Behold, you have instructed many, and you have strengthened the weak hands.…
Thou hast instructed many, thou hast strengthened the weak hands, etc. But now it is come upon thee, etc. That is, trouble and affliction are come upon thee. And thou faintest. The word signifies an extraordinary fainting; when a man is so wearied and spent, that he knows not what he doth, when his reason seems tired, as much as his strength. So that the words, Now it is come upon thee, thou faintest, may import thus much; thou art in such a case, that thou seemest to be beside thyself, thou knowest not what thou dost, thou speakest thou knowest not what. The word is translated in the first verse, by grieved; in other Scriptures, by mad and furious (Proverbs 26:18). As a mad man who casteth firebrands, etc. And whereas we say (Genesis 47:13), The land of Egypt fainted by reason of the famine, many render it, The land of Egypt was enraged or mad, because of the famine. Want of bread turns to want of reason; famine distracts. The Egyptians were so extremely pinched with hunger, that it did even take away their wits from them; and scarcity of food for their bodies, made a dearth in their understandings. So there is this force in the word: Thou who hast given such grave and wise instruction unto others, from those higher principles of grace, now it is come upon thee, thou art even as a mad man, as a man distracted, not able to act by the common principles of reason. It toucheth thee. It is the same word which we opened before; the devil desired that he might but touch Job; now his friend telleth him he is touched. And thou art troubled. That word also hath a great emphasis in it. It signifies a vehement, amazed trouble; as in that place (1 Samuel 28:21), where, when the woman, the witch of Endor, had raised up Samuel (in appearance) as Saul desired, the text saith, that when all was ended, she came unto Saul, and she saw he was sore troubled: think what trouble might fall upon a man in such a condition as Saul was in, after this acquaintance with the visions of hell; think what a deep astonishment of spirit seized upon him, such disorder of mind this word lays upon Job. Now it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled. Hence observe —
1. To commend a man with a "but," is a wound instead of a commendation. Thou hast instructed many, "But," etc. How many are there who salute their friends very fair to their faces, or speak them very fair behind their backs, yet suddenly (as Joab to Amasa) draw out this secret dagger, and stab their honour and honesty to the heart!
2. Observe, great afflictions may disturb the very seat of reason, and leave a saint, in some acts, below a man.
3. That when we see any doing ill, it is good to mind him of the good which he hath done.
4. That the good we have done, is a kind of reproach to us, when we do the contrary evil.
5. It is an easier matter to instruct others in trouble, than to be instructed, or take instruction ourselves in our own troubles.
6. It is a shame for us to teach others the right way, and to go in the wrong ourselves.
Parallel VersesKJV: Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands.