Job 9:4
He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Job 9:4. He is wise in heart — He is infinitely wise, and searcheth all men’s hearts and ways, and discovers a multitude of sins, which men’s short-sighted eyes cannot see; and therefore can charge them with innumerable evils, of which they thought themselves innocent, and sees far more malignity than men can discern in their sins. Mighty in strength — So that, whether men contend with God by wisdom or by strength, God will be conqueror. Who hath hardened himself, &c. — Obstinately contended with him. The devil promised himself that Job, in the day of his affliction, would curse and speak ill of God. But, instead of that, he sets himself to honour God and speak highly of him. As ill pained as he is, and as much as he is taken up with his own miseries, when he has occasion to mention the wisdom and power of God, he forgets his complaints, and expatiates, with a flood of eloquence, on that glorious subject.

9:1-13 In this answer Job declared that he did not doubt the justice of God, when he denied himself to be a hypocrite; for how should man be just with God? Before him he pleaded guilty of sins more than could be counted; and if God should contend with him in judgment, he could not justify one out of a thousand, of all the thoughts, words, and actions of his life; therefore he deserved worse than all his present sufferings. When Job mentions the wisdom and power of God, he forgets his complaints. We are unfit to judge of God's proceedings, because we know not what he does, or what he designs. God acts with power which no creature can resist. Those who think they have strength enough to help others, will not be able to help themselves against it.He is wise in heart - Herder renders this,

Even the wise and the powerful,

Who hath withstood him and prospered?

But the more common interpretation is to refer it to God. The meaning of Job appears to be, that God was a sagacious adversary; that he was able to manage his cause; that he could meet and refute all objections which could be urged; and that it would be in vain to engage in a litigation before him. He so well understood the whole ground of debate, and was so entirely skilled in the merits of the controversy, and could so successfully meet all that could be alleged, that it was useless to attempt to hold an argument with him.

And mighty in strength - He is able to execute all his designs, and to carry all his purposes into effect. Man is weak and feeble, and it is hopeless for him to attempt to contend with the Almighty.

Who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered? - To harden oneself, here means to resist or withstand him. It refers to the firmness or resolution which one is obliged to adopt who opposes another. Here it means the opposition which man makes to the law and government of the Most High; and the affirmation is, that no one can make such opposition who will not be ultimately overcome. God is so great, so powerful, and so just, that a successful resistance cannot be made. The arrangements of God will take their course, and man must yield to his claims and his government, or be prostrated. None can successfully resist God; and the true policy of man, as well as his duty, is to yield to him, and be at peace with him.

And hath prospered - Or been successful. He has failed in his opposition, and been obliged to yield. Prosperity is not found in opposing God. It is only by falling in with his arrangements and following his designs. A prosperous voyage is made by falling in with winds and currents, and not in opposing them; prosperous agriculture is carried on by coinciding with the favorable seasons of the year, and taking advantage of the dews, and rains, and sunbeams that God sends, and not in opposing them; prosperity in regard to health is found in taking advantage of the means which God gives to secure it, and not in opposing them. And the sinner in his course has no more chance of success and prosperity, than a man would have who should make it a point or principle of life always to sail against tides, and currents, and head winds; or he who should set at defiance all the laws of husbandry, and plant on a rock, or in the dead of winter; or he who should feed himself on poison rather than on nutritious food, and cultivate the nightshade rather that wheat. The great principle is, that if a man desires prosperity, he must fall in with the arrangements of God in his providence and grace; and wisdom is seen in studying these arrangements, and in yielding to them.

4. wise in heart—in understanding!—and mighty in power! God confounds the ablest arguer by His wisdom, and the mightiest by His power.

hardened himself—or his neck (Pr 29:1); that is, defied God. To prosper, one must fall in with God's arrangements of providence and grace.

Wise in heart; either,

1. Really and profoundly wise; or,

2. Wise in his mind or understanding, which in Hebrew is oft called the heart, as Proverbs 2:10 6:32 Hosea 4:11, because the Hebrews make the heart the seat of the understanding, or of the reasonable soul. The sense is, He is infinitely wise, and so knows all things, and searcheth all men’s hearts and ways, and discovers a multitude of sins which men’s short-sighted eyes cannot see; and therefore can charge them with innumerable evils where they thought themselves innocent, and sees far more malignity than men could discern in their sins: and men cannot conceal any of their sins from him, nor cheat him, as they may other men, with crafty devices and evasions; so that there is no contending with him.

Mighty in strength, i.e. omnipotent; and therefore if men contumaciously persist in contending with him after they are convicted and condemned, he can easily crush them. So that whether men contend with God by wisdom or by strength, (which are the two ways of one man’s contending with another,) God will be conqueror.

