Job 31:37
I would declare to him the number of my steps; as a prince would I go near to him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(37) I would declarei.e., “I would readily give an account of all my actions, and meet him with alacrity and perfect confidence.” Others suppose the meaning to be, “I would meet him as I would meet a prince, with the utmost deference and respect, not at all as an enemy, but as one worthy of all honour and regard.” The actual meaning is uncertain. On the other hand, he has been spoken of by his friends: as a fool (Job 5:2), by Eliphaz; as a man full of words, a liar, and a mocker (Job 11:2-3), by Zophar; as perverse, wicked, and iniquitous (Job 11:12; Job 11:14); a blasphemer and a hypocrite, by Eliphaz (Job 15:4-5; Job 15:13; Job 15:16; Job 15:34, &c.); as wicked, a robber, and ignorant of God, by Bildad (Job 18:5; Job 18:14); as wicked and a hypocrite, by Zophar (Job 20:5); as extortionate and oppressive (Job 31:15; Job 31:19, &c.); as a tyrant and an impious man, by Eliphaz (Job 22:5; Job 22:9; Job 22:13; Job 22:17, &c.).

Job 31:37. I would declare to him — To the Almighty, my judge; the number of my steps — The whole course of my life and actions, step by step, as far as I could remember: as a prince would I go near him — That is, with courage and confidence of success: I would stand before him with a look as upright and assured as that of a prince. Nothing can be plainer than that the book, or libel, here supposed to be written by Job’s adversary, cannot be meant of one drawn up by God. For how was it possible for him to triumph in this? If it were a bill of accusation, coming from the God of truth, he had more reason to tremble, certainly, than to triumph. We must therefore conclude that by the adversary must be meant one or all of Job’s friends, who were his only accusers that we know of: and God is here appealed to as a hearer or judge between them. In this it is that Job, with reason, rejoices and triumphs as being conscious of his integrity before God, and his sincere desire and endeavour to know and do his will in all things. See Peters and Dodd.31:33-40 Job clears himself from the charge of hypocrisy. We are loth to confess our faults, willing to excuse them, and to lay the blame upon others. But he that thus covers his sins, shall not prosper, Pr 28:13. He speaks of his courage in what is good, as an evidence of his sincerity in it. When men get estates unjustly, they are justly deprived of comfort from them; it was sown wheat, but shall come up thistles. What men do not come honestly by, will never do them any good. The words of Job are ended. They end with a bold assertion, that, with respect to accusation against his moral and religious character as the cause for his sufferings, he could appeal to God. But, however confident Job was, we shall see he was mistaken, chap. 40:4,5; 1Jo 1:8. Let us all judge ourselves; wherein we are guilty, let us seek forgiveness in that blood which cleanseth from all sin; and may the Lord have mercy upon us, and write his laws in our hearts!I would declare unto him the number of my steps - That is, I would disclose to him the whole course of my life. This is language also appropriate to a judicial trial, and the meaning is, that Job was so confident of his integrity that he would approach God and make his whole course of life known to him.

As a prince would I go near unto him - With the firm and upright step with which a prince commonly walks. I would not go in a base, cringing manner, but in a manner that evinced a consciousness of integrity. I would not go bowed down under the consciousness of guilt, as a self-condemned malefactor, but with the firm and elastic foot-tread of one conscious of innocence. It must be remembered that all this is said with reference to the charges which had been brought against him by his friends, and not as claiming absolute perfection. He was accused of gross hypocrisy, and it was maintained that he was suffering the judicial infliction of heaven on account of that. So far as those charges were concerned, he now says that he could go before God with the firm and elastic tread of a prince - with entire cheerfulness and boldness. We are not, however, to suppose that he did not regard himself as having the common infirmities and sinfulness of our fallen nature. The discussion does not turn at all on that point.

37. A good conscience imparts a princely dignity before man and free assurance in approaching God. This can be realized, not in Job's way (Job 42:5, 6); but only through Jesus Christ (Heb 10:22). Unto him, i.e. to my judge, or adversary.

The number of my steps, i.e. the whole course of my life and actions, which I would exactly number to him, step by step, so far as I can remember. I would not answer his allegations against me, but furnish him with further matter of the same kind, and then answer all together.

As a prince, i.e. with undaunted courage, and confidence, and assurance of success, as being clearly conscious of my own sincerity; not like a self-condemned malefactor, as my friends suppose me to be.

Would I go near unto him, and not run away, or hide myself from my judge, as guilty persons desire to do. I would declare to him the number of my steps,.... To his judge, or to him that contended with him, and drew up the bill against him; he would forward it, assist in it, furnish materials for it, give an account of all the transactions of his life that he could remember; this he says not as though he thought that God stood in need of any such declaration, since he better knows the actions of men than they themselves, compasses their paths, and is acquainted with all their ways; but to show how confident he was of his innocence, and how little he feared the strictest and closest examination of his ways and works, knowing that he had lived with all good conscience unto that day:

and as a prince would I go near unto him; either he should consider such an hearer and judge of his cause he desired as a prince, and reverence and respect him as such; he should be as dear unto him, though his adversary that contended with him, as a prince; and he should be as ambitious of an acquaintance with him as with a prince: or rather he means that he himself as a prince, in a princely manner, and with a princely spirit, should draw nigh to his judge, to answer to the bill in writing against him; that he should not come up to the bar like a malefactor, that shows guilt in his countenance, and by his trembling limbs, and shrinking back, not caring to come nigh, but choosing rather to stand at a distance, or get off and escape if he could; but on the other hand, Job would go up to his judge, and to the judgment seat, with all the stateliness of a prince, with an heroic, intrepid, and undaunted spirit; like a "bold prince", as Mr. Broughton renders the word; see Job 23:3.

I would declare unto him the number of my steps; as a {c} prince would I go near unto him.

(c) I will make him account of all my life, without fear.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
37. the number of my steps] i. e. every act of my life.

as a prince] In the consciousness and pride of true nobility; with the confident step and erect bearing of one who knows that nothing dishonouring can be laid to his charge.Verse 37. - I would declare unto him the number of my steps; i.e. I would conceal nothing. I would willingly divulge every act of my life. I would make full and complete answer to the indictment in every particular. As a prince would I go near unto him. There should be no timidity or cringing on my part. I would face my accuser boldly, and bear myself as a prince in his presence. 31 If the people of my tent were not obliged to say:

Where would there be one who has not been satisfied with his flesh?! -

32 The stranger did not lodge out of doors,

I opened my door towards the street.

Instead of אמרוּ, it might also be יאמרוּ (dicebant); the perf., however, better denotes not merely what happens in a general way, but what must come to pass. The "people of the tent" are all who belong to it, like the Arab. ahl (tent, metonym. dwellers in the tent), here pre-eminently the servants, but without the expression in itself excluding wife, children, and relations. The optative מי־יתּן, so often spoken of already, is here, as in Job 31:35; Job 14:4; Job 29:2, followed by the acc. objecti, for נשׂבּע is part. with the long accented a (quis exhibebit or exhibeat non saturatum), and מבּשׂרו is not meant of the flesh of the person (as even the lxx in bad taste renders: that his maids would have willingly eaten him, their kind master, up from love to him), but of the flesh of the cattle of the host. Our translation follows the accentuation, which, however, perhaps proceeds from an interpretation like that of Arnheim given above. His constant and ready hospitality is connected with the mention of his abundant care and provision for his own household. It is unnecessary to take ארח, with the ancient versions, for ארח, or so to read it; לארח signifies towards the street, where travellers are to be expected, comp. Pirke aboth i.:5: "May thy house be open into the broad place (לרוחה), and may the poor be thy guests." The Arabs pride themselves on the exercise of hospitality. "To open a guest-chamber" is the same as to establish one's own household in Arabic. Stories of judgments by which the want of hospitality has been visited, form an important element of the popular traditions of the Arabs.

(Note: In the spring of 1860 - relates Wetzstein - as I came out of the forest of Glan, I saw the water of Rm lying before us, that beautiful round crater in which a brook that runs both summer and winter forms a clear but fishless lake, the outflow of which underground is recognised as the fountain of the Jordan, which breaks forth below in the valley out of the crater Tell el-Kadi; and I remarked to my companion, the physician Regeb, the unusual form of the crater, when my Beduins, full of astonishment, turned upon me with the question, "What have you Franks heard of the origin of this lake?" On being asked what they knew about it, they related how that many centuries ago a flourishing village once stood here, the fields of which were the plain lying between the water and the village of Megdel Shems. One evening a poor traveller came while the men were sitting together in the open place in the middle of the village, and begged for a supper and a resting-place for the night, which they refused him. When he assured them that he had eaten nothing since the day before, an old woman amidst general laughter reached out a gelle (a cake of dried cow-dung, which is used for fuel), and drove him out of the village. Thereupon the man went to the village of Nimra (still standing, south of the lake), where he related his misfortune, and was taken in by them. The next morning, when the inhabitants of Nimra woke, they found a lake where the neighbouring village had stood.)

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