Bible Commentaries
Job 31

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-40



Verses 1-40:

In this chapter Job contends that he deserved a better lot than he was receiving from these extended afflictions. While in chapter 29 he related his uprightness in administration as an emir, Sheik, or magistrate in public life, in this he defends his character in private life. He explains how he has guarded against being enticed by the allures to sin.

Verse 1 asserts that he made or cut a covenant with his eyes to avoid looking lustfully upon or carnally desiring a maid. In his soul he made a covenant (sacrifice covenant) with God to refrain from even looking lustfully upon a young woman, Proverbs 6:25; Matthew 5:28; 1 John 2:16.

Verse 2 asks what portion he might have expected from God on high, what blessing? If he had lived a lust-filled life? What inheritance might he have expected from God if he had lived wickedly? That he had yielded to flesh-lust wickedness, however, he protested, Job 20:29; Job 27:13. This is the answer to his question. He would have received Divine judgment.

Verse 3 is a rhetoric reply to v. 2. Destruction is due to the wicked one of lust, is it not? Exodus 20:14; Exodus 20:17. And severe, strange, or extraneous punishment is justly due to the workers of lawless deeds, is it not? Ecclesiastes 12:12; Galatians 6:7-8.

Verse 4 inquires, the Lord sees all my ways and observes all my steps, does he not? And had the Lord beheld him in lustful living then his affliction might justifiably be attributed to such sin, a thing he vowed was not true to him; Knowing God observes all, he certified he would have expected affliction had he committed lustful deeds; This he acknowledged, but denied any such guilt, Proverbs 5:21; Proverbs 15:3; Jeremiah 32:9.

Verses 5, 6 express Job’s desire to be relieved of suffering unless he is guilty of vanity or a deceit walk. He appeals to God that he may be weighed in the balances of justice, that God may know his integrity. His contention is that he has not lived a life of hypocrisy and falsehood as charged by his feigned friends, advisers, and accusers from afar, Psalms 12:2.

Verses 7, 8 Job calls for judgment to fall upon his head if his heart has coveted what his eyes have beheld and his steps have turned from righteousness, or any blot of sin has cleaved to his hands, such as Achan did, Joshua 7:21; Ecclesiastes 11:9. He asks that if he is guilty of sin of this nature, let him sow but let another live to reap it, and let his offspring, even family name be rooted or blotted out, Leviticus 26:16; Deuteronomy 28:30; Deuteronomy 28:38. See also Job 23:11; Jeremiah 5:5; Numbers 15:39; Matthew 5:29; Sin works through: 1) The eye 2) the heart, 3) the hand or body, Psalms 24:4.

Verses 9, 10 Job asks that if he has been deceived in heart by a woman, laid wait at this neighbor’s door till her husband was away for purpose of adultery, then let his wife be caused to grind unto another man; Leviticus 26:16; Amos 9:14; Psalms 128:2; Proverbs 7:8; Genesis 39:7-12. Let another bow down upon or subject her to himself as a concubine or a wife. It is an imprecatory appeal for the Lord to vindicate his innocence, 2 Samuel 12:11; Jeremiah 8:10.

Verses 11,12 add that such adultery is an heinous crime against ones fellowman, not just against his own conscience. He vowed that it was a lawless deed, to be punished by the judges, even before the law of Moses was given, Genesis 38:24; Leviticus 25:10; Deuteronomy 22:22; Deuteronomy 22:28.

Verse 12 affirms that such a sin as adultery consumed to destruction and would root out all his increase, Proverbs 6:27-35; Proverbs 7:6-23; Proverbs 7:26-27. No crime more provokes God to send destruction as a consuming fire; none so destroys the soul as this sin.

Verses 13, 14 relate Job’s denial that he had oppressed or harshly mistreated or failed to supply the needs of either his maidservants or his man servants when they contended with him. What then should he do when God would arise in anger, or what should he be able to say? But he contends he had not done hurt to his servants but cared for them in a humane way, Psalms 44:1; Job 24:12-16; Job 24:25.

Verse 15 rhetorically affirms that the same God who made him in the womb also made his servants (after His likeness) did He not? The answer is, He did, and to persecute the poor downtrodden, the afflicted, is to persecute God whose image they bear, Job 34:19; Proverbs 14:31; Proverbs 22:2; Malachi 3:10; Ezekiel 18:4; Acts 17:26; Ephesians 6:9.

Verses 16, 17 call imprecatory judgment upon Job (he calls for it) if he has held back food and clothes and shelter desired by his servants or had failed to meet the needs of the pleading eyes of the widow, Job 19:20. Or he adds also if he has eaten his morsel alone, to himself, and has not shared with the orphans about him; Arab rulers of hospitality required that the stranger be served first, and of the best, a thing Job vowed that he had done, James 1:27.

Verses 18, 19 is a continued affirmation that Job had cared for the orphans; they were brought up by and with him as if he were their father, and he had guided the widow by advice and protection, as a father, from his youth, Job 29:16; When he had seen any about to perish for want of food or clothing he had come to their relief, Job 29:13.

Verses 20, 21 is a further imprecatory call of Job for Divine judgment to fall upon him if he had not helped the needy. He states that these had been cared for, warmed by the fleece of his sheep, and the poor had in turn blessed him, thanked or praised him for covering their loins from nakedness, Deuteronomy 24:13. He calls further judgment upon his own head if he had ever lifted up his hand hurtfully to judge the poor or widows when they had been brought before him in tribunal at the gate, Job 22:9.

Verses 22, 23 continue a call to let his arm fall from his shoulder blade (be pulled from the socket) and his arm be broken from the bone above the elbow if he were not honest in his testimony, referring to Eliphaz’s charge, Job 22:9. For he feared the terror of God if he did wrong against the poor, the servants, the orphans, and the widows. By reason of the Lord’s majestic highness, he declared that guilt of wrong charged to him he had avoided from his youth, Isaiah 13:6; Joel 1:15.

Verses 24, 25 assert Job’s freedom from greed for or trust in money, as also one is forwarned today, 1 Timothy 6:17. Job here turns to his duty toward God as previously he spoke of performing his duty to himself and his neighbor. Transfer of affections, by covetousness, from the Creator to the created creatures is idolatry, abhorred by the Lord, Exodus 24:4; Colossians 3:5.

Verses 26 disavows Job’s devotion to or worship of either the sun or the moon, or the stars, as the Sabaen idolators did from roofs of buildings and high places, a form of idolatry, Ezekiel 8:16; Deuteronomy 4:19; Deuteronomy 2 Kg 23:5, 11; Jeremiah 8:2.

Verse 27 recounts also his denial that he had ever permitted his heart to be enticed toward idolatry; He had not joined the heathen in worshipping idols, or casting adoration upon them by kissing his hand and throwing the kiss toward any object of idolatry, a practice of that day, 1Kg 19:18; Hosea 13:2.

Verse 28 affirms that even at this pre-law time or era true people of God had strong feelings against idolatry. They felt strongly that idolatry deserved judicial punishment. For in worshipping idols one denies the true, living God who is above; To worship any idol is treason against the Supreme King, Deuteronomy 13:9; Deuteronomy 17:2-7; Ezekiel 8:14-18; See also Joshua 24:23; Joshua 24:27; Isaiah 42:8; Titus 1:16; 1 John 2:23.

Verses 29, 30 add that Job had not rejoiced at the destruction of judgment ruin of any who hated him, had no spirit of revenge in him, nor had he maliciously elated within himself over any triumph he had experienced over his enemies, as forewarned Proverbs 17:5; Proverbs 24:17; Psalms 7:4.

Verse 30 asserts that neither had he permitted his mouth to sin by wishing a curse to the soul of any who had done him wrong; The gospel spirit was the end of the law, that was given after Job, concerning this matter, Leviticus 19:18; Deuteronomy 23:6; Matthew 5:43-44; Romans 12:14.

Verses 31, 32 assert that even when Job’s household wanted to devour his enemies, or let them starve in their times of near starvation, Job did not have that attitude of revenge. He showed compassion and pity, like David toward Abishai; and even as our Lord, Luke 9:55-56.

Verse 32 relates that Job showed oriental hospitality by refusing to let strangers, wayfarers, and travelers lodge in the streets by night, but took them into the comfort of his own home, Genesis 19:2; Hebrews 13:2; 2 Samuel 12:4.

Verse 33 relates that Job vowed that he had not tried to hide his sins from God or man, as Adam did. Adam is representative of man’s tendency to conceal his sins from both God and his fellowman, Proverbs 28:13. In doing such one can not prosper.

Verses 34 asks if Job feared or was ill at ease in a multitude, or if he was terrified by families about him who knew him well? Did he keep silent, avoid the public at any time, staying inside his own doors or residence lest he should be exposed for some personal guilt? He did not, is the idea. He had a good conscience, was innocent of sins of which he had been accused by his feigned friends from afar, who knew the least about him, 2 Samuel 12:12. As an upright man Job patriotically appeared in public assemblies, without fear or shame.

Verse 35 is a lament or outcry from Job that one (God) would hear or heed him, Job 33:6. His desire was that the Almighty God in whom he trusted, would respond to his cry for relief of his afflictions, Job 13:22; Job 19:23. He further expresses a desire that his adversary (even the Lord) had written a book, a bill of clear indictments against him. He desired to know just why this affliction continually lay so heavy upon him, as if to justify the insinuating indictments made against him as a deceived, liar, and hypocrite by Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.

Verses 36, 37 recount Job’s vow that if such a book or bill of indictment were written against him, so that he could read and review them, he would take it upon his shoulder, as a public honor and bind it to him as a crown of distinction, not as a mark of guilt or shame, Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 62:3.

Verse 37 assures that he would declare, in the light of that book, all his ways, with a good conscience and dignity before God and men, Job 42:5-6; Hebrews 10:22.

Verse 38 pledges that if the land of proprietors of the land cried out against him, that he had stolen the land or the furrows, those who plowed the land, complained that he had done wickedly in not paying them for labors done, or fruit gathered then he would be wicked, concede guilt and wrong. But such could not be proved against him, see? Genesis 4:10; Habakkuk 2:12; Isaiah 5:8; James 5:4.

Verse 39 adds that if he had eaten the fruit of the land, of any land, without money, paying those who labored to furnish him the fruit, or if he had caused anyone to lose his life as a landowner or tenant, had harassed any so that he gave the land over to him, he conceded guilt and his affliction could be attributed to such. Yet, such was not the cause of his afflictions, Job 2:6-10; Judges 16:16.

Verse 40 prays imprecatory judgment upon Job if he were guilty of such sins. He asked that if the charges against him were true, thereafter thistles or brambles should grow on all his land instead of wheat, and cocle or noxious weeds instead of barley, Genesis 3:18; Then he concluded, "the words of Job are ended," meaning he would have nothing further to say to Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, or regarding their charges against him, cp. Paul’s defence, Acts 22, 23, 24, 25, before the Jewish multitude, Felix and Festus, and before King Agrippa, Acts 26:1-32; Deuteronomy 28:16-17.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Job 31". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. 1985.