|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 18. - Behold, he put no trust in his servants; rather, he putteth no trust or he putteth not trust. The" servants" intended are those that minister to him directly in heaven, the members of the angelic host, as appears from the parallelism of the other clause of the verse. Even in them God does not trust implicitly, since he knows that they are frail and fallible, liable to err, etc., only kept from sin by his own sustaining and assisting grace (setup. Job 15:15, where Eliphaz expresses the same belief in his own person). And his angels he charged with folly; rather, chargeth. The exact meaning of the word translated "folly" is uncertain, since the word does not occur elsewhere. The LXX. renders by σκολιόν τι, "crookedness;" Ewald, Dillmann, and others, by "error." The teaching clearly is that the angels are not perfect - the highest angelic excellence falls infinitely short of God's perfectness. Even angels, therefore, would be incompetent judges of God's doings.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Behold, he put no trust in his servants,.... Some think the divine oracle or revelation ends in Job 4:17, and that here Eliphaz makes some use and improvement of it, and addresses Job, and argues with him upon it, with a view to his case and circumstances; but rather the account of what the oracle said, or was delivered by revelation, is continued to the end of the chapter, there being nothing unworthy of God, either in the matter or manner of it: and here Eliphaz himself is addressed, and this address ushered in with a "behold", as a note of admiration, asseveration, and attention; it being somewhat wonderful and of importance, sure and certain, and which deserved to be listened to, that God, the Maker of men and angels, did not, and does not, "put" any "trust" or confidence "in his servants"; meaning not the prophets in particular, as the Targum, though they are in an eminent sense the servants of God; nor righteous men in general, as Jarchi and others, who though heretofore servants of sin, yet through grace become servants of righteousness, and of God; but as men who dwelt in houses of clay are opposed to them, and distinguished from them, in Job 4:19, they must be understood of angels, as the following clause explains it; who always stand before God, ministering unto him, ready to do his will, and to do it in the most perfect manner creatures are capable of; they go forth at his command into each of the parts of the world, and execute his orders; they worship him, and celebrate his perfections, ascribing honour and glory, wisdom, power, and blessing to him; and this they do cheerfully, constantly, and incessantly. Now though God has intrusted these servants of his with many messages of importance, both under the Old and New Testament dispensation, yet he has not trusted them with the salvation of men, to which they are not equal, but has put it into the hands of his Son; nor indeed did he trust them with the secret of it, so as to make them his counsellors about it; no, Christ only was the wonderful Counsellor in this affair; the counsel of peace, or that respecting the peace and reconciliation of men, was only between him and his Father; God was only in and with Christ, and not angels reconciling men, or drawing the plan of their reconciliation; and when this secret, being concluded on and settled, was revealed to angels, it is thought by some to be the reason of so many of them apostatizing from God; they choosing rather to have nothing to do with him, than to be under the Son of God in human nature: but, besides this, there are many other things God has not trusted the angels with, as his purposes and decrees within himself, and the knowledge of the times and seasons of the accomplishment of them, particularly the day and hour of judgment; though the sense here rather seems to be this, that God does not and did not trust them with themselves; he knew their natural weakness, frailty, mutability, how liable they were to sin and fall from him, and therefore he chose them in Christ, put them into his hands, and made him head over them, and so confirmed and established them in him; and, as it may be rendered, "did not put stability or firmness" (w) in them, so as to stand of themselves; or "perfection" in them, as some render it (x), which cannot be in a creature as it is in God:
and his angels he charged with folly; that is, comparatively, with respect to himself, in comparison of whom all creatures are foolish, be they ever so wise; for he is all wise, and only wise; angels are very knowing and intelligent in things natural and evangelical, but their knowledge is but imperfect, particularly in the latter; as appears by their being desirous of looking into those things which respect the salvation of men, and by learning of the church the manifold wisdom of God, 1 Peter 1:2; or by "folly" is meant vanity, weakness, and imperfection (y), a liableness to fall, which God observed in them; and which are in every creature in its best estate, and were in Adam in his state of innocence, and so in the angels that fell not, especially previous to their confirmation by Christ, see Psalm 39:5; and so the sense is the same with the preceding clause: some render it by repeating the negative from that, "and he putteth not glorying" or "boasting in his angels" (z); he makes no account of their duties and services, so as to glory in them; it is an humbling himself to regard them; or he puts nothing in them that they can boast of, since they have nothing of themselves, all from him, and therefore cannot glory as though they had received it not. Others observe, that the word has the signification of light, and differently render the passage; some, "though he putteth light in his angels" (a), makes them angels of light, comparable to morning stars, yet he puts no trust in them; and what they have is from him, and therefore not to be compared with him, nor can they glory in themselves; or, "he putteth not light", or "not clear light into them" (b); that which is perfect, and fire from all manner of darkness; such only is in himself the Father of lights, with whom it dwells in perfection, and there is no shadow of turning in him: some would have this understood of the evil angels, whom God charged with folly; but this is too low a term, a phrase not strong enough to express their sin and wickedness, who are not chargeable only with imprudence, but with rebellion and treason against God; nor does this sense agree with parallel places, Job 15:14; and besides, the beauty of the comparison of them with men would be lost, and the strength of the argument with respect to them would be sadly weakened, which we have in Job 4:19.
(w) "non posuit stabilitatem", Mercerus, Vatablus; "firmitatem", Junius & Tremellius. (x) So Mr. Broughton. (y) "vanitatem", Codurcus; "omissionem, lapsationemve", Schultens. (z) "Gloriationem", Montanus. (a) Sic Beza & Belg. nov. vers. (b) "Lumen", Pagninus, Mercerus; "lucem", Junius & Tremellius; so R. Levi Ben Gersom, Sephorno, and others; "lucem exactissimam", Vatablus; "clear light", Broughton.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
18. folly—Imperfection is to be attributed to the angels, in comparison with Him. The holiness of some of them had given way (2Pe 2:4), and at best is but the holiness of a creature. Folly is the want of moral consideration [Umbreit].
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