and of the shadow of death; which is repeated for the illustration and confirmation of it, as having in it all kind of darkness, and that to the greatest degree:
without any order, or "orders" (i); or vicissitudes and successions of day and night, summer and winter, heat and cold, wet and dry; or revolutions of sun, moon, and stars, or of the constellations, as Aben Ezra; and whither persons go without any order, either of age, sex, or station; sometimes a young man, sometimes an old man, and the one before the other; sometimes a man, sometimes a woman; sometimes a king, prince, and nobleman, and sometimes a peasant; sometimes a rich man, and sometimes a poor man; no order is observed, but as death seizes them they are brought and laid in the grave, and there is no order there; the bones and dust of one and the other in a short time are mixed together, and, there is no knowing to whom they belong, only by the omniscient God:
and where the light is as darkness; were there anything in the grave that could with any propriety be called light, even that is nothing but darkness; darkness and light are the same thing there: or when "it shineth it is darkness" (k); that is, when the sun shines brightest here, as at noon day, it is entire darkness in the grave; no light is discerned there, the rays of the sun cannot penetrate there; and could they, there is no visive faculty in the dead to receive them; all darkness is in those secret places.
(i) "et non ordines", Pagninus, Montanus, Bolducius, Mercerus; "sine ordinibus", Cocceius, Schmidt. (k) "splendet", Beza, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
INTRODUCTION TO Job 11
In this chapter Zophar the Naamathite, Job's third friend, attacks him, and the with great acrimony and severity, and with much indecency; he charges him not only with loquacity, and vain babbling, but with lying, and with scoffing at God, and good men, Job 11:1; which he attempts to support by some things Job had said, misrepresented by him, Job 11:4; and wishes that God would take him in hand, and convince him of the wisdom of the divine proceedings with him, and of his lenity and mercy to him, Job 11:5; and then discourses of the unsearchableness of God in his counsels, and conduct; of his sovereignty, and of his power, and of the vanity and folly of men, Job 11:7; and as his friends before him, having insinuated that Job was guilty of some heinous sin, or sins, and especially of hypocrisy, advises him to repentance and reformation, and then it would be well with him; and he should enjoy much comfort, peace, and safety, even to old age, Job 11:13; and concludes it should go ill with the wicked man and the hypocrite, such as he suggests Job was, Job 11:20.
and said; as follows.
and should a man full of talk be justified? or "a man of lips" (t), an eloquent man, or one that affects to be so; a man of a fine speech, who artfully colours things, and makes a show of wisdom and truth, when there are neither in what he says; is such a man to be justified? he would seem to be in his own eyes at least, if not in the eyes of others, if not answered; he would be thought to have carried his point, to have had the better of the argument, and to have got the victory by dint of words and power of oratory; for this is not to be understood of justification before God; for as no man is heard and accepted by him for his "much speaking", as was the opinion of the Heathens, so neither are any justified on account of their many words, any more than their many works; since, in a multitude of words there are often not only much folly and weakness, but vanities and sins, Proverbs 10:19; there is indeed a sense in which a man is justified by his words, Matthew 12:37; when he confesses Christ, and professes to be justified by his righteousness, and believes in that, and pleads it as his justifying righteousness; he is justified by that righteousness; which is contained in the confession and profession of his faith; but this is not here meant.
(s) "an abundans verbis", Beza; "an multus verbis", Mercerus, so Kimchi & Ben Melech; and most Hebrew writers take for an adjective. (t) "vir labiorum", Montanus, Beza, Drusius, Vatablus, Mercerus, Bolducius, Cocceius, Schmidt, Michaelis.
and, when thou mockest, shall no man make thee ashamed? here Job is represented as a mocker of God, which is inferred from Job 10:3; and at his friends, and the arguments they used, and the advice they gave, which is concluded from his words in Job 6:25; and as one hardened, who was not, and could not be made ashamed of what he had said against either, by anything that had been offered for his reproof and conviction: to make a mock of God, or a jest of divine things, or scoff at good men, is very bad; indeed it is the character of the worst of men; and such should be made ashamed, if possible, by exposing their sin and folly; and if not here, they will be covered with shame hereafter, when they shall appear before God, the Judge of all, who will not be mocked, and shall see the saints at the right hand of Christ, whom they have jeered and scoffed at: but this was not Job's true character; he was no mocker of God nor of good men; in this he was wronged and injured, and had nothing of this sort to be made ashamed of.
