Job 29:4
As I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was on my tabernacle;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) In the days of my youth.—Literally, my autumn: i.e., in the ripeness, maturity of my days. He was then in the depth of winter. (Comp. the words “in which it seemed always afternoon.”) Some suppose, however, that as with the ancient and modern Jews the year began with the autumn, it is used much in the same way as we use spring.

The secret of God.—Or, the counsel of God.

Job 29:4. As I was in the days of my youth — In my former and flourishing days; when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle — When there was a secret blessing of God upon me and my family, succeeding us in all our affairs; and when God conversed freely with me, as one bosom friend with another; when I knew his mind, and was not in uncertainty respecting it, as I have been of late. It may be proper, however, to observe, that the word סוד, sod, here translated the secret, signifies not only secret counsels, in which sense it is used Amos 3:7, but also the assembly where such consultations are held, in which latter sense it is used much more frequently, as Psalm 89:8; Psalm 111:1; Jeremiah 6:11. And in this sense Sol. Jarchi understands it here. Thus interpreted, the meaning of the clause is, when the society of God, a company of devout persons, assembled in my tabernacle, namely, for divine worship, and other purposes of religion. In these meetings, no doubt, Job presided, and in them he took a great deal of pleasure, and it was no little grief to him to have them intermitted, and the persons that composed them scattered.29:1-6 Job proceeds to contrast his former prosperity with his present misery, through God's withdrawing from him. A gracious soul delights in God's smiles, not in the smiles of this world. Four things were then very pleasant to holy Job. 1. The confidence he had in the Divine protection. 2. The enjoyment he had of the Divine favour. 3. The communion he had with the Divine word. 4. The assurance he had of the Divine presence. God's presence with a man in his house, though it be but a cottage, makes it a castle and a palace. Then also he had comfort in his family. Riches and flourishing families, like a candle, may be soon extinguished. But when the mind is enlightened by the Holy Spirit, when a man walks in the light of God's countenance, every outward comfort is doubled, every trouble is diminished, and he may pass cheerfully by this light through life and through death. Yet the sensible comfort of this state is often withdrawn for a season; and commonly this arises from sinful neglect, and grieving the Holy Spirit: sometimes it may be a trial of a man's faith and grace. But it is needful to examine ourselves, to seek for the cause of such a change by fervent prayer, and to increase our watchfulness.As I was in the days of my youth - The word here rendered "youth" (חרף chôreph), properly means "autumn - from" (חרף châraph), to "pluck, pull," as being the time when fruits ace gathered. Then it means that which is mature; and the meaning here is probably "mature" or "manly" - "As I was in the days of my ripeness;" that is, of my vigor or strength. The whole passage shows that it does not mean "youth," for he goes on to describe the honor and respect shown to him when in mature life. So the Septuagint - Ὅτε ἤμην ἐπιβρίθων ὁδοὺς Hote ēmēn epibrithōn hodous - "When I made heavy or laded my ways," an expression referring to autumn as being laden with fruit. So we speak of the spring, the autumn, and the winter of life, and by the autumn denote the maturity of vigor, experience, and wisdom. So the Greeks used the word ὸπώρα opōra, Pindar, Isthm. 2, 7, 8; Nem. 5, 10, Aeschyl. Suppl. 1005, 1022. So Ovid:

Excessit Autumnus posito fervore javentae

Maturus, mitisque inter juvenemque senemqae;

Temperie medius, sparsis per tempora canis.

Inde senilis hiems tremulo venit horrida passu.

Aut spoliata suos, aut. quos habet, alba capillos.

Metam. 15. 200.

The wish of Job was, that he might be restored to the vigor of mature life, and to the influence and honors which he had then, or rather, perhaps, it was that they might have a view of what he was then, that they might see from what a height he had fallen, and what cause he had of complaint and grief.

When the secret of God was upon my tabernacle - The meaning of this language is not clear, and considerable variety has obtained in the interpretation. The Septuagint renders it, "When God watched over - ἐπισκοπὴν ἐποιεῖτο episkopēn epoieito - my house." Vulgate, "When God was secretly in my tabernacle." Noyes, "When God was the friend of my tent." Coverdale renders the whole, "As I stood when I was wealthy and had enough; when God prospered my house." Umbreit, Als noch traulich Gott in meinem Zette weilte - "When God remained cordially in my tent." Herder, "When God took counsel with me in my tent." The word rendered "secret" (סוד sôd), means a "couch" or "cushion" on which one reclines, and then a divan, or circle of friends sitting together in consultation; see the word explained in the notes at Job 15:8. The idea here probably is, that God came into his tent or dwelling as a friend, and that Job was, as it were, admitted to the secrecy of his friendship and to an acquaintance with his plans.

4. youth—literally, "autumn"; the time of the ripe fruits of my prosperity. Applied to youth, as the Orientalists began their year with autumn, the most temperate season in the East.

secret—when the intimate friendship of God rested on my tent (Pr 3:32; Ps 31:20; Ge 18:17; Joh 15:15). The Hebrew often means a divan for deliberation.

In the days of my youth, i.e. in my former and flourishing days, which he calls the

days of youth, because those are commonly the times of mirth and comfort, as old age is called evil days, Ecclesiastes 12:1; when there was a secret blessing of God upon me and my family, protecting, directing, and succeeding us in all our affairs, which the devil observed, Job 1:10; whereas now there is a visible curse of God upon me and mine. As I was in the days of my youth,.... Either taken literally, he being one like Obadiah, that feared God from his youth upward, 1 Kings 18:3; or figuratively, for his former state of prosperity, when he was like a tree in autumn laden with ripe and rich fruit, and in great abundance; and so some render the words "in the days of my autumn", or "autumnity" (r); though it may respect the time of his first conversion, the infancy and youth of his spiritual state, who, when first regenerated, was as a newborn babe, and then became a young man, and now a father in Christ, his living Redeemer: and Job wishes it was with him as in his youth, or in the early days of his conversion, at which season, generally speaking, there are great zeal and fervency of spirit, a flow of love and affection to God and the best things; large discoveries of his love, much sensible communion with him, and enjoyment of his presence; wherefore such returning seasons are desirable; see Jeremiah 2:2;

when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle; either the secret power and providence of God, which was upon his house and family, and all that belonged to him; or the secret of his love, which was manifested to him, and is from everlasting to everlasting on them that fear the Lord, as Job did; who had secret communion with God, his fellowship was with him; he dwelt in the secret place of the Almighty, and was taken into his secret chambers, where he had the greatest familiarity with him, see Psalm 25:14. Some observe the word for "secret" is used for an "assembly" (s), and take the sense to be, that the assembly of the saints and people of God was in his tabernacle or house; there they met together for religious worship, and where Job had often a comfortable opportunity, and wishes for the same again, see Psalm 42:1.

(r) "in autumno dierum mearum", Hottinger. Thesaur. Phiolog. p. 507. "in diebus autumnitatis meae", Schultens; so the word signifies in Arabic, vid. Golium, col. 1415. Lud. Capell. in loc. (s) "in societate Dei", Pagninus, Beza; "societas Dei", i.e. "con gregatio", Bolducius; so Jarchi.

As I was in the days of my youth, when the {c} secret of God was upon my tabernacle;

(c) That is, seemed by evident tokens to be more present with me.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. days of my youth] lit. days of my autumn. It is doubtful if Job means to describe by this expression any period of his own age, namely his manhood. He rather compares his former time of prosperity to the season of the year, the autumn, the time of fruit-gathering and plenty and joy, and also thankfulness to God (clause second).

the secret of God] i. e. the intimacy and friendship of God; comp. on ch. Job 19:19. God’s friendship or intimacy watched over his tent.Verse 4. - As I was in the days of my youth; literally, in the days of my autumn - by which Job probably means the days of his "ripeness" or "full manhood" - which he had reached when his calamities fell upon him. When the secret of God was upon my tabernacle; or, the counsel of God; when, i.e., in my tent I held sweet counsel with God, and communed with him as friend with friend (comp. Psalm 25:14, "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant;" and Proverbs 3:32, "For the froward is abomination to the Lord: but his secret is with the righteous"). 25 When He appointed to the wind its weight,

And weighed the water according to a measure,

26 When He appointed to the rain its law,

And the course to the lightning of the thunder:

27 Then He saw it and declared it,

Took it as a pattern and tested it also,

28 And said to man: Behold, the fear of the Lord is wisdom,

And to depart from evil is understanding.

