Job 8:5
If you would seek to God betimes, and make your supplication to the Almighty;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Job 8:5. If thou wouldest seek unto God, &c. — God hath spared thee, whom he might justly have destroyed with thy children, and thou art yet capable of obtaining his favour if thou wilt seek it. And, therefore, cease from thy causeless and unthankful complaints. Seek unto God betimes — Hebrew, אם תשׁחר, im teshacher, if thou wouldst rise early to seek him; if thou wouldst seek him speedily, early, and diligently, Job 5:8; and Job 7:18-21. And make thy supplication to the Almighty — Instead of complaining, implore his grace and favour with humble supplication.8:1-7 Job spake much to the purpose; but Bildad, like an eager, angry disputant, turns it all off with this, How long wilt thou speak these things? Men's meaning is not taken aright, and then they are rebuked, as if they were evil-doers. Even in disputes on religion, it is too common to treat others with sharpness, and their arguments with contempt. Bildad's discourse shows that he had not a favourable opinion of Job's character. Job owned that God did not pervert judgment; yet it did not therefore follow that his children were cast-aways, or that they did for some great transgression. Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins, sometimes they are the trials of extraordinary graces: in judging of another's case, we ought to take the favorable side. Bildad puts Job in hope, that if he were indeed upright, he should yet see a good end of his present troubles. This is God's way of enriching the souls of his people with graces and comforts. The beginning is small, but the progress is to perfection. Dawning light grows to noon-day.If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes - If thou wouldest do it now. If even on the supposition that your sons have thus perished, and that God has come out in judgment against your family, you would look to God, you might be restored to favor. The word rendered "seek betimes" (שׁחר shâchar) means literally to seek in the morning, to seek early; and then, to make it the first business. It is derived from the word meaning aurora (שׁחר shachar) and has reference to the early light of the morning, and hence, to an early seeking. It may be applied to seeking him in early life, or as the first thing - looking to him immediately when help is needed, or before we apply to anyone else; compare Proverbs 7:15; Proverbs 8:17; Proverbs 13:24; Job 24:5; Psalm 63:1; Psalm 78:34; Isaiah 26:9; Hosea 5:15; compare the advice of Eliphaz, Job 5:8. 5. seek unto God betimes—early. Make it the first and chief anxiety (Ps 78:34; Ho 5:15; Isa 26:9; Pr 8:17; 13:24). But, God hath spared thee, whom he might justly have destroyed with thy children, and thou art yet capable of his favour, if thou seek for it; and therefore cease from these causeless and unthankful complaints.

Seek unto God betimes, Heb. rise early to seek him, i.e. if thou wouldst seek him speedily, early, and diligently. See Job 5:8 7:18,21. But this may be understood of the time past; and this verse being connected with the next, may be thus rendered and understood, If thou hadst sought (for the future tense in the Hebrew is oft put for the past) unto God betimes, (as thou didst seem to do, Job 1:5) and made supplication to the Almighty; if withal thou hadst been pure and upright, i.e. if thy prayers had been accompanied with purity and uprightness of heart and life, they should have been heard and answered. But because thou didst regard iniquity in thy heart, therefore God would not hear and did not answer thy prayers, but answered thee with a curse instead of a blessing, as he useth to deal with hypocrites. If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes,.... Here Bildad seems to think more mildly, and speak more kindly to Job, that though he had sinned, yet not in so gross a manner as his children, since he was spared, and they were not; and therefore if he would apply himself to God, and supplicate his grace and mercy, and live a godly life, it might yet be well with him, and he be restored to his former or to better circumstances; his sense is, that he would advise him, as Eliphaz had done before, Job 5:8; to seek unto God "by prayer", as the Targum adds, and of which it is explained in the next clause, and that he would do this "betimes", or "in the morning" (n); which is a proper time for prayer, and was one of the seasons good men in former times made use of for that purpose; see Psalm 5:3; or that he would seek him in the first place, and above all things, take the first opportunity to do it, without any procrastination of it, and that with eagerness and earnestness, with his whole heart and soul; for God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him, and those that seek him early shall find him:

and make thy supplication to the Almighty: not pleading any merit of his own, as deserving of any blessing on account of what he had done; but ask what he should as a favour, as a free gift, in a way of grace and mercy, as the word (o) signifies; call for the pity of the Almighty, as Broughton renders it.

(n) "mane quaesieris", Pagninus, Piscator, Mercerus. (o) So Schmidt in loc.

If thou {c} wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty;

(c) That is, if you turn while God calls you to repentance.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. Bildad saw in the fate of Job’s children not only proof that they had sinned but that their sin was deadly. He saw in Job’s afflictions proof equally decisive that he had sinned, but the fact that he was still spared, however severe his afflictions, gave a different complexion to his sin, and also suggested a different meaning for his afflictions. They were chastisements meant for his good, and Bildad is enabled to hope the best for Job, if he will rightly lay his trials to heart.

wouldest seek unto God betimes] Rather, if thou wilt seek earnestly unto God. Thou is emphatic in antithesis to “thy children,” Job 8:4.Verse 5. - If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes. Here we have again an echo of the words of Eliphaz (Job 5:8). There is a tacit assumption that Job has not had recourse to God, has not pleaded his cause with him or taken him into counsel; whereas all the evidence was the other way. Both when the first batch of calamities was reported to him (Job 1:14-19), and when the stroke of disease came (Job 2:10), Job cast his care on God, fell back on him, submitted himself to him unreservedly. "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord," he said in the one case; in the other, "What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?" And make thy supplication to the Almighty; literally, make the Almighty gracious to thee." 20 Have I sinned - what could I do to Thee?!

