Eliphaz concluded his discourse with an air of assurance; very
confident he was that what he had said was so plain and so pertinent
that nothing could be objected in answer to it. But, though he that is
first in his own cause seems just, yet his neighbour comes and searches
him. Job is not convinced by all he had said, but still justifies
himself in his complaints and condemns him for the weakness of his
I. He shows that he had just cause to complain as he did of his
troubles, and so it would appear to any impartial judge,
II. He continues his passionate wish that he might speedily be cut off
by the stroke of death, and so be eased of all his miseries,
III. He reproves his friends for their uncharitable censures of him and
their unkind treatment,
It must be owned that Job, in all this, spoke much that was reasonable,
but with a mixture of passion and human infirmity. And in this contest,
as indeed in most contests, there was fault on both sides.
|Job's Reply to Eliphaz.
||B. C. 1520.|
1 But Job answered and said,
2 Oh that my grief were thoroughly weighed, and my calamity laid
in the balances together!
3 For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea:
therefore my words are swallowed up.
4 For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison
whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set
themselves in array against me.
5 Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass? or loweth the ox
over his fodder?
6 Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt? or is
there any taste in the white of an egg?
7 The things that my soul refused to touch are as my
Eliphaz, in the beginning of his discourse, had been very sharp upon
Job, and yet it does not appear that Job gave him any interruption, but
heard him patiently till he had said all he had to say. Those that
would make an impartial judgment of a discourse must hear it out, and
take it entire. But, when he had concluded, he makes his reply, in
which he speaks very feelingly.
I. He represents his calamity, in general, as much heavier than either
he had expressed it or they had apprehended it,
He could not fully describe it; they would not fully apprehend it, or
at least would not own that they did; and therefore he would gladly
appeal to a third person, who had just weights and just balances with
which to weigh his grief and calamity, and would do it with an
impartial hand. He wished that they would set his grief and all the
expressions of it in one scale, his calamity and all the particulars of
it in the other, and (though he would not altogether justify himself in
his grief) they would find (as he says,
that his stroke was heavier than his groaning; for, whatever his
grief was, his calamity was heavier than the sand of the sea: it
was complicated, it was aggravated, every grievance weighty, and all
together numerous as the sand. "Therefore (says he) my words are
swallowed up;" that is, "Therefore you must excuse both the
brokenness and the bitterness of my expressions. Do not think it
strange if my speech be not so fine and polite as that of an eloquent
orator, or so grave and regular as that of a morose philosopher: no, in
these circumstances I can pretend neither to the one nor to the other;
my words are, as I am, quite swallowed up." Now,
1. He hereby complains of it as his unhappiness that his friends
undertook to administer spiritual physic to him before they thoroughly
understood his case and knew the worst of it. It is seldom that those
who are at ease themselves rightly weigh the afflictions of the
afflicted. Every one feels most from his own burden; few feel from
2. He excuses the passionate expressions he had used when he cursed his
day. Though he could not himself justify all he had said, yet he
thought his friends should not thus violently condemn it, for really
the case was extraordinary, and that might be connived at in such a man
of sorrows as he now was which in any common grief would by no means be
3. He bespeaks the charitable and compassionate sympathy of his friends
with him, and hopes, by representing the greatness of his calamity, to
bring them to a better temper towards him. To those that are pained it
is some ease to be pitied.
II. He complains of the trouble and terror of mind he was in as the
sorest part of his calamity,
Herein he was a type of Christ, who, in his sufferings, complained most
of the sufferings of his soul. Now is my soul troubled,
My soul is exceedingly sorrowful,
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Poor Job sadly complains here,
1. Of what he felt The arrows of the Almighty are within me. It
was not so much the troubles themselves he was under that put him into
this confusion, his poverty, disgrace, and bodily pain; but that which
cut him to the heart and put him into this agitation, was to think that
the God he loved and served had brought all this upon him and laid him
under these marks of his displeasure. Note, Trouble of mind is the
sorest trouble. A wounded spirit who can bear! Whatever burden
of affliction, in body or estate, God is pleased to lay upon us, we may
well afford to submit to it as long as he continues to the use of our
reason and the peace of our consciences; but, if in either of these we
be disturbed, our case is sad indeed and very pitiable. The way to
prevent God's fiery darts of trouble is with the shield of faith to
quench Satan's fiery darts of temptation. Observe, He calls them the
arrows of the Almighty; for it is an instance of the power of
God above that of any man that he can with his arrows reach the soul.
