Job 33:18
He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Job 33:18-22. He keepeth back his soul from the pit — By these gracious admonitions, whereby God leads men to humiliation of soul before him, and to repentance, he preserves their lives from death and the grave, and their souls from eternal destruction. From perishing by the sword — By some dreadful judgment which was ready to fall upon them. He is chastened also with pain — With some painful and dangerous disease, which is the second way whereby God instructs men and excites them to repentance, which also was Job’s case. So that his life abhorreth bread —

In which languishing condition he loathes his food, yea, nauseates that very meat which formerly was his greatest delight. His flesh is consumed away — Through pain and pining sickness. That it cannot be seen — Because there is little or none left to be seen, but he who before was fat and flourishing is now become a mere skeleton. His soul draweth near unto the grave — He seems to himself and others to be past all hopes of recovery: which he adds for Job’s comfort in his desperate condition. And his life to the destroyers — To the instruments of death and destruction, namely, diseases, which, by God’s appointment, are ready to give the fatal blow.

33:14-18 God speaks to us by conscience, by providences, and by ministers; of all these Elihu discourses. There was not then, that we know of, any Divine revelation in writing, though now it is our principal guide. When God designs men's good, by the convictions and dictates of their own consciences, he opens the heart, as Lydia's, and opens the ears, so that conviction finds or forces its way in. The end and design of these admonitions are to keep men from sin, particularly the sin of pride. While sinners are pursuing evil purposes, and indulging their pride, their souls are hastening to destruction. That which turns men from sin, saves them from hell. What a mercy it is to be under the restraints of an awakened conscience!He keepeth back his soul from the pit - The word soul in the Hebrew is often equivalent to self, and the idea is, that he keeps the man from the pit in this manner. The object of these warnings is to keep him from rushing on to his own destruction. The word rendered "pit" - שׁחת shachath, properly means a pit, or pitfall, in which traps are laid for wild animals; Psalm 7:15; Psalm 9:15; then a cistern that is miry; Job 9:31; a prison, Isaiah 51:14; then the grave, or sepulchre, as being often a cavern; Job 17:13; Psalm 30:9; see Job 33:28, Job 33:30. It evidently means here the grave, and the sense is, that God thus warns people against pursuing a course of conduct which would lead them to destruction, or would speedily terminate their lives.

And his life from perishing by the sword - Margin, "passing by." The meaning of the Hebrew may be, "to keep his life from passing away by the sword;" as if the sword were the means by which the life or soul passed from the body. The word rendered sword here - שׁלח shelach is from שׁלח shâlach - to send, cast, hurl, and the reference is rather to something sent, as of an arrow, dart, javelin, than to a sword. The sense is not materially varied, and the idea referred to is that of a violent death. The meaning is, that God by these warnings would keep a man from such a course of life as would lead to a death by violence - either by punishment for his crime, or by being cut off in war.

18. his soul—his life.

the pit—the grave; a symbol of hell.

perishing by the sword—that is, a violent death; in the Old Testament a symbol of the future punishment of the ungodly.

He keepeth back, to wit, by these gracious admonitions, whereby he leads them to repentance,

his soul; either the man, who is oft expressed by this part; or

his life, as the next branch explains it.

From the pit, i.e. from the grave, from death or destruction.

From perishing by the sword, i.e. by some dreadful judgment of God which was ready to fall upon him.

He keepeth back his soul from the pit,.... Or, "that he may keep back" (n); for this is another end and use of God's speaking unto men; it is to preserve them for the present from going down to the grave, the pit of corruption and destruction; so called because the bodies of men, being there laid, corrupt, and are entirely destroyed by worms, and turn to rottenness and dust; and to preserve them from the bottomless pit of everlasting ruin and destruction; for the Lord's people are reproved by him, that they may not be condemned with the world, 1 Corinthians 11:32;

and his life from perishing by the sword; by the sword of men, which is one of God's sore judgments; or by the sword of the civil magistrate, the man spoken to being warned of God of committing these sins, which would bring him into the hands of such; or by the sword of divine justice; Jarchi interprets it of the sword of the angel of death; the word signifies a missive weapon, as a dart; so Mr. Broughton renders the words, "and his life from going on the dart": or, as another version has it, "lest it should go on under the cast of darts" (o); the darts of an enemy in war, or the fiery darts of Satan, Ephesians 6:16.

