Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Wherefore, Job, I pray thee, hear my speeches, and hearken to all my words.
Job 33:1-33. Address to Job, as (Job 32:1-22) TO THE Friends.
Behold, now I have opened my mouth, my tongue hath spoken in my mouth.
2. mouth—rather, "palate," whereby the taste discerns. Every man speaks with his mouth, but few, as Elihu, try their words with discrimination first, and only say what is really good (Job 6:30; 12:11).
hath spoken—rather, "proceeds to speak."
My words shall be of the uprightness of my heart: and my lips shall utter knowledge clearly.
3. I will speak according to my inward conviction.
clearly—rather, "purely"; sincerely, not distorting the truth through passion, as the friends did.
The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.
4. The Spirit of God hath made me—as He did thee: latter clause of Job 33:6 (Ge 2:7). Therefore thou needest not fear me, as thou wouldest God (Job 33:7; Job 9:34). On the other hand, "the breath of the Almighty hath inspired me" (as Job 32:8); not as English Version, "given me life"; therefore "I am according to thy wish (Job 9:32, 33) in God's stead" to thee; a "daysman," umpire, or mediator, between God and thee. So Elihu was designed by the Holy Ghost to be a type of Jesus Christ (Job 33:23-26).
If thou canst answer me, set thy words in order before me, stand up.
5. Images from a court of justice.
stand up—alluding to Job's words (Job 30:20).
Behold, I am according to thy wish in God's stead: I also am formed out of the clay.
6. (See on Job 33:4; Job 31:35; 13:3, 20, 21).
formed—Though acting as God's representative, I am but a creature, like thyself. Arabic, "pressed together," as a mass of clay by the potter, in forming a vessel [Umbreit]. Hebrew, "cut off," as the portion taken from the clay to form it [Maurer].
Behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid, neither shall my hand be heavy upon thee.
7. hand—alluding to Job's words (Job 13:21).
Surely thou hast spoken in mine hearing, and I have heard the voice of thy words, saying,
8. thy words—(Job 10:7; 16:17; 23:11, 12; 27:5, 6; 29:14). In Job 9:30; 13:23, Job had acknowledged sin; but the general spirit of his words was to maintain himself to be "clean," and to charge God with injustice. He went too far on the opposite side in opposing the friends' false charge of hypocrisy. Even the godly, though willing to confess themselves sinners in general, often dislike sin in particular to be brought as a charge against them. Affliction is therefore needed to bring them to feel that sin in them deserves even worse than they suffer and that God does them no injustice. Then at last humbled under God they find, affliction is for their real good, and so at last it is taken away either here, or at least at death. To teach this is Elihu's mission.
I am clean without transgression, I am innocent; neither is there iniquity in me.
Behold, he findeth occasions against me, he counteth me for his enemy,
10. occasions—for hostility; literally, "enmities" (Job 13:24; 16:9; 19:11; 30:21).
He putteth my feet in the stocks, he marketh all my paths.
11. (Job 13:27).
marketh—narrowly watches (Job 14:16; 7:12; 31:4).
Behold, in this thou art not just: I will answer thee, that God is greater than man.
12. in this—view of God and His government. It cannot be that God should jealously "watch" man, though "spotless," as an "enemy," or as one afraid of him as an equal. For "God is greater than man!" There must be sin in man, even though he be no hypocrite, which needs correction by suffering for the sufferer's good.
Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters.
13. (Isa 45:9).
his matters—ways. Our part is, not to "strive" with God, but to submit. To believe it is right because He does it, not because we see all the reasons for His doing it.
For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not.
14. Translate, "Yet, man regardeth it not"; or rather, as Umbreit, "Yea, twice (He repeats the warning)—if man gives no heed" to the first warning. Elihu implies that God's reason for sending affliction is because, when God has communicated His will in various ways, man in prosperity has not heeded it; God therefore must try what affliction will effect (Joh 15:2; Ps 62:11; Isa 28:10, 13).
In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed;
15. slumberings—light is opposed to "deep sleep." Elihu has in view Eliphaz (Job 4:13), and also Job himself (Job 7:14). "Dreams" in sleep, and "visions" of actual apparitions, were among the ways whereby God then spake to man (Ge 20:3).
Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction,
16. Literally, "sealeth (their ears) to Himself by warnings," that is, with the sureness and secrecy of a seal He reveals His warnings [Umbreit]. To seal up securely (Job 37:7).
That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man.
17. purpose—Margin, "work." So Job 36:9. So "business" in a bad sense (1Sa 20:19). Elihu alludes to Job's words (Job 17:11). "Pride," an open "pit" (Job 33:18) which God hides or covers up, lest man should fall into it. Even the godly need to learn the lesson which trials teach, to "humble themselves under the mighty hand of God."
He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword.
18. his soul—his life.
the pit—the grave; a symbol of hell.
perishing by the sword—that is, a violent death; in the Old Testament a symbol of the future punishment of the ungodly.
He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain:
19. When man does not heed warnings of the night, he is chastened, &c. The new thought suggested by Elihu is that affliction is disciplinary (Job 36:10); for the good of the godly.
multitude—so the Margin, Hebrew (Keri). Better with the text (Chetib), "And with the perpetual (strong) contest of his bones"; the never-resting fever in his bones (Ps 38:3) [Umbreit].
So that his life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty meat.
20. life—that is, the appetite, which ordinarily sustains "life" (Job 38:39; Ps 107:18; Ec 12:5). The taking away of desire for food by sickness symbolizes the removal by affliction of lust, for things which foster the spiritual fever of pride.
His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen; and his bones that were not seen stick out.
