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The Hidden Ways of God with Regard to the Wicked
v. 1. Why, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty, judicial terms, at which He might condemn the wicked as they deserve, do they that know Him not see His days? Why do His friends not see such days of judgment, have evidence that God does punish the ungodly? The underlying thought is that there is no just retribution for the wicked, that God does not seem to care how men sin or suffer. Job now mentions some such hideous transgressions which apparently go unpunished.
v. 2. Some remove the landmarks, change the boundaries in their own favor; they violently take away flocks and feed thereof, becoming guilty of plunder and robbery, brazenly pasturing the stolen flocks.
v. 3. They drive away the ass of the fatherless, they take the widow's ox for a pledge, in either case taking the most valued possession of the defenseless, the animal upon which their livelihood depended.
v. 4. They turn the needy out of the way, disdainfully thrusting them out of the way into roadless regions; the poor of the earth hide themselves together, being obliged to hide before the insolence of their oppressors.
v. 5. Behold, as wild asses in the desert, in untamed fierceness and absolute disregard of other people's rights, go they forth to their work; rising betimes for a prey, eager for plunder; the wilderness yieldeth food for them and for their children, "the steppe, with its scant supply of roots and herbs, is to him food for the children" (Delitzsch), and what the desert does not furnish him he obtains by a life of robbery and plunder. The wild asses of the waste regions, untractable in their love of freedom, are represented as a type of gregarious vagrants, of freebooters, who live by plunder.
v. 6. They reap every one his corn in the field, they are always lucky in getting enough fodder for their cattle; and they gather the vintage of the wicked, gleaning the late-ripe fruit, boldly stealing it whenever it suits their purpose.
v. 7. They cause the naked to lodge without clothing, the poor, oppressed by the wicked robbers, are deprived even of their one garment which served for their covering by night, that they have no covering in the cold.
v. 8. They are wet with the showers of the mountains, where the poor try to find refuge, and embrace the rock for want of a shelter, clinging closely to it, crouching beneath it in the vain attempt to find a covering. The description of the tyrants themselves is now resumed.
v. 9. They pluck the fatherless from the breast, snatching orphans from the arms of their mothers in order to bring them up as slaves, and take a pledge of the poor, what little is left to the miserable one they appropriate with a show of right.
v. 10. They cause him to go naked without clothing, literally, "Naked they [the poor] slink about, without clothing," and they take away the sheaf from the hungry, rather, "and hungry they [the poor] bear the sheaves," namely, for the rich, who press them into their service without even giving them sufficient food for their needs,
v. 11. which make oil within their walls, under strict supervision they are obliged to press out the oil from the olives, and tread their wine-presses, stamping out the grapes in the wine-vats, and suffer thirst, not even permitted to quench their thirst while engaged in working for the rich oppressors.
v. 12. Men groan from out of the city, strong men moan with the torture to which they are put, which threatens their very lives, and the soul of the wounded crieth out, as the wicked attack them with weapons of blood; yet God layeth not folly to them, He does not seem to regard the violence of the godless while they are engaged in this manner. It is a source of great surprise to Job, he cannot understand it, that God should not heed this mockery of the divine order.
v. 13. They are of those that rebel against the light, enemies of the light, of that which is good and noble, children of darkness and night, Romans 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:8; they know not the ways thereof nor abide in the paths thereof, they will not know the ways of the light, where their deeds may be seen by all men, John 3:20-21.
v. 14. The murderer rising with the light, at the dawn, before it is yet broad daylight, killeth the poor and needy, slaying tile defenseless to satisfy his bloodthirstiness, and in the night is as a thief, when there are no unsuspecting wanderers to strike down, he plies his trade as burglar.
v. 15. The eye also of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight, the approach of the evening when he can follow his unclean craft, saying, No eye shall see me; and disguiseth his face, putting on not only a heavy veil, but apparently assuming the garments of a woman, in order to remain unknown.
v. 16. In the dark they dig through houses, the walls of the poorer houses being constructed of dried mud, through which the thief could force his way, which they had marked for themselves in the daytime; they know not the light, literally, "they shut up themselves during the day and want to know nothing of its light. " A fine description of criminals.
v. 17. For the morning is to them even as the shadow of death; the darkest night is like morning to them, for then they start out on their nefarious pursuits. If one know them, they are in the terrors of the shadow of death; they are as familiar with the terrors of the darkest night as honest men are with the open day and therefore do not shun them. The description tallies exactly with that of criminals of all times.
Other Cases seem to Support Job's Idea
v. 18. He is swift as the waters, he is swept away irresistibly, as by a flood; their portion is cursed in the earth, whatever they have called their own; he beholdeth not the way of the vineyards, that is, he does not enter there any more, the wealthy evil-doer is kept from enjoying his ill-gotten possessions.
v. 19. Drought and heat consume the snow waters, bearing them away, lapping them up, consuming them quickly; so doth the grave those which have sinned, they are swallowed, consumed, by the realm of the dead.
v. 20. The womb, the mother who bore him, shall forget him; the worm shall feed sweetly on him, enjoying the pleasant meal which his dead body offers; he shall be no more remembered; and wickedness shall be broken as a tree, iniquity is like a felled tree, suddenly chopped down.
v. 21. He evil entreateth the barren that beareth not, plundering her who has no children to protect her, and doeth not good to the widow, showing himself unmerciful to all the defenseless.
v. 22. He draweth also the mighty with His power, God preserves the men of might by His strength, prolonging the life of such mighty evil-doers. He riseth up, and no man is sure of life, literally, "such a one rises up again although not sure of his life," even when he has despaired of his life.
v. 23. Though it be given him to be in safety whereon he resteth, that is, God grants him a quiet existence so that he is sustained in life, yet His eyes are upon their ways, God watches over the paths of the prosperous wicked, blesses and protects them.
v. 24. They are exalted for a little while, but are gone and brought low; they are taken out of the way as all other, they perish like the rest, and cut off as the tops of the ears of corn, the spikes of the wheatstalks, the harvesting at that time being largely done by the process of heading.
v. 25. And if it be not so now, who will make me a liar, convicting him of falsehood, and make my speech nothing worth? Job very emphatically expresses his conviction that he now had the advantage of his opponents, by virtue of the arguments which he last advanced. He felt that they could offer no solution to the riddle which confronted them in the fact of his affliction.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Job 24". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19