he multiplieth words without knowledge; both against God and in answer to others; being in a great measure ignorant of the nature and number of his sins, and of his afflictions; and of the end of God in them, and of the right he had to lay them upon him; us well as of his duty patiently to bear them, and trust in God, and wait his own time for deliverance out of them; and or the truth of this he was afterwards convinced, and acknowledged it, Job 42:3.
INTRODUCTION TO Job 36
This chapter, with the following, contains Elihu's fourth and last discourse, the principal view of which is to vindicate the righteousness of God; which is done by observing the dealings of God with men in his providence, according to their different characters, and from the wonderful works wrought by him in a sovereign manner, and for the benefit of his creatures. This chapter is introduced with a preface, the design of which is to gain attention, Job 36:1; the different dealings of God with men are observed, and the different issue of them, and the different ends answered thereby, Job 36:5; and it is suggested to Job, that had he attended to the design of the providence he was under, and had submitted to it patiently, things would have been otherwise with him; and therefore Elihu proceeds to give him some advice, which, if taken, would be for his own good, and the glory of God, Job 36:16; and closes the chapter by observing the unsearchable greatness of God, as appears by the works of nature wrought by him, Job 36:26.
(f) "et addidit", Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius, Mercerus, Michaelis.
and I will show thee: make things clear, manifest, and plain to thee: clearness of expression, with brevity, recommends a discourse. Something may be here supplied; for a greater stop is here to be made than in our version, as either "my opinion", as in Job 32:10; his sentiment concerning God and his righteousness in his dealings with the sons of men; or "truth", as Ben Gersom; truth in general, plain naked truth, without any colouring, just as it is, cordially, sincerely, in love, and by clear manifestations of it; and particularly the truth of the righteousness of God in all his ways and works. He proposed to make it clear to him that God did all things well and right, and to lay before him in the plainest manner what were the ends God had in view in dealing thus with Job, and what was his duty to do in his present circumstances;
that I have yet to speak in God's behalf: or "for I have yet to speak" (g), &c. Elihu had said much for God already, in vindication of his sovereignty, purity, holiness, and justice, and he had yet more to say; out of the abundance of his heart his mouth spake for God; he set out with this, that he was full of matter, and wanted to vent himself, that he might be eased, Job 32:18; and he had vented much, but he had yet more to deliver; and since it was not for himself, in his own behalf, nor of any other but God, he hoped he should be heard: it may be rendered, "for yet God has words" (h), to put into my mouth, and speak by me; signifying, that he had spoken by him already, and had still more to say by him; and since it was not so much he that spoke, as God that spoke in him and by him, it might be expected he would be heard.
(g) "quia", Pagninus, Montanus; "nam", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (h) "adhue Deo sermones", Montanus; "habit enim Deus adhue quod dicet", Castalio; so some in Michaelis.
and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker: God is the Maker of all men; Elihu considered him as his Maker with gratitude, while many have no regard of him, Job 35:10; and therefore thought himself obliged to speak for him, and on his behalf; and particularly in vindication of his righteousness; assert this to be an essential attribute and perfection of his nature; own, acknowledge, publish, and declare it; give him the glory of it, and demonstrate that he is righteous in all his ways and works; and clear him from all imputation of unrighteousness.
(i) "ei, vel de eo qui est longinquus"; so Aben Ezra, Bar Tzemach.
he that is perfect in knowledge is with thee; meaning either God, whose knowledge is perfect, who knows all persons and things; knows himself, his nature, persons, and perfections; his thoughts, counsels, and purposes; all his creatures, angels and men; the hearts of all men, their thoughts, words, and works; he, the omniscient and omnipresent God was with Job, from whose presence there is no fleeing; and therefore it became him to be careful of his thoughts, words, and actions; that he did not entertain any unbecoming thoughts of God, and say anything unworthy of him, or do anything that tended to his dishonour; since he was present with him, and nothing could escape his notice: or else Elihu means himself; suggesting, that he who undertook to speak for God and plead his cause, and clear him from the charge of unrighteousness, was no novice, but one that thoroughly understood the point in hand; and though no man is perfect in knowledge in an absolute sense, yet may be in comparison of others; or however may be upright and sincere in his knowledge; which sense the word used often has; and so it may signify, that as he was a sincere searcher after knowledge, and had through divine goodness attained to a competent share of it, even of sound and not superficial knowledge, he should be honest and upright in the communication of it; and this he might choose to observe the more, to excite the attention of Job to what he had to say; though it may be the truest reading of the words is, "perfect knowledge" or "perfection of knowledge is with thee" (k), that is, in his own apprehension, so Jarchi; and may be understood either ironically, or rather really, insinuating that Job was a man of such consummate wisdom and knowledge, that he would easily see the force of his reasonings, and the justness of them, and acquiesce in them; and having thus prefaced his discourse, he next enters upon his subject.
