Job 29:2
Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) Preserved.—Or, watched over me. When does God not watch over us, if we only knew it?

Job 29:2-3. O that I were as in months past — O that God would re- establish me in that happy condition wherein I was some time ago; in the days when God preserved me — From all those miseries which now I feel, and when I seemed to be a principal part of his care! You would then pay a greater regard to my words than you do now in my adversity. When his candle shined upon my head — When his favour and blessing attended me, to comfort and direct me. And when by his light I walked through darkness — Passed through many difficulties, dangers, and common calamities which befell others who lived near me, and overcame those troubles which happened to myself.

29:1-6 Job proceeds to contrast his former prosperity with his present misery, through God's withdrawing from him. A gracious soul delights in God's smiles, not in the smiles of this world. Four things were then very pleasant to holy Job. 1. The confidence he had in the Divine protection. 2. The enjoyment he had of the Divine favour. 3. The communion he had with the Divine word. 4. The assurance he had of the Divine presence. God's presence with a man in his house, though it be but a cottage, makes it a castle and a palace. Then also he had comfort in his family. Riches and flourishing families, like a candle, may be soon extinguished. But when the mind is enlightened by the Holy Spirit, when a man walks in the light of God's countenance, every outward comfort is doubled, every trouble is diminished, and he may pass cheerfully by this light through life and through death. Yet the sensible comfort of this state is often withdrawn for a season; and commonly this arises from sinful neglect, and grieving the Holy Spirit: sometimes it may be a trial of a man's faith and grace. But it is needful to examine ourselves, to seek for the cause of such a change by fervent prayer, and to increase our watchfulness.Oh that I were - Hebrew "Who will give?" a common mode of expressing a wish; compare Job 6:8; Job 11:5; Job 13:5; Job 23:3.

As in months past - O that I could recall my former prosperity, and be as was when I enjoyed the protection and favor of God. Probably one object of this wish was that his friends might see from what a state of honor and happiness he had been brought down. They complained of him as impatient. He may have designed to show them that his lamentations were not unreasonable, when it was borne in mind from what a state of prosperity he had been taken, and to what a condition of wo he had been brought. He, therefore, goes into this extended description of his former happiness, and dwells particularly upon the good which he was enabled then to do, and the respect which was shown him as a public benefactor. A passage strikingly similar to this occurs in Virgil, Aeneid viii. 560:

O mihi praeteritos referat si Jupiter annos!

Quails eram, cum primam aciem Praeneste sub ipsa

Stravi, scutorumque incendi victor acervos.

"O would kind heaven my strength and youth recall,

Such as I was beneath Praeneste's wall;

There where I made the foremost foes retire,

And set whole heaps of conquered shields on fire!"

2. preserved me—from calamity. To wit, from all those miseries which now I feel. This he desires, not only for his own ease and comfort, but also for the vindication of his reputation, and of the honour of religion, which suffered by his means: for as his calamities were the only ground of all their hard speeches and censures of him, as a man forsaken and hated by God; so he rightly judged that this ground being removed, and his posterity restored, his friends would take it for a token of God’s favour to him, and beget in them a milder and better opinion of him.

