Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 5:3

"I have seen the foolish taking root, And I cursed his abode immediately.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Wicked (People);  
Dictionaries:
Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Greatness of God;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Eliphaz (2);  

Adam Clarke Commentary

I have seen the foolish taking root - I have seen wicked men for a time in prosperity, and becoming established in the earth; but I well knew, from God's manner of dealing with men, that they must soon be blasted. I even ventured to pronounce their doom; for I knew that, in the order of God's providence, that was inevitable. I cursed his habitation.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 5:3". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-5.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

I have seen the foolish - The wicked. To confirm the sentiment which he had just advanced, Eliphaz appeals to his own observation, and says that though the wicked for a time seem to be prosperous, yet he had observed that they were soon overtaken with calamity and cut down. He evidently means that prosperity was no evidence of the divine favor; but that when it had continued for a little time, and was then withdrawn, it was proof that the man who had been prospered was at heart a wicked man. It was easy to understated that he meant that this should be applied to Job, who, though he had been favored with temporary prosperity, was now revealed to be at heart a wicked man. The sentiment here advanced by Eliphaz, as the result of his observation, strikingly accords with the observation of David, as expressed in Psalm 23:1-6:

“I have seen the wicked in great power,

And spreading himself like a green bay-tree;

Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not:

Yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.”

Psalm 23:1-6:35-36.

Taking root - This figure, to denote prosperous and rapid growth, is often used in the Scriptures. Thus, in Psalm 1:3:

“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,

That bringeth forth his fruit in his season.”

So Isaiah 27:6:

“Those that come out of Jacob shall he cause to take root;

Israel shall blossom and bud,

And shall fill the face of the world with fruit.”

So Psalm 80:9-10:

“Thou preparedst room before it,

And didst cause it to take deep root,

And it filled the land.

The hills were covered with the shadow of it,

And the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars.”

But suddenly - Meaning either that calamity came upon him suddenly - as it had upon Job, that is, without any apparent preparation, or that; calamity came before a great while, that is, that this prosperity did not continue. Probably there is an implied reference hereto the case of Job, meaning that he had known just such instances before; and as the case of Job accorded with what he had before seen, he hastened to the conclusion that Job must have been a wicked man.

I cursed his habitation - I had occasion to regard it as accursed; that is, I witnessed the downfall of his fortunes, and pronounced his habitation accursed. I saw that God regarded it as such, and that he had suddenly punished him. This accords with the observation of David, referred to above.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 5:3". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-5.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Job 5:3

I have seen the foolish taking root.

1. Wicked men may flourish in great outward prosperity.

2. Wicked men may not only flourish and grow, but they may flourish and grow a great while. I ground it upon this; the text saith that they take root: I have seen the foolish take root; and the word notes a deep rooting. Some wicked men stand out many storms, like old oaks; like trees deeply rooted, they stand many a blast, yea, many a blow. Spectators are ready to say, such and such storms will certainly overthrow them, and yet still they stand; but though they stand so long that all wonder, yet they shall fall.

3. Outward good things are not good in themselves. The foolish take root. The worst of men may enjoy the best of outward comforts. Outward things are unto us as we are. If the man be good, then they are good. There is a great difference between the flourishing of a wise man and the flourishing of a fool; all his flourishing in the earth is no good to him, because himself is not good. Spiritual good things are so good that, though they find us not good, yet they will make us good; we cannot have them indeed, and be unlike them.

4. The enjoyment of outward good things is no evidence, can be made no argument, that a man is good. And yet how many stick upon this evidence, blessing themselves because they are outwardly blessed! (J. Caryl.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Job 5:3". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/job-5.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

