Job 35:2
Think you this to be right, that you said, My righteousness is more than God's?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XXXV.

(2) My righteousness is more than God’s.—See Job 19:6, &c. Job had not in so many words said this, but what he had said was capable of being so represented, and perhaps seemed to involve it. (Comp. Job 9:22; Job 10:15.) Here, again, there was a misrepresentation of what Job had said. He certainly did not mean that he was none the better for being righteous; on the contrary, he had distinctly said, “Let mine enemy be as the wicked,” &c. (Job 27:7, &c.), because he could not delight himself in God; but it was perfectly true that he had said that his righteousness had not delivered him from suffering.

Job 35:2-3. Thinkest thou this to be right? — Canst thou in thy conscience, upon second thoughts, approve of what thou hast said? My righteousness is more than God’s — Not that Job said this in express terms, but he said those things from which this might seem to follow, as that God had punished him more than he deserved. For thou saidst, &c. — This is produced in proof of the foregoing charge. Job had often affirmed that he was, and still continued to be, righteous, though he had no present benefit by his righteousness, but much bitterness with it; and that God did not act kindly toward him, notwithstanding his former and present piety, but dealt with him as if he had been a most wicked man. Now, Elihu interprets this as implying that he thought himself more righteous than God. Thou saidst, What advantage will it be unto thee — Unto me; such changes of persons being frequent in the Hebrew language. And what profit shall I have, &c. — I have no more present advantage by all my care to please and serve God than wicked men have by their sins against him. God regards my cries no more than theirs, and shows no more kindness or pity to me than he doth to the most profligate wretches. But, it must be remembered, if Job’s words implied any thing of this kind, it was only with reference to his state in the present life. He well knew that he should have much, yea, everlasting advantage from his piety in the life to come.35:1-8 Elihu reproves Job for justifying himself more than God, and called his attention to the heavens. They are far above us, and God is far above them; how much then is he out of the reach, either of our sins or of our services! We have no reason to complain if we have not what we expect, but should be thankful that we have better than we deserve.Thinkest thou this to be right? - This is the point which Elihu now proposes to examine. He, therefore, solemnly appeals to Job himself to determine whether he could himself say that he thought such a sentiment correct.

That thou saidst, My righteousness is more than God's - Job had nowhere said this in so many words, but Elihu regarded it as the substance of what he had said, or thought that what he had said amounted to the same thing. He had dwelt much on his own sincerity and uprightness of life; he had maintained that he had not been guilty of such crimes as to make these calamities deserved, and he had indulged in severe reflections on the dealings of God with him; compare Job 9:30-35; Job 10:13-15. All this Elihu interprets as equivalent to saying, that he was more righteous than his Maker. It cannot be denied that Job had given occasion for this interpretation to be put on his sentiments, though it cannot be supposed that he would have affirmed this in so many words.

2. more than—rather as in Job 9:2; 25:4: "I am righteous (literally, my righteousness is) before God." The English Version, however, agrees with Job 9:17; 16:12-17; 27:2-6. Job 4:17 is susceptible of either rendering. Elihu means Job said so, not in so many words, but virtually. Canst thou in thy conscience, upon second thoughts, approve of what thou hast said? Not that Job said this in express terms, but he said those things from which this might seem to follow, as that God punished him more than he deserved or expected, all things considered; and that if he might be admitted to debate his cause with or before God, he did not doubt to carry it, and to obtain that ease and favour from God, which otherwise God would not afford him. But this charge against Job he proves in the next verse. Thinkest thou this to be right,.... Elihu appeals to Job himself, to his conscience and reason; who as a natural man, guided by the light of nature and reason only, and judging according to the dictates of a natural conscience, and especially as a good man, one that feared God, and had so much knowledge of him and his perfections, as his speeches showed, could never upon reflection think it right what he had said concerning God and his justice, as follows:

that thou saidst, my righteousness is more than God's? A strange expression this indeed! but what is to be understood not of his personal righteousness; Job in his senses could never say that this was more or greater than God's, or to be above it and preferred to it in any sense; nor even of righteousness imputed. Old Testament saints had the righteousness of Christ imputed to them, and were justified by it; and so Job, who had knowledge of and faith in Christ as his living Redeemer, and the Lord his righteousness: but then though this is the righteousness of God, wrought out by one that is God as well as man, and approved and accepted of by God, and imputed by him to his people, which is revealed in the Gospel, and is unto all, and upon all them that believe, and they are made the righteousness of God in Christ; yet this cannot be more than the righteousness of God: besides it is not the essential righteousness of Christ as God, as Osiander dreamed, by which men are justified, but his obedience, active and passive, as Mediator, otherwise they would be deified who are justified by it; and if even so absurd a notion as this could obtain, it would not be more of man than the righteousness of God: much less can this be interpreted of Job's inherent righteousness, or the new man which is created in righteousness and true holiness; since all the holiness and righteousness that is in man is from God, and at present imperfect, and therefore cannot be more or greater than his; and still less can this be meant of Job's external righteousness, which, how great soever, was not perfect and without sin; whereas God is just and without iniquity. But there is not a just man that does good and sins not. This therefore must be understood of the righteousness of his cause; and to say that this was more than God's was what he ought not to have said, and more than became him to say: for though a good man may defend himself against the calumnies of his enemies, by asserting his own righteousness, innocence, and integrity, and may desire the Lord to plead his cause against them, and judge him according to his righteousness and the integrity of his heart; but to attempt to make it out, that his cause is more righteous than the Lord's, is doing an ill thing. Now though Job had not expressed this in so many words, yet he had said that from whence this might by consequence be deduced; he had given great occasion for such an inference to be drawn from his speeches; for since he had spoken so largely of his innocence and integrity, and holy life, and of the hard usage nevertheless he had met with from God; and had represented his own case, as if he had behaved so well as to deserve better treatment at the hand of God than to be afflicted in the manner he was; that he had wrong done him, and complained of it, and could not be heard; his judgment was taken from him by the Lord; which was in effect to say, that his cause was better than the Lord's, and would bear a stricter examination than his; which to say was, exceeding bad and unbecoming; see Job 16:17.

Thinkest thou this to be right, that thou saidst, My {a} righteousness is more than God's?

(a) Job never spoke these words: but because he maintained his innocency, it seemed as though he would say, that God tormented him without just cause.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2–4. Statement of Job’s charge against God that under His rule of the world to be righteous is no advantage to a man. The verses read,

2.  Thinkest thou this to be thy right,

And callest thou it, My just cause against God,

3.  That thou sayest, What advantage hast thou?

And, What am I profited more than if I had sinned?

Throughout Elihu’s speeches there runs the idea of a cause or plea between Job and God. Job is regarded by him as maintaining that he has a right or just cause against God. Elihu here asks if Job considers that the rectitude of his cause will appear in his maintaining that godliness profits a man nothing?—the word this in Job 35:2 refers to the questions in Job 35:3. If Job could successfully maintain this contention his cause against God would be good. Therefore Elihu controverts his assertion, contending that righteousness does avail a man, as it must. Both parties conduct the dispute in a somewhat external way, meaning by the “advantage “of religion the possession of outward goods and immunity from suffering. Job does this of necessity, because he is still entangled in the old theory of retribution, though he is breaking through its meshes on one side. And Elihu in his theoretical argument naturally follows him, without referring to the deeper comforts of religion, the joy in God, with which some of the Psalmists delight themselves in affliction, Psalm 17:15; Psalm 73:23 seq.33 Shall He recompense it as thou wilt? For thou hast found fault,

So that thou hast to determine, not I,

And what thou knowest speak out!

34 Men of understanding will say to me,

And a wise man who listeneth to me:

35 "Job speaketh without knowledge,

"And his words are without intelligence."

36 O would that Job were proved to the extreme

On account of his answers after the manner of evil men;

37 For he addeth transgression to his sin,

Among us he clappeth

And multiplieth his speeches against God.

The question put to Job, whether then from him or according to his idea (עם in מעמּך as Job 23:10; Job 27:11, which see) shall God recompense it (viz., as this "it" is to be understood according to Job 34:32: man's evil-doing and actions in general), Elihu proves from this, that Job has despised (shown himself discontented with it) the divine mode of recompense, so that therefore (this second כּי signifies also nam, but is, because extending further on account of the first, according to the sense equivalent to ita ut) he has to choose (seek out) another mode of recompense, not Elihu (who is perfectly satisfied with the mode with which history furnishes us); which is then followed by the challenge (דּבּר not infin., but as Job 33:32): what (more corresponding to just retribution) thou knowest, speak out then! Elihu on his part knows that he does not stand alone against Job, the censurer of the divine government of the world, but that men of heart (understanding) and (every) wise man who listens to him will coincide with him in the opinion that Job's talk is devoid of knowledge and intelligence (on the form of writing השׂכּיל as Jeremiah 3:15, vid., Ges. 53, rem. 2).

In Job 34:36 we will for the present leave the meaning of אבי undecided; יבּחן is certainly intended as optative: let Job be tried to the extreme or last, i.e., let his trial by affliction continue until the matter is decided (comp. Habakkuk 1:4), on account of the opposition among men of iniquity, i.e., after the manner of such (on this Beth of association comp. בּקּשׁשׁים, Job 36:14), for to חטּאת, by which the purpose of his affliction is to be cleared up, he adds פּשׁע, viz., the wickedness of blasphemous speeches: among us (therefore without fear) he claps (viz., his hands scornfully together, יספּוק only here thus absolute instead of ישׂפּק כּפּיו fo dae, Job 27:23, comp. בשׂפק Job 36:18 with ספקו Job 20:22)

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