Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible
Then Job answered and said,
This chapter is Job’s answer to Bildad’s discourse in the foregoing chapter. Though his spirit was grieved and much heated, and Bildad was very peevish, yet he gave him leave to say all he designed to say, and did not break in upon him in the midst of his argument; but, when he had done, he gave him a fair answer, in which, I. He complains of unkind usage. And very unkindly he takes it. 1. That his comforters added to his affliction (v. 2-7). 2. That his God was the author of his affliction (v. 8–12). 3. That his relations and friends were strange to him, and shy of him, in his affliction (v. 20–22). II. He comforts himself with the believing hopes of happiness in the other world, though he had so little comfort in this, making a very solemn confession of his faith, with a desire that it might be recorded as an evidence of his sincerity (v. 23–27). III. He concludes with a caution to his friends not to persist in their hard censures of him (v. 28, 29) If the remonstrance Job here makes of his grievances may serve sometimes to justify our complaints, yet his cheerful views of the future state, at the same time, may shame us Christians, and may serve to silence our complaints, or at least to balance them.
Job’s friends had passed a very severe censure upon him as a wicked man because he was so grievously afflicted; now here he tells them how ill he took it to be so censured. Bildad had twice begun with a How long (ch. 8:2, 18:2), and therefore Job, being now to answer him particularly, begins with a How long too, v. 2. What is not liked is commonly thought long; but Job had more reason to think those long who assaulted him than they had to think him long who only vindicated himself. Better cause may be shown for defending ourselves, if we have right on our side, than for offending our brethren, though we have right on our side. Now observe here,
I. How he describes their unkindness to him and what account he gives of it. 1. They vexed his soul, and that is more grievous than the vexation of the bones, Ps. 6:2, 3. They were his friends; they came to comfort him, pretended to counsel him for the best; but with a great deal of gravity, and affectation of wisdom and piety, they set themselves to rob him of the only comfort he had now left him in a good God, a good conscience, and a good name; and this vexed him to his heart. 2. They broke him in pieces with words, and those were surely hard and very cruel words that would break a man to pieces: they grieved him, and so broke him; and therefore there will be a reckoning hereafter for all the hard speeches spoken against Christ and his people, Jude 15. 3. They reproached him, (v. 3), gave him a bad character and laid to his charge things that he knew not. To an ingenuous mind reproach is a cutting thing. 4. They made themselves strange to him, were shy of him now that he was in his troubles, and seemed as if they did not know him (ch. 2:12), were not free with him as they used to be when he was in his prosperity. Those are governed by the spirit of the world, and not by any principles of true honour or love, who make themselves strange to their friends, or God’s friends, when they are in trouble. A friend loves at all times. 5. They not only estranged themselves from him, but magnified themselves against him (v. 5), not only looked shy of him, but looked big upon him, and insulted over him, magnifying themselves to depress him. It is a mean thing, it is a base thing, thus to trample upon those that are down. 6. They pleaded against him his reproach, that is, they made use of his affliction as an argument against him to prove him a wicked man. They should have pleaded for him his integrity, and helped him to take the comfort of that under his affliction, and so have pleaded that against his reproach (as St. Paul, 2 Co. 1:12); but, instead of that, they pleaded his reproach against his integrity, which was not only unkind, but very unjust; for where shall we find an honest man if reproach may be admitted for a plea against him?
II. How he aggravates their unkindness. 1. They had thus abused him often (v. 3): These ten times you have reproached me, that is, very often, as Gen. 31:7; Num. 14:22. Five times they had spoken, and every speech was a double reproach. He spoke as if he had kept a particular account of their reproaches, and could tell just how many they were. It is but a peevish and unfriendly thing to do so, and looks like a design of retaliation and revenge. We better befriend our own peace by forgetting injuries and unkindnesses than by remembering them and scoring them up. 2. They continued still to abuse him, and seemed resolved to persist in it: "How long will you do it?" v. 2, 5. "I see you will magnify yourselves against me, notwithstanding all I have said in my own justification." Those that speak too much seldom think they have said enough; and, when the mouth is opened in passion, the ear is shut to reason. 3. They were not ashamed of what they did, v. 3. They had reason to be ashamed of their hard-heartedness, so ill becoming men, of their uncharitableness, so ill becoming good men, and of their deceitfulness, so ill becoming friends: but were they ashamed? No, though they were told of it again and again, yet they could not blush.