It is impracticable to attach the inf. לעשׂות to Job 28:24 as the purpose, because it is contrary to the meaning; but it is impossible, according to the syntax, to refer it to Job 28:27 as the purpose placed in advance, or to take it in the sense of perfecturus, because in both instances it ought to have been יתכּן instead of תּכּן, or at least ותכּן with the verb placed first (vid., Job 37:15). But even the temporal use of ל in לפנות at the turn (of morning, of evening, e.g., Genesis 24:63) cannot be compared, but לעשׂות signifies perficiendo equals quum perficeret (as e.g., 2 Samuel 18:29, mittendo equals quum mitteret), it is a gerundival inf. Ngelsb. S. 197f., 2nd edition); and because it is the past that is spoken of, the modal inf. can be continued in the perf., Ges. 132, rem. 2. The thought that God, when He created the world, appointed fixed laws of equable and salutary duration, he particularizes by examples: He appointed to the wind its weight, i.e., the measure of its force or feebleness; distributed the masses of water by measure; appointed to the rain its law, i.e., the conditions of its development and of its beginning; appointed the way, i.e., origin and course, to the lightning (חזיז from חזז, Arab. ḥzz, secare). When He thus created the world, and regulated what was created by laws, then He perceived (ראהּ with He Mappic. according to the testimony of the Masora) it, wisdom, viz., as the ideal of all things; then He declared it, enarravit, viz., by creating the world, which is the development and realization of its substance; then He gave it a place הכינהּ (for which Dderl. and Ewald unnecessarily read הבינהּ), viz., to create the world after its pattern, and to commit the arrangement of the world as a whole to its supreme protection and guidance; then He also searched it out or tested it, viz., its demiurgic powers, by setting them in motion to realize itself.

If we compare Proverbs 8:22-31 with this passage, we may say: the חכמה is the divine ideal-world, the divine imagination of all things before their creation, the complex unity of all the ideas, which are the essence of created things and the end of their development. "Wisdom," says one of the old theologians,

(Note: Vid., Jul. Hamberger, Lehre Jak. Bhme's, S. 55.)

"is a divine imagination, in which the ideas of the angels and souls and all things were seen from eternity, not as already actual creatures, but as a man beholds himself in a mirror." It is not directly one with the Logos, but the Logos is the demiurg by which God has called the world into existence according to that ideal which was in the divine mind. Wisdom is the impersonal model, the Logos the personal master-builder according to that model. Nevertheless the notions, here or in the alter cognate portion of Scripture, Proverbs 8:22-31, are not as yet so distinct as the New Testament revelation of God has first of all rendered possible. In those days, when God realized the substance of the חכמה, this eternal mirror of the world, in the creation of the world, He also gave man the law, corresponding to which he corresponds to His idea and participates in wisdom. Fearing the supreme Lord (אדני) only here in the book of Job, one of the 134 ודאין, i.e., passages, where אדני is not merely to be read instead of יהוה, but is actually written),

(Note: Vid., Buxtorf's Tiberias, p. 245; comp. Br's Psalterium, p. 133.)

and renouncing evil (סוּר מרע, according to another less authorized mode of writing מרע), - this is man's share of wisdom, this is his relative wisdom, by which he remains in connection with the absolute. This is true human φιλοσοφία, in contrast to all high-flown and profound speculations; comp. Proverbs 3:7, where, in like manner, "fear Jehovah" is placed side by side with "depart from evil," and Proverbs 16:6, according to which it is rendered possible סור מרע, to escape the evil of sin and its punishment by fearing God. "The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom" (Proverbs 1:7; comp. Psalm 111:10) is the symbolum, the motto and uppermost principle, of that Israelitish Chokma, whose greatest achievement is the book of Job. The whole of Job 28:1 is a minute panegyric of this principle, the materials of which are taken from the far-distant past; and it is very characteristic, that, in the structure of the book, this twenty-eighth chapter is the clasp which unites the half of the δέσις with the half of the λύσις, and that the poet has inscribed upon this clasp that sentence, "The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom." But, moreover, Job's closing speech, which ends in this celebration of the praise of the חכמה, also occupies an important position, which must not be determined, in the structure of the whole.

continued...

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