Job 21

 

Job answers Zophar, as he had answered Bildad, in a single not very lengthy chapter.

After a few caustic introductory remarks (vs. 2-4), he takes up the challenge which

Zophar had thrown out, respecting the certain punishment, in this life, of the wicked

(ch.20:4-29), and maintains, in language of unparalleled boldness, the converse of

the proposition. The wicked, he says, live, grow old, attain to great power,

have a numerous and flourishing offspring, prosper, grow rich, spend their

time in feasting and jollity — nay, openly renounce God and decline to

pray to Him — yet suffer no harm, and when they die, go down to the

grave without suffering, “in a moment” (vs. 5-15). To the suggestion that

from time to time they are cut off suddenly in a signal way, he answers,

“How often is this?” or rather, “How seldom!” (vs. 17-18). To the

further suggestion that they are punished in their children he replies, “How

much better if they were punished in their own persons!” (vs. 19-21). As

it is, he argues, one event happens to all (vs. 23-26). In conclusion, he

observes that common opinion supports his view (vs. 29-33), and

denounces as futile the attempts of his comforters to convince him, since

his views and theirs respecting the facts of God’s government are

diametrically opposed to each other (v. 34).

 

1 “But Job answered and said,   2 Hear diligently my speech,

and let this be your consolations.”  As ye have no other consolation to

offer me, at least attend diligently to what I say. That will be some comfort

to me, and I will accept it in lieu of the consolations which I might have

looked for at your hands.

 

3 “Suffer me that I may speak; and after that I have spoken, mock on.”

Suffer me that I may speak; or, suffer me, and I also will

speak. There is an emphasis on the “I” (ykna). Job implies that his

opponents are not allowing him his fair share of the argument, which is an

accusation that can scarcely be justified. Since the dialogue opened, Job’s

speeches have occupied eleven chapters, those of his “comforters” seven

only. But a controversialist who has much to say is apt to think that

sufficient time is not allowed him. And after that I have spoken, mock on.

Job does not hope to convince, or silence, or shame the other interlocutors.

When he has said his say, all that he expects is mockery and derision.

 

4  As for me, is my complaint to man? and if it were so, why should

not my spirit be troubled?” As for me, is my complaint to man? Do I

address myself to man, pour out my complaint to him, and expect him to redress

my wrongs? No; far otherwise. I address myself to God, from whom alone

I can  look for effectual assistance. And if it were so; rather, and if so,

if this is the case, if my appeal is to God, and He makes me no answer, then

why should not my spirit be troubled? or, Why should I not be impatient?

(Revised Version). Job thinks that he has a right to be impatient, if God does not

vouchsafe him an answer.

 

In the next two verses we have an abrupt transition. Job is about to

controvert Zophar’s theory of the certain retribution that overtakes the

wicked man in this life, and to maintain that, on the contrary, he usually

prospers (vs. 7-18). Knowing that, in thus running counter to the general

religious teaching, he will arouse much horror and indignation on the part

of those who hear him, he prefaces his remarks with a notice that they will

cause astonishment, and an acknowledgment that he himself cannot reflect

upon the subject without a feeling of alarm and dismay. He thus hopes

partially to disarm his opponents.

 

5 “Mark me, and be astonished, and lay your hand upon your mouth.”

Mark me; literally, look to me; i.e. “attend to me,” for I am about to say

something well worth attention. And be astonished.  Prepare yourselves,

 i.e., for something that will astonish you. And lay your hand upon your

mouth. Harpocrates, the Egyptian god of silence, was often represented with

his finger on his lips. The symbolism is almost universal. Job begs his auditors to

refrain their lips,” and, however much astonished, to keep silence until he has

concluded.

 

6 “Even when I remember”; i.e. “when I think upon the subject.” “I

am afraid, and trembling taketh held on my flesh.” A shudder runs through

his whole frame. His words will, he knows, seem to verge upon impiety.