III. How he answers their harsh censures, by showing them that what they condemned was capable of excuse, which they ought to have considered. 1. The errors of his judgment were excusable (v. 4): "Be it indeed that I have erred, that I am in the wrong through ignorance or mistake," which may well be supposed concerning men, concerning good men. Humanum est errare—Error cleaves to humanity; and we must be willing to suppose it concerning ourselves. It is folly to think ourselves infallible. "But be it so," said Job, "my error remaineth with myself," that is, "I speak according to the best of my judgment, with all sincerity, and not from a spirit of contradiction." Or, "If I be in an error, I keep it to myself, and do not impose it upon others as you do. I only prove myself and my own work by it. I meddle not with other people, either to teach them or to judge them." Men’s errors are the more excusable if they keep them to themselves, and do not disturb others with them. Hast thou faith? Have it to thyself. Some give this sense of these words: "If I be in an error, it is I that must smart for it; and therefore you need not concern yourselves: nay, it is I that do smart, and smart severely, for it; and therefore you need not add to my misery by your reproaches." 2. The breakings out of his passion, though not justifiable, yet were excusable, considering the vastness of his grief and the extremity of his misery. "If you will go on to cavil at every complaining word I speak, will make the worst of it and improve it against me, yet take the cause of the complaint along with you, and weigh that, before you pass a judgment upon the complaint, and turn it to my reproach: Know then that God has overthrown me," v. 6. Three things he would have them consider:—(1.) That his trouble was very great. He was overthrown, and could not help himself, enclosed as in a net, and could not get out. (2.) That God was the author of it, and that, in it, he fought against him: "It was his hand that overthrew me; it is in his net that I am enclosed; and therefore you need not appear against me thus. I have enough to do to grapple with God’s displeasure; let me not have yours also. Let God’s controversy with me be ended before you begin yours." It is barbarous to persecute him whom God hath smitten and to talk to the grief of one whom he hath wounded, Ps. 69:26. (3.) That he could not obtain any hope of the redress of his grievances, v. 7. He complained of his pain, but got no ease—begged to know the cause of his affliction, but could not discover it—appealed to God’s tribunal for the clearing of his innocency, but could not obtain a hearing, much less a judgment, upon his appeal: I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard. God, for a time, may seem to turn away his ear from his people, to be angry at their prayers and overlook their appeals to him, and they must be excused if, in that case, they complain bitterly. Woe unto us if God be against us!
He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and he hath set darkness in my paths.
Bildad had very disingenuously perverted Job’s complaints by making them the description of the miserable condition of a wicked man; and yet he repeats them here, to move their pity, and to work upon their good nature, if they had any left in them.
I. He complains of the tokens of God’s displeasure which he was under, and which infused the wormwood and gall into the affliction and misery. How doleful are the accents of his complaints! "He hath kindled his wrath against me, which flames and terrifies me, which burns and pains me," v. 11. What is the fire of hell but the wrath of God? Seared consciences will feel it hereafter, but do not fear it now. Enlightened consciences fear it now, but shall not feel it hereafter. Job’s present apprehension was that God counted him as one of his enemies; and yet, at the same time, God loved him, and gloried in him, as his faithful friend. It is a gross mistake, but a very common one, to think that whom God afflicts he treats as his enemies; whereas, on the contrary, as many as he loves he rebukes and chastens; it is the discipline of his sons. Which way soever Job looked he thought he saw the tokens of God’s displeasure against him. 1. Did he look back upon his former prosperity? He saw God’s hand putting an end to that (v. 9): "He has stripped me of my glory, my wealth, honour, power, and all the opportunity I had of doing good. My children were my glory, but I have lost them; and whatever was a crown to my head he has taken it from me, and has laid all my honour in the dust." See the vanity of worldly glory: it is what we may be soon stripped of; and, whatever strips us, we must see and own God’s hand in it and comply with his design. 