THIRD COLLOQUY OF JOB WITH HIS FRIENDS
Eliphaz returns to the attack, but with observations that are at first strangely pointless
and irrelevant, e.g.:
After this weak prelude, however, there is more vigor in his assault. In:
He then proceeds to accuse him of denying God’s omniscience (vs. 12-14), and,
after some not very successful attempts to retort on him his own words
(vs. 15-20), finally recurs to his favorite devices (see ch. 5:17-26) of exhorting
Job to submission and repentance, and promising him restoration to God’s favor
and a return of prosperity (vs. 21-30).
1 “Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said, 2 Can a man be
profitable unto God? as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself?
Job had said nothing upon this point; but perhaps Eliphaz thinks his complaints
and expostulations to imply a higher value in man, and a greater claim to
consideration at God’s hands, than can rightly be challenged. Certainly God
does not depend on man for profit or advantage of any kind. Neither our wisdom
nor our .goodness “extendeth to Him” (Psalm 16:2). As he that is wise may
be profitable unto himself; rather, truly he that is wise is profitable unto
himself; i.e. to himself only, and not to God. Man’s intelligence and researches
CAN ADD NOTHING TO GOD’S KNOWLEDGE!
“3 Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? or is it
gain to Him, that thou makest thy ways perfect?” Is it any pleasure
to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? As “our goodness extendeth
not to God,” and as His all-perfect happiness knows neither increase nor
diminution, we cannot be said to advantage Him by our goodness. Still,
good works, which are the fruits of faith, and follow after justification,
are pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ;” and God Himself
condescends to say that He “takes pleasure in His people,”
“in them that fear Him” (Psalm 147:11; 149:4). Or is it gain to Him
that thou makest thy ways perfect? Of course, the “gain” is to the man
himself, and not to God. He saves his soul alive. God has one more
worshipper in the courts of heaven, one more voice added to the choir
which hymns His praise for evermore, But what is one drop added to an
4 “Will He reprove thee for fear of thee? will He enter with thee into
judgment?” Will he reprove thee for fear of thee? rather, Is it for thy fear
of Him that He reproveth thee? Surely not. If He reproves thee, it must be
because thou fearest Him not. The fact of thy reproof is sure evidence of
the fact of thy guilt. Will he enter with thee into judgment? rather, that He
entereth with thee into judgment (see the Revised Version).
than the worst sinner. That God’s salvation of sinful men can in the case of
none be of work and merit, but in the case of all must be of faith and grace.
That, as a special mark of condescension and kindness, God is pleased
to accept and reward the services of His people as if they had been
profitable unto Himself. That man has infinite need of God’s righteousness.
That good people’s piety is sometimes better than their logic.
5 “Is not thy wickedness great? and thine iniquities infinite?”
Is not thy wickedness great? Judging from the greatness of
Job’s punishment, Eliphaz concludes, logically from his premises, that his
wickedness must be commensurate. He must have been guilty of almost
every form of ill-doing. And thine iniquities infinite? literally, and is
there not no end to thine iniquities? These general conclusions seem to
Eliphaz to justify him in proceeding to the enumeration of details.
6 “For thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother for naught, and
stripped the naked of their clothing.” For thou hast taken a pledge
from thy brother for naught; i.e. thou hast lent to thy brother on pledge,
without reasonable cause, when thou wast rich enough to need no security
(compare Nehemiah 5:2-11). And stripped the naked of their clothing.
When thy brother, on borrowing from thee, pledged his raiment, thou didst
retain it, and so didst leave him to shiver all night without covering (see
Exodus 22:26-27). We may, perhaps, gather from this that the Mosaic Law
on the subject was founded on an anterior custom widely prevalent in
7 “Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink, and thou hast
withholden bread from the hungry.” Thou hast not given water to the
weary to drink. To give water to the thirsty was regarded in the East as one
of the most elementary duties of man to man. The self-justification of the dead
in the Egyptian Hades contained the following passage: “I gave my bread to the
hungry, and drink to him that was athirst; I clothed the naked with garments; I
sheltered the wanderer” (‘Ritual of the Dead,’ ch. CXXV. § 38). The same
claim appears continually on Egyptian tombs. “All men respected me,” we
read on one; “I gave water to the thirsty; I set the wanderer in his path; I
took away the oppressor, and put a stop to violence” (‘Non-Biblical
Systems of Religion,’ p. 46). In the proverbs assigned to Solomon, “which
the men of Hezekiah copied out” (Proverbs 25:1), the duty was
declared to be one owed even to enemies (see Ibid. v.21, “If thine
enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water
to drink” - Compare Matthew 5:44; Romans 12:20). Isaiah notices it as
praiseworthy in the Temanites (Eliphaz’s people), that they “brought water to
him that was thirsty and prevented with their bread him that fled” (Isaiah 21:14).
Jael is praised for going further than this: He asked water, and she gave him milk;
she brought forth butter in a lordly dish” (Judges 5:25). And thou hast withholden
bread from the hungry. Later on Job absolutely denies this, as well as
many of the other charges. “If I have withheld,” he says, “the poor from
their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail; or have eaten my
morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof,” then let
mine arm fall from my shoulder blade, and mine arm be broken from the
Help for the Needy (v. 7)
another. In social order there is an interchange of service, and the general
life of the community is simply maintained by people helping one another.
