Job 21:31
Who shall declare his way to his face? and who shall repay him what he has done?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Job 21:31. Who shall declare his way? — That is, his wicked course and actions, and whither they lead him; to his face — That is, plainly, and while he lives, as the same phrase is used Deuteronomy 7:10. His power and splendour are so great that scarcely any man dare reprove him for his sin, or show him his danger. And who shall repay him what he hath done? — No man can bring him to an account or punishment. Job is here pursuing the same way of reasoning which he did before, and showing that the wicked mighty man is so far from being always punished in this world, that he often does what he pleases without any to control him, or so much as open their lips against him. And that such a one shall at last go down to the grave in peace, and be buried with great pomp.21:27-34 Job opposes the opinion of his friends, That the wicked are sure to fall into visible and remarkable ruin, and none but the wicked; upon which principle they condemned Job as wicked. Turn to whom you will, you will find that the punishment of sinners is designed more for the other world than for this, Jude 1:14,15. The sinner is here supposed to live in a great deal of power. The sinner shall have a splendid funeral: a poor thing for any man to be proud of the prospect of. He shall have a stately monument. And a valley with springs of water to keep the turf green, was accounted an honourable burial place among eastern people; but such things are vain distinctions. Death closes his prosperity. It is but a poor encouragement to die, that others have died before us. That which makes a man die with true courage, is, with faith to remember that Jesus Christ died and was laid in the grave, not only before us, but for us. That He hath gone before us, and died for us, who is alive and liveth for us, is true consolation in the hour of death.Who shall declare his way to his face? - That is, the face of the wicked. Who shall dare to rise up and openly charge him with his guilt? The idea is, that none would dare to do it, and that, therefore, the wicked man was not punished according to his character here, and was reserved to a day of future wrath.

And who shall repay him what he hath done? - The meaning is, that many wicked people lived without being punished for their sins. No one was able to recompense them for the evil which they had done, and consequently they lived in security and prosperity. Such were the tyrants and conquerors, who had made the world desolate.

31. That is, who dares to charge him openly with his bad ways? namely, in this present life. He shall, I grant (Job 21:30), be "repaid" hereafter. His way, i.e. his wicked course and actions, and whither they lead him. His power and splendour is so great, that scarce any man dare reprove him for his sin, or show him his danger.

To his face, i.e. plainly, and whilst he lives, as the same phrase is used, Deu 7:10.

Who shall repay him what he hath done? no man can bring him to an account or punishment. Who shall declare his way to his face?.... Jarchi and Aben Ezra think that Job here returns to God, and speaks of him, as in Job 21:22; signifying that no man can or ought to presume to charge the ways of God in his providence with inequality or injustice, in sparing the wicked now, and reserving them to wrath and destruction hereafter; since he is a sovereign Being, and does what he pleases, and none can hinder him, nor ought any to say to him, what dost thou? nor does he give an account of his matters to the children of men; but this respects the wicked man, and describes his state and condition in this life, as being possessed of such wealth and riches, and living in such grandeur and splendour, and advanced to such places of honour and glory, as to be above the reproof of men; though his way, his course of life, is a very wicked one, and he ought to be told to his face the evil of his way, and the danger he is exposed to by it, and what will be the sad consequence of it; his relations and friends, his neighbours and acquaintance, should labour to convince him of his evil, and reprove him to his face, and endeavour to reclaim him from it; but how few are there that have courage and faithfulness enough to do this, since they are sure to incur his displeasure and hatred, and run the risk of their lives, as John the Baptist lost his for his faithfulness in reproving Herod to his face, for taking to him his brother Philip's wife? Matthew 14:3;

and who shall repay him what he hath done? bring him to an account for his crimes, and to just punishment for them; who will venture to bring a charge against him, or enter an action at law, bring him before a court of judicature, and prosecute him, and get judgment passed upon him? as such a man is above all reproof for his sins, he is out of the reach of punishment for them; he lives with impunity, none can punish him but God; and being lifted up with his greatness, he neither fears God nor regards man.

Who shall declare his way {s} to his face? and who shall repay him what he hath done?

