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Job 32:1 So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he [was] righteous in his own eyes.
Ver. 1. So these three men ceased to answer Job ] They were as quiet as men are on a Sabbath, so the word importeth; they had tired themselves with talking, and now they were resolved to rest them, and the rather, because they judged there was little good to be done by aught that they should say; for Job was set.
Because he was righteous in his own eyes ] And so there was no more hope of a fool than of him. Pertinacious they held him and contentious, self-conceited and opinionated; which, indeed, was a right character of themselves, if they could have seen it. He was only constant to himself, and to the truth; whereof he showed himself a stout and resolute champion. Only, as every pomegranate hath some rotten kernels in it; so Job had his frailties, his outbursts, caused by extremity of pain and excess of passion; for the which these three did him wrong to give him up for deplored and desperate.
Job 32:2 Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God.
Ver. 2. Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu ] Or, Then burnt the nose of Elihu; a periphrasis of anger, which appeareth in the nose, eyes, and other parts of the body. Quis enim celaverit ignem? Who can hide fire? The Rabbis have a saying, that a man shows what he is becos, bechis, becagnas, by his purse, his cups, and his anger; which, if it be rash and unadvised, is a mortal sin, and not venial (as the Papists falsely infer from Mat 5:22 ), dispossessing a man of his wit and reason, and disfiguring his body with fieriness of the face, swelling of the veins, stammering of the tongue, gnashing of the teeth, and many other impotent and unmanly behaviours. Hence angry men were counselled, in the heat of their fit, to look themselves in a glass, where they may see themselves swollen like a toad, glowing like a devil, &c. But Elihu’s anger was not of this kind. A fire it was, but the flame of God, as holy zeal is called, Song of Solomon 8:6 , a most vehement flame (as it is there rendered) kindled upon the hearth of his heart by the spirit of judgment and of burning, Isaiah 4:4 , and such as many waters could not quench, for the zeal is the extreme heat of all the affections; and the coals thereof are coals of fire, Song of Solomon 8:6 , only we must see that it burns clear and quick, without all smoke of sin; wherein, though Elihu somewhat faulted, yet, because he was right for the main, all was well taken. We are apt to mingle sin with our best actions, and so to plough with an ox and an ass. But God considers whereof we are made, and graciously lays the finger of mercy on the scars of our sins, as that painter in the story.
Of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite ] Descended he was of good parents ( Fortes creantur fortibus, et bonis ) who gave him a good name, signifying, He is my God, or, My God is Jehovah; to remind him of his duty, whereunto we have need of all helps that may be. His father’s name, Barachel, signifieth, One whom God hath blessed; he hath blessed him indeed in so good a son, as could not but make him a glad father, Proverbs 10:1 . The Buzite he is called, either from his progenitor Buz, the son of Nahor, who was the brother of Abraham, and had by Milcah, Huz, his firstborn (of whom some think Job came), and Buz, his brother, Genesis 22:21 ; or else from his country, the city of Buz, a city of Idumea, Jeremiah 25:23 . Jerome will have this Elihu to be the same with Balaam, who, while young, was a prophet of God, and dealt thus divinely with Job, but afterwards, being corrupted by Balak, he became the devil’s boggyman. This I look upon as a Jewish tradition, not much to be credited. His pedigree is here more fully described, Ut certitudo historiae ostenderetur, saith Mercer, that we might not doubt the truth and certainty of the history so circumstanced; as also, because Elihu did better than the rest of Job’s friends, who proved no better than Satan’s instruments. How he came to make one among them we know not. It is conceived, that hearing about the going of the other three by consent to visit Job, he also went to hear their conferences, not doubting that he should thereby derive much benefit to his understanding. But failing in his expectation, and finding both parties incorrect in their discourses, he steps forth, and takes the boldness to interpose as an arbiter, or moderator, blaming both sides, and beginning, in the six following chapters, that determination of the difference between them, which God himself will afterwards finish. Meanwhile it is well observed by the learned Beza, that Elihu in blaming Job (as there was cause), doth for the most part interpret Job’s words far otherwise than he meant them; and moreover, that even in finding fault with those things that were justly to be found fault withal he kept not always that moderation that was meet; which is evident to godly men, and especially such as are of a more earnest nature and disposition; so hard a thing is it, even when we do well, not to offend on the one side or on the other. But if we consider how far Job, being thereto driven by the importunity of his accusers, and his most intolerable calamity, did range out of the right way, and how we are all given, even to the uttermost, to defend and maintain our credit and estimation, especially when we are therein touched by those men who ought, least of all others, to have done the same; we shall confess that it was very requisite and necessary for Job rather to be censured in this sharp manner, as he was, than after any milder sort; to the end he might the better acknowledge and humble himself before God; as always he had done, till, through the slanderous speeches of his friends, be was drawn into these altercations.
