|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
21:17-26 Job had described the prosperity of wicked people; in these verses he opposes this to what his friends had maintained about their certain ruin in this life. He reconciles this to the holiness and justice of God. Even while they prosper thus, they are light and worthless, of no account with God, or with wise men. In the height of their pomp and power, there is but a step between them and ruin. Job refers the difference Providence makes between one wicked man and another, into the wisdom of God. He is Judge of all the earth, and he will do right. So vast is the disproportion between time and eternity, that if hell be the lot of every sinner at last, it makes little difference if one goes singing thither, and another sighing. If one wicked man die in a palace, and another in a dungeon, the worm that dies not, and the fire that is not quenched, will be the same to them. Thus differences in this world are not worth perplexing ourselves about.
Verse 18. - They are as stubble before the wind, and as chaff that the storm carrieth away; rather, How oft is it that they are as stubble before the wind and as chaff etc.? The construction begun in the first clause of ver. 17 is carried on to the end of ver. 18. "Stubble" and "chaff" are ordinary figures for foolish and ungodly men, whom the blast of God's anger swoops away to destruction (comp. Exodus 15:7; Psalm 1:4; Psalm 35:5; Psalm 83:13; Isaiah 27:13; Isaiah 29:5; Isaiah 41:2, etc.).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
They are as stubble before the wind,.... Or how oft "are they as stubble?" &c. or how oft does God do the above things, "so that they are", or "become, as stubble before the wind" (u),
and as chaff that the storm carrieth, or "steals away" (x)? hastily, suddenly, at an unawares like a thief: wicked men are comparable to stubble and chaff; for the vanity of their minds, their emptiness of all good things; for their lightness, the levity and inconstancy of their hearts, their principles and practices; for their uselessness and unprofitableness to God and men, to themselves and their fellow creatures; for their being fit fuel for everlasting burnings, their end like these being to be burned; and whose destruction is inevitable and irresistible, and can no more be withstood and prevented than stubble and chaff can stand before a strong wind and a stormy tempest: but is this their common case now? are they usually tossed to and fro with the wind of adversity, and the storms of desolating judgments? are they not, on the other hand, seen in great power, and spreading themselves like a green bay tree; taking root, increasing in outward prosperity, and bringing forth the fruit of it? see Psalm 37:35.
(u) "ut sint velut palea", Tigurine version; so Broughton, "quoties sunt", Junius & Tremellius; "quoties fiunt", Piscator, Michaelis. (x) "furatus est eam", Montanus; "suffuratur", Vatablus; "furatur", Drusius, Cocceius, Schultens.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
18. Job alludes to a like sentiment of Bildad (Job 18:18), using his own previous words (Job 13:25).
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