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Bible Commentaries
Job 34

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

Furthermore Elihu answered and said,

Furthermore Elihu answered and saidi.e. He prosecuted his former discourse, he thus pronounced (as the Vulgate hath it) in answer to some of Job’s former speeches, which he here reciteth, but not so candidly; and refelleth, but not so mildly as was meet. Pronuncians itaque Eliu, Elihu going on still in his anger and speech. True it is, that Job in his heat had let fall very many lavish and inconsiderate speeches, as is to be seen almost throughout the tenth chapter; but yet it was far from him ever to say either that himself was without sin or that God was unjust, as Elihu would bear him down; very odiously taking up certain sayings of his that way sounding, and very gravely calling forth the rest there present to give sentence with him against Job. Yet is not Elihu to be censured for a proud, arrogant person (as some make him), but to be esteemed, Sapiens et egregius vir, as Lavater here styleth him, a wise and excellent man; though he should have considered that the Spirit of God is neque mendax, neque mordax, a spirit of truth and of meekness.

Verse 2

Hear my words, O ye wise [men]; and give ear unto me, ye that have knowledge.

Hear my words, O ye wise men — And those are not many, Hosea 14:9 . He excludeth poor Job, whom yet he had promised to teach wisdom, Job 33:33 . And that he spoke not to the many it is probable, for they have not those auras perpargatas, that he calleth for in the next verse. Bοιωτες fere sunt, they are heavily eared for the most part, and of dull apprehension;

To the other three then of Job’s friends he applieth himself; whom because he had sharply reproved before, and that they may not think that he held himself the only wise man among them, he thus bespeaketh to get audience, and makes them judges of his discourse. Men may be wise in some things that have carried the matter foolishly enough in other, ουδεις ανθρωπων αυπος απαντα σοφος (Theog.).

And give ear unto me, ye that have knowledge — It is a happiness to have such hearers. "I speak as to wise men, judge ye what I say," 1 Corinthians 10:15 . Jovianus the emperor was wont to wish, That he might govern wise men, and that wise men might govern him. But as it was once said, That there was never less wisdom in Greece than in the days of the seven wise men; so may we now well complain, that there is a very great want of sound and saving knowledge in this great abundance of helps thereunto; so that we may cry out, with the prophet Isaiah, Whom shall we teach knowledge, and whom shall we make to understand the hearing? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts; q.d. We have to do with very babes, children in understanding, but not in malice.

Verse 3

For the ear trieth words, as the mouth tasteth meat.

For the ear trieth words — And for that end we have that excellent sense of hearing given us, that we may hear with judgment, and trying all things, hold fast that which is good, 1 Thessalonians 5:21 , taking heed what we hear, Mark 4:24 , as by the taste we may take heed what we let down; for else a man may easily eat his own bane, drink his poison: so here, for the soul hath her senses also, Philippians 1:9 , and these habitually exercised to discern good and evil, Hebrews 5:14 . Which while carnal people want, they are carried away as they are led, 1 Corinthians 12:2 ; plucked away with the error of the wicked, 2 Peter 3:17 ; wherried about with every wind of doctrine, Hebrews 13:9 , … See Trapp on " Job 12:1 "

Verse 4

Let us choose to us judgment: let us know among ourselves what [is] good.

Let us choose to us judgment — Let us summon the sobriety of our senses before our judgments; laying aside all prejudice; for, Omne iudicium a se aufert qui praeiudicium affert, He can never judge aright who comes to a cause forestalled or prepossessed.

Let us know among ourselves what is good — Let us go knowingly to work, according to apparent truth; and not use cunningly devised arguments, as many ( mataeologi rather than theologi ) do today in the greatest controversies of religion; and hereunto let us all contribute our best help, for the finding out of truth, and convincing of Job.

Verse 5

For Job hath said, I am righteous: and God hath taken away my judgment.

For Job hath said, I am righteous — So he was with a twofold righteousness: imputed, or the righteousness of justification; and imparted, or the righteousness of sanctification. But Elihu understood him as if he had said, I am sinless. This Job never said; only he cleared himself of foul offences wherewith his friends falsely charged him; and asserted his own integrity, whereof he seemed to be more solicitous than of giving God the glory of his justice; and therein he was to be blamed, as here he is to some purpose.

And God hath taken away my judgmentsc. By handling me like a wicked man, and not showing me why. See Job 27:3 , where Job had used these very words; but not in the sense that Elihu urgeth them against him.

Verse 6

Should I lie against my right? my wound [is] incurable without transgression.

Should I lie against my right?Ut meam causam prodam, so as to betray my cause, and yield myself guilty when I know myself innocent (R. Levi). This I will never do, said Job; no more would that peerless Lady Elizabeth, when as a traitor she was laid up in the Tower, and pressed to appeach herself. Better die than lie.

My wound is incurable without transgression — These last words, "without transgression," Elihu spitefully thrusteth in, saith Beza. Others think they may be gathered out of Job 9:17 ; Job 16:17 . Without presumptuous sin (which David calleth the great transgression, the wickedness with a witness) Job might truly say, it may be; for all men are sinners, yet not all alike; though all have a discrasy, yet every man hath not a fever; and though none are without ill humours, yet some have not a leprosy upon them.

Verse 7

What man [is] like Job, [who] drinketh up scorning like water?

What man is like Job? — This Elihu speaketh by way of angry admiration, as if he would make Job a very nonsuch, a matchless offender; and that he much wondered with what face he could speak in that sort, Exclamatio admirativa (Pisc.). What, such a man as Job do thus? Oh, shameful! what? upbraid and reproach Almighty God? who would ever have expected such words from such a mouth? Is the man in his right mind, wot you, that he thus maketh himself a common laughing stock and by word, and yet maketh nothing of anything, but doth with as great facility and readiness swallow up men’s scoffs and taunts, as if he were drinking cold water, and no more is he troubled at them? Why, but is this Job? and is it possible that he should have so far lost all fear of God, and shame of the world, that he should set his mouth against heaven, as if he would spit in God’s face, and not care though he drink up scorning and affronts like water, quasi maledictis aleretur, ut venenis capreae, as if he were much taken and tickled with them? True it is, that Nemo pluris aestimavit virtutem, as Seneca saith, No man setteth a better price upon virtue than he who will rather part with his good name than part with his honesty. But it is also as true, that to neglect altogether what others think and say of us, non solum arrogantis est, sed et dissoluti, is the part not of a proud only, but of a forlorn person, saith the orator.

Verse 8

Which goeth in company with the workers of iniquity, and walketh with wicked men.

Which goeth in company with the workers of iniquity — Strange if he should; for the wicked is abomination to the righteous, Proverbs 29:27 . "Lord, gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men," saith David, Psalms 26:9 . Lord, send me not to hell among the wicked (said a certain good woman upon her death bed), for thou knowest I never liked their company here on earth. But how proveth Elihu this charge against Job, who was ever a terror to graceless Belialists? Forsooth he gathereth it from a certain speech of his, if he could tell what, or when it was uttered.

Verse 9

For he hath said, It profiteth a man nothing that he should delight himself with God.

For he hath said, It profiteth a man not — Did Job ever say so or think so? where? and when? He said indeed, and truly, that in this life it is oft seen, that bad men prosper and good men suffer. But must it needs follow, therefore, that it is a course of no profit to walk with God? Knoweth not Elihu that there is nothing that may not be taken with either hand? and that it is a spiritual unmannerliness to take it with the left? Indeed, it is not amiss to admonish good men, what absurdities may be gathered out of their words; and it is fit that they should prevent it as much as may be. Elihu also was the more to be borne with (and that made Job let him go on, likely, without a reply) because he pleaded for God and the glory of his justice, which Job had somewhat wronged, as cannot be denied, while he gave too much way to his grief and other passions, and now beginneth to be sensible of his outbursts. But, truly, if he should have said as here he is taxed (and yet David and Jeremiah said little less), he would have gone in company with those workers of iniquity, Isaiah 58:3 Malachi 3:14-15 , and have lifted at the very foundation of all true religion, Hebrews 11:6 , and thence it was that Elihu was so hot. But men must take heed of drawing odious consequences out of other men’s speeches; and of forcing them to go two miles when they would go but one. "Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood," …, Proverbs 30:33 .

That he should delight himself with God — Or, When he runneth with God. Tremellius, When he shall be willing to walk with God, as Genesis 5:22 ; see Ezekiel 1:14 . The Tigurines render the whole verse thus, Dixit enim, vir non faciet paria, si cum Deo cursu contendat. Sure it is nec volentis, nec volantis (as a nobleman gave it for his motto), it is not in him that willeth, nor in him that runneth; no, though he could run as fast as a bird can fly; but in God that showeth mercy.

Verse 10

Therefore hearken unto me, ye men of understanding: far be it from God, [that he should do] wickedness; and [from] the Almighty, [that he should commit] iniquity.

Therefore hearken unto me, ye men of understanding — Heb. Ye men of heart, Cor est sedes sapientiae. Egregie cordati viri.

Et esse corculis datum est.

Having recited Job’s evil speeches, he turneth away from him as it were in great displeasure, and directeth his speech to others. See the like done by Jacob, Genesis 49:4 . We should abhor that which is evil, and show our detestation thereof.

Far be it from God that he should do wickedness, … — sc. By punishing any without a cause; and this he double denieth for better assurance. Cause enough there may be found in the very best, as well by reason of their actual abominations (their omissions, commissions, and failings in the manner) as of their birth blot, which ever abideth with them while they are here, and is a seed plot of all sin. How then can God wrong any one? Surely it is inconsistent with God’s, 1. Nature, here; 2. Actions, Job 34:11 Job 34:3 . Will, Job 34:12 . And although he might, to show his sovereignty, punish men for his pleasure, Romans 9:20 , yet far be it from us to imagine that he will abuse his might and power to do anything unjust or unbeseeming his goodness.

