Matthew Poole's Commentary
So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes.Elihu, Job’s fourth friend, speaketh: he is angry with Job for justifying himself, and with his three friends for not satisfying, and yet condemning him, Job 32:1-5. He excuseth his youth; but wisdom is from God, and not from age, Job 32:6-9; therefore he speaketh, being full of matter, and his spirit constraining him, without accepting any man’s person, Job 32:10-22.
i.e. Was self-conceited, and obstinately resolved to justify himself both against God and men; therefore they give him over as incorrigible.
Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God.The Buzite; of the posterity of Buz, Nahor’s son, Genesis 22:21.
Of the kindred of Ram, or of Aram; for Ram and Aram are used promiscuously: compare 2 Kings 8:28, with 2 Chronicles 22:5 Ruth 4:19 Matthew 1:3. Others, of Abraham, who as he was called Abram, possibly was at first called only Ram. His pedigree is thus particularly described, partly for his honour, because his speech declares him to be both a wise and a good man; and principally to evidence the truth of this history, which otherwise might seem to be but a poetical fiction.
He justified himself rather than God; he justified himself, not without reflection upon God, as dealing too severely with him, and denying him that hearing which he so passionately desired. He took more care to maintain his own innocency than God’s glory.
Also against his three friends was his wrath kindled, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job.They had found no answer to Job’s allegations and arguments, as to the main cause.
Had condemned Job as a hypocrite or ungodly, man.
Now Elihu had waited till Job had spoken, because they were elder than he.Elihu had waited with patience, as the word notes.
Till Job; add, and his three friends, as appears from the following words. It is a synecdoche, whereof instances have been given before.
They were elder than he; and therefore he expected more satisfaction from them, and gave them the precedency in the discourse; wherein he showed his prudence and modesty.
When Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, then his wrath was kindled.No text from Poole on this verse.
And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said, I am young, and ye are very old; wherefore I was afraid, and durst not shew you mine opinion.To wit, of discovering my weakness and folly, and of being thought forward and presumptuous.
I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.Days, i.e. multitude of days, by comparing the next clause of the verse. Or men of days, i.e. of many days or years, old men.
Should speak, to wit, wisely and pertinently, as the next words limit it.
Should teach wisdom; should instruct us that are younger in the paths of wisdom, and concerning the wise counsels and ways of God, about which the present controversy lay.
But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.But; or, surely; it must be confessed.
A spirit, to wit, which gives him understanding, as is easily and fitly gathered out of the last words of the verse. And this is to be understood either,
1. Of the human spirit, or reasonable soul, which is in every man. So the sense of the place is, Every man, as a man, whether old or young, hath a reasonable soul, by which he is able in some measure to discern between good and evil, and to judge of men’s opinions and discourses; and therefore I also may venture to deliver my opinion. Or,
2. Of the Spirit of God; the latter clause being explicatory of the former, according to the manner. So the sense is, I expected a true and full discovery of the truth in this controversy from persons of your years, wisdom, and experience. But upon second thoughts I consider that the knowledge of these deep and Divine mysteries is not to be had or expected from any man as such, though never so aged or wise; but only from God’s Spirit, which alone knoweth the deep things of God. And this
Spirit he saith is
in man; not in every man, for the words are not universal, but indefinite, and man in this branch is no larger than them who receive Divine inspiration in the next branch. And so the sense is, God is pleased to give his Spirit unto mankind, unto men of all ages and qualities, as tie pleaseth; and having given it in some measure to me, I may take the boldness to utter my thoughts.
The inspiration of the Almighty, i.e. God’s Spirit, or the gracious gifts thereof breathed or infused into man’s soul by God.
Understanding, to wit, in divine and spiritual matters, which are the matter of this debate and book.
Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment.Great men, i.e. men of eminency for age or learning, or dignity and power, such as Job’s three friends seem to have been.
Judgment; what is just and right; or the judgment of God, and the methods and reasons of his administrations.
Therefore I said, Hearken to me; I also will shew mine opinion.I said within myself, and now I say it with my mouth. Hearken to me; thou, Job, especially, who art more nearly concerned, (to whom therefore he speaketh in the singular number,) and thy friends with thee.
Behold, I waited for your words; I gave ear to your reasons, whilst ye searched out what to say.I waited with silence, and patience, and diligent attention; which therefore I now expect from you.
Your reasons; or, reasonings, Heb. understandings; or mind’s; the depth and strength of your discourses, your most intelligent and forcible arguments against Job; I searched and examined them to the bottom.
