Job 34:33
Should it be according to your mind? he will recompense it, whether you refuse, or whether you choose; and not I: therefore speak what you know.
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(33) Should it be according to thy mind? is obscure from its abruptness. We understand it thus: “Should he recompense it (i.e., a man’s conduct) according to thy mind, with thy concurrence, whether thou refusest or whether thou choosest?”

And not Ii.e., “Then why not according as I refuse or choose? If thou art to influence and direct His dealing and government, why may not I? why may not any one? And if so, He is no longer supreme or absolute. What knowest thou, then? Speak, if thou hast anything to say to this reasoning.”

Job 34:33. Should it be according to thy mind? — Having advised and directed Job how to conduct himself, and what to say to God in his afflicted state, he now proceeds to enforce his advice with solid arguments; should it — Namely, God’s chastening of thee, about which the great controversy was; be according to thy mind? — Or, as thou wouldst have it? Shall thy opinion or affection give laws and measures to God, that he shall afflict only such persons, and in such a manner and measure, and so long, as thou choosest? Does God need, or should he seek for, thy advice how to govern the world, and whom and when to reward or punish? Dost thou quarrel with him because he chastises thee more severely and longer than thou expectedst? He will recompense it — Namely, thy iniquity, expressed Job 34:32; whether thou choose, or whether thou refuse — Whether thou art satisfied with his dispensations, and patiently submittest thereto, or whether thou art offended with them, and rebellest against them; and not I — It is not I nor thou, that must prescribe to God, but he will do what he pleaseth. Or, the Hebrew, ולא אני, velo ani, may be rendered, But not I, and then the sense of the clause will be, Do thou choose or refuse as thou pleasest, and contend with God for acting otherwise with thee than according to thy opinion he ought to act; but so would not I do, if it were my case; and I can say nothing for such a course: but do thou speak what thou knowest, or what thou canst say for it, as it follows. The reader will observe, that the preceding exposition of this obscure verse is given according to our present translation, some of the first words of which, however, namely, those in Italic letters, are not in the Hebrew, and are thought by some learned men to be improperly supplied. Heath, Dodd, and many others, leaving out those words, propose to read the verse thus: It is he will recompense that which proceedeth from thee, whether thou refusest or whether thou choosest, and not I. The words, they think, were intended to induce Job to make confession of his sins, and, in order thereto, include this argument: It is God who is to punish thy sins, and not man: as he, therefore, is perfectly acquainted with them, there is no reason why thou shouldst not make an ample confession of them, since, whether thou comply or refuse, thou wilt receive the same retribution of thy actions.34:31-37 When we reprove for what is amiss, we must direct to what is good. Job's friends would have had him own himself a wicked man. Let will only oblige him to own that he spoke unadvisedly with his lips. Let us, in giving reproof, not make a matter worse than it is. Elihu directs Job to humble himself before God for his sins, and to accept the punishment. Also to pray to God to discover his sins to him. A good man is willing to know the worst of himself; particularly, under affliction, he desires to be told wherefore God contends with him. It is not enough to be sorry for our sins, but we must go and sin no more. And if we are affectionate children, we shall love to speak with our Father, and to tell him all our mind. Elihu reasons with Job concerning his discontent under affliction. We are ready to think every thing that concerns us should be just as we would have it; but it is not reasonable to expect this. Elihu asks whether there was not sin and folly in what Job said. God is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works, Ps 145:17. The believer saith, Let my Saviour, my wise and loving Lord, choose every thing for me. I am sure that will be wisest, and the best for his glory and my good.Should it be according to thy mind? - Margin, as in Hebrew "from with thee" - המעמך hamē‛imekā. There has been much diversity of opinion in regard to the meaning of this verse. It is exceedingly obscure in the original, and has the appearance of being a proverbial expression. The general sense seems to be, that God will not be regulated in his dealings by what may be the views of man, or by what man might be disposed to choose or refuse. He will act according to his own views of what is right and proper to be done. The phrase, "should it be according to thy mind," means that it is not to be expected that God will consult the views and feelings of man rather than his own.

He will recompense it - He will visit with good or evil, prosperity or adversity, according as he shall judge to be right.

Whether thou refuse, or whether thou choose - Whatever may be your preferenccs or wishes. He will act according to his own views of right. The idea is, that God is absolute and independent, and does according to his own pleasure. He is a just Sovereign, dispensing his favors and appointing calamity, not according to the will of individual people, but holding the scales impartially, and doing what "he" esteems to be right.

And not I-- Rosenmuller, Drusius, DeWette, and Noyes, render this, "And not he," supposing that it refers to God, and means that the arrangements which are to affect people should be as "he" pleases, and not such as "man" would prefer. Umbreit explains it as meaning, "It is for you to determine in this matter, not for me. You are the person most interested. I am not particularly concerned. Do you, therefore, speak and determine the matter, if you know what is the truth." The Vulgate renders it, "Will God seek that from thee because it displeases thee? For thou hast begun to speak, not I: for if thou knowest anything better, speak." So Coverdale, "Wilt thou not give a reasonable answer? Art thou afraid of anything, seeing thou begannest first to speak, and not I?" The great difficulty of the whole verse may be seen by consulting Schultens, who gives no less than "seventeen" different interpretations, which have been proposed - his own being different from all others. He renders it," Lo, he will repay you in your own way; for thou art full of sores - "namquesubulceratus es:" which, indeed, thou hast chosen, and not I-- and what dost thou know? speak." I confess that I cannot understand the passage, nor do any of the interpretations proposed seem to be free from objections. I would submit the following, however, as a paraphrase made from the Hebrew, and differing somewhat from any interpretation which I have seen, as possibly expressing the true sense of the whole verse. "Shall it be from thee that God will send retribution on it (that is, on human conduct), because thou refusest or art reluctant, or because it is not in accordance with thy views? For thou must choose, and not I. Settle this matter, for it pertains particularly to you, and not to me, and what thou knowest, speak. If thou hast any views in regard to this, let them be expressed, for it is important to know on what principles God deals with men."

33. Rather, "should God recompense (sinners) according to thy mind? Then it is for thee to reject and to choose, and not me" [Umbreit]; or as Maurer, "For thou hast rejected God's way of recompensing; state therefore thy way, for thou must choose, not I," that is, it is thy part, not mine, to show a better way than God's. Having advised and directed Job how to behave himself, and what to say to God in his case, he now proceedeth to enforce his advice by solid arguments.

Should it (to wit, God’s chastening of thee, about which the great controversy was)

be according to thy mind? Heb. from with thee, as thou wouldst have it? Shall thy opinion or affection give laws and measures to God that he shall afflict only such persons, and in such a manner and measure, and so long, as thou wouldst have him. Doth God need, or should he seek for, thy advice how to govern the world, and whom and when to reward or punish? Dost thou quarrel with God, because he punisheth thee worse and longer than thou expectest or desirest?

He will recompence it, to wit, thy iniquity, expressed Job 34:32. Whether thou art satisfied or offended with his proceedings, he regards not, as not being obliged to give thee an account of his matters, whether thou would refuse his punishments or accept of them. It is not I, nor thou, that must prescribe to God, but he will do what he pleaseth. Or, but not I, i.e. do thou refuse or choose as thou pleasest, and contend with God for doing with thee otherwise than according to thy opinion or good will; but so would not I do, if it were my case; and I can say nothing for this course which thou takest, and therefore do thou

speak what thou knowest, or what thou canst say for it, as it here follows. If thou cans, say any thing for this practice, here I am ready to hear thy defence, and to justify thee as far as I can truly and righteously do. But this verse is and may well be otherwise rendered, and that very agreeably to the Hebrew, though still the sense will be the same, Shall he, i.e. God, render or recompense it (to wit, thy iniquity) according to thy mind, (i.e. no further than thou dost like and consent,) because thou refusest? (to wit, his chastisement. Is he obliged to forbear punishing thee because thou art not pleased with it? Shall not he dispense either favours or afflictions as he sees fit without thy consent?) shalt thou choose, and not I? (so Elihu speaks this in the name and person of God; such sudden changes of persons being not unusual in this book. Shalt thou, O Job, choose for me, and not I for myself?)

therefore speak what thou knowest. If this be thy opinion, speak what thou cans, in defence of it; and here am I ready to plead for God against thee. So here Elihu returns to speak in his own person. Should it be according, to thy mind?.... O Job, for the words seem to he directed to him; and may respect either the government of the world in general, and the disposal of all things in it, treated of in this chapter, though more remotely, Job 34:13. Is it not proper that God should govern it, who has made it, and do all things in it as he pleases? is it fit he should consult with men what to do, or be instructed and taught by them in the path of judgment? is it meet that every man should have his mind and will, and have everything go in the form and course most eligible to him? Or else they may respect chastisement, with which the words are more nearly connected; and so the sense be, should man be consulted, as Job or any other, and his mind known first, whether he should be chastened or not? should a son or a servant be asked first by a parent or master, whether it is fitting to give correction or not? or is man to be advised with in what way and manner he should be chastened of God, whether in his person, or family, or estate? or how long the chastening should endure upon him, and when it should be removed? no, surely; all should be left with God, the wise and sovereign Disposer of all things;

he will recompense it, whether thou refuse, or whether thou choose,

and not I; that is, God will recompense chastisement; he will chastise whom he pleases, and in what manner he pleases, and as long as he pleases, whether man consents or submits to it or not; he will not ask his leave; he will do according to the counsel of his own will; and thou Job mayest choose or refuse to submit to him as thou likest best; for my part, was it my case, I would not refuse submission to his will; I would say, "it is the Lord, let him do what seemeth good in his sight". Some make this last clause the words of God, put by way of question, "shouldest thou choose or refuse, and not I?" shouldest thou have thine option and refusal, and not I? should man be his own chooser, or choose for himself what he likes best? should he not say, the Lord shall choose mine inheritance for me, though that inheritance is affliction? The words are rendered by others to different senses, all which to observe would be too tedious: some (l) to this sense,

