|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
31:9-15 All the defilements of the life come from a deceived heart. Lust is a fire in the soul: those that indulge it, are said to burn. It consumes all that is good there, and lays the conscience waste. It kindles the fire of God's wrath, which, if not quenched by the blood of Christ, will consume even to eternal destruction. It consumes the body; it consumes the substance. Burning lusts bring burning judgments. Job had a numerous household, and he managed it well. He considered that he had a Master in heaven; and as we are undone if God should be severe with us, we ought to be mild and gentle towards all with whom we have to do.
Verse 13. - If I did despise the cause of my manservant or of my maidservant. Job now disclaims a fourth sin - the oppression of his dependants. Eliphaz had taxed him generally with harshness and cruelty in his relations towards those weaker than himself (Job 22:5-9), but had not specially pointed to this kind of oppressiveness. As, however, this was the commonest form of the vice, Job deems it right to disclaim it, before addressing himself to the several charges brought by Eliphaz. He has not ill used his slaves, either male or female. He has not "despised their cause," but given it full consideration and attention; he has heard them when they contended with him; he has allowed them to "contend;" he has been a just, and not a hard master. The slavery of which he speaks is evidently of a kind under which the slave had certain rights, as was the case also under the Mosaic Law (Exodus 21:2-11).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
If I did despise the cause of my manservant, or of my maidservant,.... Whether it was a cause that related to any controversy or quarrel among themselves when it was brought before him, he did not reject it, because of the meanness of the contending parties, and the state of servitude they were in; but he received it and searched into it, heard patiently what each had to say, examined them thoroughly, entered into the merits of the cause, and either reconciled them, or passed a righteous sentence, punished the delinquent, and protected the innocent; or, if it was a cause relating to himself, any complaint of their work, or wages, or food, or clothing, as it seems to be from what follows:
when they contended with me; had anything to complain of, or to object to him on the above account, or any other, where there was any show or colour of foundation for it; otherwise it cannot be thought he would indulge a saucy, impudent, and contradicting behaviour in them towards him: masters in those times and countries had an unlimited, and exercised a despotic power over their servants, and used them with great rigour, and refused to do them justice upon complaints; but Job behaved as if he had had the rules of the apostle before him to act by in his conduct towards his servants, Ephesians 6:9; and even condescended to submit the cause between him and his servants to other judges or arbitrators, or rather took cognizance of it himself, heard patiently and carefully what they had to allege, and did them justice.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
13-23. Job affirms his freedom from unfairness towards his servants, from harshness and oppression towards the needy.
despise the cause—refused to do them justice.
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