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SECOND COURSE OF DIALOGUES.—SECOND SPEECH OF ELIPHAZ
Eliphaz less gentle and courteous than in his former speech. Probably irritated at his little success with Job, who rejected his friend’s counsel and still maintained his own uprightness. The hostility of the friends more pronounced as the dialogue proceeds.
I. Eliphaz sharply reproves Job’s speeches (Job 15:2-13).
1. Their emptiness and rehemence (Job 15:2). “Should a wise man (Heb., ‘the wise man’) utter vain knowledge (Heb., answer [with] knowledge of wind, or windy sentiments), and fill his belly (his mind or heart, John 7:38) with the East wind,”—cherishing and uttering opinions which are not only empty as the wind, but injurious to himself and others; like the parching, vehement east wind, coaching and drying up all vegetation. Such language as Job had employed, unbecoming, in the opinion of Eliphaz, the wise man that he had passed for. Job celebrated in his own country for wisdom as well as piely (ch. Job 29:8-9; Job 29:21-23). “Should the wise man,” &c.,—probably a taunt. Men with a character for wisdom to be careful to speak and act consistently with it. A little folly in such men like the dead fly in the apothecary’s perfume (Ecclesiastes 10:1).
2. Their verbiage and unprofitableness (Job 15:3). “Should he reason with unprofitable talk, or with speeches,” &c.,—as if Job’s speeches were mere talk. A charge as ungenerous and unfeeling as it was untruthful and unjust. Job no mere talker, though his words not always wise. A Christian’s speech to be with grace seasoned with salt, and good to the use of edifying. The abundant talk of the lips tendeth to penury. In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin. Unprofitable talk the mark of an unregenerate heart.
3. Their impiety and hurtful influence (Job 15:4) “Yea thou casteth off fear (or, makest void the fear [of God as of no value], and restrainest (—lessenest or discouragest) prayer before God [as of no use]”. Job’s language viewed either as indicating want of reverence and piety in himself, or rather as tending to discourage it in others. The danger implied in Asaph’s hasty conclusion: “Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain” (Psalms 73:13); or, in the language of the fool’s heart: “There is no God” (Psalms 14:1). Observe—
(1.) The interests of religion greatly in the keeping of its professors;
(2.) A believer in trouble to be careful so to speak as to bear a good testimony to religion before the world.
4. Their wickedness and deceit (Job 15:5). “Thy mouth uttereth thine iniquity (or, ‘thine iniquity teacheth thy mouth,’ viz. to utter such wickedness), and thou choosest the tongue of the crafty.” Job’s language viewed as the studied contrivance of a wicked heart. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. As a man is, so is his speech. When the heart restrains prayer the mouth puts forth peevishness. What piety appeared in Job’s speeches uncharitably viewed by Eliphaz as only employed with the intent to deceive. His tongue that of the crafty, who “by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:18). No new thing for an upright man to be charged with hypocrisy. God’s testimony regarding Job the opposite to that of Eliphaz. Observe—
(1.) A small matter for men to speak ill if God speaks well of us;
(2.) Our speech and conversation to be with “simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God” (2 Corinthians 1:12).
The charge of Eliphaz untrue in both its senses. Job spoke rashly, but neither cast off the fear of God nor restrained prayer. His words not always wise, but neither tended to destroy religion nor discourage devotion. A godly man may sin against the commandments; it is the part of a wicked man to sin away the commandments themselves. The casting off of God’s fear the cause of all evil. When the fear of God goes out, the practice of sin comes in. The fear of God the beginning of wisdom; the casting of it off, the abandonment to all wickedness. The fear of God the sum of all godliness; the casting of it off, the sum of all sinfulness. Sad not to possess the fear of God; still worse to cast it off. To be without it ourselves is bad; to destroy it in others still worse. The deepest brand of guilt on a man’s brow is, not only to sin himself, but, like Jeroboam, to make others to sin also (1 Kings 14:16; 1 Kings 15:30; 1 Kings 15:34; 1 Kings 16:2; 1 Kings 16:19; 1 Kings 16:26). Job’s sin that he seemed more to complain against God than to pray to Him. Sad at any time to restrain prayer, still more in the time of affliction (Psalms 50:15; Isaiah 26:16). Prayer a principal part of God’s worship and of man’s religion. A prayerless life the mark of a graceless heart. Prayer is restrained either—
(1) From distaste for it; or
(2) From disbelief in its efficacy; or
(3) From disdain and self-sufficiency. To restrain prayer to God is to be a god to ourselves. Believing prayer opens the door of mercy and the windows of blessing; to restrain prayer is to shut both against us.
