Job 33:17
That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man.
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(17) From his purpose.—Rather, That He may witharaw man from carrying out his evil actions, and may remove that pride from man which he secretly cherishes. This is the main point of Elihu’s teaching: that the purposes of God are disciplinary, to keep man from the sin which otherwise he would be prone to commit. In this way Job might have been a righteous man, and yet be justly chastened lest he should prove unrighteous.

33:14-18 God speaks to us by conscience, by providences, and by ministers; of all these Elihu discourses. There was not then, that we know of, any Divine revelation in writing, though now it is our principal guide. When God designs men's good, by the convictions and dictates of their own consciences, he opens the heart, as Lydia's, and opens the ears, so that conviction finds or forces its way in. The end and design of these admonitions are to keep men from sin, particularly the sin of pride. While sinners are pursuing evil purposes, and indulging their pride, their souls are hastening to destruction. That which turns men from sin, saves them from hell. What a mercy it is to be under the restraints of an awakened conscience!That he may withdraw man from his purpose - Margin, "work." The sense is plain. God designs to warn him of the consequences of executing a plan of iniquity. He alarms him by showing him that his course will lead to punishment, and by representing to him in the night visions, the dreadful woes of the future world into which he is about to plunge. The object is to deter him from committing the deed of guilt which he had contemplated, and to turn him to the paths of righteousness. Is it unreasonable to suppose that the same thing may occur now, and that God may have a purpose in the dreams which often visit the man who has formed a plan of iniquity, or who is living a life of sin? It cannot be doubted that such people often have alarming dreams; that these dreams are such as are fitted to deter them from the commission of their contemplated wickedness; and that in fact they not unfrequently do it.

What shall hinder us from supposing that God intends that the workings of the mind when the senses are locked in repose, shall be the means of alarming the guilty, and of leading them to reflection? Why should not mind thus be its own admonisher, and be made the instrument of restraining the guilty then, as really as by its sober reasonings and reflections when awake? Many a wicked man has been checked in a career of wickedness by a frightful dream; and not a few have been brought to a degree of reflection which has resulted in sound conversion by the alarm caused on the mind by having the consequences of a career of wickedness traced out in the visions of the night. The case of Colonel Gardiner cannot be forgotten - though in that instance it was rather "a vision of the night" than a dream. He was meditating an act of wickedness. and was alone in his room awaiting the appointed hour. In the silence of the night, and in the solitude of his room, he seemed to see the Savior on the cross. This view, however, it may be accounted for, restrained him from the contemplated act of wickedness, and he became an eminently pious man; see Doddridge's Life of Col. Gardiner. The mind, with all its faculties, is under the control of God, and no one can demonstrate that he does not make its actings, even in the wanderings of a dream, the designed means of checking the sinner, and of saving the soul.

And hide pride from man - Probably the particular thing which Elihu here referred to, was pride and arrogance toward God; or an insolent bearing toward him, and a reliance on one's own merits. This was the particular thing in Job which Elihu seems to have thought required animadversion, and probably he meant to intimate that all people had such communications from God by dreams as to save them from such arrogance.

17. purpose—Margin, "work." So Job 36:9. So "business" in a bad sense (1Sa 20:19). Elihu alludes to Job's words (Job 17:11). "Pride," an open "pit" (Job 33:18) which God hides or covers up, lest man should fall into it. Even the godly need to learn the lesson which trials teach, to "humble themselves under the mighty hand of God." That he, i.e. God, who was expressed Job 33:14, and designed by this pronoun he both in the foregoing and following verses.

From his purpose, i.e. from the execution of his purpose. Heb. from his work, i.e. from his evil work as the Chaldee and LXX. understand it; from sin, which is truly and fitly called man’s work, because it hath its rise in and from him, and is his own proper work, and very agreeable to his nature in his present corrupt estate; as, on the contrary, all the good that is in man is God’s proper and peculiar work, and is generally ascribed to him in Scripture. So this is noted as the design of God’s giving man this warning, to keep him from executing that evil work which possibly he had designed to do; of which see examples, Genesis 20:5,6 31:24.

Hide pride, i.e. either,

1. To take it away, as God is said to hide sin, when he quite removes and forgives it, Psalm 32:1; and sorrow is said to be hid, Job 3:10, when it never is nor was; and understanding is said to be hid when it perisheth, Isaiah 29:14. And

pride is here mentioned as the root of those evil purposes or works last mentioned; which for the most part proceed from haughtiness of spirit, whereby men scorn to submit themselves and their wills and actions to God’s authority, and presume to advance themselves above God, and resolve to follow their own wills and lusts in spite of God, and with contempt of him. Or pride may be here put for all matter or occasion of pride. And God by this means is said to

hide pride from man, because by these glorious and terrible representations of his Divine majesty to a man, he takes him off from the contemplation and admiration of his own excellency, which men are generally very prone to reflect upon, and brings him to a sight of his own nothingness and weakness, and to a sense of his dependence upon God, and to a humble and ready submission to his will and pleasure. That he may withdraw a man from his purpose,.... Or "work" (m), his wicked work, as the Targum; either which he has begun upon, or which he designed to do. Thus Abimelech and Laban were restrained from their intentions by a divine admonition in a dream, the one from taking Abraham's wife, as he intended, and the other from doing harm to Jacob, which he designed:

and hide pride from man; by pardoning his sins, in which there is always pride, so some; pardon of sin being expressed by covering it, Psalm 32:1; or rather by repressing, weakening, and preventing it; and that by not suffering vain and proud men to perform their enterprises, but obliging them to submit to the will of God, and humble themselves under his mighty hand. These are the ends proposed, and which are effected through the Lord speaking to men in dreams, opening their ears, and sending instructions to them; and others also for their good follow.

(m) "opere", Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus, &c.

That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide {i} pride from man.

(i) He shows for why God sends afflictions: to beat down man's pride, and to turn from evil.

17, 18. The object of this intervention of God is the gracious one of anticipating the sinner in the evil which he meditates and hindering it, and withdrawing him from his sinful purpose, Job 33:17; and the effect of it is that man is preserved from committing deadly sin, which would have brought destruction upon him, Job 33:18.

The “sword” or javelin, Job 33:18, is a figure for God’s destructive judgments; comp. ch. Job 36:12.Verse 17. - That he (i.e. God) may withdraw man from his purpose; literally, from his work, assumed to be a wrongful work. Elihu regards the Divine teaching through visions as intended to elevate and purify men. Sometimes God so works upon them as to make them abandon an evil course on which they had entered. Sometimes his object is to save them from indulgence in an evil temper into which, without his help, they might have fallen. In this latter case he may occasionally hide pride from man. Elihu, perhaps, thinks that Job is unduly proud of his integrity. 8 Verily thou hast said in mine ears,

And I heard the sound of thy words:

9 "I am pure, without transgression;

"Spotless am I, and I have no guilt.

10 "Behold, He findeth malicious things against me,

"He regardeth me as His enemy;

11 "He putteth my feet in the stocks,

"He observeth all my paths."

12 Behold, therein thou art not right, I will answer thee,

For Eloah is too exalted for man.

With אך אמרתּ Elihu establishes the undeniable fact, whether it be that אך is intended as restrictive (only thou hast said, it is not otherwise than that thou ... ), or as we have translated, according to its primary meaning, affirmative (forsooth, it is undeniable). To say anything בּאזני of another is in Hebrew equivalent to not saying it secretly, and so as to be liable to misconstruction, but aloud and distinctly. In Job 33:9, Elihu falls back on Job's own utterances, as Job 9:21, תם אני; Job 16:17, תפלתי זכה; Job 12:4, where he calls himself צדיק תמים, comp. Job 10:7; Job 13:18, Job 13:23; Job 23:10, Job 27:5, Job 29:1, Job 31:1. The expression חף, tersus, did not occur in the mouth of Job; Geiger connects חף with the Arab. hanı̂f (vid., on Job 13:15); it is, however, the adj. of the Semitic verb חף, Arab. ḥff, to rub off, scrape off; Arab. to make smooth by scraping off the hair; Targ., Talm., Syr., to make smooth by washing and rubbing (after which Targ. שׁזיג, lotus).

(Note: Vid., Nldecke in Genfey's Zeitschrift, 1863, S. 383.)

אנכי has here, as an exception, retained its accentuation of the final syllable in pause. In Job 33:10 Elihu also makes use of a word that does not occur in Job's mouth, viz., תּנוּאות, which, according to Numbers 14:34, signifies "alienation," from נוּא (הניא), to hinder, restrain, turn aside, abalienare, Numbers 32:7; and according to the Arab. na'a (to rise heavily),

(Note: Nevertheless Zamachschari does not derive Arab. nâwâ, to treat with enmity, from Arab. n', but from nwy, so that nâwa fulânan signifies "to have evil designs against any one, to meditate evil against one." The phrases iluh ‛alêji nijât, he has evil intentions (wicked designs) against me, nı̂jetuh zerı̂je aleik, he has evil intentions against thee, and similar, are very common. - Wetzst.)


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