Job 23:16
For God makes my heart soft, and the Almighty troubles me:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) For God maketh my heart soft.—That is, “He has made it full of apprehension and fear, and the Almighty hath troubled me in these two respects: that He did not cut me off before the darkness, so that I had never been born, or that He did not hide darkness from mine eyes after giving me life.” (Comp. Job 3:11; Job 3:20, &c.) We may understand this of the physical suffering to which he was subjected, or of the mental distress and perplexity under which he laboured.

Job 23:16-17. For God maketh my heart soft — Or, tender; he hath bruised and broken, or melted it, so that I have no spirit, or courage, or strength in me: so this, or the like phrase, frequently signifies. There is a gracious softness of heart, like that of Josiah, whose heart was tender, and trembled at the word of God: but this is meant of an afflictive and painful softness, which apprehends every thing that is present to be pressing, and every thing that is future to be threatening. Because I was not cut off before the darkness — Because God did not cut me off by death before these dark and dismal miseries came upon me. Or, as מפני חשׁךְ, mippenei choshech, may be properly rendered, before the face, or, by reason of the darkness; that is, God hath not yet cut me off by these calamities, but prolonged my days under them, to the great increase of my misery. Neither hath he covered the darkness from my face — That I might no longer see or feel my miseries, but might be taken out of them by my long-desired death. Thus Job seems to be disposed to quarrel with God, because he did not die before his troubles; and yet, it is probable, that if, in the height of his prosperity, he had received a summons to the grave, he would have thought it hard. It may help to reconcile us to death, whenever it comes, to consider that we do not know from what evil we may be taken away. But when trouble is actually come upon us, it is folly to wish we had not lived to see it; and it is much better to look to God for grace, that we may be enabled to make the best of it; and to remember, amidst the darkness, that frequently to the upright there ariseth a marvellous light in the darkness, and that there is reserved for them a much more marvellous light after it. 23:13-17 As Job does not once question but that his trials are from the hand of God, and that there is no such thing as chance, how does he account for them? The principle on which he views them is, that the hope and reward of the faithful servants of God are only laid up in another life; and he maintains that it is plain to all, that the wicked are not treated according to their deserts in this life, but often directly the reverse. But though the obtaining of mercy, the first-fruits of the Spirit of grace, pledges a God, who will certainly finish the work which he has began; yet the afflicted believer is not to conclude that all prayer and entreaty will be in vain, and that he should sink into despair, and faint when he is reproved of Him. He cannot tell but the intention of God in afflicting him may be to produce penitence and prayer in his heart. May we learn to obey and trust the Lord, even in tribulation; to live or die as he pleases: we know not for what good ends our lives may be shortened or prolonged.For God maketh my heart soft - That is, "faint." He takes away my strength; compare the notes at Isaiah 7:4. This effect was produced on Job by the contemplation of the eternal plan and the power of God. 16. soft—faint; hath melted my courage. Here again Job's language is that of Jesus Christ (Ps 22:14). Soft, or tender. He hath bruised, and broken, or melted it, so that I have no spirit, nor courage, nor strength in me, as this or the like phrase is used, Deu 20:3 Psalm 39:11 Isaiah 7:4 Jeremiah 51:46. For God maketh my heart soft,.... Not tender as Josiah's was, 2 Kings 22:19, or as the heart of every penitent is, when God makes it humble and contrite by his spirit and grace, or takes away the stony heart, and gives an heart of flesh; though Job had such an heart, and God made it so; but he means a weak, feeble, fearful heart, pressed and broken with afflictions, that could not endure and bear up under the mighty hand of God; but became as water, and melted like wax in the midst of him, and was ready to faint, and sink, and die away:

and the Almighty troubleth me; by afflicting him; afflictions cause trouble, and these are of God; or he "astonishes" (a), amazes me, throws me into the utmost consternation, the reason of which follows.

(a) "me attonitum reddidit", Vatablus; "consternavit me", Drusius, Mercerus, Cocceius, Michaelis; "externavit me", Schultens.

For {k} God maketh my heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth me:

(k) That I should not be without fear.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. For God maketh] Or, and God. The emphasis is on God; it is God,—the thought that God should act in this unrighteous manner—that makes his heart “soft,” i. e. makes him faint-hearted and terror-stricken.Verse 16. - For God maketh my heart soft; of faint as in Leviticus 26:36 and Deuteronomy 20:3. He takes away my courage, and leaves me a prey to terror. And the Almighty troubleth me. The verb used (the hiph. form of בהל) is a very strong one, and means "hath filled me with horror and consternation? 10 For He knoweth the way that is with me:

If He should prove me, I should come forth as gold.

11 My foot held firm to His steps;

His way I kept, and turned not aside.

12 The command of His lips - I departed not from it;

More than my own determination I kept the words of His mouth.

13 Yet He remaineth by one thing, and who can turn Him?

And He accomplisheth what His soul desireth.

