his perfect purposes (11-13).
Who is Job to argue with such a God? What does he know of God’s workings (14-18)? Who can question such a God? By arguing with him, Job is running the risk of being struck dead (19-20). If even the sun is too bright for people to look at, how much more will the majesty of God blind them. People cannot fully understand God, but they know he always acts rightly. Job should not argue with God but stand in awe of him (21-24).

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Job 36:11". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

If they obey and serve him - That is, if, as the result of their afflictions, they repent of their sins, seek his mercy, and serve him in time to come, they shall be prospered still. The design of affliction, Elihu says, is, not to cut them off, but to bring them to repentance. This sentiment he had advanced and illustrated before at greater length; see the notes at Job 33:23-28. The object of all this is, doubtless, to assure Job that he should not regard his calamities either as proof that he had never understood religion - as his friends maintained; or that God was severe, and did not regard those that loved and obeyed him - as Job had seemed to suppose; but that there was something in his life and conduct which made discipline necessary, and that if he would repcnt of that, he would find returning prosperity, and end his days in happiness and peace.

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These files are public domain.
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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 36:11". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Chapter 36

Elihu continued ( Job 36:1 ),

He's really taking him on.

Just allow me a little more, and I'm going to show you what I have to speak on God's behalf. I'm going to fetch my knowledge from far off, I'm going to ascribe righteousness to my Maker. For truly my words shall not be false: he that is perfect in knowledge is with thee ( Job 36:2-4 )

"Here I am, folks." This young guy is really getting carried away. "He that is perfect in knowledge is with thee."

Behold, [he said,] God is mighty, and despises not any: he is mighty in strength and wisdom. He preserveth not the life of the wicked: but giveth right to the poor. He withdraws not his eyes from the righteous: but with kings are they on the throne; yea, he doth establish them for ever, and they are exalted. And if they be bound in fetters, and be held in cords of affliction; Then he shows them their work and transgressions where they have exceeded. He opens also their ear to discipline, and commands that they return from iniquity. If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasure. But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword, and shall die without knowledge. But the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath: they cry not when he binds them ( Job 36:5-13 ).

Now he's talking really about Job making a direct application because Job is saying, "I'm innocent. I haven't done anything." So this is ascribing now to Job as a hypocrite in his heart. He heaps up God's wrath. He doesn't cry when God has bound him.

They die in youth, their life is among the unclean. He delivers the poor in his affliction, and opens the ears in oppression. Even so would he have removed thee out of the strait into a broad place, where there is no straitness; and that which should be set on thy table should be full of fatness ( Job 36:14-16 ).

If you'd only have repented, if you'd only asked for forgiveness, God would have taken you out of these straits.

But you have fulfilled the judgment of the wicked: judgment and justice have taken hold on thee. Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his stroke: and a great ransom cannot deliver thee. Will he esteem your riches? no, not gold, nor the forces of strength. Desire not the night, when people are cut off in their place. Take heed, regard not iniquity: for this has been chosen rather than affliction. Behold, God exalts by his power: who teaches like him? Who hath enjoined him his way? or who can say, Thou hast wrought iniquity? Remember that thou magnify his work, which men behold. Every man may see it; man may behold it afar off. Behold, God is great, and we know him not, neither can the number of his years be searched out. For he makes small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapor thereof ( Job 36:17-27 );

Now, evidently as Elihu is talking, this storm is moving in. And so the kid is so busy talking, he starts now using some of the rain that starts to fall, as so forth, and he started to weave it into his speech. But he is actually now drawing from the weather as this storm moves in. In a few moments, God is going to speak out of the storm; out of the whirlwind, God is going to speak. But evidently this storm is building up and the thunder begins and the lightening, and he begins to sort of interweave this into his speech. He said,

For he makes small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapor thereof: Which the clouds do drop and distill upon man abundantly. Also can any understand the spreadings of the clouds, or the noise of his tabernacle? Behold, he spreads his light upon it, and covers the bottom of the sea. For by them judges he the people; he gives meat in abundance. With clouds he covers the light; and commands it not to shine and by the cloud that cometh between. The noise thereof showeth concerning it, and the cattle also concerning the vapor ( Job 36:27-33 ). "

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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Job 36:11". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

God’s dealings with man 36:1-26

The first four verses of chapter 36 introduce this speech. In them, Elihu again urged Job to pay attention to what he would say. He claimed that his words were true and that he himself was "perfect in knowledge" (Job 36:4).

