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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 6

 

 

Verse 1

Job 6:1 But Job answered and said,

Ver. 1. But Job answered and said] Eliphaz thought he had silenced him, and set him down with so much reason, that he should have had nothing to reply; yet Job, desirous to disasperse himself, and to clear up his reputation, answered, and said. For indeed Negligere quid de se quisque sentiat, non solum arrogantis est, sed et dissoluti, saith one, that is, altogether to neglect what others think or speak of a man’s self, and not to make apology, is the part not only of a proud, but of a dissolute, person; silence sometimes argueth guiltiness, or at least it strengtheneth suspicion.


Verse 2

Job 6:2 Oh that my grief were throughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together!

Ver. 2. Oh that my grief were throughly weighed] Heb. Were weighed by weighing. The word rendered grief signifieth also anger, and is the same with that wherewith Eliphaz began his speech, Job 5:2, where he saith, "Wrath killeth the foolish man," pointing at Job, as an angry man exalting folly. Here, therefore, Job beginneth his refutation, wishing that that anger or grief of his, so hardly censured, were duly weighed in an even balance; for then it would appear that there was some reason for his passion, that he had enough upon him to cry for, and that he had not complained without a cause. We read of a certain philosopher, who, hearing of his son’s death, brake out into a loud lamentation; for which being reproved, Permittite, inquit, ut homo sim, Suffer me, I pray you, said he, to show myself to be a man, that is, sensible of my sufferings.

And my calamity weighed in the balances together] That is, that my calamity were accurately set against my grief, my laments and my torments equally poised; it would then appear that I have not yet grieved or complained up to the height or weight of those calamities which are upon me. "Even to day is my complaint bitter" (saith he elsewhere in answer to Eliphaz too, interpreting his complaints to be rebellion against God): "my stroke is heavier than my groaning," Job 23:2.


Verse 3

Job 6:3 For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea: therefore my words are swallowed up.

Ver. 3. For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea] How light soever thou, O Eliphaz, esteemest it, as being in a prosperous condition. It is easy to swim in a warm bath; and every bird can sing in a sunshine day. But grief lieth like a load of lead upon the soul, heavy and cold; afflicting it, as an unsupportable burden doth the body. It so oppressed the poor Israelites in Egypt, that they had no mind to hearken to Moses, Exodus 6:9. Solomon cries out, "A wounded spirit who can bear?" Proverbs 18:14. My soul is very heavy, and exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, saith our blessed Saviour, Matthew 26:37-38, then when the Father made all our sins to meet upon him, and he bare our griefs and carried our sorrows, Isaiah 53:4; Isaiah 53:12. Sure it is, that had he not been God as well as man, he had been utterly crushed by that inconceivable weight of sin and wrath that he then groaned under. Oh what will all Christless persons do in hell, where God shall lay upon them and not spare! they would fain fly out of his hand, Job 27:22, but that cannot be.

Therefore my words are swallowed up] Vix loqui possum, vox faucibus haeret: I want words, which yet, if I had them at will, would be far too weak to utter the grief of my mind. Broughton rendereth it, Therefore my words fall short; they are semesa, saith Junius, half eaten before spoken; I am, as it were, gagged with grief; or, my words are even smothered up with sighs and sobs. Thus Job rhetoricates, and yet thinks himself greatly word bound.


Verse 4

Job 6:4 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.

Ver. 4. For the arrows of the Almighty are within me] What marvel, then, though his flesh had no rest, but he was troubled on every side, since without were fightings, within were fears? 2 Corinthians 7:5. The arrows, not of a mighty man, as Psalms 127:4, but of an Almighty God; troubles without and terrors within. David felt these arrows, and complaineth of them heavily, Psalms 38:1-2. "He shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded," saith he of his enemies who had bent their bow and shot their arrows at him, even bitter words, Psalms 64:3; Psalms 64:7. God will make his arrows drunk with the blood of such persons, Deuteronomy 32:42. But the arrows Job here complains of were poisoned or envenomed arrows.

The poison whereof drinketh up my spirits] Drieth them up, and corrupts the blood in which the spirits are, sprinkling in my veins a mortal poison, working greatest dolour and distemper. The Scythians and other nations used to dip their darts in the blood and gall of asps and vipers, the venomous heat of which, like a fire in their flesh, killed the wounded with torments, the likest hell of any other; and hereunto Job alludeth.

