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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 11

 

 

Verse 1

Job 11:1 Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said,

Ver. 1. Then answered Zophar the Naamathite] With a most bitter invective, savouring more of passion than charity. Zophar rejoineth, or rather revileth innocent Job, misinterpreting his meaning, Job 11:4, and laying to his charge, 1. Loquacity, or talkativeness; 2. Lying; 3. Scoffing at God’s good providence, and men’s good counsel; 4. Self-conceitedness and arrogance, besides rashness, boldness, &c. For want of better arguments against him, he falls foul upon him in this sort. And if the adversaries of the truth do the like by us (as our Saviour saith they will, Matthew 5:11, and as himself, after Job and many other of his members, had the experience of it), we must not be overly troubled. Zophar signifieth a watcher, he watched for Job’s halting, and took him up before he was down; he is styled the Naamathite from Naamah (a city in the land of Uz, eighteen miles from Job’s Pyramis, saith Adricomius), which signifieth fair. But he dealeth not so fair with his friend as had been fit, for he giveth him no honour or respect at all, but treateth him with singular sharpness and violence, or rather virulence, of speech: hear him else.


Verse 2

Job 11:2 Should not the multitude of words be answered? and should a man full of talk be justified?

Ver. 2. Should not the multitude of words be answered?] Should not he who speaketh what he will, hear what he would not? Nunquid qui multa loquitur, non et audiet? (Vulg.) Yes, Job shall now, or you will want of your will; but if Job have talked more than his part came to (the truth is, his speeches are longer than any of those of his three friends, which are all, except that first made by Eliphaz, Job 4:1-21, Job 5:1-27, comprehended in one chapter, whereas his take up by two, three, or more), he may well be excused, considering the sharpness of his disease, the ungentleness of his friends, and the sense of God’s displeasure, which his soul laboured under. Zophar and the rest looked upon him as a wretched hypocrite, and were angry that he would not yield himself so; they accused his former conversation as wicked; what way he had therefore to defend and assert his own integrity, but by words? And must he yet pass for a prattling fellow, a man of lips, a very wordy man, one that loveth to hear himself talk, because he will not be by them outtalked, and overly borne by their false charges? Most sure it is, that profane and profuse babblings are to be avoided, and to bring fulness of matter in fewness of words it is very commendable. Quam multa quam paucis! said Cicero of Brutus’s laconical epistle; how much is here in a little! but, 1. Every man cannot be a short spoken Spartan. It is reported that in Luther’s house was found written, Melancthon hath both matter and words; Luther hath matter, but wants words; Erasmus hath words at will, but wants matter. Every one hath his own share: all are not alike gifted. 2. He is to be accounted talkative who uttereth unprofitable words, and far from the purpose, beside the point; and so Zophar himself was to be blamed in this whole discourse of his, wherein he talketh much, but speaketh little. Concerning the infinite and unsearchable wisdom of God, he argueth truly and gravely, but yet nothing fitly to convince Job, who himself had said as much and more of the same subject. The counsel also that therehence he giveth Job doth little or nothing concern him; it being the same in effect that Eliphaz and Bildad had said before him: Zophar therefore was the locutuleius, the talkative man here mentioned, rather than Job, the lips man, adversus sua ipsius vitia facundus satis; and as Bion was wont to say, that the grammarians of his time could discourse well about the errors of Ulysses, but not at all see their own; so it befell Zophar.

And should a man full of talk be justified?] Heb. A man of lips, so called, as if he were made all of lips, and had no other members. Shall such a one be ever a whit the better thought of? Not among wise men surely, whatever he may amongst his fellow fools; for in multiloquio stultiloquium: in much speaking is much foolishness, some gravel and mud passeth away with much water; some vanity with much talk; it is no wisdom for a man to lay on more words than the matter will well bear. A good orator, saith Plutarch, will see that his words and his matter be matches. And Hesiod saith, that words, as a precious treasure, should be thriftily husbanded and warily wasted: especially since an account is to be rendered, as our Saviour assureth us, Matthew 12:36; yea, by thy words (he saith not, for thy words) thou shalt be justified, and by thy words (if superfluous and sinful, waste and wicked) thou shalt be condemned, Matthew 12:37.


Verse 3

Job 11:3 Should thy lies make men hold their peace? and when thou mockest, shall no man make thee ashamed?