21. His flesh once prominent "can no more be seen." His bones once not seen now appear prominent.
stick out—literally, "are bare." The Margin, Hebrew (Keri) reading. The text (Chetib) reads it a noun "(are become) bareness." The Keri was no doubt an explanatory reading of transcribers.
Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers.
22. destroyers—angels of death commissioned by God to end man's life (2Sa 24:16; Ps 78:49). The death pains personified may, however, be meant; so "gnawers" (see on Job 30:17).
If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness:
23. Elihu refers to himself as the divinely-sent (Job 32:8; 33:6) "messenger," the "interpreter" to explain to Job and vindicate God's righteousness; such a one Eliphaz had denied that Job could look for (Job 5:1), and Job (Job 9:33) had wished for such a "daysman" or umpire between him and God. The "messenger" of good is antithetical to the "destroyers" (Job 33:23).
with him—if there be vouchsafed to the sufferer. The office of the interpreter is stated "to show unto man God's uprightness" in His dealings; or, as Umbreit, "man's upright course towards God" (Pr 14:2). The former is better; Job maintained his own "uprightness" (Job 16:17; 27:5, 6); Elihu on the contrary maintains God's, and that man's true uprightness lies in submission to God. "One among a thousand" is a man rarely to be found. So Jesus Christ (So 5:10). Elihu, the God-sent mediator of a temporal deliverance, is a type of the God-man Jesus Christ the Mediator of eternal deliverance: "the messenger of the covenant" (Mal 3:1). This is the wonderful work of the Holy Ghost, that persons and events move in their own sphere in such a way as unconsciously to shadow forth Him, whose "testimony is the Spirit of prophecy"; as the same point may be center of a small and of a vastly larger concentric circle.
Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.
24. Apodosis to Job 33:23.
Deliver—literally, "redeem"; in it and "ransom" there is reference to the consideration, on account of which God pardons and relieves the sufferers; here it is primarily the intercession of Elihu. But the language is too strong for its full meaning to be exhausted by this. The Holy Ghost has suggested language which receives its full realization only in the "eternal redemption found" by God in the price paid by Jesus Christ for it; that is, His blood and meritorious intercession (Heb 9:12). "Obtained," literally, "found"; implying the earnest zeal, wisdom, and faithfulness of the finder, and the newness and joyousness of the finding. Jesus Christ could not but have found it, but still His seeking it was needed [Bengel], (Lu 15:8). God the Father, is the Finder (Ps 89:19). Jesus Christ the Redeemer, to whom He saith, Redeem (so Hebrew) him from going, &c. (2Co 5:19).
ransom—used in a general sense by Elihu, but meant by the Holy Ghost in its strict sense as applied to Jesus Christ, of a price paid for deliverance (Ex 21:30), an atonement (that is, means of selling at once, that is, reconciling "two" who are estranged), a covering, as of the ark with pitch, typical of what covers us sinners from wrath (Ge 6:14; Ps 32:1). The pit is primarily here the grave (Isa 38:17), but the spiritual pit is mainly shadowed forth (Zec 9:11).
His flesh shall be fresher than a child's: he shall return to the days of his youth:
25-28. Effects of restoration to God's favor; literally, to Job a temporal revival; spiritually, an eternal regeneration. The striking words cannot be restricted to their temporal meaning, as used by Elihu (1Pe 1:11, 12).
his flesh shall be fresher than a child's—so Naaman, 2Ki 5:14, spiritually, Joh 3:3-7.
He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him: and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render unto man his righteousness.
26. Job shall no longer pray to God, as he complains, in vain (Job 23:3, 8, 9). True especially to the redeemed in Jesus Christ (Joh 16:23-27).
shall see his face—or, God shall make Job to see His face [Maurer]. God shall no longer "hide His face" (Job 13:24). True to the believer now (Joh 14:21, 22); eternally (Ps 17:15; Joh 17:24).
righteousness—God will again make the restored Job no longer ("I perverted … right," Job 33:27) doubt God's justice, but to justify Him in His dealings. The penitent justifies God (Ps 51:4). So the believer is made to see God's righteousness in Jesus Christ (Isa 45:24; 46:13).
He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not;
27. he looketh—God. Rather, with Umbreit, "Now he (the restored penitent) singeth joyfully (answering to "joy," Job 33:26; Ps 51:12) before men, and saith," &c. (Pr 25:20; Ps 66:16; 116:14).
perverted—made the straight crooked: as Job had misrepresented God's character.
profited—literally, "was made even" to me; rather, "My punishment was not commensurate with my sin" (so Zophar, Job 11:6); the reverse of what Job heretofore said (Job 16:17; Ps 103:10; Ezr 9:13).
He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light.
28. (See on Job 33:24); rather, as Hebrew text (English Version reads as the Margin, Hebrew, Keri, "his soul, his life"), "He hath delivered my soul … my life." Continuation of the penitent's testimony to the people.
light—(Job 33:30; Job 3:16, 20; Ps 56:13; Ec 11:7).
Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man,
29. Margin, "twice and thrice," alluding to Job 33:14; once, by visions, Job 33:15-17; secondly, by afflictions, Job 33:19-22; now, by the "messenger," thirdly, Job 33:23.
To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living.
30. Referring to Job 33:28 (Ps 50:13).
Mark well, O Job, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I will speak.
If thou hast any thing to say, answer me: speak, for I desire to justify thee.
32. justify—to do thee justice; and, if I can, consistently with it, to declare thee innocent. At Job 33:33 Elihu pauses for a reply; then proceeds in Job 34:1.
If not, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I shall teach thee wisdom.