|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 16. - He is green before the sun. Bildad here introduces a third and more elaborate simile. The hypocrite, or ungodly man (ver. 13), is as a gourd (Jonah 4:6), or other rapidly growing plant, which shoots forth at sunrise with a wealth of greenery, spreading itself over a whole garden, and even sending forth its sprays and tendrils beyond it (comp. Genesis 49:22) - lovely to look at, and full, apparently, of life and vigour. And his branch shooteth forth in his garden; rather, over his garden, or beyond his, garden.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
He is green before the sun,.... Which some understand of the rush or flag, of which a further account is given, as setting forth more fully the case of wicked men and hypocrites; but to either of these do not agree the situation of it in a garden, the shooting forth of its branches, and the height of it, and its striking its roots deep in stony places: Cocceius interprets it of the "herb" or grass before which the flag withers, Job 8:12; but the same objections, or most of them, lie against that also; rather, from the description of it, a tall large tree is designed, to which hypocrites in their most flourishing circumstances are compared, and yet come to nothing, Psalm 37:35; that is "green" in its leaves, and looks beautiful, so they in a profession of religion, which is like green leaves without fruit; they make in it a fair show in the flesh, take up and him the lamp of a profession, and retain it bright and fair for a time; or, like a tree full of sap, or "juicy" (i); or, as Mr. Broughton renders it, "juiceful"; denoting, not a fulness of the spirit and his grace, or of faith, hope, love, &c. and of righteousness and goodness, but of, outward prosperity, having as much as heart could wish, and great plenty of good things laid up for many years: and this tree is said to be green and juicy "before the sun"; either in the presence and through the influence of it, as hypocrites flourish, even in a religious way, while the sun of prosperity shines upon them, and no longer; or openly and publicly, in the sight of all men, as this phrase is used, 2 Samuel 12:11; and as such men do, in the view of all men, professors and profane, doing all they do to be seen of men, and before whom they are outwardly righteous, and reckoned good men; or, "before the sun" rises, as the Targum and Aben Ezra, so hypocrites flourish, before the sun of persecution arises and smites them, because of their profession, and then they drop it; see Matthew 13:6,
and his branch shooteth forth in his garden; or "over" (k) it; and branch may be put branches, which in a flourishing tree spread themselves to cover a considerable piece of ground: Mr. Broughton renders it, "and his suckers sprout over his orchard"; all which may denote the increase of a wicked man, in his family, in his wealth and substance, and particularly in his posterity, which are as branches and suckers from him; and Bildad, if these are his own words, may have respect to Job, and to his large substance and number of children he had in his prosperity, when he had an hedge set about him, and was enclosed as in a garden: and whereas the church of God is sometimes compared to a garden, Sol 4:12; it agrees very well with hypocrites, who have a place there, and are called hypocrites in Sion, where they have a name, and flourish for a while: many interpreters, both Jewish (l) and Christian (m), interpret this, and what follows, of truly righteous and good men under afflictive providences, who notwithstanding continue, and are not the worse, but the better for them; their leaf of profession is always green, and withers not; and that "before the sun", even of adversity and affliction; and though that beats upon them, and smites them severely, they are like green olive trees, or the cedars of God, full of sap, full of the grace of God, and continually supplied with it; and so patiently endure temptation and affliction, bear the heat and burden of the day, and are not careful in the year of drought; see Sol 1:6; such are planted in the garden and house of the Lord by himself and shall never be rooted up; where their branches spread, and they grow in grace, and in the knowledge of all divine things, and are filled with the fruits of righteousness.
(i) "succosus", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Schultens; "viridis quidem et succi plenus", Michaelis. (k) "supra", Junius & Tremellius, Mercerus, Codurcus; "super", Montanus, Piscator, Schmidt, Schultens. (l) Saadiah Caon, R. Levi, Ben Gersom. (m) Vatablus, Beza, Diodati, Cocceius, Gussetius, p. 247.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
16. before the sun—that is, he (the godless) is green only before the sun rises; but he cannot bear its heat, and withers. So succulent plants like the gourd (Jon 4:7, 8). But the widespreading in the garden does not quite accord with this. Better, "in sunshine"; the sun representing the smiling fortune of the hypocrite, during which he wondrously progresses [Umbreit]. The image is that of weeds growing in rank luxuriance and spreading over even heaps of stones and walls, and then being speedily torn away.
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