I have seen the foolish taking root,.... Such foolish wicked men as before described; those Eliphaz had observed to prosper in the world, and increase in riches, and even to have attained to a seeming stability and firmness, as if they would ever continue in such happy circumstances, see Jeremiah 12:2; by this he would obviate an objection that here might be raised and made against the assertion he was proving, that wicked men are afflicted and punished of God for their sins; whereas it is notorious that they are not in trouble as other men, but in very prosperous and flourishing circumstances; this he grants is their case for a while, as he had observed, but in a short time they pass away, they and their substance disappear, and are no more seen, as follows:

but suddenly I cursed his habitation; not that he wished ill to him, or imprecated evils upon him; for cursing and bitterness only fit the mouths of wicked men, and not good men, among whom Eliphaz must be allowed to be; but he immediately thought within himself, as soon as he saw the flourishing state of the wicked, that the curse of the Lord was in their houses, as in Proverbs 3:33; that they and all they had were under a curse, and that God find given them what they had with a curse, and had cursed all their blessings; which makes the difference between a good man and a wicked man; the one has what he has, his cottage and his small substance, with a blessing; the other his pleasant habitation, as the wordF18נוחו "pulchritudini ejus", V. L. "commodam ejus", Cocceius; "amoenam", Schultens. here used signifies, his stately palace, rich furniture, and large estates, with a curse; or he prognosticated, he foresaw, and could foretell, and that without pretending to an extraordinary spirit of prophecy, that in a short time the curse of God would light upon him, and upon his house, see Zechariah 5:3.

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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 5:3". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-5.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

I have seen the c foolish taking root: but suddenly I d cursed his habitation.

(c) That is, the sinner that does not have the fear of God.

(d) I was not moved by his prosperity but knew that God had cursed him and his.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Job 5:3". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/job-5.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

the foolish — the wicked. I have seen the sinner spread his “root” wide in prosperity, yet circumstances “suddenly” occurred which gave occasion for his once prosperous dwelling being “cursed” as desolate (Psalm 37:35, Psalm 37:36; Jeremiah 17:8).

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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.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 5:3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/job-5.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

I have seen the foolish taking root: but suddenly I cursed his habitation.

Foolish — The wicked man.

Root — Not only prosperous for the present, but, as it seemed, firm and secure for the future.

Suddenly — In a moment, beyond mine, and his own, and all other mens expectation.

Cursed — l saw by the event which followed his prosperity, that he was a man accursed of God.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Job 5:3". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/job-5.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 5:3 I have seen the foolish taking root: but suddenly I cursed his habitation.

Ver. 3. I have seen the foolish taking root] q.d. I grant that wicked men are not always presently punished, sed Nemesis in tergo; et subito tollitur, qui diu toleratur. God’s wrath is such as no wicked man can avert or avoid. This had Eliphaz well observed, "I have seen"; he had set a memorandum on God’s just judgments, and marked his spits with his own stars, as one speaketh. Eliphaz was a man of much experience. See Job 4:8. In him that was true which Elihu saith should be, that days spake, and multitude of years taught wisdom, Job 32:7. Only herein he is mistaken, that he misapplieth all to Job, arguing from his outward condition to his inward; as if, therefore, he were wicked, because seemingly wretched. Thus the gloss he set was viperous, eating out the bowels of the text; it was a truth of God that he uttered, and the same in sense with that of David, Psalms 37:35; and that of Solomon, Proverbs 23:18. But why should he thus writhe it and wrest it, to make the tune sound to his own key? St Peter speaketh of some that wrest the Scriptures, 2 Peter 3:16, putting them upon the rack, and making them speak that which they never thought. And Tertullian saith of others, that they do murder the Scriptures for their own turns, and to serve their own purposes, Caedem scripturarum faciunt. The make a slaugter of the scriptures. But let us hear Eliphaz: "I have seen," saith he, and what more sure than sight? Numbers 16:14, "the foolish," the wilful fool, and perhaps he points at some one such rich fool as is mentioned Luke 12:20, not unknown to Job, and, as Eliphaz deemeth, a fit parallel for him, "taking root," dwelling alone in the earth, confirmed and settled in a fair estate, in a prosperous condition, as Nebuchadnezzar, that goodly tree, thought himself, Daniel 4:4; Daniel 4:22, {see Jeremiah 12:2} and Dionysius, tyrant of Sicily, who conceited that his kingdom was bound fast unto him with chains of adamant; but he was soon after cast out, and thereby convinced of singular folly (Aelian. Var. Hist. lib. 2). A tempest, or, at least, an axe, of Divine vengeance, can easily fell these rooted fast and best fruited trees, and lay them low enough, as he did Nebuchadnezzar, that club of the nations and rod of God’s wrath, Isaiah 14:4-8, Daniel 4:22, &c., and Attila, the conquering Hun, who called himself the wrath of God and scourge of the world, and arrogantly said, that the stars of heaven fell before him, and the earth trembled (Jovius), but was soon after rooted up by impartial death in the midst of his nuptial solemnities, Subita morte extinctus est, sanguine copiose in fauces exundante et ex ore erumpente. He died suddenly, much blood pouring from his throat and his mouth.