(k) "scientiae perfectae tecum"; so some in Bar Tzemach.
and despises not any; not the meanest of his creatures, clothing the grass of the field, feeding the fowls of the air, and preserving man and beast; and particularly he despises not any of the sons of men: not the mighty through fear of them, nor envy at them, whose power and grandeur are from him, which he gives and can take away at his pleasure; nor the mean and miserable the poor and the afflicted, to whom he has a merciful regard; much less the innocent and harmless, as the Septuagint; or the just and righteous man, as the Targum: he does not despise his own people, whom he has loved and chosen, redeemed and called; nor any, as Aben Ezra observes, without a cause; for though there are some whose image he will despise, it is because of their own sins and transgressions; and since, therefore, though he is mighty, yet despises not any of his creatures, he cannot do any unrighteous thing; he does not and cannot use or abuse his power to the in jury of any of his creatures;
he is mighty in strength and wisdom, as there is a pleonasm, a redundancy in the expression, "mighty in strength", it denotes the abundance of his strength, that he is exceeding strong, superlatively and all expression so; and also strong in wisdom, his strength is tempered with wisdom, so that he cannot employ it to any bad purpose, or be guilty of any unrighteousness. Some men have strength, but not wisdom to make a right use of it; but God abounds as much in wisdom as in strength; he is the only wise and the all wise God, and therefore can do no injustice; and thus Elihu, as he promised, ascribes righteousness to his almighty Maker.
but giveth right to the poor; pleads their cause and rights their wrongs, administers justice to them, especially to the poor in spirit, who hunger and thirst after righteousness; to these he gives freely the righteousness of his son, which only denominates persons truly righteous: of whom in Job 36:7.
but with kings are they on the throne; that is, either the eyes of the Lord are with them, even with righteous kings, as the Targum; to guide and direct them in the affairs of government, and to protect and preserve them from the designs of evil men: or the righteous are with kings on the throne, or are the favourites of kings that are on thrones; are admitted into their presence, and are highly esteemed by them, and have honour conferred on them, even to be the next to them in the throne and kingdom, as Joseph and Daniel, Genesis 41:41, or rather, the righteous are equal to kings on the throne; they are so accounted of by the Lord as kings; they are made by him kings and priests, and are regarded by him as such; they have the power, and riches, and honour of kings; they have a kingdom of grace bestowed on them now, and a kingdom of glory they are entitled to hereafter; and shall reign with Christ on earth a thousand years, and in the ultimate glory to all eternity, Revelation 20:6;
yea, he doth establish them for ever; as righteous persons in their righteousness, which is an everlasting one; so that they shall never come into condemnation: they are established in the love of God, in the covenant of grace, in the hands of Christ, and in a state of grace now, and shall be in a stable permanent state of happiness to all eternity;
and they are exalted: now, being raised as beggars from the dung hill to sit among princes, even among the princes of God's people; and they will be exalted hereafter, and sit at Christ's right hand, and be introduced into his kingdom, where they will be set down with him in his throne, and reign with him for ever and ever, Revelation 22:5.
