Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Elihu spake moreover, and said,
Thinkest thou this to be right, that thou saidst, My righteousness is more than God's?
2. more than—rather as in Job 9:2; 25:4: "I am righteous (literally, my righteousness is) before God." The English Version, however, agrees with Job 9:17; 16:12-17; 27:2-6. Job 4:17 is susceptible of either rendering. Elihu means Job said so, not in so many words, but virtually.
For thou saidst, What advantage will it be unto thee? and, What profit shall I have, if I be cleansed from my sin?
3. Rather, explanatory of "this" in Job 35:2, "That thou sayest (to thyself, as if a distinct person) What advantage is it (thy integrity) to thee? What profit have I (by integrity) more than (I should have) by my sin?" that is, more than if I had sinned (Job 34:9). Job had said that the wicked, who use these very words, do not suffer for it (Job 21:13-15); whereby he virtually sanctioned their sentiments. The same change of persons from oblique to direct address occurs (Job 19:28; 22:17).
I will answer thee, and thy companions with thee.
4. companions—those entertaining like sentiments with thee (Job 34:8, 36).
Look unto the heavens, and see; and behold the clouds which are higher than thou.
5-8. Elihu like Eliphaz (Job 22:2, 3, 12) shows that God is too exalted in nature to be susceptible of benefit or hurt from the righteousness or sin of men respectively; it is themselves that they benefit by righteousness, or hurt by sin.
behold the clouds, which are higher than thou—spoken with irony. Not only are they higher than thou, but thou canst not even reach them clearly with the eye. Yet these are not as high as God's seat. God is therefore too exalted to be dependent on man. Therefore He has no inducement to injustice in His dealings with man. When He afflicts, it must be from a different motive; namely, the good of the sufferer.
If thou sinnest, what doest thou against him? or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto him?
6. what doest—how canst thou affect Him?
unto him—that can hurt Him? (Jer 7:19; Pr 8:36).
If thou be righteous, what givest thou him? or what receiveth he of thine hand?
7. (Ps 16:2; Pr 9:12; Lu 17:10).
Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art; and thy righteousness may profit the son of man.
By reason of the multitude of oppressions they make the oppressed to cry: they cry out by reason of the arm of the mighty.
9. (Ec 4:1.) Elihu states in Job's words (Job 24. 12; 30. 20) the difficulty; the "cries" of "the oppressed" not being heard might lead man to think that wrongs are not punished by Him.
But none saith, Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night;
10-13. But the reason is that the innocent sufferers often do not humbly seek God for succor; so to their "pride" is to be laid the blame of their ruin; also because (Job 35:13-16) they, as Job, instead of waiting God's time in pious trust, are prone to despair of His justice, when it is not immediately visible (Job 33:19-26). If the sufferer would apply to God with a humbled, penitent spirit, He would hear.
Where, &c.—(Jer 2:6, 8; Isa 51:13).
songs—of joy at deliverance (Ps 42:8; 149:5; Ac 16:25).
in the night—unexpectedly (Job 34:20, 25). Rather, "in calamity."
Who teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth, and maketh us wiser than the fowls of heaven?
11. Man's spirit, which distinguishes him from the brute, is the strongest proof of God's beneficence; by the use of it we may understand that God is the Almighty helper of all sufferers who humbly seek Him; and that they err who do not so seek Him.
fowls—(see on Job 28:21).
There they cry, but none giveth answer, because of the pride of evil men.
12. There—rather, "Then" (when none humbly casts himself on God, Job 35:10). They cry proudly against God, rather than humbly to God. So, as the design of affliction is to humble the sufferer, there can be no answer until "pride" gives place to humble, penitent prayer (Ps 10:4; Jer 13:17).
Surely God will not hear vanity, neither will the Almighty regard it.
13. vanity—that is, cries uttered in an unhumbled spirit, Job 35:12, which applies in some degree to Job's cries; still more to those of the wicked (Job 27:9; Pr 15:29).
Although thou sayest thou shalt not see him, yet judgment is before him; therefore trust thou in him.
14. Although thou sayest thou shalt not see him—(as a temporal deliverer; for he did look for a Redeemer after death, Job 19:25-27; which passage cannot consistently with Elihu's assertion here be interpreted of "seeing" a temporal "redeemer"), Job 7:7; 9:11; 23:3, 8, 9; yet, judgment … ; therefore trust … But the Hebrew favors Maurer, "How much less (will God … regard, Job 35:13), since thou sayest, that He does not regard thee." So in Job 4:19. Thus Elihu alludes to Job's words (Job 19:7; 30:20).
judgment—that is, thy cause, thy right; as in Ps 9:16; Pr 31:5, 8.
trust—rather, "wait thou" on Him, patiently, until He take up thy cause (Ps 37:7).
But now, because it is not so, he hath visited in his anger; yet he knoweth it not in great extremity:
15. As it is, because Job waited not trustingly and patiently (Job 35:14; Nu 20:12; Zep 3:2; Mic 7:9), God hath visited … ; yet still he has not taken (severe) cognizance of the great multitude (English Version wrongly, "extremity") of sins; therefore Job should not complain of being punished with undue severity (Job 7:20; 11:6). Maurer translates: "Because His anger hath not visited (hath not immediately punished Job for his impious complaints), nor has He taken strict (great) cognizance of his folly (sinful speeches); therefore," &c. For "folly," Umbreit translates with the Rabbins, "multitude." Gesenius reads with the Septuagint and Vulgate needlessly, "transgression."
Therefore doth Job open his mouth in vain; he multiplieth words without knowledge.
16. Apodosis to Job 35:15.