2. Did he look down upon his present troubles? He saw God giving them their commission, and their orders to attack him. They are his troops, that act by his direction, which encamp against me, v. 12. It did not so much trouble him that his miseries came upon him in troops as that they were God’s troops, in whom it seemed as if God fought against him and intended his destruction. God’s troops encamped around his tabernacle, as soldiers lay siege to a strong city, cutting off all provisions from being brought into it and battering it continually; thus was Job’s tabernacle besieged. Time was when God’s hosts encamped round him for safety: Hast thou not made a hedge about him? Now, on the contrary, they surrounded him, to his terror, and destroyed him on every side, v. 10. 3. Did he look forward for deliverance? He saw the hand of God cutting off all hopes of that (v. 8): "He hath fenced up my way, that I cannot pass. I have now no way left to help myself, either to extricate myself out of my troubles or to ease myself under them. Would I make any motion, take any steps towards deliverance? I find my way hedged up; I cannot do what I would; nay, if I would please myself with the prospect of a deliverance hereafter, I cannot do it; it is not only out of my reach, but out of my sight: God hath set darkness in my paths, and there is none to tell me how long," Ps. 74:9. He concludes (v. 10), "I am gone, quite lost and undone for this world; my hope hath he removed like a tree cut down, or plucked up by the roots, which will never grow again." Hope in this life is a perishing thing, but the hope of good men, when it is cut off from this world, is but removed like a tree, transplanted from this nursery to the garden of the Lord. We shall have no reason to complain if God thus remove our hopes from the sand to the rock, from things temporal to things eternal.
II. He complains of the unkindness of his relations and of all his old acquaintance. In this also he owns the hand of God (v. 13): He has put my brethren far from me, that is, "He has laid those afflictions upon me which frighten them from me, and make them stand aloof from my sores." As it was their sin God was not the author of it; it is Satan that alienates men’s minds from their brethren in affliction. But, as it was Job’s trouble, God ordered it for the completing of his trial. As we must eye the hand of God in all the injuries we receive from our enemies ("the Lord has bidden Shimei curse David"), so also in all the slights and unkindnesses we receive from our friends, which will help us to bear them the more patiently. Every creature is that to us (kind or unkind, comfortable or uncomfortable) which God makes it to be. Yet this does not excuse Job’s relations and friends from the guilt of horrid ingratitude and injustice to him, which he had reason to complain of; few could have borne it so well as he did. He takes notice of the unkindness, 1. Of his kindred and acquaintance, his neighbours, and such as he had formerly been familiar with, who were bound by all the laws of friendship and civility to concern themselves for him, to visit him, to enquire after him, and to be ready to do him all the good offices that lay in their power; yet these were estranged from him, v. 13. They took no more care about him than if he had been a stranger whom they never knew. His kinsfolk, who claimed relation to him when he was in prosperity, now failed him; they came short of their former professions of friendship to him and his present expectations of kindness from them. Even his familiar friends, whom he was mindful of, had now forgotten him, had forgotten both his former friendliness to them and his present miseries: they had heard of his troubles, and designed him a visit; but truly they forgot it, so little affected were they with it. Nay, his inward friends, the men of his secret, whom he was most intimate with and laid in his bosom, not only forgot him, but abhorred him, kept as far off from him as they could, because he was poor and could not entertain them as he used to do, and because he was sore and a loathsome spectacle. Those whom he loved, and who therefore were worse than publicans if they did not love him now that he was in distress, not only turned from him, but were turned against him, and did all they could to make him odious, so to justify themselves in being so strange to him, v. 19. So uncertain is the friendship of men; but, if God be our friend, he will not fail us in a time of need. But let none that pretend either to humanity or Christianity ever use their friends as Job’s friends used him: adversity is the proof of friendship. 