The cases of extreme distress are those in which the reciprocity breaks
down because the hungry and helpless can make no return for what they
receive. Still they are part of the body, and if “one member suffer, all the
members suffer with it” (I Corinthians 12:26). The “solidarity of man”
is such that the needy are naturally dependent on others for maintenance.
are the most necessary things; but they are also the most accessible. A poor
man who cannot give the smallest coin to a beggar may yet offer a cup of
cold water. Of course, true sympathy will lead us to desire to help up to
the utmost of our powers. But a very great amount of distress might be
alleviated without a proportionate expenditure of money; e.g. penny,
halfpenny, and even farthing dinners for children give an assistance far
beyond what their cost suggests.
have not to consider merits when we relieve extreme distress. Water to the
thirsty and bread to the starving should be given at the mere sight of
extreme need, though the recipients are quite undeserving. This we admit
by our poor-law. As soon as the immediate and pressing needs are
supplied, other and more difficult questions must be considered. If we go
further we may pauperize the objects of our charity. It is necessary,
therefore, to consider character and methods of help suited to lift, not to
degrade, the recipients. Here most complicated problems arise. But the
primary help is simple and unconditional.
need. He did not consider whether He could find “deserving cases.” He
offered His salvation to the most undeserving. Need, not merit, was the call
that brought Him from heaven. The most undeserving are really the most
needing of help, not indeed with lavish doles of charity that will keep them
in idleness, but, after the first necessaries are supplied to maintain life itself,
by a kind of assistance that will raise them and better them. How to give
this help is a most difficult question. We cannot do better than to follow
our Lord’s example. He raises where He helps. The grace of Christ
never pauperizes the soul.
accusing Job of such a sin. In the eyes of the Oriental, often dependent on
casual hospitality for life itself in the desert, to refuse water and bread to
the needy was a gross wrong. You may kill your enemy with the sword,
but you must not deny him water to drink and bread to eat when he comes
to you as a guest. Christianity widens and deepens the obligation.
Though in various forms suited to the various circumstances of the world
as we find it, brotherly helpfulness is always expected of Christ’s people.
It is taken as a service rendered to Himself. The neglect of it is a reason for
rejection at the great judgment (Matthew 25:41-46).
8 “But as for the mighty man, he had the earth; and the honorable man
dwelt in it.” But as for the mighty man, he had the earth; literally, as for
the man of arm; i.e. the man strong of arm. Job’s retainers are probably
meant, whom Eliphaz supposes to have been allowed by Job to oppress the
poor, and have their own way in the world. This charge was doubtless as
baseless as the others (compare ch.29:16-17). And the honorable man
dwelt in it; of the accepted man — “the favored man,” i.e. those of whom
Job approved and whom he favored.
9 “Thou hast sent widows away empty, and the arms of the fatherless
have been broken.” Thou hast sent widows away empty. Job, on the contrary,
declares that he “caused the widow s heart to sing for joy” (ch.29:13).
The sin of oppressing widows was one of which Job deeply felt the
heinousness. He is certainly a priori not likely to have committed it
(ch.1:1; 4:3-4), and the prejudiced testimony of Eliphaz will scarcely
convince any dispassionate person to the contrary. And the arms of the
fatherless have been broken; i.e. the strength of the fatherless has been
(by thy fault) taken from them. Job has allowed them to be oppressed and
ruined. The reply of Job is, “When the ear heard, then it blessed me; and
when the eye saw, it gave witness to me: because I delivered the poor that
cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him” (ch. 29:11-12;
see also ch.31:21-22).
10 “Therefore snares are round about thee, and sudden fear troubleth
thee;” Therefore snares are round about thee. As Bildad had
threatened (ch.18:8-10), and as Job himself had acknowledged (ch.19:6).
And sudden fear troubleth thee (compare ch.3:25; 7:14; 13:21).
11 “Or darkness, that thou canst not see; and abundance of waters
cover thee.” Or darkness, that thou canst not see. Job had complained of
the “darkness” that was “set in his paths” (ch.19:8), meaning probably
his inability to discover the cause of his afflictions. And abundance of
waters cover thee. The comparison of severe affliction to an overwhelming
flood is very common in Scripture (see Psalm 42:7; 69:1-3, 14-15; 124:4-5;
Lamentations 3:54). So Shakespeare speaks of “a sea of troubles.”
The Impartiality of the Divine Judgment (vs. 2-11)
Eliphaz knows of no cause for suffering but sin. Doubtless sin —
transgression of Divine laws — does lie deeply buried in the causes of
human suffering. This is the fruitful seed from which widespread harvests
of suffering grow. But it is not within the power of man to fix on the actual
offender. Suffering occurs in a thousand instances where not the sufferer
but another is the offender. To charge home, therefore, upon every sufferer
the cause of his sufferings is an error. Into this error Job’s friends fell. But
Eliphaz proclaims a great truth in affirming the judgment of God to be
unbiased. No unworthy motives move Him in His decisions. They are true
and righteous altogether (Psalm 19:9). The impartiality of the Divine judgments is:
RIGHTEOUSNESS. The character of the Most High is the utmost refuge
of the human thought. It is the basis of human confidence. That Name is
ABSOLUTELY UNIMPEACHABLE! No difficulty in the Divine ways
or in our interpretation of them can for a moment check our assurance of the
Divine sanctity and justice. On this rock all hope is built. As now we repose
on it, so in our thoughts of the future. The final as the present judgments of
God are and can be only true and righteous. The sanctity of the Divine
Name is the assurance of the unimpeachable rectitude of the Divine ways.