He that made the soul can make his sword to approach to it. The poison
or heat of these arrows is said to drink up his spirit, because it
disturbed his reason, shook his resolution, exhausted his vigour, and
threatened his life; and therefore his passionate expressions, though
they could not be justified, might be excused.
2. Of what he feared. He saw himself charged by the terrors of
God, as by an army set in battle-array, and surrounded by them.
God, by his terrors, fought against him. As he had no comfort when he
retired inward into his own bosom, so he had none when he looked upward
towards Heaven. He that used to be encouraged with the consolations of
God not only wanted those, but was amazed with the terrors of God.
III. He reflects upon his friends for their severe censures of his
complaints and their unskilful management of his case.
1. Their reproofs were causeless. He complained, it is true, now that
he was in this affliction, but he never used to complain, as those do
who are of a fretful unquiet spirit, when he was in prosperity: he did
not bray when he had grass, nor low over his fodder,
But, now that he was utterly deprived of all his comforts, he must be a
stock or a stone, and not have the sense of an ox or a wild ass, if he
did not give some vent to his grief. He was forced to eat unsavoury
meats, and was so poor that he had not a grain of salt wherewith to
season them, nor to give a little taste to the white of an egg, which
was now the choicest dish he had at his table,
Even that food which once he would have scorned to touch he was now
glad of, and it was his sorrowful meat,
Note, It is wisdom not to use ourselves or our children to be nice and
dainty about meat and drink, because we know not how we or they may be
reduced, nor how that which we now disdain may be made acceptable by
2. Their comforts were sapless and insipid; so some understand
He complains he had nothing now offered to him for his relief that was
proper for him, no cordial, nothing to revive and cheer his spirits;
what they had afforded was in itself as tasteless as the white of an
egg, and, when applied to him, as loathsome and burdensome as the most
sorrowful meat. I am sorry he should say thus of what Eliphaz had
excellently well said,
&c. But peevish spirits are too apt thus to abuse their comforters.
8 Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant
me the thing that I long for!
9 Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would
let loose his hand, and cut me off!
10 Then should I yet have comfort; yea, I would harden myself
in sorrow: let him not spare; for I have not concealed the words
of the Holy One.
11 What is my strength, that I should hope? and what is
mine end, that I should prolong my life?
12 Is my strength the strength of stones? or is my flesh of
13 Is not my help in me? and is wisdom driven quite from me?
Ungoverned passion often grows more violent when it meets with some
rebuke and check. The troubled sea rages most when it dashes against a
rock. Job had been courting death, as that which would be the happy
period of his miseries,
For this Eliphaz had gravely reproved him, but he, instead of unsaying
what he had said, says it here again with more vehemence than before;
and it is as ill said as almost any thing we meet with in all his
discourses, and is recorded for our admonition, not our imitation.
I. He is still most passionately desirous to die, as if it were not
possible that he should ever see good days again in this world, or
that, by the exercise of grace and devotion, he might make even these
days of affliction good days. He could see no end of his trouble but
death, and had not patience to wait the time appointed for that. He has
a request to make; there is a thing he longs for
and what is that? One would think it should be, "That it would please
God to deliver me, and restore me to my prosperity again;" no, That
it would please God to destroy me,
"As once he let loose his hand to make me poor, and then to make me
sick, let him loose it once more to put an end to my life. Let him give
the fatal stroke; it shall be to me the coup de grace--the stroke of
favour," as, in France, they call the last blow which dispatches
those that are broken on the wheel. There was a time when
destruction from the Almighty was a terror to Job
yet now he courts the destruction of the flesh, but in hopes that the
spirit should be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Observe, Though
Job was extremely desirous of death, and very angry at its delays, yet
he did not offer to destroy himself, nor to take away his own life,
only he begged that it would please God to destroy him. Seneca's
morals, which recommend self-murder as the lawful redress of
insupportable grievances, were not then known, nor will ever be
entertained by any that have the least regard to the law of God and
nature. How uneasy soever the soul's confinement in the body may be, it
must by no means break prison, but wait for a fair discharge.
II. He puts this desire into a prayer, that God would grant him this
request, that it would please God to do this for him. It was his sin so
passionately to desire the hastening of his own death, and offering up
that desire to God made it no better; nay, what looked ill in his wish
looked worse in his prayer, for we ought not to ask any thing of God
but what we can ask in faith, and we cannot ask any thing in faith but
what is agreeable to the will of God. Passionate prayers are the worst
of passionate expressions, for we should lift up pure hands without
III. He promises himself effectual relief, and the redress of all his
grievances, by the stroke of death
"Then should I yet have comfort, which now I have not, nor ever
expect till then." See,
1. The vanity of human life; so uncertain a good is it that it often
proves men's greatest burden and nothing is so desirable as to get
clear of it. Let grace make us willing to part with it whenever God
calls; for it may so happen that even sense may make us desirous to
part with it before he calls.
2. The hope which the righteous have in their death. If Job had not had
a good conscience, he could not have spoken with this assurance of
comfort on the other side death, which turns the tables between the
rich man and Lazarus. Now he is comforted, and thou art
IV. He challenges death to do its worst. If he could not die without
the dreadful prefaces of bitter pains and agonies, and strong
convulsions, if he must be racked before he be executed, yet, in
prospect of dying at last, he would make nothing of dying pangs: "I
would harden myself in sorrow, would open my breast to receive
death's darts, and not shrink from them. Let him not spare; I
desire no mitigation of that pain which will put a happy period to all
my pains. Rather than not die, let me die so as to feel myself die."
These are passionate words, which might better have been spared. We
should soften ourselves in sorrow, that we may receive the good
impressions of it, and by the sadness of the countenance our hearts,
being made tender, may be made better; but, if we harden ourselves, we
provoke God to proceed in his controversy; for when he judgeth he
will overcome. It is great presumption to dare the Almighty, and to
say, Let him not spare; for are we stronger than he?
1 Corinthians 10:22.
We are much indebted to sparing mercy; it is bad indeed with us when we
are weary of that. Let us rather say with David, O spare me a
V. He grounds his comfort upon the testimony of his conscience for him
that he had been faithful and firm to his profession of religion, and
in some degree useful and serviceable to the glory of God in his
generation: I have not concealed the words of the Holy One.
1. Job had the words of the Holy One committed to him. The people of
God were at that time blessed with divine revelation.
2. It was his comfort that he had not concealed them, had not received
the grace of God therein in vain.
(1.) He had not kept them from himself, but had given them full scope
to operate upon him, and in every thing to guide and govern him. He had
not stifled his convictions, imprisoned the truth in
unrighteousness, nor done any thing to hinder the digestion of this
spiritual food and the operation of this spiritual physic. Let us never
conceal God's word from ourselves, but always receive it in the light
(2.) He had not kept them to himself, but had been ready, on all
occasions, to communicate his knowledge for the good of others, was
never ashamed nor afraid to own the word of God to be his rule, nor
remiss in his endeavours to bring others into an acquaintance with it.
Note Those, and those only, may promise themselves comfort in death who
are good, and do good, while they live.
