Job 22:21
Acquaint now yourself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come to you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) Acquaint now thyself with him.—As he himself had done in Job 5, and as Zophar had done in Job 11, Eliphaz proceeds to give Job some good advice. “Thereby good shall come unto thee,” or “Thereby shall thine increase be good;” or perhaps he means that peace and rest from the obstinate questionings he was disturbed with would come to him thereby.

Job

KNOWLEDGE AND PEACE

Job 22:21
.

In the sense in which the speaker meant them, these words are not true. They mean little more than ‘It pays to be religious.’ What kind of notion of acquaintance with God Eliphaz may have had, one scarcely knows, but at any rate, the whole meaning of the text on his lips is poor and selfish.

The peace promised is evidently only outward tranquillity and freedom from trouble, and the good that is to come to Job is plainly mere worldly prosperity. This strain of thought is expressed even more clearly in that extraordinary bit of bathos, which with solemn irony the great dramatist who wrote this book makes this Eliphaz utter immediately after the text, ‘The Almighty shall be thy defence and-thou shalt have plenty of silver!’ It has not been left for commercial Englishmen to recommend religion on the ground that it produces successful merchants and makes the best of both worlds.

These friends of Job’s all err in believing that suffering is always and only the measure of sin, and that you can tell a man’s great guilt by observing his great sorrows. And so they have two main subjects on which they preach at their poor friend, pouring vitriol into his wounds: first, how wicked he must be to be so haunted by sorrows; second, how surely he will be delivered if he will only be religious after their pattern, that is, speak platitudes of conventional devotion and say, I submit.

This is the meaning of our text as it stands. But we may surely find a higher sense in which it is true and take that to heart.

I. What is acquainting oneself with God?

The first thing to note is that this acquaintance depends on us. So then there must have been a previous objective manifestation on His part. Of course there must be a God to know, and there must be a way of knowing Him. For us Jesus Christ is the Revealer. What men know of God apart from Him is dim, shadowy, indistinct; it lacks certainty, and so is not knowledge. I venture to say that there is nothing between cultivated men and the loss of certain knowledge of God and conviction of His Being, but the historical revelation of Jesus Christ. The Christ reveals the inmost character of God, and that not in words but in deeds. Without Him no man knows God; ‘No man knoweth the Father save the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him.’

So then the objective revelation having been made, we must on our part embrace that revelation as ours. The act of so accepting begins with the familiar act of faith, which includes both an exercise of the understanding, as it embraces the facts of Christ’s revelation of the Father, and of the will as it casts itself upon and submits to Him. But that exercise of faith is but the point which has to be drawn out into a golden line, woven into the whole length of a life. And it is in the continuity of that line that the average Christian so sadly fails, and because of that failure his acquaintance with God is so distant. How little time or thought we give to the character of God as revealed in Jesus Christ! We must be on intimate terms with Him. To know God, as to know a man, we must ‘live with’ Him, must summer and winter with Him, must bring Him into the pettinesses of daily life, must let our love set to Him, must be in sympathy with Him, our wills being tuned to make harmony with His, our whole nature being in accord with His. That is work more than enough for a lifetime, enough to task it, enough to bless it.

II. The peace of acquaintance with God.

Eliphaz meant nothing more than mere earthly tranquillity and exemption from trouble, but his words are true in a far loftier region.

Knowledge of God as He really is brings peace, because His heart is full of love. We do but need to know the actual state of the heart of God towards us to be lapped and folded in peace that nothing outside of God and ourselves can destroy. If we lived under the constant benediction of the deepest truth in the universe, ‘God is love,’ our peace would be full. That is enough, if we believe it to bring peace. The thought of God which alarms and terrifies cannot be a true thought. But, alas! in proportion as we know ourselves, it becomes difficult to believe that God is love. The stings of conscience hiss prophecies to us of that in God which cannot but be antagonistic to that in us which conscience condemns. Only when our thought of God is drawn from the revelation of Him in Jesus Christ, does it become possible for any man to grasp in one act of his consciousness the conviction, I am a sinner, and the conquering conviction, God is Love, and only Love to me. So the old exhortation, ‘Acquaint thyself with God and be at peace,’ comes to be in Christian language: ‘Behold God in Jesus, and thou shalt possess the peace of God to keep thy heart and mind.’

