Job 4:6
Is not this your fear, your confidence, your hope, and the uprightness of your ways?
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(6) Is not this thy fear, thy confidence . . .?—The meaning seems to be, “Should not thy fear or piety be thy confidence, and the uprightness of thy ways thy hope? Should not the piety thou wast so ready to commend to others supply a sufficient ground of hope for thyself?” Or we may understand, “Is not thy reverence, thy confidence, thy hope, and thy integrity shown to be worthless if thou faintest as soon as adversity toucheth thee?” The drift of the speaker is virtually the same in either case.

Job 4:6. Is not this thy fear? &c. — We now plainly see what was the nature of thy fear of God, thy confidence in him, the uprightness of thy ways, and thy hope in God’s mercy. Thy present conduct discovers that it was but mere talk and appearance. In thy prosperity it was easy for thee to make a splendid profession of religion; but men are best known by affliction, and this trial now shows what thou art. For now thou castest off thy fear of God, and thy confidence and hope in him, and hast relinquished the integrity of thy ways, which before thou didst seem to hold fast; whereas true piety is uniform and constant, and steadfast in all varieties of condition, and under all trials and temptations.4:1-6 Satan undertook to prove Job a hypocrite by afflicting him; and his friends concluded him to be one because he was so afflicted, and showed impatience. This we must keep in mind if we would understand what passed. Eliphaz speaks of Job, and his afflicted condition, with tenderness; but charges him with weakness and faint-heartedness. Men make few allowances for those who have taught others. Even pious friends will count that only a touch which we feel as a wound. Learn from hence to draw off the mind of a sufferer from brooding over the affliction, to look at the God of mercies in the affliction. And how can this be done so well as by looking to Christ Jesus, in whose unequalled sorrows every child of God soonest learns to forget his own?Is not this thy fear, thy confidence? - There has been considerable variety in the interpretation of this verse. Dr. Good renders it,

Is thy piety then nothing? thy hope

Thy contidence? or the uprightness of thy ways?

Noyes renders it,

Is not thy fear of God thy hope,

And the uprightness of thy ways the confidence?

Rosenmuller translates it,

Is not in thy piety and integrity of life

Thy confidence and hope?

In the Vulgate it is translated, "Where is thy fear, thy fortitude, thy patience, and the integrity of thy ways?" In the Septuagint, "Is not thy fear founded on folly, and thy hope, and the evil of thy way?"

Castellio translates it,

Nimirum tanturn religionis, quantum expectationis;

Quantum spei, tanturn habebas integritatis morum;

And the idea according to his version is, that he had as much religion as was prompted by the hope of reward; that his piety and integrity were sustained only by his hope, and were not the result of principle; and that of course his religion was purely selfish. If this be the sense, it is designed to be a reproach, and accords with the charge in the question of Satan Job 1:9, "Doth Job fear God for naught?" Rosenmuller adopts the opinion of Ludovicus de Dieu, and explains it as meaning," You seemed to be a man fearing God, and a man of integrity, and you were led hence to cherish high hopes and expectations; but now you perceive that you were deceived. Your piety was not sincere and genuine, for the truly pious do not thus suffer. Remember therefore that no one perishes being innocent." Codurcus renders it, "All thy hope was placed in thy religion, and thy expectation in the rectitude of thy ways; consider now, who perishes being innocent?" The true sentiment of the passage has undoubtedly been expressed by Good, Noyes. and Codurcus. The Hebrew rendered thy fear יראתך yârê'tek means doubtless religious fear, veneration, or piety, and is a word synonymous with εὐλάβεια eulabeia, εὐσέβεια eusebeia, religion. The sentiment is, that his confidence or hope was placed in his religion - in his fear of God, his respect and veneration for him, and in reliance on the equity of his government. This had been his stay in times past; and this was the subject which was naturally brought before him then. Eliphaz asks whether he should not put his trust in that God still, and not reproach him as unequal and unjust in his administration.


6. Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, &c.—Does thy fear, thy confidence, come to nothing? Does it come only to this, that thou faintest now? Rather, by transposition, "Is not thy fear (of God) thy hope? and the uprightness of thy ways thy confidence? If so, bethink thee, who ever perished being innocent?" [Umbreit]. But Lu 13:2, 3 shows that, though there is a retributive divine government even in this life, yet we cannot judge by the mere outward appearance. "One event is outwardly to the righteous and to the wicked" (Ec 9:2); but yet we must take it on trust, that God deals righteously even now (Ps 37:25; Isa 33:16). Judge not by a part, but by the whole of a godly man's life, and by his end, even here (Jas 5:11). The one and the same outward event is altogether a different thing in its inward bearings on the godly and on the ungodly even here. Even prosperity, much more calamity, is a punishment to the wicked (Pr 1:32). Trials are chastisements for their good (to the righteous) (Ps 119:67, 71, 75). See Preface on the Design of this book (see [495]Introduction). So the sense is, We now plainly see what was the nature and complexion of thy fear of God, thy confidence in him, the uprightness of thy ways, and thy hope in God’s mercy, which thou didst make show and boast of, and for which thou wast become so famous. Thy present carriage discovereth to thyself and others that it was but mere talk and appearance, and there was nothing sound and sincere in it. In thy prosperity it was easy to make a splendid profession of religion; but men are best known by affliction, and this now showeth of what metal thou art made; for now thou dost cast off thy fear of God, and all thy confidence and hope in him, and hast let go that integrity of thy ways which hitherto thou didst seem to hold fast; whereas true piety is uniform, and constant, and stedfast in all varieties of conditions, and under all trials and temptations. But this translation removes the and from its proper place, and changeth the order of the words, which is this in the Hebrew, thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways, which words may be restored to their own order, and with that variation our translation may stand, and this seems to be the true sense. And so here are four distinct questions, Is not this thy fear? Is not this thy confidence? Is not this thy hope? Is not this the uprightness of thy ways? But others make only two questions, and render the words either thus, Is not (or rather, was not) thy fear (of God) thy confidence? and the uprightness of thy ways thy hope? i.e. Did not thy fear of God, and the integrity of thy life, of which thou didst make such eminent profession, proceed only from the love of thyself, and of this present world? and from thy confidence and hope that God would bless and prosper thee for it? For now when God withdraws his favour and blessings from thee, thy religion is vanished, and thou hast cast off all fear and reverence of God, as thy impious speeches show. Or thus, Would not thy fear be thy confidence, and the uprightness of thy ways thy hope? i.e. If thou hadst indeed that fear and integrity to which thou pretendest, it would give thee good ground of hope and confidence in the midst of all thy distresses, and thou wouldst not so faint and sink under thy calamities, as now thou dost, for want of a solid foundation of true piety. But both these translations, besides other inconveniences, stumble at the same stone, and pervert the order of the words in the Hebrew text, of which see before; which is not to be allowed without some kind of necessity, which is not in this case. Is not this thy fear,.... The fear of God, that which is of him, comes from him, is a grace of his implanted in the hearts of his people at conversion, and is increased and encouraged, and drawn forth into fresh exercise through the grace and goodness of God displayed; for a slavish fear, or a fear of punishment, of wrath and damnation, is not the true grace of fear, which maybe in unregenerate men, and even in the devils; but this lies in a reverential affection for God on account of his goodness, and in a carefulness not to offend him on that account; in an hatred of sin, and a departure from it; in an attendance on the worship of God, and is sometimes put for the whole of it; and is accompanied with faith in God, joy in the Holy Ghost, humility of soul, and holiness of heart and life: now Job professed to have this fear of God in his heart, and was thought to have it; this was his general character, Job 1:1; but, in his present case and circumstances, Eliphaz asks what was become of it, where it was now, and in what it appeared? and jeers him about it, as if he should say, does it lie in this, in fainting and sinking under afflictions, in being troubled and terrified, and thrown into a consternation by them, and in breaking out into such rash expressions of God and his providence? is it come to this at last, or rather to nothing at all? for he suggests either that Job never had the true grace of fear in him, contrary to the character given of him, and confirmed by God himself, Job 1:1; or that he had cast it off and it was gone from him, and left, Job 15:4; which can never be, where it once is, it being the great security against a final and total apostasy from God, Jeremiah 32:40; or that what he had was merely hypocritical, like that which is taught by the precept of men, was only in appearance, and not in reality, as his conduct now showed; for had he had the true fear of God before his eyes, and on his heart, he could never have cursed the day of his birth, nor arraigned the providence of God, and charged him with injustice, as he supposed he did; whereby his fear, his piety, his religion he had professed, appeared to be just nothing at all (c): it follows:

thy confidence; that is, in God; for Job professed none in any other, in any creature or creature enjoyment, Job 31:24; this when right is a strong act of faith and trust in the Lord, a thorough persuasion and full assurance of interest in him as a covenant God, and in his love and favour, and in Christ as the living Redeemer, and of the truth of the work of grace upon the heart, and of the certainty of the performance of it; also a holy boldness in prayer to God, and a firm and assured belief of being heard and answered; as well as an open and courageous profession of him before men, without any fear of them; for all this Job had been famous, and now he is asked, where it all was? and what was become of it? how it appeared now? and intimates he never had any, or had cast it away, and that it was come to nothing; as was concluded from the rash expressions of his lips, and from the sinkings of his spirit under his present afflictions; but Job's trust and confidence in God and in Christ still continued; see Job 13:15,

thy hope; which also is a grace wrought in the heart, in regeneration; is of things unseen and future, yet to be enjoyed either here or hereafter; and that which is right has Christ for its object, ground, and foundation, and is of singular use to keep up the spirits of men under afflictive providences: and Eliphaz observing Job to be very impatient under them, inquires about his hope; and intimates that what he had professed to have was the hope of the hypocrite, and not real, and was now come to nothing; hope that is true, though it may become low, it cannot be lost; nor was Job's, especially with respect to spiritual and eternal things; see Job 14:7,

and the uprightness of thy ways? before God and men, walking uprightly in the ways of God, according to the revelation of his will made unto him, and acting the just and upright part in all his dealings with men; and for which he was celebrated, and is a part of the character before given of him, Job 1:1; but it is insinuated by Eliphaz that there was nothing in it; it was only in show, in appearance, it was not from the heart; or it would not be thus with him as it was, nor would he behave in the manner he now did: some read the words as in the margin, and in some copies of our Bible, "is not thy fear thy confidence? and the uprightness of thy ways thy hope?" and with some little variation Mr. Broughton; "is not thy religion thy hope, and thy right ways thy confidence?" that is, didst thou not hope and expect, and even wert thou not confident of it, that because of thy fear of God, and of the uprightness of thy ways before men, that thou shouldest not only be increased in thy worldly substance, but be preserved and protected in the enjoyment of it? and were not these the reasons which induced thee to be religious, and make such a show of it? suggesting, that he was only religions from mercenary views and selfish principles, and so tacitly charges him with what the devil himself did, Job 1:9; and this way go many Jewish and Christian interpreters (d): some render the words much in the same way, but to a better sense, and more in favour of Job, and by way of instruction and comfort to him: "should not thy fear be thy confidence, and thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways?" (e) shouldest thou not take encouragement from thy fear of God, and the uprightness of thine heart and ways, to expect deliverance and salvation, and not faint and sink as thou dost? or is not this the cause of all thine impatience, thy fear of God, trust and hope in him, and thine integrity? concluding thou shouldest have been dealt with after another manner for the sake of these things, and therefore art ready to think thou art hardly dealt with by God, having deserved better treatment; thus making Job to think highly of himself, and to entertain wrong notions of God; so Schmidt; but the first sense I have given of the words seems best.

(c) "adeone nihil pietas tua?" Schultens. (d) Montanus, Mercerus, Piscator, some in Vatablus; so Ben Gersom and Bar Tzemach. (e) So some in Michaelis.

Is not this thy {c} fear, thy confidence, thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways?

(c) He concludes that Job was a hypocrite and had no true fear or trust in God.

6. Is not this thy fear?] This verse should read,

Is not thy fear of God thy confidence?

And thy hope, is it not the perfection of thy ways?

When Job comforted others he no doubt would refer to their god-fearing life as a ground of hope that God would give them a happy issue out of their afflictions. Eliphaz desires that Job should apply the same medicine to himself. He assumes that Job is a god-fearing man.Verse 6. - Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways? Translate, with the Revised Version, Is not thy fear of God thy confidence and thy hope the integrity of thy ways? The verse is composed, as usual, of two clauses, balancing each other; and the meaning seems to be that, if Job is as convinced of his piety and uprightness as he professes to be, he ought still to maintain confidence in God, and a full expectation of deliverance from his troubles. If he does not, what is the natural inference? Surely, that he is not so confident of his innocence as he professes to be. 24 For instead of my food my sighing cometh,

And my roarings pour themselves forth as water.

25 For I fear something terrible, and it cometh upon me,

And that before which I shudder cometh to me.

26 I dwelt not in security, nor rested, nor refreshed myself:

Then trouble cometh.

That לפני may pass over from the local signification to the substitutionary, like the Lat. pro (e.g., pro praemio est), is seen from Job 4:19 (comp. 1 Samuel 1:16): the parallelism, which is less favourable to the interpretation, before my bread (Hahn, Schlottm., and others), favours the signification pro here. The fut. consec. ויּתּכוּ (Kal of נתך) is to be translated, according to Ges. 129, 3, a, se effundunt (not effuderunt): it denotes, by close connection with the preceding, that which has hitherto happened. Just so v. 25a: I fear something terrible; forthwith it comes over me (this terrible, most dreadful thing). אתה is conjugated by the ה passing into the original א of the root (vid., Ges. 74, rem. 4). And just so the conclusion: then also forthwith רגן (i.e., suffering which disorders, rages and ransacks furiously) comes again. Schlottm. translates tamely and wrongly: then comes - oppression. Hahn, better: Nevertheless fresh trouble always comes; but the "nevertheless" is incorrect, for the fut. consec. indicates a close connection, not contrast. The praett., Job 3:26, give the details of the principal fact, which follows in the fut. consec.: only a short cessation, which is no real cessation; then the suffering rages afresh.

Why - one is inclined to ask respecting this first speech of Job, which gives rise to the following controversy - why does the writer allow Job, who but a short time before, in opposition to his wife, has manifested such wise submission to God's dealings, all at once to break forth in such despair? Does it not seem as though the assertion of Satan were about to be confirmed? Much depends upon one's forming a correct and just judgment respecting the state of mind from which this first speech proceeds. To this purpose, consider (1) That the speech contains no trace of what the writer means by את־האלהים ברך: Job nowhere says that he will have nothing more to do with God; he does not renounce his former faithfulness: (2) That, however, in the mind of the writer, as may be gathered from Job 2:10, this speech is to be regarded as the beginning of Job's sinning. If a man, on account of his sufferings, wishes to die early, or not to have been born at all, he has lost his confidence that God, even in the severest suffering, designs his highest good; and this want of confidence is sin.

There is, however, a great difference between a man who has in general no trust in God, and in whom suffering only makes this manifest in a terrible manner, and the man with whom trust in God is a habit of his soul, and is only momentarily repressed, and, as it were, paralysed. Such interruption of the habitual state may result from the first pressure of unaccustomed suffering; it may then seem as though trust in God were overwhelmed, whereas it has only given way to rally itself again. It is, however, not the greatness of the affliction in itself which shakes his sincere trust in God, but a change of disposition on the part of God which seems to be at work in the affliction. The sufferer considers himself as forgotten, forsaken, and rejected of God, as many passages in the Psalms and Lamentations show: therefore he sinks into despair: and in this despair expression is given to the profound truth (although with regard to the individual it is a sinful weakness), that it is better never to have been born, or to be annihilated, than to be rejected of God (comp. Matthew 26:24, καλὸν ἦ αὐτῷ ει ̓ οὐκ ἐγεννήθη ὁ ἄνθρωπος ἐκεῖνος). In such a condition of spiritual, and, as we know from the prologue, of Satanic temptation (Luke 22:31; Ephesians 6:16), is Job. He does not despair when he contemplates his affliction, but when he looks at God through it, who, as though He were become his enemy, has surrounded him with this affliction as with a rampart. He calls himself a man whose way is hidden, as Zion laments, Isaiah 40:27, "My way is hidden from Jehovah;" a man whom Eloah has hedged round, as Jeremiah laments over the ruins of Jerusalem, Lamentations 3:1-13 (in some measure a comment on Job 3:23), "I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath ... . He has hedged me round that I cannot get out, and made my chain heavy."

In this condition of entire deprivation of every taste of divine goodness, Job breaks forth in curses. He has lost wealth and children, and has praised God; he has even begun to bear an incurable disease with submission to the providence of God. Now, however, when not only the affliction, but God himself, seems to him to be hostile (nunc autem occultato patre, as Brentius expresses it),

(Note: Fries, in his discussion of this portion of the book of Job, Jahrbb. fr Deutsche Theologie, 1859, S. 790ff., is quite right that the real affliction of Job consists in this, that the inward feeling of being forsaken of God, which was hitherto strange to him, is come upon him. But the remark directed against me, that the feeling of being forsaken of God does not always stand in connection with other affliction, but may come on the favoured of God even in the midst of uninterrupted outward prosperity, does not concern me, since it is manifestly by the dispensations which deprive him of all his possessions, and at last affect him corporeally and individually, that Job is led to regard himself as one forsaken of God, and still more than that, one hated by God; and since, on the other hand also, this view of the tempted does not appear to be absolutely subjective, God has really withdrawn from Job the external proof, and at the same time the feeling, of His abiding love, in order to try the fidelity of His servant's love, and prove its absoluteness.)

we hear from his mouth neither words of praise (the highest excellence in affliction) nor words of resignation (duty in affliction), but words of despair: his trust in God is not destroyed, but overcast by thick clouds of melancholy and doubt.