 

7 “Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty

in power?”  Job asks for an explanation of the facts which his own

experience has impressed upon him. He has seen that “the wicked live”

quite as long as the righteous, that in many cases they attain to a ripe old

age, and become among the powerful of the earth. The great “pyramid

kings” of Egypt, whose cruel oppressions were remembered down to the

time of Herodotus (Herod., 2:124-128), reigned respectively, according to

Egyptian tradition, sixty-three and sixty-six years(Manetho ap. Euseb.,

‘Chronicles Can.,’ pars 2.). Rameses II., the cruel oppressor of the Jews,

and the Pharaoh from whom Moses fled, had a reign of sixty-seven years

(‘Hist. of Ancient Egypt,’ vol. 2. p. 301).

 

8 “Their seed is established in their sight with them, and their offspring

before their eyes.” Their seed is established in their sight with them

(compare Psalm 17:14; and see below, ch.27:14). It could scarcely be

doubted that the wicked had as many children as the righteous, and often

established them in posts of honor and emolument. And their offspring

before their eyes. A pleonastic repetition.

 

9 “Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon

them.” Their houses are safe from fear; literally, their houses are in

peacewithout fear. Neither is the rod of God upon them. So Asaph,

“They are not in trouble as other men, neither are they plagued like other

men (Psalm 73:5). The chastening rod of God does not seem to smite them.

 

10 “Their bull gendereth, and faileth not; their cow calveth, and casteth

not her calf.” Their bull gendereth, and faileth not; rather, their cow

conceiveth . Shor (rwOv), which is of both genders, must here be taken as

feminine. Their cow (rather, their heifer) calveth, and casteth not her

calf. Both conception and birth are prosperous; there is neither barrenness

nor abortion.

 

11 “They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children

dance.”  They send forth their little ones like a flock. Free, i.e. joyful

and frolicsome, to disport themselves as they please. The picture is

charmingly idyllic. And their children dance. Frisk, i.e. “and skip, and

leap,” like the young of cattle full of health, and in the enjoyment of

plenty.

 

12 “They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound

of the organ. The “timbrel” (pt) is probably the tambourine, an

instrument used from a remote antiquity by the Orientals. It consisted of a

round hoop of wood, into which were sometimes inserted jingling rings of

metal, and upon which was stretched at one end a sheet of parchment. It is

represented on the monuments both of Egypt and Phoenicia (‘Hist. of

Egypt,’ vol. 1. p. 522; ‘Hist. of Phoenicia,’ pp. 219, 223). The harp (rwONki)

was, in the early times, a very simple instrument, consisting of a framework

of wood, across which were stretched from four to seven strings, which

were of catgut and of different lengths, and were sounded either with the

hand or with a plectrum. The “organ” (bn;W[) was, of course, not an organ

in the modem sense of the word. It was either a pan’s pipe, which is a very

primitive instrument, or more probably a double reed blown from the end,

like a flageolet, examples of which are found in the remains both of Egypt

and Phoenicia (‘Hist. of Egypt,’ vol. 1. p. 524; ‘Hist. of Phoenicia,’ l.s c.).

 

13 “They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the

grave.” They die, i.e.’ without suffering from any prolonged

or severe illness, such as that grievous affliction from which Job himself

was suffering. Probably Job does not mean to maintain all this absolutely,

or as universally the case, but he wishes to force his friends to

acknowledge that there are many exceptions to their universal law, that

wickedness is always visited in this world with condign punishment, and he

wants them to account for these exceptions (see ver. 7).

 

14 “Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the

knowledge of thy ways.” Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us.

It is this impunity which leads the wicked to renounce God altogether. They think

that they get on very well without God, and consequently have no need to

serve him. Job puts their thoughts into words (vs. 14-15), and thus very

graphically represents their tone of feeling. For we desire not the

knowledge of thy ways. The wicked feel no interest in God; they do not

trouble themselves about Him; His ways are “far above out of their sight,”

and they do not care to know them.

