Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said,Job 11:1. Then answered Zophar the Naamathite — How hard is it to preserve calmness in the heat of disputation! Eliphaz began modestly: Bildad was a little rougher: but Zophar falls upon Job without mercy. “Those that have a mind to fall out with their brethren, and to fall foul upon them, find it necessary to put the worst colours they can upon them and their performances, and, right or wrong, to make them odious.” Zophar, highly provoked that Job should dare to call in question a maxim so universally assented to as that urged by his friends, immediately charges him home with secret wickedness. He tells him that he makes not the least doubt, were the real state of his heart laid open, that it would be found God had dealt very gently with him, Job 11:2-7. That he was highly blameworthy to pretend to fathom the depths of divine providence, a task to which he was utterly unequal: that, however his wickedness might be concealed from me, yet it was open and bare to God’s all-seeing eye; could he therefore imagine that God would not punish the wickedness he saw? Job 11:7-11. It would surely be far more becoming in him to submit, and give glory to God, by making an ample confession and full restitution. In that case, indeed, he might hope for a return of God’s goodness to him; but the way he was in at present was the common road of the wicked, whose only hope was annihilation, Job 11:12-20. — Heath and Dodd.
Should not the multitude of words be answered? and should a man full of talk be justified?Job 11:2. Should not the multitude of words be answered? — Truly, sometimes it should not. Silence is the best confutation of impertinence, and puts the greatest contempt upon it. Zophar means, Dost thou think to carry thy cause by thy long, tedious discourses, consisting of empty words, without weight or reason? And should a man full of talk be justified? — Shall we, by our silence, seem to approve of thy errors? Or, shall we think thy cause the better because thou usest more words than we do?
Should thy lies make men hold their peace? and when thou mockest, shall no man make thee ashamed?Job 11:3. Should thy lies — That is, thy false opinions and assertions, both concerning thyself and thy own innocence, and concerning the counsels and ways of God, make men hold their peace? — As if thy arguments were unanswerable. And when thou mockest — Both God and us, and our friendly and faithful counsels; shall no man make thee ashamed? — By discovering thy errors and follies.
For thou hast said, My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in thine eyes.Job 11:4. Thou hast said, My doctrine — Concerning God and his providence; is pure — That is, true and certain. The word לקחי, likchi, according to R. Levi, signifies consuetudo mea, et dispositio mea, my way and manner of life; the same that St. Paul calls η βιωσις μου; my way of life. See Chappelow. And I am clean in thine eyes — I am innocent before God: I have not sinned either by my former actions or by my present expressions. But Zophar aggravates and perverts Job’s words; for he did not deny that he was a sinner in God’s sight; but only that he was a hypocrite or ungodly man, as they thought him to be.
But oh that God would speak, and open his lips against thee;Job 11:5. O that God would speak — Plead with thee according to thy desire: he would soon put thee to silence. We are commonly ready, with great assurance, to interest God in our quarrels. But they are not always in the right who are most forward to appeal to his judgment, and prejudge it against their antagonists.
And that he would shew thee the secrets of wisdom, that they are double to that which is! Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth.Job 11:6. That he would show thee the secrets of wisdom — The unsearchable depths of his wisdom in dealing with his creatures. That they are double to that which is — That they are far greater (the word double being used indefinitely for manifold, or plentiful) than that which is manifested. The secret wisdom of God is infinitely greater than that which is revealed to us by his word or works: the greatest part of what is known of God is the least part of those perfections that are in him. And therefore thou art rash in judging so harshly of his proceedings with thee, because thou dost not comprehend the reasons of them, and in judging thyself innocent, because thou dost not see thy sins: whereas, the all-knowing God sees innumerable sins in thee, for which he may utterly destroy thee. God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth — Or, as the Hebrew, ישׁה מעונךְ, jashe magnavoneka, may be rendered, gives, or forgives thee part of thine iniquity; doth not deal with thee according to the full demerit of it, but remits thee a part of the punishment due to thee: which he affirms, on an ungrounded persuasion that Job was an ungodly hypocrite. “Strange presumption, says Dr. Dodd, “thus to pronounce positively upon a point of which he could not possibly be a judge. But it happened here, as usual, that this speaker, who sets out with the greatest heat, is the first whose arguments are spent. For, after this vehement speech, he makes but one reply, and it is over with him.” We may however, so far agree with Zophar, as to allow that when, and so far as the debt of duty is not paid, it belongs to justice to insist on the debt of punishment; and that whatever punishment is inflicted upon us in this world, it is less than our iniquities deserve, and that, therefore, instead of complaining of our troubles, we ought to be thankful that we are out of hell.
Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?Job 11:7-8. Canst thou by searching find out God? — That is, discover all the depths of his wisdom, and the reasons of all his actions. It is as high as heaven — Thou canst not measure the heights of the visible heavens, much less of the divine perfections; what canst thou do? — Namely, to find him out. Deeper than hell; what canst thou know? — Concerning him and his ways, which are far out of thy sight and reach. God is unsearchable. The ages of his eternity cannot be numbered, nor the spaces of his immensity measured; the depths of his wisdom cannot be fathomed, nor the extent of his power bounded: the brightness of his glory can never be described, nor the treasures of his goodness counted. This is a good reason why we should always speak of God with humility and caution, and never prescribe to him, or quarrel with his dispensations; why we should be thankful for what he has revealed of himself, and long to be there where we shall see him as he is.
It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know?
The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.Job 11:9. The measure thereof is longer than the earth — From one end to the other. And broader than the sea — Called the great and wide sea, Psalm 104:25. It infinitely exceeds the limits of the whole creation. Examine the earth in its utmost dimensions: consider all the beauties and excellences belonging to it. Having done this, compare it with the vast, unbounded wisdom of God, and thou wilt soon be sensible how small and inconsiderable the one will be in proportion to the other. The sea, how wide and broad soever it may seem to be; though, at first view, it may appear to be immeasurable; yet, should you examine it in the scale with the divine perfections, the whole ocean, in its utmost extent, would be only as the drop of a bucket, and the waters thereof such as he could measure in the hollow of his hand.
If he cut off, and shut up, or gather together, then who can hinder him?Job 11:10. If he cut off — Namely, a person or family; and shut up — In prison, or in the hands of an enemy, or in the net of affliction and trouble, Psalm 66:11. Or gather together — Make our condition strait and narrow, as some interpret it; or, gather together as tares to the fire, or gather to himself man’s breath and spirit, Job 34:14. Then who can hinder him? — From doing what he pleaseth with his creatures? Who can either arrest the sentence, or oppose the execution? Who can control his power or arraign his wisdom and justice? If he, who made all out of nothing, think fit to reduce all to nothing; if he that separated between light and darkness, dry land and sea, at first, please to gather them together again; if he that made, think proper to unmake, מי ישׁיבנו, mi jeshibennu, who can turn him; alter his mind, or stay his hand, impede or impeach his proceedings?
For he knoweth vain men: he seeth wickedness also; will he not then consider it?Job 11:11. For he knoweth vain men — Though men know but little of God, and therefore are very unfit judges of his counsels and actions, yet God knows man exactly. He knoweth that every man in the world is guilty of much vanity and folly, and therefore seeth sufficient reason for his severity against the best men. He seeth wickedness also — He perceiveth the wickedness of evil men, though it be covered with the veil of religion. Will he not then consider — Shall he only see it as an idle spectator, and not observe it as a judge to punish it?
For vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass's colt.Job 11:12. For, or, yet, vain man would be wise — Man, who since the fall is void of all true wisdom, pretends to be wise, and able to pass a censure upon all God’s ways and works. Born like a wild ass’s colt — Ignorant, and dull, and stupid, as to divine things, and yet heady and untractable. Such is man by his birth; this evil is now natural and hereditary, and therefore common to all men: of consequence it is not strange, if Job partake of the common distemper.
If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thine hands toward him;Job 11:13. If thou prepare thy heart — Thy business, O Job, is not to quarrel with thy Maker, or his works; but to address thyself to him by prayer and supplication, sincerely repenting of all thy hard speeches, and other sins against God, and seeking him with a pure and upright heart; without which thy prayers will be in vain.