Verse 11

For the work of a man shall he render unto him, and cause every man to find according to [his] ways.

For the work of a man shall he render unto him — This is both his covenant and his custom; so far is he from doing wrong to any, that every man shall be sure to reap as he sows, to drink as he brews, to receive according to that he hath done in the flesh, whether good or evil, 2 Corinthians 5:10 . And albeit this is not done forthwith, yet we may write upon it, and reckon that nondum onmium dierum soles occiderunt; as sure as the night followeth the day, a day of account will come, and God will render unto each man reward or punishment according to his works.

And cause every man to find according to his ways — According to the course of his life, and not according to this or that particular action. A Doeg may set his foot as far within the sanctuary as a David; and a David may in some particular out sin a firebrand of hell. But "the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings," Proverbs 5:21 . He considereth the bent, frame, and tendency of the heart, and proceeds accordingly.

Verse 12

Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment.

Yea, surely God will not do wickedly — This must be laid down for a certain truth, and is, therefore, so reiterated. Job had said as much to this purpose as Elihu could do; but then he had seemingly dashed all again with his inconsiderate complaints and murmurings. This Elihu could not bear, but again and again celebrateth the righteousness of God; and when he hath said his utmost, seemeth to say, as Cicero once did of Crassus and Antony, the Roman orators, That if any man think he had said too much in commendation of them, he must needs be such a one as either knew them not or was not able to judge their worth. As for Job, whom he here confuteth, he seems to say of him as Calvin somewhere doth of Luther, That as he excelled with great virtues, so he was not without his great failings. Atque utinam recognoscendis suis vitiis plus operae dedisset; And I spent less time in declaiming against others, and more in recognizing his own faults (Calv. ep. Bulling.).

Neither will the Almighty pervert judgment — For shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? See Trapp on " Job 7:3 "

Verse 13

Who hath given him a charge over the earth? or who hath disposed the whole world?

Who hath given him a charge over all the earth?sc. To govern it. Is not he the Maker and Monarch of all men? Who is his superior? and to whom shall he give account? and who shall expostulate with him about injustice? Or, for fear of whom should he warp or writhe? The emperor cannot do right, saith one, because he hath none to overly awe him or question him (Theophil. Inst.). It is said of Trajan, that he neither feared nor hated any man living. What, then, shall we think of him, who is Moderator et Dominator supremus ac solus (Mercer).

Or who hath disposed the whole world? — The habitable world; and especially that habitable part of God’s earth, as man is called, Proverbs 8:31 .

Verse 14

If he set his heart upon man, [if] he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath;

If he set his heart upon man — viz. For evil, and not for good, and have a purpose to unmake him again, which he can as easily do as will it to be done.

If he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath — If he take away his life, which what is it else but a puff of wind, a vapour, …, who can say he is unjust? May not the potter do with his pot as he pleaseth? We subsist merely by his manutension; and if he but pull back his hand only we are gone immediately. This is to be seen in those that swoon suddenly away. See Psalms 104:29 , and consider how little this is considered by the most. Elihu thought that Job was wanting herein; for he had heard him, Job 12:13-25 , disputing concerning the sovereign and absolute power of God almost in the very same words which himself here useth, from Job 34:13-31 .

Verse 15

All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust.

All flesh shall perish togetheri.e. All men, called here "All flesh," as, Mark 16:16 , they are called every creature, a little world. If God command it to be so they shall all breathe out together.

And man shall turn to his dust again — The body to the dust, whence it was taken, but the spirit to God, who gave it. Ecclesiastes 12:7

Verse 16

If now [thou hast] understanding, hear this: hearken to the voice of my words.

If now thou hast understanding, hear this — Hear it, and know it for thy good, as Job 4:2-7 , if at least thou hast any wit for thyself or care of thine own well doing. This is a stinging apostrophe to Job. Si vel mica est in te bonae mentis; unless thou hast buried thy brains and lost thy senses, listen as for life.

Verse 17

Shall even he that hateth right govern? and wilt thou condemn him that is most just?

Shall even he that hateth right govern? — Heb. Bind; sc. malefactors, whom magistrates use to hamper? Others take it to be binding up the wounded after the manner of chirurgeons. An qui odit iudicium, chirurgos imitaretur? so the Tigurines translate: Would he who hateth right do as surgeons use to do? Would God, if he were unrighteous, bind up the broken hearted, or receive into favour, as he doth, a sinner that repenteth, doing him good again, as if there never had been a breach between them? It hath been noted, that a king hath his name in the Greek tongue from healing, Aναξ from ακος Medela; and that, Isaiah 3:7 , a governor is called a healer, or binder up; the same word there as here in the text. But how unfit for such an office must he needs be who not only doth not right, but hateth it, as did Nero, Caligula, Commodus, …?