Of the kindred of Ram ] E familia Syra, so Tremellius; as if Ram were put for Aram. The Chaldee saith, it is put for Abraham, who was first called Ram, secondly Abram, thirdly Abraham. But Elihu was of the family of Nahor rather than of Abraham; and Ram seemeth to have been some famous man of that family.
Because he justified himself rather than God ] This he did not directly, et totidem verbis; but by consequence; and Elihu was kindled at it. It is a blessed thing to have a stomach for God, and to be blown up in his cause, as was Moses, Exodus 32:19-20 , Elijah with his Zelando zelavi, Phinehas, David, Christ, John 3:17 , the angel of Ephesus, Revelation 2:2 ; to be all on a light fire with love to God, and indignation against all that do him any dishonour by word or deed. Job had uttered some discontented speeches against God; which reflected upon his justice and goodness; he had also despaired of a restoration, and most earnestly wished for death, &c., and thereby seemed to justify himself rather than God; this good Elihu could not brook.
Job 32:3 Also against his three friends was his wrath kindled, because they had found no answer, and [yet] had condemned Job.
Ver. 3. Also against his three friends was his wrath kindled ] True zeal is of a most masculine, disengaged, courageous nature; like fire, it catcheth on every side, and is impartial. Elihu was a man made all of fire, walking among stubble, as Chrysostom saith of Peter. And, surely, he that is not angry against sin, whether in himself or others, it is because either he knows it not or hates it not as he ought. He also kept within the bounds of modesty and moderation, and expressed himself without bitterness. We read of Idacius, that he would needs be doing with Salvianus and Instantius, both Priscillianists. But by his passionate and intemperate language he not only did not convert them, but made them worse (Sulp. Sever. l. ii., p. 171).
Because they had found no answer ] They were gravelled and nonplussed, as the Popish doctors were oft by the martyrs, Philpot, Ridley, &c., yea, by those of the weaker sort, as Anne Askew, Alice Driver, &c. The prolocutor in convocation, A. D. 1553, confessed that those dejected ministers (afterwards martyrs) had the word on their side, but the prelates in place the possession of the sword, and that was their best answer to the others’ arguments.
And yet had condemned Job ] Condemned him for a wicked man, as the word signifieth. So the Popish doctors did innocent Cranmer of adultery, heresy, and treason; Philpot, of parricide, heresy, &c. To accuse was easy, but how shamefully failed they in the proof! These three, after they had also interested God himself in their rash accusation of Job, were forced to give him over.
Job 32:4 Now Elihu had waited till Job had spoken, because they [were] elder than he.
Ver. 4. Now Elihu had waited till Job had spoken ] Yea, though his speech was very long, yet he heard him out, though himself were with child to speak. Broughton rendereth it, waited to speak with Job; he would not thrust in till they had all done their discourses. This was his modesty, though a man of singular abilities. Raram facit virtus cum scientia mixturam. To blame then surely was Gregory, for thinking so ill and writing so harshly of this good young man, as if he had been proud and arrogant; descanting to that purpose upon his name, country, and kindred.
Because they were elder than he ] And therefore ought of right to have the precedence of speech; though it appeareth, by all that followeth, that in this controversy he saw further into it, judged righter, and rebuked Job with more gravity and wisdom, than any of them; so that Job was fully convinced, and made no reply at all; no more than Jonah did when God set him down, Job 4:11 : so forcible are right words.
Job 32:5 When Elihu saw that [there was] no answer in the mouth of [these] three men, then his wrath was kindled.