Oh that I were as in months past,.... Which is either an earnest wish for restoration to his former state of outward prosperity; which he might desire, not through impatience and discontent under his present circumstances, or from a carnal and worldly spirit; but either that the present reproach he lay under from his friends might be taken off, he observing that they accounted him a wicked man and an hypocrite, because of his afflictions; wherefore he judged, if these were removed, and he was in as prosperous a condition and in as good circumstances as before, they would entertain a different opinion of him; or, that his words might be better attended to, as they were by men, both young and old, and even princes and nobles before, it being a common case, that what a poor and distressed man says is not regarded; or that he might be in a capacity of doing good to the poor and fatherless, the widow and the oppressed, as he had formerly; or, this wish is only made to introduce the account of his former life, by which it would appear, that he was not the man his friends had represented him to be, from the favour he was in with God, and from the respect shown him by men, and the many good things done by him: but since, by various expressions, which before had dropped from his lips, it appears, that he had no hope nor expectation of ever being restored to his former outward happiness; this may be considered as a wish for the return of spiritual prosperity, wishing he was in as good frames of soul, and as much in the exercise of grace, and was as holy, as humble, as spiritual, and heavenly minded, as he was when he had so much of the world about him; and that he had but the like communion with God, and his gracious presence with him, as he had then. The state of the Lord's people, God-ward, is always the same; his election of them stands sure; the covenant of grace with them is unalterable; their interest in a living Redeemer always continues; grace in them is a principle, permanent and perpetual; but there may be, and often is, an alteration in their frames, and in the exercise of their graces, and in the open regard of God unto them; their graces may be low in exercise; there may be a decay of the life and power of godliness; their frames may change, and the presence of God may be withdrawn from them, and they may have no view of interest in salvation, at least not have the joys of it; wherefore, when sensible of all this, may be desirous it might be with them as it was before; that God would turn them again, and cause his face to shine upon them, that they might be comfortable; the particulars of Job's former case follow, which he desires a renewal of:

as in the days when God preserved me; either in a temporal sense; God having set an hedge of special providence about him, whereby he and his, his family and substance, were remarkably preserved; but now this was plucked up, and all were exposed to ravage and ruin; or in a spiritual sense, as he was both secretly and openly preserved, and as all the Lord's people are, in Christ, and in his hands, and by his power, spirit, and grace: the Lord preserves their souls from the evil of their own hearts, sin that dwells in them, that it shall not have the dominion over them; from the evil that is in the world, that they shall not be overcome by it, and carried away with if; and from the temptations of Satan, so as not to be devoured and destroyed by him, and from a final and total falling away; he preserves them in his own ways, safe to his kingdom and glory; but sometimes all this does not appear so evident unto them, as it might not to Job at this time; who observed the workings of his corruption, and the breaking out of them, in passionate words, wishes, and curses, and the temptations of Satan, who was busy with him to go further lengths, even to blaspheme and curse God; so that he might fear that God his defence was departed from him, the return of which he was desirous of; see Isaiah 49:14.

Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. Job begins with a pathetic expression of regret as he remembers happier times. His former happiness was due to God’s preserving or watching over him, and the loss of it was due to God’s forsaking him.

Verse 2. - Oh that I were as in months past! or, in the months of old. To Job the period of his prosperity seems long, long ago - some-thing far away in the mist of time, which he recalls with difficulty. As in the days when God preserved me. Job never forgets to refer his prosperity to God, or to be grateful to him for it (see Job 1:21; Job 2:10; Job 10:8-12, etc.). Job 29:2 1 Then Job continued to take up his proverb, and said:

2 O that I had months like the times of yore,

Like the days when Eloah protected me,

3 When He, when His lamp, shone above my head,

By His light I went about in the darkness;

4 As I was in the days of my vintage,

When the secret of Eloah was over my tent,

5 When the Almighty was still with me,

My children round about me;

6 When my steps were bathed in cream,

And the rock beside me poured forth streams of oil.