(n) "ut prohibeat", Mercerus, Piscator. (o) Tigurine version.

He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 18. - He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword. By these interpositions God may even save a man from utter ruin, when, but for them, he would have rushed upon it. He may cause a person -to give up designs or enterprises which would have brought him into danger, and perhaps led to his being slain with the sword. Job 33:18Elihu now describes the first mode in which God speaks to man: He Himself comes forward as a witness in man's sleep, He makes use of dreams or dream-like visions, which come upon one suddenly within the realm of nocturnal thought (vid., Psychol. S. 282f.), as a medium of revelation - a usual form of divine revelation, especially in the heathen world, to which positive revelation is wanting. The reading בּחזיון (Codd., lxx, Syr., Symm., Jer.), as also the accentuation of the בחלום with Mehupach Legarme, proceeds from the correct assumption, that vision of the night and dream are not coincident notions; moreover, the detailing Job 33:15, is formed according to Job 4:13. In this condition of deep or half sleep, revelat aurem hominum, a phrase used of the preparation of the ear for the purpose of hearing by the removal of hindrances, and, in general, of confidential communication, therefore: He opens the ear of men, and seals their admonition, i.e., the admonition that is wholesome and necessary for them. Elihu uses חתם בּ here and Job 37:7 as חתם בּעד is used in Job 9:7 : to seal anything (to seal up), comp. Arab. ḥı̂m, σφραγίζειν, in the sense of infallible attestation and confirmation (John 6:27), especially (with Arab. b) of divine revelation or inspiration, distinct in meaning from Arab. chtm, σφραγίζειν, in the proper sense. Elihu means that by such dreams and visions, as rare overpowering facts not to be forgotten, God puts the seal upon the warning directed to them which, sent forth in any other way, would make no such impression. Most ancient versions (also Luther) translate as though it were יחתּם (lxx ἐξεφόβησεν αὐτούς). מסר is a secondary form to מוּסר, Job 36:10, which occurs only here. Next comes the fuller statement of the object of the admonition or warning delivered in such an impressive manner. According to the text before us, it is to be explained: in order that man may remove (put from himself) mischief from himself (Ges. 133, 3); but this inconvenient change of subject is avoided, if we supply a מ to the second, and read אדם ממעשׂה, as lxx ἀποστρέψαι ἄνθρωπον ἀπὸ ἀδικίας αὐτοῦ (which does not necessarily presuppose the reading ממעשׂהו), Targ. ab opere malo; Jer. not so good; ab his quae fecit. מעשׂה signifies facinus, an evil deed, as 1 Samuel 20:19, and פּעל, Job 36:9, evil-doing. The infin. constr. now passes into the v. fin., which would be very liable to misconstruction with different subjects: and in order that He (God) may conceal arrogance from man, i.e., altogether remove from him, unaccustom him to, render him weary of. the sin of pride (גּוה from גּוה equals גּאה, as Job 22:29, according to Ges., Ew., Olsh., for גּאוה equals גּאוה). Here everything in thought and expression is peculiar. Also חיּה, Job 33:18 (as Job 33:22, Job 33:28), for חיּים rof ,) (Job 33:30) does not occur elsewhere in the book of Job, and the phrase עבר בּשּׁלח here and Job 36:12 (comp. עבר בּשּׁחת, Job 33:28) nowhere else in the Old Testament. שׁלח (Arab. silâh, a weapon of offence, opp. metâ‛, a weapon of defence) is the engine for shooting, from שׁלח, emmittere, to shoot; and עבר בשׁלח is equivalent to נפל בעד השׁלח ot tnelaviuqe s, Joel 2:8, to pass away by (precipitate one's self into) the weapon for shooting. To deliver man from sin, viz., sins of carnal security and imaginary self-importance, and at the same time from an early death, whether natural or violent, this is the disciplinary design which God has in view in connection with this first mode of speaking to him; but there is also a second mode.
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