(u) So Ben Melech. (w) "jactantias tuas", Cocceius. (x) "Tuane argumenta mortales consternabunt?" Codurcus.
my doctrine is pure; free from error, unadulterated, unmixed, not blended with Heathenish principles and human doctrines; but tending to purity of heart and life, as every word of God, and doctrine that comes from him, is pure, yea, very pure, like silver purified seven times; and such was Job's doctrine which he "received" from God, "took" (y) up and professed, taught and delivered to others, so far as was agreeable to the will of God, and the revelation he had then made: and it appears that Job had very clear and sublime notions of God, of his being and perfections, of his works of nature, providence, and grace; of Christ his living Redeemer, of redemption and justification by him, and of the resurrection of the dead; and had purer and better notions of divine things than his friends had, and spoke better things of God than they did, God himself being witness, Job 42:7; some interpret this of the purity of his life and conversation: he is further charged with saying:
and I am clean in thine eyes: speaking to God, as Jarchi observes; and indeed so he was, and every believer is, in an evangelic sense; as to the new man, which is created in righteousness and true holiness, is without sin, and cannot commit it; and as washed from all sin in the blood of Christ, and as clothed with his righteousness, in which the saints are faultless before the throne, and are unblamable and irreprovable in the sight of God: but Zophar's meaning is, that Job had asserted that he was entirely free from sin in himself, was wholly without it, and did not commit any; and had appealed to God, as knowing it to be true; and which he seems to have grounded on what he had said, Job 10:7; through a mistake of his sense; which was not that he was free from sin entirely, but from any gross notorious sin, or from a wicked course of living, and particularly from the sin of hypocrisy, his friends suggested he was guilty of; otherwise he confesses himself a sinner, and prays for the pardon of his sins, and disclaims perfection in himself; see Job 7:20; and indeed there is no creature in itself clean in the sight of God, either angels or men; every man is naturally unclean; no good man is without sin, without the being, indwelling, and commission of it; nor will any truly gracious man say he is; he knows otherwise, and acknowledges it; he that says he is must be an ignorant man, or a vain and pharisaical man; yea, must not say the truth: some have suspected the first part of the words to be Job's, "and I am clean": and the other Zophar's explaining them; that is, "in thine eyes" (z); in his own apprehension, as if he had a high and conceited opinion of himself.
(y) "doctrina aut oratio mea et sententia mente accepta", Michaelis; so Cocceius; "id quid ab aliis acceptum", Drusius. (z) Vid. Schultens in loc.
and open his lips against thee; or rather, "with thee", or "to thee" (a); converse with thee; speak out his mind freely; disclose the secrets of his wisdom, as in Job 11:6, and that for thy good; fully convince thee of thy sins, mistakes, and follies: for, notwithstanding all the heat and warmth of Zophar's spirit, yet, being a good man, as it cannot be thought he should wilfully and knowingly slander Job, and put a false gloss on his words, so neither could he desire any hurt or injury to be done him, or that God would deal with him as an enemy; only convince and reprove him for his sin, and justify himself and his own conduct, which he imagined Job had arraigned.
(a) , Sept. "tecum", Pagninus, Montanus, Beza, Vatablus, Mercerus, Cocceius, Schmidt, Michaelis; "tibi", V. L. "ad te", Piscator.