And suddenly I cursed his habitation] His house, which he held his castle, together with his family, Job 5:4, and his family provisions, Job 5:5. All these Eliphaz suddenly (even when he was in the ruff of all his jollity, in the height of his flourish) cursed, Heb. pierced, or bored through, not so much by a malediction as a prediction, Male ominatus sum iis, I foresaw and foretold that that happiness would not hold long; I ominously divined it; I both thought it and spake it. Pium non decent dirae; cursing men are cursed men; but a godly person may presage a curse, and foretell it, according to that, Proverbs 3:33, "The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked," yea, the flying roll of curses, that is ten yards long and five yards broad, shall remain in the midst of it, and consume it, Zechariah 5:4. Brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation, and the fire of God shall kindle it; so that his roots shall be dried up beneath, and above shall his branch be cut off, &c., Job 18:15-16.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 5:3". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-5.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Job 5:3. I have seen the foolish, &c.— I saw the profligate taking root, but I marked him out for sudden destruction. This is the same thought as in Psalms 37:35-36 and drawn out at length in Psalms 73. See Heath and Schultens.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Job 5:3". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/job-5.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

I have oft observed it in my experience. Having severely rebuked Job for his transports of passion and intemperate speeches against God, he now returns to his former argument, and proves that such dreadful and destructive judgments of God do not befall the righteous, but the wicked, as he observed, Job 4:7,8. Withal, he answers an objection concerning the present and seeming prosperity of the wicked, which he confesseth that he himself had sometimes observed.

The foolish, i. e. the wicked man, who is quite destitute of true, i.e. of spiritual and heavenly, wisdom.

Taking root; not only prosperous for the present, but, as it seemed, from all secure for the future, being strongly fortified with power, and riches, and children too, so as there was no appearance nor danger of a change.

Suddenly; in a moment, besides and before mine, and his own, and all other men’s expectation.

I cursed; either,

1. I judged that he was a cursed creature, notwithstanding all his prosperity; and I foresaw and foretold it by the rules of Scripture, or the direction of God’s Spirit, that he would certainly sooner or later be stripped of all his blessings, and have God’s curse fall heavily upon him. Or rather,

2. I saw and perceived, by, the event which followed his prosperity, that he was a man accursed of God. For he speaks not in these words of what his estate constantly was, even in the midst of his happiness, though even then he was really accursed; but of what it was by a sudden change.

His habitation; or, as the Hebrew word signifies, his pleasant or commodious habitation; persons or things in it, or belonging to it, being comprehended in that word by a usual metonymy.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 5:3". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/job-5.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

3.Suddenly I cursed — He feels himself justified in acting upon what he had observed — that adversity trod upon the heel of wickedness. So that where-ever he beheld the marked prosperity of the foolish, he at once pronounced their doom. The version of the Septuagint, “but suddenly their habitation was devoured,” Merx is not justifiable in following. “The word‘suddenly’ points, as with the finger, to the catastrophe by which, at one stroke, Job’s prosperity was laid in the dust — to the Chaldeans and Sabeans, to the lightning and the storm.” — Hengstenberg.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 5:3". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/job-5.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Job 5:3. I have seen the foolish taking root — I have observed the wicked man, whom I term foolish, as being destitute of true, that is, of heavenly, wisdom, not only prosperous for the present, but, as it seemed, firm and secure for the future, being strongly fortified with power and riches, and children too, so that there was no likelihood or apparent danger of a change; but suddenly — In a moment, before any one’s expectation; I cursed his habitation — I saw, by the event which followed his prosperity, that he was a man under a divine curse, and that, notwithstanding the seeming depth and strength in which he vainly promised himself a permanent, unshaken situation for many years, all his hopes were built on a weak and false foundation. Thus Eliphaz answers an objection concerning the present seeming prosperity of the wicked, which he confesses that he himself had sometimes observed, but which, he insists, was of short duration, destructive judgments from God unexpectedly overwhelming them.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 5:3". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/job-5.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

