CHAPTER 24.

We heard what is the matter that Job answers in these two chapters; having in the former chapters cleared himself of many foul faults that Eliphaz charged him with, here he overturns the principle that Eliphaz had laid down, and which led to these absurdities; for he and the rest of his friends could not think but that Job, who was so afflicted, was a wicked man, and hence they lay another conclusion, That wicked men go not away unplagued of God, Job, as before, chapter xxi. overthrows this ground, shewing, that wicked men live and die without remarkable judgements.

He passes from that which he was defending by way of transition, verse 1. Why, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty, do they that know him, not see his days? Why dispute ye to maintain that question, as if God's judgements were ay remarkable on wicked men? He grants by way of concession, that there is a time set for the destruction of wicked men; but tho' God knows, and hath a set time for their destruction, think ye, (would he say) that that time is always known to men. These times are known by the Almighty, but they that know him, that is, these that are nearest God, know his ways and counsel are so deep, that they cannot tell before hand what shall befal wicked men; they cannot see his days, or observe God's judgement by any thing that they see. And he proves through the chapter, that many wicked men have lived profanely, and died without any remarkable judgement coming on them to the observation of others, and this he does in three steps, from the 2. to 13. verse is his first instance or proof in the oppressor and violent man, Some take away the land mark: Nothing was more sacred, nor more punctually looked to, nor the keeping of right marches, and there was no greater iniquity, nor the removing of them, yet, there are some that do remove them, and yet are spared, and some take away other folks flocks, and that violently, and feed upon them, verse 2. And if there be a fatherless person, that hath but an ass to gain their living by, or a widow that hath an ox free, they are that merciless that they will take it from them, verse 3. And they are so great oppressors, that a poor man dare not meet them in the high way; The poor of the earth hide themselves together, verse 4. He goes on to describe their wickedness: Behold, as other men that have callings, go out in the morning to follow it, so thir men go out, and make it their work to live in violence, and as the wild ass (which is described chapter xxxix.) lives in the wilderness, so thir folks live rather like beasts than like men, and the wilderness yieldeth them food. It is a bare ground, but they will get something off it, verse 5. and their prosperity is such, that none of them wanteth their harvest, and their corn is neither shaken nor rotten, and they gather not only their own, but the vineyards of others, verse 6. yea, they are that unmerciful, that they who have few clothes, were it but a blanket left them to keep them from the cold, they will take it from them, and let them lie in the fields without clothes, verse 7. and these poor, naked folks, flying from their severe cruelty are glad of a clift of a rock to lie in, verse 8. for not only take they their clothes out of their houses, but when they have undone poor folks in any little thing they had; they take any brats73 they have upon them from off them; and if a poor man had but a sheaf of corn to live on, they will bereave him of it, verse 9, 10. And a further step of their oppression is verse 11. They will not give the poor men that work in trading their oil, meat to live upon; but publicly in the city, where the soul of the wounded by their oppression crieth out; and he concludes the proof with this, yet God layeth not folly to them, that is, God reckons not always with them before men, they often die without God's charging folly on them, to the observation of men.

