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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Job 27

 

 

Verse 1

CHAP. XXVII.

Job protesteth his sincerity. The hypocrite is without hope. The blessings which the wicked have are turned into curses.

Before Christ 1645.

Job 27:1. Moreover, Job continued his parable, and said Concerning the word parable, see Numbers 21:27. We add another criticism upon it from Mr. Peters. "The word משׁל mashal, is the same as is used in Scripture for a proverb, and is the very title given in the book of Proverbs. If we refer to the etymology of the word from the verb משׁל mashal, to rule, we shall find that it means no more than a powerful or commanding sentence or speech; and a good speaker in those ancient times had, no doubt, a great command in their assemblies. The Proverbs are called משׁלים meshalim for no other reason, than for the weight and authority that they carry with them; for as to other things, we know that some are delivered in plain, some in figurative expressions; some in similies, and some without. A book of sentences of Epicurus, of so much authority with his followers that they used to get it by heart, was for the same reason, as I take it, called κυριαι δοξαι, an expression exactly answering to the Hebrew meshalim, and rendered by Tully, sententiae maxime ratae. With the same regard to the original idea of the word, a taunting domineering speech, or by-word, is likewise called mashal: as Psalms 44:14. Thou makest us a by-word among the Heathen. And for the same reason, a song of victory, or triumphal speech in a good cause, is also called mashal; as Isaiah 14:4 where our translators read, Thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, how hath the oppressor ceased! &c. But this proverb, as appears by what follows, is no other than a triumphal song or speech, and that as noble a one as ever was composed, from Isaiah 14:4-23 of that chapter. And here we are brought home:—by Job's continuing his parable, is only meant that he went on in a triumphant way of speech, like one who had got the better of the argument, as he certainly had. For his antagonists, though they might not be convinced, were put to silence at least, and had nothing to reply." Commentators differ much concerning the argument of Job in this chapter. Mr. Heath seems to have placed it in its true light. "Job," says he, "having refuted thoroughly the principle on which his friends had argued, and having silenced them; he now, in this chapter, undertakes to prove to them on their own principles, that their reasoning was false; and, having first declared his purpose to maintain his innocence, he then desires them to consider how, on their own principles, they could suppose him a hypocrite; for, as he had given up all hopes of life, what end would it answer to play the hypocrite; a part which could not deceive the all-seeing eye of God? and what reliance could such an one have on the Almighty? Could he have the face to call upon him in the time of calamity? His own conscience must tell him that it would be in vain. 'But, to put the matter out of all dispute, I will prove to you (says he,) by arguments irrefragable, (at least to you, for they are your own) that it must be foolish to the last degree to play the hypocrite in my condition; for all that I could propose to gain by it, is the long catalogue of misery which I shall run over. This you must allow to be true, for you yourselves tell me that you have seen it;'" referring to chap. Job 4:8, Job 15:17, Job 20:4.


Verse 2

Job 27:2. Who hath taken away my judgment Who hath afflicted me so severely, without any notorious blame on my part. Schultens.


Verses 5-8

Job 27:5-8. God forbid that I should justify you See the note on chap. Job 2:9. This and the three following verses afford us a proof of Job's faith, and contain the noble plea that he makes for himself against the reproachful insinuation of his mistaken friends; as if he must needs have been a wicked man and a hypocrite, under all the fair appearances of a strict piety and integrity. "Though I am quite cast down, (says he,) and as miserable almost as it is possible to be in this life, yet God forbid that I should justify your censures of me, by owning that I have played the hypocrite, or been secretly wicked! No; whatever shall befal me, I am resolved that I will still maintain and still hold fast my integrity: Let mine enemy be as wicked, let him flourish and prosper as much as his heart can wish here; (and he had before shewn that this is often the case with the wicked,) But, what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul? i.e. What can he think will become of him after death? What comfort can such a one possibly entertain in the prospect of futurity?" I have put no force upon the words, but rather softened the last branch of the sentence; for there is plainly a meiosis, as the rhetoricians call it; and by the hypocrite's having no hope, may very reasonably be understood, he has the most dreadful expectations. This evidently appears to have been Job's meaning, from the following part of the chapter: Will God hear his cry, saith he, when trouble cometh upon him? Job 27:9. But particularly from the 20th and following verses, where he describes in a very lively manner the horror and distraction of a wicked man upon a death-bed. From this passage then it appears, that, in Job's opinion, the great difference between the righteous and the wicked, as to happiness and misery, consisted in their future expectations. Peters. Heath renders the 8th verse, For what can be the hope of the hypocrite, when he is cut off? when God depriveth him of his life?


Verse 11

Job 27:11. By the hand of God i.e. By such arguments as are irresistible; by the arguments which you have all along dignified with that title; referring to chap. Job 18:21 and Job 20:29. Heath. Houbigant renders it, by the help of God.


Verse 15

Job 27:15. Those that remain of him, &c.— The learned Schultens has, I think, given the true meaning of this passage, rendering it, they shall have death itself for their sepulture; i.e. they shall be reduced to so great a degree of misery, that where they die there they shall rot, and no person shall bury them. It is put in antithesis to the costly monuments of the rich. Heath; who renders it, those that remain of him shall rot unburied.


Verse 16

Job 27:16. Though he heap up silver, &c.— See Zechariah 9:3 and 2 Kings 5:5.


Verse 18

Job 27:18. A booth that the keeper maketh Here is an omission of the word vineyard: these booths were little huts or arbours made by the keepers to watch in by night, to prevent the vineyard from being plundered: a practice still continued in the wine-countries. See Heath, and Isaiah 1:8.


Verse 19

Job 27:19. The rich man shall lie down, &c.— He may lie down rich, but it is the last time: a rendering which the latter part of the verse fully justifies. It describes the case of a tyrant, who lies down to rest in quiet; but those who conspire against him come upon him while he sleepeth: he openeth his eyes, but it is but for a moment; to see his own destruction. Heath; with whom Houbigant agrees. But Mr. Peters explains it thus: "The wicked rich man shall die, but shall not be gathered to the assembly of good and pious souls: he openeth his eyes in the other world, and finds himself quite lost and miserable;" for, that the word ףּאס asap, gathered was sometimes put for being gathered to their fathers, or their people, we have a plain example, Numbers 27:13 where, of Aaron it is only said, that he was gathered; and yet the same, no doubt, was meant by it, that he should be gathered to his people; i.e. to the assembly of good and pious souls.


Verse 20

Job 27:20. Terrors take hold on him, &c.— See Proverbs 10:25. The meaning of the high metaphors in these verses is, that he dieth, as most wicked men do, in the utmost terror, tumult, and confusion.


Verse 22

Job 27:22. For God shall cast upon him There is nothing for God in the Hebrew. Houbigant renders the 21st verse, A burning wind shall carry him away, and he shall be gone; it shall hurl him out of his place; and he connects it thus; It shall urge him on, and not spare: driven into flight, he shall flee from its power: Job 27:23. It shall clap with its hands against him, it shall hiss against him out of its place. Heath renders the latter clause of the 22nd verse, he would fain fly out of its reach. The poet here personifies the storm, who carries away, hurls down, claps his hands at, and hisses the wicked man off the stage.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, Though his friends are silent, Job continues his discourse; a parable it is called, as being full of deep and weighty matter, or as abounding with metaphors and allegories.

He solemnly appeals to God, as the everliving God, and Almighty Governor of the world, to witness for his integrity, though he had afflicted his soul, and taken away his judgment, refused to appear to vindicate him, and continued his troubles (a rash expression, for which Elihu reproved him, chap. Job 34:3.). While life and breath endured, he resolved that nothing should make him wickedly and falsely confess himself guilty, when his conscience bore him witness in the Holy Ghost that he was sincere before God. Far, therefore, from justifying them in their charges, by acknowledging the truth of them, he, with indignation, rejects the thought, resolved till death to maintain his past integrity, and, notwithstanding all he suffers, to cleave steadfastly to God, and never quit his plea of the justice of his cause, or suffer his heart to reproach him, by yielding to their cruel suggestions. Note; (1.) An oath is an appeal to the heart-searching God; and, as we must swear by no other, when we swear by him we cannot be too circumspect that we speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Prevarication, or concealment, is as much perjury in the eye of God, as direct falsehood. (2.) We are too apt to charge God foolishly, to faint under his corrections, and to call that his vexation, which flows only from our own impatience. (3.) Whatever circumstances we are in, it is a wise and holy purpose, to hold fast till death in our dependance on God, and unshaken steadiness in the profession of the true religion. (4.) While believers are careful to keep a conscience void of offence, they are in duty bound to turn a deaf ear to Satan's suggestions that they are hypocrites, and not children of God, and to be unmoved by any censures of perverse and uncharitable men. If our conscience condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God.

2nd, It had been suggested by his friends, that he was a wicked man, or a hypocrite. No, says he, I know the evil and danger of their state too well. Let mine enemy be as the wicked. If it were permitted him to wish the greatest evil to his enemy, he could not think of any thing so terrible as his sharing with the wicked: not that a good man, like Job, would wish evil to any; but it is expressive of his sense of the dreadfully dangerous and ruinous estate of the ungodly. For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, succeeding in his schemes of worldly advantage, and securing praise and honour among men? How vain and wretched! what a delusion will the whole appear, when God taketh away his soul? A dying hour, or, at farthest, a judgment-day, will terribly undeceive him, and all his professions and outward performances will stand him in no stead at God's bar. Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him? (either the troubles of life, or the fearfulness which at death, or after death, will seize him)—will God then regard his prayer? No; while inward hypocrisy remains, prayer is an abomination; and in the day of vengeance inflexible justice can be prevailed upon by no importunity to reverse the sentence. Will he delight himself in the Almighty? No; his religion is a burden, a task; not a pleasure, or his choice. Will he always call upon God? No; at best he prays only by fits and starts. When he can get nothing by it, or must sustain damage from his profession of religion, the mask is immediately removed. Now Job suggests, that the very contrary of this was his character, and therefore he was no hypocrite. Note; (1.) Miserable is the condition of the hypocrite: we ought to take especial heed that we deceive not ourselves, but prove our ownselves, whether Jesus Christ indeed be formed in us. (2.) Many groan and cry under their troubles, whose prayer, as it proceeds not from an humbling sense of sin, but from mere anguish of pain, returns unanswered. (3.) They who have neglected prayer, or used it in mere formality, will shortly cry out in anguish of soul, when the door is shut, and it is too late to knock. (4.) The religion of hypocrites consists in profession, the performance of some outward ceremonies, and a desire to appear righteous before men; but the heart is unchanged. They know no delight in God; their talk of formal duties is irksome; and an excuse for omitting them, or hurrying them hastily over, is easily admitted. Nor would they pray, or serve God at all, if the fear of hell, or their character in the world, did not more influence them, than any pleasure in his service, or real love to him in their souls.

3rdly, That the wicked are certainly miserable, Job will readily allow; the question only is, Where? not always visibly in this life, though that may be sometimes the case; but assuredly after death the curse will overtake them. This he here undertakes to teach his friends, under the good hand of God, if they desire to learn; and these dispensations of the Almighty's providence he would unfold, which themselves must needs have observed and seen, and therefore the more blameable their censures in condemning him for a hypocrite. The portion of the ungodly and the oppressor then is sure destruction, descending to them as a heritage; and, though in this life they may prosper, they shall receive it from the hand of the Almighty in eternity.

1. Their families, whom they leave behind them, and in whom they hope to perpetuate their name and glory, shall be cut off by the sword, or by famine; and if any yet remain, the pestilence shall sweep them away, hurried to the grave, without a tear dropt over them: either they shall have no widows to lament them, or they shall be so odious to the wives of their bosoms, that they will rather rejoice at their departure.

2. The wealth of the sinner, which with such assiduous care and toil he collected, shall be dissipated through God's ever-ruling providence. The just shall possess the wardrobes that he hath filled, and the innocent divide the silver that he hath accumulated, who will make a better use of the unrighteous Mammon. His stately palace shall moulder into dust, as the feeble house which the moth erects, and be of as short continuance as the shepherd's booth. Note; (1.) When men are dead, frequently their riches strangely vanish: could they look out of their graves, their misery to see how they are disposed of would be greater even than the anxiety and care with which they scraped them together. (2.) The only durable house that we can build, is that not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

3. They themselves shall meet a miserable death, and a more terrible eternity. The rich man shall lie down in the dust of death, but he shall not be gathered to the sepulchre of his fathers, or the congregation of the righteous. He openeth his eyes, which he closed upon his bed, and lo, he is not any longer numbered with the living, but cut off by a sudden stroke, and lifting up his eyes in torment. Terrors take hold on him, resistless as the torrent of waters; and a tempest of divine wrath, as little expected as the approach of the thief, stealeth him away in the night, just when he had been saying, Soul, take thine ease. The east wind carrieth him away, and he departeth into the regions of eternal darkness; and as a storm, the vengeance of God hurleth him out of his place, from his palace upon earth, down into the horrid caverns of Tophet; for God shall cast upon him the fierceness of his wrath, tribulation, and anguish, and not spare; his punishment will be without measure, and without end, where, though he would fain flee out of his hand, resistance is vain, and the great gulph fixed prevents all escape. Men shall clap their hands at him, or, hands shall clap at him, the righteous upon earth on being delivered from their oppressor, and saints and angels in heaven magnifying God for his righteous judgments, and shall hiss him out of his place, treating his memory with contempt on earth, or expressing their abhorrence of his crimes when he is driven from God's tribunal into everlasting punishment. Note: (1.) They who lie down on their beds know not whether they shall ever awake again among the living. Are we ready then for a sudden summons? (2.) The death-bed of the rich is often a scene of tempest, when they must leave a beloved world, to go where dreadful darkness hides the prospect, and conscious guilt begets a fearful looking-for of judgment. (3.) If once the sinner be ingulphed in the belly of hell, then black despair will add the summit of misery to the intolerable and everlasting burnings.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Job 27:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/job-27.html. 1801-1803.

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