and be holden in cords of affliction; righteous men are not exempt from afflictions; the afflictions of the righteous are many, according to divine appointment, the covenant of grace, the declaration of God, the constant experience of good men, it being the way in which they are all led, and must enter into the kingdom; and the metaphor here used shows that afflictions are sometimes heavy upon them, like fetters and chains, and those made heavy by the hand of God pressing them sore, Lamentations 3:7; no affliction is joyous, but grievous and heavy in itself; it is indeed comparatively light when viewed with the weight of glory; and God can make a heavy affliction light with his presence, and the discoveries of his love; but they are heavy to the flesh, as Job felt his to be, Job 6:2; and, like fetters and cords, they cannot free themselves from them, or loose them, until it is the pleasure of God to take them off; and moreover by these they are sometimes held and restrained from going into more or greater sins, which is one use of them: as they are with afflictions hedged about that they cannot come out, any more than a person bound fast in a prison; so they are hedged up with thorns that they cannot go out after their lovers, Lamentations 3:7, Hosea 2:6. Some render the phrase, "cords of poverty" (l); it is oftentimes the case of righteous persons to be poor, and to be sadly hampered with poverty, and out of which, by all that they can do, cannot extricate themselves; and sometimes they fall into it, and are held in it, after they have enjoyed much worldly prosperity, which was the case of Job. Mr. Broughton renders it, cords of anguish; and indeed the word for "cords" is used of the pains of a woman in travail, who has then great anguish and trouble; and anguish on various accounts lays hold on the righteous, and they are holden thereby, and cannot relieve themselves, Psalm 119:143; and yet this is all in mercy, and to answer some good ends and purposes, as follow.
(l) "funibus paupertatis", Mercerus, Drusius; "funibus inopiae", Cocceius.
and their transgressions that they have exceeded. Sin is a transgression of the law, 1 John 3:4; every sin, greater or lesser, is, and even righteous persons are guilty of many; for there is not a just man that sinneth not; and these exceed the bounds set by the righteous law of God, and many of them are sadly aggravated by the light and knowledge, grace and mercy, such have been favoured with; and some of them, they are suffered to fall into, are exceeding great and exceeding sinful; such as those of David, Peter, and others; all which they are made to see, bewail, and weep over, when God by afflictions brings them to a sense of them. Or "when" or "because they have prevailed" (m); or begin to prevail: as soon as ever indwelling sin begins to be prevalent, the Lord is pleased to take measures to nip it in the bud, by sending a sharp and severe affliction; or when it has prevailed greatly, as sometimes it does, so that good is hindered from being done, and much evil is committed, then the soul is so much under the power of it, as to be carried captive with it; see Romans 7:23. Or "because they are become proud", or "behaved themselves proudly" (n); and therefore he afflicts them to humble them, and drive pride from them.
(m) "quum invalescunt", Mercerus; "quum invaluerunt", Munster, Piscator; so Drusius, Panginus, Bolducius. (n) "Quia superbierunt", Tigurine version; so Cocceius, Michaelis, Schultens.
and commandeth that they return from iniquity; repent of their sin, turn from it and forsake it: such a strong voice has an affliction in it, when sanctified and attended with the spirit and power of God; then it effectually teaches men to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, as the word of God, the Gospel of the grace of God does, when accompanied with the same; as there is a commanding voice in the one, so there is in the other; and happy it is when such ends as these are answered by afflictions.
(o) "ad correptionem", Montanus; "ad correctionem", Beza, Michaelis, Schultens. (p) "Ad eruditionem", Cocceius.
they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures; which intimates, that those to whom afflictions are sanctified, and they obedient under them, when recovered out of them shall enjoy long life; not only live many days, but years, and those in great prosperity and pleasure; be blessed with much temporal prosperity, which lies in riches and wealth, as this word is rendered in Job 21:13; and in bodily health, which is a considerable part of outward prosperity; but more especially prosperity of soul may be intended, see 3 John 1:2; which is enjoyed when a man is favoured with the discoveries of the love of God to him; with applications of pardoning grace and mercy; when grace is in lively exercise in him, and he has a spiritual appetite for the good word of God, and is fruitful in every good work: and so pleasures do not so much design corporeal pleasures, though ever so innocent and lawful; for though they may at proper times be indulged unto, yet a man's days and years are not to be spent in them; but rather spiritual pleasures, which are had in views of the wonderful love of God in Christ; in the enjoyment of the gracious presence of God, and communion with him; and which the people of God are favoured with, in his house and ordinances, ways and worship: and when those years are gone, endless pleasures at God's right hand, and in his presence, will follow.