Since the optative מי־יתּן (comp. on Job 23:3) is connected with the acc. of the object desired, Job 14:4; Job 31:31, or of that respecting which anything is desired, Job 11:5, it is in itself possible to explain: who gives (makes) me like the months of yore; but since, when מי־יתּנני occurs elsewhere, Isaiah 27:4; Jeremiah 9:1, the suff. is meant as the dative ( equals מי־יתן לי, Job 31:35), it is also here to be explained: who gives me ( equals O that one would give me, O that I had) like (instar) the months of yore, i.e., months like those of the past, and indeed those that lie far back in the past; for ירחי־קדם means more than עברוּ (אשׁר) ירחים. Job begins to describe the olden times, that he wishes back, with the virtually genitive relative clause: "when Eloah protected me" (Ges. 116, 3). It is impossible to take בּהלּו as Hiph.: when He caused to shine (Targ. בּאנהרוּתיהּ); either בּההלּו (Olsh.) or even בּהלּו (Ew. in his Comm.) ought to be read then. On the other hand, הלּו can be justified as the form for inf. Kal of הלל (to shine, vid., Job 25:5) with a weakening of the a to i((Ew. 255, a), and the suff. may, according to the syntax, be taken as an anticipatory statement of the object: when it, viz., His light, shone above my head; comp. Exodus 2:6 (him, the boy), Isaiah 17:6 (its, the fruit-tree's, branches), also Isaiah 29:23 (he, his children); and Ew. 309, c, also decides in its favour. Nevertheless it commends itself still more to refer the suff. of בהלו to אלוהּ (comp. Isaiah 60:2; Psalm 50:2), and to take נרו as a corrective, explanatory permutative: when He, His lamp, shone above my head, as we have translated. One is at any rate reminded of Isaiah 60 in connection with Job 29:3; for as בהלו corresponds to יזרח there, so לאורו corresponds to לאורך in the Job 29:3 of the same: by His light I walked in darkness (חשׁך locative equals בּחשׁך), i.e., rejoicing in His light, which preserved me from its dangers (straying and falling).

In Job 29:4 כּאשׁר is not a particle of time, but of comparison, which was obliged here to stand in the place of the כּ, which is used only as a preposition. And חרפּי (to be written thus, not חרפי with an aspirated )פ may not be translated "(in the days) of my spring," as Symm. ἐν ἡμέραις νεότητός μου, Jer. diebus adolescentiae meae, and Targ. בּיומי חריפוּתי, whether it be that חריפות here signifies the point, ἀκμή (from חרף, Arab. ḥrf, acuere), or the early time (spring time, from חרף, Arab. chrf, carpere). For in reference to agriculture חרף can certainly signify the early half of the year (on this, vid., Genesis, S. 270), inasmuch as sowing and ploughing time in Palestine and Syria is in November and December; wherefore Arab. chrı̂f signifies the early rain or autumn rain; and in Talmudic, חרף, premature (ripe too early), is the opposite of אפל, late, but the derivatives of חרף only obtain this signification connotative, for, according to its proper signification, חרף (Arab. chrı̂f with other forms) is the gathering time, i.e., the time of the fruit harvest (syn. אסיף), while the Hebr. אביב (אב) corresponds to the spring in our sense. If Job meant his youth, he would have said בּימי אבּי, or something similar; but as Job 29:5 shows, he meant his manhood, and this he calls his autumn as the season of maturity, or rather of the abundance of fruits (Schult.: aetatem virilem suis fructibus faetum et exuberantum),

(Note: The fresh vegetation, indeed, in hotter districts (e.g., in the valley of the Jordan and Euphrates) begins with the arrival of the autumnal rains, but the real spring (comp. Sol 2:11-13) only begins about the vernal equinox, and still later on the mountains. On the contrary, the late summer, קיץ, which passes over into the autumn, חרף, is the season for gathering the fruit. The produce of the fields, garden fruit, and grapes ripen before the commencement of the proper autumn; some (when the land can be irrigated) summer fruits, e.g., Dhura (maize) and melons, in like manner olives and dates, ripen in autumn. Therefore the translation, in the days of my autumn ("of my harvest"), is the only correct one. If חרפּי were intended here in a sense not used elsewhere, it might signify, according to the Arabic with h, "(in the days) of my prosperity," or "my power," or even with Arab. ch, "(in the days) of my youthful vigour;" for charâfât are rash words and deeds, charfân one who says or does anything rash from lightness, the feebleness of old age, etc. (according to Wetzst., very common words in Syria): חרף or חרף, therefore the thoughtlessness of youth, Arab. jahl, i.e., the rash desire of doing something great, which חרף הנפש למות (Judges 5:18). But it is most secure to go back to חרף, Arab. chrf, carpere, viz., fructus.)

continued...

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