"In his defence [sic] of the righteousness of God, Elihu now develops his thought on the disciplinary meaning of suffering. God is great, but he does not despise men. The incorrigibly wicked he does not preserve, but in mercy he afflicts the righteous that they may be cleansed of all sin and pride." [Note: Rowley, p. 227.]

Four times in this chapter and twice in this section (Job 36:1-25) Elihu said, "Behold" (Job 36:5; Job 36:22; Job 36:26; Job 36:30). In each case, he then proceeded to say something important about God. After this, he applied that truth.

Elihu’s first affirmation was that God is mighty and merciful (Job 36:5-10), and He uses suffering to instruct people. There are two possible responses to God’s teaching: hearing (Job 36:11) and not hearing (Job 36:12), and each has consequences. Elihu developed these responses and consequences further, first the response of the godless (Job 36:13-14), and then that of the godly (Job 36:15-16). Essentially the godless typically become angry and refuse to turn to God for help, and this often leads to a life of shame and an untimely death (Job 36:13-14). The righteous who suffer, on the other hand, more often turn to God, submit to His instruction, learn from it, and live (Job 36:15). Finally, Elihu applied these points to Job and warned him against responding to his sufferings like the ungodly (Job 36:16-21). Specifically, Job should avoid anger and scoffing and not let the large price he was paying for his God-sent education (the "ransom," Job 36:18) divert him from godly living.

Elihu’s next major declaration about God, introduced by the second "Behold" (Job 36:22), was that He is a sovereign and supremely wise teacher (Job 36:22-23). Elihu’s application to Job was that he should worship God rather than murmuring, complaining, and pitying himself (Job 36:24-25). Worship would enable him to learn the lessons that God was teaching him. The introverted (chiastic) structure of Job 36:22-26 emphasize the fact that God is worthy of praise.

"Elihu has, in fact, steered the argument away from the justice of God to His wisdom, using His power as the bridge." [Note: Andersen, p. 262.]

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Job 36:11". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

If they obey and serve [him],.... That is, God, to whom so many things are ascribed in the preceding verses; and who only is to be obeyed and served in a religious way, with the obedience of faith and love, in all his commands and ordinances. But here not so much obedience to his word, his law or Gospel, as to his rod is intended: "if they hear", c. q hear the rod and him that has appointed it; hearken to his reproving, instructing, and commanding voice, in affliction; to his calls, cautions, and admonitions thereby given; and act according to them; humble themselves under the mighty hand of God, and return from iniquity:

they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures; which intimates, that those to whom afflictions are sanctified, and they obedient under them, when recovered out of them shall enjoy long life; not only live many days, but years, and those in great prosperity and pleasure; be blessed with much temporal prosperity, which lies in riches and wealth, as this word is rendered in Job 21:13; and in bodily health, which is a considerable part of outward prosperity; but more especially prosperity of soul may be intended, see 3 John 1:2; which is enjoyed when a man is favoured with the discoveries of the love of God to him; with applications of pardoning grace and mercy; when grace is in lively exercise in him, and he has a spiritual appetite for the good word of God, and is fruitful in every good work: and so pleasures do not so much design corporeal pleasures, though ever so innocent and lawful; for though they may at proper times be indulged unto, yet a man's days and years are not to be spent in them; but rather spiritual pleasures, which are had in views of the wonderful love of God in Christ; in the enjoyment of the gracious presence of God, and communion with him; and which the people of God are favoured with, in his house and ordinances, ways and worship: and when those years are gone, endless pleasures at God's right hand, and in his presence, will follow.

q אם ישמעו ויעכדו "si audierint et fecerint", Codurcus

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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.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Job 36:11". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

      5 Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any: he is mighty in strength and wisdom.   6 He preserveth not the life of the wicked: but giveth right to the poor.   7 He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous: but with kings are they on the throne; yea, he doth establish them for ever, and they are exalted.   8 And if they be bound in fetters, and be holden in cords of affliction;   9 Then he showeth them their work, and their transgressions that they have exceeded.   10 He openeth also their ear to discipline, and commandeth that they return from iniquity.   11 If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures.   12 But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge.   13 But the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath: they cry not when he bindeth them.   14 They die in youth, and their life is among the unclean.