And wilt thou condemn him that is most just? — Or, that is strong and just; illumne impietatis sugillabis? (Tigur.) None in his right wits would ever do so; for what else were this but to exalt a man’s self above the Divine Majesty? And yet what do they less than this who grudge at God’s proceedings, and are ready to think that if they had the ordering of things in their hands they could dispose of them a fair deal better? How absurd and unseemly this is in any one is aptly set forth in the next verse, "Is it fit?" …

Verse 18

[Is it fit] to say to a king, [Thou art] wicked? [and] to princes, [Ye are] ungodly?

Is it fit to say to a king, Thou art wicked? — Heb. Belial; that is, Thou yokeless, lawless, masterless monster. Kings are not wont to be so accosted and aviled, nor is it lawful, Exodus 22:28 . It is blasphemy in the second table to speak evil of dignities, Judges 1:8 , Qui dicit regi Apostata (Vulg.). It was some disadvantage to St Paul that, although provoked and unjustly smitten, he called the high priest whited wall, Acts 23:3 ; he was glad to excuse it by his ignorance. And Luther cried our Henry VIII mercy, for his uncivil language to him, such as was that, Audi, Domine Rex, edocebo te, in a jeer. Henry VI indeed was coarsely handled in a tumult, and wounded, but then he was at in bad times; and being restored, he freely pardoned the offender, saying, Alas, poor soul, he struck me more to win favour with others than of any ill will he bare me: but this was a rare example of patience in a king (Dan. Hist.). Alexander the Great dealt more harshly with his friends, Clitus and Callisthenes, for their plain dealing. Tiberius put to death a poet for uttering some free words against him, though under the person of Agamemnon, quem in tragoedia probris lacessisset (Sen.). Savonarola suffered deeply for telling the pope his own. And Bajazet II took great revenge upon his janizaries, One of a former body of Turkish infantry, constituting the Sultan’s guard and the main part of the standing army. The body was first organized in the 14th century, and was composed mainly of tributary children of Christians; after a large number of them had been massacred in 1826, the organization was finally abolished. who, for his casting Achmetes Bassa into prison, they in an uproar insolently cried out that they would by and by teach him, as a drunkard, a beast, and a rascal, to use his great place and calling with more sobriety and discretion. Kings must be spoken to with soft and silken words, as she said, η ηκιστα, η ηδιστα (Plut.). If Elijah, or Elisha, or Isaiah, or the Baptist do otherwise, that is not a copy for every man to write after. Is it safe to take a lion by the beard, or a bear by the tooth? Naboth suffered, though falsely accused to curse the king; and Shimei had at length his payment for reviling David. If Ezekiel called the king of Judah, Thou wicked and profane prince, Ezekiel 21:25 , that was by an extraordinary spirit, and by a special command of God.

And to princes, Ye are ungodly?Ingenuis. These, as they must not be flattered, so neither may they be unmannerly advertised of their duty or danger. It is probable that Joseph used some kind of preface to Pharaoh’s chief baker in reading him that hard destiny, Genesis 40:19 , such haply as was that of Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar, Job 4:19 , "My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee," …; or as Philo brings him in with a Utinam tale somnium non vidisses, I wish I had no such dream to interpret unto you. But for the matter he giveth him a sound, though a sharp interpretation.

Verse 19

[How much less to him] that accepteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor? for they all [are] the work of his hands.

How much less to him that accepteth not the person of princes — How much more both dangerous and indecent must it needs be wrongfully to accuse God of injustice and partiality, which is far below him; since he neither doth nor needeth prefer great ones before meaner men in judgment! See on Job 13:7 ; Job 32:21 .

Nor regardeth the rich more than the poor? — The word rendered rich, opulent, or potent, comes either from a root, éò that signifieth to save, because it is in the power of such to save others from hurt and damage; or else from another root, åò that signifieth to cry aloud; because such men use to speak their minds more freely and boldly, as having that which can bear them out. But God acknowledgeth them not as such; only of them to whom much is given much shall be required.

For they are all the work of his hands — Both for their persons, for they are all equally his creatures; and for their conditions, which God also hath cut them out and apportioned. Thus he is said to have made Moses and Aaron, that is, to have advanced them, 1 Samuel 12:6 ; and Christ is said to have made the twelve when he ordained them to the apostleship, Mark 3:14 .

Verse 20

In a moment shall they die, and the people shall be troubled at midnight, and pass away: and the mighty shall be taken away without hand.

In a moment shall they die — Be they mean or mighty, they are, when God pleaseth, suddenly swept away by the hand of death; as chess men are into the bag, without distinction of kings, dukes, bishops, or common people.

