Job 15:4
Yea, thou castest off fear, and restrainest prayer before God.
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(4) Yea, thou castest off fear.—The tendency also of Job has been to encourage a kind of fatalism (e.g., Job 12:16-25), and therefore to check the offering of prayer to God, besides setting an example which, if followed, as from Job’s position it was likely to be, would lead to murmuring and blasphemy.

Job 15:4. Yea, thou castest off fear — Hebrew, Thou makest void fear; the fear of God, piety, and religion, by thy unworthy speeches of God, and by those false and pernicious principles, that God makes no difference between good and bad in the course of his providence, but equally prospers or afflicts both: thou dost that which tends to the subversion of the fear and worship of God. And restrainest prayer — Thou dost, by thy words and principles, as far as in thee lies, banish prayer out of the world, by making it useless and unprofitable to men. Houbigant’s translation of the verse is, Truly, thou loosest the bonds of religion; thou preventest the groans or prayers which are sent up to God. Thy speeches, says Bishop Patrick, “destroy all religion, and discourage men from pouring out their complaint in prayer to God.”

15:1-16 Eliphaz begins a second attack upon Job, instead of being softened by his complaints. He unjustly charges Job with casting off the fear of God, and all regard to him, and restraining prayer. See in what religion is summed up, fearing God, and praying to him; the former the most needful principle, the latter the most needful practice. Eliphaz charges Job with self-conceit. He charges him with contempt of the counsels and comforts given him by his friends. We are apt to think that which we ourselves say is important, when others, with reason, think little of it. He charges him with opposition to God. Eliphaz ought not to have put harsh constructions upon the words of one well known for piety, and now in temptation. It is plain that these disputants were deeply convinced of the doctrine of original sin, and the total depravity of human nature. Shall we not admire the patience of God in bearing with us? and still more his love to us in the redemption of Christ Jesus his beloved Son?Yea, thou castest off fear - Margin, Makest void. Fear here means the fear or reverence of God; and the idea is, that Job had not maintained a proper veneration or respect for his Maker in his argument. He had defended principles and made assertions which implied great disrespect for the Deity. If those doctrines were true; if he was right in his views about God, then he was not a being who could be reverenced. No confidence could be placed in his government; no worship of such a being could be maintained. Eliphaz does not refer here so much to what was personal with Job, as to his principles. He does not mean so much to affirm that he himself had lost all reverence for God, as that his arguments led to that. Job had maintained that God did not in this life reward and punish people strictly according to their deserts. If this was so, Eliphaz says, then it would be impossible to honor him, and religion and worship would be at an end.

The Hebrew word rendered "castest off" - more accurately rendered in the margin "makest void" (תפר tāpēr) - implies this. "And restrainest prayer before God." Margin, "speech." The Hebrew word שׂיחה śı̂ychâh means properly "meditation" - and particularly meditation about divine things: Psalm 119:97. Then it means "devotion" - as to meditate on divine things is a part of devotion. It may be applied to any part of devotion, and seems to be not improperly rendered "prayer." It is that devotion which finds utterance in the language of prayer. The word rendered "restrainest" - תגרע tı̂gâra‛ - means to shave off - like the beard; then to cut off, to take away, detract, withhold; and the idea here is, that the views which Job maintained were such as "to sap the very foundations of religion." If God treated the righteous and the wicked alike, the one would have nothing to hope and the other nothing to fear.

There could be no ground of encouragement, to pray to him. How could the righteous pray to him, unless there was evidence that he was the friend of virtue? How could they hope for his special blessing, if he were disposed to treat the good and the bad alike? Why was it not just as well to live in sin as to be holy? And how could such a being be the object of confidence or prayer? Eliphaz mistook the meaning of Job, and pressed his positions further than he intended; and Job was not entirely able to vindicate his position, or to show how the consequences stated by Eliphaz could be avoided. "They both wanted the complete and full view of the future state of retribution revealed in the gospel, and that would have removed the whole difficulty." But I see not how the considerations here urged by this ancient sage of the tendency of Job's doctrine can be avoided, if it be applied to the views of those who hold that all people will be saved at death. If that be the truth, then who can fail to see that the tendency must be to make people cast off the fear of God and to undermine all devotion and prayer? Why should people pray, if all are to be treated alike at death? How can people worship and honor a Being who will treat the good and the bad alike? How can we have confidence in a being who makes no distinction in regard to character? And what inducement can there be to be pious, when all people shall be made as happy as they can be forever whether they are pious or not? We are not to wonder, therefore, that the system tends every where to sap the foundations of virtue and religion; that it makes no man better; and that where it prevails, it banishes religion and prayer from the world.