5. Job’s speeches reproved also for their arrogance and pride (Job 15:7). “Art thou the first man that was born, or wast thou made before the hills? Hast thou heard the secret (or, ‘hast thou been a listener in the privy council’) of God, and dost thou restrain wisdom to thyself? What knowest thou that we know not? What understandest thou which is not in us. With us are both the greyheaded and very aged men, much elder than thy father. Are the consolations of God small with thee (or, ‘too small for thee,’ or, ‘of little account with thee’)? Is there any secret thing with thee (or, ‘and the word which dealeth gently with thee;’ or, ‘and our mild addresses to thee’)?” Job’s ridicule of his friends’ monopoly of wisdom retorted by Eliphaz upon himself. Grievous words stir up anger. Job had ridiculed his friends as if they were the whole race; is now ridiculed himself as if he were the first man that had been born. Wisdom rightly supposed to have been much greater in Adam than in his children, as made after the image of God himself. Similar language to that addressed here in ridicule to Job divinely applied to Christ as the wisdom of God (Proverbs 8:22-26). Hills spoken of as the firmest, and therefore supposed to be the most ancient, of earthly things. Said to be everlasting (Genesis 49:26; Hebrews 3:6). Eliphaz views his own and his friends’ discourses as “the consolations of God,” and angrily asks Job if these were too small for him, or if he held them of small account. Their discourses and consolations, however, rather adapted for an impenitent sinner than a tried suffering saint. Hence Job’s low esteem of them (ch. Job 13:4; Job 13:12). Preachers and others to take care that what they present to mourners are in reality.
The Consolations of God
God the God of all comfort. Comforteth those that are cast down (2 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 7:6). Comforts tenderly as a mother, effectually as a Creator, (Isaiah 66:13; Isaiah 65:18). Able to make either anything or nothing a comfort to us. Can multiply comforts as fast as the world multiplies crosses. His consolations viewed either as spoken to us or wrought in us. Are either good things done for us or promised to us. God comforts—
(1) By His spirit;
(2) By His word;
(3) By His providence. His consolations include—
(1) His purposes in trouble;
(2) His promises of support and deliverance;
(3) The benefits resulting from it;
(4) The example of the saints and especially of the Son of God;
(5) The fellowship of believers, and especially of Christ (Daniel 3:25);
(6) God Himself as our shield here and our portion hereafter;
(7) His love as the origin of our trouble;
(8) The glories of eternity as infinitely compensating for the troubles of time. Trouble itself a consolation to a child of God as the testimony of his Father’s love. God’s rod, like Jonathan’s, brings honey on its point. “Thy rod and thy staff comfort me” (Psalms 23:4). Observe—
(1.) The consolations of God are not small. Are able to meet every case. Strong consolation (Hebrews 6:18). Exceeding great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:4). The Scriptures written that through patience and comfort we might have hope. The plaster of God’s Word able to cover the largest sore of a sin-stricken soul. God has great consolations for great sorrows. His consolations like Himself. Christ Himself the consolation of Israel. The Holy Ghost the comforter. The consolations of God are—(i.) True and solid; (ii.) Holy and satisfying; (iii.) Adequate and suitable; (iv.) Lasting and durable.
(2) The consolations of God are not to be accounted small. No small sin to slight God’s consolations, as either insufficient or unsuitable to our case. These, on the contrary, to be highly valued—(i.) On account of their origin—the love of God; (ii.) Their costliness—the purchase of a Saviour’s blood; (iii.) Their efficacy—as able to meet our case; (iv.) Their freeness on God’s part and their undeservedness on ours.