Ver. 3. Should thy lies make men hold their peace?] Or, thy toys, toilsome toys, hammered in thine own head, hatched in thine own heart, which is deceitful above all things, and so a fit shop to frame lies in; but should we be silent at the hearing of them, and so become guilty of thy sin by a tacit consent? Can any mortal wight hear what thou hast said in behalf of thine own imaginary innocence, Job 6:29-30, and how bold an appeal thou hast made to God as a witness thereof, Job 10:7, and not reply upon thee, and reprove thee? The truth is, had Job been a liar, as Zophar would make of him (even mendaciorum loquacissimum, as Tertullian saith of Tacitus, one that fearing his many words would not carry his cause, had intermixed various untruths, the better to grace the business), he ought not to have been forborne by Zophar or any else that wished well to his soul: but it was far from good Job to be guilty of this foul sin, so hated of God, so like the devil, so inconsistent with religion. Christianus est, non mentietur, he is a Christian, you may be sure he will not lie, was the old argument; he will rather die than lie. David indeed, in a distress, roundly told two or three lies together to Abimelech the high priest, who suspected that he fled as a proscribed person, 1 Samuel 21:2; 1 Samuel 21:8; 1 Samuel 27:10. But that he allowed not this sin in himself it appeareth in that, 1. He had chosen the way of truth, his election was truth, Psalms 119:30. And, 2. He prayed against the contrary evil, "remove from me the way of lying," Psalms 119:29. He was not one of those that took fast hold of deceit, as Jeremiah phraseth it, Job 8:5. Much less was Job; however, Zophar was mistaken in him, as he was much more in his next charge, wherein he maketh him a scoffer of God and good people.

And when thou mockest, shall no man make thee ashamed?] Job is made a mocker here; yea, a scorner, and derider, as the word signifieth, such as David describeth, Psalms 22:6, and the author to the Hebrews, Hebrews 11:36, where he speaks of cruel mockings, such as the Scripture everywhere (but especially in the Proverbs) brandeth for the worst sort of sinners. See Psalms 1:1, where the Septuagint translate for scorners, pests; as elsewhere incorrigible, Proverbs 21:1; naught, Proverbs 9:12; λοιμοι, ακολαστος, κακος, proud, Proverbs 3:34; workers of iniquity, υπερηφανοι παρηνομουν, Psalms 119:51. But where did Job mock in Zophar’s judgment? First, he spoke contemptuously (as he thought) of God, as Job 10:3, "Is it good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress?" &c. And whereas he spake better sometimes of God’s wisdom and righteousness, Zophar thought it was but from the teeth outward; but poor Job had little list or leisure to mock and jeer. Next, he mocked his friends for saving that he was justly afflicted, saying that they were cold comforters, void of God s fear, merciless men, &c. This they took in very ill part, and Zophar thinks to make him ashamed of it; for saith he,

Shall no man make thee ashamed?] sc. By refuting thee, and by bringing thee to a due sight of thine error. This good office he that shall undertake to do for another, must be sure that he be able to do it effectually, else better not to attempt it. When Carolostadius opposed Luther’s consubstantiation only weakly and insufficiently, Zuinglius said, he was sorry that so good a cause lacked shoulders, Non satis humerorum haberet.


Verse 4

Job 11:4 For thou hast said, My doctrine [is] pure, and I am clean in thine eyes.

Ver. 4. For thou hast said] Thou hast confidently affirmed; and this he makes to be a loud lie, and not an idle word only. But where and when had Job said it? Did not Zophar openly play the sophister, so interpreting what Job had spoken, Job 6:10; Job 9:22; Job 10:7, in defence of his innocence, as if Job had maintained that he was free from all sin; whereas, notwithstanding, he had very often witnessed and confessed himself to be a sinner, insomuch as that albeit he were without sin, yet he could not be accounted clear and pure in the sight of God? But Zophar took these for good words only, and was therefore so sharply set against him. So Cyril and Theodoret mistook one another, and objected heresy mutually; when afterwards it appeared that they were both of one judgment. Charity would have taught Zophar to have taken Job in a better sense, and to have said of him, as Cruciger did of Luther, eum commodius sentire quam loquitur dum effervescit, that he held right, though in his heat he spake not so fitly as might be wished. Good men’s words are reverenter glossanda (as one said of the laws), to have a reverent gloss put upon them, and not, by a spiritual unmannerliness, to be taken with the left hand, when they might and ought to be taken with the right.

