Job 22:3
Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that you are righteous? or is it gain to him, that you make your ways perfect?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Job 22:3. Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that thou art righteous? — That is, any such pleasure as he needs in order to his happiness? Heath renders it, any advantage. God, we know, approves of and accepts the good actions of his people, and is often said in Scripture to delight in them; but certainly cannot be advantaged by them. He needs not us or our services. We are undone, for ever undone, without him: but he is happy, for ever happy, without us.22:1-4 Eliphaz considers that, because Job complained so much of his afflictions, he thought God was unjust in afflicting him; but Job was far from thinking so. What Eliphaz says, is unjustly applied to Job, but it is very true, that when God does us good it is not because he is indebted to us. Man's piety is no profit to God, no gain. The gains of religion to men are infinitely greater than the losses of it. God is a Sovereign, who gives no account of his conduct; but he is perfectly wise, just, faithful, good, and merciful. He approves the likeness of his own holiness, and delights in the fruits of his Spirit; he accepts the thankful services of the humble believer, while he rejects the proud claim of the self-confident.Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that thou art righteous? - This is the same sentiment which was advanced in the previous verse. The meaning is, that it can be no advantage to God that a man is righteous. He is not dependent on man for happiness, and cannot be deterred from dealing justly with him because he is in danger of losing anything. In this sense, it is true. God "has" pleasure in holiness wherever it is, and is pleased when people are righteous; but it is not true that he is dependent on the character of his creatures for his own happiness, or that people can lay him under obligation by their own righteousness. Eliphaz applies this general truth to Job, probably, because he understood him as complaining of the dealings of God with him, as if he had laid God under obligation by his upright life. He supposes that it was implied in the remarks of Job, that he had been so upright, and had been of so much consequence, that God "ought" to have continued him in a state of prosperity. This supposition, if Job ever had it, Eliphaz correctly meets, and shows him that he was not so profitable to God that he could not do without him. Yet, do people not often feel thus? Do ministers of the gospel not sometimes feel thus? Do we not sometimes feel thus in relation to some man eminent for piety, wisdom, or learning? Do we not feel as if God could not do without him, and that there was a sort of necessity that he should keep him alive? Yet, how often are such people cut down, in the very midst of their usefulness, to show

(1) that God is not dependent on them; and

(2) to keep them from pride, as if they were necessary to the execution of the divine plans; and

(3) to teach his people their dependence on "Him," and not on frail, erring mortals. When the church places its reliance on a human arm, God very often suddenly knocks the prop away.

3. pleasure—accession of happiness; God has pleasure in man's righteousness (Ps 45:7), but He is not dependent on man's character for His happiness. Any pleasure, i.e. such a pleasure as he needs for his own ease and contentment, without which he could not be happy, as appears by the foregoing and following words; for otherwise God is oft said to delight in the good actions of his people, to wit, so far as to approve and accept them.

That thou makest thy ways perfect; that thy life is free from blemish, as thou pretendest, but falsely, as I shall show. Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that thou art righteous?.... It is not; the Lord indeed takes pleasure in his people, not as sinners, but as righteous; and as they are considered such in Christ, he is well pleased for his righteousness' sake, and with it, being agreeable to his nature, will, and law; and with his people in Christ, in whom they are accepted, having imputed the righteousness of his Son unto them, and so they stand before him unblamable and irreprovable, and he takes pleasure in the work of his own hands upon them, called the good pleasure of his will, in the new man formed after his image in righteousness and true holiness, in the graces of his Spirit, and in the exercise of them, faith, hope, love, humility, fear of God, &c. it is a pleasure to him to hear their prayers and praises, and to observe their ready and cheerful obedience to his will; but then all this gives him no new pleasure, or adds anything to the complacency of his mind; he would have had as much delight and pleasure within himself, if there had never been an holy angel in heaven, or a righteous man on earth; he has no such pleasure in either as to be made more happy thereby, or so as to receive any "gain" or profit from it, as the next clause explains it. Some render it, "that thou justifiest thyself" (k), or "that thou art just", or "seemest to be righteous to thyself" (l); a self-righteous person is not pleasing to God; it is no pleasure to him when a man seeks for justification by his own works, or reckons them his righteousness; the publican that confessed his sin was rather justified with God than the Pharisee that applauded his own righteousness; such that are conceited of their own righteousness, and despise others, are an offence to God, a "smoke in his nose", Isaiah 65:5; for the righteousness of such is not real righteousness in the account of God, and according to his law; it has only the shadow and appearance of one, but is not truly so; and besides, to seek righteousness this way is going contrary to the revealed will of God, to the Gospel scheme of justification by faith in Christ's righteousness, without the works of the law, and is a setting aside his righteousness, and frustrating and making null and void the death of Christ, and therefore can never be pleasing in the sight of God:

or is it gain to him that thou makest thy ways perfect? no man's ways are perfect before God, even the best of men have detects in their works, and failings in their walk and conversations: some men's ways are indeed clean in their own eyes, and perfect in their own conceit; and if Eliphaz thought Job such an one, he was mistaken, see Job 9:20; there are others, who are in a sense unblamable in their walk and conversation; that is, are not guilty of any notorious crime, but exercise a conscience void of offence towards God and man, walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless; and yet this is no "gain" to God; for what does such a man give to him? or what does he receive of his hands? see Job 35:7. This was indeed Job's case and character.

(k) "quod justifices te", Junius & Tremellius. (l) "Quum Justus es apud teipsum", Schmidt; "quod tibi justus esse videris", Michaelis.

Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? or is it gain to him, that thou makest thy ways perfect?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. Is it any pleasure] Or, advantage, concern; see on ch. Job 21:21. The idea that men’s actions cannot affect God is common in the Book, see ch. Job 7:20, Job 35:5-8. Job 22:2-3 go together, and express this single conception that God’s treatment of men is not due to any respect He has to Himself, but is strictly according to the character of men.Verse 3. - Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? As "our goodness extendeth not to God," and as his all-perfect happiness knows neither increase nor diminution, we cannot he said to advantage him by our goodness. Still "good works, which are the fruits of faith, and follow after justification, are pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ;" and God himself condescends to say that he "takes pleasure in his people," "in them that fear him" (Psalm 147:11; Psalm 149:4). Or is it gain to him that thou makest thy ways perfect? Of course, the "gain" is to the man himself, and not to God. He saves his soul alive. God has one more worshipper in the courts of heaven, one more voice added to the choir which hymns his praise for evermore, But what is one drop added to an ocean? 27 Behold I know your thoughts

And the stratagems, with which ye overpower me!

28 When ye say: Where is the house of the tyrant,

And where the pavilions of the wicked - :

29 Have ye not asked those who travel,

Their memorable things ye could surely not disown:

30 That the wicked was spared in the day of calamity,

In the day of the outburst of wrath they were led away.

31 Who liketh to declare to him his way to his face?

And hath he done aught, who will recompense it to him?

Their thoughts which he sees through, are their secret thoughts that he is such an evil-doer reaping the reward of his deeds. מזמּות (which occurs both of right measures, good wise designs, Proverbs 5:2; Proverbs 8:12, and of artful devices, malicious intrigues, Proverbs 12:2; Proverbs 14:17, comp. the definition of בּעל מזמּות, Proverbs 24:8) is the name he gives to the delicately developed reasoning with which they attack him; חמס (comp. Arab. taḥammasa, to act harshly, violently, and overbearingly) is construed with על in the sense of forcing, apart from the idea of overcoming. In Job 21:28, which is the antecedent to Job 21:29, beginning with כּי האמרוּ (as Job 19:28), he refers to words of the friends like Job 8:22; Job 15:34; Job 18:15, Job 18:21. נדיב is prop. the noble man, whose heart impels (נדב, Arab. nadaba) him to what is good, or who is ready and willing, and does spontaneously that which is good (Arab. naduba), vid., Psychol. S. 165; then, however, since the notion takes the reverse way of generosus, the noble man (princely) by birth and station, with which the secondary notion of pride and abuse of power, therefore of a despot or tyrant, is easily as here (parall. רשׁעים, comp. עשׁיר, Isaiah 53:9, with the same word in the parallel) combined (just so in Isaiah 13:2, and similarly at least above, Job 12:21, - an anomaly of name and conduct, which will be for the future put aside, according to Isaiah 32:5). It is not admissible to understand the double question as antithetical, with Wolfson, after Proverbs 14:11; for the interrogative איּה is not appropriate to the house of the נדיב, in the proper sense of the word. Job 21:28, משׁכנות is not an externally but internally multiplying plur.; perhaps the poet by byt intends a palace in the city, and by אהל משׁכנות a tent among the wandering tribes, rendered prominent by its spaciousness and the splendour of the establishment.

(Note: Although the tents regularly consist of two divisions, one for the men and another for the women, the translation "magnificent pavilion" (Prachtgezelt), disputed by Hirz., is perfectly correct; for even in the present day a Beduin, as he approaches an encampment, knows the tent of the sheikh immediately: it is denoted by its size, often also by the lances planted at the door, and also, as is easily imagined, by the rich arrangement of cushions and carpets. Vid., Layard's New Discoveries, pp. 261 and 171.)

Job thinks the friends reason a priori since they inquire thus; the permanent fact of experience is quite different, as they can learn from ערי דרך, travellers, i.e., here: people who have travelled much, and therefore are well acquainted with the stories of human destinies. The Piel נכּר, proceeding from the radical meaning to gaze fixedly, is an enantio'seemon, since it signifies both to have regard to, Job 34:19, and to disown, Deuteronomy 32:27; here it is to be translated: their אתת ye cannot nevertheless deny, ignore (as Arab. nakira and ankara). אתת are tokens, here: remarkable things, and indeed the remarkable histories related by them; Arab. âyatun (collective plur. âyun), signs, is also similarly used in the signification of Arab. ‛ibrat, example, historical teaching.

That the כּי, Job 21:30, as in Job 21:28, introduces the view of the friends, and is the antecedent clause to Job 21:31 : quod (si) vos dicitis, in tempora cladis per iram divinam immissae servari et nescium futuri velut pecudem eo deduci improbum (Bttcher, de fin. 76), has in the double ל an apparent support, which is not to be denied, especially in regard to Job 38:23; it is, however, on account of the omission of the indispensable תאמרו in this instance, an explanation which does violence to the words. The כּי, on the contrary, introduces that which the accounts of the travellers affirm. Further, the ל in ליום indicates here not the terminus ad quem, but as in לערב, in the evening, the terminus quo. And the verb חשׂך, cohibere, signifies here to hold back from danger, as Job 33:18, therefore to preserve uninjured. Ew. translates Job 21:30 erroneously: "in the day when the floods of wrath come on." How tame would this הוּבל, "to be led near," be! This Hoph. signifies elsewhere to be brought and conducted, and occurs in Job 21:32, as in Isaiah 55:12 and elsewhere, of an honourable escort; here, in accordance with the connection: to be led away out of the danger (somewhat as Lot and his family by the escort of angels). At the time, when streams of wrath (עברה, the overflowing of vexation equals outburst of wrath, like the Arab. ‛abrt, the overflowing of the eye equals tears) go forth, they remain untouched: they escape them, as being under a special, higher protection.

continued...

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