"what is of thyself God recompenses;''

sin is of a man's self, it flows from his corrupt heart and will, he is not tempted to it of God; nor is it to be ascribed to the temptations of Satan, which, though they may have their influence, sin is a man's own act and deed; and God will recompense it in one way or another, whether man will or not; either in a way of punishment on the sinner himself, or on his surety for him; or in a way of fatherly correction and chastisement; and this is the Lord's doing and not mine, and he is just in so doing;

therefore speak what thou knowest: if thou knowest anything better than this, or canst contradict what is said: or as others (m) to this purpose,

"did ever such a speech come from thee, as expressed in the preceding verses? God will recompense it, if thou refusest to speak in such a submissive manner; thou mayest refuse to do it, I would not; I should choose to submit and hear the affliction patiently; if thou thinkest otherwise, speak out thy mind.''

(l) "ecce de tuo rependit illud", Schultens. (m) Junius and Tremellius, Grotius.

Should it be according to {b} thy mind? he will recompense {c} it, whether thou refuse, or whether thou choose; and not I: therefore speak what thou knowest.

(b) Will God use your counsel in doing his works?

(c) Thus he speaks in the person of God, as though Job should chose and refuse affliction at his pleasure.

33. Elihu’s answer to this complaint is that it is a claim to regulate the government of God, to give laws to Him how He shall act, and to decide how He shall recompense. Such a position the complainer takes—but for himself Elihu repudiates it: Thou must choose, not I. In the concluding words, speak that which thou knowest, Elihu invites Job to state that method of “recompense” which shall be “according to his mind” and better than that observed in God’s rule of the world.

The above seems the most natural interpretation to put on this difficult passage. The A.V., in rendering surely it is meet to be said (Job 34:31), assumes an irregularity of punctuation which is very improbable. And to regard Job 34:31-32 as a serious confession and example of how a right-minded man would speak greatly impairs the vigour of the passage, and gives a much looser connexion with Job 34:33.Verse 33. - Should it be according to thy mind? he will recompense it. The two clauses should be taken together, and the translation should run, "Should God recompense" (i.e. make his awards) "according to thy pleasure'" or "as thou wiliest?" Elihu turns to Job and directly addresses him, "Can he expect that God will make his decrees - condemn and absolve men - just as Job thinks right?" Whether thou refuse; rather, since thou refusest them. Job had refused to acknowledge the justice of God's awards and decisions. Or whether thou choose; and not I; rather, but thou must choose, and not I. It is Job who must determine how he will act. Elihu, a friend, can only point out and recommend a course, as he had done in vers. 31, 32. It is for Job himself to determine what course he will take. Therefore speak what thou knowest; i.e. "Say what thou hast determined on." The following תּחת רשׁעים cannot signify: on the place of the evil-doers, i.e., in the place where evil-doers are punished (Hirz., Hahn, and others), for תּחת (תּחתּי) only has this signification with the suff. (vid., on Habakkuk 3:16); but not otherwise than: in the evil-doers' stead, taking them and treating them as such, as Jer. has correctly translated: quasi impios (comp. Isaiah 10:4, Jerome, cum interfectis). The place first mentioned afterwards is not exactly the usual place of judgment, but any place whatever where all can see it. There He smites those who hitherto held positions of eminence, as of unimpeachable honour, like the common criminal; ספק, Arab. ṣfq, complodere, and then ictu resonante percutere, as the likewise cognate Arab. sf' signifies first to box the ear (as Arab. sfq equals ṣfq), then so to strike that it smacks. As little as לכן, Job 34:25, was equals לכן אשׁר, just so little is אשׁר על־כּן, Job 34:27, equals על־כן אשׁר (vid., on the other hand what is said on Genesis 18:5 concerning כּי־על־כּן). Elihu wishes to say that they endure such a destiny of punishment, because they therefore, i.e., in order to suffer such, have turned aside from following after God, and have not thought on all His ways, i.e., guidings, by which He manifested Himself to them: they have thus sought to cause the cry of the poor to come (Jer. well renders: ut pervenire facerent ad eum) before Him (עליו, perhaps with the idea of urging forward equals לפניו or בּאזניו), and that He may hear the cry of the lowly (construction exactly like Job 33:17), i.e., have sought to bring forth His avenging justice by injustice that cries aloud to heaven.
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