Knowledge of God gives peace, because in it we find the satisfaction of our whole nature. Thereby we are freed from the unrest of tumultuous passions and storms of self-will. The internecine war between the better and the worse selves within ceases to rage, and when we have become God’s friends, that in us which is meant to rule rules, and that in us which is meant to serve serves, and the inner kingdom is no longer torn asunder but is harmonised with itself.

Knowledge of God brings peace amid all changes, for he who has God for his continual Companion draws little of his supplies from without, and can be tranquil when the seas roar and are troubled and the mountains are cast into the midst of the sea. He bears all his treasures with him, and need fear no loss of any real good. And at last the angel of peace will lead us through the momentary darkness and guide us, after a passing shadow on our path, into ‘the land of peace wherein we trusted,’ while yet in the land of warfare. Jesus still whispers the ancient salutation with which He greeted the company in the upper room on the evening of the day of resurrection, as He comes to His servants here, and it will be His welcome to them when He receives them above.

III. The true good from acquaintance with God.

As we have already said, Eliphaz was only thinking, on Old Testament lines, that prosperity in material things was the theocratic reward of allegiance to Jehovah. He was rubbing vitriol into Job’s sores, and avowedly regarding him as a fear-inspiring instance of the converse principle. But we have a better meaning breathed into his words, since Jesus has taught us what is the true good for a man all the days of his life. Acquaintance with God is, not merely procures, good. To know Him, to clasp Him to our hearts as our Friend, our Infinite Lover, our Source of all peace and joy, to mould our wills to His and let Him dominate our whole selves, to seek our wellbeing in Him alone-what else or more can a soul need to be filled with all good? Acquaintance with God brings Him in all His sufficiency to inhabit else empty hearts. It changes the worst, according to the judgment of sense, into the best, transforming sorrow into loving discipline, interpreting its meaning, fitting us to ‘bear it, and securing to us its blessings. To him that is a friend of God,

‘All is right that seems most wrong

If it be His sweet will.’

To be acquainted with God is the quintessence of good. ‘This is life eternal, to know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.’Job 22:21. Acquaint now thyself with him — That is, with God, as appears both from Job 22:23, where he is expressed, and from the nature of the matter in hand, there being no other way to happiness. Renew thy acquaintance with God by prayer, and repentance for all thy sins, and true humiliation under his hand, and hearty compliance with all his commands, and diligent care to serve and enjoy him. It is our honour, that we are made capable of this acquaintance; our misery, that by sin we have lost it; our privilege, that through Christ we may return to it; and our unspeakable advantage, to renew and cultivate it. And be at peace — At peace with God, and at peace with thyself; not fretful or uneasy. Good shall come unto thee — All the good thou canst desire, temporal, spiritual, eternal.22:21-30 The answer of Eliphaz wrongly implied that Job had hitherto not known God, and that prosperity in this life would follow his sincere conversion. The counsel Eliphaz here gives is good, though, as to Job, it was built upon a false supposition that he was a stranger and enemy to God. Let us beware of slandering our brethren; and if it be our lot to suffer in this manner, let us remember how Job was treated; yea, how Jesus was reviled, that we may be patient. Let us examine whether there may not be some colour for the slander, and walk watchfully, so as to be clear of all appearances of evil.Acquaint now thyself with him - Margin, that is, "with God." Eliphaz takes it for granted now, that Job was a sinner wholly unreconciled to God, and unacquainted with him. This fact, he supposes, was the source of all his calamities. As long as he remained thus unreconciled to God, he must be miserable. He proceeds, therefore, in a most beautiful manner, to exhort him to be at peace with God, and portrays the benefits which would result from such a reconciliation. There are few passages in the Bible of more exquisite beauty than this, and nothing could be sounder advice, on the supposition that Job was, as he supposed, a stranger to God. In this beautiful exhortation, be shows:

(1) what he means by becoming acquainted with God Job 22:21-23; and then

(2) what would be the happy results of such reconciliation, Job 22:24-30.

