Wesley's Notes on the Bible
Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said,
Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself?
22:2 Can, and c. - Why dost thou insist so much upon thy own righteousness, as if thou didst oblige God by it.
Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? or is it gain to him, that thou makest thy ways perfect?
22:3 Is it - Such a pleasure as he needs for his own ease and contentment. Nay, God needs not us, or our services. We are undone, forever undone without him: but he is happy, forever happy without us.
Will he reprove thee for fear of thee? will he enter with thee into judgment?
22:4 Reprove - Punish thee. Because he is afraid, lest if he should let thee alone, thou wouldst grow too great and powerful for him: surely no. As thy righteousness cannot profit him, so thy wickedness can do him no hurt.
Is not thy wickedness great? and thine iniquities infinite?
22:5 Evil - Is not thy evil, thy affliction, are not thy calamities procured by, and proportionable to thy sins.
For thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother for nought, and stripped the naked of their clothing.
22:6 Surely - He speaks thus by way of strong presumption, when I consider thy unusual calamities, I conclude thou art guilty of all, or some of these crimes. Brother - Of thy neighbour. Nought - Without sufficient and justifiable cause. Stripped - By taking their garment for a pledge, or by robbing them of their rights, all other injuries being comprehended under this.
Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink, and thou hast withholden bread from the hungry.
But as for the mighty man, he had the earth; and the honourable man dwelt in it.
22:8 Dwelt - Either by thy sentence or permission, he had a peaceable and sure possession of it, whether he had right to it, or no.
Thou hast sent widows away empty, and the arms of the fatherless have been broken.
22:9 Arms - Their supports, and rights.
Therefore snares are round about thee, and sudden fear troubleth thee;
Or darkness, that thou canst not see; and abundance of waters cover thee.
22:11 Or - Either thou art troubled with fear of further evils or with the gross darkness of thy present state of misery. Waters - Variety of sore afflictions, which are frequently compared to water.
Is not God in the height of heaven? and behold the height of the stars, how high they are!
22:12 Heaven - And from that high tower looketh down upon men, to behold, and govern, and recompense all their actions, whether good or bad. How high - Yet God is far higher than they, and from thence can easily see all things.
And thou sayest, How doth God know? can he judge through the dark cloud?
Thick clouds are a covering to him, that he seeth not; and he walketh in the circuit of heaven.
22:14 Walketh - His delight is in heaven, which is worthy of his care, but he will not burden himself with the care of earth: which was the opinion of many Heathen philosophers, and, as they fancied, was Job's opinion also.
Hast thou marked the old way which wicked men have trodden?
22:15 Old way - Heb. the way of antiquity, of men living in ancient times, their end or success.
Which were cut down out of time, whose foundation was overflown with a flood:
22:16 Out of - Before their time. A flood - Who, together with their foundation, the earth and all their supports and enjoyments in it, were destroyed by the general deluge.
Which said unto God, Depart from us: and what can the Almighty do for them?
22:17 Who - He repeats Job's words, chap.21:14,15, but to a contrary purpose. Job alleged them to shew that they prospered notwithstanding their wickedness; and Eliphaz produces them to shew that they were cut off for it.
Yet he filled their houses with good things: but the counsel of the wicked is far from me.
22:18 Yet - Yet it is true, that for a time God did prosper them, but at last, cut them off in a tremendous manner, But - He repeals Job's words, chap.21:16, not without reflection: thou didst say so, but against thy own principle, that God carries himself indifferently towards good and bad; but I who have observed God's terrible judgments upon wicked men, have much more reason to abhor their counsels.
The righteous see it, and are glad: and the innocent laugh them to scorn.
Whereas our substance is not cut down, but the remnant of them the fire consumeth.
22:20 Because - Because when wicked men are destroyed, they are preserved. He should have said their substance; but he changes the person, and saith, our substance; either as including himself in the member of righteous persons, and thereby intimating that he pleaded the common cause of all such, while Job pleaded the cause of the wicked, or because he would hereby thankfully acknowledge some eminent and particular preservation given to him amongst other righteous men. Remnant - All that was left undestroyed in the general calamity. Fire - Sodom and Gomorrah. As if he had said, thou mayest find here and there an instance, of a wicked man dying in peace. But what is that to the two great instances of the final perdition of ungodly men, the drowning the whole world, and the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee.
22:21 Him - With God, renew thy acquaintance with God by prayer, and repentance for all thy sins, and true humiliation under his hand, and hearty compliance with all his commands, and diligent care to serve and enjoy him. It is our honour, that we are made capable of this acquaintance, our misery that by sin we have lost it; our privilege, that through Christ we may return to it; and our unspeakable advantage, to renew and cultivate it. And be at peace - At peace with God, and at peace with thyself, not fretful or uneasy. Good shall come unto thee - All the good thou canst desire, temporal, spiritual, eternal.
Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth, and lay up his words in thine heart.
22:22 Receive - Take the rule whereby thou governest thy thoughts, and words, and whole life, not from thy own imaginations or passions, but from God, from his law, which is written in thy own mind, and from the doctrines and instructions of the holy men of God. And do not only hear them with thine ears, but let them sink into thy heart.
If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up, thou shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles.
22:23 If - The Hebrew phrase is emphatical, and implies a thorough turning from sin, to God, so as to love him, and cleave to him, and sincerely devote a man's self to his fear and service. Built - God will repair thy ruins, and give thee more children, and bless thee with prosperity. Thou shalt - It is either, a spiritual promise, if thou dost sincerely repent, God will give the grace effectually to reform thyself and family: or, a temporal promise, thou shalt put away iniquity, or the punishment of thy sins; as iniquity is very often used: far from thy tabernacles; from all thy dwellings, and tents, and possessions.
Then shalt thou lay up gold as dust, and the gold of Ophir as the stones of the brooks.
Yea, the Almighty shall be thy defence, and thou shalt have plenty of silver.
For then shalt thou have thy delight in the Almighty, and shalt lift up thy face unto God.
22:26 Lift up - Look up to him, with chearfulness and confidence.
Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him, and he shall hear thee, and thou shalt pay thy vows.
22:27 Make - The word is, thou shalt multiply thy prayer. Under all thy burdens, in all thy wants, cares and fears, thou shalt send to heaven for wisdom, strength and comfort. Pay - Thou shalt obtain those blessings for which thou didst make vows to God, and therefore, according to thy obligation, shalt pay thy vows to him.
Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.
22:28 Established - Thy purposes shalt not be disappointed, but ratified by God. And in all thy counsels, and actions, God shall give thee the light of his direction and governance, and of comfort and success.
When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up; and he shall save the humble person.
22:29 Cast down - All round about thee, in a time of general calamity. There is - God will deliver thee. He - God.
He shall deliver the island of the innocent: and it is delivered by the pureness of thine hands.
22:30 He, and c. - God will have so great a respect to thy innocency, that for thy sake he will deliver those that belong to thee, or live with thee, or near thee, thought in themselves they be ripe for destruction. Their hands - By thy prayers proceeding from a pure heart and conscience. So Eliphaz and his two friends, who in this matter were not innocent, were delivered by the pureness of Job's hands, chap.42:8.