It is indeed inconceivable that a New Testament believer, even under the strongest temptation, should utter such imprecations, or especially such a question of doubt as in Job 3:20 : Wherefore is light given to the miserable? But that an Old Testament believer might very easily become involved in such conflicts of belief, may be accounted for by the absence of any express divine revelation to carry his mind beyond the bounds of the present. Concerning the future at the period when the book of Job was composed, and the hero of the book lived, there were longings, inferences, and forebodings of the soul; but there was no clear, consoling word of God on which to rely, - no θεῖος λόγος which, to speak as Plato (Phaedo, p. 85, D), could serve as a rescuing plank in the shipwreck of this life. Therefore the πανταχοῦ θρυλλούμενον extends through all the glory and joy of the Greek life from the very beginning throughout. The best thing is never to have been born; the second best, as soon as possible thereafter, to die. The truth, that the suffering of this present time is not worthy of the glory which shall be revealed in us, was still silent. The proper disposition of mind, under such veiling of the future, was then indeed more absolute, as faith committed itself blindfold to the guidance of God. But how near at hand was the temptation to regard a troublous life as an indication of the divine anger, and doubtingly to ask, Why God should send the light of life to such! They knew not that the present lot of man forms but the one half of his history: they saw only in the one scale misery and wrath, and not in the other the heaven of love and blessedness to be revealed hereafter, by which these are outweighed; they longed for a present solution of the mystery of life, because they knew nothing of the possibility of a future solution. Thus it is to be explained, that not only Job in this poem, but also Jeremiah in the book of his prophecy, Job 20:14-18, curses the day of his birth. He curses the man who brought his father the joyous tidings of the birth of a son, and wishes him the fate of Sodom and Gomorrha. He wishes for himself that his mother might have been his grave, and asks, like Job, "Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, and that my days should be consumed in shame?" Hitzig remarks on this, that it may be inferred from the contents and form of this passage, there was a certain brief disturbance of spirit, a result of the general indescribable distress of the troublous last days of Zedekiah, to which the spirit of the prophet also succumbed. And it is certainly a kind of delirium in which Jeremiah so speaks, but there is no physical disorder of mind with it: the understanding of the prophet is so slightly and only momentarily disturbed, that he has the rather gained power over his faith, and is himself become one of its disturbing forces.

Without applying to this lyric piece either the standard of pedantic moralizing, or of minute criticism as poetry, the intense melancholy of this extremely plaintive prophet may have proceeded from the following reasoning: After I have lived ten long years of fidelity and sacrifice to my prophetic calling, I see that it has totally failed in its aim: all my hopes are blighted; all my exhortations to repentance, and my prayers, have not availed to draw Judah back from the abyss into which he is now cast, nor to avert the wrath of Jehovah which is now poured forth: therefore it had been better for me never to have been born. This thought affects the prophet so much the more, since in every fibre of his being he is an Israelite, and identifies the weal and woe of his people with his own; just as Moses would rather himself be blotted out form the book of life than that Israel should perish, and Paul was willing to be separated from Christ as anathema if he could thereby save Israel. What wonder that this thought should disburden itself in such imprecations! Had Jeremiah not been born, he would not have had occasion to sit on the ruins of Jerusalem. But his outburst of feeling is notwithstanding a paroxysm of excitement, for, though reason might drive him to despair, faith would teach him to hope even in the midst of downfall; and in reality, this small lyric piece in the collective prophecy of Jeremiah is only as a detached rock, over which, as a stream of clear living water, the prophecy flows on more joyous in faith, more certain of the future. In the book of Job it is otherwise; for what in Jeremiah and several of the psalms is compressed into a small compass, - the darkness of temptation and its clearing up, - is here the substance of a long entanglement dramatically presented, which first of all becomes progressively more and more involved, and to which this outburst of feeling gives the impulse. As Jeremiah, had he not been born, would not have sat on the ruins of Jerusalem; so Job, had he not been born, would not have found himself in this abyss of wrath. Neither of them knows anything of the future solution of every present mystery of life; they know nothing of the future life and the heavenly crown. This it is which, while it justifies their despair, casts greater glory round their struggling faith.


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