The impartiality of the Divine judgments is therefore:
ACCUSED. In calmness he may wait who knows himself to be
unrighteously accused and slandered. It is hard to bear the unjust accusations
of men, and all the more if we have no means at hand by which to vindicate
ourselves. To the final adjudication we may safely appeal. There justice
will be done. There the righteousness of the righteous shall shine out as the sun,
or as the stars in the Black night. The human judgment errs; it is swayed by
false words, by base motives, by ignorance, by want of integrity. But high
above the imperfectness of the human rises the Divine judgment, calm and
profound, pure as a sea of glass. To that judgment Job has again referred
himself now in strong Confidence, now in fear; though, in moments of
weakness, he has seemed to impugn it. The impartiality of the Divine
there lies deep in the heart of the suffering the hope that some
counter-balancing good shall follow. To the full round of scriptural teaching
we are indebted for the clear light that we have on this subject. “There
is a God that judgeth in the earth” (Psalm 58:11). “There is a reward
for the righteous” (Ibid.). Weeping may endure through life, and turn it into
a long night, but a morning of joy breaketh, when tears shall be wiped away
(Psalm 30:5). Though men are tried, yet shall they come forth as gold purified
in the fire. To the final Divine award, when God will render to every man
according to his works, the patient sufferer may commit himself in
CALMNESS OF HOPE! The impartiality of the Divine judgment
stands in contrast to the error and imperfection of all human judgment.
The human knowledge is partial, the human motives liable to be warped;
therefore the human decisions are often unjust. Thus was it with Job. His
friend accused him in severe terms. “Is not thy wickedness great? and
thine iniquities infinite?” (v. 5). Then in severe words he names his
offences, and adds, “Therefore snares are round about thee, and sudden
fear troubleth thee” (v. 10). Such was not the Divine judgment,
as the sequel declares. Hence shines forth the lesson to the sufferer and the
falsely accused, to abide calmly in hope of THE RIGHTEOUS
JUDGMENT OF GOD!
12 “Is not God in the height of heaven? and behold the height of the
stars, how high they are!” Is not God in the height of heaven? From taxing
Job with definite open sins, Eliphaz proceeds to accuse him of impious thoughts and
principles. He does not acknowledge, Eliphaz says, either the majesty or
the omniscience of God. Here he has, at any rate, some tangible ground for
his reproaches. Job’s words have been over-bold, over-venturesome. He
has seemed to forget the distance between God and man (ch.9:30-33;
10:2-3; 13:3 – also “thou thoughest that I was altogether such a
one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before
thine eyes.” - Psalm 50:21), and to call in question either God’s omniscience
or His regard for moral distinctions (ch.9:22-23; 21:7-13, 23-26). Hence
Eliphaz is enabled to take a high tone and ask, “Hast thou forgotten that
God is in the height of heaven, far up above all us poor wretched mortals?
Dost thou need to be reminded of this? He is above the stars, and yet
behold the height of the stars, how high they are! Even they are infinitely
above men, yet how far below him!” (compare ch.35:5; Isaiah 55:8-9).
13 “And thou sayest, How doth God know? can He judge through the
dark cloud?” And thou sayest, How doth God know? Job had not said
this in so many words, but, by equalizing the godly and the wicked (ch.9:22;
21:23-26), he might be supposed to mean that God took no note of
men’s conduct, and therefore had not a perfect knowledge of all things.
The psalmist implies that many men so thought (Psalm 10:11; 73:11;
94:7). Can he judge through the dark cloud? rather, through the thick
darkness. God was supposed to dwell remote from man, in the highest
heaven, and, according to many, “clouds and darkness were round about
Him” (Psalm 97:2) — He “dwelt in the thick darkness” (I Kings 8:12) —
He “made darkness His secret place; His pavilion round about Him
was waters, and thick clouds of the skies” (Psalm 18:11). The imagery
was, no doubt, at first used in reference to man’s inability to see and know
God; but when men became familiar with it, they turned the metaphor
round, and questioned God’s ability to see and know anything about man.
(For God’s testimony once again, see Psalm 50:21; also apparently, even
in the dark, God sees in Infra-red or something superior – CY – see Psalm
139:12). Job had not really ever shared in these doubts; but it suits Eliphaz’s
purpose to malign and misrepresent him.
God’s Knowledge (v.13)
God frequently gives startling evidence that He sees in secret and knows all things.
He surprised Hagar by discovering her in the desert (Genesis 16:13). Achan’s stolen
booty could not be hidden (Joshua 7:16-21). Our own lives must bear witness to
the searching knowledge of God. At first, perhaps, His treatment of us may have
seemed to go on without any regard to our requirements, but that was only because
we were short-sighted and superficial; for when we have been able to look back
over a long stretch of life, have we not been surprised again and again at
observing how wonderfully God has wrought just the very thing that was
needed to bring out what was best in the end? (Does not Psalm 91 describe
our life experiences very well? – CY – 2013)
thickest cloud. Thus we only waste our efforts when we try to make a
darkness that shall shut off the piercing gaze of God (Psalm 139:12).
