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Job 13:1 Lo, mine eye hath seen all [this], mine ear hath heard and understood it.
Ver. 1. Lo, mine eye hath seen all this ] sc. All those effects of God’s providence, declared in the former chapter. I have not discoursed about God’s powerful and wise dispensation by rote, or without book; I have not blurted out what I believe not, or am not able to prove, as you have accused me; I have spoken both that which I have seen (and what is more sure than sight?) and that which I have heard and received from our ancestors and doctors (to whom you have frequently referred me, for better information). Mine ear, that sense of discipline, by which not learning only, but life also, entereth, Isaiah 55:3 , hath heard it, and understood it too; which he addeth for further assurance. Job was a weighing hearer, as Mr Bradshaw was called the weighing divine (Mr Clark, in his Life). Let us learn by his example heedfully to observe God’s works, laying up experiences, and diligently to listen and learn the things that are taught us, or written for us by others, that we may grow to a right and ripe understanding of divine truths, and be able confidently to commend the same to others, as being upon sure grounds. See Matthew 13:51-52 .
Job 13:2 What ye know, [the same] do I know also: I [am] not inferior unto you.
Ver. 2. What ye know, the same do I know also ] Heb. According to your knowledge I also know. This may seem an unseemly boast; which, if his friends had taxed him for, he might have answered, as Paul did in a like case, Ye have compelled me, 2 Corinthians 11:5 . The rule is, "Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves," Philippians 2:3 . Non est tamen prodenda Dei veritas, aut integritas nostra, &c., Nevertheless, no man ought to betray the truth, or his own integrity, lest he should be counted contentious (Merlin in loc.). See Job 12:3 , where we have the same in effect as here; whence some do gather that Job’s friends had a very high opinion of their own knowledge, and a very low one of Job’s. He that is thus proud of his knowledge, the devil careth not how much he knoweth.
Job 13:3 Surely I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God.
Ver. 3. Surely I would speak to the Almighty ] It were far better for me to speak to God than to you, and much fairer dealing from him I might expect. "A God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he," Deuteronomy 32:4 ; but ye are forgers of lies, and ye load me with false accusations, depraving my speeches, as thou, Zophar, especially hast done, wishing withal that God himself would speak with me face to face; which, if it should come to pass, thou saidst my misery and affliction would be redoubled. But oh that I might commune with the Almighty! surely and seriously I would rather do it than with you, my friends; and should hope so to defend mine innocence against your slanderous accusations; yea, to maintain God’s justice against you, in the presence and judgment of God himself. Oh the confidence of a good conscience! see it in Abimelech, Genesis 20:5 , but much more in David, Psalms 7:8 ; Psalms 7:4 ; Psalms 139:23-24 ; Jeremiah 12:1 ; in every strong believer, 1 Peter 3:21 ; those that walk uprightly, and speak uprightly, Isaiah 33:15 . Not so every ungirt Christian or profligate professor, Job 13:14 . The sinners in Sion are afraid, fearfulness surpriseth the hypocrites, &c., but good Job was none such; and God knew it to be so; what if to the wicked he be a devouring fire? yet to those that fear his name he is a reviving sun, Malachi 4:1-2 . And upright Job feareth not to reason with him. Upon the same ground John Huss, and other martyrs, cited their persecutors to answer them by such a time before God’s tribunal.
And I desire to reason with God ] If he please ( Si voluerit ). So the Septuagint adds, and makes out Job’s meaning; as if he had used the like modesty and humility as Nehemiah, and after him Esther, did in their suits unto the king of Persia, when they said, If it seem good to the king, and if I have found favour in his sight, Neh 2:5 Esther 5:4 . Others think that Job here desireth to plead with God as with a party that had dealt too hardly with him, &c.; that he challengeth God into the schools, as it were, there to crack an argument with him, and by reason to reduce him to milder dealing. And, indeed, the Hebrew word here used signifieth to dispute or argue, and from it the Rabbis call logic the art of arguing. This boldness is that, say our large annotations, which both Elihu and God blame Job for in the end of the Book, though neither of them condemn him for a hypocrite; and that shows that Job did speak amiss of God in his passion, and is not altogether to be excused; much less in everything to be commended.
Job 13:4 But ye [are] forgers of lies, ye [are] all physicians of no value.
Ver. 4. But ye are forgers of lies ] i.e. Ye create false maxims to judge me by; ye gather up without any order, and to no purpose, whatsoever cometh in your way to strengthen and maintain your false accusation against me. You are not only cencinnatores, forgers, but compactors, botchers, such as, by sewing one lie to another, do patch up a false and frivolous discourse, Mendacia mendaciis assuitis. So David, Psalms 119:69 , The proud have forged (or pieced together, made it up as of many shreds) a lie against me. David saith of hypocrites, that their tongue frameth deceit, Psalms 50:19 ; and of Doeg, that his tongue devised mischief, like a sharp razor, doing deceit, Psalms 52:2 . Jeremiah saith of his countrymen, that they had taught their tongues to speak lies, and were grown artists at it, Jeremiah 9:5 ; yea, that they had taken fast hold of deceit, and could not be got off without striving, Jeremiah 8:5 . But these countrymen of Job were none such, for God said, "Surely they are my people, children that will not lie," Isaiah 63:8 . And although every man be a liar, either by imposture or by impotence; yet it must be understood that these good men aimed at truth, and intended not to deceive Job, but to undeceive him rather. They maintained errors, but unwittingly; they charged him also (but unjustly) with hypocrisy. Hence this so severe a high charge, Ye are forgers of lies, such as our ruffians would revenge with a stab. But we must know, saith Merlin, that in those better times it was not so harsh a business in a serious disputation to call that a lie which was safely alleged by an adversary as today it is in this corrupt age of ours, wherein the greatest liars, though taken in the manner, yet take it extremely ill to be told of their fault. Besides, in the defence of God’s cause, and the labouring truth, plain-dealing, even with our best friends, is best; so that the apostle’s rule, Ephesians 4:31 , be observed, "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice."
