New American Standard Bible
When He keeps quiet, who then can condemn? And when He hides His face, who then can behold Him, That is, in regard to both nation and man?--
King James Bible
When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? and when he hideth his face, who then can behold him? whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only:
Darby Bible Translation
When he giveth quietness, who then will disturb? and when he hideth his face, who shall behold him? and this towards a nation, or towards a man alike;
World English Bible
When he gives quietness, who then can condemn? When he hides his face, who then can see him? Alike whether to a nation, or to a man,
Young's Literal Translation
And He giveth rest, and who maketh wrong? And hideth the face, and who beholdeth it? And in reference to a nation and to a man, It is the same.
Job 34:29 Parallel
CommentaryBarnes' Notes on the Bible
When he giveth quietness - That is, when God designs to give rest, comfort, ease, or prosperity in any way to a man. The Hebrew word used here may refer to any kind of ease, rest, or peace. The idea which Elihu intends to convey is, that God has all things under his control, and that he can bring prosperity or adversity upon an individual or a nation at his own pleasure.
Who then can make trouble? - literally, "Who can condemn, or hold guilty" - ירשׁע yarâsha‛. The sense is, that no one can overwhelm him with the consciousness of guilt, to whom God intends to give the peace resulting from his favor and friendship. Or, no one can bring calamities upon a man "as if" he were guilty, or so as to "show" that he is guilty, when God intends to treat him as if he were not. This is as true now as it was in the time of Elihu. When God designs to give peace to a man's soul, and to impart to him the evidence that his sins are forgiven, there is no one who can excite in his mind the conviction of guilt, or take away the comfort that God gives. When he designs to "treat" a man as if he were his friend, and to impart to him such evidences of his favor as shall convince the world that he is his friend, there is no one who can prevent it. No one can so calumniate him, or so prejudice the world against him, or so arrest the descending tokens of the divine favor, as to turn back the proof of the favor of God; compare Proverbs 16:7.
And when he hideth his face - To "hide the face," is a common expression in the Scriptures to denote calamity, distress, and the lack of spiritual comfort, as the expression "to lift up the light of the countenance" is a common phrase to denote the opposite; compare Job 13:24.
Who then can behold him? - An expression denoting that no one can then have cheering and elevating views of God. No one can then have those clear conceptions of his character and government which will give peace to the soul. "This" is also as true now as it was in the time of Elihu. We are dependent on God himself for any just views of his own character, for any elevating and purifying conceptions of his government and plans, and for any consolation flowing in upon our souls from the evidence that he is our friend.
Whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only - The same truth pertains to nations and to individuals. The same laws respecting the sources of peace and happiness apply to both. Both are alike dependent on God, and neither can secure permanent peace and prosperity without him. Both are alike at his sovereign disposal; and neither can originate permanent sources of prosperity. This, too, is as true now as it was in the time of Elihu. Nations are more prone to forget it than individuals are, but still it is a great truth which should never be forgotten, that neither have power to originate or perpetuate the means of happiness, but that both are alike dependent on God.
DEAR FRIENDS, it is never wise to dispute with God. Let a man strive with his fellow, but not with his Maker. If we must discuss any point, let it be with imperfect beings like ourselves, but not with the infallible and infinitely wise God; for, in most of our discussions, these questions wilt come back to us, "Should it be according to thy mind? Art thou master? Is everyone to be subordinate to thee?" I am going to speak, this evening, to those who have a quarrel with God concerning the way of salvation. …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 46: 1900
Whether Predestination is Certain
Thoughts Upon Worldly-Riches. Sect. Ii.
Directions to Awakened Sinners.
So that they caused the cry of the poor to come to Him, And that He might hear the cry of the afflicted--
So that godless men would not rule Nor be snares of the people.
That You may grant him relief from the days of adversity, Until a pit is dug for the wicked.
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