- Eliphaz owns Job's former usefulness, but infers from his present state and behaviour, that he was an hypocrite, verse 1-6.
- He affirms that God never afflicts man, but for his wickedness, verse 7-11.
- He confirms his assertion, by the words he heard in a vision, verse 12-21.
- By all this he aims to make Job both penitent and patient under his sufferings.
If we, &c. - He speaks with great modesty. He will not undertake the cause alone, but joins his friends with him. He will not promise much, but only assay, or try if he could propose any thing pertinent to Job's case. Withhold - When he hears such words from such a person as thou art.
Feeble knees - Such as were weak hearted, and fainting under their trials.
Thy fear - We now plainly see what was the nature of thy fear of God, thy confidence in him, the uprightness of thy ways, and thy hope in God's mercy. Thy present carriage discovers that it was but mere talk and appearance.
Innocent - Therefore thou art guilty of some great, though secret crimes, and thy sin hath now found thee out. Cut off - By the sickle of Divine vengeance before his time, which is like to be thy case. Eliphaz here advances another argument to prove Job an hypocrite; taken not only from his impatience under afflictions, but from his afflictions themselves.
Even - As thou hast never seen any example of a righteous man cut off, so I have seen many of wicked men cut off for their wickedness. They - They that designedly work wickedness, first preparing themselves for it, and then continuing to execute it, as husbandmen first plow the ground, and then cast in the feed. Reap - The fruit of their iniquity, the just punishment of it.
The blast - Of his nostrils, as it follows; by his anger, which in men shews itself, in the nostrils, by hot and frequent breathings there, by a secret, but mighty judgment of God, they are blown away as chaff by the wind.
The roaring - Nor can they escape, even were they strong as lions, yea, as the strongest and fiercest of them. Broken - Which is true literally; the lions when taken having most commonly their teeth broken, as ancient and modern writers relate. But this is meant of powerful tyrants, who are fitly compared to lions, Ezekiel 32:2; , who though for a time they persecute and oppress other men, yet in due time they are restrained, and broken, and crushed in pieces by the mighty power of God. Possibly he may secretly accuse Job, or his children, that being persons of great wealth and power, they had abused it to ruin their neighbours, and therefore were justly cut off.
Scattered - Gone from their dens several ways to hunt for prey, and can find none.
Now - To convince Job of the sin and folly of impatience, Eliphaz relates a vision he had had, perhaps since he came to him. Which in that age and state of the church, before the holy scriptures were written, was the usual way of God's discovering his mind to those that sought him. A thing - Heb. a word, from God, a message. Secretly - Heb. was stolen, or brought by stealth unto me, privately and secretly, as the word of God used to come to the prophets, being spoken in their ear, as it was to Samuel, with a low and still voice. He does not pretend to have understood it fully; but something of it he perceived. How little a portion is heard of God! How little do we know of him in this world.
In thoughts - These thoughts arose from the visions of the night, which it is probable he had seen before. Visions differed from dreams herein, that God imparted his mind to men in dreams when asleep, but in visions, when they were awake. And these visions sometimes happened by day, but most frequently by night. Sleep - In the dead of the night, when men usually are in a deep sleep; though Eliphaz was not now asleep.
A spirit - An angel in visible shape, otherwise he could not have discerned it. Stood up - Through that excessive horror caused by so glorious, unusual, and terrible a presence.
Stood - Having passed by him to, and again, he made a stand, and addressed himself to speak. The form - Exactly and distinctly. An image - I saw some visible resemblance, though in a confused manner. Silence - The spirit, which possibly had made some noise with his motion, now standing still made no noise; all other persons and things about me were silent, and I also kept in my voice and breath, that I might distinctly hear. In the Hebrew, the words run thus, silence and a voice I heard.
More just - Pretend more strictly to observe the laws of justice? Shall (enosh) mortal, miserable man (so the word signifies) be thus insolent? Nay, shall geber, the strongest and most eminent man, stand in competition with God? Those that find fault with the directions of the Divine law, the dispensations of the Divine grace, or the disposal of the Divine providence, do make themselves more just and pure than God: who being their maker, is their Lord and owner: and the author of all the justice and purity that is in man.
Servants - They are called his servants by way of eminency, that general name being here appropriated to the chief of the kind, to intimate that sovereign dominion which the great God hath over the angels, and much more over men. With folly - Without all doubt, this refers to those angels who foolishly and wickedly fell from God.
How, &c. - The sense is, what strange presumption then is it for a foolish and mortal man, to make himself more just than God. In them - Who though they have immortal spirits, yet those spirits dwell in mortal bodies, which are great clogs, and incumbrances, and snares to them. These are called houses, (because they are the receptacles of the soul, and the places of its settled abode) and houses of clay, because they were made of clay, or earth, and to note their great frailty and mutability; whereas the angels are free spirits, unconfined to such carcasses, and dwell in celestial, and glorious, and everlasting mansions. Whose - Whose very foundation, no less than the rest of the building, is in the dust; had their original from it, and must return to it. We stand but upon the dust: some have an higher heap of dust to stand upon than others. But still it is the earth that stays us up, and will shortly swallow us up. Before - Sooner than a moth is crushed, which is easily done by a gentle touch of the finger. Or, at the face of a moth. No creature is so contemptible, but one time or other it may have the body of man in its power.
Destroyed - All the day long, there is not a moment wherein man is not sinking towards death and corruption. Perish - In reference to this present worldly life, which when once lost is never recovered. Regarding - Heb. without putting the heart to it, this is so common a thing for all men, though never so high and great, to perish in this manner, that no man heeds it, but passes it by as a general accident not worthy of observation.
Excellency - Whatsoever is by common estimation excellent in men, all their natural, and moral, and civil accomplishments, as high birth, great riches, power and wisdom, these are so far from preserving men from perishing, that they perish themselves, together with those houses of clay in which they are lodged. Without wisdom - Even without having attained that only wisdom for which they came into the world. Shall such mean, weak, foolish, sinful, dying creatures as this, pretend to be more just than God, more pure than his maker? No: instead of quarrelling with his afflictions, let him admire that he is out of hell.