Matthew Poole's Commentary
Moreover Job continued his parable, and said,He will not renounce his integrity, Job 27:1-6. The character of a hypocrite, and his misery, Job 27:7-10. The portion and heritage of the wicked, Job 27:11-23.
When he had waited a while to hear what his friends would reply, and perceived them to be silent. His parable; his grave and weighty, but withal dark and difficult, discourse, such as are oft called parables, as Numbers 23:7 24:3-15 Psalm 49:4 88:2 Proverbs 26:7.
As God liveth, who hath taken away my judgment; and the Almighty, who hath vexed my soul;He confirms the truth and sincerity of his expressions by an oath, because he found them very hard to believe all his professions.
My judgment, or my right, or my cause, i.e. who, though he knows my integrity and piety towards him, yet doth not plead my cause against my friends, nor will admit me to plead my cause with him before them, as I have so oft and earnestly desired, nor doth deal with me according to those terms of grace and mercy wherewith he treateth other men and saints; but useth me with great rigour, and by his sovereign power punisheth me sorely, without discovering to me what singular cause I have given him to do so.
All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils;My breath; which is the constant companion and certain sign of life, both coming in with it, Genesis 2:7, and going out with it, 1 Kings 17:17 Psalm 144:4. Or, my soul, or life. The spirit of God; that spirit or soul which God breathed into me, Genesis 2:7, and preserveth in me. Or rather, the breath of God, i.e. which God breathed into me, which eminently appears in a man’s nostrils.
My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit.I will speak nothing but the truth with all plainness and impartiality, neither defending myself and cause by vain and false professions of those virtues or graces which I know I have not; nor yet, in compliance with your desire and design, falsely accusing myself of those crimes wherewith you charge me, whereof I know myself to be innocent.
God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.That I should justify you, i.e. your opinion and censure concerning me, as one convicted to be impious or hypocritical, by God’s unusual and severe dealing with me.
I will not remove, to wit, declaratively, as real words are frequently understood; or by renouncing or denying my integrity, of which God and my own conscience bear me witness. I will not, to gratify you, say that I am a hypocrite, which I know to be false.
My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.I hold fast, Heb. I have held fast, i.e., I have not only begun well, but continued in well-doing; which is a plain evidence that I am no hypocrite. Or, the past tense is put for the future, as is usual, I will hold fast, declaratively, as before, I will maintain it, that howsoever you calumniate me, I am a righteous person.
My heart, i.e. my conscience, as the heart is oft used, as 1 Samuel 24:5 25:31 Ezekiel 14:5 1Jo 3:20,21.
Shall not reproach me; either,
1. With betraying my own cause and innocency, and speaking what I know to be false, to wit, that I am a hypocrite. Or,
2. For my former impiety or hypocrisy, wherewith you charge me.
So long as I live, Heb. from, or for, or concerning my days, i.e. the time of my life, whether past or to come. Or the course of my life; days or times being put here, as it is elsewhere, for actions done in them by a metonymy.
Let mine enemy be as the wicked, and he that riseth up against me as the unrighteous.I am so far from loving and practising wickedness, whereof you accuse me, that I abhor the thoughts of it; and if I might and would wish to be revenged of mine enemy, I could wish him no greater mischief than to be a wicked man.
He that riseth up against me; either,
1. You my friends, who, instead of comforting me, are risen up to torment me. Or rather,
2. My worst enemies.
For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul?There is no reason why I should envy or desire the portion of wicked men; for though they ofttimes prosper in the world, as I have said, and seem to be great gainers, yet death, which hasteneth to all men, and to me especially, will show that they are far greater losers, and die in a most wretched and desperate condition; having no hope either of continuing in this life, which they chiefly desire, or of enjoying a better life, which they never regarded. But I have a firm and well-grounded hope, not of that temporal restitution which you promised me, but of a blessed immortality after death, and therefore am none of these hopeless hypocrites, as you account me. Taketh away; or, expelleth, or plucketh up; which notes violence, and that he died unwillingly; compare Luke 12:20; when good men are said freely and cheerfully to give themselves or their souls unto God.
Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him?A hypocrite doth not pray to God with comfort, or any solid hope that God will hear him, as I know he will hear me, though not in the way which you think.
When trouble cometh upon him; when his guilty conscience will fly in his face, so as he dare not pray; and accuse him to God, so as God will not hear him.
Will he delight himself in the Almighty? will he always call upon God?Will he be able to delight and satisfy himself with God alone, and with his love and favour, when he hath no other matter of delight? This I now do, and this a hypocrite cannot do, because his heart is chiefly set upon the world; and when that fails him, his heart sinks, and the thoughts of God are unsavoury and troublesome to him. He may by his afflictions be driven to prayer: but if God doth not speedily answer him, he falls into despair, and neglect of God and of prayer; whereas I constantly continue in prayer, notwithstanding the grievousness and the long continuance of my calamities.
I will teach you by the hand of God: that which is with the Almighty will I not conceal.By the hand of God, i.e. by God’s help and inspiration; as God is said to speak to the prophet with or by a strong hand, Isaiah 8:11. I will not teach you my own vain conceits, but what God himself hath taught me. Or, concerning (as the prefix beth is oft used, as Exodus 12:43,44 Psa 63:6 87:3 Proverbs 4:11)
the hand of God, i.e. his counsel and providence in governing the world, or the manner of his dealing with men, and especially with wicked men, of whose portion he discourseth Job 27:13,14, &c., showing how far the hand of God is either for them, or upon them, and against them.
That which is with the Almighty, i.e. what is in his breast or counsel, and how he executes his secret purposes concerning them; or the truth of God, the doctrine which he hath taught his church about these matters.
Behold, all ye yourselves have seen it; why then are ye thus altogether vain?I speak no false or strange things, but what is known and confirmed by your own as well as others’ experiences.
Why then are ye thus altogether vain, in maintaining such a foolish and false opinion against your own knowledge and experience? Why do you obstinately defend your opinion, and not comply with mine, for the truth of which I appeal to your own consciences?
This is the portion of a wicked man with God, and the heritage of oppressors, which they shall receive of the Almighty.This is the portion of a wicked man; that which is mentioned in the following verses; in which Job delivers either,
1. The opinion of his friends, in whose person he utters them, and afterwards declares his dissent from them. Or rather,
2. His own opinion, and how far he agreeth with them; for his sense differs but little from what Zophar said, Job 20:29.
With God; either laid up with God, or in his counsel and appointment; or which he shall have from God, as the next words explain it.
Of oppressors; who are mighty, and fierce, and terrible, and mischievous to mankind, as this word implies, whom therefore men cannot destroy, but God will.
If his children be multiplied, it is for the sword: and his offspring shall not be satisfied with bread.It is for the sword; that they may be cut off by the sword, either of war or of justice.
Shall not be satisfied with bread; shall be starved, or want necessaries. A figure called meiosis.
Those that remain of him shall be buried in death: and his widows shall not weep.Those that remain of him; who survive and escape that sword and famine.
Shall be buried in death; either,
1. Shall die, and so be buried. Or,
2. Shall be buried as soon as ever they are dead, either because their relations or dependents feared lest they shored come to themselves again, and trouble them and others longer; or because they were not able to bestow any funeral pomp upon them, or thought them unworthy of it. Or,
3. Shall be in a manner utterly extinct in or by death; all their hope, and glory, and name, and memory (which they designed to perpetuate to all ages) shall be buried with them, and they shall never rise again to a blessed life: whereas a good man hath hope in his death, and leaves his good name alive and flourishing in the world, and rests in his grave in assurance of redemption from it, and of a glorious resurrection to a happy and eternal life.
His widows; for they had many wives, either to gratify their lust, or to increase and strengthen their family and interest.
Shall not weep; either because they durst not lament their death, which was entertained with public joy; or because they were overwhelmed and astonished with the greatness and strangeness of the calamity, and therefore could not weep; or because they also, as well as other persons, groaned under their tyranny and cruelty, and rejoiced in their deliverance from it.
