Job 36:21
Take heed, regard not iniquity: for this have you chosen rather than affliction.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) Regard not iniquity.—Or, perhaps, the special sin of longing for death, for thou hast desired to die rather than bear thine affliction. Alas! Job’s case is not a solitary one, for who that has been tried as he was has not longed for the end?

36:15-23 Elihu shows that Job caused the continuance of his own trouble. He cautions him not to persist in frowardness. Even good men need to be kept to their duty by the fear of God's wrath; the wisest and best have enough in them to deserve his stroke. Let not Job continue his unjust quarrel with God and his providence. And let us never dare to think favourably of sin, never indulge it, nor allow ourselves in it. Elihu thinks Job needed this caution, he having chosen rather to gratify his pride and humour by contending with God, than to mortify them by submitting, and accepting the punishment. It is absurd for us to think to teach Him who is himself the Fountain of light, truth, knowledge, and instruction. He teaches by the Bible, and that is the best book; teaches by his Son, and he is the best Master. He is just in all proceedings.Take heed, regard not iniquity - That is, be cautious that in the view which you take of the divine government, and the sentiments which you express, you do not become the advocate of iniquity. Elihu apprehended this from the remarks in which he had indulged, and regarded him as having become the advocate of the same sentiments which the wicked held, and as in fact manifesting the same spirit. It is well to put a man who is afflicted on his guard against this, when he attempts to reason about the divine administration.

For this hast thou chosen rather than affliction - That is, you have chosen rather to give vent to the language of complaint, than to bear your trials with resignation. "You have chosen rather to accuse divine Providence than to submit patiently to his chastisements." "Patrick." There was too much truth in this remark about Job; and it is still not an uncommon thing in times of trial, and indeed in human life in general. People often prefer iniquity to affliction. They will commit crime rather than suffer the evils of poverty; they will be guilty of fraud and forgery to avoid apprehended want. They will be dishonest to their creditors rather than submit to the disgrace of bankruptcy. They will take advantage of the widow and the fatherless rather than suffer themselves. "Sin is often preferred to affliction;" and many are the people who, to avoid calamity, would not shrink from the commission of wrong. Especially in times of trial, when the hand of God is laid upon people, they "prefer" a spirit of complaining and murmuring to patient and calm resignation to the will of God. They seek relief even in complaining; and think it "some" alleviation of their sufferings that they can "find fault with God." "They who choose iniquity rather than affliction, make a very foolish choice; they that ease their cares by sinful pleasures, escape their troubles by sinful projects, and evade sufferings for righteousness' sake by sinful compliances against their consciences; these make a choice they will repent of, for there is more evil in the least sin than in the greatest affliction." Henry.

21. regard—literally, "turn thyself to."

iniquity—namely, presumptuous speaking against God (Job 34:5, and above, see on [540]Job 36:17, 18).

rather than—to bear "affliction" with pious patience. Men think it an alleviation to complain against God, but this is adding sin to sorrow; it is sin, not sorrow, which can really hurt us (contrast Heb 11:25).

Regard not iniquity, or, look not to it, to wit, with an approving or coveting eye, as this word is used, Proverbs 23:31. Thou hast chosen rather to quarrel with God, and censure his judgments, than humbly and quietly to submit to them, and to wait upon God by faith and prayer for deliverance in his time and way. Take heed, regard not iniquity,.... Not any iniquity, as to show any approbation of it, love for it, and desire after it. All appearance of sin, of every sin, is to be abstained from; but particularly by the iniquity here meant may be the sin of impatience under his affliction; murmuring at the dealings of God with him; arraigning his justice, and saying very indecent things of him, as in Job 34:5. Or it may mean the evil he had been guilty of in so earnestly desiring the night of death:

for this thou hast chosen rather than affliction; chose rather to die than to be afflicted as he was; or chose rather to complain of God, as if he dealt hardly with him, and did not do justly by him, than to submit patiently to the will of God, as he, ought to have done: or this he chose "through affliction" (d); through the force of it, because of it, and by means thereof; and so is a sort of excuse that Elihu makes for him; though at the same time he would have him by no means to regard such iniquity, and indulge to it.

(d) "prae afflictione", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "prae miseria ex adflictione", Michaelis.

Take heed, regard not {p} iniquity: for this hast thou chosen rather than affliction.

(p) And so murmur against God through impatiency.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. The verse continues the warning against a rebellious mind under affliction, called here “turning unto iniquity”; for Job shews himself more inclined to this than to submission to God’s chastening hand.Verse 21. - Take heed, regard not iniquity; i.e. be on thy guard. Whilst thou art careful to preserve thy integrity and faith in God, do not fall into sin in other respects - as by impatient desires, or proud thoughts, or rash accusations of God. For this hast thou chosen rather than affliction. Rather than acquiesce in thy afflictions and bear them patiently, thou hast elected to murmur, to complain, to question the justice of God, and speak overboldly concerning him. There is some ground for Elihu's condemnation; but it is excessive; it fails to make allowance for the extremity of Job's sufferings, and the disturbing influence of extreme suffering on the mind and judgment. It is, at any rate, more severe than God's judgment upon his servant (Job 38:2; Job 42:7). 13 Yet the hypocrites in heart cherish wrath,

They cry not when He hath chained them.

14 Thus their soul dieth in the vigour of youth,

And their life is like that of the unclean.

15 Yet He delivereth the sufferer by his affliction,

And openeth their ear by oppression.

He who is angry with God in his affliction, and does not humbly pray to Him, shows thereby that he is a חנף, one estranged from God (on the idea of the root, vid., i. 216), and not a צדיק. This connection renders it natural to understand not the divine wrath by אף: θησαυρίζουσιν ὀργήν (Rosenm. after Romans 2:5), or: they heap up wrath upon themselves (Wolfson, who supplies עליהם), but the impatience, discontent, and murmuring of man himself: they cherish or harbour wrath, viz., בּלבּם (comp. Job 22:22, where שׁים בלב signifies to take to heart, but at the same time to preserve in the heart). Used thus absolutely, שׂים signifies elsewhere in the book, to give attention to, Job 4:20; Job 24:12; Job 34:23, or (as Arab. wḍ‛) to lay down a pledge; here it signifies reponunt s. recondunt (with an implied in ipsis), as also Arab. šâm, fut. i, to conceal with the idea of sinking into (immittentem), e.g., the sword in the sheath. With תּמת, for ותּמת (Isaiah 50:2) or ותמת, the punishment which issues forth undistinguished from this frustration of the divine purpose of grace follows ἀσυνδέτως, as e.g., Hosea 7:16. חיּה interchanges with נפשׁ, as Job 33:22, Job 33:28; נער (likewise a favourite word with Elihu) is intended just as Job 33:25, and in the Psalm 88:16, which resembles both the Elihu section and the rest of the book. The Beth of בּקּדשׁים has the sense of aeque ac (Targ. היך), as Job 34:36, comp. תּחת, Job 34:26. Jer. translates inter effeminatos; for קדשׁים (heathenish, equivalent to קדושׁים, as כּמרים, heathenish, equivalent to כּהנים) are the consecrated men, who yielded themselves up, like the women in honour of the deity, to passive, prematurely-enervating incontinence (vid., Keil on Deuteronomy 23:18), a heathenish abomination prevailing now and again even in Israel (1 Kings 14:24; 1 Kings 15:12; 1 Kings 22:47), which was connected with the worship of Astarte and Baal that was transferred from Syria, and to which allusion is here made, in accordance with the scene of the book. For the sufferer, on the other hand, who suffers not merely of necessity, but willingly, this his suffering is a means of rescue and moral purification. Observe the play upon the words יחלּץ and בּלחץ. The Beth in both instances is, in accordance with Elihu's fundamental thought, the Beth instrum.

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