Ye are all physicians of no value ] Because you go to work upon wrong principles, and mistakenly ministered. Physicians he acknowledgeth them, and that they came with a good intent to comfort him; but, for lack of skill, instead of curing, they had well nigh killed him, because they judged amiss of his disease, and used corrosives instead of cordials. By the way, observe that God’s word is not only the food, but the medicine of the soul, and may far more fitly be so called than the library of Alexandria was of old: for as the diseases of the body are healed by medicine seasonably and rightly used, so are the distempers of the soul by Scriptural consolations; neither shall we ever have cause to complain of them, as Cicero did of philosophical comforts, Nescio quomodo, &c., I know not how it cometh to pass, but this I find, that the disease is too hard for the medicine; or as the Romans did of Sulla’s bloody government, that the remedy was worse than the malady. "How forcible are right words!" said Job, Job 6:25 . And fair words, as physicians, cure the mind distempered with passion, saith the poet, Oργης νοσουσης εισιν ιατροι λογοι (Aeschyl.). Once, when Luther was in a great heat about something that had crossed him, Melancthon pacified him by repeating this verse,
Vince animos, iramque tuam, qui caetera vincis.
But Job’s friends, as they were botchers of lies, so they were bunglers at healing him; they did, saith Lavater, as a surgeon who applieth a plaister to the hand of him whose grief is in his foot; or as that country mountebank in France, who was wont to give in writing to his patients for curing all diseases (Becan. sum. Theol., part 1, cap. 16),
Si vis curari de morbo nescio quali,
Accipias herbam, sed qualem nescio, nec quam:
Ponas neseio quo, curabere nescio quando.
These verses are rendered in English by one in the following way:
Your sore I know not what, do not foreslow
To cure with herbs, which whence I do not know:
Place them (well pounced) I know not where, and then
You shall be perfect whole, I know not when.
Such ουτιδανοι , nullities in the world, such no physicians, such idols, such extreme nothingnesses, good for nothing (as that rotten girdle in Jeremiah, Jeremiah 13:7 , those vine branches in Ezekiel 15:6-7 , that idol in St Paul, 1Co 8:4 ), were Job’s friends to him, miserable comforters, Job 16:2 , adding to his affliction instead of easing it, and pushing at him as the whole herd of deer doth at that one that is wounded.
Job 13:5 O that ye would altogether hold your peace! and it should be your wisdom.
Ver. 5. O that you would altogether hold your peace ] Heb. In being silent, would be silent: q.d. I thought much of your seven days’ silence, Job 2:13 , and now I am no less troubled at your speeches. Oh that you had either continued your silence, or else would frame to say something better than silence: for hitherto ye have spoken much, but said little. I could heartily wish, therefore, that you would now stop your mouths, and open your ears, as Job 13:6 , that you would be as mute as fishes, since I can hear nothing from you but what speaks you to be mere mutes, ciphers, nullities’ as Job 13:4 .
And it should be your wisdom ] For "even a fool when he holdeth his peace is counted wise; and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding," Proverbs 17:28 .
Pας τις απαιδευτος φρονιμωτατος εστι σιωπων .
As when the door is shut it cannot be seen what is within the house; so the mouth, being shut by silence, the folly that is within lieth undiscovered; and as in glasses and vessels, so in men, the sound which they make showeth whether they be cracked or sound. An ass is known by his ears (saith the Dutch proverb), and so is a fool by his talk. As a bird is known by his note, and a bell by his clapper, so is a man by his discourse. Plutarch tells us, that Megabysus, a nobleman of Persia, coming into Apelles’, the painter’s, workshop, took upon him to speak something there concerning the art of painting and limning, but he did it so absurdly, that the apprentices jeered him, and the master could not bear with him (Plut. de Tranq.).
Job 13:6 Hear now my reasoning, and hearken to the pleadings of my lips.
Ver. 6. Hear now my reasoning, &c. ] Or, hear, I pray you. Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; suffer the word of exhortation and of reprehension; sharp though it be, and to the flesh irksome, yet suffer it, since it is for your good. Quintilian testifieth of Vespasian, that he was patientissimus veri, one that could well endure to be told the truth; but there are few Vespasians. Many people are like the nettle: touch it never so gently, it will sting you.
And hearken to the pleadings of my lips ] Heb. The contention of my lips. See that you not only hear, but hearken to it with attention of body, intention of mind, and retention of memory: neither God nor man can bear it, to speak, and not be heard. "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh," &c., Hebrews 12:25 . See that ye slight not, shift not off Christ speaking to you in his ministers and messengers; for if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven.
Job 13:7 Will ye speak wickedly for God? and talk deceitfully for him?
Ver. 7. Will ye speak wickedly for God? ] Ought ye to defend God’s justice by unjustly accusing me? Or must ye needs so free him from injustice, that ye must charge me with hypocrisy? Job had before called them physicians of no value; here he compareth them to lawyers of no conscience, that care not what they plead, so they may carry the cause of their client. But the Lord needeth no such advocates; he so loveth truth, that he will not borrow patronage to his cause from falsehood; he so hateth flattery (though it be of himself) that he hath threatened to cut off all flattering lips, Psalms 12:3 ; and would one day say as much to Job’s friends, notwithstanding their pretended zeal for his glory, as once Alexander the Great did to Aristobulus the historian, who presented him with a flattering piece concerning his own worthy acts, which he extolled above measure; he cast the book into the river Hydaspes, and told the author he could find in his heart to cast him after it.
