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We have in this Chapter the remonstrance of a third friend of Job, and much to the same purpose as the two former. Zophar the Naamathite takes up the subject against Job, and reasons on God's justice in Job's calamities.
(1) ¶ Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said, (2) Should not the multitude of words be answered? and should a man full of talk be justified? (3) Should thy lies make men hold their peace? and when thou mockest, shall no man make thee ashamed? (4) For thou hast said, My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in thine eyes.
Of all the friends of Job, this Zophar seems the most unfriendly. The others had, in some measure, softened their speeches, with fair words; but this man is outrageous to an excess. He calls Job's reasoning lies and mockery. Poor Job! surely Satan must have had a hand in this. And Reader let us from hence discover, that the arch fiend doth make use even of our friends, when other resourses fail him, to exercise the faith and patience of GOD'S children. Our LORD tells us that a man's foes, are they of his own household. Matthew 10:36 . And no doubt never more so, than when in exercises like these of Job, they cooperate with the great enemy of our salvation, to persecute for the cause of CHRIST.
(5) But oh that God would speak, and open his lips against thee; (6) And that he would shew thee the secrets of wisdom, that they are double to that which is! Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth.
Reader! do remark how prone the heart of man hath been in all ages, to make appeals to GOD. It is truly awful to hear, as not unfrequently may be heard, speeches like this dropping from the lips of carnal men; not only among the more open and profane, but even among some who would be hurt to have their religion called in question, who assume the freedom in direct defiance of the commandment, to take the LORD'S name in question, and call upon him to be a witness to their idle assertions as true.
(7) ¶ Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? (8) It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? (9) The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea. (10) If he cut off, and shut up, or gather together, then who can hinder him? (11) For he knoweth vain men: he seeth wickedness also; will he not then consider it? (12) For vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass's colt.
Zophar in those verses draws a most beautiful, and striking contrast, between the glory and greatness of GOD, and the vanity and littleness of man. He points to several of the distinguishing attributes of JEHOVAH, such as his sovereignty, eternity, incomprehensibleness. He then takes the dullest, and silliest of all domesticated animals, by way of showing the poverty and emptiness of man, and in that of an ass and a wild ass, and even worse than both, a wild ass's colt, which of course must be more egregiously stupid than its dam, sets forth the folly of the man that pretends to wisdom.
(13) ¶ If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thine hands toward him; (14) If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles. (15) For then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot; yea, thou shalt be stedfast, and shalt not fear: (16) Because thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away: (17) And thine age shall be clearer than the noonday; thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning. (18) And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope; yea, thou shalt dig about thee, and thou shalt take thy rest in safety. (19) Also thou shalt lie down, and none shall make thee afraid; yea, many shall make suit unto thee. (20) But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not escape, and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost.
There is much good counsel in this advice of Zophar; though less applicable to Job than he thought. Job had confessed himself a sinner; but would not allow himself to be an hypocrite: and this was the point of contention. Zophor intimates by his speech, that he thought there was some secret dreadful transaction, which he had been guilty of, known only to the LORD, and Job's own conscience; and therefore urgeth him to make confession, and to put it away. All the rest of his discourse is founded upon the same arguments, as had been pressed upon Job before, namely, that great sins required great punishment; and that Job's calamities were on this account. So that until a reform took place, he could expect no relief: but when that point was accomplished, GOD'S mercy would follow.
READER! how happy is it for you and for me, that we live under a brighter dispensation, than Job's counselors, and are taught by him in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Yes! blessed JESUS! thou hast taught that great afflictions not only may abound among those whom GOD loveth, but that heavy trials and temptations, when found in the path of godliness, are rather testimonies vine favor. Thou hast said thyself; As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. I beseech thee, therefore, blessed Master, that I may eye thee in every dispensation, and then sure I am, that I shall discover love at the bottom of all thine appointments, and wisdom guiding and regulating all. My JESUS, while he governs as my GOD, will never forget that he is also my Saviour, my brother, my husband, my friend. And if such views as these, will not stop the voice of complaint, nothing will. And dearest, blessed Master, while I thus beseech thee to grant me grace and strength equal to my day, that I may be always on the lookout for thy wise and loving government in all things: yet when it shall please thee, as most suited to thy good will and pleasure, to hide from me thy plan, and as with Job, things are mysterious, and discouraging; yet even then, blessed LORD, never, oh never, remit the communications of thy grace within, that faith may be in lively exercise, and that I may find strength from thee, to trust thee when I cannot trace thee. Let the storm from without beat ever so violently, yet if my JESUS support the roof within, my poor frail tabernacle will not fall. Oh! for the sweet consolations and lovely teachings of JESUS, by his SPIRIT, that I may be able to say, at the worst of times, I see enough of JESUS in this dispensation, to be assured it is in his appointment! It must therefore be among the all things which work together for good. It shall be well. I shall wade through this affliction, as I have, by the LORD'S leading me, through many before. Here then, blessed LORD, I will rest. Though I see thee not in all these providences of thine, it is enough that thou seest me? and art not only looking on, but tempering my trials to my strength, and hast promised to stay thy tough wind in the day of thy east wind. Though, like the disciples, my soul may fear as I enter the cloud, yet JESUS will be there, and he will shine out, and shine through all. By and by, every intervening cloud will be forever taken out of the way; and he that is now my GOD and my salvation, will be my everlasting light, my GOD, and my glory.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Job 11". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13