Job 4:18
Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly:
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(18) Behold, he put no trust in his servants.—The statement is a general one; it does not refer to any one act in the past. We should read putteth and chargeth. Eliphaz repeats himself in Job 15:15.

Job 4:18. Behold, &c. — For it deserves thy serious consideration. These and the following words seem to be the words of Eliphaz, explaining the former vision, and applying it to Job’s case, and enforcing it by further arguments. He put no trust in his servants — That is, in his angels, as appears both by the next words of this verse, in which, by way of explication and restriction, they are termed his angels; and by the verse following, where men are opposed to them. They are called his servants by way of eminence, the general name being here appropriated to the chief of the kind, to intimate that sovereign dominion which the great God hath, even over the glorious angels, and much more over men: and God is said to put no trust in them, because if they were left to themselves, and the supplies of God’s power and grace were withdrawn from them, they would not even continue to exist, much less to be loyal and faithful. And his angels he charged with folly — That is, with vanity, weakness, infirmity, imperfection, in comparison with himself, their Maker. The word תהלה, toholah, here rendered folly, is one of the απαξ λεγομενα, the words only once occurring, and of consequence the more difficult to be understood. The Chaldee paraphrast renders it iniquity; Ab. Ezra, folly; Schultens derives it from an Arabic word, which denotes lapsing, or from another, which signifies deficiency, or imperfection. Houbigant renders the clause, And in his angels mutability was found. The most probable opinion seems to be, that this refers to the angels who foolishly and wickedly fell from God.4:12-21 Eliphaz relates a vision. When we are communing with our own hearts, and are still, Ps 4:4, then is a time for the Holy Spirit to commune with us. This vision put him into very great fear. Ever since man sinned, it has been terrible to him to receive communications from Heaven, conscious that he can expect no good tidings thence. Sinful man! shall he pretend to be more just, more pure, than God, who being his Maker, is his Lord and Owner? How dreadful, then, the pride and presumption of man! How great the patience of God! Look upon man in his life. The very foundation of that cottage of clay in which man dwells, is in the dust, and it will sink with its own weight. We stand but upon the dust. Some have a higher heap of dust to stand upon than others but still it is the earth that stays us up, and will shortly swallow us up. Man is soon crushed; or if some lingering distemper, which consumes like a moth, be sent to destroy him, he cannot resist it. Shall such a creature pretend to blame the appointments of God? Look upon man in his death. Life is short, and in a little time men are cut off. Beauty, strength, learning, not only cannot secure them from death, but these things die with them; nor shall their pomp, their wealth, or power, continue after them. Shall a weak, sinful, dying creature, pretend to be more just than God, and more pure than his Maker? No: instead of quarrelling with his afflictions, let him wonder that he is out of hell. Can a man be cleansed without his Maker? Will God justify sinful mortals, and clear them from guilt? or will he do so without their having an interest in the righteousness and gracious help of their promised Redeemer, when angels, once ministering spirits before his throne, receive the just recompence of their sins? Notwithstanding the seeming impunity of men for a short time, though living without God in the world, their doom is as certain as that of the fallen angels, and is continually overtaking them. Yet careless sinners note it so little, that they expect not the change, nor are wise to consider their latter end.Behold, he put no trust in his servants - These are evidently the words of the oracle that appeared to Eliphaz; see Schultens, in loc. The word servants here refers to angels; and the idea is, that God was so pure that he did not confide even in the exalted holiness of angels - meaning that their holiness was infinitely inferior to his. The design is to state that God had the highest possible holiness, such as to render the holiness of all others, no matter how exalted, as nothing - as all lesser lights are as nothing before the glory of the sun. The Chaldee renders this, "Lo, in his servants, the prophets, he does not confide;" but the more correct reference is undoubtedly to the angels.

And his angels he charged with folly - Margin, Or," Nor in his angels, in whom he put light." The different rendering in the text and in the margin, has arisen from the supposed ambiguity of the word employed here - תהלה tohŏlâh. It is a word which occurs nowhere else, and hence, it is difficult to determine its true signification. Walton renders it, gloriatio glorying; Jerome, pravitas, wickedness; the Septuagint, σκολιόν skolion, fault, blemish; Dr. Good. default, or defection; Noyes, frailty. Gesenius says that the word is derived from הלל hâlăl, (No. 4), to be foolish. So also Kimchi explains it. According to this, the idea is that of foolishness - that is, they are far inferior to God in wisdom; or, as the word folly in the Scriptures is often synonymous with sin, it might mean that their purity was so far inferior to his as to appear like impurity and sin. The essential idea is, that even the holiness of angels was not to be compared with God. It is not that they were polluted and unholy, for, in their measure, they are perfect; but it is that their holiness was as nothing compared with the infinite perfection of God. It is to be remembered that a part of the angels had sinned, and they had shown that their integrity was not to be confided in; and whatever might be the holiness of a creature, it was possible to conceive that he might sin. But no such idea could for a moment enter the mind in regard to God. The object of this whole argument is to show, that if confidence could not be reposed in the angels, and if all their holiness was as nothing before God, little confidence could be placed in man; and that it was presumption for him to sit in judgment on the equity of the divine dealings.

18. folly—Imperfection is to be attributed to the angels, in comparison with Him. The holiness of some of them had given way (2Pe 2:4), and at best is but the holiness of a creature. Folly is the want of moral consideration [Umbreit]. Behold; this deserves thy serious consideration. These and the following words seem to be the words of Eliphaz, explaining the former vision, and applying it to Job’s case, and enforcing it by further arguments.

In his servants, i.e. in his angels, as appears both by the next words of this verse, where they are called by way of explication and restriction his angels; and by the next verse, where men are opposed to them. They are called his servants by way of eminency, that general name being here appropriated to the chief of the kind, as is very usual in all authors in like cases; and withal, to intimate that sovereign dominion which the great God hath over the glorious angels, and much more over men, by virtue whereof he hath an unquestionable authority to treat them according to his good pleasure. And these God is said to put no trust in, because he could not be confident that they, if left to themselves, and destitute of the succours of his power and grace, would continue to be loyal, and faithful, and serviceable to him, and would not revolt from him, as some of their brethren had done. And for this cause God was pleased, after some time of trial, to give some special and further grace, either by Christ or otherwise, whereby they should be infallibly confirmed in the state of grace and felicity.

His angels he charged with folly, or, with vanity, i.e. he discerned folly and vanity in the angelical natures when he had first made them; which although he saw and pronounced them, no less than the visible creatures, Ge 1, to be very good in themselves, and free from the least degree or tincture of sin; yet, comparing them with himself, and considering them in themselves alone, he saw something of folly and vanity in their very natures, because they were creatures, and therefore subject to manifold changes; and, among others, to fall from God, or into sin, as it appeared by the sad experience of some of them. Seeing therefore the angels, which so far exceed mankind in wisdom, and strength, and purity, and justice, and all other perfections, do fall incomparably short of God in these things, it is most absurd, as well as impious, to think that man is more just or pure than God, as was said, Job 4:17, and as thou, O Job, seemest to surmise. Others, nor (Heb. and not; the negative particle being repeated out of the former branch of the verse, as it is Psalm 9:18 Proverbs 17:26, and elsewhere) in his angels, in whom (both which particles are frequently understood, as hath been proved before) he put light, or splendour, to wit, singular wisdom and purity, beyond what he put in man. Behold, he put no trust in his servants,.... Some think the divine oracle or revelation ends in Job 4:17, and that here Eliphaz makes some use and improvement of it, and addresses Job, and argues with him upon it, with a view to his case and circumstances; but rather the account of what the oracle said, or was delivered by revelation, is continued to the end of the chapter, there being nothing unworthy of God, either in the matter or manner of it: and here Eliphaz himself is addressed, and this address ushered in with a "behold", as a note of admiration, asseveration, and attention; it being somewhat wonderful and of importance, sure and certain, and which deserved to be listened to, that God, the Maker of men and angels, did not, and does not, "put" any "trust" or confidence "in his servants"; meaning not the prophets in particular, as the Targum, though they are in an eminent sense the servants of God; nor righteous men in general, as Jarchi and others, who though heretofore servants of sin, yet through grace become servants of righteousness, and of God; but as men who dwelt in houses of clay are opposed to them, and distinguished from them, in Job 4:19, they must be understood of angels, as the following clause explains it; who always stand before God, ministering unto him, ready to do his will, and to do it in the most perfect manner creatures are capable of; they go forth at his command into each of the parts of the world, and execute his orders; they worship him, and celebrate his perfections, ascribing honour and glory, wisdom, power, and blessing to him; and this they do cheerfully, constantly, and incessantly. Now though God has intrusted these servants of his with many messages of importance, both under the Old and New Testament dispensation, yet he has not trusted them with the salvation of men, to which they are not equal, but has put it into the hands of his Son; nor indeed did he trust them with the secret of it, so as to make them his counsellors about it; no, Christ only was the wonderful Counsellor in this affair; the counsel of peace, or that respecting the peace and reconciliation of men, was only between him and his Father; God was only in and with Christ, and not angels reconciling men, or drawing the plan of their reconciliation; and when this secret, being concluded on and settled, was revealed to angels, it is thought by some to be the reason of so many of them apostatizing from God; they choosing rather to have nothing to do with him, than to be under the Son of God in human nature: but, besides this, there are many other things God has not trusted the angels with, as his purposes and decrees within himself, and the knowledge of the times and seasons of the accomplishment of them, particularly the day and hour of judgment; though the sense here rather seems to be this, that God does not and did not trust them with themselves; he knew their natural weakness, frailty, mutability, how liable they were to sin and fall from him, and therefore he chose them in Christ, put them into his hands, and made him head over them, and so confirmed and established them in him; and, as it may be rendered, "did not put stability or firmness" (w) in them, so as to stand of themselves; or "perfection" in them, as some render it (x), which cannot be in a creature as it is in God:

and his angels he charged with folly; that is, comparatively, with respect to himself, in comparison of whom all creatures are foolish, be they ever so wise; for he is all wise, and only wise; angels are very knowing and intelligent in things natural and evangelical, but their knowledge is but imperfect, particularly in the latter; as appears by their being desirous of looking into those things which respect the salvation of men, and by learning of the church the manifold wisdom of God, 1 Peter 1:2; or by "folly" is meant vanity, weakness, and imperfection (y), a liableness to fall, which God observed in them; and which are in every creature in its best estate, and were in Adam in his state of innocence, and so in the angels that fell not, especially previous to their confirmation by Christ, see Psalm 39:5; and so the sense is the same with the preceding clause: some render it by repeating the negative from that, "and he putteth not glorying" or "boasting in his angels" (z); he makes no account of their duties and services, so as to glory in them; it is an humbling himself to regard them; or he puts nothing in them that they can boast of, since they have nothing of themselves, all from him, and therefore cannot glory as though they had received it not. Others observe, that the word has the signification of light, and differently render the passage; some, "though he putteth light in his angels" (a), makes them angels of light, comparable to morning stars, yet he puts no trust in them; and what they have is from him, and therefore not to be compared with him, nor can they glory in themselves; or, "he putteth not light", or "not clear light into them" (b); that which is perfect, and fire from all manner of darkness; such only is in himself the Father of lights, with whom it dwells in perfection, and there is no shadow of turning in him: some would have this understood of the evil angels, whom God charged with folly; but this is too low a term, a phrase not strong enough to express their sin and wickedness, who are not chargeable only with imprudence, but with rebellion and treason against God; nor does this sense agree with parallel places, Job 15:14; and besides, the beauty of the comparison of them with men would be lost, and the strength of the argument with respect to them would be sadly weakened, which we have in Job 4:19.

(w) "non posuit stabilitatem", Mercerus, Vatablus; "firmitatem", Junius & Tremellius. (x) So Mr. Broughton. (y) "vanitatem", Codurcus; "omissionem, lapsationemve", Schultens. (z) "Gloriationem", Montanus. (a) Sic Beza & Belg. nov. vers. (b) "Lumen", Pagninus, Mercerus; "lucem", Junius & Tremellius; so R. Levi Ben Gersom, Sephorno, and others; "lucem exactissimam", Vatablus; "clear light", Broughton.

Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his {m} angels he charged with folly:

(m) If God finds imperfection in his angels when they are not maintained by his power, how much more shall he lay folly to man's charge when he would justify himself against God?

18. he put no trust] Better, he putteth.

he charged with folly] Rather, he chargeth with error. The “servants” of God are here His heavenly ministers, as the parallel, “angels”, indicates. The word “folly” (tohŏlah) does not occur again in Heb., and its meaning must be in some measure conjectural. Dillmann has drawn attention to an Ethiopic root tahala, to err, and the word may be connected with this stem and mean error.Verse 18. - Behold, he put no trust in his servants; rather, he putteth no trust or he putteth not trust. The" servants" intended are those that minister to him directly in heaven, the members of the angelic host, as appears from the parallelism of the other clause of the verse. Even in them God does not trust implicitly, since he knows that they are frail and fallible, liable to err, etc., only kept from sin by his own sustaining and assisting grace (setup. Job 15:15, where Eliphaz expresses the same belief in his own person). And his angels he charged with folly; rather, chargeth. The exact meaning of the word translated "folly" is uncertain, since the word does not occur elsewhere. The LXX. renders by σκολιόν τι, "crookedness;" Ewald, Dillmann, and others, by "error." The teaching clearly is that the angels are not perfect - the highest angelic excellence falls infinitely short of God's perfectness. Even angels, therefore, would be incompetent judges of God's doings. 12 And a word reached me stealthily,

And my ear heard a whisper thereof.

13 In the play of thought, in visions of the night,

When deep sleep falleth on men,

14 Fear came upon me, and trembling;

And it caused the multitude of my bones to quake with fear.

15 And a breathing passed over my face;

16 It stood there, and I discerned not its appearance:

An image was before my eyes;

A gentle murmur, and I heard a voice.

The fut. יגגּב, like Judges 2:1; Psalm 80:9, is ruled by the following fut. consec.: ad me furtim delatum est (not deferebatur). Eliphaz does not say אלי ויגנּב (although he means a single occurrence), because he desires, with pathos, to put himself prominent. That the word came to him so secretly, and that he heard only as it were a whisper (שׁמץ, according to Arnheim, in distinction from שׁמע, denotes a faint, indistinct impression on the ear), is designed to show the value of such a solemn communication, and to arouse curiosity. Instead of the prosaic ממּנוּ, we find here the poetic pausal-form מנהוּ expanded from מנּוּ, after the form מנּי, Job 21:16; Psalm 18:23. מן is partitive: I heard only a whisper, murmur; the word was too sacred and holy to come loudly and directly to his ear. It happened, as he lay in the deep sleep of night, in the midst of the confusion of thought resulting from nightly dreams. שׂעפּים (from שׂעיף, branched) are thoughts proceeding like branches from the heart as their root, and intertwining themselves; the מן which follows refers to the cause: there were all manner of dreams which occasioned the thoughts, and to which they referred (comp. Job 33:15); תּרדּמה, in distinction from שׁנה, sleep, and תּנוּמה, slumber, is the deep sleep related to death and ecstasy, in which man sinks back from outward life into the remotest ground of his inner life. In Job 4:14, קראני, from קרא equals קרה, to meet (Ges. 75, 22), is equivalent to קרני (not קרני, as Hirz., first edition, wrongly points it; comp. Genesis 44:29). The subject of הפחיד is the undiscerned ghostlike something. Eliphaz was stretched upon his bed when רוּח, a breath of wind, passed (חלף( dessap, similar to Isaiah 21:1) over his face. The wind is the element by means of which the spirit-existence is made manifest; comp. 1 Kings 19:12, where Jehovah appears in a gentle whispering of the wind, and Acts 2:2, where the descent of the Holy Spirit is made known by a mighty rushing. רוּח, πνεῦμα, Sanscrit âtma, signifies both the immaterial spirit and the air, which is proportionately the most immaterial of material things.

(Note: On wind and spirit, vid., Windischmann, Die Philosophie im Fortgang der Weltgesch. S. 1331ff.)

His hair bristled up, even every hair of his body; סמּר, not causative, but intensive of Kal. יעמד has also the ghostlike appearance as subject. Eliphaz could not discern its outline, only a תמוּנה, imago quaedam (the most ethereal word for form, Numbers 12:8; Psalm 17:15, of μορφή or δόξα of God), was before his eyes, and he heard, as it were proceeding from it, רקל דּממה, i.e., per hendiadyn: a voice, which spoke to him in a gentle, whispering tone, as follows:

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