The word rendered "acquaint thyself" הסכן hasâkan - from סכן sâkan means, properly, "to dwell," to be familiar with anyone, to associate with one - from the idea of dwelling in the same tent or house; and in the Hiphil, the form used here, to become familiar with anyone, to be on terms of friendship. The meaning here is, "Secure the friendship of God. Become truly acquainted with him. Be reconciled to him. You are now estranged. You have no just views of him. You murmur and complain, and you are suffering under his displeasure as a sinner. But it is not too late to repent, and to return to him; and in so doing you will find peace." An acquaintance with God, in the sense of this passage, implies:

(1) a correct knowledge of his true character, and

(2) reconciliation with him.

There are two great difficulties among people in regard to God. The first is, that they have no just views of his real character. They think him harsh, stern, tyrannical. They regard his law as severe, and its penalty as unjust. They think his government to be arbitrary, and himself to be unworthy of confidence. This erroneous view must be corrected before people can be reconciled to him - for how can they be brought to lay aside their opposition to him while they regard him as unjust and severe? Secondly, even when the character of God is explained, and his true character is set before people, they are opposed to it. They are opposed to him because he is so holy. Loving sin, they cannot love one who has no sin, and who frowns on evil; and this opposition to the real character of God must be removed before they can be reconciled to him. This requires a change of heart - a change from sin to holiness; and this is the work performed in regeneration.

And be at peace - There can be no peace while you maintain a warfare with God. It is a war against your Maker, where he has control over your conscience, your intellect, your body, and all which can affect your welfare; and while this is maintained, there can be no peace. If the mind is reconciled to him, there will be peace. Peace of mind always follows reconciliation where there has been a variance, and nowhere is the peace so entire and full of joy as when man feels that he is reconciled to God. Eliphaz here has stated a doctrine which has been confirmed by all the subsequent revelations in the Bible, and by the experience of all those who have become reconciled to God; compare the notes at Romans 5:1 : It is peace, as opposed to the agitation and conflict of the mind before; peace resulting from acquiescence in the claims of God; peace in the belief that he is wholly right, and worthy of confidence; and peace in the assurances of his friendship and favor forever. This doctrine, it seems, was thus understood in the early ages of the world, and, indeed, must have been known as early as religion existed after the fall. Man became alienated from God by the apostasy; peace was to be found again only by returning to God, and in reconciliation to him.

Thereby good shall come unto thee - The benefits which he supposed would result from such reconciliation, he proceeds to state in the following verses. They relate chiefly to temporal prosperity, or to proofs of the divine favor in this life. This was in accordance with the views which then prevailed, and especially with their limited and obscure conceptions of the future state. They saw a part - "we" see more; and yet we by no means see all. The "good" which results from reconciliation with God consists in:

(1) pardon of sin;

(2) peace of conscience;

(3) the assurance that we shall have all that is needful in this life;

(4) support in trial;

(5) peace and triumph in death;

continued...

21. Eliphaz takes it for granted, Job is not yet "acquainted" with God; literally, "become a companion of God." Turn with familiar confidence to God.

and be—So thou shalt be: the second imperatively expresses the consequence of obeying the first (Ps 37:27).

peace—prosperity and restoration to Job; true spiritually also to us (Ro 5:1; Col 1:20).

good—(1Ti 4:8).

With him, i.e. with God, as appears both from Job 22:23, where he is expressed, and from the nature of the thing, there being no other way to happiness. Renew thy acquaintance and converse with God by prayer, which thou hast restrained, Job 15:4. and repentance for all thy sins, and true humiliation under his hand, and hearty compliance with all his commands, and diligent care to serve and enjoy him; and be no longer estranged from God, as thou now art.

Be at peace: this is either,

1. A promise, the imperative being put for the future of the indicative mood, and so thou shalt have peace, i.e. prosperity and happiness. Or rather,

2. A counsel or command; If God be an enemy to thee, as thou sayest he is, reconcile thyself to him by true repentance, and earnestly seek his favour and friendship, and do not provoke him further by thy false and wicked speeches of him, or by thy froward carriage to him: and whereas thou art full of unquietness and rage against God, learn to possess thy soul in patience, give over murmuring against him, and get a composed, and quiet, and submissive mind and heart; which is called peace, Judges 6:23 19:20 Isaiah 57:21. Thus far is the command or exhortation; now followeth the promise.

Thereby, i.e. by following these counsels.

Good shall come unto thee; thou shalt be freed from all thy calamities, and enjoy all the happiness which thy heart can desire. Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace,.... Not with the righteous and innocent, but with God, as Job 22:22 show: from severe charges and censures, Eliphaz proceeds to advice and exhortations, and seems to be in a better temper, and to talk in a more kind and gentle manner, only he goes upon a false supposition and mistaken notion, that Job was a bad man; had he had a proper object to have directed his discourse to, it would have been excellently said; and, as it is, is not without its use: this first exhortation supposes unacquaintance with God, and an estrangedness from him; which is the case of every man from the womb, and in a state of nature and unregeneracy. Acquaintance with God begins at conversion, when he is made known, not only as the God of nature and providence, but as the God of grace and peace in Christ; and it is carried on by prayer, which is a converse with God, and by attendance on his worship and ordinances, in which men walk before him, and have fellowship with him: this is sometimes interrupted and dropped for a while, through temptation or sin; when there arises on account thereof a shyness and backwardness to draw nigh unto God, until he calls and invites them to take with them words, and return unto him; an acquaintance with God is not kept up when prayer before him is restrained; which Eliphaz charges Job with, Job 15:4; and when saints forsake the assembling of themselves together, or neglect public worship, or grow indifferent to it; and it is renewed again by prayer, and a fresh attendance on the above things; in which frequent visits are made between God and his people, mutual secrets communicated, a holy freedom, familiarity, and boldness contracted, and communion with God enjoyed: men may also acquaint themselves with him yet more and more by the contemplation of his works, by reading and hearing his word, and by conversation with good men, ministers, and others. The Jewish commentators (h) generally interpret it, "use" or "accustom thyself with him", to walk in his ways, and observe his commands: "and be at peace"; not make his peace with God, which a creature cannot do; only Job's living Redeemer could do that, and he has done it; but be easy and still under the afflicting hand of God, quietly submit to it, and patiently endure it, and not murmur at it; or, as Aben Ezra interprets it, as a promise of God, "thou shalt be in peace", or "thou shalt have peace"; all outward prosperity and happiness, which is often signified by this word; or inward peace of mind, which comes from God, and through an acquaintance with him, and from Christ, his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, by whom the acquaintance with God is opened and maintained; and it is had in a way of duty, in attendance on the ordinances of God, which are paths of peace; and also eternal peace hereafter, when acquaintance with God will be no more dropped, nor interrupted, but continue for ever:

thereby good shall come unto thee: temporal good things, necessary and convenient, the promise of which is annexed to godliness, or an acquaintance with God; spiritual good things, the blessings of grace, all things pertaining to life and godliness, and eternal good things; that far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, which afflictions, peaceably and patiently borne, work for and bring unto.

(h) Aben Ezra, Ben Gersom, Bar Tzemach.

Acquaint now thyself {q} with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee.

(q) He exhorts Job to repentance, and to return to God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. and be at peace] i. e. thus shalt thou have peace, or, safety.

21–30. Eliphaz exhorts Job to reconcile himself with God; assuring him of restoration and great felicity if he will do so.