(q) "si audierint et fecerint", Codurcus.
they shall perish by the sword; or they shall pass away out of the world by it, or by some missive weapon: they shall die a violent death, by the sword of justice, of the civil magistrate, or by the sword of men; or, as a Jewish commentator (r) paraphrases it, by the dart of death, by the sword of Satan, they shall pass out of this world;
and they shall die without knowledge; without knowledge of their death being near, it coming upon them suddenly and at unawares; or without knowledge of themselves and of their miserable and lost estate; and without knowledge of Christ, and of God in Christ, and of the way of salvation by him. Or they shall perish for lack of knowledge; because they have none; through ignorance and that affected; they know not nor will they understand, but despise the means of knowledge, and hate instruction.
(r) R. Simeon, Bar Tzemach.
they cry not when he bindeth them; in fetters and cords of affliction, Job 36:8; or when he corrects them, as Mr. Broughton rightly as to the sense renders it: they pray not, as Ben Gersom interprets it; whereas sanctified afflictions bring good men to the throne of grace, who have been too long absent from it: but these men cry not unto God for grace and mercy, help, assistance, and deliverance; they cry out against God, but not unto him.
(s) "et hypocritae", Montanus; "et loripedes", Schultens. (t) "ponent nasum", Montanus; "ponunt nasum". Schultens.
and their life is among the unclean: all men are by nature unclean, and all that is in them; some are more notoriously and openly so than others, who give themselves over to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness; such as whoremongers and fornicators, of whom Mr. Broughton understands those unclean persons; or Sodomites, of whom the word is sometimes used, Deuteronomy 23:17. And this may be understood either of the present life of hypocrites before they die; who are unclean persons themselves, whatever show of purity they make, and love to live and converse, at least privately, if not openly, with unclean persons, and die while they live with such and in their sins: or of their life after death; for wicked men live after death; their souls live in hell, and their bodies at the resurrection will be raised to life, and be reunited to their souls, and both together will live in endless punishment; and the life of hypocrites will be among such; as is a man in life, so he is at and after death; if filthy, filthy still; and such will have no admittance into the heavenly state, and with such impure ones, hypocrites will live for ever, Revelation 21:8.
(u) "anima eorum", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, &c.
and openeth their ears in oppression; while they are oppressed; not only to discipline, correction, and instruction, Job 36:10; but to hear comfortable words spoken, to them by the Lord; who, in the midst of their affliction and oppression, whispers in their ears, and tells them how he loves them, though they are rebuked and chastened by him; how he has chosen them to everlasting life and happiness, though now in the furnace of affliction; that he is their covenant God and Father, and knows and owns their souls in adversity that he has pardoned all their sins, though he takes vengeance on their inventions; and in a little time will free them from all their afflictions and oppressions.
would have removed thee out of the strait into a broad place, where there is no straitness: that is, out of the strait circumstances in which he was, into liberty; would have brought him into a large place, where he might walk at liberty, as David experienced, Psalm 4:1; and may be understood both in a temporal and spiritual sense. In a temporal sense; he was now in great straits, in poverty and affliction; these pressed him hard on every side, so that his way, as he says, was "fenced up, that he could not pass", Job 19:8. Now had he been rightly humbled under his affliction, God would have taken him out of the straits of adversity, and set his feet in a large room of prosperity; see Psalm 31:7. In a spiritual sense; persons are as in a strait place and pent up, when they cannot come forth in the free exercise of grace and duty; their souls are as it were in prison, they are shut up, and have not freedom with God nor man; their faith is ready to fail, their hope is sunk very low, they are straitened in their own bowels or affections, in their love to God and his people: and then they are removed into a large place, when it is the reverse with them; when they are favoured with the free spirit of the Lord, for where he is there is liberty; and when their hearts are enlarged with the love of God, and in the exercise of grace; and then they can run cheerfully the ways of his commandments;
and that which should be set on thy table should be full of fatness; which in a temporal sense denotes, that he should have had a plentiful table, spread with the best of provisions, the richest dainties, the finest of the wheat, and the fattest of the creatures; and these should rest and remain upon his table, or be constantly renewed there: and in a spiritual sense, that his soul should have been satisfied with the love of God, shed abroad in his heart; with the blessings of the everlasting covenant of grace applied unto him; and with the goodness of the house of God, his word and ordinances, as with marrow and fatness; see Psalm 63:5.