O Observer of men,

Why dost Thou make me a mark to Thee,

And am I become a burden to Thee?

21 And why dost Thou not forgive my transgression,

And put away my iniquity?

For now I will lay myself in the dust,

And Thou seekest for me, and I am no more.

"I have sinned" is hypothetical (Ges. 155, 4, a): granted that I have sinned. According to Ewald and Olsh., אפעל־לך מה defines it more particularly: I have sinned by what I have done to Thee, in my behaviour towards Thee; but how tame and meaningless such an addition would be! It is an inferential question: what could I do to Thee? i.e., what harm, or also, since the fut. may be regulated by the praet.: what injury have I thereby done to Thee? The thought that human sin, however, can detract nothing from the blessedness and glory of God, underlies this. With a measure of sinful bitterness, Job calls God האדם נצר, the strict and constant observer of men, per convicium fere, as Gesenius not untruly observes, nevertheless without a breach of decorum divinum (Renan: O Espion de l'homme), since the appellation, in itself worthy of God (Isaiah 27:3), is used here only somewhat unbecomingly. מפגּע is not the target for shooting at, which is rather מטּרה (Job 16:12; Lamentations 3:12), but the object on which one rushes with hostile violence (בּ פּגע). Why, says Job, hast Thou made me the mark of hostile attack, and why am I become a burden to Thee? It is not so in our text; but according to Jewish tradition, עלי, which we now have, is only a סופרים תקון, correctio scribarum,

(Note: Vid., the Commentary on Habakkuk, S. 206-208; comp. Geiger, Urschrift und Uebersetzungen der Bibel, S. 308ff.)

for אליך, which was removed as bordering on blasphemy: why am I become a burden to Thee, so that Thou shouldest seek to get rid of me? This reading I should not consider as the original, in spite of the tradition, if it were not confirmed by the lxx, εἰμὶ δὲ ἐπὶ σοὶ φορτίον.

It is not to be objected, that he who is fully conscious of sin cannot consider the strictest divine punishment even of the smallest sin unjust. The suffering of one whose habitual state is pleasing to God, and who is conscious of the divine favour, can never be explained from, and measured according to, his infirmities: the infirmities of one who trusts in God, or the believer, and the severity of the divine justice in the punishment of sin, have no connection with one another. Consequently, when Eliphaz bids Job regard his affliction as chastisement, Job is certainly in the wrong to dispute with God concerning the magnitude of it: he would rather patiently yield, if his faith could apprehend the salutary design of God in his affliction; but after his affliction once seems to him to spring from wrath and enmity, and not from the divine purpose of mercy, after the phantom of a hostile God is come between him and the brightness of the divine countenance, he cannot avoid falling into complaint of unmercifulness. For this the speech of Eliphaz is in itself not to blame: he had most feelingly described to him God's merciful purpose in this chastisement, but he is to blame for not having taken the right tone.

The speech of Job is directed against the unsympathetic and reproving tone which the friends, after their long silence, have assumed immediately upon his first manifestation of anguish. He justifies to them his complaint (ch. 3) as the natural and just outburst of his intense suffering, desires speedy death as the highest joy with which God could reward his piety, complains of his disappointment in his friends, from whom he had expected affectionate solace, but by whom he sees he is now forsaken, and earnestly exhorts them to acknowledge the justice of his complaint (ch. 6). But can they? Yes, they might and should. For Job thinks he is no longer an object of divine favour: an inward conflict, which is still more terrible than hell, is added to his outward suffering. For the damned must give glory to God, because they recognise their suffering as just punishment: Job, however, in his suffering sees the wrath of God, and still is at the same time conscious of his innocence. The faith which, in the midst of his exhaustion of body and soul, still knows and feels God to be merciful, and can call him "my God," like Asaph in Psalm 73, - this faith is well-nigh overwhelmed in Job by the thought that God is his enemy, his pains the arrows of God. The assumption is false, but on this assumption Job's complaints (ch. 3) are relatively just, including, what he himself says, that they are mistaken, thoughtless words of one in despair. But that despair is sin, and therefore also those curses and despairing inquiries!

Is not Eliphaz, therefore, in the right? His whole treatment is wrong. Instead of distinguishing between the complaint of his suffering and the complaint of God in Job's outburst of anguish, he puts them together, without recognising the complaint of his suffering to be the natural and unblamable result of its extraordinary magnitude, and as a sympathizing friend falling in with it. But with regard to the complaints of God, Eliphaz, acting as though careful for his spiritual welfare, ought not to have met them with his reproofs, especially as the words of one heavily afflicted deserve indulgence and delicate treatment; but he should have combated their false assumption. First, he should have said to Job, "Thy complaints of thy suffering are just, for thy suffering is incomparably great." In the next place, "Thy cursing thy birth, and thy complaint of God who has given thee thy life, might seem just if it were true that God has rejected thee; but that is not true: even in suffering He designs thy good; the greater the suffering, the greater the glory." By this means Eliphaz should have calmed Job's despondency, so as to destroy his false assumption; but he begins wrongly, and consequently what he says at last so truly and beautifully respecting the glorious issue of a patient endurance of chastisement, makes no impression on Job. He has not fanned the faintly burning wick, but his speech is a cold and violent breath which is calculated entirely to extinguish it.

continued...

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