that they are double to that which is! or to "wisdom" (b); as the word is rendered in Proverbs 2:7; that is, to human wisdom; and then the sense is, that the secrets of divine wisdom displayed, whether in the doctrines of grace or in the methods of Providence, being shown and made manifest, would appear to be "double"; that is, vastly, yea, infinitely to exceed the wisdom of men; and that these, which men are apt to arraign as weak and wrong, are the effects of the highest wisdom, or they then appear so "to a man of wisdom" (c); so the supply may be made, as is in Micah 6:9; or else the sense is, were Job let in to the secret wisdom of God more, and into the purity and holiness of his law, which some understand by "that which is", or "wisdom", and render it "according to the law" (d) and see what that requires, and how much short he comes of it, and what and how many were his transgressions and violations of it; it then would be plain to him, that the punishment that God, in wisdom, and according to his righteous law, might inflict upon him, would be double; or, greatly, yea, infinitely exceed those afflictions he was now exercised with, and therefore he had no reason to complain; to which agrees what follows:
know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquities deserve; or punishes, afflicts, or chastises, less than the deserts of sin; see Ezra 9:13; some render it, "God exacteth of thee something of thine iniquity"; so Junius and Tremellius; according to which version the sense is, that sins are debts, and these many; and that payment of part of the debt of punishment for them is only required, which is not truth; for, though there is a debt of punishment due to justice for sin, yet it is not part of it only that is required of the sinner, but the whole, if any; for indeed no part of it is exacted of God's people, since the whole has been exacted of Christ, and he has answered and paid the whole debt, and blotted out the handwriting against them; wherefore the word used has rather the signification of forgetfulness, and may be rendered, either "God hath caused", or "suffered thee to forget part of thine iniquity" (e); or thou couldest never say that thou wert clean in his eye, and free from sin; or, "God himself has forgot part of thine iniquity" (f); in that he has afflicted thee so mildly, and with so much lenity; or, "hath forgotten thee for thine iniquity" (g); forsook him, hid his face from him, laid his hand on him, and sorely chastised him, so that he seemed to be forgotten by him, or he to forget to be gracious to him; all which were owing to his sins, these were the causes of it; or, "will condemn thee for thine iniquity" (h).
(b) "sapientiae", de Dieu, Schmidt, Michaelis; so the Targum. (c) "Viro sapientiae", Drusius. (d) "Secundum legem vel ordinationem", Vatablus. (e) "oblivisci facit te Deus, aliquid de iniquitate tua", some in Mercer so Gersom & Ben Melech, & Gussetius, p. 510. (f) "Quod obliviscatur tibi Deus ab iniquitate tua", Piscator; Vid. Gusset ib. (g) "Quod oblitus tui est propter iniquitatem tuam", Pagninus, Mercerus. (h) So some in Ben Melech.
canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? to the uttermost of his nature and perfections; all his attributes, the last of them, and the extremity thereof: that God is perfect and entire, wanting nothing, and is possessed of all perfections, may be found out, or otherwise he would not be God; but his essence and attributes, being infinite, can never be traced and comprehended by finite minds; there are some perfections of God we have no idea of, but are lost in confusion and amazement as soon as we think of them and reason about them, as his eternity and immensity particularly; for, when we have rolled over in our minds millions and millions of ages, we are as far off from eternity as when we began; and when we have pervaded all worlds, and every space and place, we have got no further into immensity than at first; we are confounded when we think of a Being without beginning and without bounds, unoriginated, and unlimited; yea, even it is but a small part of the works of God in creation that is known by men, or of God in and by them; nay, by divine revelation, which gives the clearest and most enlarged view of him, whereby he has proclaimed his name, a God gracious and merciful, &c. yet it is only his back parts that are shown, not his face; it is only through a glass, darkly, we now see; indeed, in the other world, we shall see him face to face, and as he is, yet then never comprehend his essence: and, after all, it is only in Christ that God is to be found, to saving purposes; in him is the most glorious display of him; being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person; and not only all his perfections are in him, as a divine Person, but they are glorified by him as Mediator; every step in salvation is taken in Christ, and every blessing of grace comes through him; what of the divine Presence and communion with God is enjoyed is by him; and he will be the medium of the enjoyment of God, and of all the glory and happiness of the saints in the world to come.
(i) Simonides, apud Cicero, de Nat. Deor. l. 1.
deeper than hell; what canst thou know? meaning, neither the grave nor the place of the damned, for both which "Sheol" is sometimes used, but the centre or lowest part of the earth; there is a depth in God, in his essence, in his thoughts, in his wisdom, displayed in nature, providence, and grace, that is unfathomable; we can know nothing of it but what he is pleased to make known; see Psalm 92:5; the Targum of the verse is,"in the height of heaven, what canst thou do? in the law, which is deeper than hell, what canst thou know?''
(i) "altior est altissimis coelis", Junius & Tremellius.
