|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 20. - They are destroyed from morning to evening. Human bodies undergo a continuous destruction. From the moment that we are born we begin to die. Decay of powers is coeval with their first exercise. Our insidious foe, Death, marks us as his own from the very first breath that we draw. Our bodies are machines wound up to go for a certain time. The moment that we begin to use them we begin to wear them out. They perish for ever. The final result is that Our" houses of clay "perish, crumble to dust, disappear, and come to nothing. They "perish for ever," says Eliphaz, repeating what he believed the spirit of ver. 15 to have said to him; but it is not clear that he understood more by this than that they perish and disappear for ever, so far as this life and this world are concerned. Without any regarding it. No one is surprised or thinks it hard. It is the lot of man, and every one's mind is prepared for it.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
They are destroyed from morning to evening,.... That is, those that dwell in houses of clay, before described; the meaning is, that they are always exposed to death, and liable to it every day they live; not only such who are persecuted for the sake of religion, but all men in common, for of such are both the text and context; who have always the seeds of mortality and death in them, that is continually working in them; and every day, even from morning to evening, are innumerable instances of the power of death over men; and not only some there are, whose sun rises in the morning and sets at evening, who are like grass in the morning, gay, and green, and by evening cut down and withered, live but a day, and some not that, but even it is true of all men, comparatively speaking, they begin to die the day they begin to live; so that the wise man takes no notice of any intermediate time between a time to be born and a time to die, Ecclesiastes 3:2; so frail and short is the life of man; his days are but as an hand's breadth, Psalm 39:5,
they perish for ever: which is not to be understood of the second or eternal death which some die; for this is not the case of all; those that believe in Christ shall not perish for ever, but have everlasting life; but this respects not only the long continuance of men under the power of death until the resurrection, which is not contradicted by thus expression; but it signifies that the dead never return to this mortal life again, at least the instances are very rare; their families, friends, and houses, that knew them, know them no more; they return no more to their worldly business or enjoyments, see Job 7:9,
without any regarding it; their death; neither they themselves nor others, expecting it so soon, and using no means to prevent it, and which, if made use of, would not have availed, their appointed time being come; or "without putting" (k), either without putting light into them, as Sephorno, which can only be true of some; or with out putting the hand, either their own or another's, to destroy them, being done by the hand of God, by a distemper of his sending, or by one providence or another; or without putting the heart to it, which comes to the sense of our version; though death is so frequent every day, yet it is not taken notice of; men do not lay it to heart, so as to consider of their latter end, and repent of their sins, and reform from them, that they may not be their ruin; and this is and would be the case of all men, were it not for the grace of God.
(k) "propter non ponentem", Montanus; "sub. manum", Codurcus; "cor", R. Levi, Jarchi, Mercerus, Piscator, Michaelis.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
20. from morning to evening—unceasingly; or, better, between the morning and evening of one short day (so Ex 18:14; Isa 38:12).
They are destroyed—better, "they would be destroyed," if God withdrew His loving protection. Therefore man must not think to be holy before God, but to draw holiness and all things else from God (Job 4:17).
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