 

15  What is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? and what profit

should we have, if we pray unto Him?  What is the Almighty, that we

should serve Him? “Who is Jehovah,” said Pharaoh to Moses, “that I

should obey his voice? I know not Jehovah” (Exodus 5:2). So the

ungodly in Job’s time. They pretend to have no knowledge of God, no

sense of His claims upon them, no internal consciousness that they are

 bound to worship and obey Him. They are agnostics of a pronounced type,

or at least they profess to be such. What profit, they ask, should we have,

 if we pray to Him? Expediency is everything with them. Will serving God

do them any good? Will it advance their worldly interests? Persuade them of that,

and they will be willing to pay Him, at any rate, a lip-service. But, having prospered

so long and so greatly without making any religious profession, they see no reason

to believe that they would prosper more if they made one.

 

 

The Perverse Misapplication of the Divine Goodness (vs. 7-15)

 

Job is ready with his answer. Although Zophar has correctly represented

the judgments that come upon the wicked, and the evils to which

wickedness not unfrequently lead, yet many cases of departure from this

rule are to be observed. Job therefore proposes a counter-question,”

Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power? “He

then depicts the prosperity which again and again marks the career of the

wicked, to whom the Divine bounty is shown:

 

  • in prolonged life;
  • in the power and influence they are permitted to gain;
  • in their family prosperity;
  • in their freedom from calamity;
  • in their domestic security;
  • in their abundance and joy.

 

This mystery Job does not instantly unravel But what is the effect of all this

prosperity on the wicked? It does not humble him nor make him thankful

As an uneven glass distorts the fairest image, so their impure and ill-regulated

minds turn the goodness of God into an occasion of impious rejection.

Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us  (v. 14).  The distortions

of the evil mind pervert the goodness of God into:

 

  • AN OCCASION OF IMPIOUS DESPISAL OF THE DIVINE NAME.

They refuse to know God. They shut out the knowledge of God from their

hearts. With a wicked “Depart!” they resist the Holy One. They have no

aspiration after a holy communion, or the vision of the pure. The Lord is

abhorrent to them. Their tastes are corrupt; their preferences are for evil.

Truly they pervert and reverse all good things. They put darkness for light,

and light for darkness. They put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. The

very call to adoration and praise they turn into an occasion of despisal and

rejection.

 

  • In their perversions THEY MAKE THE DIVINE GOODNESS  AN

OCCASION FOR A DESPISAL OF THE DIVINE WAYS. This is

 always the danger of them who have abundance and yet LACK

THE FEAR OF GOD.  This is the basis of a teaching long afterwards

touchingly taught concerning the rich, to whom it is so “hard” to “enter into

the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:24).  The satisfied man becomes

the self-satisfied, even though indebted to another for his possessions.

Then the spirit of independence becomes a spirit of revulsion

against all authority that might be raised over it. So they who “spend their

days in wealth” say, “We desire not the knowledge of thy ways.”

(v. 14)

 

  • This same spirit ripens into AN ABSOLUTE REFUSAL TO

SUBMIT TO THE DIVINE AUTHORITY. “What is the Almighty, that

we should serve Him?”  (v. 15)  So far is the goodness of God from leading

him to repentance (Romans 2:4) who is evil in spirit. Wickedness is the fruit

of an ill-directed judgment, and it tends to impair the judgment more

 and more. It distorts all the moral sensibilities, and therefore all the moral

processes. If the judgment were accurately to decide in favor of the Divine Law

and its obligatory character, the perverted preferences of the mind would reject

the testimony, and by a rude rebellion within would prevent a right decision

from being arrived at. Even the check and restraint of the enlightened

judgment becomes a signal for resistance. Its goad is kicked against; its

repressions refused; its warning unheeded; its plain path, narrow and

difficult to follow, is rejected, and a broad and easy way, in which the

foolish heart finds its pleasure, chosen in preference. So the Divine

authority is rejected and despised.

