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Job Describes his Former Prosperity
v. 1. Moreover, Job continued his parable, his proverbial sayings, and said,
v. 2. Oh, that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me, sighing for the happy condition of that period of his life which now seems to belong to the remote past;
v. 3. when His candle shined upon my head, when the lamp of God's favor illuminated Job's pathway, and when by His light I walked through darkness, secure in the midst of the greatest dangers,
v. 4. as I was in the days of my youth, literally, "of my autumn or harvest," the days of his prime, of his ripe manhood, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle, when His friendship, His companionship hovered over Job's tent, when he was in confidential, blessed intercourse with the Lord;
v. 5. when the Almighty was yet with me, giving Job His protection and blessing, when my children were about me, as a most highly valued blessing, Psalms 127, 128;
v. 6. when I washed my steps with butter, with the richest cream, and the rock poured me out rivers of oil, both pictures pointing to the riches of God's kindness which were granted to Job, when he was prosperous in all his work;
v. 7. when I went out to the gate through the city, up to the city from the place of his residence in the country, when I prepared my seat in the street, when he took his place in the market, in the open space near the city gate, where the men of influence and honor, the most respected men of the community, were wont to assemble!
v. 8. The young men saw me and hid themselves, out of great reverence for Job's wisdom and influence, and the aged arose and stood up, the very gray-headed men showing him deference in the most marked manner.
v. 9. The princes refrained talking, stopped in the middle of their speech, and laid their hand on their mouth, in reverential silence, yielding him the floor whenever he indicated that he had something to say.
v. 10. The nobles held their peace, literally, "the voice of nobles hid itself," or, "themselves," it was no longer heard, and their tongue cleaved to the roof of their mouth, awed by the presence of the wise and holy man in their midst.
v. 11. When the ear heard me, as he gave his counsel in the assembly of the people, then it blessed me, calling him happy in the possession of so much wisdom; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me, praising him for the good fortune which attended him at all times. Altogether, Job had enjoyed the greatest prosperity, honor, and dignity in the land.
Job Speaks of his Benevolence and the Honor Accorded Him
v. 12. Because I delivered the poor that cried, making a plea for assistance, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him, the orphan who had no helper, Job practised true benevolence, dispensed real charity.
v. 13. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me, the forsaken and miserable ones blessed him with grateful wishes for the help he gave them; and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy, by the willing charity which he dispensed, relieving her of all her cares of this life.
v. 14. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me, putting it on as a robe, wearing it always, so that the proper holy conduct at all times was identified with him; my judgment was as a robe and a diadem, justice and fairness in all his dealings were his mantle and his turban, characterizing him before all men.
v. 15. I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame, his charity and largess was so great as to make men forget their misfortunes, no matter whether these consisted even in lameness or blindness.
v. 16. I was a father to the poor, attending to the wants of the needy like a natural father; and the cause which I knew not I searched out, he made it his business to find out about the friendless in the community, in order to come to their assistance in anything they needed.
v. 17. And I brake the jaws of the wicked, of all the hard-hearted, who oppressed the poor, especially of unrighteous judges, and plucked the spoil out of his teeth, rescuing them from the power of the wicked, as out of the claws of beasts of prey. In this way had Job spent his days, dispensing benevolence on all sides.
v. 18. Then I said, I shall die in my nest, safe in the bosom of his family, and I shall multiply my days as the sand, dying in a ripe old age, after the grains of sand in the hour-glass of his life had fully run their course.
v. 19. My root was spread out by the waters, he had hoped that he would flourish like a tree plentifully watered, and the dew lay all night upon my branch, like the moisture which sustains the life of the desert plant.
v. 20. My glory was fresh in me, he thought he would always be given the honor which he then enjoyed, and my bow was renewed in my hand, the bow being a symbol of manliness and strength, which, he trusted, would always grow young again.
v. 21. Unto me men gave ear and waited, they paused for Job to speak first, his counsel being decisive, and kept silence at my counsel, not presuming to contradict him.
v. 22. After my words they spake not again, his solution of the matter under consideration being final; and my speech dropped upon them, as the refreshing rain does upon the dry soil eager for its fructifying power.
v. 23. And they waited for me as for the rain, to have his counsel come to them as such a gentle shower; and they opened their mouth wide as for the latter rain, the rain of early spring, which determines the richness of the harvest.
v. 24. If I laughed on them, they believed it not, literally, "when they had no confidence," when they were despondent about something, his cheering smile gave them new courage; and the light of my countenance they cast not down, could not darken; no matter how cheerless the prospect, they could not take the hopefulness out of Job's heart nor the encouraging smile from his face.
v. 25. I chose out their way and sat chief, he took pleasure in attending their assemblies and in taking part in their affairs, and dwelt as a king in the army, assuming the leadership altogether naturally, as one that comforteth the mourners, with the encouragement which a true leader will give to those depending on him. Such was Job's happiness and prosperity, and such were his hopes for the future in the days when he was an honored man in the community.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Job 29". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19