"as thou hast fulfilled the sentence of the wicked, sentence and judgment have laid hold:''
but rather the meaning is, that he had "fulfilled the contention of the wicked" (x); pleaded as they did, argued with God after their manner: and therefore is said to go in company and walk with them, and make answers for them, Job 34:8. Wherefore
justice and judgment take hold on thee; afflictions in righteousness, or the chastening hand of God, in righteous judgment, had taken hold upon him, and would hold him until he was sufficiently humbled under them.
(w) Schmidt, Michaelis. (x) "et litem improbi implevisti", Schultens.
beware; which, though not expressed in the original, is well supplied; and his meaning is, that he would be cautious of what he said, and not go on to multiply words against God; speak unbecomingly of him, arraign his justice, and find fault with his dealings with him; as well as beware of his actions, conduct, and behaviour, that his tongue and his doings be not against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his glory;
lest he take thee away with his stroke; out of the world by death, which is the stroke of his hand; and is sometimes given suddenly, and in an awful manner, in wrath and vengeance. Some render the last word, "with clapping of hands" (y); either the hands of men, Job 27:23; or of God; expressing his exultation and pleasure at the death of such a person, laughing at his calamity, and mocking when fear cometh; which is dreadful and tremendous;
then a great ransom cannot deliver thee: there is no ransom on earth equal to the life or soul of man; "what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matthew 16:26; see Psalm 49:6. The great ransom of all is the ransom of Christ, which Elihu had made mention of before, Job 33:24; and what else could he have in his mind now? This is the ransom found by infinite wisdom, which Christ came to give, and has given; and by which he has ransomed his people from him that is stronger than they, from the bondage of sin, of Satan, of the world, of hell and death, and everlasting destruction: and this is a great one, plenteous redemption, a great salvation; the ransomer is the great God and our Saviour; the ransom price is not corruptible things, as silver and gold, but the precious blood of Christ, his life, yea, he himself. How great must this ransom be! and it is given for great sinners, the chief of them; and is sufficient for all the elect of God, both Jews and Gentiles: and yet, as great as it is, it is of no avail to one that God has taken away by a stroke out of this world, and sent to everlasting destruction; not through want of sufficiency in this ransom, but by reason of the final and unalterable state of such persons; as, even in the present life, it is of no avail to the deniers and despisers of it, Hebrews 10:26.
(y) "complosione manuum", Tigurine version; so some in Munster.
(z) "non munitionem", Tigurine version. (a) Vid. Aben Ezra, Bar Tzemach, Sephorno. (b) "In angustia", Mercerus, Drusius, Piscator; "in arcto", Cocceius, Schultens. (c) "Num aequalis esset imploration tua non in arcto et omnes contentiones virium", Cocceius.
when people are cut off in their place; as sometimes they are in the night, literally taken; just in the place where they stood or lay down, without moving elsewhere, or stirring hand or foot as it were. So Amraphel, and the kings with him, as Jarchi observes, were cut off in the night, the firstborn of Egypt, the Midianites and Sennacherib's army, Genesis 14:15; and so in the night of death, figuratively, the common passage of all men, as Mr. Broughton observes, who renders the words, "for people's passage to their place".
for this thou hast chosen rather than affliction; chose rather to die than to be afflicted as he was; or chose rather to complain of God, as if he dealt hardly with him, and did not do justly by him, than to submit patiently to the will of God, as he, ought to have done: or this he chose "through affliction" (d); through the force of it, because of it, and by means thereof; and so is a sort of excuse that Elihu makes for him; though at the same time he would have him by no means to regard such iniquity, and indulge to it.
(d) "prae afflictione", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "prae miseria ex adflictione", Michaelis.
"God will exalt thee;''
as he afterwards did. The Targum is,
"behold, God alone is strong in his might;''
see Psalm 21:13;
who teacheth like him? He teaches by his providences, adverse as well as prosperous; he teaches by his word and ordinances; he teaches by his Spirit and grace, and none teaches like him. Ministers of the word teach men both doctrine and duty, but not like him; they have their gifts for teaching, their wisdom and knowledge, their doctrine, and all the use they are of, from him; none teach so pleasantly, so profitably, so powerfully and effectually, as he does: the Targum adds,
or, who can say, thou hast wrought iniquity? this may be said of every man, but it cannot be said of God by any without sin; for, as there is no iniquity in his nature, there can be none in his works; not any in his works of providence, no, not in the afflictions of his people; just and true are all his ways.