My doctrine is pure] Clear as crystal, transparent as a crystal glass with a light in the midst; you may see through it, and find no flaw or filth in it. Job was no professed preacher, yet he had "not concealed the words of the Holy One," Job 6:10. As he had received the knowledge of the truth from parents and teachers (the word here rendered doctrine comes from a root that signifieth to receive), so he had freely and purely imparted it to others, commending it unto them as sound and sincere, and therefore well worthy of all acceptation. But that which troubled Zophar and his two fellows was, that Job should affirm that God did afflict good men in this world as heavily as bad men, which yet was an irrefragable truth, such as Job resolved to live and die in.

And I am clean in thine eyes] i.e. I am not sinless, but sincere and upright, no hypocrite (as you have charged me), no worker of iniquity, but one that would be cleansed from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, and do, by the daily practice of mortification, purify myself as God is pure. More than this Job said not, though Zophar thought he did, and therefore wisheth in the next words that God himself would convince him of his error.


Verse 5

Job 11:5 But oh that God would speak, and open his lips against thee;

Ver. 5. But oh that God would speak, &c.] For we do but lose our sweet words upon thee, since thou art set, and so wedded and wedged to thine own will and way, that thou canst not be removed and rectified, but by an extraordinary touch from the hand of heaven: oh therefore that God would speak and open his lips against thee, and for us; for so Zophar doubts not but he would do; but if it proved otherwise, Job 42:7-10, Job was justified, and these three condemned, because they had not spoken of God (or to God, as in this text), the thing that was right, Job 11:7, but had been Satan’s instruments to discourage Job, and to drive that good man to many passionate speeches. Some men (and women too, as Sarah, Genesis 16:5) are overly hasty to send for God, as it were, by a post, to decide their controversies; who, if he should come at their call, would certainly pronounce against them. Fret not thyself therefore to do evil, Psalms 37:1; be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything in this way before God, Ecclesiastes 5:2, or to interest him in thy quarrels and controversies, for he will surely pass an impartial sentence; neither is there any iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respecting of persons, nor receiving of gifts, 1 Chronicles 19:7. One interpreter from this wish of Zophar noteth, that it is an ordinary practice of heretics (Satan’s factors) to mention God, as approving of their errors, if by speaking he would from heaven declare himseff plainly, and that therefore we should take heed of those that labour to work upon us this way, when by right reason they are able to evince nothing that they say.


Verse 6

Job 11:6 And that he would shew thee the secrets of wisdom, that [they are] double to that which is! Know therefore that God exacteth of thee [less] than thine iniquity [deserveth].

Ver. 6. And that he would show thee the secrets of wisdom] This may be understood as God’s law (saith Diodati), or as the hidden ways of his providence; which if God would show Job, he should at once see that he mistook much, and knew little of those many mysteries that are both in the word and works of God, in all divine dispensations, which are such as none can unriddle but God himself; neither can we see them till he show them. It is well observed, that the word here rendered show signifieth to interpret and expound that which is dark, mysterious, and enigmatical; and till God show us in this sort we remain ignorant both in the book of the creatures and in the book of the Scriptures. Oh, pray that ye may be all taught of God, that he would show you great and mighty things which you know not, Jeremiah 33:3, that he would so open your eyes, that ye may behold wondrous things out of his law, Psalms 119:18.

That they are double to that which is] Sunt enim Deo iudiciorum duo genera, so the Tigurines translate the words, for God hath judgments of two several sorts, viz. open and secret, such as thou with all thy skill canst not dive into. The Hebrew is, doubles to the being; that is, saith one, manifold more than is by thee apprehended; and although God hath afflicted thee according to what he hath revealed, yet he might afflict thee more if he should proceed according to the height of his secret wisdom; thy plagues should be double to that which is, if God should deal rigorously with thee; there is reason therefore thou shouldest be patient, since thy sins are far more than thy sufferings.

Know, then, that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth] This is a meditation that may be of special use, as to humble us, so to stanch murmuring, and to strengthen patience under present pressures. See Ezra 9:13, with the note. Junius rendereth it, acknowledge at least that God exacteth somewhat of thee for thine iniquity; somewhat it is, and but somewhat, since hell is the just hire of the least sin, and it is the Lord’s mercy that we are not consumed, Lamentations 3:22.


Verse 7

Job 11:7 Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?

Ver. 7. Canst thou by searching find out God?] i.e. The nature of God, or the course of his providence, and the reason of his proceedings? thou canst never do it. Neither did Job ever take upon him to do it, but had excellently and accurately set out the same things, Job 9:4, &c., that Zophar here doth; so that he might well have spared his pains in this discourse as to Job; but that being too pertinacious in his evil opinion of him, he chose rather to thwart him than to close with him, as contentious people use to do.

Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?] No, nor the brightest angel in heaven, the highest graduate in glory. Find him we may possibly, but not find him out, much less find him out to perfection. Tantum recedit, quantum capitur, so much slips away and how much is retained, saith Nazianzen. The nearer you draw unto God the farther off he is from you, and you are as much to seek as ever; he is indeed like the pool Polycritus writeth of (cited by Aristotle), which in compass at the first scarce seemed to exceed the breadth of a shield, but if any went in to wash, it extended itself more and more. A country fellow thinks, if he were upon such a mountain he could touch heaven, and take a star in his hand; but when he comes thither heaven is as far off as it was, &c. So it is here, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard," &c., 1 Corinthians 2:9. Chrysostom, speaking of God’s love in Christ, saith, I am like a man digging in a deep spring; I stand here, and the water riseth up upon me, and I stand there, and still the water riseth upon me. What the apostle saith of this infinite love of God, that it passeth knowledge, as having all the dimensions, Ephesians 3:18-19, the same is true of the wisdom of God, as Zophar setteth forth in the following verses.


Verse 8

Job 11:8 [It is] as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know?

Ver. 8. It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do?] And much higher; it is as the highnesses of heaven (so the Hebrew hath it), which is so high that one would wonder we should be able to behold the starry sky (which yet is but as the marble wall round about the palace), and the very eye not be tired in the way. {See Trapp on "Proverbs 25:3"} How high that second heaven is may hereby be gathered, in that the stars (whereof those of the first magnitude are said to be every one above 107 times as large again as the whole earth) do yet seem to us but as so many small sparks or spangles; but how high the third heaven is above them cannot be conjectured, Ephesians 4:10. And yet the wisdom of the Almighty is far above that. But what meaneth Zophar by these cutted questions of his, What canst thou do? and what canst thou know? He thought, belike, that either Job considered not what he had said when he so set forth God’s wisdom, and his own shallowness; or else that he contradicted himself when he nevertheless stood so much upon his own integrity, and complained so greatly of his misery, as of an injury.

Deeper than hell] Which, wherever it is, appeareth, by this and other texts of Scripture, as Revelation 14:11, Deuteronomy 32:22, Psalms 55:15, Proverbs 15:24, &c., to be below, Ubi sit, sentient, qui curiosius quaerunt, saith one; where it is they shall find one day who too curiously inquire. The word here rendered hell signifieth the lower and more remote parts of the earth; and David telleth us that the wicked shall be turned into hell, into the lowest part of it, as the He locale there implieth, Psalms 9:17.


Verse 9

Job 11:9 The measure thereof [is] longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.

Ver. 9. The measure thereof is longer than the earth] Wherein some kingdoms are of a very great length, as those of the Turks and of the Tartars at this day. How long, then, is the earth itself? Some have undertaken to tell in how many days a nimble footman might measure it, but that is but a conjecture. It must be remembered that these things are spoken after the manner of men; for the wisdom of God can neither be measured nor numbered: of his understanding there is no number, saith the prophet, Psalms 147:5. Archimedes, the mathematician, vaunted that he, by his skill in arithmetic, could number up all the sand or dust that is in the whole world, habitable and inhabitable. But who can cast up the extent of the Divine wisdom?

And broader than the sea] Which yet David calleth the "great and wide sea," Psalms 104:25. Breadth is ascribed to the sea, because of its huge extension: mariners for many days together, while they sail upon the main, see no land, but only sky and water. God’s wisdom goes beyond all these; neither must we think to lade this ocean with our cockle shell. We may sooner drain the sea with a spoon than the perfections of God with our largest understandings.


Verse 10

Job 11:10 If he cut off, and shut up, or gather together, then who can hinder him?

Ver. 10. If he cut off, and shut up] Heb. If he change, viz. his course or way of proceedings toward men, either to shut them up close prisoners, or otherwise to put them to such straits that (Job-like) they know not what to do, or which way to turn themselves.