4. fear—reverence for God (Job 4:6; Ps 2:11).

prayer—meditation, in Ps 104:34; so devotion. If thy views were right, reasons Eliphaz, that God disregards the afflictions of the righteous and makes the wicked to prosper, all devotion would be at an end.

Heb. Thou makest void fear, i.e. the fear of God, as the word is oft used

for the word of God; or piety and religion, which oft cometh under the name of fear. This may be understood either,

1. Of Job himself; that he cast off all reverence to God, by uttering such bold and reproachful expressions concerning God and his providence. Or,

2. With respect to others; that by his insolent and unworthy speeches of and carriage towards God, and by those false and pernicious principles which he had laid down; as that God dealt with men in way of absolute sovereignty, not of justice; and that he made no difference between good and bad in the course of his providence, but did equally prosper or afflict both of them; he did that which tended to the subversion of the fear and worship of God.

Restrainest prayer; as this Hebrew word signifies also, Psalm 102:1. Or, meditation or speech; which well agrees to prayer, which is accompanied with serious thoughts and expressions. The sense is, either,

1. Instead of humble and fervent prayer to God, which thy condition calleth for, thou breathest forth false and blasphemous speeches against him. Or,

2. Thou dost by thy words, and examples, and principles, as far as in thee lies, banish prayer out of the world, by making it useless and unprofitable to men.

Yea, thou castest off fear,.... Not of man; a slavish fear of man is to be cast off, because that brings a snare, deters men from their duty, and leads into sin; though there is a fear and reverence of men which ought to be given to them, "fear to whom fear", Romans 13:7; but here the fear of God is meant, which is to be understood of the grace of fear, of which Job was possessed; that could not be cast off, for this is not what is in a man naturally, or is by the light of nature, and arises from natural conviction, which may be cast off, as was by Pharaoh; but this is a blessing of the covenant of grace, sure and firm, and is one of the gifts of grace that are without repentance; it is a part of internal grace, which can never be lost; it is improved and increased by fresh discoveries of the grace and goodness of God, and is an antidote and preservative against apostasy: perhaps the whole worship of God may be meant, external worship, or outward religion in the form of it, which is sometimes signified by the fear of God: Ecclesiastes 12:14; and it is cast off when it is neglected and not attended to, or when men become profane, after they have made a profession of religion; but as neither of these can be thought to be the case of Job, rather the meaning of Eliphaz may be, that Job did not show that reverence to God he should, as his words may seem, in Job 13:20; or that by his way of talk and reasoning, and by the notions he had imbibed and gave out, and the assertions he laid down, all religion would be made void among men; for if, as he had said, God "destroys the perfect and the wicked, and the tabernacles of robbers prosper, and the just men are laughed to scorn", Job 9:22; who would fear God? it might be inferred from hence, that it is a vain thing to serve him, and there can be no profit got by keeping his ordinances, and walking before him; this is the way to put an end to all religion, as if Eliphaz should say, and discourage all regard unto it:

and restrainest prayer before God; prayer is to be made to God and to him only, it is a part of religious worship, directed to by the light of nature, and ought to be performed by every man; it is a special privilege of the saints, who have a covenant God on a throne of grace to go to, and can pray in a spiritual manner for spiritual things; and especially is to be observed in times of trouble, in which Job now was, and never to be disused; now this charge either respects Job himself, that he left off praying, which can hardly be supposed; or that he drew out prayer to a great length, as some understand the words (w), like the tautologies of the Heathen; or he diminished prayer, as others (x), lessened the times of prayer, and the petitions in it: or rather it may respect others; not that it can be thought he should lay his injunctions on those over whom he had any authority, forbidding his servants, or those about him, to pray; but that by his manner of reasoning he discouraged prayer, as Eliphaz thought, as an useless thing; for if God laughs at the trials and afflictions of the innocent, and suffers wicked men to prosper, who would pray to him, or serve him? see Job 9:23.

(w) "tulisti", V. L. "traheres", Cocceius; "multiplicasti", so some in Bar Tzemach. (x) "Imminues", Montanus; "imminuisti", Bolducius; "diminuis", Schmidt; "minuis", Schultens.

Yea, thou castest off {c} fear, and restrainest prayer before God.

