but how little a portion is heard of him? from the creatures, from the works of creation, whether in heaven, earth, or sea; for though they do declare in some measure his glory, and though their voice is heard everywhere, and shows forth the knowledge of him; even exhibits to view his invisible things, his eternal power and Godhead; yet it is comparatively so faint a light, that men grope as it were in the dark, if haply they might find him, having nothing but the light of nature to guide them. We hear the most of him in his word, and by his Son Jesus Christ, in whose face the knowledge of him, and his glorious perfections, is given; and yet we know but in part, and prophesy in part; it is but little in comparison of what is in him, and indeed of what will be heard and known of him hereafter in eternity:
but the thunder of his power who can understand? meaning not literally thunder, which though it is a voice peculiar to God, and is very strong and powerful, as appears by the effects of it; see Job 40:9; yet is not so very unintelligible as to be taken notice of so peculiarly, and to be instanced in as above all things out, of the reach of the understanding of men; but rather the attribute of his power, of which Job had been discoursing, and giving so many instances of; and yet there is such an exceeding greatness in it, as not to be comprehended and thoroughly understood by all that appear to our view; for his mighty power is such as is able to subdue all things to himself, and reaches to things we cannot conceive of. Ben Gersom, not amiss, applies this to the greatness and multitude of the decrees of God; and indeed if those works of his which are in sight cannot be fully understood by us, how should we be able to understand things that are secret and hidden in his own breast, until by his mighty power they are carried into execution? see 1 Corinthians 2:9.
INTRODUCTION TO Job 27
Though Job's friends were become silent, and dropped the controversy with him, he still continued his discourse in this and the four following chapters; in which he asserts his integrity; illustrates and confirms his former sentiments; gives further proof of his knowledge of things, natural and divine; takes notice of his former state of prosperity, and of his present distresses and afflictions, which came upon him, notwithstanding his piety, humanity, and beneficence, and his freedom from the grosser acts of sin, both with respect to God and men, all which he enlarges upon. In this chapter he gives his word and oath for it, that he would never belie himself, and own that he was an hypocrite, when he was not, but would continue to assert his integrity, and the righteousness of his cause, as long as he lived, Job 27:1; for to be an hypocrite, and to attempt to conceal his hypocrisy, would be of no advantage to him, either in life, or in death, Job 27:7; and was this his character and case, upon their principles, he could expect no other than to be a miserable man, as wicked men are, who have their blessings turned into curses, or taken away from them, and they removed out of the world in the most awful and terrible manner, and under manifest tokens of the wrath and displeasure of God, Job 27:11.
and said; as follows.
(a) "et addidit assumere suam parabolam", Pagninus, Montanus.
"that Job from love served God, for no man swears by the life of a king but who loves the king;''
the object swore by is further described,
who hath taken away my judgment; not the judgment of his mind, or his sense of judging things, which remained with him quick and strong, notwithstanding his afflictions; nor correction with judgment, which continued with him; but, as the Targum paraphrases it,
"he hath taken away the rule of my judgment;''
that is, among men, his substance, wealth, and riches, his former affluence and prosperity, which while he enjoyed, he was reckoned a good man; but now all this being taken away by the hand of God as it was, he was censured as a wicked man, and even by his friends; or rather it is a complaint, that God had neglected the judgment of him, like that of the church in Isaiah 40:27; that he did not stir up himself to his judgment, even to his cause; did not vindicate him, though he appealed to him; did not admit him to his judgment seat, nor give his cause a hearing, and decide it, though he had most earnestly desired it; nor did he let him know the reason of his thus dealing and contending with him; yea, he afflicted him severely, though righteous and innocent, in which Job obliquely reflects upon the dealings of God with him; though he does not charge him with injustice, or break out into blasphemy of him; yet this seems to be one of those speeches which God disapproved of, and is taken notice of by Elihu with a censure, Job 34:5;
and the Almighty, who hath vexed my soul; with whom nothing is impossible, and who could easily have relieved him from his distresses; and who was "Shaddai", the all-sufficient Being, who could have supplied him with all things temporal and spiritual he wanted; yet instead of this "vexed his soul" with adversity, with afflictions very grievous to him, his hand touching and pressing him sore: or, "hath made my soul bitter" (b); dealt bitterly with him, as the Almighty did with Naomi, Ruth 1:20. Afflictions are bitter things, they are like the waters of Marah, they are wormwood and gall, they cause bitter distress and sorrow, and make a man go and speak in the bitterness of his soul; and these are of God, to whom job ascribes his, and not to chance and fortune; they were bitter things God appointed for him and wrote against him.