Who hath hardened himself against him, i.e. obstinately contended with him? Or, spoken hard things towards him; quarrelling with him, opposing and reproaching God’s providence towards him as hard and unjust. Compare Judges 1:15.

Hath prospered, Heb. hath been at peace, i.e. hath not provoked God to his own destruction. A common figure, called meiosis, whereby more is understood than is expressed.

He is wise in heart,.... Originally, essentially, truly, really, and perfectly so; he is the only, and the all wise God; his understanding is infinite; he is able to traverse all the schemes of men, in things civil or religious, and disappoint all their devices; for though there be ever so many of them, or be ever so deeply laid, the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand; for there is no wisdom, understanding, or counsel against him; and therefore it is in vain to contend with him: he is so wise and knowing, that he sees and knows all that is in man, or is done by him, whether in public or in private; there is not a thought in his heart, nor a word on his tongue, nor an action in his life and conversation, but what he is thoroughly acquainted with; and everyone of these he will bring into judgment: how therefore is it possible that sinful men should be just in the sight of such a wise and holy Being, upon the score of his own righteousness?

and mighty in strength; he is the most mighty; he is the Almighty; he has a mighty arm and strong hand; and unless a man had a strong arm like him, his own right hand can never save him, or his own righteousness justify him; wherefore, to what purpose is it for a feeble man to contend and strive with him? and since he is not a man, as he is, how should they come together in judgment? and what a vain thing must it he to set a time for it, since, if we speak of strength, lo, he is strong? see Job 9:19,

who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered? either by behaving proudly and insolently to him, as Pharaoh, Sennacherib, and others, by speaking hard words against him, as the Jews in the times of Malachi; and such hard speeches ungodly sinners utter against God, Christ, his Gospel, ordinances, people, ways, and worship, of which they will be convinced, and for which they will be condemned at the last judgment; and by bold and daring acts of sin, running upon the thick bosses of his buckler, giving themselves up to commit all uncleanness with greediness, and making a covenant with hell and an agreement with death, and so think themselves safe and secure at all events; but such never prospered and succeeded as they promised themselves, but came to ruin and destruction: or "had peace" (x), or "found quietness", as Mr. Broughton: there is no peace to wicked men, true, solid peace, either here or hereafter; when they cry "Peace", or promise themselves much of it, destruction comes; and if God sets home the guilt of sin upon their consciences, the lead of it is intolerable; it sinks them into despair, and what then will be the worm that dieth not?

(x) "et pacem habuit", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Bolducius; "et pace frueretur", Cocceius.

He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. wise in heart] i. e. in mind, corresponding to “mighty in power.”

hardened himself] Probably hardened his neck, i. e. braved him, Proverbs 29:1.

hath prospered] lit. been safe, or as we say, “with impunity.”

Verse 4. - He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength. The sense is strengthened if we omit "he is," and render, Wise in heart, and mighty in strength, who hath hardened etc.? God's combination of perfect wisdom with infinite strength renders it hopeless for any man to contend with him. Who hath hardened himself against him; and hath prospered? Job fully admits the wisdom of all that Eliphaz (Job 4:17) and Bildad (Job 8:3-6) have said, or hinted, with respect to his inability wholly to justify himself. No one has ever taken this line of absolute self-justification, and prospered. Job 9:4 1 Then Job began, and said:

2 Yea, indeed, I know it is thus,

And how should a man be just with God!

3 Should he wish to contend with God,

He could not answer Him one of a thousand.

4 The wise in heart and mighty in strength,

Who hath defied Him and remained unhurt?

Job does not (Job 9:1) refer to what Eliphaz said (Job 4:17), which is similar, though still not exactly the same; but "indeed I know it is so" must be supposed to be an assert to that which Bildad had said immediately before. The chief thought of Bildad's speech was, that God does not pervert what is right. Certainly (אמנם, scilicet, nimirum, like Job 12:2), - says Job, as he ironically confirms this maxim of Bildad's, - it is so: what God does is always right, because God does it; how could man maintain that he is in the right in opposition to God! If God should be willing to enter into controversy with man, he would not be able to give Him information on one of a thousand subjects that might be brought into discussion; he would be so confounded, so disarmed, by reason of the infinite distance of the feeble creature from his Creator. The attributes (Job 9:4) belong not to man (Olshausen), but to God, as Job 36:5. God is wise of heart (לב equals νοῦς) in putting one question after another, and mighty in strength in bringing to nought every attempt man may make to maintain his own right; to defy Him (הקשׁה, to harden, i.e., ערף, the neck), therefore, always tends to the discomfiture of him who dares to bid Him defiance.

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