(k) "Quid oceano longius inveriri potest", Cicero. Orat. 36.
and shut up; should he do so; shut up in a civil sense, either in a prison, as Gersom, or in the hands of an enemy, by giving them unto them, to be enclosed and straitened by them, there is none can deliver; Psalm 31:8; or to shut them up as he did Noah in the ark, by protecting them by his power and providence, and so appear to be on their side, and for them; who then can be against them? or what does it signify if any are, if the Lord shuts them up and keeps them close? or in a spiritual sense, if he concludes men in sin, and shuts them up in unbelief, and under the law; who but himself can set them free? or, if good men are shut up in their frames, and straitened in their souls, that they cannot come forth in the lively exercise of grace, and free discharge of duty; there is no opening for them till he pleases, Psalm 88:8,
or gather together, then who can hinder him? either gathers them into one place, in a civil sense; or in a gracious manner, with great mercies and everlasting kindness to himself, to have communion with him; to his son, to participate of the blessings of his grace, and to his church and people, to enjoy all spiritual privileges with them; or, gathers men at and by death; see Job 34:14; and as he will gather them at the last day, even all nations, before him, the tares, and burn them and his wheat, and put them into his garner; and when he does any and every of these things, who can hinder him or turn him back from doing what he pleases: Job says much the same in Job 9:12; the Targum is,
"if he passes through and shuts up the heavens with clouds, and gathers armies, who can turn him back?"
(l) "si permutet proprie", Mercerus, Heb. "si mutabit locum", Piscator. (m) "Si transmeabit", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "si pervadat", Cocceius; "si transiverit", Michaelis. (n) "Si abierit", Schmidt. (o) "Si subverterit omnia", V. L.
he seeth wickedness also; the wickedness of their hearts and lives, their secret and open wickedness, their wicked thoughts, words, and actions; or, "men of wickedness"; even wicked men; they are all seen by him; nothing is or can be hid from him; he is God omniscient, the searcher of the hearts and trier of the reins of the children of men:
will he not then consider it? so as to punish or correct for it? he will: or, "he does not consider" (q); he seems as if he did not; as if he took no notice of wicked men, and of their wickedness, because he does not immediately punish or correct for it; or, he has no need to take any time to consider thereof, he sees and knows at once what it is, and what men are: Gersom reads this clause in connection with the former; "he sees the men of wickedness", and him who does "not consider" the ways of the Lord; or, the man does not consider that God sees him; so Ben Melech.
(p) "homines vanitatis", Vatablus, Drusius, Bolducius, Mercerus, Schmidt, Michaelis. (q) "et non cousiderat", Cocceius; "et non advertit", Schmidt.
though man be born like a wild ass's colt; foolish and stupid, without understanding of divine and spiritual things; given to lust and wantonness, to serve divers lusts and pleasures; not subject to the yoke of the law of God, stubborn, refractory, and untameable, but by the grace of God; the ass, and especially the wild ass, and the colt of one, being a very stupid creature, and a very lustful and wanton one, chooses to be free, will not bear the yoke, but ranges about in desert places; see Job 39:5; some render the words, "and a wild ass's colt is", or "may be born a man" (u); that is, one that is by his first birth, and by his life and conversation, like a wild ass's colt, is or may be born again, and be made a new man, as Jarchi also interprets it, and so become a wise, knowing, and good man, which is a great truth; but whether the truth in this text, is not so clear: the Targum seems to incline this way;"a refractory, youth that grows wise shall become a great man.''
(r) "concavus", Montanus; "cavus", Drusius; "vacuus", Pagninus, Beza, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Michaelis. (s) "fiat vel fit cordatus", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Broughton, Beza. (t) "In superbiam erigitur", V. L. "audaciam sumit", Schmidt. (u) "Pullus onager homo nascitur", Cocceius, Schmidt; "nascatur", Schultens.
(w) "Expande ad eum manus tuas", De Dieu.
put it far away; for sin cannot be put away out of the heart, it will have a place there as long as we live; though it should not be regarded, cherished, and nourished there; if so, God will not hear prayer, Psalm 66:18; and nothing can put away or remove afar off guilt from the conscience but the blood of Jesus; which, being sprinkled, purifies the heart and purges the conscience from dead works; but it is said, if it is in thine hand, which is the instrument of action, and may signify the commission of sin, and a series and course of sinning, which Job's friends suspected he was privately guilty of; and therefore advise him to leave off such a sinful course, and abstain from all appearance of evil, and live a holy and godly conversation:
and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles; in any room or apartment of his house; some restrain this, and iniquity in the former clause, to ill gotten goods, obtained by rapine and oppression, which he is advised to restore to those that had been injured by him; but there is no need to limit it to any sin: besides, wickedness may be put for wicked men, and the sense be, that, as he should not indulge to any iniquity himself, so neither should he suffer wicked men to dwell in his house, but make a general reformation in himself and in his family.
yea, thou shalt be steadfast: firm and solid, rooted and grounded in the love of God; having a firm persuasion of interest in it, and that nothing shall separate from it; being built on the foundation of Christ, and established in the exercise of faith on him; the affections being steady towards him, and fixedly set on divine and heavenly things; continuing steadfast in the doctrines of grace, and not carried about with strange doctrines, or every wind of doctrine; as well as constant and immovable in the work of the Lord, always employed in his service, and doing his will, from which nothing can move; not reproach, affliction, and persecution; and to be thus steady and fixed is a great privilege:
and shalt not fear; evil tidings of evil times; of wars and rumours of wars, famine, pestilence, earthquakes, and other judgments; of changes and revolutions in kingdoms and states, or of what is coming upon the world, according to promise and prophecy, the heart being fixed and well established, trusting in the Lord; nor be afraid of evil men or devils, or any enemies whatever, nor of death, the king of terrors, that being one of the believer's blessings, and a friend of his; nor of hell and damnation, or the second death, or wrath to come; from all which the saints are secure.
and remember it as waters that pass away; either the waters of the stream in a river, which, when gone, are seen and remembered no more or as waters occasioned by floods in the winter season, which when over, and summer is come, are gone and are no more discerned; and as they pass from the places where they were, so from the minds of men: or it may be respect is had to the waters of Noah's flood, which, according to the divine promise and oath, should no more go over the earth, Genesis 9:15; and being past and gone, and no fear or danger of their returning, are forgotten.
thou shall shine forth; like the rising sun, or as when it breaks forth out of a cloud; in a temporal sense, it may be understood of his enjoying health, wealth, and friends, the candle of the Lord shining upon him, as in days past; and in a spiritual sense, of his being favoured with the light of God's countenance, the Sun of righteousness rising upon him, with healing in his wings; the graces of the Spirit being brightened, and in lively exercise, and a large share of spiritual light and knowledge being given: the word used has a contrary sense, and signifies darkness and obscurity, and may be rendered "although thou art", or hast been, or mayest "be dark" (x); under dark and afflictive providences, as he had been, and still was and in darkness of soul, under the hidings of God's face: yet
thou shall be as the morning; whose light breaks forth suddenly, and makes everything gay and cheerful; especially a morning without clouds, when it is bright and clear, and is increasing more and more: by this metaphor is signified, that Job would at once emerge out of his darkness, afflictions, and trouble, and have abundance of joy and comfort, which would be increasing in every sense; see Proverbs 4:18.
(x) "tenebresces", Montanus, Drusius, Mercerus; to the same sense, Tigurine version, Cocceius, Schmidt, Schultens; so Ben Melech.
because there is hope; of the mercy of God, of salvation by Christ, and of eternal glory and happiness, as well as of a continuance of outward prosperity; faith and hope mutually assist each other; faith is the substance of things hoped for, and hope of better and future things on a good foundation encourages faith and confidence:
yea, thou shalt dig about thee; to let in stakes for the pitching and fixing of tents to dwell in, and for more commodious pasturage; or for wells of water, for the supply both of the family and the flocks; or rather, for ditches and trenches to secure from thieves and robbers, or for drains to carry off floods of water:
and thou shalt take thy rest in safety; lie down on the bed and sleep in the night season in peace and quietness, having nothing to fear; being well entrenched, and secure from depredations and inundations; and, more especially being hedged about and protected by the power and providence of God; see Psalm 3:5; the Targum is,
"thou shall prepare a grave, and lie down, and sleep secure.''
(y) "et confides", Mercerus, Piscator, Schmidt; "et habebis fiduciam", V. L.
yea, many shall make suit unto thee; make their supplications, present their requests and petitions for relief under necessitous circumstances, or for protection from the injuries and insults of others; as the poor and needy, the widow and fatherless, had done to him in times past, when in his prosperity, and when he was a friend unto them, and the father of them; see Proverbs 19:6; or, "the great ones (z) shall make suit to thee"; to have his favour and friendship, his counsel and advice, his company and conversation; he should be applied unto and courted by men of all sorts, which would be no small honour to him; see Psalm 45:12.
(z) "magnates", Vatablus, Bolducius.