Job 31:37
I would declare unto him the number of my steps; as a prince would I go near unto him.
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(37) I would declarei.e., “I would readily give an account of all my actions, and meet him with alacrity and perfect confidence.” Others suppose the meaning to be, “I would meet him as I would meet a prince, with the utmost deference and respect, not at all as an enemy, but as one worthy of all honour and regard.” The actual meaning is uncertain. On the other hand, he has been spoken of by his friends: as a fool (Job 5:2), by Eliphaz; as a man full of words, a liar, and a mocker (Job 11:2-3), by Zophar; as perverse, wicked, and iniquitous (Job 11:12; Job 11:14); a blasphemer and a hypocrite, by Eliphaz (Job 15:4-5; Job 15:13; Job 15:16; Job 15:34, &c.); as wicked, a robber, and ignorant of God, by Bildad (Job 18:5; Job 18:14); as wicked and a hypocrite, by Zophar (Job 20:5); as extortionate and oppressive (Job 31:15; Job 31:19, &c.); as a tyrant and an impious man, by Eliphaz (Job 22:5; Job 22:9; Job 22:13; Job 22:17, &c.).

Job 31:37. I would declare to him — To the Almighty, my judge; the number of my steps — The whole course of my life and actions, step by step, as far as I could remember: as a prince would I go near him — That is, with courage and confidence of success: I would stand before him with a look as upright and assured as that of a prince. Nothing can be plainer than that the book, or libel, here supposed to be written by Job’s adversary, cannot be meant of one drawn up by God. For how was it possible for him to triumph in this? If it were a bill of accusation, coming from the God of truth, he had more reason to tremble, certainly, than to triumph. We must therefore conclude that by the adversary must be meant one or all of Job’s friends, who were his only accusers that we know of: and God is here appealed to as a hearer or judge between them. In this it is that Job, with reason, rejoices and triumphs as being conscious of his integrity before God, and his sincere desire and endeavour to know and do his will in all things. See Peters and Dodd.

31:33-40 Job clears himself from the charge of hypocrisy. We are loth to confess our faults, willing to excuse them, and to lay the blame upon others. But he that thus covers his sins, shall not prosper, Pr 28:13. He speaks of his courage in what is good, as an evidence of his sincerity in it. When men get estates unjustly, they are justly deprived of comfort from them; it was sown wheat, but shall come up thistles. What men do not come honestly by, will never do them any good. The words of Job are ended. They end with a bold assertion, that, with respect to accusation against his moral and religious character as the cause for his sufferings, he could appeal to God. But, however confident Job was, we shall see he was mistaken, chap. 40:4,5; 1Jo 1:8. Let us all judge ourselves; wherein we are guilty, let us seek forgiveness in that blood which cleanseth from all sin; and may the Lord have mercy upon us, and write his laws in our hearts!I would declare unto him the number of my steps - That is, I would disclose to him the whole course of my life. This is language also appropriate to a judicial trial, and the meaning is, that Job was so confident of his integrity that he would approach God and make his whole course of life known to him.

As a prince would I go near unto him - With the firm and upright step with which a prince commonly walks. I would not go in a base, cringing manner, but in a manner that evinced a consciousness of integrity. I would not go bowed down under the consciousness of guilt, as a self-condemned malefactor, but with the firm and elastic foot-tread of one conscious of innocence. It must be remembered that all this is said with reference to the charges which had been brought against him by his friends, and not as claiming absolute perfection. He was accused of gross hypocrisy, and it was maintained that he was suffering the judicial infliction of heaven on account of that. So far as those charges were concerned, he now says that he could go before God with the firm and elastic tread of a prince - with entire cheerfulness and boldness. We are not, however, to suppose that he did not regard himself as having the common infirmities and sinfulness of our fallen nature. The discussion does not turn at all on that point.

37. A good conscience imparts a princely dignity before man and free assurance in approaching God. This can be realized, not in Job's way (Job 42:5, 6); but only through Jesus Christ (Heb 10:22). Unto him, i.e. to my judge, or adversary.

The number of my steps, i.e. the whole course of my life and actions, which I would exactly number to him, step by step, so far as I can remember. I would not answer his allegations against me, but furnish him with further matter of the same kind, and then answer all together.

As a prince, i.e. with undaunted courage, and confidence, and assurance of success, as being clearly conscious of my own sincerity; not like a self-condemned malefactor, as my friends suppose me to be.

Would I go near unto him, and not run away, or hide myself from my judge, as guilty persons desire to do.

I would declare to him the number of my steps,.... To his judge, or to him that contended with him, and drew up the bill against him; he would forward it, assist in it, furnish materials for it, give an account of all the transactions of his life that he could remember; this he says not as though he thought that God stood in need of any such declaration, since he better knows the actions of men than they themselves, compasses their paths, and is acquainted with all their ways; but to show how confident he was of his innocence, and how little he feared the strictest and closest examination of his ways and works, knowing that he had lived with all good conscience unto that day:

and as a prince would I go near unto him; either he should consider such an hearer and judge of his cause he desired as a prince, and reverence and respect him as such; he should be as dear unto him, though his adversary that contended with him, as a prince; and he should be as ambitious of an acquaintance with him as with a prince: or rather he means that he himself as a prince, in a princely manner, and with a princely spirit, should draw nigh to his judge, to answer to the bill in writing against him; that he should not come up to the bar like a malefactor, that shows guilt in his countenance, and by his trembling limbs, and shrinking back, not caring to come nigh, but choosing rather to stand at a distance, or get off and escape if he could; but on the other hand, Job would go up to his judge, and to the judgment seat, with all the stateliness of a prince, with an heroic, intrepid, and undaunted spirit; like a "bold prince", as Mr. Broughton renders the word; see Job 23:3.

I would declare unto him the number of my steps; as a {c} prince would I go near unto him.

(c) I will make him account of all my life, without fear.

37. the number of my steps] i. e. every act of my life.

as a prince] In the consciousness and pride of true nobility; with the confident step and erect bearing of one who knows that nothing dishonouring can be laid to his charge.

Verse 37. - I would declare unto him the number of my steps; i.e. I would conceal nothing. I would willingly divulge every act of my life. I would make full and complete answer to the indictment in every particular. As a prince would I go near unto him. There should be no timidity or cringing on my part. I would face my accuser boldly, and bear myself as a prince in his presence. Job 31:3735 O that I had one who would hear me!

Behold my signature-the Almighty will answer me -

And the writing which my opponent hath written!

36 Truly I will carry it upon my shoulder,

I will wind it about me as a crown.

37 The number of my steps I will recount to Him,

As a prince will I draw near to Him.

The wish that he might find a ready willing hearer is put forth in a general way, but, as is clear in itself, and as it becomes manifest from what follows, refers to Him who, because it treats of a contradiction between the outward appearance and the true but veiled fact, as searcher of the heart, is the only competent judge. It may not be translated: et libellum (the indictment, or even: the reply to Job's self-defence) scribat meus adversarius (Dachselt, Rosenm., Welte) - the accentuation seems to proceed from this rendering, but it ought to be וכתב ספר; if כּתב governed by יענני were intended to be equivalent to יכתּב, and referred to God, the longing would be, as it runs, an unworthy and foolish one - nor: (O that I had one who would hear me ... ) and had the indictment, which my adversary has written (Ew., Hirz., Schlottm.) - for וספר is too much separated from מי יתּן by what intervenes - in addition to which comes the consideration that the wish, as it is expressed, cannot be referred to God, but only to the human opponent, whose accusations Job has no occasion to wish to hear, since he has already heard amply sufficient even in detail. Therefore הן (instead of הן with a conjunctive accent, as otherwise with Makkeph) will point not merely to תּוי, but also to liber quem scripsit adversarius meus as now lying before them, and the parenthetical שׁדּי יענני will express a desire for the divine decision in the cause now formally prepared for trial, ripe for discussion. By תּוי, my sign, i.e., my signature (comp. Ezekiel 9:4, and Arab. tiwa, a branded sign in the form of a cross), Job intends the last word to his defence which he has just spoken, Job 31:1; it is related to all his former confessions as a confirmatory mark set below them; it is his ultimatum, as it were, the letter and seal to all that he has hitherto said about his innocence in opposition to the friends and God. Moreover, he also has the indictment of the triumvirate which has come forward as his opponent in his hands. Their so frequently repeated verbal accusations are fixed as if written; both - their accusation and his defence - lie before him, as it were, in the documentary form of legal writings. Thus, then, he wishes an observant impartial hearer for this his defence; or more exactly: he wishes that the Almighty may answer, i.e., decide. Hahn interprets just as much according to the syntax, but understanding by תוי the witness which Job carries in his breast, and by ספר וגו the testimony to his innocence written by God in his own consciousness; which is inadmissible, because, as we have often remarked already, אישׁ ריבי (comp. Job 16:21) cannot be God himself.

In Job 31:36 Job now says how he will appear before Him with this indictment of his opponent, if God will only condescend to speak the decisive word. He will wear it upon his shoulder as a mark of his dignity (comp. Isaiah 22:22; Isaiah 9:5), and wind it about him as a magnificent crown of diadems intertwined and heaped up one above another (Revelation 19:12, comp. Khler on Zechariah 6:11) - confident of his victory at the outset; for he will give Him, the heart-searcher, an account of all his steps, and in the exalted consciousness of his innocence, he will approach Him as a prince (קרב intensive of Kal). How totally different from Adam, who was obliged to be drawn out of his hiding-place, and tremblingly, because conscious of guilt, underwent the examination of the omniscient God! Job is not conscious of cowardly and slyly hidden sins; no secret accursed thing is cherished in the inmost recesses of his heart and home.

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