Or gather together] viz. His witnesses, say some, against an offender; his armies and military forces, saith the Chaldee paraphrast, to ruin his enemies; his outcasts, say some interpreters, according to that, Psalms 147:2, "The Lord doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel." If he do any or all of these to show his sovereignty, as well he may,

Then who can hinder him?] Heb. Turn him away, or put a stop to him? If God should do and undo, confound all things, turn the world upside down, who shall contradict him or question him? May he not do with his own as he pleaseth? And might not Zophar have spared thus to have spoken to Job, since Job had said the same to him in effect before? Atqui non erat necesse haec a Zophar dici, quum de his iam et eadem dixisset Iob (Merc.). But Zophar’s design was to prove hereby that he who is by God brought into straits is a wicked liver. He therefore in the two following verses glanceth at him as vain, wicked, brutish, and not unlike to a wild ass’s colt, such as God would surely tame and tutor to better things by afflictions, and so bring him to hand.


Verse 11

Job 11:11 For he knoweth vain men: he seeth wickedness also; will he not then consider [it]?

Ver. 11. He knoweth vain man, he seeth wickedness also] Doubtless he beholdeth faithless men, mortals of vanity, headlong and headstrong wights; homines falsitatis (so Cajetan renderetb it), men of falsehood; homines mendaces (so Pagnine), lying persons, such as thou Job art presumed to be by thy impious words and grievous punishments: He seeth wickedness, inanitatem et iniquitatem, vanity and villany. God seeth all, how closely and cleanly soever hypocrites think to carry the matter; first hiding God from themselves, and then vainly hoping to hide themselves also from God; but "his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men," Psalms 11:4. He seeth their wickedness or unreasonableness (as the word properly signifieth), for wicked men are absurd men, 2 Thessalonians 3:2, they are compact of mere incongruities, solecizing in opinion, speeches, actions, all.

Will he not then consider it?] sc. To judge and punish it? Man maketh no great matter of sin, but God doth. He will "bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil," Ecclesiastes 12:14; he will see that every transgression and disobedience shall receive a just recompense of reward, Hebrews 2:2. This Zophar doth not only affirm, but puts it home strongly by a question (wherein he closely taxeth Job of hypocrisy), Will he not consider it? Some read it without a question, thus, But he (that is, man) considereth not, is without understanding of God’s wisdom and justice, being dull and stupid like a wild ass’s colt, as it followeth.


Verse 12

Job 11:12 For vain man would be wise, though man be born [like] a wild ass’s colt.

Ver. 12. For vain man would be wise] Heb. Hollow man, that is, as void of grace as a hollow tree is of heart of oak.

Would be wise] Heb. Would be hearty, egregie cordatus homo, there is an elegance in the original that cannot be translated into English. "Wilt thou know, O vain man," saith St James, James 2:20. The Greek is, thou empty man, κενε, thou that hast nothing in thee, and yet art highly conceited; thou that art (Ephraim like) a silly dove without a heart, Hosea 7:11, and yet in superbiam erectus (as the Vulgate here hath it), raised up to pride: that little knowledge he hath puffeth him up, 1 Corinthians 8:1. So bellows like is the natural soul, or rather so bladder like, that, filled with earthly vanities, it grows great, and swelleth in pride; but pricked with the least pin of piercing grief, it shrivelleth to nothing. The prophet Isaiah fitly compareth it to a bulrush, Isaiah 58:5, the colour whereof is fresh, the skin smooth; but if you peel it, what is under but a kind of spongeous, unsubstantial substance, of no use in the world worth the speaking of? Formalists and pretenders to holiness are flat nothing, worse than nothing, iniquity, Matthew 23:28.

Though man be born as a wild ass’s colt] Take him in his pure naturals, he is no wiser; created he was in God’s image, which consisted in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness; knowledge in his understanding, rightness or straightness in his will, and holiness in his affections, Ephesians 4:24. But since the fall all this is lost and gone quite; he hath principium laesum, neither can he know the things of God, no, though he be φυχικος, a souly man, one that doth excolere animam, develops the soul, such as Cicero and Aristotle; yet is he in spirituals as blind as a beetle, a mere ass’s colt. A colt is not among the wisest of creatures, much less an ass’s colt, least of all a wild ass’s colt; and yet such is man, sensual man, 19:22, sapless man, Psalms 14:1, he is as an ass’s foal for rudeness, a wild ass for unruliness, untamed, and untractable. Surely as a wild ass’s colt (saith Gregory upon this text), not used to the yoke, runneth up and down the large fields and woods at his pleasure, and when he is weary lieth down, and thus doth from day to day: so man by nature is licentious, running as his lusts carry him, to all manner of sin, and giveth not overrunning till he is weary; he will not be held in by any reins, or kept to do the work he should by any yoke which the Lord by teaching seeks to put upon him. Surely, saith Marbury, God is fain to deal with such as men do with frisking jades {A contemptuous name for a horse; a horse of inferior breed} in a pasture, that cannot take them up till they get them to a gate; so till the hour of death, &c. Thomas Blaverus, chief counsellor sometime to the king of Scots, believed not that there was God or devil, heaven or hell, till he came to die, and then cried out he was damned (Theatr. Hist. p. 127, 128). So also died one Arthur Miller, and before him, a desperate dean of St Paul’s (Sword against Swearers, p. 34). When death comes, saith Sir Walter Raleigh, which hates and destroys men, that is believed. But God, that loveth and maketh men, he is not regarded. Oh eloquent death! Oh mighty death! whom none could advise, thou art able to persuade, &c.