6. Job’s speeches reproved also for their passion and rebelliousness (Job 15:12). “Why doth thine heart carry thee away, and what do thine eyes wink at (as indicating passion, pride, and evil purpose)? That thou turnest thy spirit against God, and lettest such words go out of thy mouth.” Unfeeling and exaggerated questions. Neither Job’s spirit nor his words to be always vindicated, but undeserving of such severe reproof. Reproof, when unjust and excessive, becomes cruclty instead of kindness. Tenderness a duty in dealing with a sinner, still more with a saint, and most of all with a sufferer. The language, and perhaps the looks of Job, at times indicative of unholy passion. The flesh even in a believer weak. The heat of the temper apt to carry away into hastiness of the tongue. Job at times too bold with God; yet his boldness that of a child, not that of an enemy. The spirit of an impenitent sinner is turned against God in trouble, that of a believer is turned towards Him. The latter the attitude of Job’s spirit in his affliction (ch. Job 16:20).
II. Eliphaz insists on man’s depravity (Job 15:14).
“What is man (wretched fallen man, Heb., ‘Enosh’), that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous? Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints (or angels,—Heb. ‘holy ones’); yea, the heavens (literally, or their inhabitants) are not clean in his sight. How much more abominable and filthy is man (or, ‘how much less [shall] abominable and filthy man [be clean in his sight]’) which drinketh iniquity like water?” A clear and strong declaration of man’s deep and universal depravity. The object to prove Job a sinner, and convict him of arrogance in maintaining his uprightness. The argument is—
(1) Unsound. The premises true but the conclusion false. Man universally depraved, but Job not therefore a bad man or a hypocrite; otherwise Satan’s allegation just,—no such thing as genuine religion in the world. Grace and holiness in the individual consistent with depravity in the race. The object of redemption to renew fallen man to purity. Comparatively blameless morals and upright principles found even among the heathen. Examples; Socrates, Aristides the Just, Cyrus the Great.
(2) Useless. Man’s depravity admitted and maintained by Job as well as Eliphaz (ch. Job 14:4). Not absolute but relative purity claimed by Job. All but useless for a preacher to labour to prove what all his hearers fully admit. The passage valuable as a testimony to
The Depravity of Human Nature
1. Declared in the name given to man here and elsewhere in the Hebrew Scriptures, “Enosh,”—miserable and desperately diseased. Man’s very nature morally diseased. Inward renovation necessary in order to purity and holiness. To cleanse and renew man’s corrupt nature, the work of the Holy Spirit through the instrumentality of Gospel truth. “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken to you.” The promise in the New Covenant: “I will sprinkle clean water upon you and ye shall be clean” (Ezekiel 36:25). David’s prayer: “Create in me a clean heart.” The object of Christ’s death, to sanctify and cleanse the Church as with the washing of water by the word (Ephesians 5:26). His prayer to the Father: “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth” (John 17:17). The believer in one sense “clean every whit” (John 13:10). Apart from grace none clean in God’s sight. Sin stains man’s best performances. His righteousnesses filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Man only clean and holy as a member of Christ the Holy One, and in virtue of a new nature implanted in him by the Holy Ghost. At death, the last remains of the believer’s sinful nature for ever gone. The leprous house taken down and rebuilt entirely free from the vile infection.
2. Man’s depravity the result of his birth. Born naturally of a fallen woman, man’s nature necessarily depraved. A clean thing not to be produced in the mere course of nature from an unclean (ch. Job 14:4). Man now shapen in iniquity in the womb, and conceived by his mother in sin (Psalms 51:5). Like mother, like child. One glorious and necessary exception. Christ “born of a woman,” yet righteous and clean from His birth. The reason: “His conception by the immediate agency of the Holy Ghost (Luke 1:35). Man’s Saviour must be Himself a man, yet absolutely clean from his birth. To be a man he must be “born of a woman;” to be clean his conception must be the immediate production of Divine power. No necessity for the figment of the immaculate conception of the Saviour’s mother. Mary a holy woman, not by nature but by grace. Her song that of a saved sinner (Luke 1:47).
3. Man’s character given in three particulars—
(1) Abominable. Something to be loathed. Sin the abominable thing that God hates. Makes every creature abominable in whom it prevails. Man, as depraved, cast out like Israel at his very birth, to the loathing of his person (Ezekiel 16:5). No education, refinement, or accomplishment able to make an unrenewed man anything less than abominable in the sight of God.
(2) Filthy,—the filthiness rather to the smell than the taste. The noisomeness of a corpse or of a sewer. The sourness of a fermenting mass. Sin is death and moral putrefaction. Makes a man in whom it reigns a living corpse. Not all the perfumes of Arabia able to sweeten an unrenewed soul.