 

Ø      The ill effects of rejecting the Divine authority are seen:

 

o       in the loss of the guidance of the supreme wisdom.

o       in the inevitable injuries resulting from following a false

and erroneous judgment.

o       in the demoralization of the life.

o       in the final vindication of the Divine authority.

 

16 “Lo, their good is not in their hand: the counsel of the wicked is far

from me.”  Lo, their good is not in their hand; i.e. their prosperity is not

in their own power, not the result of their own efforts. God’s providence

is, at least, one element in it, since He exalts men and abases them, He

casteth down and lifteth up. Hence it would seem to follow that they are

His favorites. Shall Job therefore cast in his lot with them? No, he says, a

thousand times, No! The counsel of the wicked is far from me; or better,

be the counsel of the wicked far from me! I will have nothing to do with it.

I will cling to God. I will maintain my integrity. Satan had charged Job with

serving God for the sake of temporal reward. Job had disproved the charge

by still clinging to God, notwithstanding all his afflictions. Now he goes

further, and declines to throw in his lot with the wicked, even although it

should appear that the balance of prosperity is with them.

 

17 “How oft is the candle of the wicked put out! and how oft cometh

their destruction upon them! God distributeth sorrows in His anger.”

How oft is the candle of the wicked put out? This is not an

exclamation, but a question, and is well rendered in the Revised Version,

“How oft is it that the lamp of the wicked is put out?” Is not the signal

downfall of the wicked prosperous man a comparatively rare occurence?

How oft cometh their destruction upon them. When the problem here

propounded came before Asaph, he seems to have solved it by the

supposition that in all cases retribution visited the wicked in this life, and

that they were cast down from their prosperity. “I went,” he says, “into the

sanctuary of God; then understood I the end of these men. Surely thou

didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction.

How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly

consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when

thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image” (Psalm 73:17-20). Job

maintains that such a catastrophe happens but seldom, and that for the

most part the wicked go down to the grave in peace. God distributeth

sorrows in his anger. This is not an independent clause. The sense runs on:

How off is it that the candle of the wicked is put out and that destruction

cometh upon them and God showers sorrows upon them in His anger?

(compare the comment on the next verse).

 

18 “They are as stubble before the wind, and as chaff that the

storm carrieth away.”  Rather, How oft is it that they are as stubble before

the windand as chaff’ etc.? The construction begun in the first clause of

v. 17 is carried on to the end of v. 18. “Stubble” and “chaff” are

ordinary figures for foolish and ungodly men, whom the blast of God’s

anger swoops away to destruction (compare Exodus 15:7; Psalm 1:4;

35:5; 83:13; Isaiah 27:13; 29:5; 41:2).

 

19 “God layeth up his iniquity for his children: He rewardeth him, and

he shall know it.” God layeth up his iniquity for his children. Job supposes

his opponents to make this answer to his arguments. “God,” they may say,

punishes the wicked man in his children” (compare Exodus 20:5). Job

does not deny that He may do so, but suggests a better course in the next

sentence. He rewardeth him; rather, let Him recompense it on himself —

let Him make the wicked man himself suffer, and then he shall know it. He

shall perceive and know that he is receiving the due reward of his

wickedness.

 

20 “His eyes shall see his destruction, and he shall drink of the wrath of

the Almighty.” His eyes shall see his destruction (or, let his own eyes see his

destruction), and he shall drink (or, let him drink) of the wrath of the

Almighty. It will impress him far more with a sense of his wickedness, and

of his guilt in God’s sight, if he receives punishment in his own person,

than if he merely suffers vicariously through his children.