(b) "affecit amaritudine animam meam", Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus, Michaelis; so Sept.
and the spirit of God is in my nostrils; which signifies the same thing. The breath of a man is his spirit, and this is of God, the Father of spirits; he first breathed into man the breath of life, and he became a living soul or spirit, Genesis 2:7; it is he that gives life and breath to every man, Acts 17:25, and continues it as long as he pleases, which is a very precarious thing; for it is in his nostrils, where it is drawn to and fro and soon and easily stopped; nor will it always continue, it will some time not be, it will go forth, and then man dies, and returns to the earth, Ecclesiastes 12:7; but as long as there is breath there is life; so that to say this is the same as to say, as long as I live, or have a being, Psalm 104:33; and while that continued, Job looked upon himself under the oath he had taken by the living God.
nor my tongue utter deceit; which respects the same thing; not merely any fallacy or lie, or what might impose upon and deceive another, which yet he was careful of; but such deceit and falsehood as would be a belying himself, which would be the case should he say that he was devoid of integrity and sincerity.
until I die one will not remove my integrity from me; Job was an upright man both in heart and life, through the grace of God bestowed on him; and he continued in his integrity, notwithstanding the temptations of Satan, and his attacks upon him, and the solicitations of his wife; and he determined through the grace of God to persist therein to the end of his life; though what he chiefly means here is, that he would not part with his character as an upright man, which he had always had, and God himself had bore testimony to; he would never give up this till he gave up the ghost; he would never suffer his integrity to be removed from him, nor remove it from himself by denying that it belonged to him, which his friends bore hard upon him to do. So Jarchi paraphrases it,
"I will not confess (or agree) to your saying, that I am not upright;''
the phrase, "till I die", seems rather to belong to the first clause, though it is true of both, and may be repeated in this.
my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live; not that he imagined he should or could live without sin, so that his conscience could never charge, accuse, or upbraid him with it; for there is no man, let him live a life ever so harmless and inoffensive to God and man, but his heart will smite him, and condemn him for his sins committed in thought, word, and deed: but Job's sense is, that he would never deny his integrity, or renounce the righteousness of his cause, and own himself to be an insincere and unrighteous man; should he do this, he should speak contrary to his own conscience, which would accuse and reproach him for so saying, and therefore he was determined it never should; for, as long as he lived, he neither could nor would say any such thing. Some render the last phrase, "for my days" (c), or "concerning" them; for my course of life, all my days, so Jarchi; for that my heart shall not reproach me, as being conscious to himself he had lived in all good conscience to that day, and trusted he ever should; but the sense before given is best.
(c) "propter dies meos", Munster; "vel propter dies vitae meae", Michaelis; "de diebus meis", Schultens.