(e) "quis visitavit super illum viam ejus", Montanus, Michaelis; "cum eo", Tigurine version.
which men behold: for the works of God are visible, particularly the works of creation, and the glory of God in them; which men of wisdom and understanding behold with admiration and praise; and so the Targum is,
"which righteous men praise;''
and some derive the word here used from a root which signifies to "sing", and so may be understood of men's celebrating the works of God in songs of praise; though his work here may chiefly design the afflictions he lays on his people, and particularly which he had laid upon Job, which were so visible, and the hand of God in them was so clearly to be seen, that men easily beheld it and took notice of it.
man may behold it afar off; as to time, from the creation of the world to the present time, as Jarchi; or as to place, from the heaven, so distant, where are the sun, moon, and stars; and which, though so far off, are easily beheld; or as to the manner of seeing them, not darkly, imperfectly, and in a confused manner, as things at a distance are seen, so some understand it; but rather clearly and plainly, as things easy to be seen are clearly discerned at a distance; and it signifies that the work of God here meant is so visible, that he must be quite blind and stupid that cannot see it; it may be seen, as it were, with half an eye, and a great way off; he that runs may see and read.
and we know him not; God is to be known by the works of creation, and even by the very Heathen; though such is their inattention to them, that they are said not to know God; yea, even the wisest among them, by all their wisdom, knew not God, 1 Corinthians 1:21; for though they might know there was a God, they knew not who and what he was. God is known by his word among those who are favoured with a divine revelation of him, and especially by true believers in Christ, who know God in Christ, whom to know is life eternal; and yet these know but in part, there is no finding out the Almighty to perfection; God is not known clearly, fully, and perfectly, by any: or "we know it not"; the greatness of God; he is great, but we know not how great he is; his greatness is beyond all conception and expression;
neither can the number of his years be searched out; years are ascribed to God, after the manner of men, otherwise, properly speaking, they are not applicable to him; by which time is measured, and which belongs not to the eternal God; however, the number of his years in an eternity past, and of those to come, cannot be searched out and reckoned up: it requires no great skill in arithmetic to reckon up the years of the oldest man that ever lived; yea, the months, the days, the hours, and minutes, of his life may be counted; but the years of the Most High cannot; this is a phrase expressive of the eternity of him which is, and was, and is to come, and who from everlasting to everlasting is God. He was before the world was, as the creation of it out of nothing shows. Jehovah the Father had a Son, and he loved him before the foundation of the world, and all his people in him; he made an everlasting choice of them in him, before the world began; he made an everlasting covenant with them in him, and gave them grace in him as early as that; he set him up as Mediator from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was; and will be the everlasting and unchangeable portion of his people to all eternity. Cocceius thinks that these words are expressive of the constant love of God to the church, and the continuance of his kingdom in it; and of his most fixed purpose of love to men, and indefatigable care of them.
(f) Sept. "multus", Mercerus, Drusius.
they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof: the water, drawn up and formed into large bodies in the heavens, pours down rain in a gentle and plentiful manner, according to the quantity of vapours exhaled out of the earth and sea; if a small quantity is drawn up, a small quantity is let down; and if a large quantity is attracted, a large quantity, or a plentiful shower, is given: some think that a small rain is meant in the preceding clause, and a great rain in this; for there is the small rain and the great rain of his strength, Job 37:6. The word translated "pour" has the signification of liquefying, melting, and dissolving, and of purging and purifying; and which is applicable to clouds which melt and dissolve gradually as they descend in drops upon the earth; and the water which they let down is of all the most clear and pure, as Galen and Hippocrates (i), those eminent physicians, have observed; and a late celebrated one tells us (k), that rain water is so truly distilled by nature, that the chemist, with all his distilling art, cannot produce purer water; for, though it is exhaled out of the dirty earth, out of miry places, bogs, and ditches, yet, being bound up in the clouds as in a garment, and passing through the atmosphere, it comes down to us pure as if it had been percolated or strained through a linen cloth; and though the water as drawn up out of the sea is salt, yet carried up into the air, and there, as in an alembic, distilled, it descends to us sweet and fresh, and has not the least brackishness in it.
(g) "aufert stillas pluviae et prohibebit", Pagninus; so Vatablus, Tigurine version, Targum, & Ben Gersom. (h) "Attrahit", Codurcus; "subtrahit", i.e. "a mare", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Schultens. (i) Apud Pinedam in loc. (k) Boerhaav. Elem. Chem. p. 600. apud Schultens in loc.