He knows all now. He does not need to wait for the future revelation
of the judgment-day. Already all hypocritical pretences are perfectly
open and apparent to Him. (Hebrews 4:13)
of life; he has the whole field of it before Him. Therefore He must have vastly
greater materials for His judgment than we possess for ours. It is not to be
wondered at that His decision often differs from ours. But if His ways are
not as our ways and His thoughts not as our thoughts, the simple
explanation is that His ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9).
we are conducted by One who knows the end from the beginning. Our
difficulties arise from partial lights and intercepted views. We see enough to
lead us astray. But the perfect, all-penetrating knowledge of God invites us to
renounce our prejudices and look up for the indications of God’s guiding
hand. These may be given to us”
Ø in the course of events;
Ø in the admonitions of conscience;
Ø in the teachings of Scripture;
Ø in the life, the teaching, and the example of Jesus Christ.
Browning says —
“Our times are in His hand
Who said, ‘A whole I planned;’
Youth shows but half; trust God;
see all nor be afraid.”
14 “Thick clouds are a covering to Him, that He seeth not; and He
walketh in the circuit of heaven.” Thick clouds are a covering to Him,
that He seeth not (see the comment on the preceding verse); and He walketh
in the circuit of heaven; or, on the circumference of the heavens. The
heavens are regarded as a solid vault, outside which is the place where God dwells.
15 “Hast thou marked the old way which wicked men have trodden?”
Rather, Wilt thou keep the old way’ etc.? (see the Revised Version). Eliphaz
assumes that it is Job’s intention to cast in his lot with these persons whose
prosperous wickedness he has described in the preceding chapter (vs. 7-15).
And this notwithstanding Job’s final protest, “Be the counsel of the wicked far
from me” (v. 16). He calls the mode of life pursued by these wicked persons
“the old way,” either with allusion to the seed of Cain before the Flood, who
“corrupted their way” (Genesis 6:12), or perhaps with reference to the
descendants of Nimrod after it.
16 “Which were cut down out of time, whose foundation was
overflown with a flood:” Which were cut down (rather, swept or
snatched away) out of time; i.e. before their time, prematurely.
Whose foundation was overflown with a flood. Some suppose an allusion
to the general destruction of mankind by the Noachian Deluge; but perhaps no
more is meant than that the supports of the wicked are ordinarily loosened and
carried away by a flood of calamity. No single event need be referred to.
17 “Which said unto God, Depart from us: and what can the Almighty
do for them?” Who said unto God, Depart from us (compare ch.21:14).
Eliphaz tries, though with no very great success, to turn Job’s words
against him. And, What can the Almighty do for them? i.e. and ask what
the Almighty can do for them. A change from the second to the third
person, without any change of subject, is not unusual in Hebrew. The
wicked renounce God, and bid him depart from them — conduct which
they justify by asking what good he could do them if they acted otherwise.
The idea is the same as that of ch.21:15, though not expressed so pointedly.
What Eliphaz thinks to gain by echoing Job’s words is not very apparent.
18 “Yet He filled their houses with good things: but the counsel of the
wicked is far from me.” Yet He filled their houses with good things. The
“He” is emphatic (aWh). Translate, Yet it was He that filled their houses with
good things; and compare ch.21:16, where the prosperity of the wicked is said
not to have proceeded from themselves. But the counsel of the wicked is
far from me; or, but let the counsel of the wicked be far from me. Again,
Job’s words (Ibid.) are echoed, perhaps that Eliphaz may show himself to be
at least as pious as Job.
19 “The righteous see it, and are glad: and the innocent laugh them to
scorn.” The righteous see it, and are glad; i.e. “the righteous see
both the short-lived prosperity (v. 18) and the ultimate destruction (v. 16)
of the wicked, and rejoice over them, especially over the latter (compare
Psalm 58:10; 107:40-42; Proverbs 11:10). And the innocent laugh
them to scorn. Scorn and derision are the just portion of the wicked,
and in Old Testament times even saints did not scruple to pour them out
on those who deserved them. But the gospel spirit is different.
20 “Whereas our substance is not cut down, but the remnant of them
the fire consumeth.” Whereas our substance is not cut down. It is best
to take these as the words of the righteous in their triumph over the wicked; but
they can scarcely bear the interpretation given them in the Authorized
Version. The clause is not really negative but affirmative, and the word
μyqi. does not mean “substance,” but “adversary.” Translate, Surely they
that rose up against us (or, our adversaries) are cut off; and compare the
Revised Version. The “adversaries” of the righteous are the “wicked men”
who have been “snatched away before their time,” and have had their
“foundation overflown with a flood” (v. 16). But the remnant of them
the fire consumeth; rather, and the remnant of them hath the fire
consumed (see the Revised Version). The “fire” here, like the “flood” in
v. 16, is a metaphor, and therefore not to be pressed. All that is essential
is that the wicked are destroyed. Over this the “righteous” and the
preferring charges against one another. That no cause can be permanently
advanced by an untruth (There is no right way to do the wrong thing).
That atheism is an old sin, and is commonly associated with immorality.
That neither distance nor darkness can hide from God. That the Almighty
can do more for, or against men, than unbelievers imagine. (God “is able to
do exceedingabundantly above all that we ask or think” – Ephesians
3:20). That God’s goodness does not always lead the ungodly to repentance.
That they who now scorn the righteous will eventually be scorned by the
righteous. That God must reign until all His adversaries are overthrown.