The passage consists of two parts, first, a series of exhortations, each of which is accompanied by a promise (Job 22:21-25); and second, a series of great promises simply (Job 22:26-30). The exhortations are: (1) that Job should reconcile himself with God and receive His words into his heart—thus should he be in peace and good would come to him (Job 22:21-22); (2) that he should put away his evil—then should he be restored (Job 22:23); (3) that he should set his heart no more on earthly treasure, but fling it to the dust and among the pebbles of the brooks—then should the Almighty be his treasure (Job 22:24-25). The promises are: (1) that, delighting himself in the Almighty, he would be able to lift up his face to God in confidence, unashamed by afflictions (Job 22:26); (2) he would pray unto God with the assurance of being heard, and the vows which he made to God when presenting his request he would have cause to pay, his request being fulfilled (Job 22:27); (3) his purposes in regard to the future would stand and be realized, for the light of God would be on his ways (Job 22:28); (4) any casting down that might happen to him would speedily be turned by God into up-raising, because of his meekness and humility (Job 22:29); and finally, even others who had incurred guilt would be saved through his availing prayer (Job 22:30).Verses 21-30. - At this point a transition occurs. Eliphaz turns away from reproaches, open or covert, designed to exhibit Job as an example of extreme wickedness, and falls back on those topics which were the main subjects of his first exhortation (Job 5:8-27), viz. an earnest appeal to Job to return to God, to repent and amend (vers. 21-23) and a lavish outpouring of promises, or prophecies, that in that case he should be delivered from all his troubles, should recover his wealth and prosperity, obtain of God all that he should pray for, succeed in all his enterprises, and be able to help and ease others, even those who might be guilty in God's sight (vers. 24-30). Verse 21. - Acquaint now thyself with him (i.e. God), and be at peace; or, make, I beseech thee a trial of him, and be at peace; i.e. risk everything, throw thyself upon his mercy, and so make thy peace with him. To do so is well worth thy while, for thereby good shall come unto thee. It is a question what sort of "good" is meant. If we are to explain the "good" of this passage by vers. 24, 25 exclusively, Eliphaz will become a mere utilitarian, and he will be rightly characterized as "selfish and sordid" (Cook) - an anticipation of the Mammon of Milton. But there seem to be no sufficient grounds for singling out vers. 24, 25 from the rest of the passage, and regarding them as forming its key-note. The "good" which Eliphaz promises to Job includes, besides "the gold of Ophir" and "plenty of silver," such things as "delight in the Almighty," and confident trust in him (ver. 26), God's hearing of his prayers (ver. 27), the shining of light upon his path (ver. 28), his own payment of his vows (ver. 27), his giving assistance to the poor and needy (ver. 29), and even his deliverance of the guilty by the pureness of his hands (ver. 30); so that other besides material considerations are clearly taken into account, and the worldly prosperity which Eliphaz promises forms a part only of the good result which he anticipates from the patriarch making his peace with the Almighty. 15 Wilt thou observe the way of the ancient world,

Which evil men have trodden,

16 Who were withered up before their time,

Their foundation was poured out as a stream,

17 Who said unto God: Depart from us!

And what can the Almighty do to them?

18 And notwithstanding He had filled their houses with good-

The counsel of the wicked be far from me!

While in Psalm 139:24 דרך עולם prospectively signifies a way of eternal duration (comp. Ezekiel 26:20, עם עולם, of the people who sleep the interminably long sleep of the grave), ארח עולם signifies here retrospectively the way of the ancient world, but not, as in Jeremiah 6:16; Jeremiah 18:15, the way of thinking and acting of the pious forefathers which put their posterity to shame, but of a godless race of the ancient world which stands out as a terrible example to posterity. Eliphaz asks if Job will observe, i.e., keep (שׁמר as in Psalm 18:22), this way trodden by people (מתי, comp. אנשׁי, Job 34:36) of wickedness. Those worthless ones were withered up, i.e., forcibly seized and crushed, ולא־עת, when it was not yet time (ולא after the manner of a circumstantial clause: quum nondum, as Psalm 139:16), i.e., when according to God's creative order their time was not yet come. On קמּטוּ,