 

21 “For what pleasure hath he in his house after him, when the number

of his months is cut off in the midst?” For what pleasure hath he in

his house after him? What does he care, ordinarily, about the happiness of his

children and descendants? “Apres moi le deluge” (“After me, the deluge” –

Louis XV, King of France – alluding to the breaking out of the French

Revolution – 1789-1799, which took place fifteen years after the king’s

Death and which cost the life of his grandson and successor, Louis XVI)

is the selfish thought of bad men generally, when they  cast a glance at the

times which are to follow their decease. The fate of those whom they leave

behind them troubles them but little. It would scarcely cause them a pang

to know that their posterity would soon be “clean put out.”  When the number

of his months is cut off in the midst; i.e. when his appointed time is come,

and he knows that “the number of his months’ is accomplished.

 

 

The Prosperity of the Wicked (vs. 7-21)

 

Job here gives his version of the old familiar theme. It is not as the three

friends supposed. These neat maxims do not fit in with the facts of life as

Job has seen them. The prosperity of the wicked is a real though a

mysterious fact, one that cannot be gainsaid.

 

  • THE FACTS AS WITNESSED IN LIFE.

 

Ø      An established family. Job’s home is desolate. The seed of the

wicked is established in their sight. They have their children about them.

Ø      Security. (v. 8.) “Their houses are safe from fear.” They are not

haunted by the alarms of guilt. On the contrary, they are very

comfortable and self-satisfied (v. 9).

Ø      Freedom from chastisement. The rod of God is not upon them. The

righteous man is chastised; the godless man is spared (v. 9).

Ø      Good fortune. Their cattle breed successfully (v. 10). The mishaps

which fall to the lot of others avoid them. A certain good fortune follows

them, even into those chances of life which are beyond human control.

Ø      Pleasure. These wicked people are not troubled by their sins. They have

no puritanical scruples to sour them. They spend their days in gaiety (vs.

11-12).

Ø      Prosperity lasting till death. (v. 13.) They do not have the reverse of

fortune which the three moralizers assumed to be their lot. A long life of

wealth and ease is followed by a quick and almost painless death. Here is

unmitigated prosperity from the cradle to the grave.

 

  • THE DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES OF THESE FACTS.

Because they are so prosperous the wicked harden themselves against God.

 

Ø      Dispensing with God. (v. 14.) They think they can do very well

without God. This world’s goods satisfy them, and of this world’s goods

they have a sufficiency. They have no need to cry to God for help for they

are not in trouble. They see no reason for prayer, for they have all they

want without it.

 

Ø      Rejecting God. (v. 15.) These prosperous wicked people go further

than to live without God. They actually rebel against Him. Being self-

sufficient, they decline to admit that they are under any obligation to

serve God. Thus their very prosperity increases their sin.

 

  • THE GREAT MYSTERY OF THESE FACTS. This is inexplicable

from the standpoint of Job’s friends. If suffering is only the punishment of

sin, the wicked must suffer, or there is no just Judge over all. By pointing

to the plain facts of life,  Job is able to refute the pedantic dogmas of his

critics. Theology that will not stand the test of life is worthless. But graver

questions are at issue than those that merely concern the correctness of

orthodox notions. Where is the justice of facts as Job sets them forth? To

him all is a profound mystery. Now, it is something to be brought to this

point. There is a mystery in the course of life which we cannot fathom.

Then let us not attempt to judge, but confess our ignorance. Still, if there is

to be an outlook towards the light, we must seek it in two directions.

 

Ø      In the prospect of a future life. There God will rectify the

inequalities of this life.

Ø      In attaching less weight to outward circumstances. Prosperity is

not the greatest good (as Satan would have us believe – CY – 2013).

On both sides, among the disappointed good as well as among

the fortunate wicked (quite a misnomer – CY – 2013), too much

is made of external things. TRUE PROSPERITY IS SOUL

PROSPERITY!   “The life is more than meat and the

body is more than raiment. (Luke 12:23)

 

