Job 31:23
For destruction from God was a terror to me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure.
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(23) I could not endure.—Rather, I was unable to act thus.

Job 31:23. For destruction, &c. — I stood in awe of God, and his justice and wrath, and therefore made it my care and business to shun sin, and to please him. And by reason of his highness — His excellence or majesty, which is most glorious and terrible; I could not endure — I knew myself unable, either to oppose his power, or to bear his wrath, and therefore I did not dare to provoke him by any impiety or injustice. Even good men have need to restrain themselves from sin, with the fear of destruction from God. Even when salvation from God is a comfort to us, yet destruction from God should be a terror to us. Adam, in innocence, was awed by a threatening.31:16-23 Job's conscience gave testimony concerning his just and charitable behaviour toward the poor. He is most large upon this head, because in this matter he was particularly accused. He was tender of all, and hurtful to none. Notice the principles by which Job was restrained from being uncharitable and unmerciful. He stood in awe of the Lord, as certainly against him, if he should wrong the poor. Regard to worldly interests may restrain a man from actual crimes; but the grace of God alone can make him hate, dread, and shun sinful thoughts and desires.For destruction from God was a terror to me - The destruction which God would bring upon one who was guilty of the crime here specified, awed and restrained me. He was deterred from this crime of oppressing the fatherless by the fear of God. He could have escaped the judgment of people. He had power and influence enough not to dread the penalty of human law. He could have done it in such a way as not to have been arraigned before any earthly tribunal, but he remembered that the eye of God was upon him, and that he was the avenger of the fatherless and the widow.

And by reason of his highness - On account of his majesty, exaltation, glory.

I could not endure - אוכל לא lo''ûkôl - I could not; that is, I could not do it. I was so much awed by his majesty; I had such a veneration for him, that I could not be guilty of such an offence.

23. For—that is, the reason why Job guarded against such sins. Fear of God, though he could escape man's judgment (Ge 39:9). Umbreit more spiritedly translates, Yea, destruction and terror from God might have befallen me (had I done so): mere fear not being the motive.

highness—majestic might.

endure—I could have availed nothing against it.

I was so far from denying or questioning God’s providence, wherewith you seem to charge me, that I always reverenced it; and when by reason of my great wealth, and power, and interest I had little reason to fear man, I stood in awe of God and of his judgments, and made it my care and business to please God. His highness, or excellency, or majesty, which is most glorious and terrible.

I could not endure; I found myself utterly unable either to oppose his power, or to bear his wrath, and therefore I durst not provoke him by any impiety or injustice. For destruction from God was a terror to me,.... Though he feared not men, they being at his beck and command, ready to do any thing for him he should order, yet he feared God; and the dread of his resentment, and of destruction from him the lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy, had such an influence on him as to deter and keep him from all unkindness to the poor, and in justice to the fatherless; he dreaded the destruction of himself, his family, and substance in this world, and everlasting destruction of soul and body in the world to come; which of all things is to be feared, Matthew 10:28; and Old Testament saints were much under a spirit of bondage to fear, and were actuated thereby; and, though Job might not be under any dread of eternal damnation, knowing his interest in the living Redeemer; yet he might fear temporal destruction, as it is certain he did; which thing he feared came upon him, though not for any crime or crimes he was guilty of, see Job 30:25; he might fear, as a good man may, the chastisements and corrections of his heavenly Father:

and by reason of his highness I could not endure; God is higher than the highest angels, or men; he is above all gods, so called; he is God over all, blessed for ever; and such is his height, his glory, and his majesty, that it is terrible, and the dread of them makes men afraid; nor can any sinner stand before him, nor withstand him, nor hope to prevail against him, nor flee from his presence, nor escape out of his hand, nor bear his wrath and indignation, and the coming down of his arm; for what hands can be strong, or heart endure, when the almighty God deals with them? or Job's sense may be, that such an awe of the divine Being was always upon him, that he could not do any unkind thing to the poor, or unjust one to the fatherless.

For destruction from God was a {q} terror to me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure.

(q) I did not refrain from sin for fear of men, but because I feared God.