And the people shall be troubled at midnight — As were the Egyptians, when their firstborn were slain in their dead sleep, Exodus 12:29 , not without much terror and tumult; and as were the army of Sennacherib, 2 Kings 19:35 , and Belshazzar with his Babylon, Daniel 5:30-31 . "The people shall be troubled," they shall be shaken as leaves in a great wind, or be carried away as by a mighty torrent; when they were most secure, and dreamed of no such danger. Neither in all these alterations and various occurrences is God unrighteous, since he is debtor to none, neither doth he anything without reason and right.

And pass awayPraeteribunt, id est, peribunt; they shall pass into the grave, as Ecclesiastes 1:4 , "One generation passeth, and another cometh"; or they shall perish, as when it is said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away." The Vulgate hath it, Pertransibunt. It is not transibunt, they shall pass, saith Gregory; but pertransibunt, they shall pass through, because the wicked are always passing on to perdition throughout all their lives.

And the mighty shall be taken away without hand — That is, without seeing the hand that smiteth them; which is, saith one, a Divine force, invisibly cutting asunder the thread of their lives in a moment: Psalms 76:12 , The Lord cutteth off the spirit of princes. The Hebrew importeth, that he slips them off, as ono should slip off a flower between his finger; or as one should slip off a bunch of grapes, … The original here is, They shall take away the mighty, that is, the angels shall as Luke 12:20 hurry them out of the world without hand, that is, without man’s help, without human violence.

Verse 21

For his eyes [are] upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings.

For his eyes are upon the ways of man — God’s providence (like a well drawn picture, that eyeth each one in the room) observeth all things; he seeth cause enough thus to proceed in judgment against a person or people, though we see it not. And although one man knoweth not another, nor doth any man well know himself; yet God, following, as it were, all men hard at the heels, doth with his eyes narrowly observe and mark what way every one walketh in, he seeth all his goings: let not men, therefore, please themselves in their sinful practices, as if God saw them not, because for a time they escape unpunished; Saeculi laetitia est impunita nequitia; but sin and punishment are tied together with chains of adamant, and cannot long be asunder.

Verse 22

[There is] no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.

There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, … — Sinners would fain shroud and secrete themselves from God’s all seeing eye; for which end they search all corners, with Adam, and hope that their evil pranks and practices shall never come to light; but that cannot be, for not only darkness and the shadow of death, but hell also, is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering, Job 26:6 ; See Trapp on " Job 26:6 " See also Psalms 139:12 Amos 9:2-3 Hebrews 4:13 . See Trapp on " Psalms 139:12 " See Trapp on " Amos 9:2 " See Trapp on " Amos 9:3 " See Trapp on " Hebrews 4:13 "

Where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves — Either from God’s all seeing eye, or punishing hand. Adam is pulled out of the thicket; Manasseh from among the thorns; Zedekiah and his family from between the two walls; many Jews out of the privies and other lurking holes where they lay hidden, at the last destruction of Jerusalem.

Verse 23

For he will not lay upon man more [than right]; that he should enter into judgment with God.

For he will not lay upon men more than rightPlus quam par est. He cannot over do likely, Nam non super virum ponet ultra; no, though he should inflict upon him all the torments here, and tortures in hell, since death, in the utmost extent of it, is the just hire of the least sin, Romans 6:23 . See Ezra 9:13 . See Trapp on " Ezra 9:13 "

That he should enter into judgment with God — Commence a suit against him, or challenge him into the schools to argue it out with him, as thou Job hast offered to do, but unadvisedly; since God hath justice on his side; as the very heathens also saw, when they set Themis, their goddess of justice, τω διι παρεδρον , next of all to Jupiter, their chief god.

Verse 24

He shall break in pieces mighty men without number, and set others in their stead.

He shall break in pieces mighty men, …Infinite conterit validos, so Tremellius rendereth it. He infinitely mauleth the mighty; and breaketh them in pieces like a potter’s vessel, Psalms 2:9 .

Without number — Or, Without inquisition; as knowing all things beforehand, and not needing any evidences or examination of witnesses; or, without end, because their ruin is endless, Ruina maiorum sit cautela minorum.

And set others in their stead — As is to be seen in the rise, reign, and ruin of the four mighty monarchies, and others not a few, that had their times and their turns; as the kingdom of the ten tribes, which in a few years fell into nine different families; and few of those kings died a natural death. No more did the emperors of Rome, till Constantine. See Daniel 2:21 Psalms 113:7-8 .

Verse 25

Therefore he knoweth their works, and he overturneth [them] in the night, so that they are destroyed.

Therefore he knoweth their works — It appeareth by their punishment that God took notice of their wicked works, though they thought otherwise; yea, when they know not, or are not aware of it, he overthroweth them therefore. This he doth in the night, i.e. suddenly and unexpectedly. Others render it, As soon as he hath changed the night they are crushed; that is, as soon as he hath brought forth the light which revealeth all things, Ephesians 5:19 , and layeth them open to public view, who before were taken for better men, they are destroyed, as public pests.