22 “Shall any teach God knowledge? seeing He judgeth those that are

high.” Shall any teach God knowledge?  Job has been searching the

deep things of God,” speculating upon the method of the Divine

government of the world, he has perhaps rashly ventured to “rush in where

angels fear to tread.” Now, however, he cheeks himself with the confession

that God’s ways are inscrutable, His knowledge far beyond any knowledge

possessed by man. Men must not presume to judge Him; it is for Him to

judge them. Seeing He judgeth those that are high. None so exalted,

none so advanced in wisdom and knowledge, none so venturesome in

sounding depths that they cannot fathom, but God is above them, judges

them, knows their hearts, and, according to His infallible wisdom,

condemns or approves them. This is a chastening thought, and its effect on

Job is to make him contract his sails, and, leaving the empyrean, content

himself with a lower flight. Previously he has maintained, as if he were

admitted to the Divine counsels, that the prosperity of the wicked was a

rule of God’s government. Now he goes no further than to say that there is

no rule discoverable. Happiness and misery are dispensed — as far as man

can see — on no definite principle, and, at the end, one lot happens to all:

all go down into the tomb, and lie in the dust, and the worms devour them

(vs. 23-26).

 

23 “One dieth in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet.”

 Some continue healthy and vigorous in body, peaceful and satisfied

in mind, up to the very moment of their departure (compare v. 13, “They

spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave”).

 

24 “His breasts are full of milk, and his bones are moistened with

marrow.”  His breasts are full of milk; rather, his milk-pails, as in the

margin. The main wealth of the time being cattle, the man whose milk-pails

are always full is the prosperous man. And his bones are moistened with

marrow. Being thus wealthy and prosperous, his body is fat and well nourished.

 

25 “And another dieth in the bitterness of his soul, and never eateth

with pleasure.” And another dieth in the bitterness of his soul. Others

have to suffer terribly before death comes to them. Their whole life is wretched,

and their spirit is embittered by their misfortunes. And never eateth with

pleasure; rather, and never tasteth of good (see the Revised Version).

 

26 “They shall lie down alike in the dust, and the worms shall

cover them.”  However different the circumstances of their life, men are

alike in their death. One event happens to all. All die, are laid in the dust,

and become the prey of worms.

 

27 “Behold, I know your thoughts, and the devices (or, surmisings) which

ye wrongfully imagine against me.”  I know, i.e.’ what

you think of me. I am quite aware that you regard me as having brought

my afflictions upon myself by wicked deeds, which I have succeeded in

keeping secret. You have not openly stated your surmises. but it has been

easy for me to “read between the lines,” and understand the true meaning

of your insinuations, which are all wrongful and unjust.

 

28 “For ye say, Where is the house of the prince? and where are the

dwelling places of the wicked?” For ye say, Where is the house of the prince?

i.e. “What has become of the house of the powerful man (Job himself)? How is it

fallen and gone to decay!” And where are the dwelling-places (literally, the tent

of the habitations) of the wicked! Again Job is intended, although the

insult is veiled by the plural form being used. Job supposes that his

opponents will meet his statement, that the righteous are afflicted and the

wicked prosper, by pointing to his own case as one in which wickedness

has been punished.

 

29 “Have ye not asked them that go by the way? and do ye not know

their tokens,”  Have ye not asked them that go by the way? Job refers his

opponents to the first comer (to<n ejpio>nta – ton epionta -  — the merest

passer-by.  Let them ask his opinion, and see if he does not consider that, as

a general rule, the wicked prosper. And do ye not know their tokens? or,

their observations; i.e. the conclusions to which they have come upon the

subject from their own observation and experience.

 

30 “That the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction? they shall be

brought forth to the day of wrath.”  These conclusions are now set forth. They are,

that the wicked is reserved for (or rather, spared in) the day of destruction, and

that they shall be brought forth to (rather, removed out of the way in)

the day of wrath. This, according to Job, was the popular sentiment of his

time; and, no doubt, there is in all ages a large mass of fleeting opinion to

the same effect. Striking examples of wickedness in high places draw

attention, and provoke indignation, and are much talked about; whence

arises an idea that such cases are common, and ultimately, by an

unscientific generalization in the vulgar mind, that they form the rule, and

not the exception to the rule. It requires some power of intellect to take a

broad and comprehensive view over the whole of human life, and fairly to

strike the balance. Such a view seems to have been taken by Bishop Butler

(among others); and the conclusion, reached by calm investigation and

philosophic thought, is that, on the whole, ever in this life, the balance of

advantage rests with the virtuous, who really prosper more than the

wicked, have greater and higher satisfactions, escape numerous forms of

suffering, and approach more nearly to happiness. An exact apportionment

of happiness and misery to desert is a thing that certainly in this life does not take

place; but the tendency of virtue to accumulate to itself other goods is clear; and

