|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:8-19 Bildad discourses well of hypocrites and evil-doers, and the fatal end of all their hopes and joys. He proves this truth of the destruction of the hopes and joys of hypocrites, by an appeal to former times. Bildad refers to the testimony of the ancients. Those teach best that utter words out of their heart, that speak from an experience of spiritual and divine things. A rush growing in fenny ground, looking very green, but withering in dry weather, represents the hypocrite's profession, which is maintained only in times of prosperity. The spider's web, spun with great skill, but easily swept away, represents a man's pretensions to religion when without the grace of God in his heart. A formal professor flatters himself in his own eyes, doubts not of his salvation, is secure, and cheats the world with his vain confidences. The flourishing of the tree, planted in the garden, striking root to the rock, yet after a time cut down and thrown aside, represents wicked men, when most firmly established, suddenly thrown down and forgotten. This doctrine of the vanity of a hypocrite's confidence, or the prosperity of a wicked man, is sound; but it was not applicable to the case of Job, if confined to the present world.
Verse 15. - He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand: he shall hold it fast, but it shall not endure. A spider's web, once damaged, rapidly goes to pieces. It cannot be patched up. To "lean upon it" is to put its structure to a test which it is unable to bear. It cannot "stand" or "endure." The case is the same with all the supports of the ungodly.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
He shall lean upon his house,.... Either the spider or the hypocrite, or the hypocrite as the spider; that is, that which is the ground of his confidence, which is as the spider's house, on that he shall depend, either on his riches and outward prosperity, which he promises himself a long continuance of, and from whence he concludes himself to be high in the favour and good will of God; or on his works of righteousness, his outward profession of religion, attendance on external worship, and a round of duties performed by him; in these he trusts, on these he depends, in such webs he enwraps himself, in such a house he dwells, and imagines himself safe; which is only making flesh his arm, leaning upon a broken reed, and building an house upon the sand: the Septuagint version is, "if he prop up his house", by repeated outward acts of religion:
but it shall not stand: whether it be riches, these are uncertain things, of no continuance; there are no riches durable but the unsearchable riches of Christ and his grace; or whether it be a man's own righteousness, which he endeavours to establish, or "make to stand", as the phrase is in Romans 10:3; but in vain; it is but a sandy foundation to build on; or the hope and confidence laid upon it is like a house built on the sand, and, when rain falls, floods come, and winds beat upon it, it falls; and great is the fall of it, Matthew 7:26,
he shall hold it fast; as the worldling does his wealth, his gold and his silver; but it is snatched out of his hand by one providence or another, or however at last death obliges him to part with it; and the self-righteous man holds fast his righteousness, it is his own, he is fond of, an house of his own building, and cannot bear to have it demolished; an idol of his own setting up, and to take it away is to take away his gods; and what has he more? wherefore he holds it as fast as he can, and will not let it go till he can hold it no longer; or, "he shall fortify himself in it" (h), as in a castle or strong hold, which he thinks impregnable, yet will soon and easily be battered down by divine justice:
but it shall not endure; gold perishes, riches come to nought, wealth is no enduring substance, nor is a man's righteousness lasting; only Christ's righteousness is everlasting; true grace endures to eternal and issues in it; but external gifts, speculative and rational knowledge, and a mere profession of religion, fail, cease, and vanish away.
(h) "roborabit in eam", Montanus, Bolducius; "firmat se", Vatablus; so the Targum and Ben Gersom.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
15. he shall hold it fast—implying his eager grasp, when the storm of trial comes: as the spider "holds fast" by its web; but with this difference: the light spider is sustained by that on which it rests; the godless is not by the thin web on which he rests. The expression, "Hold fast," properly applies to the spider holding his web, but is transferred to the man. Hypocrisy, like the spider's web, is fine-spun, flimsy, and woven out of its own inventions, as the spider's web out of its own bowels. An Arab proverb says, "Time destroys the well-built house, as well as the spider's web."
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