Job 37:23
Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out: he is excellent in power, and in judgment, and in plenty of justice: he will not afflict.
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(23) Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out.—He is excellent, or mighty, in power and justice, &c.

37:21-24 Elihu concludes his discourse with some great sayings concerning the glory of God. Light always is, but is not always to be seen. When clouds come between, the sun is darkened in the clear day. The light of God's favour shines ever towards his faithful servants, though it be not always seen. Sins are clouds, and often hinder us from seeing that bright light which is in the face of God. Also, as to those thick clouds of sorrow which often darken our minds, the Lord hath a wind which passes and clears them away. What is that wind? It is his Holy Spirit. As the wind dispels and sweeps away the clouds which are gathered in the air, so the Spirit of God clears our souls from the clouds and fogs of ignorance and unbelief, of sin and lust. From all these clouds the Holy Spirit of God frees us in the work of regeneration. And from all the clouds which trouble our consciences, the Holy Spirit sets us free in the work of consolation. Now that God is about to speak, Elihu delivers a few words, as the sum of all his discourse. With God is terrible majesty. Sooner or later all men shall fear him.Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out - See the notes at Job 11:7-9. This sentiment accords with all that Elihu had said, and indeed is what he designed particularly to enforce. But it has a special emphasis here, where God is seen approaching in visible splendor, encompassed with clouds and tempests, and seated on a throne of burnished gold. Such a God, Elihu says, it was impossible to comprehend. His majesty was overwhelming, The passage is much more impressive and solemn, and accords much better with the original, by omitting the words which our translators have introduced and printed in italics. It would then be,

The Almighty! - We cannot find him out!

Great in power, and in justice, and in righteouness!

Thus, it expresses the overwhelming emotion, the awe, the alarm produced on the mind of one who saw God approaching in the sublimity of the storm.

He is excellent in power - He excels, or is vast and incomprehensible in power.

And in judgment - That is, in justice.

And in plenty of justice - Hebrew, "in multitude of righteousness." The meaning is, that there was an overflowing fulness of righteousness; his character was entirely righteous, or that trait abounded in him.

He will not afflict - Or, he will not oppress, he will not crush. It was true that he "did afflict" people, but the idea is, that there was not harshness or oppression in it. He would not do it for the mere sake of producing affliction, or when it was not deserved. Some manuscipts vary the reading here so as to mean "he will not answer;" that is, he will not give any account of what he does. The change has relation only to the points, but the above is the usual interpretation, and accords well with the connection.

23. afflict—oppressively, so as to "pervert judgment" as Job implied (see on [547]Job 8:3); but see on [548]Job 37:21, end of note. The reading, "He answereth not," that is, gives no account of His dealings, is like a transcriber's correction, from Job 33:13, Margin. We cannot find him out, to wit, to perfection, as it is expressed, Job 11:7. We cannot comprehend him; his being, power, wisdom, justice, and his counsels proceeding from them, are past our finding out; and therefore it is most absurd and intolerable that thou, O Job, presumest to censure what thou dost not understand.

He is excellent in power; and therefore as he doth not need any unrighteous action to advance himself, so he cannot do it, because all such things are acts and evidences of impotency or weakness.

In judgment, i.e. in the just and righteous administration of judgment, as this word is oft used, and as the thing itself and the following words plainly evince. And this he adds, to intimate that although God had indeed a power to crush Job, or any other man, yet he never did nor can exercise that power unjustly or tyrannically, as Job seemed to insinuate.

In plenty of justice; in great and perfect justice, such as no man can justly reproach.

He will not afflict, to wit, without just cause, and above measure; as it may and must be limited, both from the foregoing words, and from Job’s complaint, which was of that very thing; and from the nature of the thing, because otherwise this proposition, that God

will not afflict, is not simply and universally true. Or these last words may be joined with the former; and so some render the place,

he is excellent in power, and, or but, or

yet, he will not afflict any man with judgment and much (i.e. too much)

justice, i.e. with extremity or rigour of justice.

Touching the Almighty,.... Or with respect to God, who is almighty; with whom nothing is impossible; who can do and does do all things he pleases, and more than we can ask or think; and who is all sufficient, as this word is by some rendered; has enough of every thing in himself and of himself to make him happy; and needs not any of his creatures, nor anything they can do or give him, but has a sufficiency for himself and them;

we cannot find him out; found he may be in his works, and especially in his Son, the express image of his person; in whom he makes himself known as the God of grace: but he is not to be found out to perfection; neither by the light of nature, which is very dim, and by which men grope after him, if haply they may find him; nor even by the light of grace in the present state: and there are many things in God quite out of the reach of man, and ever will be, fully to comprehend; as the modes of the subsistence of the three Persons in the Godhead; the eternity and immensity of God; with all secret things, which belong not to us to inquire curiously into;

he is excellent in power; or great and much in it; which is displayed in the works of creation and sustentation of the world; in the redemption and conversion of his people; in the support, protection, and preservation of them; and in the destruction of his and their enemies;

and in judgment; in the government of the world in so righteous a manner; in the judgments he executes on wicked men; and as he will appear to be in the general judgment of the world, at the great day, which will be a righteous one;

and in plenty of justice; being most just, righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works; distributing justice to all, acting according to the rules of it, in all things and towards all persons; so that though he is great in power, he does not abuse that power, to do things that are not just;

he will not afflict; without a just cause and reason for it; nor willingly, but with reluctance; nor never beyond deserts, nor more than he gives strength to bear; and only for the good of his people, and in love to them. Some render it, "he will not answer" (b); or give an account of his matters, or the reason of his dealings with men.

(b) "non respondebit", Tigurine version; so some in Mercerus and Drusius.

Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out: he is excellent in power, and in judgment, and in plenty of justice: he will not {u} afflict.

(u) Meaning, without cause.

23. According to the original the members of the verse stand thus;

The Almighty! we cannot find him out; who is great in power,

And in justice and fulness of righteousness: he will not afflict.

The connexion shews that afflict has the sense of afflict unjustly, or oppress. Taken thus the verse has a certain halting movement. Hence others take the word “afflict” in the sense of wrest or do violence to, rendering the second clause, and justice and fulness of righteousness he will not pervert (Ew.).

Elihu returns here at the end of his discourse to the thought of God with which he started, ch. Job 36:5, “Behold God is mighty, and despiseth not any.” This is the thought of God that fills all his discourses; God’s power is ever conjoined with righteousness, and He unjustly afflicts or oppresses none.

23, 24. Elihu sums up his teaching regarding the greatness of God, which is ever conjoined with righteousness. It is befitting men, therefore, not to judge Him, but to fear Him, for He regards not them that are wise in their own understanding.

Verse 23. - Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out. This is the "conclusion of the whole matter." God is inscrutable, and man must hide his face before him and not presume to judge him. He is also excellent in power, and in judgment, and in plenty of justice. His moral perfection is on a par with his might and majesty. He will not afflict; rather, he will not answer; i.e. he will not account to men for his doings, or condescend to justify himself in their eyes. His acts cannot but be righteous. Job 37:2321 Although one seeth now the sunlight

That is bright in the ethereal heights:

A wind passeth by and cleareth them up.

22 Gold is brought from the north, -

Above Eloah is terrible majesty.

23 The Almighty, whom we cannot find out,

The excellent in strength,

And right and justice He perverteth not.

24 Therefore men regard Him with reverence,

He hath no regard for all the wise of heart.

He who censures God's actions, and murmurs against God, injures himself - how, on the contrary, would a patiently submissive waiting on Him be rewarded! This is the connection of thought, by which this final strophe is attached to what precedes. If we have drawn the correct conclusion from Job 37:1, that Elihu's description of a storm is accompanied by a storm which was coming over the sky, ועתּה, with which the speech, as Job 35:15, draws towards the close, is not to be understood as purely conclusive, but temporal: And at present one does not see the light (אור of the sun, as Job 31:26) which is bright in the ethereal heights (בּהיר again a Hebr.-Arab. word, comp. bâhir, outshining, surpassing, especially of the moon, when it dazzles with its brightness); yet it only requires a breath of wind to pass over it, and to clear it, i.e., brings the ethereal sky with the sunlight to view. Elihu hereby means to say that the God who his hidden only for a time, respecting whom one runs the risk of being in perplexity, can suddenly unveil Himself, to our surprise and confusion, and that therefore it becomes us to bow humbly and quietly to His present mysterious visitation. With respect to the removal of the clouds from the beclouded sun, to which Job 37:21 refers, זהב, Job 37:22, seems to signify the gold of the sun; esh-shemsu bi-tibrin, the sun is gold, says Abulola. Oriental and Classic literature furnishes a large number of instances in support of this calling the sunshine gold; and it should not perplex us here, where we have an Arabizing Hebrew poet before us, that not a single passage can be brought forward from the Old Testament literature. But מצּפון is against this figurative rendering of the זהב (lxx νέφη χρυσαυγοῦντα). In Ezekiel 1:4 there is good reason for the storm-clouds, which unfold from their midst the glory of the heavenly Judge, who rideth upon the cherubim, coming from the north; but wherefore should Elihu represent the sun's golden light as breaking through from the north? On the other hand, in the conception of the ancients, the north is the proper region for gold: there griffins (grupe's) guard the gold-pits of the Arimaspian mountains (Herod. iii. 116); there, from the narrow pass of the Caucasus along the Gordyaean mountains, gold is dug by barbarous races (Pliny, h. n. vi. 11), and among the Scythians it is brought to light by the ants (ib. xxxiii. 4). Egypt could indeed provide itself with gold from Ethiopia, and the Phoenicians brought the gold of Ophir, already mentioned in the book of Job, from India; but the north was regarded as the fabulously most productive chief mine of gold; to speak more definitely: Northern Asia, with the Altai mountains.

(Note: Vid., the art. Gold, S. 91, 101, in Ersch and Gruber. The Indian traditions concerning Uttaraguru (the "High Mountain"), and concerning the northern seat of the god on wealth Kuvra, have no connection here; on their origin comp. Lassen, Indische Alterthumskunde, i.848.)

Thus therefore Job 28:1, Job 28:6 is to be compared here.


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