VI. He justifies himself, in this extreme desire of death, from the
deplorable condition he was now in,
Eliphaz, in the close of his discourse, had put him in hopes that he
should yet see a good issue of his troubles; but poor Job puts these
cordials away from him, refuses to be comforted, abandons himself to
despair, and very ingeniously, yet perversely, argues against the
encouragements that were given him. Disconsolate spirits will reason
strangely against themselves. In answer to the pleasing prospects
Eliphaz had flattered him with, he here intimates,
1. That he had no reason to expect any such thing: "What is my
strength, that I should hope? You see how I am weakened and brought
low, how unable I am to grapple with my distempers, and therefore what
reason have I to hope that I should out-live them, and see better days?
Is my strength the strength of stones? Are my muscles brass and
my sinews steel? No, they are not, and therefore I cannot hold out
always in this pain and misery, but must needs sink under the load. Had
I strength to grapple with my distemper, I might hope to look through
it; but, alas! I have not. The weakening of my strength in the
way will certainly be the shortening of my days,"
Note, All things considered, we have no reason to reckon upon the long
continuance of life in this world. What is our strength? It is
depending strength. We have no more strength than God gives us; for in
him we live and move. It is decaying strength; we are daily spending
the stock, and by degrees it will be exhausted. It is disproportionable
to the encounters we may meet with; what is our strength to be depended
upon, when two or three days' sickness will make us weak as water?
Instead of expecting a long life, we have reason to wonder that we have
lived hitherto and to feel that we are hastening off apace.
2. That he had no reason to desire any such thing: "What is my end,
that I should desire to prolong my life? What comfort can I promise
myself in life, comparable to the comfort I promise myself in death?"
Note, Those who, through grace, are ready for another world, cannot see
much to invite their stay in this world, or to make them fond of it.
That, if it be God's will, we may do him more service and may get to be
fitter and riper for heaven, is an end for which we may wish the
prolonging of life, in subservience to our chief end; but, otherwise,
what can we propose to ourselves in desiring to tarry here? The longer
life is the more grievous will its burdens be
and the longer life is the less pleasant will be its delights,
2 Samuel 19:34,35.
We have already seen the best of this world, but we are not sure that
we have seen the worst of it.
VII. He obviates the suspicion of his being delirious
Is not my help in me? that is, "Have I not the use of my reason,
with which, I thank God, I can help myself, though you do not help me?
Do you think wisdom is driven quite from me, and that I am gone
distracted? No, I am not mad, most noble Eliphaz, but speak the
words of truth and soberness." Note, Those who have grace in them,
who have the evidence of it and have it in exercise, have wisdom in
them, which will be their help in the worst of times. Sat lucis
intus--They have light within.
14 To him that is afflicted pity should be showed from his
friend; but he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty.
15 My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook, and as the
stream of brooks they pass away;
16 Which are blackish by reason of the ice, and wherein the
snow is hid:
17 What time they wax warm, they vanish: when it is hot, they
are consumed out of their place.
18 The paths of their way are turned aside; they go to nothing,
19 The troops of Tema looked, the companies of Sheba waited for
20 They were confounded because they had hoped; they came
thither, and were ashamed.
21 For now ye are nothing; ye see my casting down, and are
Eliphaz had been very severe in his censures of Job; and his
companions, though as yet they had said little, yet had intimated their
concurrence with him. Their unkindness therein poor Job here complains
of, as an aggravation of his calamity and a further excuse of his
desire to die; for what satisfaction could he ever expect in this world
when those that should have been his comforters thus proved his
I. He shows what reason he had to expect kindness from them. His
expectation was grounded upon the common principles of humanity
"To him that is afflicted, and that is wasting and melting under
his affliction, pity should be shown from his friend; and he
that does not show that pity forsakes the fear of the Almighty."
1. Compassion is a debt owing to those that are in affliction. The
least which those that are at ease can do for those that are pained and
in anguish is to pity them,--to manifest the sincerity of a tender
concern for them, and to sympathize with them,--to take cognizance of
their case, enquire into their grievances, hear their complaints, and
mingle their tears with theirs,--to comfort them, and to do all they
can to help and relieve them: this well becomes the members of the same
body, who should feel for the grievances of their fellow-members, not
knowing how soon the same may be their own.