(3) Drinking iniquity like water. (i.) Man loves and delights in sin. (ii.) Thirsts for it and pursues it eagerly. (iii.) Expects and endeavours to satisfy himself by its commission. (iv.) Commits it as a thing necessary to his existence; can no more live without it than an ox can live without drinking water. (v.) Practises it habitually, as a horse must daily drink water. (vi.) Finds pleasure in its commission, but nothing that permanently satisfies him; thirsts again. (vii.) Commits it abundantly, not sipping but drinking it. (viii.) Goes to it naturally, as an animal goes naturally to drink water; sin natural to a depraved heart. (ix.) Commits it easily and without effort; sins on easy terms and small consideration; water a common drink. Observe, however, a contrast as well as a resemblance in the case:—(i.) Water a creature of God; sin a thing of the devil. (ii.) Water designed by God for the use of man and beast; sin strictly forbidden by Him. (iii.) Water necessary for man’s existence; sin not only not necessary, but ruinous. (iv.) Water beneficial to the drinker of it; sin only hurtful and destructive.
III. Eliphaz proposes to convict Job from the Fathers (Job 15:17) &c.
“I will shew thee, hear me; and that which I have seen (—personally observed as well as heard from others) I will declare; which wise men have told from their fathers, and have not hid it. Unto whom alone the earth (or land) was given (for their residence and government,—in opposition to Job’s statement in ch. Job 9:24,) and no stranger passed among them” (or, “came among them,” as a resident or invader). Traditional maxims of the ancients avowedly introduced by Eliphaz, as had already been done by Job and the other speakers. These ancients the fathers of “wise men,” who had handed down their moral sayings to their posterity. To this posterity belonged Eliphaz himself. Like Job, a contemporary of Scrug and Reu, the son and grandson of Peleg, in whose days the earth was divided after the dispersion (Genesis 10:25). The ancients or fathers, therefore, probably Noah and his son Shem, or Noah’s ancestors back to Adam. The “wise men,” those to whom the land of Arabia was given as their residence, viz., the sons of Joktan, the younger son of Eber (Shem’s grandson), and Peleg’s brother, by whom Arabia was first populated (Genesis 10:25-30). One of these sons of Joktan named Jobab, supposed by some to be the same with Job. The boast of Eliphaz that among these “wise men” or sons of Joktan, “no stranger” or foreigner had ever been allowed to corrupt their religion and morals. The glory of the Arabs is their language, their sword, and their pure blood. The true religion often corrupted by the mixture of foreign nations. Israel forbidden to make alliances with the nations around them lest they should “learn their ways.” The saying of a heathen poet endorsed by Revelation, “Evil communications corrupt good manners.” Arabia famed for its wise men. These handed down to posterity the moral and religious truth received in like manner from their fathers.—The true religion propagated by parents and others carefully instructing the rising generation in its truths. The obvious and sacred duty of all who possess it (Psalms 48:13; Psalms 78:3-4).
IV. Quotation from the Fathers in reference to the experience of the ungodly (Job 15:20-35).
Noblespecimen of Oriental poetry. Sublime and tragical, and among the most ancient in the world. A description of unprincipled men whose only aim is the acquisition of wealth and power, stopping at no means to obtain it, and then abusing it to the oppression of their fellow-men. Applicable in every period of the world, but more particularly in its earlier ages, when, as before the flood, “the earth was filled with violence.” The characters especially such as the “mighty men which were of old, men of renown” (Genesis 6:4; Genesis 6:11-13). Men of the class of Cain, Nimrod and Pharaoh—impious and daring towards God, cruel and unjust towards their fellow-men. The application wrongfully intended for Job, in order to bring him to conviction and repentance. The only ground for the application in his circumstances, none whatever in his character and conduct. Job, once rich and prosperous, was now in great misery through successive blows of Divine providence. This sufficient ground with Eliphaz for its application. The doctrine intended by Eliphaz to be conveyed by it, as to the constant and exclusive attendance of misery upon wickedness in this world, repeatedly denied by Job (ch. Job 12:6; Job 21:7), &c.