“The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (I Corinthians 15:26)
At this point a transition occurs. Eliphaz turns away from reproaches, open or covert,
designed to exhibit Job as an example of extreme wickedness, and falls back on those
topics which were the main subjects of his first exhortation (ch. 5:8-27), viz. an earnest
appeal to Job to return to God, to repent and amend (vs. 21-23) and a lavish
outpouring of promises, or prophecies, that in that case he should be
delivered from all his troubles, should recover his wealth and prosperity,
obtain of God all that he should pray for, succeed in all his enterprises, and
be able to help and ease others, even those who might be guilty in God’s
sight (vs. 24-30).
21 “Acquaint now thyself with Him, and be at peace: thereby good shall
come unto thee.” Acquaint now thyself with Him (i.e. God), and be at peace;
or, make, I beseech thee a trial of Him, and be at peace; i.e. risk everything,
throw thyself upon his mercy, and so make thy peace with Him.
To do so is well worth thy while, for thereby good shall come unto thee. It
is a question what sort of “good” is meant. If we are to explain the “good”
of this passage by vs. 24-25 exclusively, Eliphaz will become a mere
utilitarian, and he will be rightly characterized as “selfish and sordid,
an anticipation of the Mammon of Milton. But there seem to be
no sufficient grounds for singling out vs. 24-25 from the rest of the
passage, and regarding them as forming its key-note. The “good” which
Eliphaz promises to Job includes, besides “the gold of Ophir” and “plenty
of silver,” such things as “delight in the Almighty,” and confident trust in
Him (v. 26), God’s hearing of his prayers (v. 27), the shining of light
upon his path (v. 28), his own payment of his vows (v. 27), his giving
assistance to the poor and needy (v. 29), and even his deliverance of the
guilty by the pureness of his hands (v. 30); so that other besides material
considerations are clearly taken into account, and the worldly prosperity
which Eliphaz promises forms a part only of the good result which he
anticipates from the patriarch making his peace with the Almighty.
Peace from the Knowledge of God (v. 21)
Eliphaz has here stumbled on a great truth, which even his wrongheadedness
cannot pervert, which is indeed a flash of Divine inspiration. Our unrest springs
from our ignorance of God. If we did but know Him, we should be at peace.
Ø From the characteristics of knowledge. There is a restfulness about all
knowledge. Vague apprehensions and surprising alarms dog the footsteps
of ignorance. We cannot walk tranquilly in a dark night through regions of
unknown dangers. Even the knowledge of painful truths is less disturbing
than uncertainty about them. When we know the worst the fever of anxiety
is allayed, although the lethargy of despair may have taken its place. The
higher knowledge induces patience, calmness, strength.
Ø From the nature of God. Here is the wonderful truth that comes to the
troubled soul like a gospel of peace. Our hard thoughts of God are
erroneous. They spring from a complete misconception as to His nature.
We have thought Him indifferent, or stern, or vindictive. These ideas were
born of our own ignorance. If we had but known Him we could not have
held such views Of His nature. The more we do know Him the more we see
that His true name is Love. His purposes are gracious. Afar off they appear
hard; on a near acquaintance the beauty and goodness of them is made
evident to us.
Ø From the needs of our soul. We cannot be at peace till we KNOW
GOD! The severance from God is a great cause of UNREST. The
knowledge of God is LIFE ETERNAL and we are cut off from that
life while we hold ALOOF FROM GOD!
Ø By some effort. We have to acquaint ourselves with God. We do not
know God in our condition of sin and sorrow. The world is in ignorance of
God. A deep gloom hangs over a large part of heathendom through
mistaken beliefs about malignant deities. Christians need to escape from
hard thoughts of God. Our despondency, our limited views, our weakness,
our consciousness of sin, all make it hard for us to know God in His perfect
Ø Through revelation. In acquainting ourselves with God we have not to
feel after Him if haply we may find Him (Acts 17:27). He has spoken to us.
The Scriptures enlighten us and dispel needless fears as they make known the
mercy of the Lord that endureth for ever (Psalm 136). The greatest
distress is sometimes felt by people dwelling too much in the region of
subjective religion. Thus they imagine hard things about God that are
contrary to His revelation of Himself.
Ø In Christ. He is the supreme Revelation of God, and He has come to
bring “peace on earth.” To see Christ is to know God as favorable to us.
(John 14:9). “He is our Peace.” (Ephesians 2:14)
Ø By means of reconciliation. This further thought is implied in the notion
of acquainting ourselves with God. We are estranged by sin, which hides
from us the vision of the love of God. We must turn to God submissively,
and make practical acquaintance of Him by yielding ourselves to His will.
Then the intimacy of spiritual communion will be “the peace of
God that passeth all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7)
22 “Receive, I pray thee, the law from His mouth, and lay up His words
in thine heart.” Receive, I pray thee, the law from His mouth; or, receive
now instruction from His mouth. The supposition of some commentators,
that the “Law of Moses” is intended, is negated by the entire absence
from the Book of any allusion to the details of the Mosaic legislation, as
well as by the primitive character of the life depicted in the book, and the
certainty that no one of the interlocutors is an Israelite. The Hebrew hrwOT,
without the article prefixed, is properly “instruction,” and is only to be
assumed as meaning “the Law” when the context shows this meaning to be
probable. The “instruction” to which Eliphaz here points, and which he
regards as instruction from God’s mouth, is probably the teaching of
religious men, such as himself, which he considered to have come from
God originally, though, perhaps, he could not have explained how. And
lay up His words in thine heart. This is a mere variant of the preceding
clause, and adds no fresh idea. (However it is a great idea as God’s Word
later reveals “Thy word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin
against thee.” (Psalm 119:11)
Heart-Treasures (v. 22)
God’s words are here regarded as heart-treasures, to be received with
eagerness and laid up with care. God’s words are not, material things.
