Job 22

 

 

                                          SECTION IV

             THIRD COLLOQUY OF JOB WITH HIS FRIENDS

                                             (vs. 1-30)

 

Eliphaz returns to the attack, but with observations that are at first strangely pointless

and irrelevant, e.g.:

 

  • on the unprofitableness of man to God (vs. l-2), and
  • on the slight importance of Job’s case (v. 3).

 

After this weak prelude, however, there is more vigor in his assault. In:

  • vs. 4-9 he directly charges Job with a number of specified sins,
  •  in vs. 10-11 declares his sufferings to be the consequence of them.

 

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 .goodnessextendeth 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

ocean?

 

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).

 

 

  • LEARN.  That the best saint has no more claim on God’s grace and favor

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

Southwestern Asia.

 

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

bone” (ch.31:16-22).

 

 

Help for the Needy (v. 7)

 

  • THIS IS NATURAL. God has made us mutually dependent on one

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.

 

  • THIS IS SIMPLE. Only water and bread are here referred to. These

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.

 

  • THIS IS UNCONDITIONAL. At least the one condition is need. We

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.

 

  • THIS IS CHRIST-LIKE. Our Lord took pity on the world’s sore

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.

 

  • THE NEGLECT OF THIS IS A GREAT SIN. Eliphaz was unjust in

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:

 

  • ASSURED BY THE INVIOLABILITY OF THE DIVINE

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:

 

  • A GROUND OF CONFIDENT APPEAL BY THE UNJUSTLY

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

judgment is:

 

  • A SOURCE OF TRUE COMFORT FOR THE SORROWFUL. Ever

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)

 

  • IT IS VAIN TO TRY TO HIDE FROM GOD.   He sees through the

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)

 

  • IT IS FOOLISH TO DISTRUST HIS WISDOM.  We see a little corner

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).

 

  • IT IS WELL TO SEEK GOD’S GUIDANCE. When we follow His lead

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

innocent rejoice.

 

 

  • LEARN.  That good men may tell lies.  That saints should be wary in

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.

 

  • HOW PEACE SPRINGS FROM THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD.

 

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!

 

  • HOW THE PEACE-GIVING KNOWLEDGE OF GOD IS

ACQUIRED.

 

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

goodness.

 

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 Jerusalem as stones”). Ophir stands, no

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.

 

  • RENUNCIATION THE CONDITION OF TRUE WEALTH. We do

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

follow Christ.

 

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.

 

  • GOD THE SOURCE OF TRUE WEALTH. It is not that God will give

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 (Ft. Knox). They thus represent

value that may be employed in various ways. God is our most elemental

wealth.

 

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)

 

  • THE INTERIOR EXPERIENCE. “Delight in the Almighty.”

 

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

joy is.

 

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!

 

  • THE SPIRITUAL ATTITUDE. “And shall lift up thy face unto God.”

 

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 Nazareth?” was the expression of a

 purely devilish mind. The reconciliation of the human soul to God is

the noblest and best work of philanthropy. Eliphaz points out:

 

  • THE WAY OF RECONCILIATION.

 

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

blessedness.

 

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:

 

  • THE FRUITS OF PEACE.

 

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.”

(v. 27).

 

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

oldit 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

alwayspeace and assurance and blessing for ever!  (Isaiah

32:17).

 

 

  • LEARN.  That many a noble sermon is preached to the wrong hearers. The

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 Church of God than it imagines. God’s saints and Christ’s

followers are the salt of the earth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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