Job 21:14
Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) Therefore they say unto God.—Should be, Yet they said unto God, Depart from us, &c.

Job 21:14. Therefore — Because of their constant prosperity, they say unto God — Sometimes in words, but commonly in their thoughts and affections, and by the language of their lives, Depart from us — Let us not be troubled with the apprehension of our being under God’s eye, nor be restrained by the fear of him. Or, they bid him depart as one they do not need, nor have any occasion to apply to for help or comfort. The world is the portion which they have chosen, and with which they are satisfied, and in which they think themselves happy, and while they have that they can live without God. Justly will God say to them, Depart, who have bid him depart; and justly doth he now take them at their word. We desire not the knowledge of thy ways — Much less the practice of them. They that are resolved not to walk in God’s ways, desire not to know them, because their knowledge would be a continual reproach to their disobedience.

21:7-16 Job says, Remarkable judgments are sometimes brought upon notorious sinners, but not always. Wherefore is it so? This is the day of God's patience; and, in some way or other, he makes use of the prosperity of the wicked to serve his own counsels, while it ripens them for ruin; but the chief reason is, because he will make it appear there is another world. These prospering sinners make light of God and religion, as if because they have so much of this world, they had no need to look after another. But religion is not a vain thing. If it be so to us, we may thank ourselves for resting on the outside of it. Job shows their folly.Therefore - This would seem to indicate that the "result" of their living in this manner was that they rejected God, or that one of the consequences of their being prospered would be that they would cast off his government and authority; that they renounced him "because" they were thus prosperous, or because they wished to train up their children in merriment and dancing. All this may be true in itself, but that idea is not in the Hebrew. That is simply "and they say" - ויאמרו vayo'âmarû. So the Vulgate; the Septuagint; the Chaldee - ואמרו; and the Syriac. The word "therefore" should not have been inserted. Job is not affirming that their mode of life is a "reason" why they reject the claims of God, but that it is a simple "fact" that they "do" live, even in this prosperity, in the neglect of God. This is the gist of what he is saying, that being thus wicked they were in fact prospered, and not punished as his friends had maintained.

They say unto God - This is the language of their conduct. Men do not often formally and openly say this; but it is the language of their deportment.

Depart from us - This is about all that the wicked say of God. "They wish him to let them alone." They do not desire that he would come into their habitations; they would be glad never more to hear his name. Yet what a state of mind is this! What must be the condition and character of the human heart when this desire is felt?

We desire not the knowledge of thy ways - We have no wish to become acquainted with God. His "ways" here mean his government, his law, his claims - whatever God does. Never was there a better description of the feelings of the human heart than is here expressed. The ways of God are displeasing to people, and they seek to crowd from their minds all respect to his commandments and claims. Yet, if this is the character of man, assuredly he is very far from being a holy being. What higher proof of depravity can there be, than that a man has no desire to know anything about a pure and holy God; no pleasure in becoming acquainted with his Maker!

14. Therefore—rather, "And yet they are such as say," &c., that is, say, not in so many words, but virtually, by their conduct (so the Gergesenes, Mt 8:34). How differently the godly (Isa 2:3).

ways—The course of action, which God points out; as in Ps 50:23, Margin.

Therefore; because of their constant prosperity. Heb. and, or yet. Though God be so gracious to them, yet they say and do thus to him.

They say; sometimes in words, but commonly in their thoughts and affections, and the language of their lives: see Psalm 14:1 36:1,2 Mal 3:14,15 Tit 1:16.

We desire not the knowledge of thy laws,

much less the practice.

Therefore they say unto God,.... While in health and life, amidst all their outward prosperity, and because of it; for worldly riches have this tendency, to make men proud and insolent, and not only to behave ill to their fellow creatures, and to slight and despise them; but even to forsake God, and lightly esteem their Creator and benefactor; yea, even to kick against him, and oppose him, to set their mouths against him, and speak very contemptuously and blasphemously of him, as in the following words; which though not expressly uttered and pronounced, which yet may have been by some, however are conceived in the mind, and inwardly spoken; and by their lives and conversations outwardly declared and abundantly proclaimed:

depart from us; not as to his general presence, which cannot be, and without which they would not be able to subsist; God is everywhere, and near to everyone, and all live, and move, and have their being, in him; nor as to his spiritual presence, which wicked men know nothing of, and are unconcerned about; but they do not choose to have him so near them as that their minds should be conversant about him; they do not care to have him in their thoughts, they are desirous if possible of banishing him out of their minds; they would live without thinking of God, or thinking that there is a God in the world, for such a thought makes them uneasy; they do not love to have their consciences awakened by him, so as to check and accuse for what they do; they had rather have them cauterized or seared, as with a red hot iron, and be past feeling, that they may go on in their sinful courses without control: this is the just character of a worldling, who is afraid he shall be a loser by God and religion, should he attend thereunto; and therefore, as the Gergesenes for a like reason desired Christ to depart out of their coasts, so such desire God to depart from them, Matthew 8:28; and of the epicure, whose God is his belly, and that only; and most righteously will it be said to such at the last day, "depart from me"; this will be a just retaliation:

for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways; the ways which God prescribes, directs, and enjoins men to walk in, even the ways of his commandments; these are unknown to men, until shown and taught them; but wicked men do not desire to be instructed in them; they have no pleasure and delight neither in them, nor in the knowledge of them; they fancy there is no pleasure to be had in them, and they think they have got into a much more pleasant way, which they have chosen, and their souls delight in; though destruction and misery are in it, and it leads into it: they wilfully affect ignorance of the ways of God; they do not care to come to the light, lest their deeds should be reproved, their consciences be made uneasy, and they not able to go on so peaceably and quietly in their own ways.

Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the {g} knowledge of thy ways.

(g) They desire nothing more than to be exempt from all subjection that they should bear to God, thus Job shows his adversaries, that if they reason only by that which is seen by common experience the wicked who hate God are better dealt withal than they who love him.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14, 15. All this joy and prosperity they enjoyed though they had bidden God depart from them and renounced His service.

Therefore they say] Rather, though (lit. and) they said. Their godlessness was not merely that of passion, it was almost formal and reasoned. Coverdale’s rendering of the words, Who is the Almighty? is quaint and vigorous, “What maner of felowe is the Almightie that we shulde serve him?”

Verse 14. - Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us. It is this impunity which leads the wicked to renounce God altogether. They think that they get on very well without God, and consequently have no need to serve him. Job puts their thoughts into words (vers. 14, 15), and thus very graphically represents their tone of feeling. For we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. The wicked feel no interest in God; they do not trouble themselves about him; his ways are "far above out of their sight," and they do not care to know them. Job 21:1412 They raise their voice with the playing of timbrel aud harp,

And rejoice at the sound of the pipe

13 They enjoy their days in prosperity,

And in a moment they go down to Sehol.

14 And yet they said to God: "Depart from us!

We desire not the knowledge of Thy ways.

15 What is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? -

And what doth it profit us that we should importune Him?" -

16 Lo! they have not their prosperity by their own hand,

The thought of the wicked be far from me!

קולם is to be supplied to ישׂאוּ in Isaiah 42:11, and instead of בּתף with בּ of the musical accompaniment (as Psalm 4:1, Psalm 49:5), it is to be read כּתף after the Masora with Kimchi, Ramban, Ralbag, and Farisol,

(Note: The Masora observes לית כותיה (not occuring thus elsewhere), and accordingly this כתף is distinguished in the Masoretic אב מן חד חד נסבין כף ברישׁיה (alphabetic list of words which take at one time the prefix כ and at another the prefix )ב, from בתף, which occurs elsewhere. The Targ. has read בטף; the reading of Raschi and Aben-Ezra is questionable.)

but not with Rosenm. to be explained: personaut velut tympano et cythera, but: they raise their voice as the timbrel and harp sound forth simultaneously; כּ, as Isaiah 18:4 (which is to be transl.: during the clear warmth of the sunshine, during the dew-clouds in the heat of harvest). תּף (Arabic duff, Spanish adufe) is τύμπανον (τύπανον), כּנּור, (Arab. canare) κινύρα or κιθάρα) Daniel 3:5), עוּגב or עגב, Job 30:31 (from עגב, flare; vid., on Genesis 4:21), the Pan-pipe (Targ. from a similar root אבּוּבא, whence the name of the ambubajae). In Job 21:13 and Keri gives the more usual יכלּוּ (Job 36:11) in place of the Chethib יבלּוּ, though יבלּוּ occurs in Isaiah 65:22 without this Keri; יכלו signifies consument, and יבלו usu deterent: they use up their life, enjoy it to the last drop. In connection with this one thinks of a coat which is not laid aside until it is entirely worn out. It is therefore not, as the friends say, that the ungodly is swept away before his time (Job 15:32), also a lingering sickness does not hand him over to death (Job 18:13), but בּרגע, in a moment (comp Job 34:20, not: in rest, i.e., freedom from pain, which רגע never signifies), they sink down to Hades (acc. loci). The matter does not admit of one's deriving the fut. יהתּוּ here, as Job 39:22, Job 31:34, from the Niph. of the verb חתת, terrore percelli; it is to be referred to נחת or נחת (Aram. for ירד), which is the only certain example of a Hebrew verb Pe Nun ending with ת, whose fut. ינחת, Psalm 38:3, also יחת (Proverbs 17:10, Jeremiah 21:13), instead of יחת, and in the inflexion its ת sti (after the analogy of יצּתּוּ, Isaiah 33:12) is doubled; as an exception (vid., Psalter, ii. 468), the lengthening of the short vowel (יחתוּ, Olsh. 83 b) by Silluk does not take place, as e.g., by Athnach, Job 34:5.

The fut. consec. ויּאמרוּ, in which Job 21:14 is continued, does not here denote temporally that which follows upon and from something else, but generally that which is inwardly connected with something else, and even with that which is contradictory, and still occurring at the same time, exactly as Genesis 19:9, 2 Samuel 3:8, comp Ew. 231, b: they sink down after a life that is completely consumed away, without a death-struggle, into Hades, and yet they denied God, would not concern themselves about His sways (comp. the similar passage, Isaiah 58:2), and accounted the service of God and prayer (פּגע בּ, precibus adire) as useless. The words of the ungodly extend to Job 21:15; according to Hirz., Hlgst., Welte, and Hahn, Job 21:16 resumes the description: behold, is not their prosperity in their hand? i.e., is it not at their free disposal? or do they not everywhere carry it away with them? But Job 21:16 is not favourable to this interrogative rendering of לא ( equals הלא). Schlottm. explains more correctly: behold, their prosperity is not in their power; but by taking not only Job 21:16 (like Schnurrer), but the whole of Job 21:16, as an utterance of an opponent, which is indeed impossible, because the declining of all fellowship with the godless would be entirely without aim in the mouth of the opponent. For it is not the fnends who draw the picture of the lot of the punishment of the godless with the most terrible lines possible, who suggest the appearance of looking wishfully towards the godless, but Job, who paints the prosperity of the godless in such brilliant colours. On the other hand, both sides are agreed in referring prosperity and misfortune to God as final cause. And for this very reason Job thinks that בּרך את־האלהים, which he makes the godless, in Job 21:14, Job 21:15, express in their own words, so horrible.

continued...

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