The description contains:—
1. The character of the persons intended. All sin deserving of punishment, but some sins more heinous in God’s sight than others. The persons intended are described as—
(1.) Wicked (Job 15:20). Men lawless and unprincipled, of wicked hearts and wicked lives. All men sinners, but by God’s Providence and His renewing or restraining grace, all not wicked sinners.—
(2.) Violent oppressors (Job 15:20). The distinctive character of these wicked men. Their wickedness manifested in their violent conduct and oppression of their fellow-men. Their object, power and wealth; their means of obtaining them, violence and wrong. Great warriors and conquerors. Ambitious chiefs and tyrants. Robbers on a large as well as a small scale. Particularly described by Zophar (ch. Job 20:19). The character which Eliphaz afterwards directly ascribes to Job (ch. Job 22:6-7; Job 22:9). A common character in those early ages, and in the barbarous and uncivilised state of a community.—
(3.) Daring and impious (Job 15:25). “For he stretcheth out his hand against God and strengtheneth himself (or, ‘plays the hero’) against the Almighty; he runneth upon him (viz., upon God,—rushes on Him with swiftness and fury, as Daniel 8:6), even on his neck (like a fierce combatant, eager to grapple with his antagonist in close quarters; or, ‘with his neck,’ like a furious bull whose strength is in his neck and shoulders), upon (or with) the thick bosses of his bucklers” (like a band attacking with joined shields). The language of Pharaoh (Exodus 5:2); of Sennacherib (Isaiah 36:20); of the crucifiers of Christ (Acts 4:25-27; Psalms 2:1). Similar defiance of the Almighty exhibited by the Dragon and his angels (Revelation 12:7). The character of obstinate and impenitent transgressors in general. Men “fight against God” while—(i.) Persevering in a course of sin; (ii.) Opposing God’s cause or Gospel, His Church, or any of His people (Acts 5:39); (iii.) Contending for an object in opposition to His will, and by means which He forbids. Fearful stage in sin when men act as champions of hell against the God of heaven.—
(4.) Profligate and profane (Job 15:34). “Hypocrites,” or rather, profane and profligate men. Men who neither “fear God nor regard men.” No reference intended by the term in the Old Testament to religious profession.—
(5.) Covetous and unjust (Job 15:34). Men given to “bribery.” As rulers and judges, accepting gifts as the bribe for a favourable though unjust sentence. Men who wronged others by perverting justice in order to enrich themselves. Accepted gifts for the perpetration of wicked deeds.—
(6.) Plotters of mischief (Job 15:35). “They conceive mischief and bring forth vanity” (Margin, “iniquity”). The same character described, Psalms 36:4; Proverbs 4:16. Sins against our neighbour chiefly intended. Those who do not fear God readily plot against men.—
(7.) Cunning and deceitful (Job 15:35). “Their belly (mind or heart, but with reference to conception) prepareth (contrives or matures) deceit” (for others in order to their own gain, for themselves in their disappointment of it). Evil ends often attainable only by deceit. So Satan and our first parents; Haman and the Jews; Jezebel and Naboth’s vineyard.
2. The temporary prosperity of the persons intended (Job 15:27). “Because he covereth (or, ‘though he have covered’) his face with fatness (see Psalms 73:7), and maketh collops of fat on his flanks” (or, “hath made fat on his loins”). Good living his object. His god his belly (Luke 16:19).—“And he inhabiteth desolate cities (or, ‘and though he inhabited cities destroyed by him’ and taken into his own possession,—conduct ascribed to Crassus the Roman general), and in houses which no man inhabiteth (—emptied of their proper inhabitants), which are ready to become heaps” (or, “are doomed to ruins”)—reminding Job of his own calamity in the case of his children (ch. Job 1:19). Temporary success in sin to be followed by ultimate ruin. The wicked raised for a deeper fall. Iniquity often like a tree full of blossom, to be blighted by the frost or blasted by the lightning. Prosperous villainy one of the mysteries of Divine providence.