(s) Though men flatter him, and no one dares to reprove him in this world, yet death is a token that he will bring him to an account.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
31. The person spoken of in this verse seems most naturally the wicked man. It is doubtful however whether the testimony of the travellers is here still carried on, or whether the present words are not those of Job himself. The history of the evil man is proceeded with: his power makes him irresponsible and extorts the homage of men, who do him honour in death (Job 21:32). Others suppose the verse to be spoken of God, in which case the words are almost parenthetical, the history of the sinner being resumed in Job 21:32. If said of God the verse refers to the inscrutable dealings of His omnipotent power (Job 21:30), dealings against which the moral sense of mankind reclaims indeed, but of what avail are the reclamations of the moral sense against omnipotence? cf. ch. Job 9:12, Job 23:13. The language, however, seems less appropriate if spoken of God.Verse 31 - Who shall declare his way to his face? rather, Who shall denounce? i.e. Who will be bold enough to tell the rich and powerful man that he is wicked? that his "way," or course of life, is altogether wrong? And who shall repay him what he hath done? Still less will any one be found who will take upon him to attack such a one, to prosecute him in courts or otherwise bring him to condign punishment. Thus, being castigated neither by God nor man, he enjoys complete impunity. 22 Shall one teach God knowledge,

Who judgeth those who are in heaven?

23 One dieth in his full strength,

Being still cheerful and free from care.

24 His troughs are full of milk,

And the marrow of his bones is well watered.

25 And another dieth with a sorrowing spirit,

And hath not enjoyed wealth.

26 They lie beside one another in the dust,

And worms cover them both.

The question, Job 21:22, concerns the friends. Since they maintain that necessarily and constantly virtue is rewarded by prosperity, and sin by misfortune, but without this law of the divine order of the world which is maintained by them being supported by experience: if they set themselves up as teachers of God, they will teach Him the right understanding of the conduct which is to be followed by Him as a ruler and judge of men, while nevertheless He is the Absolute One, beneath whose judicial rule not merely man, but also the heavenly spirits, are placed, and to which they must conform and bow. The verb למּד, instead of being construed with two acc., as in the dependent passage Isaiah 40:14, is here construed with the dat. of the person (which is not to be judged according to Job 5:2; Job 19:3, but according to διδάσκειν τινί τι, to teach one anything, beside the other prevailing construction). With והוא a circumstantial clause begins regularly: while He, however, etc. Arnh. and Lwenth. translate: while, however, He exaltedly judges, i.e., according to a law that infinitely transcends man; but that must have been מרום (and even thus it would still be liable to be misunderstood). Hahn (whom Olsh. is inclined to support): but He will judge the proud, to which first the circumstantial clause, and secondly the parallels, Job 35:2; Job 15:15; Job 4:18 (comp. Isaiah 24:21), from which it is evident that רמים signifies the heavenly beings (as Psalm 78:69, the heights of heaven), are opposed: it is a fundamental thought of this book, which abounds in allusions to the angels, that the angels, although exalted above men, are nevertheless in contrast with God imperfect, and therefore are removed neither from the possibility of sin nor the necessity of a government which holds them together in unity, and exercises a judicial authority over them. The rule of the all-exalted Judge is different from that which the three presumptuously prescribe to Him.

The one (viz., the evil-doer) dies בּעצם תּמּו, in ipsa sua integritate, like בעצם היום, ipso illo die; the Arabic would be fı̂ ‛yn, since there the eye, here the bone (comp. Uhlemann, Syr. Gramm. 58), denote corporeality, duration, existence, and therefore identity. תּם is intended of perfect external health, as elsewhere מתם; comp. תּמימים, Proverbs 1:12. In Job 21:23 the pointing שׁלאנן (adj.) and שׁלאנן (3 praet.) are interchanged in the Codd.; the following verbal adjective favours the form of writing with Kametz. As to the form, however (which Rd. and Olsh. consider to be an error in writing), it is either a mixed form from שׁאנן and שׁלו with the blended meaning of both (Ew. 106, c), to which the comparison with שׁליו ( equals שׁלו) is not altogether suitable, or it is formed from שׁאנן by means of an epenthesis (as זלעף from זעף, aestuare, and בלסם, βάλσαμον, from בשׂם), and of similar but intensified signification; we prefer the latter, without however denying the real existence of such mixed forms (vid., on Job 26:9; Job 33:25). This fulness of health and prosperity is depicted in Job 21:24. The ancient translators think, because the bones are mentioned in the parallel line, עטיניו must also be understood of a part of the body: lxx ἔγκατα, Jer. viscera; Targ. בּיזוי, his breasts, βυζία

(Note: Vid., Handschriftliche Funde, 2. S. V.)

(for Hebr. שׁדים, שׁד); Syr. version gabauh ( equals ganbauh), his sides in regard to עטמא, Syr. ‛attmo equals אטמא, side, hip; Saad. audâguhu, his jugular veins, in connection with which (not, however, by this last rendering) חלב is read instead of חלב: his bowels, etc., are full of fat.

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