(c) He charges Job as though his talk caused men to cast off the fear of God and prayer.

4. Job was more than unwise, he was doing away with all fear of God.

castest off fear] Or, as margin, makest void, doest away with, the fear of God.

restrainest prayer] Rather, impairest reverence or devotion. The charge of Eliphaz is not merely that Job was irreligious himself, but that the tendency of his conduct and principles must be to diminish and do away devoutness and religion among men.

Verse 4. - Yea, thou castest off fear. To Eliphaz, Job's words - his bold expostulations (Job 13:3, 15, 22, etc.), his declarations that he knows he will be justified (Job 13:8), and that God will be his Salvation (Job 13:16) - seem to imply that he has cast off altogether the fear of God, and is entirely devoid of reverence. Some of his expressions certainly seem over-bold; but, on the other hand, his sense of God's purity, perfectness, and transcendent power is continually manifest, and should have saved him from the rude reproach here launched against him (comp. Job 9:1-13; Job 12:24 25; 13:11, 21, etc.). And restrainest prayer before God; rather, and hinderest devout meditation before God. Eliphaz means that Job expresses himself in a way so cf. fensive to devout souls, that he disturbs their minds and prevents them from indulging in those pious meditations on the Divine goodness which would otherwise occupy them (comp. Psalm 119:97). Thus, according to Eliphaz, Job is not only irreligious himself, but the cause of irreligion in others. Job 15:4 1 Then began Eliphaz the Temanite, and said:

2 Doth a wise man utter vain knowledge,

And fill his breast with the east wind?

3 Contending with words, that profit not,

And speeches, by which no good is done?

4 Moreover, thou makest void the fear of God,

And thou restrainest devotion before God;

5 For thy mouth exposeth thy misdeeds,

And thou choosest the language of the crafty.

6 Thine own mouth condemneth thee and not I,

And thine own lips testify against thee.

The second course of the controversy is again opened by Eliphaz, the most respectable, most influential, and perhaps oldest of the friends. Job's detailed and bitter answers seem to him as empty words and impassioned tirades, which ill become a wise man, such as he claims to be in assertions like Job 12:3; Job 13:2. החלם with He interr., like העלה, Job 13:25. רוּח, wind, is the opposite of what is solid and sure; and קדים in the parallel (like Hosea 12:2) signifies what is worthless, with the additional notion of vehement action. If we translate בּטן by "belly," the meaning is apt to be misunderstood; it is not intended as the opposite of לב fo et (Ewald), but it means, especially in the book of Job, not only that which feels, but also thinks and wills, the spiritually receptive and active inner nature of man (Psychol. S. 266); as also in Arabic, el-battin signifies that which is within, in the deepest mystical sense. Hirz. and Renan translate the inf. abs. הוכח, which follows in Job 15:3, as verb. fin.: se dfend-il par des vaines paroles; but though the inf. abs. is so used in an historical clause (Job 15:35), it is not an interrogative. Ewald takes it as the subject: "to reprove with words-avails not, and speeches - whereby one does no good;" but though דּבר and מלּים might be used without any further defining, as in λογομαχεῖν (2 Timothy 2:14) and λογομαχία (1 Timothy 6:4), the form of Job 15:3 is opposed to such an explanation. The inf. abs. is connected as a gerund (redarguendo s. disputando) with the verbs in the question, Job 15:2; and the elliptical relative clause יסכּן לא is best, as referring to things, according to Job 35:3 : sermone (דּבד from דּבר, as sermo from serere) qui non prodest; בּם יועיל לא, on the other hand, to persons, verbis quibus nil utilitatis affert. Eliphaz does not censure Job for arguing, but for defending himself by such useless and purposeless utterances of his feeling. But still more than that: his speeches are not only unsatisfactory and unbecoming, אף, accedit quod (cumulative like Job 14:3), they are moreover irreligious, since by doubting the justice of God they deprive religion of its fundamental assumption, and diminish the reverence due to God. יראה in such an objective sense as Psalm 19:10 almost corresponds to the idea of religion. שׂיחה לפני־אל is to be understood, according to Psalm 102:1; Psalm 142:3 (comp. Psalm 64:2; Psalm 104:34): before God, and consequently customary devotional meditation, here of the disposition of mind indispensable to prayer, viz., devotion, and especially reverential awe, which Job depreciates (גּרע, detrahere). His speeches are mostly directed towards God; but they are violent and reproachful, therefore irreverent in form and substance.

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