If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles.Job 11:14. If iniquity be in thy hand — If thou hast in thy hand, or possession, any goods gotten by injustice or oppression, as it seems they supposed he had; or, he means, more generally, if thou allowest thyself in any sinful practices, the hand being put for action, whereof it is the instrument; put it far away — Keep thyself at a great distance, not only from such actions, but also from the very occasions and appearances of them. Let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles — That is, in thy habitation, either in thyself or in thy family; whose sins Job was obliged, as far as he could, to prevent or reform, as it seems he had done, Job 1:5. He saith, tabernacles, because anciently the habitations of great men consisted of several tents or tabernacles.
For then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot; yea, thou shalt be stedfast, and shalt not fear:Job 11:15. For then shalt thou lift up thy face — With cheerfulness and holy boldness. Without spot — Having a clear and unspotted conscience. Yea, thou shalt be steadfast — Shalt have a strong and comfortable assurance of God’s favour, and shalt be settled, without any fear of losing thy happiness.
Because thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away:Job 11:16. Because thou shalt forget thy misery — Thy happiness shall be so great that it shall blot out the remembrance of thy past miseries; and remember it as waters that pass away — Thou shalt remember it no more than men remember either a land-flood, which, as it comes, so it goes away suddenly, and leaves few or no marks or memorials behind it; or the waters of a river, which pass by in constant succession.
And thine age shall be clearer than the noonday; thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning.Job 11:17. And thine age shall be clearer than the noon-day — The remainder of thy life in this world shall be more glorious than the sun at noon. Hebrew, יקים, jakum, shall arise above the noon-day, or above the sun at noon-day, when it is at its greatest height, as well as in its greatest glory. Thou shalt shine forth — Thy light shall arise out of obscurity, and thou shalt be prosperous and happy; thou shalt be as the morning — Thy night of trouble shall certainly and speedily be followed with the morning of deliverance and comfort, which, like the morning light, shall shine brighter and brighter till the perfect day. Light, in the Scripture, commonly signifies prosperity and glory.
And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope; yea, thou shalt dig about thee, and thou shalt take thy rest in safety.Job 11:18-19. Thou shalt be secure, because there is hope — Thy mind shall be quiet and free from terrors, because thou shalt have a firm and well-grounded confidence in God. Thou shalt dig — Either to fix thy tents, which, after the manner of the Arabians, were removed from place to place; or, to plough thy ground, as he had done, Job 1:14, or to make a fence about thy dwelling Thou shalt take thy rest in safety — Free from dangers and the fear of them; because of God’s fatherly providence watching over thee, when thou canst not watch over thyself. And none shall make thee afraid — Thou shalt be in perfect peace, and none shall disquiet thee; yea, many shall make suit unto thee — Desiring thy favour and friendship, because of thy great power and riches, and eminent felicity.
Also thou shalt lie down, and none shall make thee afraid; yea, many shall make suit unto thee.
But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not escape, and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost.Job 11:20. The eyes of the wicked shall fail — Either through grief and tears for their sore calamities, or with long looking for what they shall never attain. Failing of the eyes is one of those expressions in Scripture to be admired for its beauteous simplicity. It represents a very eager and passionate desire to obtain that which we are in pursuit of: and, at the same time, the great uneasiness which must unavoidably follow from a disappointment. One of the appeals which Job makes, in vindication of his integrity, is, that he had not caused the eyes of the widow to fail, chap. Job 31:16; that he had not frustrated her expectations when she applied to him for relief and assistance in her distress. The psalmist writes, Mine eyes fail while I wait for my God, Psalm 69:3. They shall not escape — Hebrew, מנושׂ אבד, manos abad, flight perishes from them, or safety leaves them. This is another of those elegant Scripture phrases which suggests to us the strongest efforts made by a guilty person to escape punishment; but fainting and sinking by the way, through fatigue and weariness, and failing of attaining his purpose. The Prophet Jeremiah uses the same phraseology with regard to the shepherds, or principal men among the Jews, Jeremiah 25:35; which is literally, Flight shall perish from the shepherds. Compare Amos 2:14, where the exact and literal translation of the Hebrew is given: Flight shall perish from the swift. Their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost — Shall be as vain and desperate as the hope of life is in a man when he is at the very point of death. Shall be as a puff of breath, as the margin reads it; gone in a moment without any hope of recovery. Or their hope shall perish, as a man doth with respect to this world, when he gives up the ghost; it will fail them when they have most need of it; and, when they expected the accomplishment of it, it will die away and leave them in utter confusion.