Ver. 5. When Elihu saw that there was no answer ] And therefore Job looked upon himself as one that had won the day. St Austin professeth this was it that heartened him, and made him to triumph in his former Manichecism, that he met with feeble opponents, and such as his nimble wit was easily able to overturn. And when Carolostadius opposed Luther’s consubstantiation but weakly and insufficiently, Zuinglius said he was sorry that so good a cause, non satis humerorum haberet, lacked shoulders.
then his wrath was kindled ] viz. From their coldness, like as Nehemiah 3:20 . Baruch repaired earnestly ( se accendit, he burst out into heat, angry with his own and others’ sloth); so Elihu here, when he saw that Job’s eloquence triumphed over their wisdom, and that their silence was a loud acknowledgment of their defeat, he grew more angry than before; and, transported with zeal, be saith to them very briskly,
Job 32:6 And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said, I [am] young, and ye [are] very old; wherefore I was afraid, and durst not shew you mine opinion.
Ver. 6. I am young, and ye are very old ] Yet was he nothing inferior to any of them in wit, piety, and learning; he had lived long in a little time, and was (as one saith of Macarius) μειρακιογερων , an "old" young man (Niceph.); as if he had been an Alban born, qui albo crine nascuntur, who come into the world hoar headed, as did Seneca; and thence had his name, as Cassiodorus thinketh, quod canus, quasi senior natus sit, Canitiem habent auspicium capillarum (Solin). Some young men are ripe early, and more ready headed than their ancients; as David was, Psalms 119:100 , and as Solomon was, a child king, but very wise; contrarily, his son and successor Rehoboam entered into the kingdom at a ripe age, yet Solomon was the man and Rehoboam the child. Age is no just measure of wisdom. There are beardless sages and greyheaded children. Not the ancient are wise, but the wise is ancient as Elihu will tell us in the next verses.
Wherefore I was afraid, and durst not show you mine opinion ] Heb. my knowledge; that is, the truth, so far as I understand it, siquid ego aut capio, aut sapio, if I have any judgment. Thus he delivers himself in modest terms, using many prefaces. And if hereafter he seem to boast, and set up himself above the rest, as he doth, it is out of his zeal for God, whose honour he seeketh, and not his own. The words here rendered, I was afraid and to show, are both Syriac. Elihu, by his family of Ram or Aram may seem to be that countryman, and to have a touch of that dialect, as Livy had of his Patavinity.
Job 32:7 I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.
Ver. 7. I said, Days should speak ] This seems to have been a proverb in those days; and it ran much in Elihu’s mind. We use to say, that at meetings young men should be mutes, and old men vowels. Of Arsatius, who succeeded Chrysostom in the see of Constantinople, it is recorded (but nothing to his commendation) that at eighty years of age he was as eloquent as a fish and as nimble as a frog.
And multitude of years should teach wisdom ] Heb. Should make known wisdom; sc. such as consisteth in the knowledge of God and of his will, of ourselves and of our duties. This is far beyond all that of the heathen sages, of the seven wise men of Greece, of Archimedes of Syracuse, who had a name in fame, saith Plutarch, not of human, but of a kind of divine wisdom. So had Socrates, so had Apollonius, of whom Philostratus saith, that he was non doctus, sed natus sapiens, not taught, but born a wise man, ουκ ανθρωπινης αλλα δαιμονιου τινος συνεσεως (Plut.). These all were the world’s wizards; and what they came, to see Romans 1:21-23 1Co 1:11 Lactantius truly telleth us (Instit. 1. 3, c. 30), in the name of the whole community of Christians, that all the wisdom of a man consisteth in this, to know God and worship him aright. And that these seniors should have taught and notified such wisdom Elihu had well hoped: but it proved otherwise.
Job 32:8 But [there is] a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.
Ver. 8. But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty] Or, Surely there is a spirit in man, but the inspiration, &c. Man hath a reasonable soul and a natural judgment, whereby he differeth from brute beasts; and not only so, but some there are that do animam excolere, as Cicero and Aristotle; they improve their natural abilities by art, and so go far beyond others in worth; differing from the unlearned as much almost as a man doth from a beast. Lo, such a spirit there is in some men; which yet amounteth not to wisdom without the concurrence of God’s good Spirit to sanctify all, as the altar sanctifieth the gold of the altar. If this be not attained unto, the wiser any man is the vainer he proveth, Romans 1:22 . The Lord knoweth the thoughts of those wise (even of the choicest and most picked men among them) that they are vain, 1 Corinthians 3:20 . And to such we may say, as Austin once wrote to a man of great parts, Ornari abs te diabotus quaerit, the devil desireth to be tricked up by thee.