And talk deceitfully for him? ] To talk for God is our duty; it is to make our tongue our glory; but to talk deceitfully for him, to seek to hold his truth by our lie (the Vulgate here hath it, needeth God your lie?), that is altogether unlawful; for shall we do evil that good may come thereof? God forbid, Romans 3:8 . And yet the Papists do so familiarly, and think they therein do God good service; as when they deny his provident hand in ordering the disorders of the world to his own glory, lest they should make him the author of sin; so they think to defend his justice by teaching predestination according to foreseen works, by ascribing to man free will, righteousness of works, merit, &c. So their doctrine of equivocation for the relief of persecuted Catholics, their piae fraudes (as they call them), their holy hypocrisy to draw infidels to the embracing of the faith, and to the love of virtue; their lying legends, made, say they, for good intention, that the common people might with greater zeal serve God and his saints; and especially, to draw the women to good order, being by nature facile and credulous, addicted to novelties and miracles (Spec. Hist. lib. 29).
Job 13:8 Will ye accept his person? will ye contend for God?
Ver. 8. Will ye accept his person? ] While you think to gratify him, and to ingratiate with him by oppressing me? Can you find no other way of justifying God’s proceedings than by condemning me for wicked, because by him so afflicted? The truth is, these friends of Job, out of a perverse zeal of advancing God’s righteousness, unrighteously suspected poor Job of wickedness, and so rejected his person to accept God’s. See the like done Isa 66:5 Jer 50:7 John 16:2 . O sancta simplicitas! said John Huss, when, at the stake, he observed a plain country fellow busier than the rest in fetching faggots to burn the heretics.
Will ye contend for God? ] Why not? Good blood will not belie itself; the love of God constraineth his people to stand to him and to stickle for him; Non amat, qui non zelat, saith a Father. But then it must be a zeal according to knowledge; for else it will appear to be but base and reprobate metal, such as though it seemeth to be all for God, yet it never received the image and impress of God’s Holy Spirit, and therefore is not current in heaven. But that I believe and know (said that fiery friar, Brusierd, in a conference with Bilney) that God and all his saints, whom thou hast so greatly dishonoured, will take revenge everlastingly on thee, I would surely with these nails of mine be thy death (Acts and Mon. 914). Another friar, preaching at Antwerp, wished that Luther were there, that he might bite out his throat with his teeth, and with the same teeth receive the Eucharist by Luther so dishonoured (Erasm. Epist. lib. 16).
Job 13:9 Is it good that he should search you out? or as one man mocketh another, do ye [so] mock him?
Ver. 9. Is it good that he should search you out &c. ] q.d. Could you have any joy from such a search? Will not all your warpings and partialities, your colloguing and sinisterity, be laid open to your loss and shame? Will not God reprove instead of approving you in that which ye have said for him, but all against me? The time will come when God will surely search out all controversies, that they all may be ashamed who, under a pretext of religion and right, have spoken false things, and subverted the faith of some. See 1 Corinthians 3:17 .
Or as one man mocketh another, do ye so mock him? ] Be not deceived; God is not mocked, deluded, beguiled, as clients are by their corrupt lawyers; as patients are by their cogging quack healers. Sorry man may be mocked, and made to believe lies, as 2Sa 15:11 Act 8:9-10 Revelation 13:3 : all the world wondered after the beast. Judges, and other wise men, are shamefully out in other ways deceiving, and being deceived. Not so the all wise God. They that would mock him, imposturam faciunt et patiuntur, as the emperor said of him that sold glass for pearls, they deceive not God, but themselves. Neither may their conceit that their good intentions will bear them out (as Merlin here noteth) any more than it did these contenders for God, who little thought of mocking him. A bad aim maketh a good action bad, as we see in Jehu; but a good aim maketh not a bad action good, as we see in Uzzah, and here.
Job 13:10 He will surely reprove you, if ye do secretly accept persons.
Ver. 10. He will surely reprove you ] That is all the thank you are like to have from God; your work in pleading for him so stoutly, though it be materially good, yet it will never prove so formally and eventually, because you so confidently determine things you do not understand, but only by a light conjecture. You do secretly, that is, cunningly and deceitfully, accept persons, that is, God’s own person, while ye wrong me for his sake, and under a pretence of doing him right, condemn me for a wicked hypocrite, whom till thus afflicted, you ever counted honest and upright. This the righteous judge, who loveth judgment, and hateth robbery for a burnt offering, Isaiah 61:8 , will at no hand endure. No, but he will certainly reprove you, arguendo arguet, he will surely and severely blame and punish you. Carry it never so cleanly, cover it so closely, God, who seeth in secret, will reprove you openly; that is, he will chide you, smite you, curse you for it (if repentance interpose not to take up the matter), he will so set it on, as no creature shall be able to take it off. Men reprove offenders sometimes slightly and overtly, deest ignis, as Latimer said, whereby they do more harm than good; for their reproofs are rather soothings than reprovings, Personatae reprehensione sfrigent (Junius). Such was that of Eli to his sons, 1 Samuel 2:23 . Such also was that of Jehoshaphat to wicked Ahab, "Let not the king say so," 1 Kings 22:8 . But when God took those same men to do, he handled them after another manner: he gives it them both by words and blows, till both their ears tingled, till their hearts ached, and quaked within them; so fearful a thing it is to fall into the punishing hands of the living God. Let all those look to it, especially that are in place of judicature, Psalms 82:1-3 . Let them hear causes without prejudicate impiety, judiciously examine them without sinister obliquity, and sincerely judge them without unjust partiality, remembering that Acceptatio personarum est iudiciorum pestis, partiality is the pest of justice.