Job’s pessimistic view is certainly an untrue one, which we may suspect that he

maintained, rather from a love of paradox, and from a desire to puzzle and

confuse his friends, than from any conviction of its absolute truth.

 

31 “Who shall declare his way to his face? and who shall repay him

what he hath done?” Who shall declare his way to his face? rather,

Who shall denounce? i.e. Who will be bold enough to tell the rich and powerful

man that he is wicked? that his “way,” or course of life, is altogether wrong?

And who shall repay him what he hath done? Still less will any one be

found who will take upon him to attack such a one, to prosecute him in

courts or otherwise bring him to condign punishment. Thus, being

castigated neither by God nor man, he enjoys complete impunity.

 

32 “Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb.”

Yet shall he be brought to the grave; rather, he moreover is

borne (in pomp) to the grave. Even in death the advantage is still with the

wicked man. He is borne in procession to the grave — a mausoleum or a

family vault — by a long train of mourners, who weep and lament for him,

and pay him funeral honors. The poor virtuous man, on the other hand, is

hastily thrust under the soil. And shall remain in in the tomb; or shall

keep watch over his tomb. The allusion is probably to the custom, common

certainly in Egypt and Phoenicia, of carving a figure of the deceased on the

lid of his sarcophagus, to keep as it were watch over the remains deposited

within. The figure was sometimes accompanied by an inscription,

denouncing curses on those who should dare to violate the tomb or disturb

the remains.

 

33 “The clods of the valley shall be sweet unto him, and every man

shall draw after him, as there are innumerable before him.”

The clods of the valley shall be sweet unto him. In his

mausoleum, by the side of the running stream, the very clods of the valley,

wherein his tomb is placed, shall be sweet and pleasant to him — death

thus losing half its terrors. And all men shall draw after him. Some

explain this of the lengthy funeral procession which follows his corpse to

the grave, and take the next clause of the multitude, not forming part of the

procession, who gather together at the tomb beforehand, waiting to see the

obsequies; but this explanation seems precluded by the previous mention of

the funeral procession (v 32), besides being otherwise unsatisfactory. The real

reference is probably to the common topic of consolation impling that he

is happy in his death, or at any rate not unhappy, seeing that he only suffers

the common fate. He will draw after him all future men, who will likewise

inevitably perish, just as there are innumerable before him, who have

traveled the same road and reached the same resting-place.

 

34 “How then comfort ye me in vain, seeing in your answers

there remaineth falsehood?”  Your position, that the godly always prosper,

while the wicked are afflicted and brought low, being an absolutely false

one, your attempts to console and comfort me are wholly vain and futile.

Why continue them?

 

 

  • LEARN (vs. 1-34)  That a good man should never weary in contending for

the cause of God and truth.  That great wealth is prone to separate the

 soul from God.   That God’s people should shun the counsel, avoid the

company, and abhor the conduct of wicked men.  That wicked men’s

“Depart from us’ (v. 14), will yet be answered by Christ’s Depart

from me.”  (Matthew 25:41). That it is better to be  God’s wheat

than the devil’s chaff, since though the former may be

bruised, the latter shall be blown away.  (Chased out of this world –

ch. 18:18 – CY – 2013)  That the God who is able to judge angels

 is not incapable of judging men.

 

Most commentators consider the second colloquy  here to end, and a pause to

occur, before Eliphaz resumes the argument.

 

 

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