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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Job 36

 

 

Verse 1

CHAP. XXXVI.

Elihu sets forth the justice of God in all his ways, and extols the greatness of his power and providence.

Before Christ 1645.

Job 36:1. Elihu also proceeded Elihu goes on to lay before Job the impropriety of his behaviour towards God, and desires him to consider how vain it will prove; that God is Almighty, and will never yield the point, that he will administer impartial justice to all men: Job 36:2-6.; that the general course of his providence is, to favour the righteous; and that, though he may sometimes correct them in love, yet, if they submit patiently to his fatherly correction, and amend their ways, they shall enjoy all manner of prosperity. But if they are stubborn, and will not submit, they only draw down greater degrees of his vengeance on themselves; Job 36:7-16. He tells him, that had he followed the former course, he had probably before now been restored to his former condition; whereas, by persisting in the latter, he was in a fair way of becoming a signal example of the divine vengeance: Job 36:17-18. He warns him, therefore, to make use of the present opportunity, lest God should cut him off while in a state of rebellion: for that, with God, neither wealth, power, nor any other argument that he could use, would be of any avail: Job 36:18-26. God was infinitely powerful; there was, therefore, no resisting him; and infinitely wise, as sufficiently appeared by his works; there was, therefore, no escaping out of his hands. His purity was so great, that the sun in his presence was more dim than the smallest ray when compared with that bright luminary; his holiness was manifest, from his aversion to iniquity; and his goodness, in supplying the wants of his creatures: Job 36:26 to chap. Job 36:23. Man was utterly unable to account for the least of his works; how then dared he to attempt to penetrate the secrets of his providence, and to call him to an account for his dealings with men? This could proceed only from an unjustifiable self-conceit: Job 36:24 a crime which the Almighty would not fail severely to punish. Heath.


Verse 4

Job 36:4. He that is perfect in knowledge Though the perfection of knowledge be with thee: Heath; who thinks that this alludes to Job's sarcasm, chap. Job 12:2.


Verse 5

Job 36:5. Despiseth not any Will not yield to any. Heath.


Verse 9

Job 36:9. That they have exceeded How they have set him at defiance. Heath.


Verse 15

Job 36:15. He delivereth the poor in his affliction Whilst, or, but he delivereth, &c.


Verse 16

Job 36:16. Even so would he have removed thee, &c.— He would have also screened thee from the edge of the broad sword, against which nothing can make resistance; and the provision of thy table should have been full.


Verse 20

Job 36:20. Desire not the night Desire not the night that thou mayest oppress the afflicted, expecting nothing less: Houbigant. But Heath renders it, Wish not earnestly for the night, to descend to the lower regions; and the 21st verse, Beware, look not upon iniquity, so as to choose it rather than affliction.


Verse 27

Job 36:27. For he maketh small, &c.— Who causeth the exhalations of the waters to mount on high, which form the rain in his clouds, (Job 36:28.) when the heavens pour down.


Verse 29

Job 36:29. Also, can any understand, &c.— How much more when he manifesteth the burstings of the clouds; the crash of the thunder of his pavilion! Job 36:30. See his lightning flasheth around him! he turneth up the bottom of the sea: Job 36:31. Verily by them he executeth judgment on the nations, &c.; Job 36:32. He covereth the sun as it were with his hands, and commandeth it, &c.; Job 36:33. His thunder maketh proclamation before him. Wrath is treasured up against iniquity. This is one of the noblest images in the whole book, and has been finely illustrated by Schultens; to whom we refer, and Heath.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, As the general silence seemed to give approbation to what was said, Elihu, after a short pause, resumes his discourse, with an apology for trespassing a little longer on their patience; for what he had now to say would be short, yet important. He was speaking in God's behalf, therefore might claim attention. It was no common subject that he treated; but his knowledge was fetched from afar, the result of long researches, and concerning the deep things of God. His design was, to vindicate the ways of God to man, and ascribe righteousness to his Maker in all the dispensations of his providence. And in doing this he resolved to use the greatest impartiality and sincerity, speaking the truth in love; and he presumed that he was so thoroughly acquainted with his subject, and his intention was so upright, that they would acknowledge their regard justly due to his disquisition. Note; (1.) They who speak for God in simplicity, will, by the importance of their discourse, engage attention. (2.) A faithful soul is jealous of God's honour, and rises up to vindicate his dispensations from the foolish and sinful aspersions of those murmurers and complainers who charge God foolishly. (3.) Truth, and plainness of speech, especially become those who profess themselves teachers of the good ways of God.

2nd, Elihu, in the behalf of God, proceeds, as he proposed, to vindicate God's righteous government.

1. The meanest of his subjects are not despised by him. He is mighty to redress their grievances, and wise in all his dispensations towards them. Note; if God despiseth not any, surely much less ought we to despise a fellow-creature!

2. He ministers impartial justice. The greatest, if wicked, feel his vengeance; cut off even here oftentimes by his righteous judgment; or, if their lives be prolonged, they are only reserved for the wrath to come: while the cause of the poor that were wronged, God espouses; and his eyes are upon them for good; they are exalted to honour in this world, or, what is infinitely better, they are established in his grace and love. Note; (1.) The day is near, when the oppressor and the oppressed will meet at the righteous bar of God. (2.) However low God's faithful people may be reduced, there is a kingdom prepared for them.

3. If God afflicts his believing people, it is purely with a design to do them good; to humble them under the views of past iniquities, and to open their ears to that instruction, to which, except under the rod, they would have been inattentive; and to shew them the path of duty, as the sure way of deliverance from the cords of affliction. Note; (1.) A sense of God's purpose in our chastisements should make us not only resigned but thankful. (2.) Whatever brings us to humbler views of ourselves, and more unreserved dependance on God, is to be reckoned among our chief mercies. Afflictions only answer their design, when the ear and the heart are open to discipline; else they but harden instead of humbling. (3.) It is a blessed fruit of afflictions, when we leave the dross of sin in the furnace, and come forth purified as silver from the fire.

4. When the end of the correction is answered, the rod will not only be removed, but the blessedness of it appear. If they obey and serve him, in consequence of his gracious chastisement, then they shall spend their days in prosperity and their years in pleasures; for godliness hath the promise of the life which now is, and ever brings that best portion, contentment; but especially in their souls they shall prosper, and taste the more substantial pleasures of religion.

5. Where hypocrites suffer, far different is the issue. As they obey not the divine admonitions, but by their impatient and unhumbled spirit heap up wrath, and, instead of crying to God in their distress, are stupid and hardened under it; destruction awaits them; they shall perish under the judgment, and, what is far worse, shall die impenitent. In youth they shall be cut off, and their portion in eternity be appointed them among the unclean, whose worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched. Note; (1.) Hypocrites in heart will be detected: however fair a shew they make in the flesh, there is one that seeth and judgeth. (2.) Many now proudly despise the open sinner, the profane and unclean, and say to them, "Stand by thyself," I am more holy than you, who yet shall have their portion with them in the burning lake.

3rdly, Elihu applies what he had said, to Job's case.

1. Had he been humbled, God would have removed the affliction; but his conduct under it continued the scourge upon him. It is God's constant method of procedure, to deliver the poor in spirit, to support, comfort, and strengthen him, and, when it is fit, to open a door of escape for him. Meantime, he conveys his instructive lessons, and whispers his kind consolations to the soul, amidst all its sorrows; and this Job would, ere now, have experienced, had he been patiently submissive; his path had not been then, as now, straitened, or his wants so distressing; he would have been freed from his troubles, and his table crowned with plenty: but since, by a behaviour like that of wicked men, and pleas which gave them countenance in their iniquities, he had offended, therefore in just judgment his corrections were continued, till his heart should be brought to bow in silent humiliation, and to give God his due glory in the acknowledgment of his righteousness. Note; (1.) When chastisements have answered their end, they will assuredly be removed; for God doth not willingly afflict the children of men. (2.) They who plead the cause of the wicked, must not wonder if they suffer with them.

2. He warns him of the danger of persevering in obstinate self-vindication. There was danger lest God, in wrath, should resent his injurious aspersions on his government; and if he should rise up to avenge his own quarrel, woe to the man against whom he lifts up the sword. No ransom can redeem him, no might rescue him, no darkness conceal him; no, not even the grave, which Job had so impatiently desired. The darkness hath no covering before God; and in death, their appointed place, the wrath of God pursues the sinners.

3. He cautions him to regard iniquity no longer, to persevere no longer in his charges against God, or so impatiently to desire death, to be rid of his afflictions, rather than humbly resigned to wait God's leisure and time for his deliverance. Note; The greatest sufferings are preferable to the least sins.

4. He bids him observe God's power, wisdom, and righteousness, to engage his unreserved submission to his will. He exalteth by his power, himself the source of all power, and, according to his own will, exalting whom he pleases. None teaches like him, so wise or able to direct: he needs no adviser; his ways, word, and providences, are all perfect in wisdom; and it were as false as foolish to charge him with iniquity, whose bosom is the seat of justice; and whose glorious prerogative it is, from the essential rectitude of his nature, that he can do no wrong. Note; The more we know of God, the more shall we be silenced and confounded before him, nor dare compare our wisdom, power, and righteousness with his, or complain of any thing that he appoints, which must be always wise as righteous.

4thly, From this view of the glorious works of God, his unsearchable perfections, and wonders in the administration of the kingdom of providence, Elihu would affect Job with humble thoughts of himself, and higher apprehensions of God and his ways.

1. He is worthy to be magnified for the works that he hath wrought, visible to every eye: the heavens above, the earth around us, proclaim the glory of the Creator; and since, in them, his universal goodness as well as greatness appears, we may assuredly conclude, that in his works of providence, respecting us in particular, he deserves equally to be magnified and adored.

2. Though we see and know a part of his excellence, yet his perfections are unsearchable, and the mysteries of his works past finding out. If then we cannot comprehend his surpassing greatness, it were a folly to arraign his proceedings, and to speak evil of what we know not; and if we cannot account for the division of the drops of rain, or for the most common appearances in nature, it were highly absurd to quarrel with his providences, because we do not clearly see the reasons of his conduct.

[1.] God is great, and we know him not, cannot fathom his immensity, or comprehend his eternity; neither can the number of his years be searched out, who is from everlasting to everlasting; and here all our ideas are lost.

[2.] As unsearchable are his works. That the drops of dew descend, and from the clouds the rain pours down, we see; but how this wonder is performed, is yet a mystery, if we ascend to first principles. A little we know; but in a thousand inquiries into the nature and causes of things, we are enveloped with darkness; for who can understand the spreadings of the clouds? how poised in air they float? how from the smallest appearances they quickly darken the sky? how they collect their stores, or dispense them? or the noise of his tabernacle, the stormy winds which blow under heaven, or the thunders which utter their voices from the clouds? Behold, he spreadeth his light upon it, on the clouds his tabernacle; the light of the sun, which shines when the rain is blown over; or the lightning which flashes: and covereth the bottom of the sea with waters, thence to be raised, by the action of the sun and wind, into the clouds, as the vapour in the alembic. For by them judgeth he the people: he can when he pleases make them instruments of his vengeance, as in the flood, or, when in season and measure they gently water the earth, he giveth meat in abundance. With clouds he covereth the light, either shading the sultry beams of the sun, or with thick tempest in the sky turning the day into night; and commandeth IT NOT TO SHINE, by the cloud, or without this supplement to the text, by that which cometh betwixt, as in eclipses, when, by the interposition of the moon the sun is darkened, or the earth intercepts the sun-beams, while the moon passes through her shadow. The noise thereof sheweth concerning it, the whistling wind, or thunder, prognosticates the approaching rain; the cattle also, furnished with strange instinct, give tokens concerning the vapor, when the gathering storm approaches. In all which we see God's wondrous working, and are bound to magnify and praise him, whose wisdom is infinite, and his ways past finding out; and therefore in all his providences silent submission becomes our bounden duty.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Job 36:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/job-36.html. 1801-1803.

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