2. Of his domestics and family relations. Sometimes indeed we find that, beyond our expectation, there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother; but the master of a family ordinarily expects to be attended on and taken care of by those of his family, even when, through weakness of body or mind, he has become despicable to others. But poor Job was misused by his own family, and some of his worst foes were those of his own house. He mentions not his children; they were all dead, and we may suppose that the unkindness of his surviving relations made him lament the death of his children so much the more: "If they had been alive," would he think, "I should have had comfort in them." As for those that were now about him, (1.) His own servants slighted him. His maids did not attend him in his illness, but counted him for a stranger and an alien, v. 15. His other servants never heeded him; if he called to them they would not come at his call, but pretended that they did not hear him. If he asked them a question, they would not vouchsafe to give him an answer, v. 16. Job had been a good master to them, and did not despise their cause when they pleaded with him (ch. 31:13), and yet they were rude to him now, and despised his cause when he pleaded with them. We must not think it strange if we receive evil at the hand of those from whom we have deserved well. Though he was now sickly, yet he was not cross with his servants, and imperious, as is too common, but he entreated his servants with his mouth, when he had authority to command; and yet they would not be civil to him, neither kind nor just. Note, Those that are sick and in sorrow are apt to take things ill, and be jealous of a slight, and to lay to heart the least unkindness done to them: when Job was in affliction even his servants’ neglect of him troubled him. (2.) But, one would think, when all forsook him, the wife of his bosom should have been tender of him: no, because he would not curse God and die, as she persuaded him, his breath was strange to her too; she did not care for coming near him, nor took any notice of what he said, v. 17. Though he spoke to her, not with the authority, but with the tenderness of a husband, did not command, but entreated her by that conjugal love which their children were the pledges of, yet she regarded him not. Some read it, "Though I lamented, or bemoaned myself, for the children," that is, "for the death of the children of my own body," an affliction in which she was equally concerned with him. Now, it appeared, the devil spared her to him, not only to be his tempter, but to be his tormentor. By what she said to him at first, Curse God and die, it appeared that she had little religion in her; and what can one expect that is kind and good from those that have not the fear of God before their eyes and are not governed by conscience? (3.) Even the little children who were born in his house, the children of his own servants, who were his servants by birth, despised him, and spoke against him (v. 18); though he arose in civility to speak friendly to them, or with authority to check them, they let him know that they neither feared him nor loved him.
III. He complains of the decay of his body; all the beauty and strength of that were gone. When those about him slighted him, if he had been in health, and at ease, he might have enjoyed himself. But he could take as little pleasure in himself as others took in him (v. 20): My bone cleaves now to my skin, as formerly it did to my flesh; it was this that filled him with wrinkles (ch. 16:8); he was a perfect skeleton, nothing but skin and bones. Nay, his skin too was almost gone, little remained unbroken but the skin of his teeth, his gums and perhaps his lips; all the rest was fetched off by his sore boils. See what little reason we have to indulge the body, which, after all our care, may be thus consumed by the diseases which it has in itself the seeds of.
IV. Upon all these accounts he recommends himself to the compassion of his friends, and justly blames their harshness with him. From this representation of his deplorable case, it was easy to infer, 1. That they ought to pity him, v. 21. This he begs in the most moving melting language that could be, enough (one would think) to break a heart of stone: "Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O you my friends! if you will do nothing else for me, be sorry for me, and show some concern for me; have pity upon me, for the hand of God hath touched me. My case is sad indeed, for I have fallen into the hands of the living God, my spirit is touched with the sense of his wrath, a calamity of all other the most piteous." Note, It becomes friends to pity one another when they are in trouble, and not to shut up the bowels of compassion. 2. That, however, they ought not to persecute him; if they would not ease his affliction by their pity, yet they must not be so barbarous as to add to it by their censures and reproaches (v. 22): "Why do you persecute me as God? Surely his rebukes are enough for one man to bear; you need not add your wormwood and gall to the cup of affliction he puts into my hand, it is bitter enough without that: God has a sovereign power over me, and may do what he pleases with me; but do you think that you may do so too?" No, we must aim to be like the Most Holy and the Most Merciful, but not like the Most High and Most Mighty. God gives not account of any of his matters, but we must give account of ours. If they did delight in his calamity, let them be satisfied with his flesh, which was wasted and gone, but let them not, as if that were too little, wound his spirit, and ruin his good name. Great tenderness is due to those that are in affliction, especially to those that are troubled in mind.
Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!