(Note: This קמטו, according to the Masora, is the middle word of the book of Job (חצי הספר).)

vid., on Job 16:8; lxx correctly, συνελήφθησαν ἄωροι, nevertheless συλλαμβάνειν is too feeble as a translation of קמט; for as Arab. qbṣ signifies to take with the tip of the finer, whereas Arab. qbḍ signifies to take with the whole bent hand, so קמט, in conformity to the dull, emphatic final consonant, signifies "to bind firmly together." In Job 22:16 יוּצק is not perf. Pual for יצּק (Ew. 83, b), for this exchange, contrary to the law of vowels, of the sharp form with the lengthened form is without example; it must at least have been written יוּצּק (comp. Judges 18:29). It is fut. Hoph., which, according to Job 11:15, might be יצּק; here, however, it is with a resolving, not assimilation, of the Jod, as in Leviticus 21:10. The fut. has the signification of the imperfect which it acquires in an historic connection. It is not to be translated: their place became a stream which has flowed away (Hirz.), for the היה which would be required by such an interpretation could not be omitted; also not: flumen effusum est in fundamentum eorum (Rosenm., Hahn, and others), which would be ליסודם, and would still be very liable to be misunderstood; also not: whose foundation was a poured-out stream (Umbr., Olsh.), for then there would be one attributive clause inserted in the other; but: their solid ground became fluid like a stream (Ew., Hlgst., Schlottm.), so that נהר, after the analogy of the verbs with two accusative, Ges. 139, 2, is a so-called second acc. of the obj. which by the passive becomes a nominative (comp. Job 28:2), although it might also be an apposition of the following subj. placed first: a stream (as such, like such a one) their solid ground was brought into a river; the ground on which they and their habitations stood was placed under water and floated away: without doubt the flood is intended; reference to this perfectly accords with the patriarchal pre-and extra-Israelitish standpoint of the book of Job; and the generation of the time of the flood (דור המבול) is accounted in the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament as a paragon of godlessness, the contemporaries of Noah are the απειθοῦντες, סוררים, κατ ̓ ἐξοχήν (comp. 1 Peter 3:20 with Psalm 68:19).

Accordingly they are now here also further described (Job 22:17) as those who said to God, "Depart from us," and what could the Almighty do to them (למו instead of לנוּ, which was to be expected, since, as in Job 19:28, there is a change from the oratio directa to obliqua)! Olshausen explains with Hahn: "with respect to what thou sayest: and what then does the Almighty do to them (for it)? He fills their houses with prosperity, while the counsel of the wicked is far from me (notwithstanding I am unfortunate)." But this explanation is as forced (since ומה without a אמרת or תאמר standing with it is taken as the word of Job) as it is contrary to the syntax (since the circumstantial clause with והוא is not recognised, and on the other hand ועצת וגו, instead of which it ought at least to have been וּממּנּי וגו, is regarded as such an one). No indeed, just this is an exceedingly powerful effect, that Eliphaz describes those godless ones who dismiss God with סור ממנו, to whom, according to Job's assertion, Job 21:13., undimmed prosperity is portioned out, by referring to a memorable fact as that which has fallen under the strict judgment of God; and that with the very same words with which Job, Job 21:16, declines communion with such prosperous evil-doers: "the counsel of the wicked be far from me," he will have nothing more to do, not with the wicked alone, but, with a side glance at Job, even with those who place themselves on a level with them by a denial of the just government of God in the world. פּעל ל, as the following circumstantial clause shows, is intended like Psalm 68:29, comp. Job 31:20; Isaiah 26:12 : how can the Almighty then help or profit them? Thus they asked, while He had filled their houses with wealth - Eliphaz will have nothing to do with this contemptible misconstruction of the God who proves himself so kind to those who dwell below on the earth, but who, though He is rewarded with ingratitude, is so just. The truly godly are not terrified like Job 17:8, that retributive justice is not to be found in God's government of the world; on the contrary, they rejoice over its actual manifestation in their own case, which makes them free, and therefore so joyous.

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