That which is not merely outwardly, but inwardly with (אם) any one, is that which he thinks and knows (his consciousness), Job 9:35; Job 15:9, or his willing and acting, Job 10:13; Job 27:11 : he is conscious of it, he intends to do it; here, Job 23:10, עם is intended in the former sense, in Job 23:14 in the latter. The "way with me" is that which his conscience (συνείδησις) approves (συμμαρτυρεῖ); comp. Psychol. S. 134. This is known to God, so that he who is now set down as a criminal would come forth as tried gold, in the event of God allowing him to appear before Him, and subjecting him to judicial trial. בּחנני is the praet. hypotheticum so often mentioned, which is based upon the paratactic character of the Hebrew style, as Genesis 44:22; Ruth 2:9; Zechariah 13:6; Ges. 155, 4, a. His foot has held firmly

(Note: On אחז, Carey correctly observes, and it explains the form of the expression: The oriental foot has a power of grasp and tenacity, because not shackled with shoes from early childhood, of which we can form but little idea.)

to the steps of God (אשׁוּר, together with אשּׁוּר, Job 31:7, from אשׁר Piel, to go on), so that he was always close behind Him as his predecessor (אחז( ro synon. תּמך, Psalm 17:5; Proverbs 5:5). He guarded, i.e., observed His way, and turned not aside (אט fut. apoc. Hiph. in the intransitive sense of deflectere, as e.g., Psalm 125:5).

In Job 23:12, מצות שׂפתיו precedes as cas. absolutus (as respects the command of His lips); and what is said in this respect follows with Waw apod. ( equals Arab. f) without the retrospective pronoun ממּנּה (which is omitted for poetic brevity). On this prominence of a separate notion after the manner of an antecedent. The Hiph. המישׁ, like הטּה, Job 23:11, and הלּיז, Proverbs 4:21, is not causative, but simply active in signification. In Job 23:12 the question arises, whether צפן מן is one expression, as in Job 17:4, in the sense of "hiding from another," or whether מן is comparative. In the former sense Hirz. explains: I removed the divine will from the possible ascendancy of my own. But since צפן is familiar to the poet in the sense of preserving and laying by (צפוּנים( y, treasures, Job 20:26), it is more natural to explain, according to Psalm 119:11 : I kept the words (commands) of Thy mouth, i.e., esteemed them high and precious, more than my statute, i.e., more than what my own will prescribed for me.

(Note: Wetzstein arranges the significations of צפן as follows: - 1.((Beduin) intr. fut. i, to contain one's self, to keep still (hence in Hebr. to lie in wait), to be rapt in thought; conjug. II. c. acc. pers. to make any one thoughtful, irresolute. 2.((Hebr.) trans. fut. o, to keep anything to one's self, to hold back, to keep to one's self; Niph. to be held back, i.e., either concealed or reserved for future use. Thus we see how, on the one hand, צפן is related to טמן, e.g., Job 20:26 (Arab. itmaanna, to be still); and, on the other, can interchange with צפה in the signification designare (comp. Job 15:22 with Job 15:20; Job 21:19), and to spy, lie in wait (comp. Psalm 10:8; Psalm 56:7; Proverbs 1:11, Proverbs 1:18, with Psalm 37:32).)

The meaning is substantially the same; the lxx, which translates ἐν δὲ κόλπῳ μου (בּחקי), which Olsh. considers to be "perhaps correct," destroys the significance of the confession. Hirz. rightly refers to the "law in the members," Romans 7:23 : חקּי is the expression Job uses for the law of the sinful nature which strives against the law of God, the wilful impulse of selfishness and evil passion, the law which the apostle describes as ἕτερος νόμος, in distinction from the νόμος τοῦ Θεοῦ (Psychol. S. 379). Job's conscience can give him this testimony, but He, the God who so studiously avoids him, remains in one mind, viz., to treat him as a criminal; and who can turn Him from His purpose? (the same question as Job 9:12; Job 11:10); His soul wills it (stat pro ratione voluntas), and He accomplishes it. Most expositors explain permanet in uno in this sense; the Beth is the usual ב with verbs of entering upon and persisting in anything. Others, however, take the ב as Beth essentiae: He remains one and the same, viz., in His conduct towards me (Umbr., Vaih.), or: He is one, is alone, viz., in absolute majesty (Targ. Jer.; Schult., Ew., Hlgst., Schlottm.), which is admissible, since this Beth occurs not only in the complements of a sentence (Psalm 39:7, like a shadow; Isaiah 48:10, after the manner of silver; Psalm 55:19, in great number; Psalm 35:2, as my help), but also with the predicate of a simple sentence, be it verbal (Job 24:13; Proverbs 3:26) or substantival (Exodus 18:4; Psalm 118:7). The same construction is found also in Arabic, where, however, it is more frequent in simple negative clauses than in affirmative (vid., Psalter, i. 272). The assertion: He is one (as in the primary monotheistic confession, Deuteronomy 6:4), is, however, an expression for the absoluteness of God, which is not suited to this connection; and if הוא באחד is intended to be understood of the unchangeable uniformity of His purpose concerning Job, the explanation: versatur (perstat) in uno, Arab. hua fi wâhidin, is not only equally, but more natural, and we therefore prefer it.

continued...

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