Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth, and makes us wiser than the fowls of heaven?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Who teacheth us.—Or it may be, Who teacheth us by, and maketh us wise by, &c. Then the sense will be that the oppression is so severe that the victims of it forget that God can give songs in the night, and that He has favoured men more than the beasts of the field, and that, as not one sparrow can fall to the ground without Him, so He has even numbered the hairs of those who are of more value to Him than many sparrows.Job 35:11. Who teacheth us more than the beasts — This is mentioned as a further aggravation of men’s neglect of God in their misery. God hath given to men those gifts which he hath denied to beasts, reason and understanding, whereby they might become acquainted with God and themselves, and with their obligations to him, and their dependance upon him. And therefore they are inexcusable for not using that reason and understanding, by calling on God, and seeking help of him in the time of trouble. If they thus take no notice of God, it is no wonder if God takes no notice of them.
fowls—(see on Job 28:21).Isaiah 1:3;
and maketh us wiser than the fowls of heaven? who are wise to provide food and nests for themselves and their young; and such as are birds of passage, as the turtledove, the crane, the stork, and the swallow, to know the time of their coming and returning, see Jeremiah 8:7. But then neither the beasts not; the fowls, though they are endowed with much knowledge and sagacity, according to their natures, yet not with reason and understanding, as men are, so as to make reflections on things they see and hear, and reason and discourse about them; nor are they capable of being taught and attaining to knowledge and wisdom as men are, by the works of God, of creation, and providence; and by the word of God, the Scriptures of truth, which are able to make men wise unto salvation; and by the Spirit of God, who teaches all things of a spiritual nature. God not only endows men with reason, but with sentiments of religion, which brutes are incapable of: he gives to men wisdom in the hidden part; he puts in them his fear, which is the beginning of wisdom; he makes them wise to know God in Christ, and to know his Son Jesus Christ, whom to know is life eternal; and he gives them knowledge of a future state, and hope of immortality and eternal life. Wherefore it becomes them to bear afflictions and oppressions with a fortitude of mind, and patiently submit to the will of God, and wait his time for deliverance, having called upon him in faith, and left their case with him; but if they only cry, as the brutes do under their burdens, it need not seem strange they are not heard and answered; since God has given them more wisdom and knowledge than they, and therefore should behave after another manner; though sometimes they act a part inferior to them, Jde 1:10.Who teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth, and maketh us wiser than the fowls of heaven?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)11. God has given to men a higher wisdom than to the beasts, and communicates to them a continuous instruction through His fellowship and ways. Their appeal to heaven should not be the mere instinctive cry of suffering, but the voice of trust and submission.Verse 11. - Who teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth, and maketh us wiser than the fowls of heaven. Elihu probably alludes to Job's defence of his complaints as natural, like the instinctive cries of beasts and birds (Job 6:5). God, he says, has given to man a higher nature than he has bestowal on the brutes; and this nature should teach him to carry his griefs to God in a proper spirit- a spirit of faith, piety, humility, and resignation. If men cried to him in this spirit, they would obtain an answer. If they do not obtain an answer, it must be that the proper spirit is lacking (comp. James 4:3).
And behold the ethereal heights: they are high above thee.
6 If thou sinnest, what dost thou effect with Him?
And if thy transgressions are many, what doest thou to Him?
7 If thou art righteous, what dost thou give Him,
Or what doth He take from thy hand?
8 To man like thee thy godlessness availeth,
And to thee, a son of man, thy righteousness.
Towards heaven he is to direct his gaze, to obtain from the height of heaven a notion of the exaltation of God who dwells above the heavens. The combination הבּיט וראה is like Psalm 80:15 and freq. שׁחקים (שׁחק, Arab. sḥq, to rub in pieces, make thin, therefore the opposite of עבים) are the thin transparent strata of the atmosphere above the hanging clouds. מן after גּבהּ denotes the height that is on the opposite side to the beholder. From the exaltation of God it is then further inferred that it is impossible to exercise any human influence upon Him, by which He might suffer. The pointing wavers here between תּפעל (the common fut. form) and תּפעל(as a contraction of תּפעל after the form אזעם, Numbers 23:8). Human wrong or right doing neither diminishes nor increases His blessedness; injury or advantage is only on the side of man, from whom it proceeds. Others, whom his conduct affect, are not included in Job 35:8 : righteous or ungodly doing, Elihu means to say, as such and with its consequences, belongs solely to the doer himself, the man "like thee" (לאישׁ with Munach, כּמוך with Munach), the son of man, i.e., man, capable of evil as of good, and who always, after deciding in favour of the latter or the former, determines his fortune or misfortune, in distinction from God, who ever remains unchangeably the same in His perfect righteousness. What Elihu here says we have already heard from Eliphaz, Job 22:2., and Job even expresses himself similarly in Job 7:20; but to Elihu's mind it all becomes for Job new and powerful motives to quiet submission, for what objection should Job raise in justification of his complaints concerning his affliction against such sentiments as these, that goodness bears its reward and evil its punishment in itself, and that God's reward of goodness is not a work of indebtedness, nor His punishment of evil a work of necessity? Before such truth he must really hold his peace.
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