Job 13:11 Shall not his excellency make you afraid? and his dread fall upon you?
Ver. 11. Shall not his excellency make you afraid? ] Heb. His highness, his majesty, his surpassing sublimity and transcendent glory; shall not this frighten you, and rein you in from wrongly dealing and warping? "Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain," Jeremiah 10:7 . And, "Fear ye not me? saith the Lord: will ye not tremble at my presence?" Jeremiah 5:22 . If an earthly king be so dread a sovereign; if the glory of angels hath so terrified the best saints on earth, that they could hardly outlive such an apparition; what shall we think of the great and terrible God, as he is called, Nehemiah 1:5 , the first motion of whose anger shall put men into disorder, and the brightness of his offended majesty strike your spirits with astonishment? It is reported of Augustus, the emperor, and likewise of Tamerlane, that warlike Scythian, that in their eyes sate such a rare majesty, as a man could hardly endure to behold them without closing his own; and many in talking with them, and often beholding them, have become dumb (Turk. Hist. 236, 415). Now the Lord of glory as far outshineth any mortal wight as the sun in his strength doth a clod of clay; and this made Job cry out, Job 9:34 , "Let not his fear terrify me." Be not thou a terror to me, O Lord, saith holy Jeremiah, Jeremiah 17:17 ; and, The Lord most high is terrible, saith David, Psalms 47:2 . Most high he is, and therefore terrible.
And his dread fall upon you? ] Some read the whole verse thus: Shall not this acceptation of him make you afraid, seeing his dread will fall upon you? q.d. Let the sense of your sin and the fear of his wrath, ready to seize upon you, deter you from passing an unrighteous sentence, and from harbouring such low conceits of God.
Job 13:12 Your remembrances [are] like unto ashes, your bodies to bodies of clay.
Ver. 12. Your remembrances are like unto ashes, &c. ] Mr Beza readeth the whole verse thus: Your speeches are the words of ashes, and your stately bulwarks are but bulwarks of clay. And thus he paraphraseth: For these things which you allege as matters gathered by long observations, and which you thunder out against me as if they were most certain and grounded axioms, are indeed no more sound and substantial than ashes; and those your high forts, as it were, and turrets, out of which you assail me, are made but of dirt and mire. Others, by "your remembrances," understand with Mercer, quicquid in vobis memorabile est, whatsoever it is for the which you are so often remembered and mentioned by others, as your wealth, dignity, power, splendour, name, and fame, yea, your very life, is nothing else but ashes, and all shall return to ashes, and come to nought, according to that of Abraham, I am but dust and ashes, Genesis 18:27 ; such an infinite distance there is between God’s unconceiveable highness and your extreme meanness, or rather, utter nothingness.
Your bodies to bodies of clay ] i.e. To images made of clay or earth; or, that which is highest in you, even your best enjoyments, your chiefest eminences, or greatest elevations, are like to a lump of clay, terrae quam terimus, terrae quam gerimus. See Job 4:19 . See Trapp on " Job 4:19 "
Job 13:13 Hold your peace, let me alone, that I may speak, and let come on me what [will].
Ver. 13. Hold your peace, let me alone, &c. ] This he had requested of them before, Job 13:5 , and now having nipped them on the crown by these rebating arguments, he calls upon them again for silence and audience; which he now requesteth not, but requireth; and the rather, haply, because they began to take him off, as fearing lest by his unadvised expressions he should provoke the Lord to lay yet more load upon him. Wherefore he addeth,
And let come on me what will ] That is, at my peril be it, take you no thought; let all the trouble that may ensue be on my score, I will be accountable for it to God, who, I hope, will be more favourable to me than you: Interim non sine stomacho hoc dicit, saith Mercer; This Job speaketh not without some heat, yet not as one desperate; but rather resolute; for he feared no hurt from God.
Job 13:14 Wherefore do I take my flesh in my teeth, and put my life in mine hand?
Ver. 14. Wherefore do I take my flesh in my teeth? ] q.d. Do ye think, O my friends, that I am in a fit of spiritual frenzy, and so far out of my wits, that tearing, as it were, my flesh with mine own hands, I mean to sue any cruelty towards myself, and willingly to betray mine own life? (Vatab.) Non sum ira crudelis, ut totus perdi velim, I am not yet so cruel to myself (whatever you may gather by my complaints and outcries) as utterly to cast away my confidence and all care of my life and soul. See 1 Samuel 19:5 . To despair in part and for a time may befall a godly man. See Mr Perkins’s discourse of Spiritual Desertion, where he remembereth that Luther lay (after his conversion) three days in desperation. And the like is recorded of Mr Robert Bolton. Aliqui suspicantur Iobum respondentem, &c. (Pineda). But of any good man that destroyed himself we read not. David’s life was in his hand continually (and he in daily danger of losing it), yet have I not forgotten thy law, saith he, Psalms 119:109 , which flatly forbiddeth all the degrees of suicide, as the worst sort. That Satan tempted Job to this sin some do probably collect from this text. A man is to expect, if he live but his days, saith a reverend casuist, A theologian (or other person) who studies and resolves cases of conscience or doubtful questions regarding duty and conduct to be urged to all sins, to the breach of every branch of the ten commandments, and to be put to it in respect of every article of our creed.
Job 13:15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.
Ver. 15. Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him ] Though he should multiply my miseries, and lay stroke after stroke upon me, till he had dashed the very breath out of my body, yet he shall not be so rid of me, for I will hang on still; and if I must needs die, I will die at his feet, and in the midst of death expect a better life from him. Dam expiro spero, shall be my motto. "The righteous hath hope in his death," Proverbs 14:32 ; yea, his hope is most lively when himself lieth a dying, superest sperare salutem. "My flesh and my heart faileth," saith he; "but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever," Psalms 73:26 . True faith in a danger (as the blood) gets to the heart, John 14:1 , and if itself be in good heart it will believe in an angry God, as Isaiah 63:15-16 (the Church there thought she should know him amidst all his austerities); yea, in a killing God, as here; yea (as a man may say with reverence), whether God will or no, as that woman of Canaan, Matt. xv., who would not be damped or discouraged with Christ’s either silence or sad answers; and therefore had what she came for, besides a high commendation of her heroic faith.
But (or nevertheless) I will maintain mine own ways before him] We have had the triumph of Job’s trust, here we have the grounds for it, viz. his uprightness, the testimony of his conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity he had his conversation in the world, 2 Corinthians 2:12 . This was his cordial, without which grief would have broken his heart, Psalms 69:20 ; this was his confidence, even the clearness of his conscience, 1 John 3:21 . Uprightness hath boldness; and that man who walks uprightly before God may trust perfectly in God. Job was either innocent or penitent; he would therefore either maintain his ways before God, and come to the light, that his deeds might be manifest, that they were wrought in God, John 3:21 , Quem poenitet peccasse pene est innocens (Sen. Again.), or else he would reprove and correct his ways (so the Hebrew word signifieth also), that is, he would confess and forsake his sins, and so be sure to have mercy, according to that soul satisfying promise, Proverbs 28:13 .
Job 13:16 He also [shall be] my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him.
Ver. 16. He also shall be my salvation ] So long as I judge myself God will not judge me, 1 Corinthians 11:32 ; nay, he will surely save me: for God will save the humble person, Job 22:29 . What is humiliation but humility exercised? (Merlin in loc.) Non est igitur inanis electorum fides res evanida nec infirma, saith an interpreter here; Therefore the faith of God’s elect is no empty or vain thing, but a light shining from the Spirit of God, and such as overcometh the very darkness of death. It is a sure testimony of God’s good will toward us, and an infallible persuasion of our salvation, such as slighteth the world’s false censures, overcometh temptations of all sorts, laugheth at death, and through the thickest darkness of affliction beholdeth the pleased face of God in Christ, through whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him, Ephesians 2:12 .
For an hypocrite shall not come before him ] No, that is a privilege proper to the communion of saints; therefore I am no hypocrite, as you have charged me to be, Job 4:6 ; Job 8:13 ; for I dare both offer to maintain my ways before him to be upright for the main, and I doubt not but he will be my salvation, and that I shall appear before him in heaven: this no hypocrite shall ever do. Coram Deo dolus non ingreditur. How should he (say), when as he is an unclean wretch, as the Hebrew word signifieth; flagitious (so Vatablus rendereth it); a flagitious, impious person, a very fraud (so the Septuagint); a fair professor indeed, but a foul sinner, moiled all over, and even buried in a bog of wickedness. He is a wicked man in a godly man’s clothes, saith one. He doth but assume religion, saith another, as the devils do dead bodies without a soul to animate them. He is like the painted grapes that deceived the living birds; or the golden apples with this motto, No further than colours; touch them, and they vanish. He knows that he is naught, and that God knows it too; how then should he approach him, or appear before his throne? No, he dare not, for the very show of his face doth testify against him, as the prophet speaks in another case; or if he do, he shall not be able to subsist there, Psalms 5:5 ; he shall not stand in judgment, Psalms 1:5 , but shall run away with these or the like words in his mouth, "Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" Isaiah 33:14 . "Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hands of this mighty God?" 1 Samuel 4:8 . None, for he shall surely assign you a part with the devil and hypocrites, Matthew 24:51 ; when as the righteous shall give thanks unto God’s name, and the upright only shall dwell in his presence, Psalms 140:13 .
Job 13:17 Hear diligently my speech, and my declaration with your ears.
Ver. 17. Hear diligently my speech ] Heb. Hearing hear, that is, incline your ears and hear, as Isaiah 55:3 . Mark and attend; hear me not only, but heed me too; interrupt me not, neither give me the slip, as it may seem they were ready to do, when they heard him profess such a deal of faith and hope under so many and heavy afflictions; wherein they thought that either he was beside himself, or, at least, beside the cushion, as we say, and utterly out. See Job 13:6 , and observe, that it is but needful often to stir up our auditors to attention. Job makes more prefaces than one to be heard; so do the prophets often. Hear the word of the Lord, hear and give ear, be not proud, for the Lord hath spoken it. So doth the arch prophet more than once, Revelation 2:7 ; Revelation 2:11 ; Revelation 2:17 ; Revelation 2:29 ; Revelation 3:6 ; Revelation 3:13 ; Rev 3:22 Matthew 13:9 , "Who hath ears to hear, let him hear." All Christ’s hearers had not ears; or if they had, yet they were stopped; or if open, yet the bore was not large enough. Oh pray that God would say unto us, Ephphatha, be opened, for a heavy ear is a singular judgment.
Job 13:18 Behold now, I have ordered [my] cause; I know that I shall be justified.
Ver. 18. Behold now, I have ordered my cause ] Heb. My judgment. He had spoken before of his declaration, which is conceived to be a term of law; for in law suits, the plaintiff putteth in a declaration of his grievance. Job had his declaration ready drawn, and craved audience; he asketh afterwards, Who will plead with me? and here in the like language he telleth us that he had ordered his cause, he had marshalled and methodized his arguments, he had set and stated the controversy. Lo, here I stand ready prepared to plead, and am confident I shall prevail.
I know that I shall be justified ] That is, I am persuaded, or, I am sure, as Romans 8:38 , I believe and I know, as John 6:69 , sc. with a fiducial knowledge, that I shall be justified, sc. from my sins, by Christ’s righteousness imputed (yea, that I am so already, and that for ever; for peccata non redeunt, discharges in justification are not repealed or called in again), and that I shall depart from God’s bar acquitted in this particular controversy. And so he did; for God justified Job, and reproved his three friends, Job 42:7-8
Job 13:19 Who [is] he [that] will plead with me? for now, if I hold my tongue, I shall give up the ghost.
Ver. 19. Who is he that will plead with me? ] Of my justification in both respects I am so confident, that I dare encounter any that shall deny it. Who is he, and where is he, that shall lay anything to my charge, since it is God that justifieth? Romans 8:33 . Having ordered my cause, and cleared my conscience by confession and judging myself, and now being justified by faith, I can cast down the gauntlet to all comers, and, Goliath like, call for an opposite to grapple with; in the name of the Lord of hosts I will undertake him, and am sure to come off more than a conqueror, even a triumph, 2 Corinthians 2:14 , there being not any one "condemnation" (neither from God, nor the devil, from the law, sin, or death) "to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit," as Job did, Romans 8:1 ; Romans 8:33 . Here he challengeth all the world, saith Gregory, if they could, to accuse him for anything outwardly done amiss by him. And herein if none could tax him, there, was nothing but evil cogitations in his heart, of which he could be guilty; but for these, from which none can be free, he held not his peace, but spake and complained internally hereof to God by reproving his own ways; and if he should have been silent, and not speak hereof, and bewail them, he should die and perish; for so he readeth the following words, according to the Vulgate translation.
For now, if I hold my tongue, I shall give up the ghost ] Vulgate Wherefore being silent, I am consumed. Broughton, If now I speak not, I should starve. The Hebrew is, For now I shall be silent and die, q.d. My passion must have a vent, or else it will make an end of me, as Job 7:11 ; so tormented I am with these aspersions of my friends, that I know not how to live unless I may wipe them off; or, at least, unless I pour out my soul into God’s blessed bosom.
Job 13:20 Only do not two [things] unto me: then will I not hide myself from thee.
Ver. 20. Only do not two things unto me ] Accord me only two conditions, and then I will not fly the combat. He knew he might have anything from God that was fit and lawful to be asked. When poor men make requests to princes they usually answer them as the echo doth the voice, the answer cuts off half the petition; and if they beg two boons at once, they may be glad that they get one. But God dealeth by his servants and suppliants not only as the prophet did by the Shunammite (when he bade her ask what she needed, and promised her a son, which she most desired, and yet through modesty asked not, 2Ki 4:16 ), but also as Naaman did by Gehazi, when, asking one talent, he forced him to take two. This Job well knew, and, therefore, he beggeth two things at once; but better he had begged that one thing necessary, patience; or, if two, the best use of his present sufferings. As we read of one good man, that, lying under great torments of a gall stone, he would often cry out while his friends melted with compassion towards him, The use, Lord, the use; and of Mr William Perkins, that, when he lay in his last and killing torment of the gall stone, hearing the bystanders pray for a mitigation of his pain, he willed them not to pray for an ease of his complaint, but for an increase of his patience (Mr Leigh’s Saints’ Encouragement, &c., p. 164; Dr Hall’s Rem. of Profaneness, p. 143): thus if Job had done, he had done better; but by what he doth here we may easily gather that he expected no freedom from his misery but from God alone; and that he was wont familiarly to impart to God all the thoughts and actings of his heart; and, lastly, that he acknowledged him to be a most righteous Judge, who would not deal with his people upon unequal conditions, but give them a fair trial.
Then will I not hide myself from thee ] i.e. I shall have no cause, either through fear or shame, to hide myself. It is not safe for a man to indent with God, and make a bargain with him; for so one may have the thing he would have, but better be without it; as those workmen, Matthew 20:9-14 , who bargained for a penny a day, and yet when they had it, were no whit contented. Socrates thought it was not fit to ask of God any more than this, that he would bestow good things upon us; but what, and how much, to leave that to him, not being overly earnest, or presuming to prescribe aught. Sir Thomas Moore’s wife was mightily desirous of a boy (that was her word), and she had one that proved a fool; and, saith her husband, you were never quiet till you had a boy, and now you have one that will be all his life a boy. But what were those two things that Job was so earnest for?
Job 13:21 Withdraw thine hand far from me: and let not thy dread make me afraid.
Ver. 21. Withdraw thy hand from me, and let not, &c. ] Neither afflict me nor frighten me. See the same request, Job 9:34 , and granted by God, Job 38:3 ; Job 40:7 . They must be very sorry prayers indeed that God will not hear, if they come from honest hearts: Psalms 31:22 , "I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes: nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee." For the sense of this whole verse - See Trapp on " Job 9:34 "
And let not thy dread make me afraid ] Appear not unto me in thy majesty, but in thy mercy; come not upon me in such a terrific manner, as through astonishment at thy surpassing glory to kill me, for who can see thy face and live? Surely, as the sight of the eye is dazzled with the sun, or a crystal glass broken with the fire, so there is so much dread in the face of God that the best cannot behold it. Destruction from God was a terror to me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure, Job 31:23 .
Job 13:22 Then call thou, and I will answer: or let me speak, and answer thou me.
Ver. 22. Then call thou, and I will answer, &c. ] Here Job gives God his choice, offering to be either defendant or plaintiff, respondent or opponent: Hoc multum erat, saith Lavater. This was much, and indeed too much; for if God should enter into judgment with his best servants, no man living should be justified in his sight, Psalms 143:2 . The best may bear a part in that song of mercy, Asperge me, Domine, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me," &c., Psalms 51:7 . Job is confident of his innocence, and he might be for that particular wherewith his friends charged him, viz. that he was a hypocrite, but yet in defending himself, and charging God so highly, as he doth in this and the next chapter, he cannot be excused: what though he knew himself justified by Christ’s righteousness, imputed according to the covenant of grace; Omnino tamen semper est Iob immodicus, Yet altogether always Job is excessive, saith Mercer here; yet surely he passeth the bounds of moderation, and is overly bold in this offer of his, laying the reins in the neck of his passions, Fertur equis auriga, &c. Cajetan saith these words are arrogant and scandalous; and Eliphaz is supposed for this passage to tax Job as he did, Job 15:4 , "Yea, thou castest off fear."
Or let me speak, and answer thou me ] i.e. I will be plaintiff or opponent, I will be bold to say, it is not seemly to handle him as an enemy, who knows nothing by himself. If there be anything more than involuntary and unavoidable infirmity in me, show me what, and how many my sins are, that require so many and great punishments.
Job 13:23 How many [are] mine iniquities and sins? make me to know my transgression and my sin.
Ver. 23. How many are mine iniquities and sins? ] How many? too many to be reckoned: sin imputed to thee, sins inherent in thee, sins issuing from thee; commissions, omissions, failings in the manner of performance (for a good work may be marred in the doing, as many a garment is in the making, and many a tale in the telling); thy life is fuller of sins than the firmament is of stars or the furnace of sparks, besides thy birthblot and inward evils which might justly cause thy destruction, as a man may die of inward bleeding. When the house is well swept, and all rooms seem very clean, if the sun do but shine into it through the windows, the beams thereof discover an infinite number of motes in all places; so will it be with the best, if narrowly examined. Lesser sins, secret faults, are of daily, and almost hourly, incursion; yet we must be cleansed from them, Psalms 19:12 , or else vae hominum vitro quantumvis laudabili, saith one, Woe to the life of men, though praiseworthy, as the world judgeth. A pardon there is of course for such sins, and they do not usually distract and plunge the conscience; but yet that pardon must be sued out, and these sins must be disliked and bewailed.
Make me to know my transgression and my sin ] That particular sin that thou chiefly strikest at for every affliction hath a voice in it, Micah 6:9 , and saith to the sufferer, as those mariners did to Jonah, John 1:8 , What evil hast thou committed, or admitted? what good hast thou omitted, or intermitted? Up and search. Israel hath sinned: why liest thou upon thy face? as the Lord once said to Joshua, Joshua 7:10-11 : something surely there is amiss that God would have amended; it is, therefore, meet to be said unto him, "Make me to know my transgression and my sin," yea, the iniquity of my sin, the filthiness of my lewdness, all my transgressions in all my sins, as the phrase is, Leviticus 16:21 , that is, how many transgressions are wrapped up in my several sins and their circumstances. This either Job meant here, or else he was afterwards by Elihu tutored to it, Job 34:31-32 , "Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more: That which I see not teach thou me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no more."
Job 13:24 Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for thine enemy?
Ver. 24. Wherefore hidest thou thy face ] Who wast wont to shine upon me, Job 29:2-3 . He that hideth his face showeth that he neither pitieth nor purposeth to relieve. God seemed to look upon Job no otherwise than as under Satan’s cloak, said that martyr. But he hideth his love sometimes out of increasement of love, as Joseph did to his brethren; and is never so near us as when, with Mary Magdalene, we are so bleared with tears for his absence, that we cannot see him, though at hand. A child of light may walk in darkness, Isaiah 50:10 , which, when he doth, he must resolve, as Isaiah 8:17 , I will wait upon the Lord, who hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look tbr him: he must also in that dark condition cast anchor, as they did in the shipwreck, Acts 27:29-30 , and pray still for day, waiting till the day star arise in their hearts, and all clear up.
And holdest me for thine enemy? ] Which if God should have doue indeed, it would have been wide with Job, and far worse than ever yet it had been; for if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away? 1 Samuel 24:19 . I think not, unless it be for a greater mischief at another time. But Job was out when he judged himself hated of God, because afflicted, since he scourgeth every son whom he receiveth, Hebrews 12:5 . See my Love tokens, pp. 23, 54.
Job 13:25 Wilt thou break a leaf driven to and fro? and wilt thou pursue the dry stubble?
Ver. 25. Wilt thou break a leaf driven to and fro? &c. ] q.d. Egregiam vero laudem, Thinkest thou to get any honour by encountering and overturning me, who was at my best but as a leaf, or as stubble, weak and worthless; and am now, by reason of mine afflictions, but as a leaf blown off, and whirled up and down, Indignum est maiestate tua, ut misellum homuncionem, &c. (Jan.); or as stubble fully dried, which is soon scattered by the wind, Psalms 1:4 , or quickly burnt by the fire, Nahum 1:10 . David reasoneth in this manner with Saul, 1 Samuel 24:14 , "After whom is the king of Israel come forth? after whom dost thou pursue? After a dead dog, after a flea." A great purchase surely! a great victory!