"at the prayer of a son of a great man,''
or at the prayer of a man that has great interest with God; that is famous for his faith and piety, as Elijah was, to whom perhaps the Targumist may have respect. The rain is an emblem of the word of God, the Gospel of Christ, which drops and distils on the souls of men like rain, and refreshes them, and makes them fruitful; and is dispensed by the ministers of it, who are compared to clouds, according to the measure of the gift of grace received by them, and that freely and fully as they have received it.
or the noise of his tabernacle; the tabernacle of God, which are the clouds, which are laid as the flooring of his palace, and are drawn about him as a tent or pavilion, Psalm 104:3, where he sits invisible, and from whence, as a general of an army, he issues out his orders, and sends forth his artillery, rain, hail, snow, thunder, and lightning, and stormy wind fulfilling his word; the noise hereof is either the noise of the waters in the clouds, the sound of an abundance of rain, 1 Kings 18:41; or of the blustering winds, by which the clouds are moved and portend rain; or of the thunder that bursts out of them with a vehement noise, and which is usually followed with rain; and the thunder of his power who can understand? Job 26:14. This may be an emblem of the voice of God in his Gospel out of his tabernacle, the church, which the natural man understands not; or the voice of God in his providences, in which he speaks to men once and twice, and they perceive it not.
(l) "nubis", Montanus, Tigurine version, Mercerus, Piscator, Schultens. (m) "differentias", Pagninus; "varietates", Vatablus.
and covereth the bottom of the sea, or "the roots of the sea" (n); though one would think they should be rather covered with water and with darkness, as they are; see Job 38:8. This is to be understood either of the light of the sun, and the rays of it, which are so piercing and penetrating as to reach to the bottom of the sea, and cover it and exhale waters out of it; or of lightning, which is equally as piercing and penetrating, or more, and strikes to the very roots of the sea, and covers them, or rather discovers them, so that the channels of waters are seen, and the foundations of the world are discovered, Psalm 18:14; the Targum of this verse is,
"he spreads upon it rain, and covers the rocks or foundations of the sea;''
and the rain is called light according to Ramban, because by the descent of it the day is enlightened, and the darkness of the clouds removed; and by this means the bottom of the sea is covered, so that it passes its bounds and covers the rocks, that is, the borders of it, as others explain it (o).
(n) "radices maris", Pagninus, Montanus, &c. (o) In Bar Tzemach in loc.
he giveth meat in abundance; very plentifully, or to a multitude of creatures, both men and cattle; who have a liberal supply of food by means of the clouds and rain, which falling upon the earth make it fruitful, so that it gives bread to the eater, and seed to the sower; causes grass to grow up for the beasts of the field, and produces bread corn, oil, and wine, for the benefit of men; an emblem of the variety and plenty of spiritual food dispensed to the churches of Christ, through the ministry of the word, and by the ministers of it.
and commandeth it not to shine, by the cloud that cometh betwixt; that is, commands the sun that it shines not, or hinders it from shining, by reason of the intervening clouds; this is an emblem of sin interposing between God and his people, which causes him to hide his face from them and not shine upon them: sins are comparable to clouds for numbers, being more than can be told; and for their nature and quality, like clouds they rise out of the earthly and carnal heart of man; and which is also like a troubled sea which cannot rest; and which reach up unto heaven and bring down wrath and vengeance from thence on wicked men; and in God's own people, like the clouds they intercept the light of his countenance, the bright shining of the sun of righteousness, the comfort, peace, and joy of the Holy Spirit: the words may be rendered, "with hands he covers the light, and commands that it shine not by reason of what comes between": and they are understood by some, as by Schmidt particularly, of the eclipses of the sun and moon, when God as it were covers them with hands, and suffers them not to shine by intervening bodies; so the eclipse of the sun is occasioned by the moon's coming between that and the earth, and the eclipse of the moon by the interposition of the earth between that and the sun; the Targum is,
"because of rapine of hands he restrains rain, and commands it to descend because of him that prays,''
who comes between and intercedes for a sinful people, as Elijah did; or, as others, he commands the lightning that it harms not because of him that comes between and intercedes with his prayers.