I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.…
When others do us open wrong, it is not vanity, but charity, to do ourselves open right. And whatsoever appearance of folly or vain boasting there is in so doing, they are chargeable with all that compel us thereunto, and not we. It was neither pride nor passion in Job, but such a compulsion as this, that made him so often proclaim his own righteousness. It seemeth Job was a good man, as well as a great; and being good, he was by so much the better, by how much he was the greater. The grieved spirit of Job uttered these words for his own justification; but the blessed Spirit of God hath since written them for our instruction; to teach us, from Job's example, how to use that measure of greatness and power which He hath given us, be it more, or be it less, to His glory and the common good. We have to learn the principal duties which concern those that live in any degree of efficiency or authority. Those duties are four.
I. A CARE, AND LOVE, AND ZEAL OF JUSTICE. This is the chief business of the magistrate. "I put on righteousness, and it clothed me." The metaphor of clothing is much used in the Scriptures in this notion as it is applied to the soul, and things appertaining to the soul. We clothe ourselves either for necessity, to cover our nakedness; for security or defence against enemies; or for state and solemnity, for distinction of offices and degrees. Job's words intimate the great love he had unto justice, and the great delight he took therein. And it is the master duty of the magistrate to do justice, and to delight in it. He must make it his chief business, and yet count it his lightsome recreation. Magistrates may learn from the examples of Job, of Solomon, and of Jesus Christ Himself. Justice is a thing in itself most excellent; from it there redoundeth much glory to God; to ourselves so much comfort, and to others so much benefit.
II. COMPASSION TO THE POOR AND DISTRESSED. Men's necessities are many, and of great variety; but most of them spring from one of these two defects, ignorance, or want of skill; and impotence, or want of power: here signified by blindness and lameness. A magistrate can be "eyes to the blind," by giving sound and honest counsel to the simple. He can be "feet to the lame," by giving countenance and assistance in just and honest causes; and "father to the poor," by giving convenient safety and protection to those in distress. The preeminence of magistrates consisteth in their ability to do good and help the distressed, more than others. As they receive power from God, so they receive honours and service and tributes from their people for the maintenance of that power. God hath imprinted in the natural conscience of every man notions of fear, and honour, and reverence, and obedience, and subjection, and contribution, and other duties to be performed towards kings, magistrates, and other superiors. Mercy and justice must go together, and help to temper the one the other. The magistrate must be a father to the poor, to protect him from injuries, and to relieve his necessities, but not to maintain him in idleness. He must make provision to set him on work; and give him sharp correction should he grow idle, dissolute, or stubborn.
III. PAINS AND PATIENCE IN EXAMINATION OF CAUSES. "The cause which I knew not, I searched out." In the administration of justice the magistrate must make no difference between rich and poor, far or near, friend or foe. The special duty imposed on magistrates is diligence, and patience, and care to hear, and examine, and inquire into the truth of things, and into the equity of men's causes. Truth often lieth, as it were, in the bottom of a pit, and has to be found and brought to light. Innocency itself is often laden with false accusations.
IV. STOUTNESS AND COURAGE IN EXECUTION OF JUSTICE. "I brake the jaws of the wicked." Job alludes to savage beasts, beasts of prey; types of the greedy and violent ones of the world. For breaking the jaws of the wicked there is required a stout heart and an undaunted courage. This is necessary for the magistrate's work and for the maintenance of his dignity. Inferences —
1. Of direction; for the choice and appointment of magistrates according to the above four properties.
2. Of reproof; for a just rebuke of such magistrates as fail in any of these four duties.
3. Of exhortation; to those who are, or shall be magistrates, to carry themselves therein according to these four rules.
Parallel VersesKJV: I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.