And I. Septuagint, "But presently their subsistence was eaten up." I envied not their riches: but judged they would soon end. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Job 5:3". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/job-5.html. 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

"I have seen the foolish taking root, and I cursed his abode immediately": He now speaks of a fool he had known who had prospered ("taken root") for a while, and yet he was suddenly cursed. "The unrighteous often strike deep into the earth their strange roots. Prosperity is thus effectively presented by an analogy with a vigorously growing tree" (Strauss pp. 45-46).

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Job 5:3". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/job-5.html. 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

suddenly = at once.

cursed = noted, stigmatized, or pointed out. Hebrew. nakab: i.e. "declared [the fate of) his habitation. "Supply Figure of speech Ellipsis (App-6) by adding "saying", and mark verses: Job 5:4, Job 5:5 as being what he said. See translation, below.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Job 5:3". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/job-5.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

I have seen the foolish taking root: but suddenly I cursed his habitation.

The foolish - the wicked. I have seen the sinner spread his roots (Isaiah 27:6) wide in prosperity, yet circumstances suddenly occurred which gave occasion for his once prosperous dwelling being cursed as desolate. "I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not; yea, I sought him, but he could not be found" (Psalms 37:35-36; Jeremiah 17:8).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 5:3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/job-5.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(3) I cursed.—The word means, “I was able to declare distinctly, and I did declare without hesitation, that his lot would be as follows.” All these general results of experience have the sting of insinuation in them that they contain the key to Job’s unfortunate condition. There is secret unsoundness there which is the cause of the manifest and open misery. It is impossible that a man so stricken should be otherwise than, for some unknown reason, the guilty victim of the righteous wrath of a just judge.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Job 5:3". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/job-5.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

I have seen the foolish taking root: but suddenly I cursed his habitation.
taking
27:8; Psalms 37:35,36; 73:3-9,18-20; 92:7; Jeremiah 12:1-3
cursed
Deuteronomy 27:15-26; Psalms 69:25; Acts 1:20
Reciprocal: 2 Chronicles 21:17 - carried away;  Job 8:16 - his branch;  Job 18:16 - shall his branch;  Job 19:3 - ye reproached;  Job 20:5 - the triumphing;  Job 21:8 - GeneralJob 21:27 - I know;  Proverbs 12:3 - shall not be established;  Proverbs 12:7 - wicked;  Proverbs 21:12 - wisely

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Job 5:3". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/job-5.html.

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

"Handfuls of Purpose"