And the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding ] He is the wise man, when all is done, whom, whether old or young, the Spirit of God, who acteth most freely, is pleased to imbreathe. And although arts and age be good helps to knowledge, yet they must be all taught of God that shall be wise unto salvation; and such as these, the older they grow the wiser they are, for the most part; and if young saints, they become old angels. True it is, that God is debtor to none; neither doth a longer life of itself deserve anything at God’s hands; because the longer they live the more sins they commit. But yet the promise is, that to him that hath shall be given, and he shall abound. "The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean bands shall be stronger and stronger," Job 17:9 . Howbeit, some good men’s first days have been their best days; and they have suffered no small decays in their spiritual intellect; as did Solomon, Asa, Joash, and perhaps these three friends of Job, to whom this speech is directed. Certain it is that he is a rare and a happy man of whom it may be said, in a spiritual sense (as it was said of Moses), that, after long profession of religion, his sight is not waxed dim, nor his holy heat abated. The heathen sages have cause to admonish us to take heed of old age; as that which cometh not alone, but is itself a disease, and ever accompanied with many maladies, both of body and mind. Elihu seemeth to take this here for granted (experience sealing to it), that true wisdom dependeth not upon any man’s authority, power, learning, experience, or old age; but upon the inspiration of the Almighty, 2 Peter 1:21 2 Timothy 3:16 . And, therefore, the Holy Scriptures must needs be the storehouse of wisdom, the statute book of heaven, as being θεοπνευστος , imbreathed by God, as Paul speaketh, the very heart and soul of God, as Gregory.
Job 32:9 Great men are not [always] wise: neither do the aged understand judgment.
Ver. 9. Great men are not always wise ] Rabbis are not the grandees of the earth; they who seem to be somewhat, Galatians 2:6 , and take it ill if they be not so accounted, these are not always wise, or these are none of the wisest. Non sunt sapientes magistri, so Brentius reads it. Our masters ( ut sunt magistri nostri Parisienses ) have not engrossed all the wisdom. And why? Spiritus non est alligatus Rabbinorum authoritati, et magistrorum nostrorum capitiis, &c.: the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord, is in nowise bound to such, nor are his gifts held captive by any, but freely distributed according to the good pleasure of his will, who worketh all, and in all. Paphnutius was wiser than the whole council; John Wycliffe, than the University of Oxford; Daniel, than all the magicians of Babylon, Patres legendi cum venia. Fathers of reading with favour. Augustine, being oppressed with the authority of the Fathers, saith, he regardeth not Quis, but Quid; who speaketh a thing, but what he speaketh.
Neither do the aged understand judgment ] Prudence is not proper to old age; and though knowledge be the daughter of time, it doth not always happen that the most aged are the most learned. Wisdom doth not ever lean upon a staff nor look through spectacles. Experience giveth us to see both old fools and young wise men, some of each sort. When the State of Venice once sent two young men ambassadors to the Emperor Frederick IV, and he, being offended at their age, refused to admit them; they bid him to know, That if the Venetians had valued men by their gravity and well grown beards as the only wise men, they would, doubtless, have sent on their embassy a pair of well bearded goats: for,
Si prolixa facit sapientem barba, quid obstat
Barbatus possit quin caper esse Plato?
Job 32:10 Therefore I said, Hearken to me; I also will shew mine opinion.
Ver. 10. Therefore I said, Heaken to me ] This he speaks by way of apostrophe to Job, with whom he would fain ingratiate, that he might the better prevail to convince him of his coarse dealing with God, whose cause he wholly pleadeth. Elihu had hoped to have learned much by this conference held by such heads, Nunquam a te nisi doctior redeo; but, finding it otherwise, he grows to a Semper ego auditor tantum? Hearken to me another while, that God may hearken to you. Hearken, I say, all of you; but thou, Job, especially; for with thee lieth my main business, Tu nominatim et notanter.
I also will show mine opinion ] He saith not my judgment (that might savour of arrogance in so young a man), but mine opinion, or knowledge; I will offer my thoughts, judge you of them as you please. See Job 32:6 . Elihu was far from the spirit of Bacon, the Carmelite, who would endure no guessing or doubting; and was, therefore, called Doctor Resolutissimus, as requiring that every one should think as he thought: this was too magisterial.
Job 32:11 Behold, I waited for your words; I gave ear to your reasons, whilst ye searched out what to say.
Ver. 11. Behold, I waited for your words ] While you had anything to say I was silent, and no way troublesome or obstreperous. This he speaketh to Job’s friends, who had free liberty to speak while they would without interruption; and should, therefore, now be content to hear (though perhaps what they would not) if God thereby might be glorified, and Job better convinced.
