Job 21:16
Lo, their good is not in their hand: the counsel of the wicked is far from me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) Lo, their good (i.e., their prosperity) is not in their own hand.—And that constitutes the mystery of it, for it is God who gives it to them; or the words may be a hypothetical answer to his statement, thus, “Lo, thou repliest, their prosperity is not,” &c.; and then the words, “the counsel of the wicked is far from me,” are Job’s indignant repudiation of all knowledge of their reasoning.

Job 21:16. Lo, their good is not in their hand — These words, says Chappelow, will be more consistent with what goes before, if read with an interrogation; namely, Lo, is not their good in their hand? that is, Is not every thing in their power? Do they not enjoy whatever they desire? To this purpose, he observes, is Sol. Jarchi’s comment. Most commentators, however, read the words without an interrogation, which is certainly more agreeable to the Hebrew text. And Poole, with Henry and several others, consider them as containing an answer to the foregoing questions, and a confutation of the ungodly opinion and practice mentioned Job 21:14-15, as if he had said, Wicked men have no reason to reject God, because of their prosperity, for their wealth is not in their hand; neither obtained nor kept by their own might, but only by God’s power and favour. Therefore I am far from approving their opinion, or following their course. “After the foregoing elegant description of the prosperity of some wicked men,” says Dr. Dodd, “Job proceeds, on the other hand, to confess what was likewise apparent in the ways of Providence, that some of them were as remarkably distinguished by their wretchedness, being exposed to the most dreadful evils and calamities. He knew that while he had been recounting the prosperity of the wicked, he had touched upon a tender point, to which his adversaries would be apt to give a wrong turn, as if he had been pleading the cause of iniquity. He therefore guards against their entertaining any idea of that kind, in this verse, in which he speaks to this purpose: ‘Do not imagine that because I say the wicked sometimes prosper, therefore, I believe their prosperity to be owing to themselves, or in their own hand or power. God forbid that I should give such a countenance to impiety! No; though they may thus presumptuously imagine with themselves, I am not of their opinion, nor yet of their society; the counsel of the wicked is far from me — I know that all the happiness that they can boast is merely by the will and sufferance of Almighty God, and that sometimes he is pleased to make them terrible examples of his justice.’” Of which he speaks in the following verses to Job 21:21.

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.Lo, their good is not in their hand - Schultens, Rosenmuller, and Noyes, suppose, I think, correctly, that this is to be understood ironically, or as referring to what "they" had maintained. "Lo! you say, that their good is not in their hand! They do not enjoy prosperity, do they? They are soon overwhelmed with calamity, are they? How often have I seen it otherwise! How often is it a fact that they continue to enjoy prosperity, and live and die in peace!" The common interpretation, which Prof. Lee has adopted, seems to me to be much less probable. According to that it means that "their prosperity was not brought about or preserved by their own power. It was by the power of God, and was under his control. An inscrutable Providence governs all things." But the true sense is, that Job is replying to the arguments which they had advanced, and one of those was, that whatever prosperity they had was not at all secure, but that in a moment it might be, and often was, wrested from them. Job maintains the contrary, and affirms that it was a somewhat unusual occurrence Job 21:17, that the wicked were plunged into sudden calamity. The phrase "in their hand" means "in their power," or under their control, and at their disposal.

The counsel of the wicked is far from me - Or, rather, "far be it from me!" Perhaps the meaning is this, "Do not misunderstand me. I maintain that the wicked are often prospered, and that God does not in this life deal with them according to their deserts. They have life, and health, and property. But do not suppose that I am their advocate. Far be it from me to defend them. Far from me be their counsels and their plans. I have no sympathy with them. But I maintain merely that your position is not correct that they are always subjected to calamity, and that the character of people can always be known by the dealings of Providence toward them." Or, it may mean, that he was not disposed to be united with them. They were, in fact, prospered; but though they were prospered, he wished to have no part in their plans and counsels. He would prefer a holy life with all the ills that might attend it.

16. not in their hand—but in the hand of God. This is Job's difficulty, that God who has sinners prosperity (good) in His hand should allow them to have it.

is—rather, "may the counsel of the wicked be far from me!" [Umbreit]. This naturally follows the sentiment of the first clause: Let me not hereby be thought to regard with aught but horror the ways of the wicked, however prosperous.

Their good is not in their hand: this seems to be an answer to the foregoing question, and a confutation of that ungodly opinion and practice, Job 21:14,15. Wicked men (saith he) have no reason to neglect and reject God because of their prosperity, for their good, i.e. all their wealth and felicity, is not

in their hand, i.e. it neither was obtained nor can be kept by their own might, but only by God’s power and favour, upon whom they wholly depend for it. Or the sense is, Though they have riches, and power, and glory in their hands, yet their true and proper good is not in their hand, i.e. they are destitute of that in which their true happiness lies, to wit, in God’s love and favour; and all the comforts which they enjoy are attended with God’s wrath and curse, and therefore not to be envied by any man in his wits. They say to God, Depart from us, when indeed their true and only felicity consists in the enjoyment of him: compare Psalm 4:6,7.

The counsel of the wicked is far from me; therefore I am far from approving their opinion, or following their course, or enjoying their prosperity, or desiring to partake of their delicates upon such terms.

Lo, their good is not in their hand,.... Though it is in their possession for the present, it is not in the power of their hands to keep, nor to carry it with them when they die; God, that gave it, can take it away when he pleases; and therefore it might be profitable to them to serve him and pray unto him: or "their good is not by their hand"; they do not obtain their happiness by their works, as in the Tigurine version; and to the same sense Mr. Broughton,

"lo, their wealth cometh not by their own power;''

it is not got by their own industry, diligence, care, and labour; by their own wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and cunning; for riches are not always to men of understanding, but come from God, who gives them to whom he pleases, and can take them away again if he thinks fit; and therefore men are dependent upon him for what they have, and should be thankful to him, and serve him, and pray for the continuance of good things to them. Jarchi reads the words by way of interrogation and admiration, lo! is "not their good in their hand?" verily it is, especially in their own opinion; their hands are full of it; they want nothing of God; they see no need of praying to him; hence the above words, which Job expresses his disapprobation of:

the counsel of the wicked is far from me; the counsels of their hearts; the thoughts of their mind; the words of their mouth; the above impious sayings were such as were detested and abhorred by him; their sense and judgment of things, their choice from deliberate consultation with themselves, preferring temporal good to spiritual good, and earthly things to heavenly ones, outward wealth and riches to the knowledge, service, and worship of God, and communion with him; these were what he disliked; their course of life, which was according to this world, and Satan the god of it, their company and conversation, were such as he carefully shunned and avoided; he chose not to come into their assembly, or to have any fellowship with them; to walk in the counsel of the ungodly, or stand in the way of sinners, these things were an abomination to him; see Psalm 1:1. This Job says to exculpate himself, and wipe off any calumny that might be cast upon him, as if by what he had said, concerning the outward prosperity of the wicked, that he was a patron and defender of them, and an advocate for them.

Lo, their good is not in their {h} hand: the counsel of the wicked {i} is far from me.

(h) It is not their own, but God only lends it to them.

(i) God keep me from their prosperity.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. Finally Job adverts to the mystery: this prosperity of theirs does not depend upon themselves, it is not of their own making; it comes from another, from God. God prospers the wicked, and Job had elsewhere said that He mocked at the despair of the innocent, Job 9:23.

the counsel of the wicked is far] Or, perhaps, the counsel of the wicked be far from me! Having drawn in such attractive colours the prosperity of the wicked, a prosperity given from the hand of God, Job, even in the midst of his own misery, which is also from God, cannot refrain from repudiating their principles—far be from me the counsel (see ch. Job 10:3, Job 18:7) of the wicked, cf. ch. Job 22:18. The above seems the most simple and effective way of understanding this verse. Others take it as an objection of the three friends, which Job anticipates and answers; Lo! say ye, their good is not in their own hand; the meaning being that they cannot retain it, they have no certainty of tenure of it, it will speedily desert them (Hitzig). To this Job is then supposed to reply in the following verses: How often, then, is it seen to desert them? This gives a very good sense.

Verse 16. - Lo, their good is not in their hand; i.e. their prosperity is not in their own power, not the result of their own efforts. God's providence is, at least, one element in it, since he exalts men and abases them, he casteth down and lifteth up. Hence it would seem to follow that they are his favourites. Shall Job therefore cast in his lot with them? No, he says, a thousand times, No! The counsel of the wicked is far from me; or better, be the counsel of the wicked far from me! I will have nothing to do with it. I will cling to God. I will maintain my integrity. Satan had charged Job with serving God for the sake of temporal reward. Job had disproved the charge by still clinging to God, notwithstanding all his afflictions. Now he goes further, and declines to throw in his lot with the wicked, even although it should appear that the balance of prosperity is with them. Job 21:1612 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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