|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:12-21 Eliphaz relates a vision. When we are communing with our own hearts, and are still, Ps 4:4, then is a time for the Holy Spirit to commune with us. This vision put him into very great fear. Ever since man sinned, it has been terrible to him to receive communications from Heaven, conscious that he can expect no good tidings thence. Sinful man! shall he pretend to be more just, more pure, than God, who being his Maker, is his Lord and Owner? How dreadful, then, the pride and presumption of man! How great the patience of God! Look upon man in his life. The very foundation of that cottage of clay in which man dwells, is in the dust, and it will sink with its own weight. We stand but upon the dust. Some have a higher heap of dust to stand upon than others but still it is the earth that stays us up, and will shortly swallow us up. Man is soon crushed; or if some lingering distemper, which consumes like a moth, be sent to destroy him, he cannot resist it. Shall such a creature pretend to blame the appointments of God? Look upon man in his death. Life is short, and in a little time men are cut off. Beauty, strength, learning, not only cannot secure them from death, but these things die with them; nor shall their pomp, their wealth, or power, continue after them. Shall a weak, sinful, dying creature, pretend to be more just than God, and more pure than his Maker? No: instead of quarrelling with his afflictions, let him wonder that he is out of hell. Can a man be cleansed without his Maker? Will God justify sinful mortals, and clear them from guilt? or will he do so without their having an interest in the righteousness and gracious help of their promised Redeemer, when angels, once ministering spirits before his throne, receive the just recompence of their sins? Notwithstanding the seeming impunity of men for a short time, though living without God in the world, their doom is as certain as that of the fallen angels, and is continually overtaking them. Yet careless sinners note it so little, that they expect not the change, nor are wise to consider their latter end.
Verse 15. - Then a spirit passed before my face. It has been argued (Rosenmuller) that "a breath of air," and not "a spirit," is intended; but, in that ease, how are we to understand the expressions in the following verse: "it stood still," "the form thereof," "an image"? A breath of air, the very essence of which is to be in motion, cannot stand still, nor has it any "form," "appearance," or "imago." Granted that the Hebrew ruakh (רוח) may mean - like the Greek πνεῦμα, and the Latin spiritus - either an actual spirit, or a breath, a wind, it follows that, in every place where it occurs, we must judge by the context which is meant. Here certainly the context points to an actual living spirit, as what Eliphaz intended. Whether a spirit really appeared to him is a separate question. The whole may have been a vision; but certainly the impression left on Eliphaz was that he had had a communication from the spirit-world. The hair of my flesh stood up. Not the hair of his head only, but every hair on his whole body, stiffened, bristled, and rose up on end in horror (see the comment on ver. 14).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then a spirit passed before my face,.... Which some interpret of a wind (q), a blustering wind, that blew strong in his face; and so the Targum renders it, a stormy wind, such an one as Elijah perceived when the Lord spoke to him, though he was not in that, 1 Kings 19:11; or such a whirlwind, out of which the Lord spake to Job, Job 38:1; or rather, as Jarchi, an angel, an immaterial spirit, one of Jehovah's ministering spirits, clothed in an human form, and which passed and repassed before Eliphaz, that he might take notice of it:
the hair of my flesh stood up; erect, through surprise and dread; which is sometimes the case, when anything astonishing and terrible is beheld; the blood at such times making its way to the heart, for the preservation of that, leaves the external members of the body cold, and the skin of the flesh, in which the hair is, being contracted by the impetuous influx of the nervous fluid, causes the hair to stand upright, particularly the hair of the head, like the prickles or hedgehogs (r); which has been usual at the sight of an apparition (s).
(q) "ventus", Vatablus, Cocceius, Schmidt, Broughton. (r) "Obstupui, steteruntque comae----". Virgil. Aeneid. l. 2. ver. 774. & l. 3. ver. 48. "arrectaeque horrore comae". Aeneid. 4. ver. 286. & l. 12. ver. 888. (s) Vid. Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. p. 665.
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