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We have in this chapter Eliphaz reassuming the argument. He falls hard upon Job, still harping upon the string of Job's hypocrisy. He maketh use of sound reasoning however, only so far as it related to Job, it was misapplied.
(1) ¶ Then answered Eliphaz the Temanite, and said, (2) Should a wise man utter vain knowledge, and fill his belly with the east wind? (3) Should he reason with unprofitable talk? or with speeches wherewith he can do no good?
To all these questions, the answer is direct. But what application had this reasoning to Job? Vain knowledge, unprofitable talk, and speeches good for nothing, were not in Job's discourse.
(4) Yea, thou castest off fear, and restrainest prayer before God.
This, had it been true, would have been a heavy charge: and if false, made Eliphaz a transgressor. Reader! you may safely conclude, that a prayerless state is a graceless state. And on the contrary, where a spirit of supplication is poured out, that soul will delight to draw nigh to GOD.
(5) For thy mouth uttereth thine iniquity, and thou choosest the tongue of the crafty. (6) Thine own mouth condemneth thee, and not I: yea, thine own lips testify against thee.
Surely this was a very unkind, not to say unjust construction, which Eliphaz put upon Job's words. He had complained indeed in the bitterness of his soul, but not against GOD, though to GOD.
(7) Art thou the first man that was born? or wast thou made before the hills? (8) Hast thou heard the secret of God? and dost thou restrain wisdom to thyself? (9) What knowest thou, that we know not? what understandest thou, which is not in us? (10) With us are both the grayheaded and very aged men, much elder than thy father. (11) Are the consolations of God small with thee? is there any secret thing with thee? (12) Why doth thine heart carry thee away? and what do thy eyes wink at, (13) That thou turnest thy spirit against God, and lettest such words go out of thy mouth?
How taunting are those questions, and to what profit? And especially when we consider them coming from the mouth of one who came as a friend to condole with Job on his calamities. Reader! do pause to remark with me, how very important an office that is of visiting the sick, and persons under affliction; yet while a man be found faithful, he should not be harsh and severe in his observations. Eliphaz came to comfort Job: but alas! as Job said, what miserable comforters were both his friends and him!
(14) What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous? (15) Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight. (16) How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?
Separating these words, for a moment, from any connexion with either Job or his friends, what strong and forcible truths do they contain. How sure and certain? How just and humbling? But, Reader! do not overlook what sweet testimonies they carry with them to the truth of the gospel! If men be unclean; if saints can find no trust from GOD; if the heavens are not clean in GOD'S sight; judge, Reader, the vast necessity and importance of a righteousness in which GOD will put trust. And where shall we find that, or in whom, but in JESUS? Make one observation more on this interesting passage. Though JEHOVAH puts no trust in angels, yet, in JESUS his dear and ever blessed Son, as the sinners' Surety, he doth; and while the heavens are not clean in his sight, he saith concerning JESUS, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Reader! do not overlook this, I beseech you. I know not what your feelings are; but I can tell you for myself, I have, upon numberless occasions, found great comfort, and an holy joy, when going to GOD my FATHER in prayer, I have been enabled to tell him of the purity and spotlessness of JESUS, and his righteousness as my covering.
(17) ¶ I will shew thee, hear me; and that which I have seen I will declare; (18) Which wise men have told from their fathers, and have not hid it: (19) Unto whom alone the earth was given, and no stranger passed among them. (20) The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days, and the number of years is hidden to the oppressor. (21) A dreadful sound is in his ears: in prosperity the destroyer shall come upon him. (22) He believeth not that he shall return out of darkness, and he is waited for of the sword. (23) He wandereth abroad for bread, saying, Where is it? he knoweth that the day of darkness is ready at his hand. (24) Trouble and anguish shall make him afraid; they shall prevail against him, as a king ready to the battle. (25) For he stretcheth out his hand against God, and strengtheneth himself against the Almighty. (26) He runneth upon him, even on his neck, upon the thick bosses of his bucklers: (27) Because he covereth his face with his fatness, and maketh collops of fat on his flanks. (28) And he dwelleth in desolate cities, and in houses which no man inhabiteth, which are ready to become heaps. (29) He shall not be rich, neither shall his substance continue, neither shall he prolong the perfection thereof upon the earth. (30) He shall not depart out of darkness; the flame shall dry up his branches, and by the breath of his mouth shall he go away. (31) Let not him that is deceived trust in vanity: for vanity shall be his recompence. (32) It shall be accomplished before his time, and his branch shall not be green. (33) He shall shake off his unripe grape as the vine, and shall cast off his flower as the olive. (34) For the congregation of hypocrites shall be desolate, and fire shall consume the tabernacles of bribery. (35) They conceive mischief, and bring forth vanity, and their belly prepareth deceit.
Eliphaz makes a long discourse, and lays down many great truths and sound arguments; though in many instances accompanied with ill founded observations. His chief scope is to show that where a life of misery is, there must have been much wickedness. Job, on the contrary had contended, that GOD might and did afflict his people, and that afflictions were no marks of divine displeasure. And this is so very agreeable to the whole tenor of the gospel, that there can be no doubt but Job was under the same divine Teacher. Indeed Job, in his heavy trials and afflictions, became a lively type of the great Author of the gospel himself. I do not detain the Reader with any length of remarks on Eliphaz's discourse. The words of it are very plain; and the drift of it as easy to be understood. And, they can receive no beauty in an illustration of what is too beautiful in point of language to be increased.
READER! let us pause over what we have been reading of the aggravated afflictions of Jobadiah Was it not enough that the LORD was exercising his servant, but those three men must throw in their unkind and unjust interpretations of GOD'S dealings? Surely those sharp and bitter reproaches could not fail to add to poor Job's misery. We naturally look round in our sorrows for some to commiserate. But this distressed sufferer, instead of consolation, met with nothing but reproof.
But let us pass over the view of men, that are but instruments, and behold how the LORD produces good from evil. Though no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous, nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby. No calamity, no stroke of trouble, however heavy, however severe, can rob a follower of the LORD of his favor. Nothing can take away our CHRIST, that first, and best, and comprehensive gift of a covenant GOD! What shall separate us from the love of CHRIST? (saith Paul) Neither death, nor life, (saith the apostle) neither things present, nor things to come. Having him then, in him we possess all things.
But, Reader! let us not close this chapter of the relation of Job's sufferings, nor indeed any other, without looking beyond Job, to him that was the Prince of Sufferers, as he was the Prince of Peace. Yes! blessed JESUS! it behoved thee, that in all things thou mightest have the pre-eminency. Oh! thou gracious Redeemer! how do all sorrows sink to nothing, when we behold thee in the garden, and on the tree; when we behold thy agony and bloody sweat, thy cross and passion; and hear that heart-piercing cry, My GOD , my GOD , why hast thou forsaken me? And all this, not for thyself, but for thy people; not that thy holy life needed ought, but for thy voluntary grace and favor to our poor, lost, ruined, and undone nature: thou didst suffer, the just for the unjust, to bring us to GOD; and didst even admit the being deserted of thy FATHER for a space, that we might not be deserted forever! Boundless love of a most precious, loving Saviour!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Job 15". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14