Job 31:4
Does not he see my ways, and count all my steps?
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(4) Doth not he.—The “He” is emphatic, obviously meaning God. His appeal is to the All-seeing knowledge of God, whom nothing escapes, and who is judge of the hearts and reins (Psalm 7:9; Psalm 44:21; Jeremiah 17:10; Jeremiah 20:12). (Comp. Acts 25:11.)

31:1-8 Job did not speak the things here recorded by way of boasting, but in answer to the charge of hypocrisy. He understood the spiritual nature of God's commandments, as reaching to the thoughts and intents of the heart. It is best to let our actions speak for us; but in some cases we owe it to ourselves and to the cause of God, solemnly to protest our innocence of the crimes of which we are falsely accused. The lusts of the flesh, and the love of the world, are two fatal rocks on which multitudes split; against these Job protests he was always careful to stand upon his guard. And God takes more exact notice of us than we do of ourselves; let us therefore walk circumspectly. He carefully avoided all sinful means of getting wealth. He dreaded all forbidden profit as much as all forbidden pleasure. What we have in the world may be used with comfort, or lost with comfort, if honestly gotten. Without strict honestly and faithfulness in all our dealings, we can have no good evidence of true godliness. Yet how many professors are unable to abide this touchstone!Doth he not see my ways? - This either means that God was a witness of all that he did - his thoughts, words, and deeds, and would punish him if he had given indulgence to improper feelings and thoughts; or that since God saw all his thoughts, he could boldly appeal to him as a witness of his innocence in this matter, and in proof that his life and heart were pure. Rosenmuller adopts the latter interpretation; Herder seems to incline to the former. Umbreit renders it, "God himself must be a witness that I speak the truth." It is not easy to determine which is the true meaning. Either of them will accord well with the scope of the passage. 4. Doth not he see? &c.—Knowing this, I could only have expected "destruction" (Job 31:3), had I committed this sin (Pr 5:21). i.e. All my counsels and courses. This is another reason why he was so circumspect and exact in restraining his thoughts, and senses, and whole man from sinful practices, because he knew that God would discern them, and therefore punish them, as he said, Job 31:3. Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps? That is, God, who is above, and the Almighty that dwells on high; he looks down from heaven, and beholds all the ways and works, the steps and motions, of the children of men; there is no darkness where the workers of iniquity can hide themselves; the fornicator and adulterer choose the night season for the commission of their sin, fancying no eye sees them; but they cannot escape the eye of God, who is omniscient; he observes the ways they walk in, the methods they take to compass their designs; he marks and counts every step taken by them, as he does indeed take notice of and reckons up every action of men, good and bad; and the consideration of this was another argument with Job to avoid the sin of uncleanness; for however privately he might commit it, so as not to be seen by men, it could not be hidden from the all seeing eye of God. Some take these words to be an obtestation, or appeal to God for the truth of what he had said; that he made a covenant with his eyes, and took every precaution to prevent his failing into the sin of uncleanness; and he whose eyes were upon his ways, knew how holily and unblamably he had walked; or else, as if the sense was, that had he given in to such an impure course of life, he might expect the omniscient God, that is above, and dwells on high, would bring upon him destruction, and a strange punishment, since he is the avenger of all such; others connect the words with the following, doth he not see my ways and steps, whether I have walked with vanity, &c. or not? Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps?
4. Here “ways” and “steps” are said of things so slight as the glance of the eye. These are “seen” and “counted” by God. The thought of God in these verses is as lofty as the conception of morality is close and inward.Verse 4. - Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps? (see above, Job 7:18-20; and below, Job 34:21. Comp. also Psalm 139:3; Proverbs 5:21; Proverbs 15:3, etc.). 28 I wandered about in mourning without the sun;

I rose in the assembly, I gave free course to my complaint.

29 I am become a brother of the jackals

And a companion of ostriches.

30 My skin having become black, peels off from me,

And my bones are parched with dryness.

31 My harp was turned to mourning,

And my pipe to tones of sorrow.

