Job 12:16
With him is strength and wisdom: the deceived and the deceiver are his.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Job 12:16. With him is strength, &c. — He doth the things mentioned in the foregoing and following verses so powerfully, that no creature can resist him and hinder his operations; and so wisely, that none can prevent him or frustrate his counsels. He had said the same thing before, (Job 12:13,)

but he repeats it here to prepare the way for the following events, which are eminent instances both of his power and wisdom. The deceived and the deceiver are his — Wholly subject to his disposal. He governs the deceiver, and sets bounds to his deceits, how far they shall extend: he also overrules all this to his own glory, and the accomplishment of his righteous designs of trying the good and punishing wicked men, by giving them up to believe lies. Yet God is not the author of any error or sin, but only the wise and holy governor of it.12:12-25 This is a noble discourse of Job concerning the wisdom, power, and sovereignty of God, in ordering all the affairs of the children of men, according to the counsel of His own will, which none can resist. It were well if wise and good men, who differ about lesser things, would see how it is for their honour and comfort, and the good of others, to dwell most upon the great things in which they agree. Here are no complaints, or reflections. He gives many instances of God's powerful management of the children of men, overruling all their counsels, and overcoming all their oppositions. Having all strength and wisdom, God knows how to make use, even of those who are foolish and bad; otherwise there is so little wisdom and so little honesty in the world, that all had been in confusion and ruin long ago. These important truths were suited to convince the disputants that they were out of their depth in attempting to assign the Lord's reasons for afflicting Job; his ways are unsearchable, and his judgments past finding out. Let us remark what beautiful illustrations there are in the word of God, confirming his sovereignty, and wisdom in that sovereignty: but the highest and infinitely the most important is, that the Lord Jesus was crucified by the malice of the Jews; and who but the Lord could have known that this one event was the salvation of the world?The deceived and the deceiver are his - This is designed to teach that all classes of people are under his control. All are dependent on him, and all are subject to him. He has power to keep them, and he can destroy them when he pleases. Dr. Good supposes that Job refers here to himself and his friends who had beguiled him into expressions of impatience and complaint. But it is more probably a general declaration that all classes of people were under the control of God. 16. (Eze 14:9). He doth the things here mentioned in the foregoing and succeeding verses, and that both powerfully, so as no creature can resist and hinder him, and wisely, so as none can prevent and overreach him. The same thing he had said before, Job 12:13, but he repeats it here to prepare the way for the following events, which are eminent instances both of his power and wisdom.

Are his, i.e. from or by him, and wholly subject to his disposal. That one man deceiveth another, and that the other is deceived by him, either in Divine or civil and worldly things, (which seem to be principally intended here, by comparing the following verses,) this is from God, and by the conduct of his wise and powerful providence. God giveth to the deceiver more wit, and knowledge, and art, and withal opportunity, and all favourable circumstances for his deceit. He also gives less understanding to the deceived, and withdraws from him, either wholly or in part, that common light of discretion which is his free gift; and he may justly give, or take away, as he pleaseth, and leaves him to his own ignorance and error, pride and self-conceit, and to all those prejudices, passions, and lusts which commonly corrupt men’s minds, and to the power and crafts of Satan, that grand deceiver. He governs the deceiver, and sets bounds to his deceits, to whom, and when, and how far they shall extend; as is manifest from Deu 13:1 1 Kings 22:20 Isaiah 19:14 Ezekiel 14:9 Matthew 24:24 2 Thessalonians 2:11 Revelation 20:3,8. He also overrules all this to his own glory, and the accomplishment of his righteous designs of trying the good, and punishing wicked men, by giving them up to believe lies. Yet God is not the cause or author of any error or sin, but only the wise and holy governor and disposer of it. With him is strength and wisdom,.... Which is repeated from Job 12:13; though different words are used but expressive of the same things; of the greatest strength might, and power of God, as the above instances show and of his most consummate, solid and substantial wisdom, as appears by what follows:

the deceived and the deceiver are his: the wisdom, knowledge, sagacity and penetration into affairs, which the one has not, and the other has are from him; he withholds them from the one, who are simple and void of understanding, and so are easily imposed upon and deceived, and he given them to others, who make as ill use of them, deceive their fellow creatures some are deceivers in civil things, in the business and affairs of life, who circumvent, trick, cheat, and defraud their neighbours in buying and selling, using deceitful weights and measures, and by many other artful methods; others are deceivers in religious affairs, such are false teachers, deceitful workers, that lie in wait deceive; their intention into deceive, they do it knowingly, and on purpose; they walk in craftiness, and handle the word of God deceitfully; there were many of these in the times of the apostles that had then entered into the world, but never more than now; the great impostor and deceiver of all is. Satan, to whom Jarchi restrains the words, who beguiled Eve, and indeed deceives the whole world, Revelation 12:9. Multitudes are deceived by him, as well as by, his emissaries, false teachers, and by their own hearts lusts; and even God's elect themselves, while in a state of unregeneracy, bear this character of "deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures", Titus 3:3. Now these are "his", the Lord's; which Mr. Broughton interprets, "from him", "by him", and "for him"; the wit, wisdom, subtlety, and sagacity of deceivers, are from him; gifts of nature, in themselves good, bestowed on them by him; the ill use they make of it is from themselves, and owing to the vitiosity of their nature; nay, it is not only by his permission, but according to his ordination and will, that there are such persons in the world: in some cases they appear not only to have leave or permission, but an order to seduce, as to the, lying spirit sent forth to seduce Ahab, 1 Kings 22:20; yea, the princes of Noph being deceived, and they seducing Egypt, it is ascribed to the Lord's mingling a perverse spirit in the midst thereof, Isaiah 19:13; nay, when a prophet is deceived, God himself is said to deceive that prophet, Ezekiel 14:9; so much is there of the permissive and efficacious will of God in this matter; not that he is the author of error and deceit, or infuses these into men, only the orderer, disposer, and, overruler of these things to some purposes orb is; he has power over them, and counterworks them, when he pleases; he can and does restrain them, and stops them, that they shall proceed no further, than he wills; false teachers would, if possible, deceive the very elect, Matthew 24:24, but they cannot, and the reason is, God hinders them; Satan can go on no longer deceiving the world than it is the pleasure of God; a notorious instance of, hindering and, restraining him may be seen in Revelation 20:3; and all the deceptions that are suffered to be among men they are all, wisely ordered, and overruled to good purposes, so as to issue well; the deception of our first parents was suffered and willed, that the grace of God might be displayed in the salvation of, men; errors and heresies are and must be for the trial and discovery of sound believers that they which are approved might be manifest; and men that like not to retain God in their knowledge reject both the light of nature and revelation, are left in righteous judgment to a reprobate mind, to give heed to seducing spirits, and are given up to strong delusions to believe a lie, that they might be damned, see 1 Corinthians 11:19, Romans 1:28. Now all this shows the infinite and consummate wisdom of God; it is brought to prove, not only that he "knows" deceivers, and all their arts and tricks, through which men are deceived by them, as Aben Ezra interprets it, and so the Vulgate Latin version renders it; but he is the fountain of all that wisdom and knowledge in them, superior to others, which they abuse, nor can they use it without his leave; and he can and does counterwork them, and restrains them as he pleases, and makes all to work for and issue in his own glory.

With him is strength and wisdom: the deceived and the {h} deceiver are his.

(h) He shows that there is nothing done in this world without God's will and ordinance, else he would not be Almighty.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. The word “wisdom” in this verse is that in ch. Job 5:12, Job 11:6.

the deceived and the deceiver] lit. he that errs and he that leads into error, he that is ruled and he that rules oppressively. These are distinctions among men; to God both are the same, or both are equally in his hand, cf. Proverbs 22:2.Verse 16. - With him is strength and wisdom; rather (as in the Revised Version), with him is strength and effectual working. God has not only the wisdom to design the course of events (ver. 13), but the power and ability to carry out all that he designs. The deceived and the deceiver are his. Not only does God rule the course of external nature, but also the doings of men. "Shall there be evil in a city, and shall not he have done it?" (Amos 3:6) He allows some to deceive, and others to be deceived. Moral evil is thus under his control, and, in a certain sense, may be celled his doing. But it behoves men, when they approach such great mysteries, to be very cautious and wary in their speech. Job touches with somewhat too bold a hand the deepest problems of the universe. 7 But ask now even the beasts - they shall teach it thee;

And the birds of heaven - they shall declare it to thee:

8 Or look thoughtfully to the ground - it shall teach it thee;

And the fish of the sea shall tell it thee.

9 Who would not recognise in all this

That the hand of Jehovah hath wrought this,

10 In whose hand is the soul of every living thing,

And the breath of all mankind?!