"as the overthrow of the ungodly, and as the perdition of transgressors;''
though some take this to be a kind of an ironic imprecation, and that by the wicked man here, and unrighteous in the next clause, he means himself, whom his friends reckoned a wicked and unrighteous man; and then the sense is, I wish you all, my friends, and even the worst enemies I have, were but as wicked Job is, as you call him; not that he wished they might be afflicted in body, family, and estate, as he was, but that they were as good men as he was, and partook of as much of the grace of God as he did, and had the same integrity and righteousness as he had, see Acts 26:29; and such a wish as this, as it serves to illustrate his own character, so it breathes charity and good will to others; and indeed it cannot be thought the words are to be taken in such a sense as that he wished the same evils might be retorted upon his enemies, whether open or secret, which they were the means of bringing upon him, which was contrary to the spirit of Job, Job 31:29. Some consider them not as an imprecation, but as a prediction, "mine enemy shall be as the wicked" (e); and may have respect to his friends, who were so ready to charge him with wickedness, and suggests that in the issue of thin; they would be found, and not he, guilty of sin folly, and to have said the things that were not right, neither of God, nor of him, which had its accomplishment, Job 42:7;
and he that riseth up against me as the unrighteous; which is but another way of expressing the same thing; for an enemy, and one that rises up against a man, is the same person; only this the better explains what enemy is intended, even an open one, that rises up in an hostile manner, full of rage and fury; and so a wicked and an unrighteous man are the same, and are frequently put together as describing the same sort of persons, see Isaiah 55:7.
(e) "erit ut impius inimieus meus", Pagninus, Montanus, Boldacius; so Junius & Tremellius, Broughton, & Ramban.
"because he hath gathered the mammon of falsehood;''
and also has great gifts, and a great deal of head knowledge, being able to talk of and dispute about most points of religion, and so has gained a great name among men both for knowledge and holiness, and yet all will not stand him in any stead, or be of any advantage to him:
when God taketh away his soul? out of his body by death, as a sword is drawn out of its scabbard, and which is as easily done by him; or as a shoe is plucked off from the foot, as Aben Ezra, and what he has a right to do, and will do it: and this taking it away seems to be in a violent manner, though not by what is called a violent death, yet against the will of the person; a good man is willing to die, is desirous of it, and gives up the ghost cheerfully; but an hypocrite is not willing to die, being afraid of death, and therefore his life or soul is taken from him without his consent and will, and not in love but in wrath, as the latter part of this chapter shows. Now Job had an hope which bore him up under all his troubles, and which he retained in the most killing and distressed circumstances, and which continued with him, and supported him in the views of death and eternity, so that he could look upon death, and into another world, with pleasure, and therefore could be no hypocrite, see Job 13:15.
will he always call upon God? God only is to be called upon, and it becomes all men to call upon him for all blessings, temporal and spiritual; and this should be done in faith, with fervency, in sincerity and uprightness of soul, and with constancy, always, at all times both of prosperity and adversity; but an hypocrite does not, and cannot call upon God in a sincere and spiritual manner; nor is he constant in this work, only by fits and starts, when it is for his worldly interest and external honour so to do. Now Job was one that delighted in God, was uneasy at his absence, longed for communion with him, sought earnestly after him, frequently and constantly called upon him, though he was wrongly charged with casting off the fear of God, and restraining prayer before him, and therefore no hypocrite. Some understand (f) all this as affirmed of the hypocrite, setting forth his present seeming state of happiness; as that he has a hope of divine favour, and of eternal felicity; has much peace and tranquillity of mind in life, and at death; is heard of God when trouble comes, and so gets out of it, and enjoys great prosperity; professes much delight and pleasure in God, and his ways, and is a constant caller upon him, and keeps close to the external duties of religion; and yet, notwithstanding all this, is in the issue, when death comes, exceeding miserable, as the following part of the chapter shows.
"I will teach you by the prophecy of God;''
see Ezekiel 1:3;
that which is with the Almighty will I not conceal; meaning not the secret purposes and decrees of God within himself, which cannot be known, unless he reveals them; rather secret truths, which are not obvious to everyone, the mysteries of the kingdom, the wisdom of God in a mystery, the knowledge of which the Lord vouchsafes to some of his people in a very peculiar manner; though the mysteries of Providence seem chiefly intended, which those that carefully observe attain to an understanding of, so as to be capable of instructing others; and indeed what is in reserve with God for men among his treasures, whether of grace or glory for his own peculiar people, or especially of wrath and vengeance for wicked men and hypocrites, may be here designed; and whatever knowledge men have of the mysteries of nature, providence, and grace, which may be profitable unto others, and make for the glory of God, should not be concealed from men, see Job 6:10.