Gold and jewels are not the most precious things. Good thoughts are
worth more than diamonds. God’s words are of the greatest value. All truth
is precious; Divine truth — truth about God and spiritual things —
IS THE MOST VALUABLE.
God’s words are not concerned with abstract truth. They are meant to
have a bearing on life! They throw light on duty. They show us
the way of salvation.
God is the source of truth. He originates the commandment; He conveys
the instruction; He teaches the truth. God’s revelation is THE ORIGINAL
SOURCE OF ALL TRUTH! God made the Law, impressed the truth on
nature, inspired the ancient prophet, gave the hearing ear. Jesus had told us
to “Take heed how ye hear.” (Luke 8:18) We can only receive the truth
of God when the Spirit of God brings it home to us. Thus it comes from
God to each individual.
We are to receive the words of God! They are not in us by nature and
must be received willingly. We can keep them out; therefore we
are urged to open the door and let them in.
They are to be preserved and laid up, in the heart, in our thoughts,
in our memory. (“Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might
not sin against thee.” Psalm 119:11).
God’s Word is to be used! They are not buried in oblivion, nor
are they kept only for show, like the Crown jewels at the Tower. In the
heart they are at the source of the life, and they are there to inspire and
influence the whole man. God’s Law is to be written on THE FLESHLY
TABLES OF THE HEART that there it may LIVE AND RULE!
23 “If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up, thou shalt put
away iniquity far from thy tabernacles.” If thou shalt return to the Almighty.
Eliphaz, like Bildad in ch.8:5, and Zophar in 11:13, taxes Job with having fallen away
from God, almost with having apostatized. All his prophecies of future
prosperity rest upon the assumption that Job, having fallen away, is now
about to turn to God, repent of his misdoings, and be again received with
favor. Thou shall be built up; i.e. “restored, re-established! Thou shalt
put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles (compare ch.11:14, where
Zophar implies that Job’s tents have ill-gotten gains concealed in them).
24 “Then shalt thou lay up gold as dust, and the gold of Ophir as the
stones of the brooks.” Then shalt thou lay up gold as dust; rather, then
shalt thou lay thy treasure in the dust; i.e. hold it in slight esteem, because of its
abundance. And the gold of Ophir (literally, and Ophir) shall be to thee
as the stones of the brooks, (compare II Chronicles 9:27, “And the king
[i.e. Solomon] made silver in
doubt, for untold wealth, being the great gold- producing country (see
I Kings 9:28; 10:11; 22:48; Psalm 45:9; Isaiah 13:12). Compare the comment
on ch. 28:16.)
25 “Yea, the Almighty shall be thy defense, and thou shalt have plenty
of silver.” Yea, the Almighty shall be thy defense; rather, thy treasure.
The word is the same as that used in the first clause of v. 24, It properly
signifies “ore.” The general meaning of the passage seems to be, “However
rich thou mayest be in the precious metals, thy true treasure — that which
thou wilt value most — will be THE ALMIGHTY HIMSELF! (Compare
Genesis 15:1 – “Fear not Abram: I am thy shield and thy exceeding
great reward.”) And thou shalt have plenty of silver; or, and He shall
be previous silver unto thee (see the Revised Version).
Rich in God (vs. 24-25)
The idea of these verses seems to be that if a man will give up his earthly
riches, his jewels and gold of Ophir, God will be to him a Defense, and as
gold ore and silver in bars.
not get the best riches by grasping, but by giving. Sacrifice, not selfishness,
is the source of the highest prosperity. We must renounce in order that we
may attain. This principle is exemplified in various ways
Ø Typified in nature. The farmer must not store his wealth in his granary if
he would increase it. He must commit the seed to the earth, cast it away
and bury it, in order that he may receive more in return.
Ø Practised in commerce. We rarely meet with the old-fashioned miser
and his bags of gold. In our day the money-worshipper lays out his wealth
so that, like Shylock, he may make it “breed.”
Ø Taught by Christ. Our Lord showed in His parables of the talents and the
pounds that the gifts of God were to be used, expended profitably, and that
they should have more who had traded with what they first received. He
led to deeper truths when He told the young man who desired eternal life to
sell all he had and give to the poor, promising that he should then have
treasure in heaven (Mark 10:21), and when He promised His disciples
that there was no man who had renounced home and family for His sake
and the gospel’s, but he should receive a hundredfold now in this time, and
in the coming age eternal life (Ibid. vs. 29-30). Here we see that mere
renunciation is not enough. It will not do merely to pour the money into
the sea, nor to sell all one’s goods and give to the poor, unless we also
Ø Proved by experience. It is found with surprising gladness that to give
up all for Christ is to be rich indeed, while to cling greedily to earthly
possessions is to be miserably disappointed in the end.
us new riches in exchange for what we have given up. We shall find our
wealth in God Himself. He is to us all we need. (Genesis 15:1)
Ø A defense. Riches are valued for what they will purchase. In the last
resort they are chiefly prized because they can ward off evils. To keep
hunger, pain, and death from their doors, men will give up any amount of
wealth. Nations spend vast sums in their defensive arrangements. Many
nations of the world are armed camps, with armies maintained at an
enormous cost, simply in order that each country may be safe from invasion
by its neighbors. Now, God is the true Defense of His people, better
than any armaments that money can maintain.