23. highness I could not endure] Or, majesty I was powerless, lit. I was unable. The verse closes the whole passage Job 31:16-22, expressing the feeling by which Job’s conduct was regulated; his awe before the majesty of God and fear of His judicial anger restrained him, so that he was “powerless” to commit any of the wrongs to which he has just made reference.Verse 23. - For destruction from God was a terror to me. I could not, i.e., have acted in the way charged against me by Eliphaz, since I was always God-fearing, and should have been deterred, if by nothing else, at any rate by dread of the Divine vengeance. And by reason of his highness I could not endure. God's majesty and excellency are such that I could not have had the face to resist them. If! had begun such a course of life as Eliphaz laid to my charge (Job 22:5-9), I could not have persisted in it. 16 If I held back the poor from what they desired,

And caused the eyes of the widow to languish,

17 And ate my morsel alone

Without letting the fatherless eat thereof: -

18 No indeed, from my youth he grew up to me as to a father,

And from my mother's womb I guided her -

The whole strophe is the hypothetical antecedent of the imprecative conclusion, Job 31:22, which closes the following strophe. Since מנע דּבר ממּנוּ, cohibere aliquid ab aliquo (Job 22:7), is said as much in accordance with the usage of the language as מנעו מדּבר, cohibere aliquem ab aliquo (Numbers 24:11; Ecclesiastes 2:10), in the sense of denegare alicui aliquid, there is no reason for taking מחפץ דּלּים together as a genitival clause (a voto tenuium), as the accentuation requires it. On חפץ, vid., on Job 21:21; it signifies solicitude (what is ardently desired) and business, here the former: what is ever the interest and want of the poor (the reduced or those without means). From such like things he does not keep the poor back, i.e., does not refuse them; and the eyes of the widow he did not cause or allow to languish (כּלּה, to bring to an end, i.e., cause to languish, of the eyes, as Leviticus 26:16; 1 Samuel 2:33); he let not their longing for assistance be consumed of itself, let not the fountain of their tears become dry without effect. If he had done the opposite, if he had eaten his bread (פּת equals פּת לחם) alone, and not allowed the orphan to eat of it with him - but no, he had not acted thus; on the contrary (כּי as Psalm 130:4 and frequently), he (the parentless one) grew up to him (גּדלני equals גּדל לּי, Ges. 121, 4, according to Ew. 315, b, "by the interweaving of the dialects of the people into the ancient form of the declining language;" perhaps it is more correct to say it is by virtue of a poetic, forced, and rare brevity of expression) as to a father ( equals לאב כּמו), and from his mother's womb he guided her, the helpless and defenceless widow, like a faithful child leading its sick or aged mother. The hyperbolical expression מבּטן אמּי dates this sympathizing and active charity back to the very beginning of Job's life. He means to say that it is in-born to him, and he has exercised it ever since he was first able to do so. The brevity of the form גּדלני, brief to incorrectness, might be removed by the pointing גּדּלני (Olsh.): from my youth up he (the fatherless one) honoured me as a father; and גּדּלני (instead of כּבּדני would be explained by the consideration, that a veneration is meant that attributed a dignity which exceed his age to the נער who was not yet old enough to be a father. But גּדּל signifies "to cause to grow" in such a connection elsewhere (parall. רומם, to raise), wherefore lxx translates ἐξέτρεφον (גּדּלתּי); and גּדלני has similar examples of the construction of intransitives with the acc. instead of the dat. (especially Zechariah 7:5) in its favour: they became me great, i.e., became great in respect of me. Other ways of getting over the difficulty are hardly worth mentioning: the Syriac version reads כּאב (pain) and אנחות; Raschi makes Job 31:18, the idea of benevolence, the subj., and Job 31:18 (as מדּה, attribute) the obj. The suff. of אנחנּה Schlottm. refers to the female orphan; but Job refers again to the orphan in the following strophe, and the reference to the widow, more natural here on account of the gender, has nothing against it. The choice of the verb (comp. Job 38:32) also corresponds to such a reference, since the Hiph. has an intensified Kal-signification here.

(Note: זכר and הזכיר, to remember; זרע and הזריע, to sow, to cover with seed; חרשׁ and החרישׁ, both in the signification silere and fabricari; לעג and הלעיג, to mock, Job 21:3; משׁל and המשׁיל, dominari, Job 25:2; נטה and הטה, to extend, to bow; קנה ;w and הקנה (to obtain by purchase); קצר and הקציר, to reap, Job 24:6, are all similar. In Arab. the Kal nahaituhu signifies I put him aside by going on one side (nahw or nâhije), the Hiph. anhaituhu, I put him aside by bringing him to the side (comp. ינחם, Job 12:23).)

From earliest youth, so far back as he can remember, he was wont to behave like a father to the orphan, and like a child to the widow.

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