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Our righteousness profits ourselves, not God, Job 35:1-7 . Our wickedness hurts not him, but other men, whom God would help, if they cried to him sincerely, Job 35:8-13 . Why he delayed to help Job , vv14-16.
Job 35:1. Elihu spake moreover Job still keeping silence, perhaps because he was convinced that although Elihu had made a very harsh construction of his words, he was influenced by a good motive in what he had advanced, and had now, in the conclusion, given him very wholesome counsel, and, allowing his integrity, had only charged him with some violent expressions, which had fallen from him when he was in great anguish of spirit; Elihu goes on in this chapter to fix the very same harsh sense upon Job’s words. He first puts it to his conscience whether he thought it could be right to gain his acquittal by an impeachment of God’s justice; yet, he tells him he must have thought after this manner, otherwise he would never have made use of such an atheistical expression as, “that he had no profit by doing his duty, more than if he had sinned;” referring, probably, to Job 23:11; Job 23:15. That he ought to consider that God was so far above the influence of all human actions, that neither could their good deeds be of any advantage to him, nor could their evil deeds affect him, Job 35:2-7. They might, indeed, affect themselves or their neighbours: they might suffer from the oppressions of men, and cry aloud to God to relieve them; but if this cry was not made with an entire dependance on, and a perfect resignation to, the will of God, it would be quite fruitless: God would not give the least ear to it, Job 35:8-14. Much less ought they, in every affliction, to be flying in the face of the Almighty and shaking off his sovereignty; that they ought rather to wait his leisure with patience; and that Job himself would not have acted in this manner, had he not been hurried away by too great a self-confidence, Job 35:15-16. Heath.
Job 35:2-3. Thinkest thou this to be right? Canst thou in thy conscience, upon second thoughts, approve of what thou hast said? My righteousness is more than God’s Not that Job said this in express terms, but he said those things from which this might seem to follow, as that God had punished him more than he deserved. For thou saidst, &c. This is produced in proof of the foregoing charge. Job had often affirmed that he was, and still continued to be, righteous, though he had no present benefit by his righteousness, but much bitterness with it; and that God did not act kindly toward him, notwithstanding his former and present piety, but dealt with him as if he had been a most wicked man. Now, Elihu interprets this as implying that he thought himself more righteous than God. Thou saidst, What advantage will it be unto thee Unto me; such changes of persons being frequent in the Hebrew language. And what profit shall I have, &c. I have no more present advantage by all my care to please and serve God than wicked men have by their sins against him. God regards my cries no more than theirs, and shows no more kindness or pity to me than he doth to the most profligate wretches. But, it must be remembered, if Job’s words implied any thing of this kind, it was only with reference to his state in the present life. He well knew that he should have much, yea, everlasting advantage from his piety in the life to come.
Job 35:4-8. I will answer thee, and thy companions That is, those who are of thy opinion. Look unto the heavens, &c. Cast up thine eyes to the heavens; look upon the clouds and the sky; and consider that, high as they are, they are not so much above thee, as God is above them. If thou sinnest, what doest thou against him? Thy sins do him no hurt, and therefore thy righteousness brings him no benefit, as it follows. What receiveth he of thy hand? He gaineth nothing by it, nor can indeed receive any good from thee, but all thy good comes from him: and therefore thou hast no reason to boast of, nor to upbraid God with, thy piety, which is much to thy advantage, but nothing to his. Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art Thy wickedness will prove hurtful to thyself and others of mankind, and thy righteousness will do thee and them great service; but God, being an infinite, independent, and self-sufficient being, is far exalted above all thy good or evil.
Job 35:9-10. By reason of the multitude of oppressions This verse has been supposed by many to contain an argument to prove what he had said Job 35:8, that the wickedness of one man may hurt another: but Elihu rather seems to be here beginning a new subject, and, having answered one of Job’s objections, to proceed to another. Job had often complained that he cried to God, and God did not hear his cry. This Elihu may here be considered as answering by a parallel case of men crying out for oppression; whom yet God did not immediately relieve, for just reasons, which he leaves Job to apply to himself. Or he refers to what Job had alleged, (Job 24:12,) respecting men’s groaning out of the city, &c., which might seem to reflect on God’s providence. This Elihu repeats in this verse, and answers in those following. But none saith Few or none of the great numbers of oppressed persons, seriously or sincerely inquire, Where is God? They cry out of men, and to men, but they seek not after God, and therefore if God do not hear their cries, he is neither unjust nor unkind; my Maker Who alone made me, and who only can deliver me. Who, when our condition is ever so dark and sad, can turn our darkness into light, can quickly put a new song into our mouth, a thanksgiving unto our God.
Job 35:11. Who teacheth us more than the beasts This is mentioned as a further aggravation of men’s neglect of God in their misery. God hath given to men those gifts which he hath denied to beasts, reason and understanding, whereby they might become acquainted with God and themselves, and with their obligations to him, and their dependance upon him. And therefore they are inexcusable for not using that reason and understanding, by calling on God, and seeking help of him in the time of trouble. If they thus take no notice of God, it is no wonder if God takes no notice of them.
Job 35:12. There they cry Or then, as the Hebrew particle here used often means; that is, in that time or condition of trouble; but none giveth answer The reason that God doth not deliver them is, because, though they lie crying under their afflictions, they continue to be evil, wicked, and impenitent; proud and unhumbled for those sins, on account of which God brought these miseries upon them.
Job 35:13. Surely God will not hear vanity Either, 1st, Vain and light persons, that have no true wisdom nor solid piety in them: but are wholly addicted to vain and worldly things, rejoicing immoderately when they have them, and crying out in distress when they have them not. Or, 2d, Vain cries; which proceed not from true penitence, faith, or piety, but only from self-love, and such a sense of misery as is common to men with brute beasts. Neither will the Almighty regard it Though God be able to help them, as this title of God, the Almighty, implies; and though he be the Judge of the world, as the former name of God, אל , eel, signifies, to whom therefore it belongs to right the oppressed against the oppressor; yet, in this case, he justly refuseth to help them.
Job 35:14 . Thou shalt not see him Or, thou canst not see him; thou canst not understand his dealings with thee. Here Elihu answers another objection of Job’s; and tells him that though God may, for a season, delay to answer, yet he will certainly do him right. Yet judgment is before him Justice is at his tribunal, and in all his ways and administrations. Therefore trust thou in him Instead of murmuring, repent of what is past, humble thyself under God’s hand, wait patiently in his way till deliverance come, for it will certainly come, if thou dost not hinder it.
Job 35:15-16. But now, because it is not so That is, because Job doth not acknowledge God’s justice and his own sins, and wait upon God in a proper way for mercy; he hath visited in his anger God hath laid grievous afflictions upon him, all which appear to be too little to bring Job to a compliance with God’s will. Yet he knoweth it not Job is not sufficiently sensible of it, so as to be humbled under God’s mighty hand. In great extremity Or, though in great extremity, namely, of afflictions. Though Job hath hitherto been, and still is, exercised with very sore calamities: yet they have not brought him to the knowledge of God and himself. Therefore doth Job open his mouth in vain Hence it is manifest that he pours forth his complaints without any success, and gets no relief by them. He multiplieth words without knowledge Thereby discovering his ignorance of God and of himself.
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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 35". Benson's Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13