Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Moreover Job continued his parable, and said,XXIX.
(1) Job continued his parable.—In this chapter he recounts wistfully his past happiness. In his case it was indeed not without cause, though in point of fact he was then passing through a time of trial which was itself bringing fast on his time of deliverance, and which was to make his name famous throughout the world and in all time. And in most similar cases we have need to bear in mind the words of Solomon (Ecclesiastes 7:10): “Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.”
Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me;(2) Preserved.—Or, watched over me. When does God not watch over us, if we only knew it?
When his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness;(3) When his candle shined.—See Isaiah 1:10.
As I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle;(4) In the days of my youth.—Literally, my autumn: i.e., in the ripeness, maturity of my days. He was then in the depth of winter. (Comp. the words “in which it seemed always afternoon.”) Some suppose, however, that as with the ancient and modern Jews the year began with the autumn, it is used much in the same way as we use spring.
The secret of God.—Or, the counsel of God.
When I went out to the gate through the city, when I prepared my seat in the street!(7) To the gate.—There business was transacted. (Comp. the expression, which is still used with reference to the Turkish Empire, of “the Sublime Porte,” or the supreme Place of government; Psalm 127:5; Jer. 35:20, &c.)
The princes refrained talking, and laid their hand on their mouth.(9) The princes retrained talking.—Comp. Isaiah 52:15.
When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me:(11) When the ear heard me, then it blessed me.—This is a direct negative to the charges of Eliphaz in Job 22:6, &c. He has felt them too deeply to pass them by in total silence.
I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.(14) I put on righteousness.—Comp. Isaiah 61:10; Isaiah 28:5; Isaiah 62:3; 2Timothy 4:8; James 1:12; 1Peter 5:4; 1Thessalonians 2:19. His judgment, the result of his personal righteousness, was as a robe of honour and a crown of glory to him.
It clothed me.—Literally, it clothed itself with me. First, righteousness is the garment, and then he is the garment to righteousness. (Compare the expressions “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ,” Romans 13:14, and 2Corinthians 5:2-4, and the Hebrew of Psalm 143:9, where “I flee unto thee to hide me” is, I have covered myself with thee, or, have hidden me with thee.) This is the Gospel truth of the interchange of sin and righteousness between Christ and the believer. He bears our sins; we are clothed with the robe of His righteousness.
Then I said, I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days as the sand.(18) I shall die in my nest.—Very touching is this spontaneous expression of his almost unconscious hope when in prosperity. Some have suggested the transposition of these three verses to the end of the chapter. Though this is obviously their natural position in one sense, yet in another it is less natural. The same thing is to be seen in the last four verses of chapter 31. They carry on the previous vindication from Job 31:34, which had been broken by the parenthesis in Job 31:35-37.
My root was spread out by the waters, and the dew lay all night upon my branch.(19) My root was spread.—It is perhaps better to read this and the next verse in the present: “My root is spread out . . . and the dew lieth. My glory is fresh in me, and my bow is renewed.” (Comp. Genesis 49:24.)
If I laughed on them, they believed it not; and the light of my countenance they cast not down.(24) If I laughed on them.—That is, “They would not believe that I could be so affable to them, could so condescend to them—they looked up to me with the greatest deference.”
I chose out their way, and sat chief, and dwelt as a king in the army, as one that comforteth the mourners.(25) I sat.—It is still the custom among the Jews for mourners to sit upon the ground and for one who wishes to console them to occupy a seat above them. Such is Job’s pathetic lamentation over the days that were gone. He appears before us as a conspicuous example of one who had worn the poet’s crown of sorrow in the remembrance of happier things in time of sorrow. He is the type and representative of suffering humanity, of man waiting for redemption, but as yet unredeemed. It is in this way that he points us on to Christ, who, Himself the Redeemer, went through all the sorrows of sinful and unredeemed humanity. He is able to describe his former state and all its glory and bliss, while his friends are constrained to listen in silence. They have said their worst, they have aspersed and maligned his character, but they have not silenced him; he is able to make the most complete vindication of all his past life, to contrast its happiness with the present contempt and contumely of it, so much owing to them and their heartless, unsympathetic treatment of him, while they can make no reply.