I gave ear to your reasons ] Heb. To your understandings. Usque ad intelligentias vestras, to the utmost of your best arguments and most elaborated demonstrations, Ut cum dicitur, Redite usque ad me, Joel 2:12 ; for the which you has eviscerated your brains, and well nigh cracked your sconces, but all to no purpose; since you hover in generals; and, declining that which was the main matter in question (like lapwings, that cry farthest off from the nest), you brought only such reasons as were not cogent, and used such discourses as did nec coelum, nec terram attingere, to touch neither heave nor earth, never come at the business; which was no better than laborious loss of time.
Job 32:12 Yea, I attended unto you, and, behold, [there was] none of you that convinced Job, [or] that answered his words:
Ver. 12. Yea, I attended unto you ] Et usque ad yes perpendebam, I throughly weighed your words, and rightly considered them (as our Mr Bradshaw was wont to do at the ministers’ meetings, and was therehence called the weighing divine), that you may not think I answer the matter before I understand it, as fools do, to their shame, 2 Peter 2:12 , daring to reprehend what I do not comprehend, as did that Popish expositor, who calleth Ezekiel’s description of the temple insulsam descriptionem, an absurd description (Sanctius in cap. 40, Ezek. in argum.).
And, behold, there was none of you that convinced Job, or that answered his words ] And yet they thought they had done both effectually; and that it was merely his stubbornness to stand out against them. Ready they were to give him up for uncounsellable; and to turn him over to God with a non convertetur, he is past our cure, we can do no good on him; none but God can put him out of his good conceit of himself, &c. Out of all this a good interpreter maketh these following conclusions: 1. That we must diligently hear and weigh what things are spoken by others before we proceed to censure them. 2. That we must not pass a censure upon any one part of a speech, but take it all together, ere we make judgment of it. 3. That when we have weighed everything well and wisely, we must not countenance any error, but freely utter what we do truly and rightly think of it. 4. That we may think things sufficiently refuted by the learned which yet had need to be further inquired into. 5. That one younger man may see further sometimes into a matter than many others of longer standing and experience. 6. That men may be esteemed obstinate and opinionated who are nothing less. 7. That multitude and antiquity are but ciphers in divinity, &c.
Job 32:13 Lest ye should say, We have found out wisdom: God thrusteth him down, not man.
Ver. 13. Lest ye should say, We have found out wisdom ] Or, See that ye say not, We need not search out words, as Job 32:11 . For, we have found out wisdom, rem acu pertigimus, we have hit the nail on the head, and said sufficient to convince him, if any reason would do it, while we affirm that
God thrusteth him down (as it were, with a thump on the back), and not man] Who might do amiss, but so cannot God; who, forasmuch as he fighteth against Job, tossing him as a tennis ball, or as the wind doth a withered leaf, from one affliction to another, who can doubt but that he holdeth him a wicked man? This, saith Elihu, is a very weak way of reasoning; therefore never please yourselves in it as convincing, Hoc argumentum tam facile diluitur quam vulpes comest pyrum, as one merrily phrased it. There is no judgment to be made of a person or cause by the good or evil success of things, since none out of hell ever suffered more than God’s dearest children: witness that little book of martyrs, Heb 11:1-40 Neither have any sped better here than those worst of men, Turks, Papists, persecutors, &c.
Job 32:14 Now he hath not directed [his] words against me: neither will I answer him with your speeches.
Ver. 14. Now he hath not directed his speech against me ] And so I have no particular edge or grudge against him, he hath no reason to think that I come prejudicated or exasperated. This Elihu speaketh purposely, to get within Job; that he might the better persuade with him. We must endeavour to preserve in the party with whom we would prevail an opinion of our love and good affection to him; for else we shall lose all our sweet words, since man is a cross and crabbed creature; duci vult, trahi non vult, lead him you may, drag him you must not.
Neither will I answer him with your speeches ] But with better; he shall have from me soft words and hard arguments; I will come over him in a milder manner, and to better purpose; while, moved merely by a zeal for God’s glory, I shall show him his miscarriages, not in mine own words, but in God’s. That is a true saying of learned Junius, Personatae reprehensiones frigent; plurimumque interest ex animo omnia, ut conscientia fert animusque, facias; an de industria.
Job 32:15 They were amazed, they answered no more: they left off speaking.