In all the conferences between Job and his friends we do not find any more weighty and considerable lines than these; would one have expected it? Here is much both of Christ and heaven in these verses: and he that said such things as these declared plainly that he sought the better country, that is, the heavenly; as the patriarchs of that age did, Heb. 11:14. We have here Job’s creed, or confession of faith. His belief in God the Father Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth, and the principles of natural religion, he had often professed: but here we find him no stranger to revealed religion; though the revelation of the promised Seed, and the promised inheritance, was then discerned only like the dawning of the day, yet Job was taught of God to believe in a living Redeemer, and to look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come, for of these, doubtless, he must be understood to speak. These were the things he comforted himself with the expectation of, and not a deliverance from his trouble or a revival of his happiness in this world, as some would understand him; for besides that the expressions he here uses, of the Redeemer’s standing at the latter day upon the earth, of his seeing God, and seeing him for himself, are wretchedly forced if they be understood of any temporal deliverance, it is very plain that he had no expectation at all of his return to a prosperous condition in this world. He had just now said that his way was fenced up, (v. 8) and his hope removed like a tree, v. 10. Nay, and after this he expressed his despair of any comfort in this life, ch. 23:8, 9; 30:23. So that we must necessarily understand him of the redemption of his soul from the power of the grave, and his reception to glory, which is spoken of, Ps. 49:15. We have reason to think that Job was just now under an extraordinary impulse of the blessed Spirit, which raised him above himself, gave him light, and gave him utterance, even to his own surprise. And some observe that, after this, we do not find Job’s discourses such passionate, peevish, unbecoming, complaints of God and his providence as we have before met with: this hope quieted his spirit, stilled the storm and, having here cast anchor within the veil, his mind was kept steady from this time forward. Let us observe,
I. To what intent Job makes this confession of his faith here. Never did any thing come in more pertinently, or to better purpose. 1. Job was now accused, and this was his appeal. His friends reproached him as a hypocrite and contemned him as a wicked man; but he appeals to his creed, to his faith, to his hope, and to his own conscience, which not only acquitted him from reigning sin, but comforted him with the expectation of a blessed resurrection. These are not the words of him that has a devil. He appeals to the coming of the Redeemer, from this wrangle at the bar to the judgment of the bench, even to him to whom all judgment is committed, who he knew would right him. The consideration of God’s day coming will make it a very small thing with us to be judged of man’s judgment, 1 Co. 4:3, 4. How easily may we bear the unjust calumnies and reproaches of men while we expect the glorious appearance of our Redeemer, and his redeemed, at the last day, and that there will then be a resurrection of names, as well as bodies! 2. Job was now afflicted, and this was his cordial; when he was pressed above measure this kept him from fainting—he believed that he should see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living; not in this world, for that is the land of the dying.
II. With what a solemn preface he introduces it, v. 23, 24. He breaks off his complaints abruptly, to triumph his comforts, which he does, not only for his own satisfaction, but for the edification of others. Those now about him, he feared, would little regard what he said, and so it proved, He therefore wished it might be recorded for the generations to come. O that my words were now written, the words I am now about to say! As if he had said, "I own I have spoken many unadvised words, which I could wish might be forgotten, for they will neither do me credit nor do others good. But I am now going to speak deliberately, and that which I desire may be published to all the world and preserved for the generations to come, in perpetuam rei memoriam—for an abiding memorial, and therefore that it may be written plainly and printed, or drawn out in large and legible characters, so that he that runs may read it; and that it may not be left in loose papers, but put into a book; or, if that should perish, that it may be engraven like an inscription upon a monument, with an iron pen in lead, or in the stone; let the engraver use all his art to make it a durable appeal to posterity." That which Job here somewhat passionately wished for God graciously granted him. His words are written; they are printed in God’s book; so that, wherever that book is read, there shall this be told for a memorial concerning Job. He believed, therefore he spoke.
III. What his confession itself is; what are the words which he would have to be written; we here have them written, v. 25–27. Let us observe them.