(g) Simeon Bar Tzemach. (h) "manum Dei", Beza, Cocceius; "de manu Dei", Mercerus, Piscator, Drusius, Schmidt, Michaelis, Schultens. (i) "In plaga Dei fortis versans", Junius & Tremellius.
why then are ye thus altogether vain? or "become vain in vanity" (k); so exceeding vain, so excessively trifling, as to speak and act against the dictates of their own conscience, against their own sense, and what they saw with their own eyes, and advance notions so contrary thereunto; as to affirm that evil men are always punished of God in this life, and good men are succeeded and prospered by him; and so from Job's afflictions drew so vain and empty a conclusion, that he must be a wicked man and an hypocrite.
(k) "vanitate vanescitis", Pagninus, Junius & Tremellius, Michaelis, Schultens; "vel evanescitis", Montanus, Bolducius, Beza, Mercerus, Drusius, Piscator, Cocceius.
and the heritage of oppressors, which they shall receive of the Almighty; these are such who are either oppressors of the poor in their natural and civil rights, taking from or denying to them what of right is their due; or oppressors of the saints in their religious rights and privileges, furious persecutors of them; and who, being powerful, are terrible, as the word signifies: there is an "heritage", or an inheritance for those, which is entailed upon them, and will descend unto them, as the firstborn of their father the devil, as children of disobedience, and so of wrath, and like an inheritance will endure: and this they "shall receive"; it is future, it is wrath to come, and it is certain there is no escaping it; it is their due desert, and they shall receive it; it is in the hands of the almighty God, and he will render it to them, and they shall most assuredly inherit it.
it is for the sword; for them that kill with the sword, as the Targum; to be killed with it, as in the two instances above; Haman's ten sons were slain by the sword of the Jews, Esther 9:13, and Ahab's seventy sons by the sword of Jehu, or those he ordered to slay them, 2 Kings 10:7. The children of such wicked persons are oftentimes put to death, either by the sword of the enemy, fall in battle in an hostile way, which is one of God's four sore judgments, Ezekiel 14:21; or, leading a most wicked life, commit such capital crimes as bring them into the hand of the civil magistrate, who bears not the sword in vain, but is the minister of God, a revengeful executioner of wrath on wicked men; or else they die by the sword of the murderer, being brought into the world for such, and through their riches become their prey, Hosea 9:13; or if neither of these is the case, yet they at last, let them prosper as they will, fall a sacrifice to the glittering sword of divine justice, whetted and drawn in wrath against them; the sword of the enemy seems chiefly intended:
and his offspring shall not be satisfied with bread; such of them as die not by the sword shall perish by famine, which is another of God's sore judgments; though this may respect the grandchildren of wicked men, whom God visits to the third and fourth generation; the Targum paraphrases it, his children's children, and so Sephorno; to which agrees the Vulgate Latin version: the sense is, that the posterity of such wicked men, when they are dead and gone, shall be so reduced as to beg their bread, and shall not have a sufficiency of that for the support of nature, but shall die for want of food.
