|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
23:13-17 As Job does not once question but that his trials are from the hand of God, and that there is no such thing as chance, how does he account for them? The principle on which he views them is, that the hope and reward of the faithful servants of God are only laid up in another life; and he maintains that it is plain to all, that the wicked are not treated according to their deserts in this life, but often directly the reverse. But though the obtaining of mercy, the first-fruits of the Spirit of grace, pledges a God, who will certainly finish the work which he has began; yet the afflicted believer is not to conclude that all prayer and entreaty will be in vain, and that he should sink into despair, and faint when he is reproved of Him. He cannot tell but the intention of God in afflicting him may be to produce penitence and prayer in his heart. May we learn to obey and trust the Lord, even in tribulation; to live or die as he pleases: we know not for what good ends our lives may be shortened or prolonged.
Verse 17. - Because I was not cut off before the darkness, neither hath he covered the darkness from my face. Job complains of two things:
(1) That he was not cut off (i.e. removed from earth) before the great darkness fell upon his life (comp. Job 3:11-13).
(2) That he was not "covered,' i.e. sheltered and protected, by the love and care of God when the dark days came.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Because I was not cut off before the darkness,.... That is, it was amazing to him, and troubled him when he thought of it, that he was not cut off by death, before the darkness of afflictions, or this dark dispensation came upon him; as sometimes righteous ones are taken from the evil to come, as Methuselah was before the flood, Genesis 5:27; and Job wonders this was not his case, or at least he wishes it had been; for so Aben Ezra seems to understand and read the words, "why was I not cut off?" &c. as if it was a wish, and expressive of his desire, that this had been done; which was what he had expostulated with God about at first, in the third chapter, and death was what he always desired, and still continued to wish for: or else the sense is, that he was amazed that he "was not cut off, because", "at", "through", or "by darkness" (b); by means of his afflictions; he wondered how he was supported under them, and carried through them, that they did not press him down to death; how such a poor wasted creature as he was, reduced to skin and bones, should ever be able to endure what he did;
neither hath he covered the darkness from my face; that I should not see and feel the afflictions I do; or rather, "he hath covered the darkness from my face", for the word "neither" is not in the text, though repeated by many interpreters from the foregoing clause; and then the sense is though I am sensible of the darkness of affliction upon me, yet he has covered it so from me, that I cannot see an end of it, or any way to escape out of it; or, which is the sense Drusius gives, he hath covered death and the grave from me, which is a state of darkness, a land of darkness, or darkness itself, as he calls Job 10:21; that he could not see it, and enjoy it; he wished for death, but could not have it, it was hid from him. Cocceius renders the words very differently, he, that is, "God, hath covered himself with darkness from my face"; and interprets it of divine desertion, which troubled and terrified Job; and because he thus covered himself as it were with a cloud, this was the reason why he knew not where he was, and could not find him, when he made the most diligent search for him, and this grieved and astonished him, see Lamentations 3:44.
(b) "propter tenebras", Pagninus, Piscator, Cocceius; so V. L. "a tenebris", Drusius; "a praesentibus, tenebris", Beza.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
17. Because I was not taken away by death from the evil to come (literally, "from before the face of the darkness," Isa 57:1). Alluding to the words of Eliphaz (Job 22:11), "darkness," that is, calamity.
cut off—rather, in the Arabic sense, brought to the land of silence; my sad complaint hushed in death [Umbreit]. "Darkness" in the second clause, not the same Hebrew word as in the first, "cloud," "obscurity." Instead of "covering the cloud (of evil) from my face," He "covers" me with it (Job 22:11).
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