Verse 13

Job 11:13 If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thine hands toward him;

Ver. 13. If thou prepare thine heart] viz. To meet God, Amos 4:12, humbly submitting to his justice, and heartily imploring his mercy. The sum of what Zophar saith in the following verses is this: If thou truly repent, thou shall prosper; as if not, thou shall perish. This he might have said more fitly to most of us, who are deeply guilty, saith Lavater, than to Job, who was nothing so sinful as we are, and yet much more penitent. But Zophar calls upon him to quarrel with his faults, and not with his friends, and to break off his sins by repentance, without which, if he should have peace, it would be but like those short interims between the Egyptian plagues.

And stretch out thine hands toward him] Heb. And spread thy palms to him: so in prayer for pardon of sin and power against sin; for this stretching out, or spreading of the hands, is a prayer gesture, wherein God’s people come forma pauperis, holding out the hand to receive mercy, as beggars do an alms; or as men beg quarter for their lives with hands held up; or, lastly, as he that is fallen into a ditch, or deep pit, and cannot get out, lifteth up his hands, and crieth out for help. See Exodus 17:11-12, Leviticus 9:22, 1 Kings 8:22, Psalms 141:2. It appeareth that the ancients prayed not with their hands joined together or a little way lifted up, but with their arms stretched abroad, and the palms of their hands turned up towards heaven.


Verse 14

Job 11:14 If iniquity [be] in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles.

Ver. 14. If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away] Cast away all thy transgressions, and throw thy lusts out of service, hands lifted up in prayer must be pure, 1 Timothy 2:8, for the fountain of goodness will not be laden at with foul hands, Isaiah 1:15-16. Good therefore is the counsel of Jeremiah, Jeremiah 4:14, and of St James, James 4:8. The priests had their laver to wash in before they sacrificed, and their brazen altar to offer on before they burnt incense. He that comes to pray, having not first purged himself of all filthiness of flesh and spirit, doth (say the Jewish doctors) as he that cometh to offer a clean beast, but holds an unclean one in his hand. By iniquity in the hand here Beza and others understand wrong dealing, either by fraud or force, by strength or sleight of hand; and their Zophar presseth Job to restitution: Away with it, saith he, send it home to the right owner; else you will cough in hell, and the devils will laugh at you, saith Latimer.

And let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles] i.e. In thy family, and wherever else thou hast to do. I and my house will serve the Lord, saith Joshua; I and my maids, saith Esther, Joshua 24:15, Esther 4:16. David’s care for the reforming and well ordering of his household, and of his whole kingdom. Psalms 101:1-8 Such a man is really as he is relatively. Those governors of families and countries show themselves perfect strangers to the practice of repentance, who make no other use of their servants and subjects than they do of their beasts; while they may have their bodies to do their service, they care not if their souls serve the devil. This will lay heavy one day.


Verse 15

Job 11:15 For then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot; yea, thou shalt be stedfast, and shalt not fear:

Ver. 15. For then shall thou lift up thy face without spot, &c.] Repentance must be performed in faith, or else it will prove to be poenitentia Iscariotica, a Judas like repentance. Lord (said that dying saint), cast me down as low as hell in repentance, and lift me up by faith into the highest heavens in confidence of thy salvation. Zophar, that he may move Job kindly and rightly to repent, promiseth him thereupon malorum ademptionem, bonorum adeptionem, freedom from evil and fruition of good. And, first, "Thou shalt lift up thy face without spot," i.e. Thou shalt be full of comfort and of confidence, not casting down thy countenance, as guilty Cain, but looking up boldly and cheerfully, as St Stephen did, Acts 7:55-56, they saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

Ibat ovans animis et spe sua damna levabat.