1. He believes the glory of the Redeemer and his own interest in him (v. 25): I know that my Redeemer liveth, that he is in being and is my life, and that he shall stand at last, or stand the last, or at the latter day, upon (or above) the earth. He shall be raised up, or, He shall be, at the latter day, (that is, in the fulness of time: the gospel day is called the last time because that is the last dispensation) upon the earth: so it points at his incarnation; or, He shall be lifted up from the earth (so it points at his crucifixion), or raised up out of the earth (so it is applicable to his resurrection), or, as we commonly understand it, At the end of time he shall appear over the earth, for he shall come in the clouds, and every eye shall see him, so close shall he come to this earth. He shall stand upon the dust (so the word is), upon all his enemies, which shall be put a dust under his feet; and he shall tread upon them and triumph over them. Observe here, (1.) That there is a Redeemer provided for fallen man, and Jesus Christ is that Redeemer. The word is Goël which is used for the next of kin, to whom, by the law of Moses, the right of redeeming a mortgaged estate did belong, Lev. 25:25. Our heavenly inheritance was mortgaged by sin; we are ourselves utterly unable to redeem it; Christ is near of kin to us, the next kinsman that is able to redeem; he has paid our debt, satisfied God’s justice for sin, and so has taken off the mortgage and made a new settlement of the inheritance. Our persons also want a Redeemer; we are sold for sin, and sold under sin; our Lord Jesus has wrought out a redemption for us, and proclaims redemption for us, and proclaims redemption to us, and so he is truly the Redeemer. (2.) He is a living Redeemer. As we are made by a living God, so we are saved by a living Redeemer, who is both almighty and eternal, and is therefore able to save to the uttermost. Of him it is witnessed that he liveth, Heb. 7:8; Rev. 1:18. We are dying, but he liveth, and hath assured us that because he lives we shall live also, Jn. 14:19. (3.) There are those that through grace have an interest in this Redeemer, and can, upon good grounds, call him theirs. When Job had lost all his wealth and all his friends, yet he was not separated from Christ, nor cut off from his relation to him: "Still he is my Redeemer." That next kinsman adhered to him when all his other kindred forsook him, and he had the comfort of it. (4.) Our interest in the Redeemer is a thing that may be known; and, where it is known, it may be triumphed in, as sufficient to balance all our griefs: I know (observe with what an air of assurance he speaks it, as one confident of this very thing), I know that my Redeemer lives. His friends have often charged him with ignorance or vain knowledge; but he knows enough, and knows to good purpose, who knows Christ to be his Redeemer. (5.) There will be a latter day, a last day, a day when time shall be no more, Rev. 10:6. That is a day we are concerned to think of every day. (6.) Our Redeemer will at that day stand upon the earth, or over the earth, to summon the dead out of their graves, and determine them to an unchangeable state; for to him all judgment is committed. He shall stand, at the last, on the dust to which this earth will be reduced by the conflagration.
2. He believes the happiness of the redeemed, and his own title to that happiness, that, at Christ’s second coming, believers shall be raised up in glory and so made perfectly blessed in the vision and fruition of God; and this he believes with application to himself. (1.) He counts upon the corrupting of his body in the grave, and speaks of it with a holy carelessness and unconcernedness: Though, after my skin (which is already wasted and gone, none of it remaining but the skin of my teeth, v. 20) they destroy (those that are appointed to destroy it, the grave and the worms in it of which he had spoken, ch. 17:14) this body. The word body is added: "Though they destroy this, this skeleton, this shadow (ch. 17:7), this that I lay my hand upon," or (pointing perhaps to his weak and withered limbs) "this that you see, call it what you will; I expect that shortly it will be a feast for the worms." Christ’s body saw not corruption, but ours must. And Job mentions this, that the glory of the resurrection he believed and hoped for might shine the more brightly. Note, It is good for us often to think, not only of the approaching death of our bodies, but of their destruction and dissolution in the grave; yet let not that discourage our hope of their resurrection, for the same power that made man’s body at first, out of common dust, can raise it out of its own dust. This body which we now take such care about, and make such provision for, will in a little time be destroyed. Even my reins (says Job) shall be consumed within me (v. 27); the innermost part of the body, which perhaps putrefies first. (2.) He comforts himself with the hopes of happiness on the other side death and the grave: After I shall awake (so the margin reads it), though this body be destroyed, yet out of my flesh shall I see God. [1.] Soul and body shall come together again. That body which must be destroyed in the grave