3. Their subsequent misery. Suffering corresponding with sin. This objected to by Job as to its universal occurrence in this life. The passage describes—
(1.) The inward experience of the wicked in this life (Job 15:20, &c.). “The wicked man travaileth with pain (or, ‘is inwardly tormented’) all his days (lives a life of anxiety and fear); and the number of years hidden to the oppressor” (or, “and the number of years,” or “the few years [which] are laid up for” him). The whole life of the oppressor comes to be full of anxiety and alarm under the goad of an evil conscience. Sin, like a corpse or a putrid ulcer, breeds worms.—“A dreadful sound (Heb. ‘a voice of alarms,’—not one terror but many) is in his ears; in prosperity, the destroyer (God’s avenging justice, or some hand of violence as the executioner of it) shall come upon him” (what actually takes place, or what the voice of conscience inwardly threatens him with). The Avenging Furies of the heathen expressive of facts in the experience of the daring transgressor. The suddenness of the destruction intended, or the presence of these voices of terror in the midst of outward quiet and prosperity. The unexpectedness or calamity a serious aggravation of it. “When they shall say, Peace and safety,” &c. (Job 15:22).—“He believeth not that he shall return out of darkness (that he shall ever escape out of the misery that threatens or has already overtaken him,—the language sadly suggestive of Job’s own case); and he is waited for of the sword” (actually or in his own apprehension). Besides present evils he anticipates future ones. The sword of Damocles hangs over his head at his most sumptuous feasts. His terrified imagination sees a dagger wherever he turns. Only a violent and bloody death is before his eyes. “Every one that findeth me shall slay me.” Despair of good the greatest evil. A wicked man has neither ground nor heart to believe [Caryl]. Faith a shield against the fiery darts of the devil; unbelief a shield against the tender mercies of God. Faith makes evil good; unbelief makes good evil.—(Job 15:23). “He wandereth abroad for bread, saying, Where is it?” He becomes like Cain, “a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth.” Job’s fall from affluence to poverty might seem to afford an example. The bread he has taken from others now fails himself. The wicked wander for bread when they are rich as well as when they are poor. The godly are content in every condition.—“He knoweth that the day of darkness is near at hand,”—has the inward conviction that a time of poverty and calamity will soon overtake him. Terrible certainty of a guilty conscience. The Furies brandish in his face their threatening whip. Conscience holds up the sentence of condemnation before his eyes. The experience which impelled Judas to the fatal tree. The certain apprehension of future and speedy perdition one principal cause of suicide. Such terrors aided, if not generated, by the Tempter, who now becomes the Tormentor. The Gospel of the grace of God, free and immediate forgiveness through the blood of the cross to the chief of sinners, the blessed and only remedy in such a case. The oil of pardoning mercy alone able to smooth that surging sea. Jesus the only Physician that can minister to that mind diseased. “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved,” has already in multitudes “cleansed the bosom of that perilous grief which weighs upon the heart,” and changed black despair into bright and joyous hope. “Fear not, only believe.” (Job 15:24).—“Trouble and anguish (—multiplied and intensified distress, or, outward trouble and inward anguish) shall make him afraid.” Again too much resemblance to Job’s case (ch. Job 6:4). Worse to fear evil than to feel it.—“They shall prevail against him” (or “hem him in”). Shall break his spirit or end his life. Shall scare him not only out of his comfort but out of his senses [Caryl].—“As a king (or general) ready to the battle.” Trouble and anguish personified as a general in the midst of his troops, surrounding the enemy, rushing on to the attack and overpowering him. The evil-doer powerless to resist this attack of outward trouble and inward anguish. Troubles too great to bear, too thick to escape from. “My punishment is greater than I can bear.” “The spirit of a man may sustain his infirmity, but a wounded spirit who can bear?” Such an experience often the result of long-rejected calls to repentance and offers of mercy (Proverbs 1:24-30).