2. Inhumanity is impiety and irreligion. He that withholds
compassion from his friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty. So
the Chaldee. How dwells the love of God in that man?
1 John 3:17.
Surely those have no fear of the rod of God upon themselves who have no
compassion for those that feel the smart of it. See
3. Troubles are the trials of friendship. When a man is afflicted he
will see who are his friends indeed and who are but pretenders; for
a brother is born for adversity,
II. He shows how wretchedly he was disappointed in his expectations
"My brethren, who should have helped me, have dealt
deceitfully as a brook." They came by appointment, with a great
deal of ceremony, to mourn with him and to comfort him
and some extraordinary things were expected from such wise, learned,
knowing men, and Job's particular friends. None questioned but that the
drift of their discourses would be to comfort Job with the remembrance
of his former piety, the assurance of God's favour to him, and the
prospect of a glorious issue; but, instead of this, they most
barbarously fall upon him with their reproaches and censures, condemn
him as a hypocrite, insult over his calamities, and pour vinegar,
instead of oil, into his wounds, and thus they deal deceitfully with
him. Note, It is fraud and deceit not only to violate our engagements
to our friends, but to frustrate their just expectations from us,
especially the expectations we have raised. Note, further, It is our
wisdom to cease from man. We cannot expect too little from the creature
nor too much from the Creator. It is no new thing even for brethren to
let us therefore put our confidence in the rock of ages, not in broken
reeds-in the fountain of life, not in broken cisterns. God will out-do
our hopes as much as men come short of them. This disappointment which
Job met with he here illustrates by the failing of brooks in
1. The similitude is very elegant,
(1.) Their pretensions are fitly compared to the great show which the
brooks make when they are swollen with the waters of a land flood, by
the melting of the ice and snow, which make them blackish or muddy,
(2.) His expectations from them, which their coming so solemnly to
comfort him had raised, he compares to the expectation which the weary
thirsty travellers have of finding water in the summer where they have
often seen it in great abundance in the winter,
The troops of Tema and Sheba, the caravans of the merchants of
those countries, whose road lay through the deserts of Arabia, looked
and waited for supply of water from those brooks. "Hard by here," says
one, "A little further," says another, "when I last travelled this way,
there was water enough; we shall have that to refresh us." Where we
have met with relief or comfort we are apt to expect it again; and yet
it does not follow; for,
(3.) The disappointment of his expectation is here compared to the
confusion which seizes the poor travellers when they find heaps of sand
where they expected floods of water. In the winter, when they were not
thirsty, there was water enough. Every one will applaud and admire
those that are full and in prosperity. But in the heat of summer, when
they needed water, then it failed them; it was consumed
it was turned aside,
When those who are rich and high are sunk and impoverished, and stand
in need of comfort, then those who before gathered about them stand
aloof from them, those who before commended them are forward to run
them down. Thus those who raise their expectations high from the
creature will find it fail them when it should help them; whereas those
who make God their confidence have help in the time of need,
Those who make gold their hope will sooner or later be ashamed of it,
and of their confidence in it
and the greater their confidence was the greater their shame will be:
They were confounded because they had hoped,
We prepare confusion for ourselves by our vain hopes: the reeds break
under us because we lean upon them. If we build a house upon the sand,
we shall certainly be confounded, for it will fall in the storm, and we
must thank ourselves for being such fools as to expect it would stand.
We are not deceived unless we deceive ourselves.
2. The application is very close
For now you are nothing. They seemed to be somewhat, but in
conference they added nothing to him. Allude to
He was never the wiser, never the better, for the visit they made him.