Ø A store of vast possibilities of good. Gold ore and silver bars are the
precious metals in an elementary state (
value that may be employed in various ways. God is our most elemental
o He is as a treasure to the soul that possesses Him, as gold and
silver are precious in themselves. It is a great mistake to seek God
only for what He gives, forgetting that He is better than all His gifts.
o Still, He is the Source of all other good, as gold and silver are means for
purchasing innumerable things. Through God we may own all things.
Paul says to Christians, “All things are yours.” (I Corinthians 3:21)
26 “For then shalt thou have thy delight in the Almighty, and shalt lift
up thy face unto God.” For then shalt thou have thy delight in the Almighty.
God shall no longer be a terror and alarm to thee, as He is at present (ch. 7:17-20;
9:17, 34; 10:15-17; 13:21; 19:6-13), but a source of rejoicing and joy.
Thou shalt have blessings at His hands instead of sufferings, rewards instead of
punishments. Therefore shalt thou delight in Him, and shalt lift up thy face
unto God; i.e. shalt turn towards Him, like the sunflower towards the sun,
and bask in the light of His countenance.
The Joy of the Lord (v. 26)
Ø God gives joy. As we have but to acquaint ourselves with God
to be at peace (v. 21), so we have but go appreciate His intentions,
go see that He does not wish us to be in distress.
Ø This joy is in Himself. We have to learn by experience how this is the
case, for no words can express it. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,…
the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him”
(I Corinthians 2:9). But Christian experience shows how real this Divine
o The joy of pardon. The soul has been estranged from God,
darkened with the gloom of the wrath of Heaven; now the
cloud is broken up and God smiles forgiveness.
o The joy of love. This is mutual — the soul loving God in
exchange for His love.
o The joy of trust. No fear need disturb the soul that is at peace with
God. Its confidence is a source of deep gladness, because it dispels the
most terrible alarms.
o The joy of service. It is a happy thing to be working for God, especially
when we perceive that we can be “fellow-workers with God.”
(I Corinthians 3:9). He is the inspiring energy of all our work.
o The joy of communion. To be walking with God is itself a joy. The
blessedness of the pure in heart who enjoy the vision of God is
DEEPER THAN ANY EARTHLY DELIGHT!
Ø Confidence. While we fear and distrust God we cannot look up to Him.
We rather shrink from His gaze and hide ourselves, like Adam and Eve in
the garden (Genesis 3:8). We may even cry go God for help without daring
to look up, like the publican in Christ’s parable (Luke 18:13). It is happy
for the soul when the shame of sin and the fear of doubt are removed by
the forgiving love of God, so that the child can look quite naturally and
confidently into the face of his Father.
Ø Contemplation. To lift up the face to God is go gaze upon Him as well as
to submit go His gaze. This is no vision of the eye of sense, for God is
Spirit, and must therefore be always invisible to the bodily eye. But the
spirit of man may contemplate the Divine Spirit. Theology tries to
do this, but theology consists of purely intellectual conceptions. There is
a deeper contemplation of sympathy which is only possible to the soul
that is in living communion with God.
Ø Expectation. Our contemplation should be an act of pure worship in
which we forget ourselves, rejoicing only in the beauty of God’s goodness.
Yet personal wants will make themselves felt, and when they do, there is
no one more ready or able to supply them than our Father in heaven.
Therefore it is natural to look to Him for help in prayer, patience, and hope.
o Prayer, because the help should be sought from God;
o patience, because it may not come immediately; and
o hope, because it can be anticipated with the assurance that God
will not disappoint His children.
o Beatification. The face that is lifted up-to God is illumined by
the glory of God. His light falls upon it and glorifies it. There is
a great blessedness springing directly from communion with heaven.
If we looked up more, our countenances would be brighter.
Observe that these blessings follow a penitent return to God, and are conditioned by it.
“Then thou shalt have thy delight,” etc., pointing back to v. 23.
27 “Thou shalt make thy prayer unto Him, and He shall hear thee, and
thou shalt pay thy vows.” Thou shalt make thy prayer unto Him, and He
shall hear thee. Now Job prays, but is not heard; he asks for death, but it does
not come; he begs for a respite from suffering, but it is refused him; he
beseeches God to enter into argument with him (ch. 9:32-34; 10:2),
but God vouchsafes no answer. Let him follow Eliphaz’s advice, “return to
the Almighty” (v. 23), humble himself in the dust, repent and “put away
his iniquity” (v. 23), and then, Eliphaz promises him, all shall be changed
— God will become gracious to him, will listen to him, and grant his
requests, will remove His heavy hand, and crown him with mercy and
loving-kindness. Then, he adds, thou shalt pay thy vows. Thou shalt have
wealth enough, and strength enough, to pay any vows that thou hast made,
which now in thy afflicted state thou canst not do. Vows are part of natural
religion, and were widely prevalent over all the East in ancient times. The
performance of vows, which was strictly enjoined in the Mosaic Law
(Deuteronomy 23:21), must at all times have been felt as obligatory by
the natural conscience.
28 “Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee:
and the light shall shine upon thy ways.” Thou shalt also decree a thing,
and it shall be established unto thee. Whatever thou resolvest on, i.e., God
shall ratify with His authority, and bring to pass in due time for thy benefit —
a promise which has certainly a touch of audacity about it. David is less bold, but
intends to give the same sort of encouragement when he says, “Delight thyself
in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart; commit
thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass
(Psalm 37:4-5). And the light shall shine upon thy ways. Job had
complained of the “darkness” by which his path was shadowed (ch.19:8).
Eliphaz promises that this cause of complaint shall be removed.
Job’s way shall be made plain before his face (Psalm 5:8). A bright light
shall illumine it — a light that shall ever “shine more and more unto the
perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18).
29 “When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up;
and He shall save the humble person.” When men are cast down, then
thou shalt say, There is lifting up; rather, when men cast down and thou
shalt say, Let there be lifting up; i.e. when oppressors have cast a man down,
and thou appealest to God, and prayest for his lifting up, then He (i.e. God) shall
save the humble person. God shall hear thy, prayer, and the oppressed person
shall be rescued and saved. (Little did Eliphaz know that he was talking about
himself – “And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed
for his friends” – ch. 42:10 – CY – 2013)
30 “He shall deliver the island of the innocent: and it is delivered by
the pureness of thine hands.” He shall deliver the island of the innocent;
rather, He shall deliver even him that is not innocent (see the Revised Version).
It is now generally admitted that ya in this place is for ˆya, as in I Samuel 4:21;
Proverbs 31:4. The meaning seems to be that God will deliver, at Job’s
prayer, even guilty persons, who will be delivered by the pureness of
Job’s hands. Eliphaz thus prophesies his own deliverance and that of his
two friends from God’s wrath at the intercession of Job, as actually came
to pass afterwards (as above - see Job 42:7-9).
Peace with God (vs. 21-30)
In clear words reconciliation with God is urged. “Acquaint now thyself
with Him, and be at peace” (v. 21). Ignorance of God casts men off from the
highest good — from the fellowship of their truest and best Friend. Deep in
the heart of the wicked ENMITY AGAINST GOD REIGNS! This is sin’s
utmost folly. Men are to be judged by their relation to a pure and true standard.
The utmost condemnation lies buried in a repudiation of the highest
goodness, the supreme righteousness, the purest benevolence. “What have
we to do with thee, thou Jesus of
purely devilish mind. The reconciliation of the human soul to God is
the noblest and best work of philanthropy. Eliphaz points out:
Ø The search for the knowledge of God. “Acquaint now thyself with Him.”
The knowledge of God is the basis of peace and the encouragement to it. It
is the knowledge that comes of the heart turning to God. To such a heart
God turns and manifests Himself. Mere intellectual search is insufficient.
God is known, as He is seen, by the heart.
Ø Receiving teaching from Him. The acceptance of His holy Law as the law
of the returning life, hiding His words in the heart, taking them up into a
loving recognition of them, — this is the way of all true peace and
Ø The putting away iniquity. This, the TRUE REPENTANCE is a
departure from evil
Ø A return of the soul wholly to God. This is THE TRUE CONVERSION!
From this issues the utmost good which Eliphaz points out in describing:
Ø The restoration of prosperity. “Thou shalt be built up” (v. 23).
The blessing of God upon the human life is the highest pledge of
true prosperity. “Thou shalt lay up gold as dust” (v. 24), may not
be a definite promise of riches to every returning one, but it indicates
the true effect of righteousness. God will be to him his true gold.
Ø Divine protection. “The Almighty shall be thy Defense” (v.23).
Ø A confident and joyous approach to God. “Thou shalt have thy
delight in the Almighty” (v. 26). How greatly is the character of
life raised by its purer fellowships! The soul brought to find its delight
in the highest good is blest indeed.
Ø The free access of prayer; and the pledge of a favorable response,
“Thou shalt make thy prayer unto Him, and He shall hear thee.”
Ø Prosperity and joy. “Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be
established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways”
(v. 28). Thus shall it come to pass that he who was “cast down”
shall be lifted up, and the lowly shall be saved. Thus the guiltless
shall be rescued, and he who has pure hands shall be delivered.
(vs. 29-30). The way of the sinner’s approach to God is as of
old — it is the path of humility, of repentance, of lowly
confession, of faith — the heart’s whole trust in the Lord and in
His word of grace. And the fruits of righteousness are now as
always — peace and assurance and blessing for ever! (Isaiah
discourse of Eliphaz, though lofty in its conceptions and moving in its
strains, was not adapted to the case of Job. That men’s creeds are sometimes
better than those who hold them. The piety and spirituality of this exhortation
stand at a higher elevation than the character of him who uttered it. That more
gospel light may be possessed by those outside the Church than those within
suspect. Eliphaz’s sermon sounds like an anticipation of New Testament
teaching. That there is ONLY ONE WAY FOR SALVATION for all
countries and all times. Eliphaz preached to his listener what John the
Baptist, Peter, Paul, and John proclaimed to their hearers, “Repent and
be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” (Acts 3:19)
That true happiness can be reached by none who do not first return to
God. “There is no peace, saith our God, to the wicked” (Isaiah 48:22;
57:21). That the pious poor man is richer than the godless millionaire.
God is better as a Portion for the human soul than gold of Ophir.
That the royal road to all genuine success in life lies in establishing a
friendship with Heaven. The man who delights in God shall have:
Ø his desires granted,
Ø his prayers heard, and
Ø his plans fulfilled.
That the most influential men on earth are the truly pious. God’s Israels
have power with both God and man. That the wicked world is more
indebted to the
followers are the salt of the earth.
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