CHAPTER 22.

THIS is the beginning of the third contest that Job's friends, at least two of them, hath with him; we heard the scope and sum of their debate before. They have a mind solidly to humble Job, and fit him for the promises of mercy, they set themselves to convince him of his guilt and hypocrisy, that by forcing him to take with that, they may have the better ground to apply the promises of mercy to him; But they exceed, 1. In limiting God to guilt as the cause of afflictions. 2. In judging Job while they are not content to make him a sinful man, except he also be an hypocrite, that hath nothing of the grace of God in him.

The chapter hath two parts, 1. Eliphaz charge to Job, to verse 2I.  2. His exhortation to Job, containing his scope, not to seclude him from mercy, but to make his acquaintance with God, that he might come by it, from verse 21. to the end.

The charge hath two parts. 1st, He charges him for justifying himself to verse 12.  2dly, He charges him with gross and atheistical thoughts of God, which he professes to have gathered out of Job's tenets, as so many consequences thereof, from verse 12. to verse 21.

For the first charge, he follows it two ways. 1. More generally, that tho’ Job was just, what advantage can he plead God hath by it, Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be unto himself? Suppose thou wert righteous and sincere, and had done all that God requires of thee, what doth God profit by that means? A man walking so may profit himself, but God is without the reach of man's good or ill; no man's good extends to him more than his ill. A second argument is, verse 3. Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that thou art righteous? As thy being righteous brings no profit to God, so it brings no new delight to him; Can there be any addition to God's perfect blessedness for you to boast and vaunt of your righteousness? Is it gain to him? ( For all thir interrogations supposes their negatives); and what then can the end be that thou hast before thee in that way? A third argument is, verse 4. Will he reprove thee for fear of thee, or will he enter with thee into judgement? As thy good can do God no good, so thy evil cannot hurt God; Will he reprove thee for fear that thou by thy way of living hurt him? Or, it is a comparison from judges that put a man from a being hurtful, making an end of him; the scope is, to tell that God chastens not without a ground; as is he had said; it is either because thou hast done wrong, or for fear thou do wrong, that he deals thus with thee. Now, God needs not fear thy doing him wrong, therefore thou hast: done him wrong, that provokes him thus to handle thee. Or, will he enter with thee into judgement? for fear of-thee, is here to be repeated? To tell, that God is not swayed in executing judgement, either by man's ill or good. This is a doctrine that is true and sound, but ill applied; for he is not here pleading for God's sovereignty, but to prove Job a wicked man, because he was so oddly handled. This he follows out, verse 5. Is not thy wickedness great? Is it not of a high nature? And thy iniquity infinite for number? Are not thy sins great, and many of them? And if God had not laid his hand upon thee, thou hadst sinned on This general charge he follows in particulars, all tending to make out his cruelty and covetousness. 

    1. Thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother for nought, there was no friend that thou pitted, and, he says, He took the pledge for nought, to point out these ways that Job sought advantage of his poor friends beyond the worth of any thing he gave them.

    2. And thou hast stripped the naked of their clothing. If any poor body was owing thee, though they had nothing but a brat 69 to cover them, thou took it from them, and sent them naked to beg their bread, verse 6.  3dly, Thou hast not given water to the weary. Thou wast that unmerciful, that thou would not give a drink of water to a weary body; and thou hast withholden bread from the hungry, when thou hadst bread enough in thy house, but thou would not give a piece, to them that were like to starve, (as the word is) a height of uncharitableness, verse 7. he aggreges, verse 8. Though thou hadst no respect to poor men, yet thou made off and fanned70 upon great men, who had abundance of the world, when thou rode over poor folk; and, in the 9. verse goes on in this, under widows and fatherless, comprehending all poor folks that have no protection, and alledges he undid them: The little portion they had, thou soon spoiled them of it, (would he say) and sent them away with nothing. The arms being that which upholds or supports, the breaking of them is the taking from them any thing they had to maintain them, or be a life to them, or the destroying of it; the meaning is, wherever he could win over, he ran over all, were they never so poor or indigent they found no mercy; upon this, from verse 10. to verse 12. he infers the justness of God's punishing or afflicting him in four similitudes, as if he said, ye need not think it strange, that God so afflicts you, ye have been such a cruel man, Therefore snares are about you, as hunters deal with beasts, or fowlers with fowls, so God deals just so with you. And, 2dly, sudden fear, or an alarm, affrights, troubles, or surprizes you, verse 10. 3dly, Darkness, that thou canst not see; thou art like a man, that walks in the darkness, that knows not where to go, nor where he is.  4thly, Abundance of waters cover thee, judgement is come on thee like a flood, holding out the greatness of Job’s sin, and the inevitableness of wrath and judgement therefore, to his conception. Now we see from chapter xxxi. that Job was free of thir sins he was charged with here, he was so far from taking cloaths from these poor friends, that he made them cloaths of his own wool, and fed the hungry, &c. and when God comes in to speak, he justifies Job, and condemns his friends. Therefore this uncharitable charging him with thir particular sins, flows partly from a mistake, partly from passion, and partly from the principles he maintained, that where great affliction was, there behoved to be great sins, and he instances by guess a number of particulars.