The terrors of God do set themselves in array against me] i.e. The terrible strokes of God, who seemeth to fight against me with his own hand, to rush upon me as the angel once did upon Balaam, with a drawn sword in his hand, threatening therewith to cut off my head, as David did Goliath’s, yea, to send me packing to hell, in the very suburbs whereof, methinks, I feel to be already; and shall not I be suffered to complain? A galled shoulder will shrink under a load, though it be but light; and a little water is heavy in a leaden vessel. But the word here used for terrors noteth the most terrible terrors, hellish terrors, and worse, for they are the terrors of God, surpassing great, 2 Corinthians 5:11, which made Jeremiah pray so hard, Be not thou a terror to me, O Lord, and then I care not greatly what befalleth me. "While I suffer thy terrors I am distracted," saith Heman, Psalms 88:15. Add hereunto that these terrors of God had set themselves in array, they were in a military manner marshalled and imbattled against him, as Jeremiah 50:9. God afflicted Job methodically and resolvedly; he led up his army, as a reverend man phraseth it, exactly formed to a pitched battle against him, and this was truly terrible; for who, saith Moses, knoweth the power of his wrath? since the apprehension and approach of it was so terrible to an upright-hearted Job, to a heroical Luther, upon whom God’s terrors were so heavy for a time, ut nec calor, nec sanguis, nec sensus, nec vox superesset (In epist. ad Melancth.), that neither heat, nor blood, nor sense, nor voice remained, but his body seemed dead, as Justus Jonas, an eye-witness, reporteth: agreeable whereunto is that memorable speech of Luther, Nihil est tentatio vel universi mundi, et totius inferni in unum conflata, &c., The temptation and terror of all the world, nay, of all hell put together, is nothing to that wherein God setteth himself in battle-array against a poor soul; in which case that in excellent counsel that one giveth in these words, When thy sins and God’s wrath meeting in thy conscience make thee deadly sick, as Isaiah 33:1-24, then pour forth thy soul in confession; and as it will ease thee (as vomiting useth to do), so also it will move God to pity, and to give thee cordials and comforts to restore thee.


Verse 5

Job 6:5 Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass? or loweth the ox over his fodder?

Ver. 5. Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass?] q.d. Sure they do not. As if these creatures, wild or tame, want necessary food, you give them leave to fill the air with their outcries; yea, you supply their wants; but for me ye will do neither, such is your tenderness and love toward me. Nay, ye condemn me for that which is naturally common to all creatures. Ye must needs think I am not without ailment that make such great lamentations, unless ye conceit that I am fallen below the stirrup of reason, nay, of sense. It is easy for you who want neither grass nor fodder, or mixed meat, as the word signifieth, who lie at rack and manger, as it were, and have all that heart can wish, or need require; it is easy, I say, for you to rest contented, and to forbear complaints. But why am I so severely censured for impatient, who am stripped of all, and have nothing left me, praeter caelum et caenum, as he said, but only air to breathe in and a dunghill to sit on; not to speak of my inward troubles.


Verse 6

Job 6:6 Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt? or is there [any] taste in the white of an egg?

Ver. 6. Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt?] Or, Can that which is unsavoury for want of salt be eaten? Hunger will down with unsavoury or unpleasant food, though salt or sauce be wanting; but when meat is putrefied for want of salt, and full of maggots, it will hardly be eaten, unless it be in extreme famine: it is as if he should say, a man doth with no good will feed upon unsavoury or loathsome meats; how, then, can I use such moderation as you desire I should, my evils being extreme, sweetened with no kind of comfort, nor seasoned with anything that is any way toothsome or wholesome? that I speak not of your tasteless and insulting speeches, which are no small vexation to me.


Verse 7

Job 6:7 The things [that] my soul refused to touch [are] as my sorrowful meat.

Ver. 7. The things that my soul refused to touch, &c.] I suffer such torments even in my very soul, as the very thought of them would heretofore have frightened me. Thus Mr Diodati. Others take soul here for the appetite, and so make this the sense: Those things which I exceedingly loathed, and would once have thought scorn to have touched, are now my sorrowful meat; I am forced with a heavy heart to feed upon them for want of better; and they go down the worse because you vex me with your hard words (who have little need of such choke pears), and will not allow me the liberty of a needful lamentation, which yet I must needs take (lest heart should break), and say, as before, Job 3:1-26, though with some more respect to God, the object of my present prayer:


Verse 8

Job 6:8 Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant [me] the thing that I long for!

Ver. 8. Oh that I might have my request!] How heartily begs Job for death, as a medicine of all his maladies and miseries; as that which would bring him malorum ademptionem, bonorum adeptionem, freedom from all evil, fruition of all good; by the force of his faith he looks upon death as the best physician, that would cure him of all infirmities inward and outward, and of all at once, and for ever. Job might likely be of the same mind that Chaucer was, who took for his English motto, Farewell, medicine; and for his Latin one, Mors aerumnarum requies, death will be a sweet rest from all my labours. The same to a believer death is that Mount Ararat was to Noah, where his ark rested after long tossing; or as Michal was to David, a means to shift him out of the way when Saul sent to slay him; or as the fall of the house was to Samson, an end of all his sorrows and sufferings. Hence it is that he rejoiceth under hope, and with stretched out neck looks and longs for death’s coming, as dearly as ever Sisera’s mother did out of a window for the coming of her son laden with spoils from the battle. As when death is come indeed, he welcometh it, as Jael did the same Sisera (but much more heartily), with, "Turn in, my lord, turn in to me," 4:18; and further bespeaketh it, as Jacob did his brother Esau, at their interview, Surely I have seen thy face as the face of God, who hath made thee to meet me with kisses instead of frowns, and hath sent thee to guard me safe home to my father’s house.

And that God would grant me the thing that I long for] Or, have long looked for. Heb. My hope or my expectation, as that which will put a period to my miseries, and possess me of heaven’s happiness, as that which will be a postern to let out temporal life, but a street door to let in eternal.


Verse 9

Job 6:9 Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off!

Ver. 9. That it would please God to destroy me] That is, to despatch me out of this world, and send me to a better. A dissolution would be far more acceptable to Job than that restitution which Eliphaz seemed to promise him, Job 5:24. It is as if Job should say, Take you the world among you, since you like it so well; I have more than enough of it; I am neither fond of life, nor afraid of death, but the clean contrary; I had rather die than dine, and crave no greater favour than to have more weight laid upon me that I may die out of hand. Feri, Domine, feri; nam a peccatis absolutus sum, as Luther once said, Strike, Lord, strike deep; for thou hast pardoned my sins, and wilt save my soul.

That he would let loose his hand] That now seemeth tied, or bound behind him. Manus ligari videtur quando parcit, saith Vatablus. God had chained up Satan, and strictly charged him not to take away Job’s life; but this is it that Job would fain have done. Mortality he would account no small mercy; he desired nothing more than to be dissolved, and to be with Christ; he might do it, because he knew that his Redeemer lived, &c. So might Simeon, because he had seen God’s salvation; and so might Paul, who had fought a good fight, and kept the faith. But how could Plato say, in the eighth of his laws, The communion of the soul with the body is not better than the dissolution, as I would say, if I were to speak in earnest? Kοινωνια ψυχη και αωματι διαλυσεως ουκ εστι κρειττων, ως εγω φαιην αν σπουδη λεγων. His master, Socrates, when to die, was nothing so confident; for he shut up his last speech with these words, as both Plato himself and Cicero tell us, Tempus est iam hinc abire, It is now high time for us to go hence; for me to die, and for you to live longer; and whether of these two is the better the gods immortal know; hominem quidem arbitror scire neminem, it is above the knowledge, I believe, of any man living. Thus he; but Job was better persuaded; otherwise he would have been better advised than thus earnestly to have desired death.

And cut me off!] Avide me absumat quasi ex morte mea ingens lucrum reportaturus (Pineda). Let him greedily cut me off (so the word signifieth), even as if he were to have some great gain, or get some rich booty by my blood.


Verse 10

Job 6:10 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.

Ver. 10. Then should I yet have comfort; yea, I would harden myself in sorrow, &c.] I would take hard on, and bear what befalleth me as well as I could, by head and shoulders, had I but hopes of an end by death; as having this for my comfort;

I have not concealed the words of the Holy One] I have boldly professed the true religion, Psalms 40:10; Psalms 116:10; Psalms 119:43, not spared to preach the truth sincerely to others for God’s glory, and their good, however you may judge of me. I never rejected the word of God, but have highly honoured it; so that my desire of death is not desperate, as you may conceive, but an effect of good assurance that by death heaven advanceth forward that happy term, when all my miseries shall end at once; and hence it is that I am so greedy after the grave.


Verse 11

Job 6:11 What [is] my strength, that I should hope? and what [is] mine end, that I should prolong my life?

Ver. 11. What is my strength, that I should hope?] q.d. Thou hast told me, O Eliphaz, that if I frame to a patient and peaceable behaviour under God’s chastisement, I shall go to my grave in a good old age, &c., but, alas, it is now past time of day with me for that matter: "my breath is corrupt, my days are extinct, the graves are ready for me," Job 17:1. Were I as young and lusty as ever I have been, some such things as ye have promised me might be hoped for; but, alas, the map of age is figured on my forehead, the calendars of death appear in the furrows of my face, besides my many sores and sicknesses which, if they continue but a while, will certainly make an end of me.

And what is mine end] i.e. The later part of my life, what is that else but trouble and sorrow? See this elegantly set forth by Solomon, Ecclesiastes 12:2-4, &c.

That I should prolong my life?] That I should desire my life to be prolonged or eked out to that? Rather let it be my care, with Varro, ut sarcinas colligam antequam proficiscar e vita, to be ready for death, which seemeth so ready for me (De re Rust. lib. 1, cap. 1).


Verse 12

Job 6:12 [Is] my strength the strength of stones? or [is] my flesh of brass?

Ver. 12. Is my strength the strength of stones? or is my flesh of brass?] Is it made of marble, or of the hardest metal? as it is said of one in Homer, that he was χαλκεντερος, of brazen bowels, and of Julius Scaliger, that he had a golden soul in an iron body; he was a very iron sides: but so was not Job; he had neither a body of brass, nor sinews of iron, to stand out against so many storms, and bear so many batteries; he felt what he endured, and could not long endure what he felt. As for the damned in hell, they are by the power of God upheld for ever, that they may suffer his fierce wrath for ever; which else they could never do. And as for those desperate assassins, Baltasar Gerardus, the Burgundian, who slew the Prince of Orange, A. D. 1584, and Ravilliac ( Ferale illud prodigium, as one calleth him, that hideous hell hound), who slew Henry IV of France in the midst of his preparations, and endured thereupon most exquisite torments; this they did out of stupidity of sense, not solidity of faith; and from a reckless desperation, not a confident resolution.


Verse 13

Job 6:13 [Is] not my help in me? and is wisdom driven quite from me?

Ver. 13. Is not my help in me?] Have I not something within wherewith to sustain me amidst all my sorrows, viz. the testimony of my conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity I have had my conversation in the world, 2 Corinthians 1:12. Lo, this is my rejoicing, this is my cordial, &c. Innuit innocentiam snare, ac vitro integritatem, saith Drusius: he meaneth the innocency and integrity of his heart; and this was the help Job knew he had in store, this was the wisdom or right reason he speaketh of in the following words: and is wisdom, or virtue, driven quite from me? no, no; that boldeth out and abideth when all things else in the world pass away and vanish, as the word Tushijah importeth. Job had a subsistence still; for his life consisted not in the abundance which he had possessed, but was now bereft of. The world calleth wealth substance, but God giveth that name to wisdom only. The world he setteth forth by a word that betokeneth change, for its mutability, Proverbs 3:8, and the things thereof he called Nonentia, Job 23:5. Wilt thou set thine eyes, saith he, upon that which is not? and which hath no price but what opinion setteth upon it? Grace, being a particle of the Divine nature, is unlosable, unperishable. - Virtus post funera venit.


Verse 14

Job 6:14 To him that is afflicted pity [should be shewed] from his friend; but he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty.

Ver. 14. To him that is afflicted] Heb. melted, viz. in the furnace of affliction, which melteth men’s hearts, and maketh them malleable, as fire doth the hardest metals, Psalms 22:15, Joshua 7:5.

Pity should be shewed from his friend] By a sweet tender melting frame of spirit, such as was that of the Church, Psalms 102:13, and that of Paul, 2 Corinthians 11:29, "Who is weak, and I am not weak?" sc. by way of sympathy; "who is offended, and I burn not?" when others are hurt, I feel twinges: as the tongue complaineth for the hurt of the toe, and as the heart condoleth with the heel, and there is a fellow feeling amongst all the members; so there is likewise in the mystical body.

From his friend] Who is made for the day of adversity, Proverbs 17:17, and should show love at all times, and especially in evil times; but poor Job bewaileth the want of such faithful friends, Aφιλον το δυστυχες, Et cum fortuna statque caditque fides. David also complaineth to God, his only fast friend, of those that would be the causes, but not the companions, of his calamity, that would fawn upon him in his flourish, but forsake him in his misery. My lovers and friends stand aloof, &c., they looked on him, and so passed by him, as the priest and Levite did the wounded passenger, Luke 10:32. But God takes it ill that any should once look upon his afflicted, unless it be to pity and relieve them, Obadiah 1:12-13, and hath threatened an evil, an only evil, without the least mixture of mercy, to such as show no mercy to those in misery, James 2:13.

But he hath forsaken the fear of the Almighty] Which wheresoever it is in the power of it, frameth a man to all the duties both of piety and charity. Obadiah feared God greatly, and it well appeared by his pity to the persecuted prophets. Cornelius feared God, and (as a fruit of it) gave much alms, Acts 10:2. Not so Nabal, that sapless fellow, whose heart was hardened from God’s holy fear; nor Judas the traitor, who had no heart of compassion towards his innocent Master; and therefore he burst in the midst with a huge crack ( ελακησε μεσος), and all his bowels gushed out by a singular judgment, Acts 1:18. There are many other readings of this text, as that of the Tigurine translation, It were fit for friends to show kindness to their friend that is in misery: but the fear of the Almighty hath forsaken me, as you please to say. See what Eliphaz had said to this purpose. {See Trapp on "Job 4:6"} Others read it thus, to him that is afflicted should reproach be given, that he hath forsaken the fear of the Almighty? q.d. Must a man therefore be reviled as irreligious because he is calamitous? The Vulgate translation runs thus, He that taketh away pity from his friend hath forsaken the fear of the Almighty, &c.


Verse 15

Job 6:15 My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook, [and] as the stream of brooks they pass away;

Ver. 15. My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook] Even you, whom I esteemed as my brethren (for to them he applieth this speech, Job 6:21), prove hollow and helpless to me; like the river Araris, that moveth so slowly, that it can hardly be discerned, saith Caesar, whether it flow forward or backward (Caesar, de Bell Gal. l. 1); or rather, to a certain fish in that river Araris, called scolopidus; which at the waxing of the moon is as white as the driven snow, and at the waning thereof is as black as a burnt coal. Job here elegantly compareth them, not to a river which is fed by a spring, and hath a perennity of flowing; but to a brook arising from rain or melted snow, the property whereof is in a moisture, when there is least need of them, to swell; in a drought, when they should do good, to fail. It is reported of the river Novanus, in Lombardy, that at every midsummer solstice it swelleth and runneth over the banks, but in midwinter is quite dry (Plin. lib. 2, cap. 10. 3.) Such were Job’s deceitful brethren; good summer birds, &c. The same author telleth us, that in that part of Spain called Carrinensis there is a river that shows all the fish in it to be like gold; but take them into thine hand, and they soon appear in their natural kind and colour. Job found that all is not gold that glittereth.

And as the stream of brooks they pass away] i.e. As an impetuous land flood, they fail me; and now that I have most need of their refreshments, they yield me none, but the contrary rather; like as land floods by their sudden and violent overflow do much hurt many times to corn and cattle. I can go to these streams of brooks, saith Job, and show my friends the face of their hearts in those waters.


Verse 16

Job 6:16 Which are blackish by reason of the ice, [and] wherein the snow is hid:

Ver. 16. Which are blackish by reason of the ice] Or frost, a black frost we call it, which deceiveth those that tread upon it. Or if, hard enough to bear up passengers, it promise to be a storehouse of preserving snow and water against the scorching time of summer, yet there is no trusting to it; for these waters, as they are in winter locked up with frosts, so they will be in summer exhaled and dried up by the sun.


Verse 17

Job 6:17 What time they wax warm, they vanish: when it is hot, they are consumed out of their place.

Ver. 17. What time they wax warm, they vanish: when it is hot, &c.] Lo, such is the fruit of creature confidence, of making flesh our arm, of trusting in men or means; whereas Deo confisi nunquam confusi, they that trust in the Lord shall never be disappointed. This thou canst never do, unless (unbottomed of thyself and the creature) thou so lean upon the Lord, as that if he fail thee thou sinkest, and not otherwise.


Verse 18

Job 6:18 The paths of their way are turned aside; they go to nothing, and perish.

Ver. 18. The paths of their way are turned aside] i.e. They being (as it were) cut into divers small rivers running here and there, by little and little, and being resolved into vapours, at length quite vanish away (Beza).

They go to nothing, and perish] Metaphora insignis et hieroglyphicum, saith an interpreter; this is an excellent metaphor, and a lively picture of the vanity of such as make a great show of piety and charity, which yet floweth not from the spring of true faith; and therefore cannot but, after a while, go to nothing and perish. A failing brook, saith another, is a clear emblem of a false heart, both to God and man. Lavater thus explaineth the comparison: 1. As brooks run with waters then when there is least need of them; so false friends are most officious when their courtesy might best be spared. 2. As the ice of such brooks is so condensed and hardened that it beareth men, horses, and other things of great weight; so counterfeit friends promise and pretend to be ready to do their utmost to suffer anything for our good and comfort. 3. But as those brooks are dried up in summer, and frozen up in winter, so that we can set no sight on them; in like sort these are not to be found when we are in distress and affliction. 4. As brooks in winter are covered with snow and ice; so these would seem to be whiter than snow when their affections towards us are colder than ice. 5. Lastly, as the ice that was hard and firm, upon a thaw breaketh and melteth; so false friends leave us many times upon very small or no dislikes; as being constant only in their unconstancy.


Verse 19

Job 6:19 The troops of Tema looked, the companies of Sheba waited for them.

Ver. 19. The troops of Tema looked, the companies of Sheba waited for them] The troops, that is, the travellers, the caravan or company of merchants from those parts, passing through dangerous and dry deserts, expected relief from those brooks which they had marked out for themselves against summer; but with what success?


Verse 20

Job 6:20 They were confounded because they had hoped; they came thither, and were ashamed.

Ver. 20. They were confounded because they had hoped, &c.] Heb. They blushed, or they were abashed, because disappointed and defeated of their hope and expectation. See Jeremiah 14:3-4, Joel 1:10-11. God’s people have a promise, that hoping in him they shall never be ashamed, Joel 2:26, Romans 10:11. Their hope is infallible, Romans 5:5, because founded upon faith unfeigned, 1 Timothy 1:5. Hence they are commanded to rejoice in hope, Romans 12:12, and to conceive gaudium in re, gaudium in spe, gaudium de possessione, gaudium de promissione, &c., joy for what they have in hand, and in present possession; joy also for what they have in hope, and in reversion. Wicked men’s hopes may hope headless (as the proverb is, and as these troops of Tema experimented), they come to the world’s felicities as they do to a lottery, with heads full of hopes, but return with hearts full of blanks: not so the saints; God will be better to them than their hopes; and when at worst, they can confidently say, it is well for the present, and it will be better hereafter.


Verse 21

Job 6:21 For now ye are nothing; ye see [my] casting down, and are afraid.

Ver. 21. For now ye are nothing] i.e. To me nothing worth; I have no more joy of you than if you were not at all; ye are not unlike him who said to his friend, I am all yours, except body and goods; ye are not so much as friends at a sneeze, who will come out with a God bless you; or as those great benefactors in St James, James 2:15-16, that were free of their mouth mercy; ye are mere mutes and ciphers, nullities, as to me just nothing; that is, ye are no such thing as I expected. And here Job brings the foregoing similitude home to his friends by close application. And according to the Hebrew margin called keri, it may be rendered, Fuistis ei similes, sc. torrenti; ye are like to it, that is, to the brook before mentioned; ye fail me as much as it did the thirsty passengers (Drus.).

For ye see my casting down, and are afraid] There is an elegance in the original that cannot be Englished; your eyes see what you had before heard of only by the hearing of the ear, that I am at a great under, dejected and impovershed; you are therefore afraid of me, lest I should ask you something for the supply of my wants; or else you keep at a distance, as more afraid of catching mine evil than desirous of curing it; ye visit me, but are not moved with any compassion towards me, Horrore perculsi resiluistis a me veluti si quispiam viperam calcasset (Lay.). So the Septuagint.


Verse 22

Job 6:22 Did I say, Bring unto me? or, Give a reward for me of your substance?

Ver. 22. Did I say, Bring unto me? or, Give, &c.] Did I ever charge you for my reparation or redemption? This interrogation is more emphatic than a simple negation: q.d. I never did it, and, therefore, unless you had been at more charge with me, you should have bestowed better words upon me; those would have cost you nothing certainly.


Verse 23

Job 6:23 Or, Deliver me from the enemy’s hand? or, Redeem me from the hand of the mighty?

Ver. 23. Or, Deliver me from the enemy’s hand? &c.] Rescue me, ransom me from those that have robbed and wronged me; fetch back my lost goods by price or force. The word rendered mighty signifieth also formidable, terrible, breach makers. The word is opened by St Paul, Philippians 1:28; where he useth a metaphor from horses snorting ( πτυρομενοι) and starting when frighted.


Verse 24

Job 6:24 Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred.

Ver. 24. Teach me, and I will hold my tongue] If I be in an error, I am willing to be rectified. Hitherto you have mistook my case; and so your speech hath been to small purpose. But if you will come home to my case indeed, and weigh things in an even balance, I shall gladly submit to your more mature judgment and direction. Teach me, and you shall find that I am not indocible, that I am not as "horse and mule that have no understanding," Psalms 32:9, nor will learn any; much less than the creature called rhinoceros, untameable and untractable. It shall appear to you that I am not utterly uncounselable, as those of whom Basil complaineth, qui quid verum sit neque sciunt, neque sustinent discere, that neither know what truth and right is, nor will endure to be taught it (Epist. ad Euagr. 10). Job was not to be told that it was easier to deal with 20 men’s reasons than with one man’s will; he promiseth therefore not to stand out against his friends, because he will stand out. It is not my will, saith he, that opposeth what you have spoken, but my understanding. I am a slave to right reason; and if convinced thereby, I shall soon lay down the bucklers. Teach me, and I will hold my tongue, and not strive for the last word to lengthen out the contention; I am willing to reason, but not to wrangle. See Proverbs 30:32.

Cause me to understand wherein I have erred] A humble man will never be a heretic; err he may (that is common to mankind, triste mortalitatis privilegium); but convince him by solid reasons and good arguments, and he will not long stand out: a little child shall lead him, Isaiah 11:6. It is by pride that contention cometh, Proverbs 13:10, for it maketh a man drunk with his own conceit, Habakkuk 2:5; and who so wilful, so quarrelsome, as he that is drunk? A heretic may be condemned of himself, Titus 3:10, but he will not be convinced by another (such is his pertinacy, or rather obstinacy), no, though he be stoned with hardest arguments, holden out of that crystal book of the Holy Scriptures, he stands as a stake in the midst of a stream; and you may as soon move a rock as cause him to understand wherein he is out of his judgment of practice: Lapidandi sunt haeretici (Athan.).


Verse 25

Job 6:25 How forcible are right words! but what doth your arguing reprove?

Ver. 25. How forcible are right words] How sweet, saith the Chaldee, interpreting it by Psalms 119:103. It may be read Nimletsu for Nimretsu; but the word is well rendered forcible, potent, valid. It noteth also, saith Mr Caryl, acrimony, sharpness, or smartness, because right words have a pleasing acrimony upon the palate of the soul, and a power upon the judgment to sway and carry it. Ille regit dictis animos, &c. Audite senem iuvenes quem iuvenem senes audierunt: these few words from Augustus, falling right, quieted the rebels in his army; and the like is reported of Alexander the Great, of Menenius, Agrippa, &c. But we have better instances, as that of Abigail treating with David; the woman of Abel with Joab; Nicodemus, by a few seasonable words, dissolving the council gathered together against Christ, John 7:50; John 7:53; Paphnutius stickling for the married clergy at the Nicene council, &c. One seasonable truth failing on a prepared heart hath often a strong and sweet operation. Luther having heard Staupicius say that that is kind repentance which begins from the love of God, ever after that time the practice of repentance was sweeter to him. This speech also of his took well with Luther, The doctrine of predestination beginneth at the wounds of Christ; but before any of this he was much wrought upon by conferrence with an old priest about justification by faith. So was that Italian marquis, Galecius Caracciolus, by a similitude used by Peter Martyr reading upon the First to the Corinthians. Nescio quid divinum in auscultatione est, saith one, there is a kind of divine force and efficacy in hearing more than in reading the word. We may say of it, as David once did of Goliath’s sword, There is none to that. And yet it cannot be denied that the word read also hath a mighty force and powerful influence upon the conscience Hence those many praises of it, Psalms 19:7-8, "The statutes of the Lord are right," &c. Right for every man’s state and purpose; so penned, that every man may think they speak de se in re sua, of himself in this particular case, as Athanasius hath it; so right the good word of God is and suitable; how then can it be but forcible. {see Hebrews 4:12 2 Corinthians 10:4-5} And how forcible it is none can tell but those that have felt it; nor those neither; hence this expression by way of admiration, Oh how effectual are right words!

But what doth your arguing reprove?] Heb. What doth your disputation dispute? What force, what energy, is in your arguments? how flat and sinewless are they! what dull stuff appear they! and how little to the purpose! Tam facile diluuntur argumenta vestra, quam vulpes comest pyrum. I can blow them off as easily as I could a feather off my hand. Strong is the truth (I grant), and easily evinceth the things that are true; but to conclude truths from falsities (as that I am a hypocrite because afflicted), that ye can never do.


Verse 26

Job 6:26 Do ye imagine to reprove words, and the speeches of one that is desperate, [which are] as wind?

Ver. 26. Do ye imagine to reprove words?] Idle and hasty words, which have more sound than sense? Think you that I do only make a noise, or rave like a madman, and am accordingly to be dealt with? Ye have not hitherto had vain, windy words from me, but words full of weight and matter, words of truth and soberness; wherefore then do ye speak thus? Do ye imagine to reprove words.

And the speeches of one that is desperate, which are as wind?] Do ye think I speak like one that is distracted, who knows not what he speaks? or that I have at once lost my hope and my wits? It is an easy and a compendious way of refuting all a man can say, to say he is mad, his words must needs be but wind without weight who is himself without reason. Mr Broughton readeth, Do ye hold the terms of the forlorn a wind? shall the poor man’s wisdom be despised (as Solomon asketh), and his words not be heard? Ecclesiastes 9:16. Some refer this also to Job’s friends, reading it thus, Ye frame speeches only to reprove (ye are good for little else but to find fault), and bring forth words against the wind; ye beat the empty air with your bubbles of words and senseless sayings.


Verse 27

Job 6:27 Yea, ye overwhelm the fatherless, and ye dig [a pit] for your friend.

Ver. 27. Yea, you overwhelm the fatherless] Heb. Ye throw yourselves upon the fatherless, that is, upon miserable me, who am helpless, friendless, comfortless: see Genesis 43:18, that he may roll himself upon us, say they there, as hunters and wild beasts fall upon their prey.

And you dig a pit for your friend] Who had better deserved of you, and expected better usage from you. Here he taxeth them for craft, as before for cruelty, and this to his friend, whom they sought to circumvent, and to drive into desperation. Some read the words thus, You make a feast upon your friend; you banquet upon your companion, and make great cheers, being glad of my calamity, which you make an argument of mine impiety. See Job 41:6, 2 Kings 6:23.


Verse 28

Job 6:28 Now therefore be content, look upon me; for [it is] evident unto you if I lie.

Ver. 28. Now therefore be content, look upon me] Let it suffice you to have thus hardly handled me; cast now a more benign aspect upon me, and be not henceforth so hot and so harsh. Now therefore be content, regard me, so Mr Broughton translateth it, or look upon me, sc. with a critical eye: what guiltiness can you find in my face? do I look like a hypocrite, and can you read my conscience in my countenance?

It is evident to you if I lie] You may soon see mine integrity if you please, for my heart sitteth and showeth itself in my forehead, neither can I collude. I am one of those children that will not lie: so be God my Saviour, Isaiah 63:8.


Verse 29

Job 6:29 Return, I pray you, let it not be iniquity; yea, return again, my righteousness [is] in it.

Ver. 29. Return, I pray you] Change your minds of me, and your language to me, Bona verba quaeso; I seek good words, what need all this heat of speech, and height of spirit? be better advised, I beseech you, Job 17:10; Job 19:28. Some think that Job’s friends were rising to be gone; and he hastily calleth them back again.

Let it not be iniquity] Judge charitably, and make not the worst of matters: I may be weak, but am not wicked. Or thus, take heed that God fault you not for usurping his right; taking upon you to judge secret things even against your neighbour, with calumniations and cruelty.

Yea, return again] See you do it at your peril: either you must do it, or do worse.

My righteousness is in it] I am surely in the right; and that will appear to you upon better consideration. I shall be recta in curia, and you utterly mistaken. Uprightness hath boldness, and dares put itself upon God’s examination, as David did, Psalms 139:23, yea, Abimelech, Genesis 20:5.


Verse 30

Job 6:30 Is there iniquity in my tongue? cannot my taste discern perverse things?

Ver. 30. Is there iniquity in my tongue?] Yea, or else you shall pass for a perfect man, and well able to bridle the whole body, James 3:2. St Paul, Romans 3:13, anatomizing a natural man, standeth more upon the organs of speech, his tongue, lips, mouth, throat, &c., than upon all the other members. But Job was a perfect and an upright man, Job 1:1, he had said he would take heed to his ways, that he sinned not with his tongue, Psalms 39:1, he was also convinced of this, that if any man seem to be religious, and bridle not his tongue, that man’s religion was in vain, James 1:26. He did not therefore prepensedly and willingly lash out in sinful or superfluous language.

Cannot my taste discern perverse things?] Cannot I distinguish between right and wrong, truth and falsehood? Job 12:11; Job 34:3. Is my mouth so far out of taste? &c. It is a heavy judgment to be given up to an injudicious mind, Romans 1:28, a reprobate sense.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 6:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-6.html. 1865-1868.

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