- An gloria tanta est
Insidias homini supposuisse Deum? (Tibul.)
The truth is, God doth not afflict any man (whom he knows to be a thing of nothing) on purpose to try his strength, or to show his power; but either to exercise his justice upon the wicked, or to prove the faith of his people, and to promote their salvation.
Job 13:26 For thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth.
Ver. 26. For thou writest bitter things against me ] As it were by a judicial rescript thou decreest my doom; and accordingly thou inflictest hard and heavy things upon me, as is most elegantly described in the following verses by metaphor fetched from the course of courts, Humanitus dictum ex usu forensi (Jun.). Sin is an evil and a bitter thing, Jer 2:19 Hebrews 12:15 Acts 8:23 ; and hath bitter effects, Ruth 1:20 Exodus 1:14 . This made that holy man, Mr Paul Baine, say, The sweet ways of my youth did breed such worms in my soul, as that my heavenly Father will have me yet a little while continue my bitter worm seed, because they cannot otherwise be throughly killed. I thank God, saith he in another place, sustentation I have, but sweet spirituals I taste not any (Mr Clark in his Life). It is reported of this good man that, when he came first to Cambridge, his conversation was so irregular, that his father, being grieved at it, before his death left with a friend forty pounds by the year, desiring that his son might have it if he amended his manners, else not: he afterwards had it, as he well deserved, as proving a notable instrument of much good to many, and particularly to that Reverend Dr Sibbs, whom he converted; howbeit, in his last sickness he had many fears and doubts, and God letting Satan loose upon him, he went out of this world with far less comfort than many weaker Christians enjoy; his case being not unlike his who saith in the next words,
And makest me to possess (or to inherit) the iniquities of my youth] Which I took for pardoned long since (and so no doubt but they were); but Job’s affliction renewed the remembrance of them to his conscience, as it is the best art of memory. Satan also made him believe that now he was punished for the new and the old, as we say, and that God meant to make him answer for all the sins of his life at once, having watched a time to be revenged on him for all together. Youth is a slippery age, and soon slips into sin. There is great cause that a young man should cleanse his ways, Psalms 119:9 , where the word Nagnar, signifying a lad, or stripling, comes from a root signifying to shake off, or to be tossed to and fro. And the other word, rendered cleanse, signifieth to be clean as glass, which will soon gather a new dustiness. Such must cleanse their ways, by cleaving to the word; or otherwise, they may one day groan as much under the sins then committed as many do under the blows and bruises then received. See the former note.
Job 13:27 Thou puttest my feet also in the stocks, and lookest narrowly unto all my paths; thou settest a print upon the heels of my feet.
Ver. 27. Thou puttest my feet also in the stocks ] Mercer here observeth an elegant gradation in God’s proceeding with Job, as himself describeth it, rising higher and higher in his discourse. 1. God hid his face, and denied him his favour. 2. He counted him as his enemy. 3. He broke him like a leaf or stubble. 4. He wrote bitter things against him. 5. He made him possess the sins of his youth. 6. For his young sins he claps him up close prisoner now in his old age, and there keeps him as with a strict guard following him close at heels if he but stir a foot. Was there ever sorrow like unto Job’s sorrow? was ever greater severity and rigour showed upon any godly person? Where, then, shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? &c. God’s wrath is like Elijah’s cloud, little at first, as a man’s hand, but soon after very dismal and dreadful; or as thunder, of which we hear at first a little noise afar off, but soon after a terrible crack. Well might Moses say, "Who knoweth the power of thine anger?" Psalms 90:11 , Cavebis autem, si pavebis. You will beware if you will be frightened.
And lookest narrowly into all my paths ] He saith not ways, but paths. Gregory maketh this difference: ways are larger, paths narrower. God then is said to look into all men’s paths, when he looketh not only at the evil done by them, but at the intention of their mind, which is not so easily discerned but by him, the searcher of all hearts. And for that which followeth,
Thou settest a print upon the heels of my feet ] Gregory here observeth, that God looketh at the hurt done to others by examples given by men’s evil doings unto them, leaving a print upon the ground, as it were, whereby others follow them, and so their sin is in this regard made the greater; to which purpose some sense those words, Psalms 49:5 , "When the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about." Others make Job’s meaning here to be, Thou followest me with continual pursuit, as a prisoner that is dogged at heels by his keeper from place to place, lest he should escape. Thou followest me close, and upon the track, like a hunter, Job 10:16 . The footsteps of thy wrath (saith an interpreter) are seen upon the soles of my feet (so that from top to toe I have no free part), like as prisoners’ feet are oft swelled with the weight of their fetters.
Job 13:28 And he, as a rotten thing, consumeth, as a garment that is moth eaten.
Ver. 28. And he, as a rotten thing, consumeth ] Heb. Waxeth old. He, that is, this poor man, this silly wretch, as David speaketh of himself, Psalms 34:6 . Or this body of mine, as Job 19:26 ; Job pointing to it, as it is like he did there; and Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:53-54 . "As a rotten thing" (Heb. as rottenness), "consumeth." When a thing once rotteth, as an apple, flesh, &c., it soon perisheth. Such is man, under pressing afflictions especially.
And as a garment that is moth eaten ] The beauty whereof is defaced, and the usefulness departed.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 13". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19