Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Furthermore Elihu answered and said,
Hear my words, O ye wise men; and give ear unto me, ye that have knowledge.
2. This chapter is addressed also to the "friends" as the thirty-third chapter to Job alone.
For the ear trieth words, as the mouth tasteth meat.
3. palate—(See on Job 12:11; Job 33:2).
Let us choose to us judgment: let us know among ourselves what is good.
4. judgment—Let us select among the conflicting sentiments advanced, what will stand the test of examination.
For Job hath said, I am righteous: and God hath taken away my judgment.
5. judgment—my right. Job's own words (Job 13:18; 27:2).
Should I lie against my right? my wound is incurable without transgression.
6. Were I to renounce my right (that is, confess myself guilty), I should die. Job virtually had said so (Job 27:4, 5; 6:28). Maurer, not so well, "Notwithstanding my right (innocence) I am treated as a liar," by God, by His afflicting me.
my wound—literally, "mine arrow," namely, by which I am pierced. So "my stroke" ("hand," Job 23:2, Margin). My sickness (Job 6:4; 16:13).
without transgression—without fault of mine to deserve it (Job 16:17).
What man is like Job, who drinketh up scorning like water?
7. (Job 15:16). Image from the camel.
scorning—against God (Job 15:4).
Which goeth in company with the workers of iniquity, and walketh with wicked men.
8. Job virtually goes in company (makes common cause) with the wicked, by taking up their sentiments (Job 9:22, 23, 30; 21:7-15), or at least by saying, that those who act on such sentiments are unpunished (Mal 3:14). To deny God's righteous government because we do not see the reasons of His acts, is virtually to take part with the ungodly.
For he hath said, It profiteth a man nothing that he should delight himself with God.
9. with God—in intimacy (Ps 50:18, Margin).
Therefore hearken unto me, ye men of understanding: far be it from God, that he should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity.
10. The true answer to Job, which God follows up (Job 38:1-41). Man is to believe God's ways are right, because they are His, not because we fully see they are so (Ro 9:14; De 32:4; Ge 18:25).
For the work of a man shall he render unto him, and cause every man to find according to his ways.
11. Partly here; fully, hereafter (Jer 32:19; Ro 2:6; 1Pe 1:17; Re 22:12).
Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment.
12. (Job 8:3). In opposition to Job, Job 34:5, will not—cannot.
Who hath given him a charge over the earth? or who hath disposed the whole world?
13. If the world were not God's property, as having been made by Him, but committed to His charge by some superior, it might be possible for Him to act unjustly, as He would not thereby be injuring Himself; but as it is, for God to act unjustly would undermine the whole order of the world, and so would injure God's own property (Job 36:23).
disposed—hath founded (Isa 44:7), established the circle of the globe.
If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath;
14, 15. "If He were to set His heart on man," either to injure him, or to take strict account of his sins. The connection supports rather [Umbreit], "If He had regard to himself (only), and were to gather unto Himself (Ps 104:29) man's spirit, &c. (which he sends forth, Ps 104:30; Ec 12:7), all flesh must perish together," &c. (Ge 3:19). God's loving preservation of His creatures proves He cannot be selfish, and therefore cannot be unjust.
All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust.
If now thou hast understanding, hear this: hearken to the voice of my words.
16. In Job 34:2, Elihu had spoken to all in general, now he calls Job's special attention.
Shall even he that hateth right govern? and wilt thou condemn him that is most just?
17. "Can even He who (in thy view) hateth right (justice) govern?" The government of the world would be impossible if injustice were sanctioned. God must be just, because He governs (2Sa 23:3).
govern—literally, "bind," namely, by authority (so "reign," 1Sa 9:17, Margin). Umbreit translates for "govern, repress wrath, namely, against Job for his accusations.
most just—rather, "Him who is at once mighty and just" (in His government of the world).
Is it fit to say to a king, Thou art wicked? and to princes, Ye are ungodly?
18. Literally, (Is it fit) to be said to a king? It would be a gross outrage to reproach thus an earthly monarch, much more the King of kings (Ex 22:28). But Maurer with the Septuagint and Vulgate reads, (It is not fit to accuse of injustice Him) who says to a king, Thou art wicked; to princes, Ye are ungodly; that is, who punishes impartially the great, as the small. This accords with Job 34:19.
How much less to him that accepteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor? for they all are the work of his hands.
19. (Ac 10:34; 2Ch 19:7; Pr 22:2; Job 31:15).
In a moment shall they die, and the people shall be troubled at midnight, and pass away: and the mighty shall be taken away without hand.
20. they—"the rich" and "princes" who offend God.
the people—namely, of the guilty princes: guilty also themselves.
at midnight—image from a night attack of an enemy on a camp, which becomes an easy prey (Ex 12:29, 30).
without hand—without visible agency, by the mere word of God (so Job 20:26; Zec 4:6; Da 2:34).