Several expositors (Umbr., Vaih., Hlgst.) understand קדר of the dirty-black skin of the leper, but contrary to the usage of the language, according to which, in similar utterances (Psalm 35:14; Psalm 38:7; Psalm 42:10; Psalm 43:2, comp. supra, Job 5:11), it rather denotes the dirty-black dress of mourners (comp. Arab. qḏḏr, conspurcare vestem); to understand it of the dirty-black skin as quasi sordida veste (Welte) is inadmissible, since this distortion of the skin which Job bewails in Job 30:30 would hardly be spoken of thus tautologically. קדר therefore means in the black of the שׂק, or mourning-linen, Job 16:15, by which, however, also the interpretation of בּלא חמּה, "without sunburn" (Ew., Hirz.), which has gained ground since Raschi's day (לא שׁשׁזפתני השׁמשׁ), is disposed of; for "one can perhaps say of the blackness of the skin that it does not proceed from the sun, but not of the blackness of mourning attire" (Hahn). קדר also refutes the reading בלא חמה in lxx Complut. (ἄνευ θυμοῦ),

(Note: Whereas Codd. Alex., Vat., and Sinait., ἄνευ φιμοῦ, which is correctly explained by κημοῦ in Zwingli's Aldine, but gives no sense.)

Syr., Jer. (sine furore), which ought to be understood of the deposition of the gall-pigment on the skin, and therefore of jaundice, which turns it (especially in tropical regions) not merely yellow, but a dark-brown. Hahn and a few others render בלא חמה correctly in the sense of בחשׁך, "without the sun having shone on him." Bereft of all his possessions, and finally also of his children, he wanders about in mourning (הלּך as Job 24:10; Psalm 38:7), and even the sun had clothed itself in black to him (which is what קדר השׁמשׁ means, Joel 2:10 and freq.); the celestial light, which otherwise brightened his path, Job 29:3, was become invisible. We must not forget that Job here reviews the whole chain of afflictions which have come upon him, so that by Job 30:28 we have not to think exclusively, and also not prominently, of the leprosy, since הלכתי indeed represents him as still able to move about freely.

In Job 30:28 the accentuation wavers between Dech, Munach, Silluk, according to which בּקּהל אשׁוּע belong together, which is favoured by the Dagesh in the Beth, and Tarcha, Munach, Silluk, according to which (because Munach, according to Psalter ii. 503, 2, is a transformation of Rebia mugrasch) קמתּי בּקּהל belong together. The latter mode of accentuation, according to which בקהל must be written without the Dag. instead of בּקהל (vid., Norzi), is the only correct one (because Dech cannot come in the last member of the sentence before Silluk), and is also more pleasing as to matter: I rose (and stood) in the assembly, crying for help, or more generally: wailing. The assembly is not to be thought of as an assembly of the people, or even tribunal (Ew.: "before the tribunal seeking a judge, with lamentations"), but as the public; for the thought that Job sought help against his unmerited sufferings before a human tribunal is absurd; and, moreover, the thought that he cried for help before an assembly of the people called together to take counsel and pronounce decisions is equally absurd. Welte, however, who interprets: I was as one who, before an assembled tribunal, etc., introduces a quasi of which there is no trace in the text. בּקּהל must therefore, without pressing it further, be taken in the sense of publice, before all the world (Hirz.: comp. בקהל, ἐν φανερῷ, Proverbs 26:26); אשׁוּע, however, is a circumstantial clause declaring the purpose (Ew. 337, b; comp. De Sacy, Gramm. Arabe ii. 357), as is frequently the case after קום, Job 16:8; Psalm 88:11; Psalm 102:14 : surrexi in publico ut lamentarer, or lamentaturus, or lamentando. In this lament, extorted by the most intense pain, which he cannot hold back, however many may surround him, he is become a brother of those תּנּים, jackals (canes aurei), whose dolorous howling produces dejection and shuddering in all who hear it, and a companion of בּנות יענה, whose shrill cry is varied by wailing tones of deep melancholy.

(Note: It is worth while to cite a passage from Shaw's Travels in Barbary, ii. 348 (transl.), here: "When the ostriches are running and fighting, they sometimes make a wild, hideous, hissing noise with their throats distended and beaks open; at another time, if they meet with a slight opposition, they have a clucking or cackling voice like our domestic fowls: they seem to rejoice and laugh at the terror of their adversary. During the loneliness of the night however, as if their voice had a totally different tone, they often set up a dolorous, hideous moan, which at one time resembles the roar of the lion, and at another is more like the hoarser voice of other quadrupeds, especially the bull and cow. I have often heard them groan as if they were in the greatest agonies." In General Doumas' book on the Horse of the Sahara, I have read that the male ostrich (delı̂m), when it is killed, especially if its young ones are near, sends forth a dolorous note, wile the female (remda), on the other hand, does not utter a sound; and so, when the ostrich digs out its nest, one hears a languishing and dolorous tone all day long, and when it has laid its egg, its usual cry is again heard, only about three o'clock in the afternoon.)

The point of comparison is not the insensibility of the hearers (Sforno), but the fellowship of wailing and howling together with the accompanying idea of the desert in which it is heard, which is connected with the idea itself (comp. Micah 1:8).

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