Ver. 15. They were amazed ] As if they had seen Medusa’s head, Gr. Myth. One of the three Gorgons whose head, with snakes for hair, turned him who looked upon it into stone; she was slain by Perseus, and her head fixed on the ægis or shield of Athene. or some such terrible spectacle, that had rendered them dumb. Talkative enough they have been when there was no such necessity; but now that they might speak to some purpose they stand like stocks, and are mute as fishes, whereby they bewray their ignorance and folly. Silence in some cases is sepes sapientiae, as the Rabbis speak (Pirkeaboth), the fruit and sense of wisdom, Amos 5:13 ; See Trapp on " Amo 5:13 " But in addition there is a sinful silence, which Luther wished never to be found guilty of, Modo impii silentii non arguar. And it is the devil, doubtless, that gaggeth people when being called to speak of, or for, God, as these friends of Job were at this time, they answer no more.
They leave speaking ] They desert a good cause, or betray it by a cowardly silence. It may be feared the spirit of faith is no indweller, where the door of the lips move not right, 2 Corinthians 4:13 . He speaks thus of those three seniors in a third person, by way of irony and contempt, turning his talk to the bystanders, whereof it is likely there were many; or (as Tremellius thinketh) to Job, with whom he seeketh to ingratiate.
Job 32:16 When I had waited, (for they spake not, but stood still, [and] answered no more;)
Ver. 16. When I had waited, for they spake not, but stood still ] Or, Seeing I have waited, but they have not spoken, &c. Nothing appears but a dumb show, a deep silence, such as Elihu much marvelled at, and therefore setteth it forth in many words, all to one purpose. See Job 32:15 .
Job 32:17 [I said], I will answer also my part, I also will shew mine opinion.
Ver. 17. I said, I will answer also my part ] It is a virtue to be forward and forth putting in that which is good; and a vice to be shy and shame faced. A Christian should catch at opportunities of doing and receiving good, he should be ready to every good work; as the busy bee, so soon as ever the sun breaks forth, gets abroad to gather honey and wax.
I also will show my opinion ] Heb. my knowledge, as Job 32:6 , and so the Vulgate readeth it. Hereupon Gregory taking Elihu (but not well) for an arrogant person, showeth that such love to vaunt themselves, and out of ostentation to set forth their good parts to public view; and are therein like unto a vessel without a cover, touching which the law saith that it shall be counted unclean. Thus he. But to utter a man’s knowledge for the benefit of others, as good Elihu did, is not pride, but zeal, however the world censure it. And they have, doubtless, a heavy account to make who hide their talents; and, having a great treasure of rare abilities, will not be drawn to impart them; the canker of these men’s great skill shall be a swift witness against them. Vile latens virtus … worthless hidden virtue.
Job 32:18 For I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth me.
Ver. 18. For I am full of matter ] Heb. Of words; such as are weighty and stuffy, steeped in mine understanding (as Plutarch saith Phocion’s words were), and very well digested. I am ειπειν δεινοτατος , in very good case to speak; as full of solid arguments as the moon is of light. Whether Elihu speaketh this arrogantly and from the flesh, or from the spirit, I determine not, saith Brentius here. But sure it is, that such words as these, howsoever they may seem arrogant and carnal, possunt tamen esse spiritualissima, yet they may be very spiritual, as Jer 4:1-31 Jeremiah 20:1-18 . And as sure it is, that we should be in company like full clouds or paps, that pain themselves with fulness till eased of their milk.
The spirit within me constraineth me ] Heb. The spirit of my belly; that is, God’s Holy Spirit inhabiting mine heart, and exciting me to so good a work. "The love of Christ constraineth us," 2 Corinthians 5:14 . It hath not only an impulsive, but a compulsive, faculty. Rumperer medius, si non erumperet sermo intra me conceptus, as Brentius here paraphraseth; I should even burst if I did not vent my conceptions, which, like a child in the womb at full time, or as wind in the bowels, want room, and press to come out, Psa 39:3 Jeremiah 20:9 . Sicut flatus in ventre conclusus magno impetu exitum quaerit: sic zelus mentis quaerit exitum per sermonem (Pisc.).
Job 32:19 Behold, my belly [is] as wine [which] hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles.
Ver. 19. Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent ] By this elegant similitude Elihu illustrateth what he had said before; wherein (as Merlin well observeth) he compareth words shut up in the mind of him that would fain utter them to new wine, not yet throughly purged, the soul to bottles, silence to the stopple, which keeps in the wine, grief hereupon to the breaking of those bottles, speech to the opening of them, by taking away the stopple of silence. And although in this discourse Elihu may seem to lay on more words than the matter requireth, yet he doth not; for he saith no more than the psalmist doth, Psalms 45:1 , and Jeremiah, Jeremiah 6:11 , and the apostles, Acts 4:20 , "We cannot but speak," &c. And whereas Gregory saith that all this came from pride in Elihu, Chrysostom praiseth him rather (and therein he is in the right) for his zeal, which will have a vent, or the heart will cleave; as the waters undermine when they cannot overflow. As for that which is urged against Elihu, that God saith of him, as of a reprobate and one whom he knew not, "Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?" Job 38:2 , it is plain that God speaketh there, not of Elihu, but of Job, and so Job understood and applied it, Job 42:2 ; and that God speaketh not of Job’s sacrificing for him, as for the other three, makes more for his praise than else; and shows that he had spoken of God the thing that was right, which they had not done, Job 42:7 .
Job 32:20 I will speak, that I may be refreshed: I will open my lips and answer.
Ver. 20. I will speak, that I may be refreshed ] Heb. that I may breathe: this many martyrs did, though to the loss of their precious lives; as those that came to the tribunals, and cried out, Christiani sumus, We are Christians, hang us, burn us, stone us, &c., Modo Iesum nostrum nanciscamur, so that we may get our Jesus. And when they were told that they were put to death, Non pro fide, sed pro obstinatione, not for their religion, but for their obstinace, Tertullian answered, Pro hac obstinatione fidei morimur, For this religious obstinace we gladly die. As for those that made not a good confession, but either denied or dissembled their religion, for political respects, what a deal of unrest found they in their consciences, till they had better declared themselves, or revoked their recantations; as Bilney, Bainham, Benbridge, Abbes, Sharp, besides Origen, and all those of old? Let a man speak boldly and freely in a good cause when called to it, and he shall be refreshed; for as every flower hath its sweet smell, so hath every good word and work its comfort.
I will open my lips and answer ] viz. Freely and fully, as Ephesians 6:19 , with great alacrity of spirit and vehemence of speech. Some kind of answer a man may make, though he open not his lips; as he did, who, being asked what man’s life was? presently turned his back, and went his way. Theodoret also, upon Matthew 5:2 , observeth that our Saviour taught sometimes when yet he opened not his mouth; viz. by holy life and wondrous works.
Job 32:21 Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man.
Ver. 21. Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person] q.d. This leave you must give me, or at least wise I must take it, since my life lieth upon it to be impartial and plain dealing, laying the blame where it lights, and sparing the pains of pleasing and parasitical poems of oratorical and rhetorical insinuations. Nihil loquar ad gratiam, &c. I shall know no man after the flesh in this business, nor look on any face. If Job found this fault with his other three friends, Job 13:7 , he shall have no cause so to do with me; but, as a right moderator, I will hear arguments speak, and not persons; I will shut out my friend, or my senior, and speak the truth in love. Diem hominis non desideravi, saith Jeremiah, Jeremiah 17:16 . And, if I yet please men, I am no more the servant of Christ, Galatians 1:10 ; See Trapp on " Gal 1:10 "
Neither let me give flattering titles ] Praenomen aut cognomen, those that seem to be somewhat, whatsoever they be, it shall make no matter to me; God accepteth no man’s person, Galatians 2:6 . I shall call a spade a spade, tell every one their own without circumlocution, and not soothe or smooth up any man (though never so great) in his sinful practices. Semper Augustus is a title still given to the German emperors. But Sigismund, once emperor, when a fellow flattered him above measure, and extolled him to the skies, gave the flatterer a good box on the ear, and when he asked, Why smite you me? he answered, Why clawest thou me?
Job 32:22 For I know not to give flattering titles; [in so doing] my maker would soon take me away.
Ver. 22. For I know not to give, &c. ] I have as little art in it (it is out of my road) as heart to it. For,
In so doing my maker should take me away ] i.e. Kill me and send me packing to hell. He would soon snatch me away; he would burn me, as some render it; so dangerous is the sin of flattery. A preacher called Constantine the Great, Blessed, to his face, but he went away with a check. What will God say to such, think we? (Euseb. de Vita Const. l. iv. c. 4.)
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 32". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent