|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
16:1-5 Eliphaz had represented Job's discourses as unprofitable, and nothing to the purpose; Job here gives his the same character. Those who pass censures, must expect to have them retorted; it is easy, it is endless, but what good does it do? Angry answers stir up men's passions, but never convince their judgments, nor set truth in a clear light. What Job says of his friends is true of all creatures, in comparison with God; one time or other we shall be made to see and own that miserable comforters are they all. When under convictions of sin, terrors of conscience, or the arrests of death, only the blessed Spirit can comfort effectually; all others, without him, do it miserably, and to no purpose. Whatever our brethren's sorrows are, we ought by sympathy to make them our own; they may soon be so.
Verse 5. - But I would strengthen you with my mouth. The meaning is somewhat doubtful, and different renderings have been proposed. But the rendering of the Authorized Version is quite defensible, and is accepted by our Revisers. This gives the sense, "I, if I were in your place, would not act as you have acted, but, on the contrary, would do my best to strengthen you with words of comfort and encouragement." The moving of my lips should assuage your grief. (So Rosenmuller and our Revisers.) The words are a covert reproach of the three "friends" for not acting as Job declares that he would have acted if the positions had been reversed.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But I would strengthen you with my mouth,.... Comfort them with the words of his mouth; so God strengthens his people with strength in their souls, when he answers them with good and comfortable words; an angel strengthened Christ as man when in an agony, comforting him, suggesting comfortable things to him; so one saint may strengthen and comfort another when in distress, whether of soul or body; see Psalm 138:3; and thus Job had strengthened and comforted others, with his words in former times, as Eliphaz himself owns, Job 4:3 and so he would again, were there a change in his circumstances, and objects presented:
and the moving of my lips should assuage your grief: words uttered by him, which are done by the moving of the lips, should be such as would have a tendency to allay grief, to stop, restrain, forbid, and lessen sorrow; at least that it might not break out in an extravagant way, and exceed bounds, and that his friends might not be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. strengthen … with … mouth—bitter irony. In allusion to Eliphaz' boasted "consolations" (Job 15:11). Opposed to strengthening with the heart, that is, with real consolation. Translate, "I also (like you) could strengthen with the mouth," that is, with heartless talk: "And the moving of my lips (mere lip comfort) could console (in the same fashion as you do)" [Umbreit]. "Hearty counsel" (Pr 27:9) is the opposite.
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