JOB CHAPTER 31
Job’s Last Protestation of Innocence.
JOB RECOUNTS HIS BLAMELESS CONDUCT. — V. 1. I made a covenant with mine eyes, prescribing to his organs of vision their conduct; why, then, should I think upon a maid, casting lustful, adulterous looks upon a person of the opposite sex? V. 2. For what portion of God is there from above? What dispensation would come from Him, namely, in the form of punishment for such a sinful thought? And what inheritance of the Almighty from on high? What would His portion have been in punishing him for such a transgression, God surely would not let such sins go without just retribution. V. 3. Is not destruction to the wicked and a strange punishment to the workers of iniquity? Misfortune and calamity are the consequence of sins against the Sixth Commandment. V. 4. Doth not He see my ways and count all my steps? It was the consciousness of God’s omniscience and righteousness which caused Job to avoid even lustful glances and sinful desires. V. 5. If I have walked with vanity, making falsehood and duplicity his companions, or if my foot hath hasted to deceit, eager to make use of its cheating appearance, v. 6. let me be weighed in an even balance, in a balance of justice, cp. Dan. 5, 25, that God may know mine integrity, for a careful weighing of the evidence against him would establish the truth of his utterances. V. 7. If my step hath turned out of the way, namely, from the right way as prescribed by God, and mine heart walked after mine eyes, yielding to the lust which often takes hold of the eyes, and if any blot hath cleaved to mine hands, any spot of unchaste, immoral actions, v. 8. then let me sow and let another eat, enjoying the fruit of his hard labors; yea, let my offspring be rooted out, the products of the soil as planted by him be destroyed. Cp. Lev. 26, 16; Amos 9, 14; Ps. 128, 2. Thus Job protested that he had always avoided all sinful lust. V. 9. If mine heart have been deceived by a woman, enticed into adulterous relations with another man’s wife, or if I have laid wait at my neighbor’s door, cp. Prov. 7, 7. 8, v. 10. then let my wife grind unto another, in the position of the lowest secondary wife, who had to attend to the grinding of the household flour on the hand-mill, and let others bow down upon her, in lustful, forbidden intercourse. V. 11. For this is an heinous crime, his yielding to adultery would be an infamous act; yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges, worthy of the severest punishment. Cp. Matt. 5, 21. V. 12. For it is a fire that consumeth to destruction, such an adulterous passion on Job’s part would merit for him the devouring punishment of the abyss of hell, and would root out all mine increase, destroying all the fruit of his labor, all his prosperity, Job thus rejecting also this possible accusation against his life. He next touches upon his conduct toward his house-slaves. V. 13. If I did despise the cause of my man-servant or of my maid-servant, treating them as though they had no rights, when they contended with me, ruthlessly trampling on that which they had a right to expect, v. 14. what, then, shall I do when God riseth up, if He arose in judgment upon such behavior? And when He visiteth, what shall I answer Him? If Job had been guilty as here outlined, then, indeed, would the Lord have had the right to lay the heaviest judgments upon him. V. 15. Did not He that made me in the womb make him? And did not One, that is, one and the same God, fashion us in the womb? God is the Creator of the slave as well as of the master, and there is for that reason no respect of persons with Him, Eph. 6, 9. From the case of his servants Job now turns to that of all the poor and neglected everywhere. V. 16. If I have withheld the poor from their desire, refusing them what they needed to sustain their lives, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail, since they became weak and lost their power to see on account of their unfulfilled yearning for help, v. 17. or have eaten my morsel myself alone and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof, if selfishness had caused him to withhold food or assistance from the needy; v. 18. (for, or, nay, rather, from my youth he was brought up with me, as with a father, such consideration the orphan received from him, and I have guided her, namely, the widow, from my mother’s womb, the strong expression being intended to show that Job’s humane and friendly treatment of widows and orphans had been his practice from his earliest youth;) v. 19. if I have seen any perish for want of clothing, some poor, forsaken soul without so much as a garment to cover his nakedness, or any poor without covering, in the condition of the greatest extremity; v. 20. if his loins, covered by the bounty of Job, have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep, namely, in the form of substantial, warm clothing; v. 21. if I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, shaking his fist at the orphan in a violent and threatening manner, when I saw my help in the gate, believing that he could readily bribe the judges who might try a case of such violence: v. 22. then let mine arm fall from my shoulder blade, being severed from the joint which held it, and mine arm be broken from the bone, literally, “the pipe,” from the hollow, pipelike bones to which it was attached. V. 23. For destruction from God was a terror to me, Job’s fear of God’s vengeance had always kept him from wicked acts of this kind, and by reason of His highness I could not endure, being powerless before the majesty of God, a fact which made it morally impossible for him to become guilty of merciless conduct. v. 24. If I have made gold my hope, putting his trust in it, or have said to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence; v. 25. if I rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because mine hand had gotten much, had accumulated large amounts, great riches, all this being equal to his making money his god; v. 26. if I beheld the sun when it shined, his light being worshiped by the Chaldeans as an emanation from God, or the moon walking in brightness, wandering her course in solemn majesty, v. 27. and my heart hath been secretly enticed, namely, away from the true God to the foolishness of idolatry, or my mouth hath kissed my hand, literally, “so that I touched my hand to my mouth,” in throwing to the sun and the moon, as heathen divinities, a kiss, as a sign of adoration: v. 28. this also, as a form of gross idolatry, were an iniquity to be punished by the judge; for I should have denied the God that is above, acting falsely, becoming guilty of denial. V. 29. If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me, in vindictive hate and malice, or lifted up myself when evil found him, in joyful excitement over any misfortune which might strike him, for the love of enemies was required even in the Old Testament; v. 30. neither have I suffered my mouth to sin by wishing a curse to his soul, his palate, as an instrument of speech, he did not wish for the death of his enemy, he had not been guilty of such vindictive hatred. V. 31. If the men of my tabernacle said not, Oh, that we had of his flesh! We cannot be satisfied, literally, “If the people of my tent,” that is, his household associates and servants, “had not been obliged to say, Where could one be found, who had not been satisfied with his flesh?” Job had freely distributed of the flesh of his slaughtered cattle to such as were in need, as his servants would readily testify. V. 32. The stranger did not lodge in the street, for want of hospitality on Job’s part, but I opened my doors to the traveler, so that everyone who passed by was made welcome, according to Oriental custom. V. 33. If I covered my transgressions as Adam, covering his wickedness after the manner of men, after the ways of the world in general, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom, trying to conceal it from men and God: v. 34. did I fear a great multitude, because he feared the contempt of the multitude, the nobler families, from the intercourse with which he might have been excluded, or did the contempt of families terrify me that I kept silence and went not out of the door, lest his iniquity become evident to all? Thus Job protested that he practiced what was right and good in all his relations toward God and men and abstained from that which was wrong in God’s sight.
JOB’S APPEAL TO BE HEARD. — V. 35. Oh, that one would hear me! namely, as he here asserted his innocence, for his complaint had been all along that God paid no attention to his crying. Behold, my desire is that the Almighty would answer me, or, “Behold my signature: let the Almighty answer me!” Job had, as it were, set forth his vindication in writing; he was now ready to hear the verdict of God. And that mine adversary had written a book! That God would write down and fix against him the definite charge on account of which He laid this suffering upon him, was Job’s great wish. V. 36. Surely I would take it upon my shoulder, as atrophy, as a badge of honor and dignity, and bind it as a crown to me, as a diadem, since he is confident of victory in advance, sure of his vindication. V. 37. I would declare unto Him the number of my steps, concealing none of his actions before the divine Judge; as a prince would I go near unto Him, with a stately dignity, proud of his innocence, not like an accused person, trembling in the consciousness of his guilt. V. 38. If my land cry against me, if his field should cry out for vengeance against its owner, or that the furrows likewise thereof complain, weeping in impotent pleading against Job’s abuse; v. 39. if I have eaten the fruits thereof without money, having taken some one’s land in injustice, without payment, or have caused the owners thereof to lose their life, either directly or indirectly: v. 40. let thistles grow instead of wheat, briars, which would spoil the productiveness of the soil, and cockle, noxious, stinking weeds, instead of barley. Thus boldly did Job assert his innocence of any specific wickedness over against the friends who were casting the suspicion of evil upon him. The words of Job, namely, those in which he vindicated his innocence over against his former friends, are ended.