Note, Whatever complacency we may take, or whatever confidence we may
put, in creatures, how great soever they may seem and how dear soever
they may be to us, one time or other we shall say of them, Now you
are nothing. When Job was in prosperity his friends were something
to him, he took complacency in them and their society; but "Now you
are nothing, now I can find no comfort but in God." It were well
for us if we had always such convictions of the vanity of the creature,
and its insufficiency to make us happy, as we have sometimes had, or
shall have on a sick-bed, a death-bed, or in trouble of conscience:
"Now you are nothing. You are not what you have been, what you
should be, what you pretend to be, what I thought you would have been;
for you see my casting down and are afraid. When you saw me in
my elevation you caressed me; but now that you see me in my dejection
you are shy of me, are afraid of showing yourselves kind, lest I should
thereby be emboldened to beg something of you, or to borrow" (compare
"you are afraid lest, if you own me, you should be obliged to keep me."
Perhaps they were afraid of catching his distemper or of coming within
smell of the noisomeness of it. It is not good, either out of pride or
niceness, for love of our purses or of our bodies, to be shy of those
who are in distress and afraid of coming near them. Their case may soon
be our own.
22 Did I say, Bring unto me? or, Give a reward for me of your
23 Or, Deliver me from the enemy's hand? or, Redeem me from the
hand of the mighty?
24 Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to
understand wherein I have erred.
25 How forcible are right words! but what doth your arguing
26 Do ye imagine to reprove words, and the speeches of one that
is desperate, which are as wind?
27 Yea, ye overwhelm the fatherless, and ye dig a pit for
28 Now therefore be content, look upon me; for it is evident
unto you if I lie.
29 Return, I pray you, let it not be iniquity; yea, return
again, my righteousness is in it.
30 Is there iniquity in my tongue? cannot my taste discern
Poor Job goes on here to upbraid his friends with their unkindness and
the hard usage they gave him. He here appeals to themselves concerning
several things which tended both to justify him and to condemn them. If
they would but think impartially, and speak as they thought, they could
not but own,
I. That, though he was necessitous, yet he was not craving, nor
burdensome to his friends. Those that are so, whose troubles serve them
to beg by, are commonly less pitied than the silent poor. Job would be
glad to see his friends, but he did not say, Bring unto me
or, Deliver me,
He did not desire to put them to any expense, did not urge his friends
1. To make a collection for him, to set him up again in the world.
Though he could plead that his losses came upon him by the hand of God
and not by any fault or folly of his own,--that he was utterly ruined
and impoverished,--that he had lived in good condition, and that when
he had wherewithal he was charitable and ready to help those that were
in distress,--that his friends were rich, and able to help him, yet he
did not say, Give me of your substance. Note, A good man, when
troubled himself, is afraid of being troublesome to his friends. Or,
2. To raise the country for him, to help him to recover his cattle out
of the hands of the Sabeans and Chaldeans, or to make reprisals upon
them: "Did I send for you to deliver me out of the hand of the
mighty? No, I never expected you should either expose yourselves to
any danger or put yourselves to any charge upon my account. I will
rather sit down content under my affliction, and make the best of it,
than sponge upon my friends." St. Paul worked with his hands, that he
might not be burdensome to any. Job's not asking their help did not
excuse them from offering it when he needed it and it was in the power
of their hands to give it; but it much aggravated their unkindness when
he desired no more from them than a good look, and a good word, and yet
could not obtain them. It often happens that from man, even when we
expect little, we have less, but from God, even when we expect much, we
II. That, though he differed in opinion from them, yet he was not
obstinate, but ready to yield to conviction, and to strike sail to
truth as soon as ever it was made to appear to him that he was in an
"If, instead of invidious reflections and uncharitable insinuations,
you will give me plain instructions and solid arguments, which shall
carry their own evidence along with them, I am ready to acknowledge my
error and own myself in a fault: Teach me, and I will hold my
tongue; for I have often found, with pleasure and wonder, how
forcible right words are. But the method you take will never make
proselytes: What doth your arguing reprove? Your hypothesis is
false, your surmises are groundless, your management is weak, and your
application peevish and uncharitable." Note,
1. Fair reasoning has a commanding power, and it is a wonder if men are
not conquered by it; but railing and foul language are impotent and
foolish, and it is no wonder if men are exasperated and hardened by
2. It is the undoubted character of every honest man that he is truly
desirous to have his mistakes rectified, and to be made to understand
wherein he has erred; and he will acknowledge that right words, when
they appear to him to be so, though contrary to his former sentiments,
are both forcible and acceptable.
