Job 21:15
What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Job 21:15. What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? — What is he to us? What excellence is there in him? What advantage have we, or can we expect from him? Strange that ever creatures should speak so insolently respecting their Creator, on whom they are every moment dependant for life, and breath, and all things! that ever reasonable creatures should speak so absurdly and unreasonably concerning their Redeemer and Saviour, their Governor and their Judge! The two great bonds, by which we are drawn and held to religion, are those of duty and interest; but here they endeavour to break both those bonds asunder. They will not own that they owe him any worship or service, nor will they believe that they should be a whit the better for serving him.

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.What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? - compare for similar expressions, Exodus 5:2; Proverbs 30:9. The meaning here is, "What claim has the Almighty, or who is he, that we should be bound to obey and worship him? What authority has he over us? Why should we yield our will to his, and why submit to his claims?" This is the language of the human heart everywhere. Man seeks to deny the authority of God over him, and to feel that he has no claim to his service. He desires to be independent. He would cast off the claims of God. Forgetful that he made, and that he sustains him; regardless of his infinite perfections and of the fact that he is dependent on him every moment, he asks with contempt, what right God has to set up a dominion over him. Such is man - a creature of a day - dependent for every breath he draws on that Great Being, whose government and authority he so contemptuously disowns and rejects!

And what profit should we have, if we pray unto him? - What advantage would it be to us should we worship him? Men still ask this question, or, if not openly asked, they "feel" the force of it in their hearts. Learn hence,

(1) That wicked people are influenced by a regard to "self" in the inquiry about God, and in meeting his claims. They do not ask what is "right," but what "advantage" will accrue to them.

(2) If they see no immediate benefit arising from worshipping God, they will not do it. Multitudes abstain from prayer, and from the house of God, because they cannot see how their self-interest would be promoted by it.

(3) Men "ought" to serve God, without respect to the immediate, selfish, and personal good that may follow to themselves. It is a good in itself to worship God. It is what is "right;" what the conscience says "ought" to be done yet

(4) It is not difficult to answer the question which the sinner puts. There is an advantage in calling upon God. There is

(a) the possibility of obtaining the pardon of sin by prayer - an immense and unspeakable "profit" to a dying and guilty man;

(b) a peace which this world cannot furnish - worth more than all that it costs to obtain it;

(c) support in trial in answer to prayer - in a world of suffering of more value than silver and gold;

(d) the salvation of friends in answer to prayer - an object that should be one of intense interest to those who love their friends:

(e) eternal life - the "profit" of which who can estimate? What are the few sacrifices which religion requires, compared with the infinite and immortal blessings which may be obtained by "asking" for them? 'Profit! ' What can be done by man that will be turned to so good an account as to pray? Where can man make so good an investment of time and strength as by calling on God to save his soul, and to bless his friends and the world?

15. (Compare Jer 2:20; Pr 30:9, Margin, Ex 5:2).

what profit—(Job 35:3; Mal 3:14; Ps 73:13). Sinners ask, not what is right, but what is for the profit of self. They forget, "If religion cost self something, the want of it will cost self infinitely more."

What excellency is there in him? and what advantage have we or can we expect from him?

What is the Almighty, that we should serve him?.... "Who is he" (t)? as some render it; or what is there in him, in his nature, in his excellencies and perfections, that should oblige us to serve him? One would think the attribute of "Almighty", they own and acknowledge, is sufficient to engage to it, since he is the lawgiver that is able to save and to destroy, even to destroy with an everlasting destruction, both body and soul in hell, who obey him not; but fulness of riches, power, and authority, swell the mind with pride, and put men on asking such questions, and running such lengths as these; see Exodus 5:2. The question is full of atheism, and suggests there was nothing in God excellent or worthy of any regard, or on account of which he should be served and worshipped; as if he was a mere idol, which is nothing in the world; and that he was indeed nothing in it, neither did good nor evil, nor concerned himself with the affairs of men; had forsaken the earth, and took no notice of what was doing is it; at least, the question supposes that such think themselves under no obligations to serve him, and shows them to be sons of Belial, without a yoke; that they neither are nor can he subject to the law of God without his grace; they are not willing God should reign over them, nor to be obedient to his commands and ordinances; but are for freeing themselves from all obligations to him, and choose to serve various lusts and pleasures; be the vassals of sin and Satan, rather than be the worshippers of God:

and what profit should we have if we pray unto him? Prayer is one part of the service of God, and may be here put for the whole: this, as all the rest, is very disagreeable to a natural man, who, as he is biased entirely by profit and gain, thinks there is nothing to be got by religious exercises; he observing, that the worshippers of God, as to external things, fare worse than those who do not pray unto him, or do not serve and worship him; see Malachi 3:14; though there is much profit, and many things, and those most excellent and valuable, got by prayer; for whatsoever good men ask in prayer, believing, they receive, Matthew 7:7. The Targum is

"if we pray in his Word,''

in the name of the essential Word, the Son of God; whereas to ask or pray in his name is the only way of succeeding; and such, who do ask in faith in his name, have what they ask for, John 14:15.

(t) "quis est?" V. L.

What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 15. - What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? "Who is Jehovah," said Pharaoh to Moses, "that I should obey his voice? I know not Jehovah" (Exodus 5:2). So the ungodly in Job's time. They pretend to have no knowledge of God, no sense of his claims upon them, no internal consciousness that they are bound to worship and obey him. They are agnostics of a pronounced type, or at least they profess to be such. What profit, they ask, should we have, if we pray to him? Expediency is everything with them. Will serving God do them any good? Will it advance their worldly interests? Persuade them of that, and they will be willing to pay him, at any rate, a lip-service. But, having prospered so long and so greatly without making any religious profession, they see no reason to believe that they would prosper more if they made one. Job 21:1512 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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