The meaning of the whole strophe is perverted if זאת (Job 12:9), is, with Ewald, referred to "the destiny of severe suffering and pain," and if that which precedes is accordingly referred to the testimony of creation to God as its author. Since, as a glance at what follows shows, Job further on praises God as the governor of the universe, it may be expected that the reference is here to God as the creator and preserver of the world, which seems to be the meaning of the words. Job himself expresses the purpose of this hymn of confession, Job 12:2., Job 13:1.: he will show the friends that the majesty of God, before which he ought, according to their demands, to humble himself in penitence, is not less known to him than to them; and with ואולם, verum enim vero, he passes over to this subject when he begins his third answer with the following thought: The perception in which you pride yourselves I also possess; true, I am an object of scornful contempt to you, who are as little able to understand the suffering of the godly as the prosperity of the godless, nevertheless what you know I also know: ask now, etc. Bildad had appealed to the sayings of the ancients, which have the long experience of the past in their favour, to support the justice of the divine government; Job here appeals to the absoluteness of the divine rule over creation. In form, this strophe is the counterpart of Job 8:8-10 in the speech of Bildad, and somewhat also of Job 11:7-9 in that of Zophar. The working of God, which infinitely transcends human power and knowledge, is the sermon which is continuously preached by all created things; they all proclaim the omnipotence and wisdom of the Creator.

The plural בּהמות is followed by the verb that refers to it, in the singular, in favour of which Genesis 49:22 is the favourite example among old expositors (Ges. 146, 3). On the other hand, the verb might follow the collective עוף in the plural, according to Ges. 146, 1. The plural, however, is used only in Job 12:8, because there the verb precedes instead of following its subject. According to the rule Ges. 128, 2, the jussive form of the fut. follows the imperative. In the midst of this enumeration of created things, שׂיח, as a substantive, seems to signify the plants - and especially as Arab. šı̂h even now, in the neighbourhood of Job's ancient habitation, is the name of a well-known mountain-plant - under whose shade a meagre vegetation is preserved even in the hot season (vid., on Job 30:4.). But (1) שׂיח as subst. is gen. masc. Genesis 2:5); (2) instead of לערץ, in order to describe a plant that is found on the ground, or one rooted in the ground, it must be על־הארץ or בארץ; (3) the mention of plants between the birds and fishes would be strange. It may therefore be taken as the imperative: speak to the earth (lxx, Targ., Vulg., and most others); or, which I prefer, since the Aramaic construction לו סח, narravit ei, does not occur elsewhere in Hebrew (although perhaps implicite, Proverbs 6:22, תשׂיחך equals לך תשׂיח, favulabitur, or confabulabitur tibi), as a pregnant expression: think, i.e., look meditatively to the earth (Ewald), since שׂוּח (שׂיח), like הגה, combines the significations of quiet or articulate meditation on a subject. The exhortation directs attention not to the earth in itself, but to the small living things which move about on the ground, comprehended in the collective name רמשׂ, syn. שׁרץ (creeping things), in the record of creation. All these creatures, though without reason and speech, still utter a language which is heard by every intelligent man. Renan, after Ewald, translates erroneously: qui ne sait parmi tous ces tres. They do not even possess knowledge, but they offer instruction, and are a means of knowledge; בּ with ידע, like Genesis 15:8; Genesis 42:33, and freq. All the creatures named declare that the hand of Jehovah has made "this," whatever we see around us, τὸ βλεπόμενον, Hebrews 11:3. In the same manner in Isaiah 66:2; Jeremiah 14:22, כּל־אלּה is used of the world around us. In the hand of God, i.e., in His power, because His workmanship, are the souls of all living things, and the spirit (that which came direct from God) of all men; every order of life, high and low, owes its origin and continuance to Him. אישׁ is the individual, and in this connection, in which נפשׁ and רוּח ( equals נשׁמה) are certainly not unintentionally thus separated, the individual man. Creation is the school of knowledge, and man is the learner. And this knowledge forces itself upon one's attention: quis non cognoverit? The perf. has this subjunctive force also elsewhere in interrogative clauses, e.g., Psalm 11:3 (vid., on Genesis 21:7). That the name of God, JEHOVAH, for once escapes the poet here, is to be explained from the phrase "the hand of Jehovah hath made this," being a somewhat proverbial expression (comp. Isaiah 41:20; Isaiah 66:2).

Job now refers to the sayings of the fathers, the authority of which, as being handed down from past generations, Bildad had maintained in his opposition to Job.

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