Verse 26

He striketh them as wicked men in the open sight of others;

He striketh them as wicked men, …Complodit cos, saith Junius, scilicet ut inflatas vesicas in sun ipsorum sede, he striketh upon them, as blown bladders, in their own seat. This is an elegant similitude, setting forth the sudden overthrow of graceless great ones, as with a kind of noise, and not without public notice; for it followeth,

In the open sight of others — Heb. In the place of beholders, in proscenio, as upon a stage or scaffold, Discant iustitiam moniti; et non temnere numen, others may hear and fear, and do no more so. God is pleased for this purpose to bang up some notorious offenders as it were in gibbets; as Pharaoh, Sennacherib, Antiochus, Herod, Julian. See those writs of execution, 1 Corinthians 10:5-7 , and be wise by others’ woes; enjoy their follies, and gather, with the bee, sweet honey out of those bitter weeds, Poena ad paucos, metus ad omnes. Punishment to the poor, fear at all.

Verse 27

Because they turned back from him, and would not consider any of his ways:

Because they have turned back from him — To pursue after lying vanities, broken cisterns; which whosoever do, as they fall into two foul sins at once (such as heaven and earth have cause to be astonished at and afraid of), Jeremiah 2:12-13 , so they are miserable by their own election, John 2:8 .

And would not consider any of his ways — Wisely consider them, as David did, Psalms 119:168 . All God’s laws were in his sight; and all his ways in God’s sight. This was the general cause of their destruction. The special followeth.

Verse 28

So that they cause the cry of the poor to come unto him, and he heareth the cry of the afflicted.

So that they cause the cry of the poor, … — These they compel, by their oppressions, to wash the earth with their tears, and to importune heaven with their complaints, as Senault phraseth it. The wicked do, as it were, bring up to God the cries of the poor oppressed, and so pull upon themselves inevitable destruction, for he is the poor man’s patron, and heareth the cry of the afflicted. The Grand Signior would have the world take notice, that such as lament unto him shall be sure to have redress and succour from him. Wherefore also he calleth himself, Awlem Penawh, The world’s refuge, a title far more fit for the God of heaven than for any earthly monarch, were he far more gracious than the Great Turk, from whose courtesy, freely offered him, Luther blessed himself with a Deus me tueatur a tali benefice Domino, God defend me from such a gracious Lord (Joh. Maul. loc. com.).

Verse 29

When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? and when he hideth [his] face, who then can behold him? whether [it be done] against a nation, or against a man only:

When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?Ipse tranquillabit, et quis inquietabit? This is like that of the apostle, saith Brentius, Romans 8:31-39 , "If God be for us, who can be against us?" "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?" … It is he alone who giveth peace, both of country and of conscience; Peace, peace, Isaiah 26:3 , Pacem omnimodam; external, internal, eternal; and then, who can disturb or unsettle? Surely as Isaac once said to Esau, concerning Jacob, He is blessed, and he shall be blessed; so may it be said of such as have made their peace with God; peace shall be upon them and mercy, contra gentes, whosoever saith nay to it; yea, though it be the devil himself, that ο πονηρος , as he is oft called, the troublesome one; who, even since he was cast out of heaven, keeps ado on earth, and seeks to disquiet all such as, by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality, Romans 2:7 .

And when he hideth his face, who then can behold him? — Him? whom? God; who dare look upon him, or toward him for help, when he is thoroughly displeased and looketh irefully? Or, the party frowned on by God; who will smile upon him, or show him any favour and furtherance? Here Aben Ezra giveth a good note, Aversio vultus Dei, …, The turning away of God’s pleased countenance is the cause of all wars and other disasters. The physiologer in Epiphanius telleth of the bird charadius, that being brought into the room where a man lieth sick, if he look with a steady and fixed eye upon the sick man, he recovereth; but if he turn away from him, and look another way, the disease is to death. Apply this to God, and it fitteth.

Whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only — All is a case (as they say) to God, he stands not upon multitudes, as men use to do in case of mutinies or the like, to punish the tenth man or so, in terrorem, for a terror to the rest. This is not God’s way of punishing; but as a thousand years are to him but as a day, and one day as a thousand years; so when he proceeds to execution of justice, whether it be done against a nation, … All nations to him are but as a drop of a bucket or dust of a balance, Isaiah 40:15 And hence he buried a world full of people in one universal grave of waters. And the wicked (be they never so many) shall be turned into hell, with whole nations that forget God, Psalms 9:17 . God seemeth to say, Fiat iustitia, ruat orbis.

Verse 30

That the hypocrite reign not, lest the people be ensnared.

