Wesley's Notes on the Bible
Elihu also proceeded, and said,
Suffer me a little, and I will shew thee that I have yet to speak on God's behalf.
I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.
36:3 Afar - From remote times, and places, and things. I will not confine my discourse to thy particular case, but wilt justify God by declaring his great and glorious works of creation and providence both in the heaven and in the earth, and the manner of his dealing with men in other parts and ages of the world. Ascribe - I will clear and maintain this truth, that God is righteous in all his ways.
For truly my words shall not be false: he that is perfect in knowledge is with thee.
36:4 He, and c. - Thou hast to do with a God of perfect knowledge, by whom all thy words and actions are weighed.
Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any: he is mighty in strength and wisdom.
36:5 Despiseth - His greatness doth not make him (as it doth men) despise, or oppress the meanest. Wisdom - His strength is guided by wisdom, and therefore cannot do any thing unbecoming God, or unjust to his creatures.
He preserveth not the life of the wicked: but giveth right to the poor.
36:6 But - He will certainly in his time deliver his oppressed ones.
He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous: but with kings are they on the throne; yea, he doth establish them for ever, and they are exalted.
36:7 He - Never ceases to care for and watch over them. Exalted - They continue to be exalted; they are not cast down from their dignity, as the wicked commonly are.
And if they be bound in fetters, and be holden in cords of affliction;
36:8 If - Through the vicissitude of worldly affairs, they are brought from their throne into a prison, as sometimes hath been done.
Then he sheweth them their work, and their transgressions that they have exceeded.
36:9 Work - Their evil works, by these afflictions he brings them to a sight of their sins. Exceeded - That they have greatly sinned by abusing their power and prosperity; which even good men are too prone to do.
He openeth also their ear to discipline, and commandeth that they return from iniquity.
36:10 Openeth - He inclines them to hearken to what God speaks by the rod.
If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures.
But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge.
But the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath: they cry not when he bindeth them.
36:13 Cry not - Unto God for help. Bindeth - With the cords of affliction.
They die in youth, and their life is among the unclean.
36:14 Die - They provoke God to cut them off before their time. Unclean - Or, Sodomites; to whose destruction, he may allude. They shall die by some exemplary stroke of Divine vengeance. Yea, and after death, their life is among the unclean, the unclean spirits, the devil and his angels, for ever excluded from the new Jerusalem, into which no unclean thing shall enter.
He delivereth the poor in his affliction, and openeth their ears in oppression.
36:15 Openeth - Causeth them to hear, and understand, and do, the will of God.
Even so would he have removed thee out of the strait into a broad place, where there is no straitness; and that which should be set on thy table should be full of fatness.
36:16 He would - If thou hadst opened thine ear to God's counsels. Into - A state of ease and freedom.
But thou hast fulfilled the judgment of the wicked: judgment and justice take hold on thee.
36:17 The judgment - Or, the sentence, thou hast justified the hard speeches which wicked men utter against God. Therefore - Therefore the just judgment of God takes hold on thee. Thou hast maintained their cause against God, and God passes against thee the sentence of condemnation due to wicked men.
Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his stroke: then a great ransom cannot deliver thee.
36:18 Wrath - Conceived by God against thee. Then - If once God's wrath take hold of thee, no ransom will be accepted for thee.
Will he esteem thy riches? no, not gold, nor all the forces of strength.
36:19 Thy riches - If thou hadst as much of them as ever. Forces - The strongest forces.
Desire not the night, when people are cut off in their place.
36:20 The night - The night of death, which Job had often desired, for then, thou art irrecoverably gone: take heed of thy foolish and often repeated desire of death, lest God inflict it upon thee in anger.
Take heed, regard not iniquity: for this hast thou chosen rather than affliction.
36:21 Chosen - Thou hast chosen rather to quarrel with God, and censure his judgments, than quietly to submit to them.
Behold, God exalteth by his power: who teacheth like him?
36:22 Behold - God is omnipotent; and therefore can, either punish thee far worse, or deliver thee, if thou dost repent. He is also infinitely wise; and as none can work like him, so none can teach like him. Therefore do not presume to teach him how to govern the world. None teacheth with such authority and convincing evidence, with such condescension and compassion, with such power and efficacy as God doth, he teaches by the bible, and that is the best book; by his son, and he is the best master.
Who hath enjoined him his way? or who can say, Thou hast wrought iniquity?
Remember that thou magnify his work, which men behold.
36:24 Remember - Call to mind this thy duty. Magnify - Every work which he doth; do not condemn any of his providential works, but adore them as done with admirable wisdom, and justice. Behold - With admiration and astonishment.
Every man may see it; man may behold it afar off.
36:25 It - The power, and wisdom, and greatness of God are so manifest in all his works, that all who are not stupid, must see and acknowledge it. Afar off - The works of God are so great and conspicuous, that they may be seen at a great distance. Hence Elihu proceeds to give some instances, in the works of nature and common providence. His general aim is to shew, That God is the first cause and supreme director of all the creatures; whom therefore we ought with all humility and reverence to adore, That it is presumption in us to prescribe to him in his special providence toward men, when the operations even of common providence about the meteors, are so mysterious and unaccountable.
Behold, God is great, and we know him not, neither can the number of his years be searched out.
36:26 Neither - He is eternal, as in his being, so in all his counsels; which therefore must be infinitely above the comprehension of short - lived men.
For he maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof:
36:27 For - Having affirmed that God's works are incomprehensibly great and glorious, he now proves it from the most common works of nature and providence. And hence he leaves it to Job to consider how much more deep and inconceivable the secret counsels of God must be. Water - He orders matters so wisely, that the waters which are in the clouds, do not fall down at once in spouts, which would be pernicious to the earth and to mankind; but by degrees, and in drops. According - According to the proportion of vapours which the heat of the sun hath drawn up by the earth or sea. So it notes that great work of God by which the rain is first made of vapours, and afterwards resolved into vapours, or into the matter of succeeding vapours, by a constant rotation.
Which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly.
Also can any understand the spreadings of the clouds, or the noise of his tabernacle?
36:29 Understand - Whence it comes to pass, that a small cloud, no bigger than a man's hand, suddenly spreads over the whole heavens: how the clouds come to be suddenly gathered, and so condensed as to bring forth thunder and lightning. Noise - The thunder produced in the clouds, which are often called God's tent or tabernacle.
Behold, he spreadeth his light upon it, and covereth the bottom of the sea.
36:30 Light - The lightning; fitly God's light, because God only can light it. It - Upon the cloud, which is in a manner the candlestick in which God sets up this light. The sea - The lightning spreads far and wide over all the parts of the sea, and pierceth deep, reaching even to the bottom of it.
For by them judgeth he the people; he giveth meat in abundance.
36:31 Judgeth - By thunder and lightning, and rain from the clouds, he executes his judgments against ungodly people. Meat - Giveth meat. By the same clouds, he provides plentiful showers dropping fatness on the earth.
With clouds he covereth the light; and commandeth it not to shine by the cloud that cometh betwixt.
36:32 Clouds - With thick and black clouds spread over the whole heavens. Light - The sun. The cloud - Which God interposes as a veil between the sun and earth.
The noise thereof sheweth concerning it, the cattle also concerning the vapour.
36:33 The noise - The thunder gives notice of the approaching rain. Also - And as the thunder, so also the cattle sheweth, concerning the vapour, concerning the coming of the rain, by a strange instinct, seeking for shelter, when a change of weather is near.