shall be buried in death: the pestilence, emphatically called death by the Hebrews, as by us the mortality, see Revelation 6:8. This is another of God's sore public judgments wicked men, and is such a kind of death, by reason of the contagion of it, that a person is buried as soon as dead almost, being infectious to keep him; and so Mr. Broughton translates the words,
"his remnant shall be buried as soon as they are dead;''
or the disease of which such die being so very infectious sometimes, no one dares to bury them for fear of catching it, and so they lie unburied; which some take to be the sense of the phrase, either that they shall be hurried away to the grave, and so not be embalmed and lie in state, and have an honourable and pompous funeral, or that they shall have none at all, their death will be all the burial they shall have: or else the sense is, they shall die such a death as that death shall be their grave; and they shall have no other, as the men of the old world that were drowned in the flood, Genesis 7:23; and Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea, Exodus 15:4; and Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, who were swallowed up in the earth, Numbers 16:27; and such as are devoured by wild beasts; and if this last could be thought to be meant, we have all the four sore judgments of God in this verse and Job 27:14, sword, famine, pestilence, and evil beasts, see Ezekiel 14:21,
and his widows shall not weep; leaving more than one behind him, polygamy being frequent in those times; or else these are his sons' wives, left widows by them, as Bar Tzemach thinks, they being the persons immediately spoken of, dying by various deaths before mentioned; but whether they be his widows, or theirs, they shall weep for neither of them; either because they themselves will be cut off with them; or their husbands dying shameful deaths, lamentation would be forbidden; or they would not be able to weep through the astonishment and stupor they should be seized with at their death; or having lived such miserable and uncomfortable lives with them, they should be so far from lamenting their death, that they should, as Jarchi interprets it, rejoice at it; the Septuagint version is,
"no one shall have mercy on their widows.''
and prepare raiment as the clay; not merely, for use, but pomp and show, to fill his wardrobes with; and formerly, raiment was part of the treasure of great men: the phrase signifies that he might have such a variety of raiment, and such large quantities of it, that he would value it no more than so much clay; or else that his riches, consist of what it would, would be both polluting and troublesome to him; the Septuagint version reads "gold" instead of "raiment", as in Zechariah 9:3, where like expressions are used of Tyre.
but the just shall put it on; the wicked man will either have no heart, or have no time, to wear it, at least to wear it out, and so a just man shall have it, as the Israelites put on the raiment of the Egyptians, which they begged or borrowed, and spoiled them of, Exodus 12:35; and oftentimes so it is in Providence, that the wealth of wicked men is by one means or another transferred into the families of good men, who enjoy it, and make a better use of it, Proverbs 13:22;
and the innocent shall divide the silver; have a part of it at least, or divide the whole between his children, or give a part of it to the poor; so money that is ill gotten, or ill used, is taken away, and put into the hands of one that will have mercy on the poor, and liberally distribute it to them, Proverbs 28:8.
and as a booth that the keeper maketh; either a keeper of sheep, who sets up his tent in a certain place for a while, for the sake of pasturage, and then removes it, to which the allusion is, Isaiah 38:12; or a keeper of fruit, as the Targum, of gardens and orchards, that the fruit is not stolen; or of fig trees and vineyards, as Jarchi and Bar Tzemach, which is only a lodge or hut pitched for a season, until the fruit is gathered in, and then is taken down, see Isaiah 1:8; and it signifies here the short continuance of the house of the wicked man, which he imagined would continue for ever, Psalm 49:11.
(l) "quasi Arcturi", Junius & Tremellius; so Aben Ezra.
he openeth his eyes: in the morning, when he awakes from sleep:
and it is not; by one providence or another he is stripped of all substance; or rather this is to be understood of his death, and of what befalls him at that time: death is often in Scripture signified by lying down, sleeping, and taking rest, as on a bed, see Job 14:10; rich men die as well as others; their riches cannot profit them, or be of any avail to them to ward off the stroke of death, and their death is miserable; he is "not gathered", or "shall not gather" (m), he cannot gather up his riches, and carry it with him, Psalm 49:15, 1 Timothy 6:7; "he openeth his eyes" in another world, "and it is not", his riches are not with him; or, as the Vulgate Latin version, "he shall find nothing"; or rather the meaning is, he is "not gathered"; to his grave, as Jarchi and Ben Gersom; and so Mr. Broughton, "he is not taken up", that is, as he interprets it, to be honestly buried. He is not buried in the sepulchres of his ancestors, which is often in Scripture signified by a man being gathered to his people, or to his fathers; but here it is suggested, that, notwithstanding all his riches, he should have no burial, or, what is worse than that, when he dies he should not be gathered to the saints and people of God, or into God's garner, into heaven and happiness: "but he openeth his eyes"; in hell, as the rich man is said to do, and finds himself in inexpressible torment: "and he is not"; on earth, in his palace he built, nor among his numerous family, friends, and acquaintance, and in the possession of his earthly riches, but is in hell in the most miserable and distressed condition that can be conceived of. Some think this last clause respects the suddenness of his death, one "opens his eyes", and looks at him, "and he is not"; he is dead, in the twinkling of an eye, and is no more in the land of the living; but the former sense is best.