The second part of the charge is for his gross and atheistical thoughts of God, as if he said, Job ye were ay sinning, and thought God would not find you out, nor take notice of you, yet now he hath discovered you. The first ground for this is, verse 12. Is not God in the height of heaven? God is a high Majesty, he is more sovereign, nor the highest imaginations man can reach. Behold the height of the stars, the stars are the highest thing we see, and yet God is higher, depending on none, but having all depending on him, giving orders to all, and receiving orders from none. This is true doctrine, which he brings in Job contradicting, verse 13. Thou hast said in thy prosperity, how does God know? As the wicked man is brought in, saying, Psalm x. 11. God hath forgotten; he hideth his face, he will never see it, till God found thee out, thou wast careless and regardless of God, as if he saw not. And how can he judge through the dark cloud? Implying Job's secure way of living, as if this were true of God. There is such atheism in thy heart, that because God is above the clouds, and thou seest not him, thou thinkest the clouds cover God, so as he cannot see nor judge thee; and thou thinkest, that he walks in the circuit of heaven, as if he were regardless of men on earth, verse 14. This hath been the language of your heart, which may be read in your practice. But Job was far from any such thing; having bound this conclusion on Job, he labours to refute him, and yet so as to bear it in upon him he was such, by shewing his way hath been the same with the way of wicked men before him. Hast thou marked the old way, &c. verse 15, 16. Job, if ye had taken heed to the way of wicked men, and compared it with yours, and if ye had marked God's judgement on them, ye would have known God's dealing with you not to be unlike, and that God takes notice of men like you, he hath respect to the old world, for they were cut down out of time, because they were taken away by an extraordinary judgement before the ordinary time of death, their foundation was overflown with a flood. 2dly, He describes these men with a special respect to Job, verse 17. They were Atheists, and had a way of living like yours, which said unto God, depart from us; we exponed thir words, chapter xxi. verse 14, 15. They had no will of nearness with Cod, in respect of taking direction from him, or giving obedience to him, and they give a reason of it. What can the Almighty do for them? They had a fair life in prosperity, and thought God could not make them better. It is like that word, Malachi iii. 14, 15. Ye have said, it is vain to serve God: and what profit is it, that we have kept his ordinance, and that we walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the proud happy: yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered. And like Senacherib's word, Isaiah xxxvi. 20. and like Pharaoh's word, Exodus verse  2. and some others. 3dly, He refutes their Atheisin, verse 18. Yet he filled their houses with good things, there was nothing in their house but they had it of God, plenishing, meat, drink, and all; and he rejects this horrible blasphemy of theirs; The counsel of the wicked is far from me, which words Job had spoken before, chapter xxi. verse 16. and Eliphaz repeats them with a reflection on Job, that he was far from taking it on him, (as he alledges Job did), to justify wicked men. In the 19 and 20. verses, he goes on to prove the same thing, and to overturn that which Job held, that wicked men might live, and die in prosperity, The righteous see it, and are glad, that is, the righteous see the destruction of such wicked men and therefore it is applied by some to Noah, but it is best to take it in the general. Righteous men, that pity poor folk, as thou hast not done, rejoice to see God give a proof of his justice on them. Whereas our substance is not cut down, taking in his friends, and other godly men, in opposition to Job, and other wicked men. God hath set an hedge about us and our goods, it is not cut down; But the remnant of them the fire consumeth, that is, the remnant of the wicked, and their substance, some judgement lights on them, and it may be he respects the fire that came on Job's substance; he puts Job in with wicked men, and himself, in with godly men too proudly.

