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Comparison is not to be made with God, because our good or evil cannot extend unto him. Many cry in their afflictions; but are not heard, for want of faith.
Before Christ 1645.
Job 35:1. Elihu spake moreover— Elihu puts it to Job's 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 chap. 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 35:9. By reason of the multitude of oppressions— See chap. Job 19:7.
Job 35:10. Who giveth songs in the night?— Who appointeth guards over me in the night-season? Heath; following the LXX. See Psalms 91:11. But Houbigant, after the Syriac, renders it, Who giveth thoughts in the night? which seems best to agree with the next verse.
Job 35:12. There they cry, &c.— There they may cry aloud: but there is no deliverance from the pride of evil men. Heath, after Le Clerc.
Job 35:14. Although thou savest, &c.— How much less ought it to be said, thou shalt not bear rule over us? Judgment is not before him; wait thou therefore patiently his leisure. Heath.
Job 35:15. But now, because it is not so, &c.— But now, because he visiteth not in his anger, and because Job is deprived of knowledge by immoderate self-conceit; Job 35:16. Therefore openeth he his mouth rashly, &c. Heath.
Houbigant renders the latter clause of the 15th verse, Because he doth not severely animadvert against sin.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, Job had laid himself open to reproof; and Elihu fails not to point out to him various particulars in which he had erred; and he seems to have had so good an opinion of him, as to expect that when he had reconsidered them, he would own that he had spoken amiss. Note; A good man may err, but he is open to conviction, and not ashamed to own either his ignorance or his sin. Errare possum, hereticus esse nolo.
1. The accusation here laid is, [1.] His presumption in saying My righteousness is more than God's. Not that he pretended that his moral righteousness was greater than God's; but that he seemed more solicitous to justify himself than God, and complained as if his goodness had made God his debtor, and that he was not rewarded as he had a right to expect; and this most justly deserved rebuke. [2.] The dishonoured idea that he had given of true religion, chap. Job 9:22 Job 10:15 as if it were of no advantage to serve God, and that he had cleansed his hands from iniquity in vain, while his troubles were so uncommon and his judgment taken away. Note; (1.) God never can be our debtor; the best that we do is unworthy of him, and he ever chastises us less than we deserve. (2.) Though we may find no present outward advantage, yea, much loss and suffering for the sake of God and his cause, we shall find religion no unprofitable service at last.
2. The confutation of Job's assertions is drawn from the greatness and glory of God; and this Job, and all who joined him, might be convinced of, if they looked to the heavens, for they would teach them how transcendantly God is exalted above man: our sins may hurt worms like ourselves, and our goodness extend to our fellow-mortals: but with respect to him the malice of the most daring sinners is impotent: they cannot destroy his government, disturb his peace, or tarnish his glory; any more than they can blot out the sun. Though they oppose him, and break his law, they cannot fly from his arm, and must, at least, glorify him in their punishment. On the other hand, our goodness extendeth not to him; he needeth not our service; we can add nothing to his self-sufficient blessedness; nay, all that we render to him, we must first receive from him; and, so far from making him our debtor, the obligation is our own, that we are permitted and enabled to serve him, and that he condescends to accept the worship that we offer, and the bounden duty which we desire to pay him.
2nd, We have another complaint of Job's silence.
1. He had reflected upon God, as not hearing and relieving the prayers of the afflicted and oppressed, chap. Job 19:7 Job 24:12 Job 30:20. Hereto Elihu answers,
2. That if they receive not an answer of mercy, it is because themselves are to blame, [1.] as only anxious to be delivered from their sufferings, and making no spiritual improvement of them to their humiliation, and greater acquaintance with God their Maker or Makers, as in the original, expressive of the Persons in the Godhead, who said, Let us make man. Note; (1.) Many groan under trouble, and complain of their miseries, who never show any humiliation for sin, or desire after God. (2.) Irreligious poverty and suffering is, of all estates of human misery, the most miserable. (3.) Selfish prayers, the cries of mere distress, without any regard to God's glory or our soul's good, can obtain no help from God. [2.] As being impatient under their sufferings, and unthankful for the mercies they enjoy. They look not for support from inward consolations, desiring to wait God's leisure, who, under the severest pressures of affliction, can make the heart glad, and giveth songs in the night, when the darkest troubles surround his faithful people. Nor, though endued with understanding, and a capacity to know God above the beasts, do they make any use of it under their sufferings, or differ in their prayers from the mere cry of brutes, who roar because of their anguish. Note; (1.) They who are insensible of the undeserved and distinguishing mercies which they enjoy, have no reason to expect deliverance from the evils that they feel. (2.) God can give joys which will overbalance all our sorrows; and, when our tribulations most abound, make our consolations, through Christ, the more abundant also. (3.) The distinguishing difference between a man and a beast, lies not so much in reason as religion. The chief dignity of man lies in his capacity for the knowledge, service, and enjoyment of God. [3.] Their cry is the cry of vanity; they are only solicitous about the perishing things of time; for their bodies not their souls, merely because of the oppressions that they suffer under the proud: or this is given as the reason why God giveth them no answer; not only because their prayers are vain or insincere, but also because of the unhumbled pride of their hearts. They are evil men; their sufferings are the effects of their sins, and yet they do not repent of the one, while they cry to be delivered from the other. Note; (1.) While the design of our afflictions is not answered, it is mercy in God to deny our prayers for their removal. (2.) An unhumbled heart may howl upon the bed, but cannot offer that sacrifice which, through the Mediator, is as the grateful incense, and returns fraught with blessings from above.
3rdly, We have the last charge that Elihu brings against Job for his hasty expressions; and this is,
1. That he despaired of God's ever appearing for him, either to vindicate him from the unjust aspersions cast upon him, or to deliver him from the miseries that he suffered, chap. Job 9:32-35 Job 23:4-7 Job 31:35-37. Note; When God corrects us for our humiliation, Satan is ever ready to drive us to despair.
2. Elihu rebukes his despondence, and shews him both the path of duty, and the reason why his deliverance was delayed. Judgment is before him; he will certainly appear to vindicate the cause of his people, and then every dark dispensation shall be unfolded: Therefore trust thou in him, or wait upon him; trust in his promises; and patiently expect their fulfilment. Had this been the case, ere this his anguish had been relieved. But now, because it is not so, because this faith, patience, hope, and resignation, have not been exercised, he hath visited in his anger, displeased with Job for his mis-improvement of the mercy intended him in his affliction. Yet he knoweth it not in great extremity: the greatness of his sufferings made him overlook his unbelief, impatience, and rashness; and thereby he both lost the comfort, and deferred the removal of them. Note; (1.) Despair of relief is a high reflection upon God's power and grace, as impatience is on his goodness and wisdom. (2.) Faith in God is the only clue which can guide us through every labyrinth of temptation. (3.) If our troubles be not removed, but increased, it becomes us to examine closely whether we have not provoked God by our behaviour under them.
3. He concludes from the whole, Therefore doth Job open his mouth in vain, in undue complaints of his sufferings, in unjust reflections upon the Lord, and in too eager a vindication of himself. He multiplieth words without knowledge, appears in the present instance in some degree unacquainted with the desert of sin, the perfections of God, and the path of duty. Nevertheless, we may add, that great allowances should be made for Job on account of the darkness of his dispensations.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Job 35". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13