For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings.
21. God's omniscience and omnipotence enable Him to execute immediate justice. He needs not to be long on the "watch," as Job thought (Job 7:12; 2Ch 16:9; Jer 32:19).
There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.
22. shadow of death—thick darkness (Am 9:2, 3; Ps 139:12).
For he will not lay upon man more than right; that he should enter into judgment with God.
23. (1Co 10:13; La 3:32; Isa 27:8). Better, as Umbreit, "He does not (needs not to) regard (as in Job 34:14; Isa 41:20) man long (so Hebrew, Ge 46:29) in order that he may go (be brought by God) into judgment." Literally, "lest his (attention) upon men" (Job 11:10, 11). So Job 34:24, "without number" ought to be translated, "without [needing any] searching out," such as has to be made in human judgments.
He shall break in pieces mighty men without number, and set others in their stead.
24. break in pieces—(Ps 2:9; Job 12:18; Da 2:21).
Therefore he knoweth their works, and he overturneth them in the night, so that they are destroyed.
25. Therefore—because He knows all things (Job 34:21). He knows their works, without a formal investigation (Job 34:24).
in the night—suddenly, unexpectedly (Job 34:20). Fitly in the night, as it was in it that the godless hid themselves (Job 34:22). Umbreit, less simply, for "overturneth," translates, "walketh"; that is, God is ever on the alert, discovering all wickedness.
He striketh them as wicked men in the open sight of others;
26. He striketh them—chasteneth.
as—that is, because they are wicked.
sight of others—Sinners hid themselves in darkness; therefore they are punished before all, in open day. Image from the place of public execution (Job 40:12; Ex 14:30; 2Sa 12:12).
Because they turned back from him, and would not consider any of his ways:
27, 28. The grounds of their punishment in Job 34:26. Job 34:28 states in what respect they "considered not God's ways," namely, by oppression, whereby "they caused the cry," &c.
So that they cause the cry of the poor to come unto him, and he heareth the cry of the afflicted.
When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? and when he hideth his face, who then can behold him? whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only:
29. (Pr 16:7; Isa 26:3).
make trouble—rather, "condemn" (Ro 8:33, 34). Maurer, from the reference being only to the godless, in the next clause, and Job 34:20 translates, "When God keeps quiet" (leaves men to perish) Ps 83:1; [Umbreit] from the Arabic (strikes to the earth), "who shall condemn Him as unjust?" Job 34:17.
hideth … face—(Job 23:8, 9; Ps 13:1).
it be done—Whether it be against a guilty nation (2Ki 18:9-12) or an individual, that God acts so.
That the hypocrite reign not, lest the people be ensnared.
30. Ensnared—into sin (1Ki 12:28, 30). Or rather, "enthralled by further oppression," Job 34:26-28.
Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more:
31. Job accordingly says so (Job 40:3-5; Mic 7:9; Le 26:41). It was to lead him to this that Elihu was sent. Though no hypocrite, Job, like all, had sin; therefore through affliction he was to be brought to humble himself under God. All sorrow is a proof of the common heritage of sin, in which the godly shares; and therefore he ought to regard it as a merciful correction. Umbreit and Maurer lose this by translating, as the Hebrew will bear, "Has any a right to say to God, I have borne chastisement and yet have not sinned?" (so Job 34:6).
borne—namely, the penalty of sin, as in Le 5:1, 17.
offend—literally, "to deal destructively or corruptly" (Ne 1:7).
That which I see not teach thou me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no more.
32. (Job 10:2; Ps 32:8; 19:12; 139:23, 24).
no more—(Pr 28:13; Eph 4:22).
Should it be according to thy mind? he will recompense it, whether thou refuse, or whether thou choose; and not I: therefore speak what thou knowest.
33. Rather, "should God recompense (sinners) according to thy mind? Then it is for thee to reject and to choose, and not me" [Umbreit]; or as Maurer, "For thou hast rejected God's way of recompensing; state therefore thy way, for thou must choose, not I," that is, it is thy part, not mine, to show a better way than God's.
Let men of understanding tell me, and let a wise man hearken unto me.
34, 35. Rather, "men … will say to me, and the wise man (Job 34:2, 10) who hearkens to me (will say), 'Job hath spoken,'" &c.
Job hath spoken without knowledge, and his words were without wisdom.
My desire is that Job may be tried unto the end because of his answers for wicked men.
36. Margin, not so well, "My father," Elihu addressing God. This title does not elsewhere occur in Job.
answers for wicked men—(See on Job 34:8). Trials of the godly are not removed until they produce the effect designed.
For he addeth rebellion unto his sin, he clappeth his hands among us, and multiplieth his words against God.
37. clappeth … hands—in scorn (Job 27:23; Eze 21:17).
multiplieth … words—(Job 11:2; 35:16). To his original "sin" to correct which trials have been sent, "he adds rebellion," that is, words arraigning God's justice.