That the hypocrite reign not — That he reign no longer. Almighty God taketh order, by putting these mighties from their seat, and exalting them of low degree, Luke 1:52 . And why? 1. Lest the hypocrite, or the impure and impious man, reign; such as was Jehu, Herod, Julian, our Richard III, Pope Sixtus Quintus, of whom one saith, that he was the most crouching humble cardinal that ever was lodged in an oven, and the most stout proud pope that ever wore crown (Spec. Europ.). What pride equal to his, making kings kiss his pantofles? A slipper; formerly applied very variously, app., at one time or another, to every sort of in-door slippers or loose shoes; esp. to the high-heeled cork-soled chopins; also to out-door overshoes or goloshes; and to all manner of Oriental and non-European slippers, sandals, and the like. What humility (pretended) greater than his, shriving himself daily on his knees to an ordinary priest? He calleth himself the servant of God’s servants; and yet stamps in his coin, That nation and country that will not serve thee shall be rooted out; he also suffereth his parasites to style him, Our Lord God the pope. Is not this a notorious hypocrite? and when such a one reigneth and taketh upon him to be Lord of all, both in spirituals and temporals, may not we conclude that God hideth his face (as in the former verse) from his people? May we not cry out, as Basil once did (Epist. 17), Num ecclesias suas dereliquit Dominus? Hath the Lord utterly forsaken his Churches? It is, doubtless, a very great judgment upon a people, when a hypocrite or a profane person is set over them, who pretends the public good to his own designs and self interests, and by his crafty inventions undoes his subjects, robbing them of their lawful liberties, and enslaving them. Some read the words thus, He causeth that the hypocrite reigneth for the sins of the people. It is threatened as a heavy curse, Leviticus 26:17 . If you still trespass against me, I will set princes over you that shall hate you; mischievous, odious princes, odious to God, malignant to the people; such as was Phocas, that bloody tyrant, who, when he had slain his master, Mauritius, and reigned in his stead, there was an honest poor man, saith Cedrenus, who was earnest with God to know a reason why such a thing was suffered? to whom it was answered, That a worse man could not be found; and that the sins of Christians required it. We read of Attilus, king of Swethland, that he made a dog king of the Danes, in revenge of a great many injuries received by them. Gunno, likewise, king of the Danes, made a dog king of Norway; and appointed counsellors to do all things under his title and name. That which these men did spitefully God sometimes doth righteously; setting up tyrants for a punishment to those that were unthankful for better government, and would not have him to reign over them.

Lest the people be ensnared — Heb. For the snares of the people; that is, for the injuries and vexations wherewith that hypocrite oppressed the people; to put an end to those, by taking away the tyrant, who, for his cruel craft and crafty cruelty, is here fitly compared to a hunter or fowler laying snares. Sunt autem leges iniquae et exactiones iniustae principum hypocritarum, laquei et decipulae quibus populum sibi subiectum venantur et capiunt, saith Brentius here; i.e. Bad laws and unjust exactions of hypocritical princes are the snares and traps wherewith they hunt after and catch their subjects.

Verse 31

Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne [chastisement], I will not offend [any more]:

Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement — To convince a man of a fault, and not to advise him how to do better, is to snuff a lamp and not pour more oil into it. Elihu therefore now sets himself to counsel Job, whom he conceiveth he had sufficiently convinced of injury done to God. Surely it is meet, … Par est; this is supplied by the translators to make sense; for the original is very concise and dark, and therefore diversely interpreted; as is also all this latter part of the chapter. Some render it thus, But to God who saith, I pardon, I will not destroy, it should be said, That which I see not, teach thou me, … Some thus, Therefore we ought thus to speak unto God, I suffer patiently, I will not break asunder; viz. these bonds wherewith thou hast fast bound me. Others thus: Hath Job said to God, I have borne, … q.d. Nothing less, as ye all are witnesses. Others again thus: Hath he (that is, the tyrant dethroned, as in the verse aforegoing) said to God, I have been, …? Hath he confessed his wickedness, and promised amendment? No such matter, surely; therefore is he justly punished. This is a very good sense, saith Mercer. But to stick to our last and best translation, Surely it is meet, …, for is it fit that God should cast down the bucklers first, and not have the better of us? Should we not rather disarm his just indignation by a humble yieldance?

I have borne chastisement — Heb. I have borne and will bear, being active in suffering and taking up my cross.

I will not offend any more — Heb. I will not corrupt; to wit, my ways, and so undo myself.

Verse 32

[That which] I see not teach thou me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no more.

That which I see not, teach thou me — For I am yet in the dark, and know not the right cause wherefore thou afflictest me. Herein men are very apt to mistake themselves, and when God calls one way to run another, as young Samuel did, i Sam. iii. 5. The devil also dealeth by the afflicted as the Jews did by Christ, blindfolds them, and then bids them prophesy who smote them, and for what? Hence in afflictions we many times grope as blind men, guessing at this cause and at that, but seldom fasten on the right. Here, then, God must be sought unto for direction, and besought that he would graciously point us to the sin he strikes at. This Job had done once and again, Job 10:2 ; Job 13:23 . But Elihu would have him to do it yet better.

If I have done iniquity, I will do no more — Thus men must both vow and perform to the Lord their God, Psalms 76:11 , and not promise amendment, as children do when taken up to be whipped; or as men in danger at sea, or on their sick beds, use to do largely; but then Sciaputo il morbo, fiaudato il santo, as the Italian proverb hath it, When the disease is removed the saint is defrauded. Pharaoh promised fair while upon the rack; but got off once, he hardened his heart, and would do nothing. So those slippery votaries, Jeremiah 34:11 .

Verse 33

[Should it be] according to thy mind? he will recompense it, whether thou refuse, or whether thou choose; and not I: therefore speak what thou knowest.

Should it be according to thy mind — Heb. From with thee; q.d. Must things be as thou wilt? And is it fit for thee to prescribe to the Almighty? Hosea 8:4 to set the sun by thy dial?

He will recompense it, whether thou refuse, … — He will have his pennyworths of thee, whether thou be pleased or displeased.

And not I — Though I foretell thee this, yet it is God that will effect it; therefore think not the worse of me, no more than a people should of a herald or the trumpet as the cause of their war.

Therefore speak what thou knowest — viz. In thine one behalf, but speak the word of truth and soberness, he was no fool who said, It hath often repented me to have spoken, but seldom to have held my peace. There are many other readings and expositions of the words. Let every man (for me) take his choice, and abound in his own sense, so it dissent not from the analogy of faith.

Verse 34

Let men of understanding tell me, and let a wise man hearken unto me.

Let men of understanding tell me — Or, say with me; say as I say; viz. That Job hath spoken without knowledge, as Job 34:35 , and that I have spoken the thing that is right in vindicating the divine justice from thy causeless criminations.

And let a wise man hearken unto me — I presume there is not one wise man alive but will be of my mind; and for fools, the wen of this world, ever beside themselves in point of salvation, I regard not their censures. - Equitem mihi plaudere curo.

Verse 35

Job hath spoken without knowledge, and his words [were] without wisdom.

Job hath spoken without knowledgeInscienter et inscite, He hath outlashed and overshot himself in some words against God; yea, amidst his complaints, he hath let slip not a few lavish and loose speeches; which thing also, being reproved by God, he doth ingenuously acknowledge, Job 40:3-5 ; Job 42:1-6 .

And his words were without wisdom — Heb. Not in wisdom; and this he here heareth of on both ears, being barely told of it again and again, and not without some bitterness, in the close of this chapter. Some warmth there must be in a reproof (the physic will work the better), but scalding hot it must not be.

Verse 36

My desire [is that] Job may be tried unto the end because of [his] answers for wicked men.

My desire is that Job may be tried unto the end — Or, unto victory, till he be vanquished and set down, Usque ad victoriam (Trem). It is conceived that Job, by clapping his hands, as Job 34:37 , or by the set of his countenance, or some other way, had discovered his dislike of and discontent at that which Elihu had spoken. He therefore begs of God to continue afflicting him, till he be in a better mind, Crux sancta est et salubris. This he doth by a special instinct for Job’s good, and not out of any desire for revenge. So Farel pronounced a curse upon young Calvin’s studies, in case he should refuse to join with him in the Lord’s work at Geneva, where a Church had been newly planted; this so thunderstruck him, that he dared not stir from there to his dying day, At ego tibi studia tua praetexenti denuncio Omnipotentis Dei nomine, … (Calv. Vit.). Some read it, My Father, let Job be tried. It is not to be doubted but those ancients also called God by this sweet name of Father. See John 8:41 . Beza makes Elihu thus bespeaking Job, for honour’s sake, O my Father, Job shall be yet still tried. The Tigurines read, Haec autem in medium affero, These things I produce, that Job’s things may be most exactly discussed, and wicked men’s mouths stopped.

Because of his answers for wicked men — Who will take liberty by him to excuse their iniquity, and speak dishonourably of God, as he hath done.

Verse 37

For he addeth rebellion unto his sin, he clappeth [his hands] among us, and multiplieth his words against God.

For he addeth rebellion unto his sin — Or, he will add, viz. unless he be exercised and subdued by more and longer load of afflictions; there will else be no hoe with him, no ground will hold him. The cross is of singular use to tame that rebel flesh; and is theretbre prayed for by Jeremiah for himself, Jeremiah 10:24 , and here by Elihu for Job, who had before advisedly chosen affliction rather than sin, and reckoned it as a mercy to be visited every morning, and tried every moment, Job 7:18 .

He clappeth his hands among us — By way of derision, and as insulting over us. This it may seem Job had done in a disdainful way against all that had been spoken, which maketh Elihu thus fiercely to charge him.

And multiplieth his words against God — By a strange pertinace. He delivereth him therefore unto God to be further afflicted; as St Paul did Hymenaeus and Alexander unto Satan to be inwardly buffeted and bodily tormented, as Acts 13:11 ; Acts 19:16 ut castigati discerent, that they might learn not to blaspheme, 1 Timothy 1:20 .

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 34". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/job-34.html. 1865-1868.
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