Whilst ye searched out what to say; whilst you put your inventions upon the rack, and studied to find out all that could be said against him, and to furnish yourselves with the most convincing words and reasons.
Yea, I attended unto you, and, behold, there was none of you that convinced Job, or that answered his words:By solid and satisfactory answers to his assertions and allegations.
Lest ye should say, We have found out wisdom: God thrusteth him down, not man.Lest ye should say; it is a defective speech, and may be thus supplied: Thus it was, or God thus left you to your own weakness, and mistakes, and impertinent discourses, lest ye should say, &c., i.e. lest you should ascribe the conquering or silencing of Job to your own wisdom, age, and experience; or lest you should boastingly say, We have discovered and said all that can or need be said in the cause, the sum and substance of the thing, that which may fully and finally end the controversy, which is contained in the following words.
God thrusteth him down, not man: these are alleged by Elihu, in the person of Job’s three friends, or as their words. The sense is, The stupendous judgments which are upon Job have not been brought upon him by man solely and originally, for then there might have been some ground for Job’s complaints, there might have been injustice or cruelty in them; but immediately by the hand of God, of that God, who being omniscient, and just, and true, and merciful, would never have dealt thus hardly with Job if he were not a hypocrite, and guilty of some very gross, though secret, sins; which is the ground-work of our discourses. But, saith Elihu, this argument doth not satisfy me, and therefore bear with me if I seek for better.
Now he hath not directed his words against me: neither will I answer him with your speeches.I am not engaged in this discourse by any provoking words of Job, as you have been, which hath drawn forth your passions and biassed your judgments; but merely from zeal for the vindication of God’s honour, and love to truth and justice, and a sincere desire to administer to Job matter both of conviction and of comfort. With your words, i.e. with such words or arguments as yours, either weak and impertinent, or fierce and opprobrious.
They were amazed, they answered no more: they left off speaking.They, i.e. Job’s three friends, of whom he speaks some times, in the second, and here in the third person, directing his speech to Job and the auditors of this disputation.
Were amazed; they stood mute, like persons amazed, not knowing what to reply to Job’s arguments, and wondering at his bold and confident assertions of his integrity, and of his interest in God, under such sad and manifest tokens of God’s just displeasure against him.
They answered no more, although Job gave them just occasion to reprove and confute him for his intemperate speeches and presumptuous and irreverent expressions concerning God.
When I had waited, (for they spake not, but stood still, and answered no more;)Which he repeats as a strange and unreasonable thing, that they should be silent when they had such obligations to speak for the vindication both of God’s justice, and of their own truth and reputation.
I said, I will answer also my part, I also will shew mine opinion.I will take my turn, and speak what they have omitted.
For I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth me.I am full of matter, i.e. I have many things to say in this cause.
The spirit within me; either my own spirit or soul, which is wholly dissatisfied with what hath been hitherto spoken, and clearly apprehends what may silence Job, and end the dispute; or God’s Spirit, which he hath put in me; the Spirit of understanding, which hath discovered the truth of the matter to me; and the Spirit of zeal, which urgeth me to plead God’s cause against Job.
Constraineth me; forceth me to speak. It is a metaphor from a man or woman whose belly is full with wind, or with a child, and is never at rest till it be emptied and eased of its burden.
Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles.My belly, i.e. my mind or heart, which is oft called a man’s belly, as Job 15:35 Psalm 40:8 Habakkuk 3:16 John 7:38.
As wine; as new wine pent up close in a bottle, as the following words explain it and determine it. The
wine is here put for the bottle in which it is, by a common metonymy.
New bottles, i.e. bottles of new wine, by the same general figure; for otherwise old bottles are most apt to burst, Matthew 9:17.
I will speak, that I may be refreshed: I will open my lips and answer.That I may be refreshed; that I may ease my mind of those thoughts which now oppress it.
I will open my lips and answer; I will not utter impertinent words, but solid answers, to Job’s arguments.
Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man.Do not expect that I should out of fear or respect to any of you speak partially, but bear with my free and plain dealing with you all. As I shall not censure and reproach Job as a hypocrite or profane person, which you have done; so neither shall I flatter him, but faithfully reprove him for his exorbitant speeches of God.
For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my maker would soon take me away.I have neither skill nor will to flatter Job or any man so as to debauch my conscience, or corrupt the truth, or speak falsely for his sake. If I should be guilty of that sin, God would quickly and sorely punish me for it. Or without this supplement,
my Maker will quickly take me away, to wit, out of this world. I dare not flatter any man, because I consider I must shortly die and go to judgment, to give an account of all my words and actions.