(2) The outward visitation of the wicked. (Job 15:29). “He shall not be rich (or continue so,—shall not enjoy his ill-gotten wealth, which shall ‘flow away on the day of wrath’), neither shall his substance continue, neither shall he prolong the perfection there of (or ‘extend his possessions, flocks, &c.’) upon the earth” (or in the land). Apparently another side-glance at Job’s losses. Ill-gotten goods never lasting. Sinners earn wages to put them into a bag with holes. Earthly joys, like children’s toys, easily broken and soon forgotten.—(Job 15:30). “He shall not depart out of darkness”—shall not escape out of the trouble and misery that shall overtake him. Endless misery the just wages of unceasing sin.—“The flame (—lightning or the hot wind of the desert, emblems of the wrath of God) shall dry up his branches (—his prosperity, more especially his children; another sad cut for Job, ch. Job 1:16; Job 1:19); and by the breath of his mouth (—the anger of God, compared to a scorching or a scattering wind) shall he go away” (retreat as a worsted combatant, or be whirled away as chaff or stubble, Psalms 1:4). God’s mere breath able to sweep away the sinner. Indicates also the suddenness of the destruction.—(Job 15:32). “It (viz. his death) shall be accomplished (or, ‘the recompense shall be fully paid’; or, ‘he shall be cut off’) before his time, and his branch shall not be green” (—his children shall not survive or prosper, or his prosperity shall not continue). The prosperous wicked compared, as in Job 15:30, to a flourishing tree. So ch. Job 8:16-17; Psalms 37:35.—(Job 15:33). “He (the sinner under the figure of a tree, or God in his mysterious judgments) shall shake off his unripe grape as the vine, and shall cast off his flower as the olive” (when smitten by the frost or a pestilential wind). His prosperity brought to a sudden and premature end.—(Job 15:34). “For the congregation of hypocrites (—the wicked themselves and their families along with them) shall be desolate.” Neither numbers nor combinations able to secure the ungodly against God’s judgments. “Though hand join in hand &c.” Wealth gathered by man’s unrighteousness often scattered by God’s wrath.—“And fire shall consume the tabernacles of bribery” (—the dwellings of corrupt and covetous judges). Divine judgments shall overthrow their families, if not their very dwellings, as in the mind of Eliphaz they had done in the case of Job’s children (ch. Job 1:19). A literal exemplification in the case of the Cities of the Plain. Job cruelly made to see, as in a mirror, his own calamities, and, to intensify their bitterness, to see them as a judgment of God.
An apparent warning parenthetically introduced in the description by way of personal application (Job 15:31). “Let not him that is deceived trust in vanity (—in his riches, or in the iniquity which has procured them; or, let not him [any man] trust in the vanity by which he has been deceived): for vanity (probably used in another sense) shall be his recompense.” A caution of general use, but especially intended for poor Job. The warning suggests the following lessons:—
(1) All carthly possessions vanity, as unable to satisfy the soul, and sure to disappoint those who trust in them for happiness. The creature is vanity, both in its possession and its promises. Promises—(i.) Satisfaction; (ii.) Protection; (iii.) Continuance. Most vain to those who trust in it.—
(2) Those possessions especially vain which have been dishonestly or violently obtained. “The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death” (Proverbs 21:6).—
(3) The character of the ungodly to trust in vanity, in earthly possessions and pleasures which cannot satisfy, and in sinful courses which only end in misery and ruin (Isaiah 52:2.) Men must trust in something, either God or vanity.—
(4) The property of sin to deceive (Romans 7:11). The deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13). Deceivableness of unrighteousness (2 Thessalonians 2:10). Sin deceives, as it promises—(i) Pleasure; (ii.) Profit; (iii.) Impunity. Sin promises all pleasure, and in the end robs of all peace.—
(5) Men apt still to trust in that by which they have been already deceived (Proverbs 23:35).—
(6) All unrenewed men deceived (Titus 3:3). He feedeth on ashes; a deceived heart hath turned him aside (Isaiah 44:20). Satan the deceiver of the nations (Revelation 20:7). Men by nature, since the admission of Satan’s first great deception, call evil good, and good evil; put darkness for light, and light for darkness; put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter (Isaiah 5:20).—
(7) The recompense of trusting in vanity is vanity—emptiness, dissatisfaction, disappointment. In indulging in sin and sinful pleasures men embrace a cloud. Like the apples of Sodom, dust in the hand that grasps them instead of fruit. Beautiful soap-bubbles. Vanity pursued ends in vanity experienced.—
(8) Sin in itself the recompense of sin. Vanity another name for sin. No greater punishment than to be given up to one’s own lusts and passions (Romans 1:26; Romans 1:28). The commission of one sin often punished by being left to the commission of another. Great part of the misery of the lost the abandonment to the power of sinful lusts, without any means for their gratification. Their fire of sinful passions unquenchable, with no object any longer to act upon. To sow to the flesh is to reap corruption. He that is filthy shall, after death, be filthy still. Sowing the wind, men reap the wirlwind; wind, but more boisterous and destructive. Sin a serpent, which, sleeping for a time, awakes only to sting and torment the soul that harboured it.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Job 15". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14