Though he heap up silver as the dust, and prepare raiment as the clay;i.e. In great abundance.
He may prepare it, but the just shall put it on, and the innocent shall divide the silver.The just shall put it on; either because it shall be given to him by the judge to recompense those injuries which he received from that tyrant; or because the right of it is otherwise transferred upon him by Divine Providence.
The innocent shall divide the silver; either,
1. To the poor; he shall distribute that which the oppressor hoarded up and kept as wickedly as he got it. So this suits with Proverbs 28:8 Ecclesiastes 2:26. Or,
2. With others, or to himself; he shall have a share of it, when by the judge’s sentence those ill-gotten goods shall be restored to the right owners.
He buildeth his house as a moth, and as a booth that the keeper maketh.As a moth; which settleth itself in a garment, but is quickly and unexpectedly brushed off, and dispossessed of its dwelling, and crushed to death.
That the keeper maketh; which the keeper of a garden or vineyard suddenly rears up in fruit time, and as quickly and easily pulls it down again. See Isaiah 1:8 Lamentations 2:6.
The rich man shall lie down, but he shall not be gathered: he openeth his eyes, and he is not.Shall lie down; either,
1. To sleep; as this word is used, Genesis 19:35 Deu 6:7, &c. Or,
2. In death, of which it is used, 2 Samuel 7:12.
He shall not be gathered, to wit, in burial, of which this word is used, 2 Kings 22:20 Jeremiah 8:2 25:33. Instead of that honourable interment and burial with his fathers which he expected, he shall be buried with the burial of an ass; his carcass shall lie like dung upon the earth.
He openeth his eyes so the sense is either,
1. He awaketh in the morning, promising to himself a happy day. Or,
2. He looks about him for help and relief in his extremity. But the words are and may be rendered thus, one openeth his eyes, i.e. whilst a man can open his eyes, in a moment, or in the twinkling of an eye.
He is not; he is as if he had never been, dead and gone, and his family and name extinct with him.
Terrors take hold on him as waters, a tempest stealeth him away in the night.Terrors take hold on him, from the sense of his approaching death or judgment.
As waters; either,
1. In abundance, one terror after another. Or,
2. Violently and irresistibly, as a river breaking its banks, or a deluge of waters bears down and overwhelms all that is before it.
A tempest stealeth him away in the night; God’s wrath and judgment cometh upon him forcibly like a tempest, and withal secretly and unexpectedly, like a thief in the night.
The east wind carrieth him away, and he departeth: and as a storm hurleth him out of his place.The east wind, i.e. some violent and terrible judgment, fitly compared to the east wind, which in those parts was most vehement and furious, and withal pestilent and pernicious; of which see Exodus 10:13 14:21 Psalm 48:7 78:26 Hosea 13:15 Jonah 4:8.
Carrieth him away, out of his place, as it follows, out of his stately palace, wherein he expected to dwell for ever; whence he shall be carried either by an enemy, that shall take him and carry him into captivity, or by death.
For God shall cast upon him, and not spare: he would fain flee out of his hand.God shall cast upon him his darts or plagues, one after another.
And not spare, i.e. shall show no pity nor mercy to him, when he crieth to God for it.
He would fain flee out of his hand; he earnestly desires and endeavours by all ways possible to escape the judgments of God, but all in vain.
Men shall clap their hands at him, and shall hiss him out of his place.Men, who shall see and observe these things,
shall clap their hands; partly, in token of their joy at the removal of such a public pest and tyrant; and partly, by way of astonishment; and partly, in contempt, and scorn, or derision; all which this gesture signifies in Scripture use; of which see Lamentations 2:15 Ezekiel 25:6 Nahum 3:19.
Shall hiss him, in token of their amazement, detestation, and derision. See 1 Kings 9:8 2 Chronicles 29:8 Jeremiah 25:9 Micah 6:16.
Out of his place; now that he is out of his place and power, which they durst not do whilst he was in his place. Or, the men of his place, that lived with him or near him, and daily felt the effects of his tyranny.