When he gives quietness, who then can make trouble? and when he hides his face, who then can behold him? whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?—This is probably the meaning, but literally it is, Who can condemn?
Or against a man only.—Rather, against a man alike: i.e., it is all one in either case. He judges nations as He judges individuals, and individuals as He does nations.Job 34:29-30. When he giveth quietness — Either to the poor and oppressed persons last mentioned, or to any other persons or people, as it follows; who then can make trouble? — No man or creature can hinder God’s design; and when he hideth his face — Withdraws his favour and help from them, and thereby exposes them to oppressions and calamities; who then can behold him? — Who can enjoy the light of his countenance, or look up to him with cheerfulness and confidence, to desire or expect his help? whether it be done against a nation or a man only — God can carry on his work, either of mercy or justice, as easily and as irresistibly upon a whole nation as upon one particular person. That the hypocrite reign not — May not continue his tyranny; lest the people be insnared — Lest the people should be longer kept in the snares of oppression; God doth this to free poor oppressed people from the snares which ungodly men lay for them.
Who then can make trouble? - literally, "Who can condemn, or hold guilty" - ירשׁע yarâsha‛. The sense is, that no one can overwhelm him with the consciousness of guilt, to whom God intends to give the peace resulting from his favor and friendship. Or, no one can bring calamities upon a man "as if" he were guilty, or so as to "show" that he is guilty, when God intends to treat him as if he were not. This is as true now as it was in the time of Elihu. When God designs to give peace to a man's soul, and to impart to him the evidence that his sins are forgiven, there is no one who can excite in his mind the conviction of guilt, or take away the comfort that God gives. When he designs to "treat" a man as if he were his friend, and to impart to him such evidences of his favor as shall convince the world that he is his friend, there is no one who can prevent it. No one can so calumniate him, or so prejudice the world against him, or so arrest the descending tokens of the divine favor, as to turn back the proof of the favor of God; compare Proverbs 16:7.
And when he hideth his face - To "hide the face," is a common expression in the Scriptures to denote calamity, distress, and the lack of spiritual comfort, as the expression "to lift up the light of the countenance" is a common phrase to denote the opposite; compare Job 13:24.
Who then can behold him? - An expression denoting that no one can then have cheering and elevating views of God. No one can then have those clear conceptions of his character and government which will give peace to the soul. "This" is also as true now as it was in the time of Elihu. We are dependent on God himself for any just views of his own character, for any elevating and purifying conceptions of his government and plans, and for any consolation flowing in upon our souls from the evidence that he is our friend.
Whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only - The same truth pertains to nations and to individuals. The same laws respecting the sources of peace and happiness apply to both. Both are alike dependent on God, and neither can secure permanent peace and prosperity without him. Both are alike at his sovereign disposal; and neither can originate permanent sources of prosperity. This, too, is as true now as it was in the time of Elihu. Nations are more prone to forget it than individuals are, but still it is a great truth which should never be forgotten, that neither have power to originate or perpetuate the means of happiness, but that both are alike dependent on God.
make trouble—rather, "condemn" (Ro 8:33, 34). Maurer, from the reference being only to the godless, in the next clause, and Job 34:20 translates, "When God keeps quiet" (leaves men to perish) Ps 83:1; [Umbreit] from the Arabic (strikes to the earth), "who shall condemn Him as unjust?" Job 34:17.
hideth … face—(Job 23:8, 9; Ps 13:1).
it be done—Whether it be against a guilty nation (2Ki 18:9-12) or an individual, that God acts so.When he giveth quietness; either to the poor and oppressed persons last mentioned, or to any other person or people, as it follows.
Who then can make trouble? no man or creature can hinder God’s design and work.
When he hideth his face, i.e. withdraws his favour and help from them, and thereby exposeth them to all oppressions or calamities.
Who then can behold him? i.e. who can look up to God with cheerfulness or confidence, to desire or expect his help? Or rather, who then will look upon him, or regard him, to wit, so as to pity or succour him? If God be against him, what man will or dare be for him? all men will forsake and oppose him, and so he will be utterly lost. For this who answers to the who in the former branch of the verse, and both of them speak of man and his act as opposed unto God and to his act. The case is the same in both: God can carry on his work, either of mercy or justice, as easily and as irresistibly upon a whole nation or people as upon one particular person. Romans 8:33. When God pronounces the sentence of justification by the righteousness of Christ in the conscience of a sinner, it produces peace solid and substantial, and this being done, who shall condemn? or of what avail will their condemnation be? whether of the law, or of Satan, or of the world, or of themselves, of their own hearts;
and when he hideth his face, who then can behold him? whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only; whether God hides his face from a nation, as he sometimes did from the nation of Israel, because of their sins; when he would not hear their prayers, nor assist them against their enemies, nor arise for their help and deliverance out of their hands: or from his church and people, his spiritual Jacob and Israel, as when they complain, their way is hid from the Lord, and the Lord has forgotten and forsaken them; or from particular persons, as from David, Heman, and others; and who, of the Lord's people, but at one time or another are under the hidings of his face? and then there is no finding him, no looking to him with comfort and confidence; no looking into and beholding the works and ways of God, and the causes of his dealings with them; these are out of sight, his ways are in the deep, and his footsteps are not known. Some refer this to men; who will show favour to him whom God frowns upon? who will look at him in a pleasant manner, when God hides his face from him?When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? and when he hideth his face, who then can behold him? whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)29. Here he, God, is emphatic. Elihu while upholding the rectitude Of God conjoins with it His sovereignty. To give quietness or rest seems to mean to give peace and security from oppression, when the oppressed cry unto Him (Jdg 5:31; Isaiah 14:7). The antithesis to this is He hides His face, words which always mean, He withdraws His favour or help in anger, ch. Job 13:24; and to behold Him has of course a sense the opposite of this, viz. to obtain His favour, to make Him gracious. God acts in both ways in His sovereign rule, and when He acts in the one way who shall condemn Him, and in the other who shall compel Him to alter His aspect? And thus He acts on the widest stage and in the most particular instance, with nations and men alike.
29–33. The connexion of the following verses is rather uncertain. The sense of Job 34:30 might suggest the connexion of Job 34:29-30 with the preceding. In this case Job 34:31 would make a new start, and the connexion would be maintained to the end of the chapter. It is probable, however, that Job 34:34-37 should be taken by themselves. In Job 34:29 the word he is emphatic; similarly in Job 34:31 an emphasis falls on God. This common emphasis, in Job 34:29-30 on the absoluteness of God’s operation and in Job 34:31-33 on the presumption of any one who questions it, seems to bind these two groups of verses together. The verses read as a whole,
29. When he giveth quietness, who shall condemn him?
And when he hideth his face, who shall behold him?
Whether it be done to a nation or to a man alike:
30. That the godless man reign not,
That the people be not ensnared.
31. For hath any said unto God,
I have borne (chastisement) though I offend not,
32. That which I see not teach thou me,
If I have done iniquity I will do it no more?—
33. Shall God’s recompense be according to thy mind
That thou dost reject it?
For thou must choose, and not I;
Therefore speak what thou knowest.Verse 29. - When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? literally, Who then can condemn? The sentiment is the same as that of St. Paul in the Epistle to the Romans, "If God be for us, who can be against us?... Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth?" (Romans 8:31-34). And when he hideth his face, who then can behold him? When God hideth away his face, then all flesh is troubled (Psalm 104:29); man shrinks into himself, and despairs of happiness; nature itself seems to fail and fade. None nan behold him when he hides himself; none can do more than deprecate his anger, and pray, "Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us" (Psalm 4:6). Whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only. The results are similar, whether God withdraws the light of his countenance from a nation or from an individual. In either case, there is no help from without; ruin and destruction follow.
And He seeth all his steps.
22 There is no darkness nor shadow of death
Wherein the workers of iniquity might hide themselves.
23 For He needeth not long to regard a man
That he may enter into judgment with God.
As the preceding strophe showed that God's creative order excludes all partiality, so this strophe shows that His omniscience qualifies Him to be an impartial judge. He sees everything, nothing can escape His gaze; He sees through man without being obliged to wait for the result of a judicial investigation. שׂים with על does not here signify: to lay upon (Saad., Gecat.), but as Job 37:15, and as with אל (Job 34:14) or בּ (Job 23:6); to direct one's attention (supply לבּו, Job 1:8) towards anything; the fut. has here a modal signification; עוד is used as e.g., Genesis 46:29 : again and again, continuously; and in the clause expressive of purpose it is אל־אל (instead of אליו, a very favourite combination used throughout the whole book, Job 5:8; Job 8:5; Job 13:3, and so on) from the human standpoint: He, the all-seeing One, needs not to observe him long that he should enter into judgment with God - He knows him thoroughly before any investigation takes place, which is not said without allusion to Job's vehement longing to be able to appear before God's tribunal.
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