JOB CHAPTER 22
The Third Speech of Eliphaz.
ELIPHAZ CHARGES JOB WITH WICKEDNESS. — V. 1. Then Eliphaz, the Temanite, answered and said, ignoring Job’s argument concerning the prosperity of the ungodly, v. 2. Can a man be profitable unto God, no matter how good or how great he may be in this world, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself? This is really the answer to the first part of the verse: God, being absolutely wise, is not influenced by the wisdom of any man. V. 3. Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, a gain or advantage to Him, who Himself is perfection, that thou art righteous? The most blameless life of men cannot add to His bliss; He is never actuated by selfish motives. Or is it gain to Him that thou makest thy ways perfect, striving to be absolutely righteous in his manner of living? God does not reward the pious because they bring Him any benefit by their piety, nor does He punish sinners because their transgressions diminish His blessedness. V. 4. Will He reprove thee for fear of thee? Will He enter with thee into judgment? It must not enter one’s mind that God was sending this punishment upon Job on account of his godliness, since God never acts from selfish motives, and because the cause of Job’s calamity must lie in himself, as Eliphaz supposed. v. 5. Is not thy wickedness great and thine iniquities infinite? Eliphaz here boldly draws the conclusion to which his first statements entitled him, as he thought: Because God sends such afflictions only as punishment for transgressions, and because He is never influenced and guided by any selfish motives and arbitrary notions, therefore it follows that Job is guilty. This accusation he now tries to back up by an enumeration of sins of which he supposed Job had become guilty. V. 6. For thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother for naught, there being no need for Job, who had been wealthy, to be so exacting in collecting moneys due him from his relatives, and stripped the naked of their clothing, taking even the last piece of garment which they possessed, Ex. 22, 25. 26; Deut. 24, 6. 10. 11, against every sentiment of humanity. V. 7. Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink, as they fainted in their thirst, and thou hast withholden bread from the hungry, thus setting aside the fundamental demands of charity. V. 8. But as for the mighty man, literally, “the man of the arm or fist,” he had the earth, and the honorable man dwelt in it, that is, the honored, influential one. Thus Eliphaz accused Job of selfishness and greed, of taking the whole land for himself and letting the poor suffer. V. 9. Thou hast sent widows away empty, when they appealed to him for help, and the arms of the fatherless have been broken, they were treated with the most inhuman cruelty, deprived of all their rights and powers. V. 10. Therefore, as a punishment of such sins, snares are round about thee, various forms of destruction besieged him, and sudden fear troubleth thee, a sudden deadly anguish overpowered him time and again, v. 11. or darkness, that thou canst not see, the night of suffering admitting no ray of consoling light; and abundance of waters cover thee, bursting upon him with overwhelming misery. It was a bitter and unjust accusation which Eliphaz heaped upon Job.
WARNING TO AVOID FURTHER PUNISHMENTS. — V. 12. Is not God in the height of heaven, the infinitely Exalted One, ruling the world and punishing evil? And behold the height of the stars, how high they are! God is immensely exalted over puny man with his feeble criticism of divine justice and every suspicion of God’s wisdom. V. 13. And thou sayest, How doth God know? His wisdom cannot extend to the every-day affairs of men. Can He judge through the dark cloud? The idea is that God is wholly separated and shut off from the business of men, so that He does not concern Himself about them. V. 14. Thick clouds are a covering to Him that He seeth not; and He walketh in the circuit of heaven, on its immense vault, so engrossed in His own exaltation that He overlooks and neglects the affairs of the insignificant world of men. V. 15. Hast thou marked the old way which wicked men have trodden? Did Job intend to observe and follow the way of the wicked children of the world? V. 16. Which were cut down out of time, being swept away by a calamity before they had reached the normal span of life, whose foundation was overflown with a flood, the place where they and their dwellings stood became fluid as quicksand, causing them to sink down; v. 17. which said unto God, Depart from us! and what could the Almighty do for them? Both speeches are attributed to the ungodly, with whom Eliphaz here classes Job, in allusion to chap. 21, 14. 15. V. 18. Yet He filled their houses with good things, it was God who had granted to these very scoffers the prosperity which they enjoyed; but the counsel of the wicked is far from me! Eliphaz here echoes the declaration of Job, chap. 21, 16, but includes Job in the number of the wicked. V. 19. The righteous see it and are glad, namely, over the destruction which would surely come upon the wicked; and the innocent laugh them to scorn, mocking at those whose insolence has such a shameful end. V. 20. Whereas our substance is not cut down, but the remnant of them the fire consumeth. That is the sum of the mocking speeches which the righteous heap upon the ungodly: Verily, destroyed is our adversary, and what is left of their prosperity the fire has devoured! In this sneering manner Eliphaz attempted to apply the doctrine of divine retribution to the case of Job.
AN ADMONITION TO REPENT. — V. 21. Acquaint now thyself with Him, make friends with the Lord while there is yet time, and be at peace; thereby good shall come unto thee, Job would again receive the blessing of the Lord if he would but repent of his wickedness. V. 22. Receive, I pray thee, the law from His mouth, the instruction from the mouth of God should guide him on the right way, and lay up His words in thy heart, he should keep them like a precious treasure from which he might draw at all times. V. 23. If thou return to the Almighty, coming close to Him once more by real sorrow and penitence, thou shalt be built up, thou shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles, for that must ever be the result of the true godly sorrow over sins. V. 24. Then shalt thou lay up gold as dust, casting down the gold ore as it comes from the mines as so much worthless trash, and the gold of Ophir as the stones of the brooks, dropping it among the pebbles of the streams as possessing no lasting value. V. 25. Yea, the Almighty shall be thy defense, literally, “and shall become the Almighty thy pieces of gold,” Job’s one rich treasure, and thou shalt have plenty of silver, silver in bars or heaps, the greatest riches in the possession of God’s mercy. V. 26. For then shalt thou have thy delight in the Almighty, since in Him is the greatest joy of the righteous, and shalt lift up thy face unto God, with the confidence of a favorite son. V. 27. Thou shalt make thy prayer unto Him, with a firm trust in God’s willingness to hear, and He shall hear thee, and thou shalt pay thy vows, fulfilling the pledges which he had made in the event of his prayer’s being heard. V. 28. Thou shalt also decree a thing, planning the doing of it, and it shall be established unto thee, it will surely come to pass; and the light shall shine upon thy ways, his labors would surely be crowned with success. V. 29. When men are cast down, or “when his ways led downwards,” into trouble of any kind, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up, that is, Upward, arise! a call of encouragement; and he shall save the humble person, bringing salvation or deliverance to the man of downcast eyes. Job would, in turn, be able to comfort and inspire all men who might find themselves in trouble. V. 30. He shall deliver the island of the innocent, rather, “God will rescue him that is not guiltless”; and it is delivered by the pureness of thine hands, God, on account of His high regard for Job, would be gracious even to others who were in need of atonement for their sins. In his zeal Eliphaz overshoots the mark, attributing to Job’s conversion a power which it could never possess. It is the way of professional exhorters to make extravagant statements and to ascribe to men what God alone can perform, and that out of pure grace.