      Elihu, being to speak on God's behalf, and particularly to ascribe righteousness to his Maker, here shows that the disposals of divine Providence are all, not only according to the eternal counsels of his will, but according to the eternal rules of equity. God acts as a righteous governor, for,

      I. He does not think it below him to take notice of the meanest of his subjects, nor does poverty or obscurity set any at a distance from his favour. If men are mighty, they are apt to look with a haughty disdain upon those that are not of distinction and make no figure; but God is mighty, infinitely so, and yet he despises not any,Job 36:5; Job 36:5. He humbles himself to take cognizance of the affairs of the meanest, to do them justice and to show them kindness. Job thought himself and his cause slighted because God did not immediately appear for him. "No," says Elihu, God despises not any, which is a good reason why we should honour all men. He is mighty in strength and wisdom, and yet does not look with contempt upon those that have but a little strength and wisdom, if they but mean honestly. Nay, for this reason he despises not any, because his wisdom and strength are incontestably infinite and therefore the condescensions of his grace can be no diminution to him. Those that are wise and good will not look upon any with scorn and disdain.

      II. He gives no countenance to the greatest, if they be bad (Job 36:6; Job 36:6): He preserves not the life of the wicked. Though their life may be prolonged, yet not under any special care of the divine Providence, but only its common protection. Job had said that the wicked live, become old, and are mighty in power,Job 21:7; Job 21:7. "No," says Elihu: "he seldom suffers wicked men to become old. He preserves not their life so long as they expected, nor with that comfort and satisfaction which are indeed our life; and their preservation is but a reservation for the day of wrath," Romans 2:5.

      III. He is always ready to right those that are any way injured, and to plead their cause (Job 36:6; Job 36:6): He gives right to the poor, avenges their quarrel upon their persecutors and forces them to make restitution of what they have robbed them of. If men will not right the injured poor, God will.

      IV. He takes a particular care for the protection of his good subjects, Job 36:7; Job 36:7. He not only looks on them, but he never looks off them: He withdraws not his eyes from the righteous. Though they may seem sometimes neglected and forgotten, and that befals them which looks like an oversight of Providence, yet tender careful eye of their heavenly Father never withdraws from them. If our eye be ever towards God in duty, his eye will be ever upon us in mercy, and, when we are at the lowest, will not overlook us.

      1. Sometimes he prefers good people to places of trust and honour (Job 36:7; Job 36:7): With kings are they on the throne, and every sheaf is made to bow to theirs. When righteous persons are advanced to places of honour and power, it is in mercy to them; for God's grace in them will both arm them against the temptations that attend preferment and enable them to improve the opportunity it gives them of doing good. It is also in mercy to those over whom they are set: When the righteous bear rule the city rejoices. If the righteous be advanced, they are established. Those that in honour keep a good conscience stand upon sure ground, and high places are not such slippery ground to them as they are to others. But, because it is not often that we see good men made great men in this world, this may be supposed to refer to the honour to which the righteous shall rise when their Redeemer shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; for then only they shall be exalted for ever, and established for ever; then shall they all shine forth as the sun, and be made kings and priests to our God.

      2. If at any time he bring them into affliction, it is for the good of their souls, Job 36:8-10; Job 36:8-10. Some good people are preferred to honour and power, but others are in trouble. Now observe, (1.) The distress supposed (Job 36:8; Job 36:8): If they be bound in fetters, laid in prison as Joseph was, or holden in the cords of any other affliction, confined by pain and sickness, hampered by poverty, bound in their counsels, and, notwithstanding all their struggles, held long in this distress. This was Job's case; he was caught, and kept fast, in the cords of anguish (as some read it); but observe, (2.) The design God has, in bringing his people into such distresses as these; it is for the benefit of their souls, the consideration of which should reconcile us to affliction and make us think well of it. Three things God intends when he afflicts us:-- [1.] To discover past sins to us, and to bring them to our remembrance. Then he shows them that amiss in them which before they did not see. He discovers to them the fact of sin: He shows them their work. Sin is our own work. If there be any good in us, it is God's work; and we are concerned to see what work we have made by sin. He discovers the fault of sin, shows them their transgressions of the law of God, and withal the sinfulness of sin, that they have exceeded, and have been beyond measure sinful. True penitents lay a load upon themselves, do not extenuate, but aggravate, their sins, and own that they have exceeded in them. Affliction sometimes answers to the sin; it serves, however, to awaken the conscience and puts men upon considering. [2.] To dispose our hearts to receive present instructions: Then he opens their ear to discipline,Job 36:10; Job 36:10. Whom God chastens he teaches (Psalms 94:12), and the affliction makes people willing to learn, softens the wax, that it may receive the impression of the seal; yet it does not do this of itself, but the grace of God working with and by it; it is he that opens the ear, that opens the heart, who has the key of David. [3.] To deter and draw us off from iniquity for the future. This is the errand on which the affliction is sent; it is a command to return from iniquity, to have no more to do with sin, to turn from it with an aversion to it and a resolution never to return to it any more, Hosea 14:8.