For All Gleaners

"I have seen the foolish taking root."Job 5:3

This calls us to the curious sights in human life.—There are sights that are surprising, delightful, unexpected, overwhelming.—The sight which most puzzles the good man is that the foolish take root, and that the vicious should prosper.—A good man can make something of almost every other sight in the world, but this overwhelms him with dismay. It seems to be against the fitness of things; it seems to discourage all attempts at virtue; it seems to offer a premium to vice.—This was the difficulty of Asaph; he says his feet had well-nigh gone when he beheld the prosperity of the foolish and listened to the revels of the wicked, for there were no bands in their death, they had more than heart could wish, their eyes stood out with fatness.—This is not an enemy who is bearing witness against Providence, it is a good man who is setting down what he has seen as a simple matter of fact.—He would not have been so surprised if he had seen the foolish flaming for a moment like a rocket, making a dash of display which perished in its own action; nor would he have complained perhaps if the foolish had made an occasional success in life: the thing which troubled him was that he had seen the foolish taking root, as if they were going to abide on the earth and come to maturity of power.—We must not ignore the difficult facts of Providence, but we must not limit our view to facts as we see them, or as they lie upon the surface; though they may be all that we can see with our bodily eyes, yet we are to bring our religious reflection to bear upon the case. The world is old enough now to afford us a basis of reasoning and inference respecting all appearances, combinations, and phenomena generally.—The root-idea of the Christian religion is that God is against all wickedness, and that in the long run he will overwhelm it and bring it to its appropriate punishment.—Let us be well grounded in that fundamental principle.—If we could for a moment doubt the reality of that principle our whole faith would be gone.—We speak it reverently when we say that if God could cause any man to succeed simply because the man was wicked, his claim to human confidence would be destroyed.—Here, then, lies the great basis-principle, that the eternal God is against evil, and is pledged to the extinction of wickedness.—In view of this principle, what becomes of all apparent success and root-taking, and honour, and influence, and pomp? These things are but indications that the judgment will be of equal magnitude, and will come even more suddenly than the success is supposed to have come.—Meanwhile the difficulty is a great one, and there are circumstances under which men need all their deepest religious convictions to sustain them in the presence of providences which seem to be dead against the assertion and progress of truth and justice.—Sad is the case of heathen nations; sadder still is the condition of nations which are partially Christian, and which turn Christian civilisation itself into a means of extending their wickedness.—Sometimes we wonder how God can sit in the heavens and behold it all; we are troubled that he does not awake, so to speak, and come down in judgment that cannot be mistaken, and rectify relations that are thrown out of course.—Many a grief of this kind we have to hide in our own heart. Yet why should we hide our griefs in view of providences which we cannot understand? Let us go back to history. Let us be faithful to the interpretation of great breadths of human experience, and in all cases it will be seen that, however mysterious the process, God has in the end vindicated goodness and repelled from the throne of righteousness those who would overturn its pillars.—Man of God, take heart; the trial is no doubt hard; things have happened in one day which in human wisdom would have happened exactly in the other way, and we are dismayed, confounded, and put to silence, when we see how great is the grief of honest souls.—All we can do is to recur to history, to pray for the consolidation of our faith, for the increase of our spirit of patience and longsuffering: perhaps the longer God is in coming as a great light, the brighter will be the glory, the more blessed the vision, when it does arise to reward our weary waiting.

"He taketh the wise in their own craftiness."Job 5:13

No doubt there are men who call themselves wise who do not believe in God.—Let us not consider them all fools in any merely intellectual sense.—There is a craft which prides itself on its sagacity, depth, cleverness, agility, and boasts itself of the multitude of its resources.—God often gives such craft room enough for its own display: he allows it to come to maturity that he may abase it the more effectually.—God delights to throw down towers that were meant to reach unto heaven.—Call no man wise until his plans have been thoroughly matured and carried out; they may look well in outline, they may begin very energetically, they may seem to carry within themselves all the elements of success; but God allows the man to go so far, until he can make an example of him.—Where is the wickedness that has continued from age to age to prosper? Where is the counsel that has really thriven as against God? Where are the heathen opponents that have not been broken as with a rod of iron?—There is no cleverness that can stand against true wisdom.—The difference between cleverness and wisdom is a difference of depth and quality: they do not belong to the same lineage or line of things; the one is superficial, sparkling, dashing, claiming attention by its loud boastfulness, a sight to be gaped at and wondered about and forgotten; but wisdom is profound, far-reaching, calm, taking in a great range of view, moving by a long line, and justifying itself in the end by revelations which never came within the purview of mere intellectual cleverness.—The cleverness of the world has never discovered any cure for the world"s deepest diseases.—We have had reforms enough, guesses, hypotheses, theories, speculations; but it never lay within the scope of mere cleverness to find a redemption that would meet all the necessities of sin and soothe all the accusations and agonies of conscience.—The world by wisdom knew not God.—The world by cleverness never invented a world-wide gospel, an all-time evangelisation; it lay with God alone to reveal a plan by which all human calculations were upset, all human cleverness abashed, and eternity accommodated to the narrow limits of time, and all heaven brought to supply what the earth needed in its supremest distresses.—Let us beware of cleverness everywhere; there is nothing in it. Let us rather seek for Wisdom of Solomon, and cry for understanding; searching diligently for that which is more precious than silver and gold, and with which rabies are not to be compared.—The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, nor can it stand in the day of final judgment.—We are of yesterday, and know nothing; we see only parts and aspects of things: how, then, can we provide for a whole world, and for all the exigencies of time?

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Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 5:3". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jpb/job-5.html. 1885-95.