Yea, thou shall be stedfast] Or durable and compact as a molten pillar. Thy heart shall be established with grace, thy mind with peace, thine outward estate with a lasting felicity.

And shalt not fear] sc. The loss of those enjoyments. To be freed from the fear of evil is better than to be freed from evil; and a great part of the saints’ portion both on earth and in heaven lies in their deliverance from fear, Luke 1:74, Psalms 112:7, Zephaniah 3:13, Isaiah 17:2. Repent, and thou shall fear no more a revolution of any thy troubles.


Verse 16

Job 11:16 Because thou shalt forget [thy] misery, [and] remember [it] as waters [that] pass away:

Ver. 16. Because thou shalt forget thy misery] There being no fear left, or footstep thereof remaining to renew thy grief, Genesis 41:30. Remember thy former trouble thou shall, with thankfulness for a better condition now, but not otherwise; all the marks of former affliction shall be worn out. See Isaiah 65:13; Isaiah 65:16, so that thou shalt discount all the evil thou hast endured.

And remember it as waters that pass away] As a land flood soon gone, as a light cloud quickly over; or as Noah’s flood, which that good man thought upon, when it was past, with thankfulness to God, offering sacrifice for his safety. So shalt thou, Job; and as a man seldom thinketh how much water passeth by his habitation by day and by night, or if he do, yet it is no trouble to his mind, no more shall the remembrance of former miseries be to thine.


Verse 17

Job 11:17 And [thine] age shall be clearer than the noonday; thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning.

Ver. 17. And thine age shall be clearer than the noonday] The rest of thy life which thou givest for lost, shall be the very prime part of thy time for glory. Solid glory springeth out of innocence of life, beneficence toward all men, acts done valiantly and successfully with justice and moderation of mind; whereunto is added the constant applause of good men, proceeding from an admiration of so great virtue. This Zophar promiseth Job upon his true repentance, with a daily increase thereof, as the sun shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Fame followeth virtue, as the shadow doth the body at the very heels. "If there be any virtue, if any praise," saith the apostle, Philippians 4:8. Where the one is the other will be. Abel for his faith and righteousness is yet spoken of (as some render Hebrews 11:4), though dead long ago. "The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance," Psalms 112:6.

Thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning] Isaiah 58:8. Or, if thou dost wax obscure, yet thou shalt match the morning, which disperseth darkness, and conquers it by the approaching light. Look how the moon wadeth out of a cloud, so shall thine overcast righteousness "break forth as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday," Psalms 37:6.


Verse 18

Job 11:18 And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope; yea, thou shalt dig [about thee, and] thou shalt take thy rest in safety.

Ver. 18. And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope] It is a spiritual security that is here promised, which is a fruit of faith, quelling and killing distracting and distrustful fears; faith, I say, unfeigned, 1 Timothy 1:5, which produceth hope unfailable, Romans 5:5. Hope is the daughter of faith, but such as is a staff to her aged mother.

Yea, thou shalt dig about thee] That is (saith one interpreter) by searching to find out how to do all things for the best, thou shalt prosper in all. Others sense it thus, Thou shalt be secure as they that lie in trenches (Eugub. Tigur.). Rabbi David, Thou shalt dig only about thy city, and not need to make any walls about it for thy security. Others, Thou shalt labour hard, and sleep soundly thereupon (Lavater). Or thus, God shall so encompass thee with his safe protection, as if thou dost but dig a place to pitch thy tent in, thou shalt enjoy thyself more safely therein than otherwise thou wouldest do in a walled city.

And thou shalt take thy rest] God will keep off those gnats of cares and fears, that might disquiet thee. We read of some great princes that could not sleep, as Ahasuerus, Esther 6:1, Richard III of England, and Charles IX of France, after that barbarous massacre at Paris (Daniel Thulin.); but David could, Psalms 3:1-8, Psalms 4:1-8, because God was his keeper. No marvel that Philip sleepeth soundly when Antipater, his fast friend, watched by him the while. Job and all God’s beloved ones shall sleep on both ears, Psalms 127:2, rest securely and comfortably ( In utramvis aurem). What should hinder, when the keeper of Israel, who neither slumbereth nor sleepeth, shall watch over them for good?


Verse 19

Job 11:19 Also thou shalt lie down, and none shall make [thee] afraid; yea, many shall make suit unto thee.

Ver. 19. Thou shalt lie down, and none shall make thee afraid] Thou shalt walk about the world like a conqueror, being ever under a double guard, the peace of God within thee, Philippians 4:7, and the power of God without thee, 1 Peter 1:5, neither shall any enemy come upon thee in the night to fright and to disturb thee, which is a great mercy. It is not long since we of this nation did eat the bread of our souls in peril of our lives, neither could we rest in our beds for the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. Destruction upon destruction was cried, &c., Jeremiah 4:19-20. Should this ever be forgotten?

Yea, many shall make suit unto thee] Heb. Shall entreat thy face; yea, they shall tire thee out with their entreaties. Many seek the ruler’s favour, Proverbs 29:26, he is even thronged with suitors, so that he cannot be without a master of requests. Hence the poet Orpheus feigneth that Litae , or supplications and petitions, are Jove’s daughters; and that they are ever attending at his throne, ου γαρ ατιμοι ικεσιου Zηνος κουραι λιται (Orph. in Arg.). Here then Zophar promiseth Job, that upon his return to God he shall be as great a man as ever; and that many, yea, that his very enemies, shall not only not molest him, but fear his power, and beg his favour, Jeremiah 30:17. And whereas once it was, This is Job whom no man seeketh after, then the rich among the people shall entreat thy favour, Psalms 45:12, and all that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet, Isaiah 60:14; Isaiah 45:14, Revelation 3:9, Proverbs 19:6. Lo, this is the honour God putteth upon holiness: "Holy and reverend is his name"; and therefore reverend because holy, Psalms 111:9 : so also is ours, Isaiah 43:4. Howbeit we have cause to complain, that in these last and worst times, as the Turks count all fools to be saints, so men with us account all saints to be fools; and not a few turn to unholiness, lest they should be despised, Omnes quodammodo mali esse coguntur, ne viles habeantur (Sal.).


Verse 20

Job 11:20 But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not escape, and their hope [shall be as] the giving up of the ghost.

Ver. 20. But the eyes of the wicked shall fail] Contraries illustrate one another; and Zophar, willing his words should stick and work, thinks to leave a sting in Job’s mind by telling him what he must trust to if he persist in his sin. And first, his eyes shall fail. The eye is a principal part of the body; and the failing of the eyes followeth either upon some sudden fright or upon much weeping, Lamentations 1:2, Psalms 38:1-22, Psalms 88:1-18. (we read of one Faustus, son of Vortigem, king of Britain, who wept out his eyes), or too long looking after the same thing, or on the same object. Ut vehementius vellicet et fodiat inopinatum, ut putabat Iobi, animum (Merl., Speed.). The wicked, saith Zophar, shall never lach frights and griefs; they shall also look many a long look after help, but none shall appear, Lamentations 4:17; their hopes shall be fruitless, their projects successless.

And they shall not escape] Heb. Refuge or flight shall perish from them; miseries and mischiefs they shall never be able to avert or avoid. "Many sorrows shall be to the wicked," Psalms 32:10; and although they may think to get off or outrun them, yet it will not be, Amos 2:14, Psalms 142:4. Saul for instance: God hath forsaken me, saith he, and the Philistines are upon me, 1 Samuel 28:15.

Their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost] Broughton rendereth it, Their hope is nought but pangs of the soul. Of that which yieldeth but cold comfort we use to say, It comforteth a man like the pangs of death. The Vulgate hath it, Their hope shall be the abomination of their soul; the Tigurine, Their hope shall be most vain, even as a puff of breath, which presently passeth away, and cometh to nothing. Some Rabbis make this the sense, Their hope shall be as the snuffing of the breath; that is, they shall be so angry at their disappointments, that they shall vex and snuff at it. According to our translation, the wicked man’s hope is set forth as utterly forlorn, and at an end for any good ever to befall him. The godly man’s hope is lively, 1 Peter 1:8, and the righteous hath hope in his death, Proverbs 14:32 Cum expiro spero, when I die I have hope, is his motto; whereas the wicked’s word when he dieth is, or may be, Spes et fortuna valete, Farewell hope and fortune, My life and hope endeth together. Spes eorum expiratione animae, so Tremellius rendereth the text. Death causeth in the wicked a total despair, and a most dreadful screek giveth the guilty soul, when it seeth itself launching into an infinite ocean of scalding lead, and considereth that therein it must swim naked for ever.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 11:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-11.html. 1865-1868.

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