      3. If the affliction do its work, and accomplish that for which it is sent, he will comfort them again, according to the time that he has afflicted them (Job 36:11; Job 36:11): If they obey and serve him,--if they comply with his design and serve his purpose in these dispensations,--if, when the affliction is removed, they continue in the same good mind that they were in when they were under the smart of it and perform the vows they made then,--if they live in obedience to God's commands, particularly those which relate to his service and worship, and in all instances make conscience of their duty to him,--then they shall spend their days in prosperity again and their years in true pleasures. Piety is the only sure way to prosperity and pleasure; this is a certain truth, and yet few will believe it. If we faithfully serve God, (1.) We have the promise of outward prosperity, the promise of the life that now is, and the comforts of it, as far as is for God's glory and our good; and who would desire them any further? (2.) We have the possession of inward pleasures, the comfort of communion with God and a good conscience, and that great peace which those have that love God's law. If we rejoice not in the Lord always, and in hope of eternal life, it is our own fault; and what better pleasures can we spend our years in?

      4. If the affliction do not do its work, let them expect the furnace to be heated seven times hotter till they are consumed (Job 36:12; Job 36:12): If they obey not, if they are not bettered by their afflictions, are not reclaimed and reformed, they shall perish by the sword of God's wrath. Those whom his rod does not cure his sword will kill; and the consuming fire will prevail if the refining fire do not; for when God judges he will overcome. If Ahaz, in his distress, trespass yet more against the Lord, this is that king Ahaz that is marked for ruin, 2 Chronicles 28:22; Jeremiah 6:29; Jeremiah 6:30. God would have instructed them by their afflictions, but they received not instruction, would not take the hints that were given them; and therefore they shall die without knowledge, ere they are aware, without any further previous notices given them; or they shall die because they were without knowledge notwithstanding the means of knowledge which they were blessed with. Those that die without knowledge die without grace and are undone for ever.

      V. He brings ruin upon hypocrites, the secret enemies of his kingdom (such as Elihu described, Job 36:12; Job 36:12), who, though they were numbered among the righteous whom Elihu had spoken of before, yet did not obey God, but, being children of disobedience and darkness, become children of wrath and perdition; these are the hypocrites in heart, who heap up wrath,Job 36:13; Job 36:13. See the nature of hypocrisy: it lies in the heart, which is for the world and the flesh when the outside seems to be for God and religion. Many that are saints in show and saints in word are hypocrites in heart. That spring is corrupt, and there is an evil treasure there. See the mischievousness of hypocrisy: hypocrites heap up wrath. They are doing that every day which is provoking to God, and will be reckoned with for it all together in the great day. They treasure up wrath against the day of wrath,Romans 2:5. Their sins are laid up in store with God among his treasures,Deuteronomy 32:34; James 5:3. As what goes up a vapour comes down a shower, so what goes up sin, if not repented of, will come down wrath. They think they are heaping up wealth, heaping up merits, but, when the treasures are opened, it will prove they were heaping up wrath. Observe, 1. What they do to heap up wrath. What is it that is so provoking? It is this, They cry not when he binds them, that is, when they are in affliction, bound with the cords of trouble, their hearts are hardened, they are stubborn and unhumbled, and will not cry to God nor make their application to him. They are stupid and senseless as stocks and stones, despising the chastening of the Lord. 2. What are the effects of that wrath? They die in youth, and their life is among the unclean,Job 36:14; Job 36:14. This is the portion of hypocrites, whom Christ denounced many woes against. If they continue impenitent, (1.) They shall die a sudden death, die in youth, when death is most a surprise, and death (that is, the consequence of it) is always such to hypocrites; as those that die in youth die when they hoped to live, so hypocrites, at death, go to hell, when they hoped to go to heaven. When a wicked man dies his expectations shall perish. (2.) They shall die the second death. Their life, after death (for so it comes in here), is among the unclean, among the fornicators (so some), among the worst and vilest of sinners, notwithstanding their specious and plausible profession. It is among the Sodomites (so the margin), those filthy wretches, who going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire,Jude 1:7. The souls of the wicked live after death, but they live among the unclean, the unclean spirits, the devil and his angels, forever separated from the new Jerusalem, into which no unclean thing shall enter.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Job 36:11". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.