A second proof to the same purpose in new sins and sinners. 1. Of the murderer, verse 13, 14. the wicked men that I have been speaking of; and particularly the murderer, are like men that cannot abide the light; They know not the ways thereof, that is, they cannot abide to hear what God directs them. It is a burden to them, or take it literally, they cannot abide to be found out, for they would think shame of it, and this is clear by what follows, verse 14. A man that is cruel to his neighbour, the scripture calls a murderer, rises soon with the light, or before it is light, whether literally to kill, or to take his neighbour's subsistence from him, all is one. And is as a thief in the night, when he gets opportunity he is as a thief, glad to be about with it. 2dly, Of the adulterer, verse 15. as the murderer waits for the night, so does the adulterer, and thinks to go so quietly about it, as none shall get wit of it, and lays in his heart, No eye shall see him, and he sets his face in secret; and verse 16. in the day-time they mark where to get their prey, and set on in the night to obtain it; They know not the light, that is, they cannot be seen in the light. The reason of this is, verse 17, The morning to them is as the shadow of death, that is, the day light is a great hinderance to them, and therefore it is to them as if death were at the back of it, lest any should say, Who was in that house, or took away such goods? It is as death to them, for they look for some challenge or shame. He is swift as the water, that is, as he steals and robs in the wilderness so he is a pirate on the seas, He beholds not the way of the vineyards, that is, he cannot abide the place where folk lives, he had rather be in a cursed, wild place for his purpose; thus he describes the wicked to the full; yet to confute Eliphaz, he sets down in a comparison how such men may live and die, verse 19, 20. Drought and heat consume the snow-waters, so doth the grave those which have sinned. The womb shall forget him, the worm shall feed sweetly on him, he shall be no more remembred, and wickedness shall be broken as a tree. Snow is not ay melted by thaw, or a flush of rain, but sometimes by drought or the heat of the sun insensibly, so does death come on such wicked men. They die so calmly, that the world forgets them; for where folks are taken away by some terrible and remarkable judgement, there is a rememberance of it, but it is not so with them; they go to their grave like other men, and the worms feed on them, and are a banquet or dinner to them; they have a common lot with all men, and are not an upcast, nor remembered as stricken with any palpable judgement; and as a tree that is worm-eaten falls over with little noise, so does many wicked men without remarkable judgement.

A third proof or instance to the same purpose from verse 21. He evil intreateth the barren that heareth not; it was a sore cross in these times to be barren, but these men are so cruel and merciless, that they evil intreat such, and are so far from doing good to widows, that they do ill to them; yea, this wicked oppressor is so high, that none eschews him, the mighty are drawn with his power, and when he is angry, there is none sure of his life, so wicked is he to invent, and so powerful to execute, that all tremble to look on him. Ver. 22. Though, is not in the original, but it is given him to be in safety, that is, to be quiet and secure, and he rests on that, Yet his eyes are upon their ways, that is, yet God's eyes are upon their ways, for Job and his friends knew when God was spoken of, though he was not named. The Lord is taking notice of him, and shall be about with him, verse 23. They are exalted for a little time, they get a little prosperity, but they have no cause to boast of it, for they are soon brought low, and laid among the worms; They are taken out of the way as all other, there is no difference betwixt them and other men in their death, and they are cut off as the tops of the ears of corn; that is, they are not cut down till they be ripe; they die in full age; they are so far from suffering here away, as ye say, verse 24.  Then he subjoins his conclusion, verse 25. If it be not so now, who will make me a lyar? I defy any of you to make out the contrary, and make my speech nothing worth, for as little as ye think of it, this is the truth; it is an appealing to them, that this is a sure truth that none can say against.

So Job here out of his experience clearly proves, that as wicked men might live happy in a world to their outward condition, so they might die without a remarkable evidence of God's judgement.

 OBSERVATIONS.

1. Observe. That it is ill gathering God's love to folks, either from prosperity in their lifetime, or from a meek and calm manner of dying. The greatest enemies of God on earth may live and die as these spoken of, Psalm lxxiii. It is true, God will by his judgements on some, make the world know sometimes that there is a God that judges in the earth, yet he will spare others of them, because there is a day of judgement coming, at which time he will reckon with them for altogether.

II. From ver, 23. Observe. That wicked men desire no more if they get a present happiness, and there is no greater evidence of wicked men, nor to rest satisfied with the things of the world, nor no greater snare to them; think on it, ye that may get more of the world, nor your neighbours, and sits down on it. It is one of the benefits of affliction, that folks are keeped from resting on the things of the world by it, especially when it is blest of God, when as others settle in the world never minding their decaying tabernacle, nor a tribunal of God. 

III. From verse 24. Obser. That the wicked man's prosperity, tho' he should live and die in it, is but short, were it for an hundred or a thousand years; being compared with eternity, it is but short and not worth naming; and it is an ill change that folks make, when for a short whiles prosperity, they miss eternity of happiness, and fall under eternal wrath. Look to the frailty of your life while ye prosper; know, ye are but exalted for a time, and remember eternity is on the back of it; we are all wearing on, and see others wearing away; be often thinking on that time, when at an instant ye will pass from time into eternity, and how there will be no upmaking of losses then; and be not such fools as for the trifles in time, to loss an enduring substance, but learn to make up that in God, that creatures cannot yield you.