shall be raised again, a glorious body: Yet in my flesh I shall see God. The separate soul has eyes wherewith to see God, eyes of the mind; but Job speaks of seeing him with eyes of flesh, in my flesh, with my eyes; the same body that died shall rise again, a true body, but a glorified body, fit for the employments and entertainments of that world, and therefore a spiritual body, 1 Co. 15:44. Let us therefore glorify God with our bodies because there is such a glory designed for them. [2.] Job and God shall come together again: In my flesh shall I see God, that is, the glorified Redeemer, who is God. I shall see God in my flesh (so some read it), the Son of God clothed with a body which will be visible even to eyes of flesh. Though the body, in the grave, seem despicable and miserable, yet it shall be dignified and made happy in the vision of God. Job now complained that he could not get a sight of God (ch. 23:8, 9), but hoped to see him shortly, never more to lose the sight of him, and that sight of him will be the more welcome after the present darkness and distance. Note, It is the blessedness of the blessed that they shall see God, shall see him as he is, see him face to face, and no longer through a glass darkly. See with what pleasure holy Job enlarges upon this (v. 27): "Whom I shall see for myself," that is, "see and enjoy, see to my own unspeakable comfort and satisfaction. I shall see him as mine, as mine with an appropriating sight," Rev. 21:3. God himself shall be with them and be their God; they shall be like him, for they shall see him as he is, that is seeing for themselves, 1 Jn. 3:2. My eyes shall behold him, and not another. First, "He, and not another for him, shall be seen, not a type or figure of him, but he himself." Glorified saints are perfectly sure that they are not imposed upon; it is no deceptio visus—illusion of the senses. Secondly, "I, and not another for me, shall see him. Though my flesh and body be consumed, yet I shall not need a proxy; I shall see him with my own eyes." This was what Job hoped for, and what he earnestly desired, which, some think, is the meaning of the last clause: My reins are spent in my bosom, that is, "all my desires are summed up and concluded in this; this will crown and complete them all; let me have this, and I shall have nothing more to desire; it is enough; it is all." With this the prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended.
IV. The application of this to his friends. His creed spoke comfort to himself, but warning and terror to those that set themselves against him.
1. It was a word of caution to them not to proceed and persist in their unkind usage of him, v. 28. He had reproved them for what they had said, and now tells them what they should say for the reducing of themselves and one another to a better temper. "Why persecute we him thus? Why do we grieve him and vex him, by censuring and condemning him, seeing the root of the matter, or the root of the word, is found in him?" Let this direct us, (1.) In our care concerning ourselves. We are all concerned to see to it that the root of the matter be found in us. A living, quickening, commanding, principle of grace in the heart, is the root of the matter, as necessary to our religion as the root to the tree, to which it owes both its fixedness and its fruitfulness. Love to God and our brethren, faith in Christ, hatred of sin—these are the root of the matter; other things are but leaves in comparison with these. Serious godliness is the one thing needful. (2.) In our conduct towards our brethren. We are to believe that many have the root of the matter in them who are not in every thing of our mind—who have their follies, and weaknesses, and mistakes—and to conclude that it is at our peril if we persecute any such. Woe be to him that offends one of those little ones! God will resent and revenge it. Job and his friends differed in some notions concerning the methods of Providence, but they agreed in the root of the matter, the belief of another world, and therefore should not persecute one another for these differences.
2. It was a word of terror to them. Christ’s second coming will be very dreadful to those that are found smiting their fellow servants (Mt. 24:49), and therefore (v. 29), "Be you afraid of the sword, the flaming sword of God’s justice, which turns every way; fear, lest you make yourselves obnoxious to it." Good men need to be frightened from sin by the terrors of the Almighty, particularly from the sin of rashly judging their brethren, Mt. 7:1; Jam. 3:1. Those that are peevish and passionate with their brethren, censorious of them and malicious towards them, should know, not only that their wrath, whatever it pretends, works not the righteousness of God, but that, (1.) They may expect to smart for it in this world: It brings the punishments of the sword. Wrath leads to such crimes as expose men to the sword of the magistrate. God himself often takes vengeance for it, and those that showed no mercy shall find no mercy. (2.) If they repent not, that will be an earnest of worse. By these you may know there is a judgment, not only a present government, but a future judgment, in which hard speeches must be accounted for.