III. That, though he had been indeed in a fault, yet they ought not to
have given him such hard usage
"Do you imagine, or contrive with a great deal of art" (for so
the word signifies), "to reprove words, some passionate
expressions of mine in this desperate condition, as if they were
certain indications of reigning impiety and atheism? A little candour
and charity would have served to excuse them, and to put a better
construction upon them. Shall a man's spiritual state be judged of by
some rash and hasty words, which a surprising trouble extorts from him?
Is it fair, is it kind, is it just, to criticize in such a case? Would
you yourselves be served thus?" Two things aggravated their unkind
treatment of him:--
1. That they took advantage of his weakness and the helpless condition
he was in: You overwhelm the fatherless, a proverbial
expression, denoting that which is most barbarous and inhuman. "The
fatherless cannot secure themselves from insults, which emboldens men
of base and sordid spirits to insult them and trample upon them; and
you do so by me." Job, being a childless father, thought himself as
much exposed to injury as a fatherless child
and had reason to be offended with those who therefore triumphed over
him. Let those who overwhelm and overpower such as upon any account may
be looked upon as fatherless know that therein they not only put off
the compassions of man, but fight against the compassions of God, who
is, and will be, a Father of the fatherless and a helper of the
2. That they made a pretence of kindness: "You dig a pit for your
friend; not only you are unkind to me, who am your friend, but,
under colour of friendship, you ensnare me." When they came to see and
sit with him he thought he might speak his mind freely to them, and
that the more bitter his complaints to them were the more they would
endeavour to comfort him. This made him take a greater liberty than
otherwise he would have done. David, though he smothered his
resentments when the wicked were before him, would probably have given
vent to them if none had been by but friends,
But this freedom of speech, which their professions of concern for him
made him use, had exposed him to their censures, and so they might be
said to dig a pit for him. Thus, when our hearts are hot within us,
what is ill done we are apt to misrepresent as if done designedly.
IV. That, though he had let fall some passionate expressions, yet in
the main he was in the right, and that his afflictions, though very
extraordinary, did not prove him to be a hypocrite or a wicked man. His
righteousness he holds fast, and will not let it go. For the evincing
of it he here appeals,
1. To what they saw in him
"Be content, and look upon me; what do you see in me that
bespeaks me either a madman or a wicked man? Nay, look in my face, and
you may discern there the indications of a patient and submissive
spirit, for all this. Let the show of my countenance witness for me
that, though I have cursed my day, I do not curse my God." Or rather,
"Look upon my ulcers and sore boils, and by them it will be evident to
you that I do not lie," that is, "that I do not complain without cause.
Let your own eyes convince you that my condition is very sad, and that
I do not quarrel with God by making it worse than it is."
2. To what they heard from him,
"You hear what I have to say: Is there iniquity in my tongue?
that iniquity that you charge me with? Have I blasphemed God or
renounced him? Are not my present arguings right? Do not you perceive,
by what I say, that I can discern perverse things? I can discover your
fallacies and mistakes, and, if I were myself in an error, I could
perceive it. Whatever you think of me, I know what I say."
3. To their own second and sober thoughts
"Return, I pray you, consider the thing over again without
prejudice and partiality, and let not the result be iniquity, let it
not be an unrighteous sentence; and you will find my righteousness
is in it," that is, "I am in the right in this matter; and, though
I cannot keep my temper as I should, I keep my integrity, and have not
said, nor done, nor suffered, any thing which will prove me other than
an honest man." A just cause desires nothing more than a just hearing,
and if need be a re-hearing.