The second part of the chapter contains his exhortation to Job. It is proposed, verse 21, 22. and even backed with reasons, as if he said, Job, if ye would take a right gate to happiness, take you to another gate of living nor ye have been upon. Acquaint now thyself with God, the word is ordinary conversing, and he subjoins an argument, Thereby good shall come unto thee, thou shalt have all prosperity and happiness. A second exhortation is, verse 22. in answer to a question, What way shall I make acquaintance and converse with God? Receive the law from his mouth, prescribe not to God, live not after your own will, but receive his will revealed in his word, and walk according to it; Lay up his words in thy heart, be careful to keep them when thou hast received them, that they may be a rule for thy practice. And if he will take this gate, he proceeds to promises, verse 23. Job, if ye take my counsel, and turn to God, your desolations shall be built up, God shall make up all your losses; and if ye put away iniquity from your tabernacle, ye shall indeed be just, ye shall not be oppressing, and wronging, as ye have been, if ye take this course; or it may be taken for the punishment of iniquity; the curse of God that is lying on thee, and all thou hast, shall be taken off thee. A second promise is, verse 24. Then shalt thou lay up gold as dust; Job, ye loved riches well, and if ye take this way of it, ye shall have enough; they are hyperbolic expressions, to show by turning to God, he shall have abundance of that he loved best. 3dly, Yea, besides that, verse 35. Thou shalt have a better mercy, the Almighty shall be thy defence. And this third promise is beyond all that he promised before. Thou shalt not only have plenty, but thou shalt enjoy it. A fourth promise is, verse 26. and a reason of that which goes before, and it is a more spiritual promise, as if he said, Ye have been taken up with seeking contentment among the creatures, but by turning to God ye shall have more delight in God nor in all the world beside, and ye shall have access to God with boldness, and lift up your face before him. 5. Another spiritual promise is, verse 27. ye made a fashion of prayer before, and got little hearing, but if ye return to God, and make acquaintance with him, and be holy in your walking, what ye seek of God, ye shall get; ye shall pray for delivery, and get it; and God shall give you occasion to vow, and pay your vows; he shall get an evidence of God's hearing him, and he than be thankful. 6thly, Yea, verse 28. whereas before ye had many purposes and projects, and they were all broken, ye shall thrive in what ye undertake, and the light shall shine upon thy ways, God's countenance, and owning of thee, shall make thy proceedings and success heartsome. A seventh promise is, verse 29. when ye shall see many cast down, ye may say in your particular experience, God hath lifted you up; and by this, I know there is a way of God's lifting up of them that are brought low, and he backs this with a new insinuation as a motive, God shall save the humble person; and verse 30. closes with another promise, as a second motive to take his counsel; it contains two expressions tending to the same thing, if thou be such a humble person, thou shalt not only do good to thyself by thy prayers, but thou halt deliver others, or as it is on the margin, His prayers shall have weight to prevail with God, for the island of the innocent, or, the innocent shall deliver the island. It is spoken in the second person to confirm Job the more; it shall be delivered by the pureness of thy hands, thou halt have the same promise and privilege that the humble person hath to be helpful to the saving of others besides thee.

 OBSERVATIONS.

I. From the first part of the words, observe, to how great a height mistakes may come, and grow very unjustly. Eliphaz, a wise and gracious man, charges such horrible things on Job as is a wonder. We would beware of venting our apprehensions and mistakes of folks, and study patience when mistakes are charged on us.

II. Lay all the promises he makes to Job together, they depend on his making his acquaintance with God, and the doctrine is found, especially in reference to the spiritual blessings. Observe. There is blessing upon blessing attending folks that make their acquaintance with God, and receive the law from his mouth, who seek to be friends, and to live friendly with him. In our hard condition, and manifold straits, when no other thing can promise happiness, it were good to take this course. Grow in the right uptaking of God, and use making of him, in which true acquaintance with God consists.