(m) "nihil secum auferet", V. L.
a tempest stealeth him away in the night; the tempest of divine wrath, from which there is no shelter but the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ; this comes like a thief, suddenly and unexpectedly, and steals the wicked man out of this world; or rather from the judgment seat, and carries him into the regions of darkness, of horror and black despair, where he is surrounded with the aforesaid terrors; this is said to be in the night, to make it the more shocking and terrible, see Luke 12:19; and may have respect to that blackness that attends a tempest, and to that blackness of darkness reserved for wicked men, Jde 1:13.
"it is a wind called "Samiel", or poison wind, a very hot one, that reigns in summer from Mosul to Surrat, but only by land, not upon the water; they who have breathed that wind fall instantly dead upon the place, though sometimes they have time to say that they burn within. No sooner does a man die by this wind but he becomes as black as a coal; and if one take him by his leg, arm, or any other place, his flesh comes from the same, and is plucked off by the hand that would lift him up (n):''
and again, it is observed, that in Persia, if a man, in June or July, breathes in certain hot south winds that come from the sea, he falls down dead, and at most has no more time than to say he burns (o). Wicked men are like chaff and stubble, and they can no more resist death than either of these can resist the east wind; and they are as easily burnt up and consumed with the burning wind of God's wrath as they are by devouring flames; and though wicked men and hypocrites may think all will be well with them if they have but time to say, Lord have mercy on us; they may be carried off with such a burning wind, or scorching disease, as to be able only to say, that they burn, and not in their bodies only, but in their souls also, feeling the wrath of God in their consciences: or this may have respect to the devouring flames of hell they are surrounded with upon dying, or immediately after death, see Isaiah 33:14;
and he departeth; out of the world, not willingly, but, whether he will or not, he must depart; or rather he will be bid to depart, and he will depart from the bar of God, from his presence, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:
an as a storm hurleth him out of his place: this is done either at death, when as a storm hurls a tree, or any other thing, out of its place, so is the sinner forced out of his place in a tempestuous manner, through the power and wrath of God, so that his place knows him no more; and he is hurried into hell and everlasting destruction, just as the sinning angels were hurled out of heaven, and cast down into hell, and there will be no place found in heaven for them any more; or rather this will be his case at judgment, which immediately follows, where the wicked shall not stand, or be able to justify themselves, and make their case good; but with the storm of divine wrath and vengeance shall be hurled from thence, and go, being driven, into everlasting punishment.
(n) Thevenot's Travels into the Levant, par. 2. B. 1. ch. 12. p. 54. (o) Thevenot's Travels into the Levant, par. 2. B. 3. ch. 5. p. 135.
he would fain flee out of his hands; in whose hands he is, not as all men are, being the works of his hands, and supported by him; much less as his people are, secure there; but in his hands as an awful and terrible Judge, condemning him for his sins, and sentencing him to everlasting punishment; and a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living and almighty God: there is no getting out of them, though "fleeing, he flees", as the phrase is, with all his might and main, with all the swiftness he can; it is all to no purpose; he is where he was, and must continue in the torment and misery he is in to all eternity; his worm of conscience will never die, nor the fire of divine wrath be ever quenched; though he will desire death ten thousand times over, he shall not find it, it shall flee from him, Revelation 9:6.